“You coerced me,” he said. “I felt coerced.”
Never in my life would I have thought someone would say those words to me. I, unsurprisingly, played the defensive. Unsurprisingly since I was in high school at the time and was going through a phase of stubbornness and angst. Plus, I didn’t remember the situation like that; I remembered it consensually. But you see, if the tables were turned, I would have condoned this boy for playing the defensive. I would have told him to accept that what he did was wrong.
While I am still not ready to write about the background story (and frankly, I want to some day – I owe it to my conscience and to this boy), I have been constantly thinking about this situation introspectively. Thinking about what I could have done better when he told me that he felt what happened was wrong, thinking about what I could do in the future to not make anyone else feel like this. In addition, I’d like to prevent myself from telling myself things like “Ahhh, he’s always hated you, he’s always been jealous of your academic capabilities and overall AWESOMENESS, he’s just trying to make you feel bad.” No. It was never right for me to think this way or make excuses. If he said he felt coerced, I must accept it. No matter the circumstances.
There’s more that’s bothering me, though. The fact that he felt coerced in a situation between us is bad enough, but there’s so many other factors and results that have been eating away at me.
Granted, I had history with this boy but not really the romantic type. A lot of my unwarranted justification came from my frustration with the drama that sourced from a girl he used to see. I always felt that she never liked me. She was nice often – giving me rides back home once in a while, complimenting my outfits (through gritted teeth, I believe), giving me praise for having the same taste in clothing and music as her. But I remember when good things happened for me – like when I got accepted to a prestigious Ivy League summer camp or when I got asked to write for Rookie, she suddenly wasn’t acting like my friend. She pretended like these things never happened for me and if someone brought it up whenever she was around, she’d awkwardly look at her feet or walk away. You know when someone doesn’t like you. You just know. I knew.
He would flirt with me often and give me compliments even while they were together. I do admit I wasn’t confident of their relationship status but it would have been smart not to encourage him.
Where am I going with this? I think he told her. About what happened. The coercion.
As if she didn’t already want reasons to hate me. I wasn’t sure if I was making up the vibes in my head – her feelings of insecurity around me, her unsureness, her planned ignorance of the good things happening in my life. If he wanted to confide in anyone about what happened between us (wish he definitely SHOULD HAVE, it’s important to), I mean damn, I wish it wasn’t her. I know it may have helped him, and it is so selfish of me to say this.
The worst part is that she completely began to ignore me after I discovered this suspicion. Now she had reason to believe I was a bad person, I think. Reason to hate me. The car rides home, the compliments, the conversations were obviously farcical and though I always felt a tinge of superficiality between us, it still hurt when I felt that she used my situation with this boy to her advantage.
I can’t stop her from hating me. In retrospect, I feel like we have a lot in common. I studied French six years and her sudden fascination with the language seemed like a happy coincidence. Starting this blog was a great way to express myself, too, and it seemed like she had a similar idea for expression weeks later. She raved about cities and I ended up moving to Chicago. She said she would like to travel and I offered her advice since I had been to multiple countries (she ignored this advice, of course). Despite her hatred for me, our common interests – “common” that is only after she met me – would presumedly put us in a place of friendship.
(Damn, it’s pretty obvious that I am implying she copies me/wants to do things I have been lucky enough to do. I’m not the nicest in my writing. I know. Working on it.)
This was high school. So why do I still care? I have this bad habit of caring about people who do not like me. I am fascinated by them. I am not ashamed to admit that I go through their photos (that is, if they don’t have me blocked), interested in how they’re living their lives post-Upasna. Sounds self-absorbed, right? I just cannot imagine why people would stew on so much hatred or false indifference towards me. Am I really that bad? Am I that bad that you would make the effort to erase me from your memory or work SO hard on pretending that I don’t even exist anymore under the false pretense of “indifference?”
I know this post seems to have taken a very self-absorbed route but please bear with me. Shortly after that conversation with that boy, I published my first piece on Rookie. It was super cool because Tavi, my editor-in-chief and (also fashion icon and also broadway actress and also an amazing writer) tweeted it. It also got mentioned on BuzzFeed. I wasn’t prepared for the popularity of the piece, seeing as I thought it of as way to let out my feelings. At that time we still followed each other on social media. I remember seeing her tweet:
“Why do good things always happen for bad people?”
I tried to tell myself that it wasn’t about me. If I were to believe this Tweet were about me, then I’d also have to believe that the shoe fits – that I thought I was a bad person, that I fit her generalization of a bad person who has good things happen for her. But in my gut I knew that although this wasn’t true, it doesn’t mean that she didn’t feel this way.
For some reason, the thought of that Tweet still burns. I’ve tweeted mean things about people too (and God, I am a sucker for mean Tweets. I am getting over that childish nature, though). But to imply I was a bad person? We had known each other for four years. She had confided in me about her anxiety disorder, I confided in her about my first kiss, we knew a lot about each other through conversations and social media and being stuck in classes together for four years.
Her Tweet made me feel like I was undeserving.
It’s worse because I don’t know if she’s truly mad because of what happened between me and that boy or because she really did not like me, and never did, and what happened was an excuse to hate me for all of the right reasons. This is why I cannot stop thinking about this. Being disliked is normal and inevitable but being hated is on a different level. Knowing that you’re absolutely hated is a disgusting, parasitic feeling. That is why I haven’t gotten over it, even though it’s been over exactly a year. I haven’t gotten over her Tweet. Mainly, I haven’t gotten over her feelings about me. Mutual friends told me to leave it alone, to stay away from her, in disregard of my feelings and in total embrace of hers. Later, these friends drove up to Chicago without a word mentioned to me because she was a part of that drive. My own friends couldn’t visit me or even TELL me courteously that they were in Chicago because of her.
(But I mean, are they friends?)
This post is a mess because I feel a lot of things about these people and these situations. Mainly, I am in deep regret for how I made that boy feel and I am extremely saddened by the fact that my failure to communicate with him during a certain situation resulted in him confiding in this girl, this girl who hated me, this girl who I believe used the discovery of this unfortunate event to her advantage. He knew she didn’t like me, too. That was the worst part. It felt like a game. I hate myself for feeling bad considering he’s technically the person who should be feeling awful. I don’t want to talk about this to anyone because in high school I was always told that I was “victimizing” myself. I’d hate for the to be that to be the case, especially in this situation. And I can’t stop myself from hating these human interactions and I can’t force myself to confront those involved.
Dostoyevsky had this theory that there are no bad people. Only bad actions. If that’s the case then I can feel safe within my own head and safe to tell the details of the situation with this boy. If that’s the case, then this bad action has resulted in her hatred towards the action – not me. I can find peace within the process of making and destroying these relationships, I can allow myself to forgive myself and to find contention with the fact that there are people out there who seem to hate me but really do not.
Quote by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Photo from here.