Let’s back up.
It’s January 2013 and I still live in Edmonton. I remember learning about the concept of “Blue Monday” – I think that’s what it’s called – the last Monday of the month of January which is statistically for financial, weather and darkness reasons, the most ‘depressing’ day of the year. I remember feeling it. It was pressed down on my back like an anvil falling on a cartoon chicken. It was -40, it was that blue-black dead brittle dead tree branch colour outside by about 3:30 pm. And I had just lost my best friend, who had stabbed me in the back and then blamed me for her senseless snapping-in-half of any assemblance of love and loyalty that we had in six years of close and meaningful friendship. That was almost two years ago now, “Blue Monday” and since then I’ve moved to a new city, obtained a second degree, left my last career in hopes of (someday soon, please!) finding a new one, meeting and falling in love with the man of my dreams, and becoming overall, a more confident and strong-minded person who has a new (albeit unlikely) best friend and a new life and sits in her west end Vancouver corner of the world with books and tea and soup and new running shoes feeling generally fulfilled except for that little itch in the back of her neck that says, “your friend betrayed you. All your friends have betrayed you at some point.”
Let’s fast forward to the present. In the present day, I spend my time in coffee shops and pubs eating things and drinking things I shouldn’t. I spend my time applying for jobs with full knowledge I probably won’t get them. I reflect back on the time I was a teacher and hated it, and I regret not giving myself enough attention and fairness to understand and appreciate the good I was doing and the fun I was having instead of losing the light in my eyes and wanting to hide in a corner and return to what I was doing before all this Vancouver craziness happened. Because I live in the past. And when I’m not living in the past, I’m looking so deeply into the future, I’m craning my neck to peer down into a well of darkness and ignoring the sunlight that warms my back and surrounds my body at times. I am thinking today about something a friend of mine that I used to work with – let’s call her Gina – said to me once: “You think that when you’re out of high school you won’t encounter mean girls anymore, but you will always unfortunately encounter mean girls.”
Mean people can only truly be ‘mean’ if you care what they think. Once mean people know you care what they think, they will use it. They will use it as a lasso and wrangle you in and hog-tie you to their opinions and then ride away leaving you stranded and tied in the dirt when only they can really untie you. And they won’t. You know it, they know it. You’re stuck out there, until you’re not stuck anymore.
I’ve lived that again and again. I can think of all the times I had friends – good friends, best friends, friends that I thought would be in my wedding party – who are either no longer my friends, or are so distant from me that they’re pins in a map of my life on another continent. Sometimes I don’t know what friendship is, nor do I know what I did/am doing/have done that has left me a brokenhearted non-friend to people I cared about more than anything. What did I do that was so bad, I’d have friends purposely slight me in public forums they know I will see, just to make me feel badly, and why? These are people I have and would have journeyed to the ends of the earth for. And now, they’re scraps of nothing that I haven’t cleaned up yet.