The latent violence of toxic friendships

Groups. Deceit. Lies. Defences. Biases. Cover-ups. Truth.

What do you think of when you think of a friend? All the good qualities in a person that you chose to be with, I suppose. But do you ever stop to wonder if these “good qualities” that so are prominently visible in your thoughts actually exist in the friend/ group of friends you think you’re close to? Do they reciprocate the sharing of naked truth that you so staunchly indulge in? Or do you think you could see through the façade if only you looked close enough?

Aristotle said Human beings are social animals. But then why do a lot of us feel deeply unsatisfied despite being included in multiple social groups? It’s almost like the more friends we try to keep close, the more webs we keep getting tangled into. While friendships are certainly desirable, certain problems are inevitably attached with these desires. You could strip down to your darkest thoughts of self-loathe and turn completely vulnerable before another person, but would that make them a friend? Would your actions define your relationship with someone else? As I grow older, I realize how caught up everyone around me is, fighting their own battles and eliminating anyone who doesn’t fall perfectly into their carefully charted plans.

Shouldn’t calling an individual your “best-friend” come with certain responsibilities? The way I look at it, calling X a best-friend would mean that you are volunteering to share their happiness and more importantly, their despair. It should mean that you would laugh heartily with them, but hold them closer when they cry. It would also sometimes require you to overstep your inhibitions and do things you wouldn’t normally do. But what happens when X does not reciprocate your actions, physically or emotionally? Theoretically that would constitute a one-sided, toxic and make-believe magical friendship. But practically we’re usually too consumed in giving/ receiving to really think about whether the constituted friendship remains truly mutual or not. Either way, this normally ends with one party feeling the wrath of emotional hurt. So here’s a story I’ve been meaning to publicly tell for a while now. If nothing more, I hope it makes a good read!

As I lay next to him, a drop of sweat finding its way to my right breast, I realized how we could never truly be friends. I had known him for a few months now. I’d held his hands a couple of times before we shared stolen kisses, away from the circle of friends he had closely woven together. It was exciting, I must admit, to be desired by him. But as the rays of sunlight lit up our hotel room, the darkness of lust that had perhaps blinded us, found its way out the huge windows. Promises of the night seemed illusionary. The tag of friends with benefits that he had wanted to bequeath upon us now lay around ignored. Words that followed the night contained painful silences that begged to be filled with truth.

As days went by, our conversations turned redundant, meetings were forced and the truth was never told. The group of friends turned hostile, as sides were taken. And our time together was no longer talked about. In an attempt to erase history, he started distancing himself from me. He no longer desired to be the best-friend, a word he had casually embraced earlier. I was no longer included in the group dinners. On confronting him, I was told how time plays an important role in solidifying friendships and short intervals of close relations don’t really matter. While friendships do get stronger gradually, does time provide you with a base to undermine people’s emotions on? So I did the one thing he’d asked me to not. I told people. I told them about us, about our shared desires and the consensual sexual relations we’d shared. The truth, however, wasn’t sufficient for the group of people to snap out of his captive sorcery.

I will perhaps never understand how friends can turn away at the slightest of inconvenience caused. I’ll never really figure how relationships can be objectively calculated in proportion to time. But if you no longer sense the mutual respect and desire to stay friends, it is important that you leave (regardless of the time and energy you’ve spent on them, since spending anymore would only make it worse). While I learnt the fragility of promises made in closed spaces by people, I do hope that someday he realizes how the girl wasn’t actually crazy but merely just another person he’d conveniently discounted when she had the audacity to wander away from his deceitful tactics of handling life. And I wish you to never be trapped in similar situations that only make you fall deeper into sticky facades. Latent violence of such toxic friendship can seep in to do more damage than most other relationships.

So here’s the post-script: We were friends. We were best-friends. We had sex. There were groups of friends involved. Lies and deceit were valuable assets. Defences were thrown around and biases tried to cover-up this truth that needed to be unfolded.

I hope this made you think.

Have a good night folks!

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How are you?

Sounds like quite a general question, doesn’t it? Well I don’t know how to answer it anymore. I don’t know how I can make it better. I don’t know when this feeling will change. I’m not sure if it will actually. And this is perhaps what scares me the most. I know all that I need to do to reach wherever I want to. But somehow, things just seem to keep falling apart. I try to not let it get me down. I try so hard. But by the end of it all, the system of this academic world pushes me against the walls, in a dark corner and keeps me pinned down. I wish there was an easier way to go about life. I understand that this isn’t the worst thing that could happen to anyone, but it’s not what I want. I helped save a life quite recently. I think that deserves to be talked about. I think people are losing their sense of humanity and the very essence of love that is required to keep this world intact.

When you ask me how I am, a million things run through my head. A million different feelings rush in. I want to scream out and tell you just how fucked up I feel. I want to shout it all out. Would that help? If I were to tell you that I need some help, would you help me? If I tell you that I’m scared, will you hold me tight till I am not? Or will you feed off of my vulnerability? Tell me, do you really care or are you just being nice? What’s up with me? I don’t know love, I’m a little lost. But darling, when you ask me how I am, do you really want to venture into my darkness? Do you really want me to tell you how I feel about the way things are? Will you care about how my thoughts on politics or how I think the world needs a fresh start? Will you care about my desires of making this place a much more humane world to live in? Do you want to hear about those times when I pretend to be okay, just so people won’t bother me anymore? Or about how all those therapy sessions didn’t really help me?

How am I? I’m in pain. There are all kinds of things that bother me, and there are just not enough solutions. I want to be okay. But it just seems a little too difficult to be okay when our world seems to be falling apart. So the next time you ask me how I am, I’m going to smile and say, “I’m good. How are you?”

Melancholy of A Dried Rose Petal

As odd as the title may seem to you, I promise to make this a good read!

While scooping around for stuff in an old college bag, I found an odd item still surprisingly intact. It was one single ancient-looking rose petal, stripped off of all the romance that once kept it alive, akin to the story of us. If I hadn’t known better, this petal could’ve been passed on for perhaps a dried specimen from one of those herbariums I used to have. But alas, knowing better sometimes translates to knowing what causes you to feel that raw emotion of hurt. I’m a recovering romantic, there, I said it. I understand the absurdity of it but whatever little romance I had left in me got sucked right in so deep that I’d forgotten about its existence. I was involved with a really nice guy for almost a year and a half, since the very inception of my law school life but somewhere along the way, we forgot what had brought us together. Sweet talks became yelling matches, too loud, too irrational. There’s something about what a person says in anger that hurts more than it should. It’s quite interesting to note how Seneca, an ancient philosopher, once said that “people get angry because they are too hopeful”. This, perhaps, is true. He and I, we crossed all horizons of human rationality in an attempt to make “us” work which I believe is a problem a lot of people face. We get so used to being around an individual that the sheer thought of going on without them seems absurd. This also gives birth to the cycle of fight and resolve, fight and resolve.

He and I were like two sides of a coin that just happened to get stuck midway and by some miracle, also happened to turn around and face each other. Don’t get me wrong, he is an amazing guy, just not the right one. He is smart, rational but lacks the irrationality, the romanticism and poetry that love requires. The dried rose petal that now lies on my desk is a bittersweet token of our undefined love life together. I remember when he gave it to me and when I threw it away in anger, only to walk all the way back to fetch it.  I’ve had it for months now and until this day; the magnitude of impact something this silly could have on my emotions surprises me. The dried veins on this petal seem unfamiliar and the touch, no longer welcome. It just wants to be left alone, much like the story of us that I’d woven in my head.

I promised to make this a good read, and I hope I did. There isn’t a happy ending for there isn’t an ending yet; but I can tell you this much, if you are with someone merely because that’s the way it is, get out of it. It’ll hurt more than you signed up for, but it could also be the best gift you give yourself. As far as my mystery man is concerned, I’m still counting on being on amicable terms someday. But for now, I’m in a good place with myself. And for now, the pale brown petal thrives on this wishful thinking.