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This was written a while before publishing so the bit about quarantining isn’t true anymore, but the rest is, and always will be, accurate.

I’ve never had many friends. I struggle with making meaningful connections with people and when I do, I usually end up doing something to mess it all up.

I had one good friend from Kindergarten all the way up until recently. We had very different outlooks on life and very different approaches to it, but somehow we still found the time to hang out and laugh. She came out swinging for me when I left an abusive relationship and I had never felt so close to her than I did at that moment. But once more, we grew apart. I suffered from severe mental issues while she was growing a prosperous business. I knew I would drag her down and she really wasn’t the type to be emotionally supportive, so I clammed up. I supported her as best as I could by showing up to some of her sales shows on Facebook (even though I hate that site), but eventually, her crowd grew and grew and grew and while I was so damn proud of her, I no longer felt needed. Maybe I was and I was a fool to step away, but I did.

She voted for Trump. It broke my heart. I made a vague post on Twitter about how we should be able to just get over that kind of thing and still be friends/family, but… I couldn’t. It hurt too much. Our relationship was already dying. Our lives were going in very different directions. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little bit jealous of her success, but she earned it. She buckled down and did what she had to do when I couldn’t do the same. Ultimately, I’m proud of my friend, but I struggle to call her a friend anymore.

I made some friends in college, but I destroyed those relationships myself. I still talk to one of them a few times a year on FB, but that’s about it. All the others became various versions of success while I wasted away in the same small town working a dead-end job hoping it’d someday be something more. It wasn’t. In fact, it tried to kill me, but I’m still here. Broken and worse off than before, but I’m still here.

I made some friends on Twitter, but as my attention shifted away from the platform, I lost contact with them. I used to be part of a great community on there, but life pulled me away and I’ve struggled to get back into it. That’s my own doing and if any of you read this and you want to get back in touch, let me know. I’m always open to alternative means of communication. It also doesn’t help that Twitter never tells me when people DM me.

I’m generally someone who isolates themself as a form of self-defense. If I don’t meet people, I can’t fool them into liking me, and then I can’t hurt them by being the piece of shit I really am! Perfectly sound logic.

A few months ago, I picked up playing Final Fantasy XIV again. It’s a game that’s long meant a lot to me, but at random, I felt so hopeless that I went back to it. I didn’t expect it to be a great experience. I often came and went from the game. Just played by myself a few months and left. As much as I loved it, it was also a source of a lot of real-life grief for me so actually enjoying it was a struggle. Well, when my life was falling apart and I desperately needed a distraction, I went back. Once more expecting to just play alone for a bit and quit. But that’s not what happened.

I got a random whisper from a Free Company (guild), as civilized FC’s are wont to do, and it was a very friendly conversation. I agreed to join and immediately I hit it off with everyone. I’d never felt so at home. There was a bit of drama when people’s gameplay styles changed, but that settled out fairly enough. I stayed with the existing FC because I’m a casual hoe and proud. I sometimes crave higher-end content, but I know where I am in my life right now, I wouldn’t be able to focus on it.

I made some very amazing friends. Amazing people who I’ve come to love very dearly. We hang out and chat into the small hours of the morning sometimes. They’re some of the kindest people I’ve ever met. I’m grateful for every day I have with them. They’ve become like family to me. I can’t imagine life without them. They’ve changed me for the better, but sometimes… Sometimes I still slip into my old toxic ways. Sometimes the darkness creeps in and I can’t fight it. Anxiety becomes paranoia and suddenly I’m telling myself that my dear friends don’t want me anymore. That I’m a burden to them. I start self-sabotaging until it spills over and hurts them.

I did that last night. My anxiety reached a horrific high and I said and did something shitty. I told myself afterward, still reeling from my asinine performance, aware that it was wrong, but I somehow couldn’t rationalize that at the moment, that if they left me, they’d be doing the right thing. In fact, I expected them to. I expected to once more be without my friends. I deserved it. I deserved to be alone. I couldn’t be a good person to anyone. I couldn’t even be a good person to myself.

I wrote them both what probably read like a shitty excuse, but it was the best explanation I could summon considering I couldn’t even rationally parse my own behavior. I was just going to go to sleep when I realized this was just going to happen again someday. If I wanted to keep these people I’ve come to love so much in my life, I had to do something. And even if they DID walk away, I couldn’t let this cycle continue. I couldn’t keep hurting the people I love. At some god awful hour in the morning, I messaged a therapist I’d never dealt with before. They agreed to see me on a text-based level and after some technicalities were sorted, I was finally talking to someone who could actually help me get my shit together. It’s slow, being text-based, but at least I know I have a professional working with me now.

My anxiety is still high, and I’m voluntarily quarantining myself from interacting with my friends until it subsides a bit. They know this and somehow through the goodness of their hearts, they’re still my friends. They still want to be around me. They still want me in their lives. I’ve never felt so loved before in my life.

I’ve made a vow to them and myself that I will never take their love for granted again. I will do everything I can to take care of myself and end the cycle of toxicity. I never want to hurt them again.

If you read this, Li and Z, know that you both mean the world to me and your continued love and support will not be squandered. I will do better. I promise.

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