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True Friends

Well reading the latest post on the blog brought back memories for me, so i thought i would share my story with you.

This story begins twenty years ago, when i was seven years old. See that girl with skinned knees and fluffy hair? Over there on the blue bicycle. Yep thats me. And that other girl with the black hair wearing jeans shorts? That’s Ellie, my neighbor and best friend. We are a mischievous duo and quite inseparable.

From age 7 we were virtually joined at the hip. We were each others’ confidantes and we shared everything. Even when puberty hit and when we started dating boys we didn’t grow apart. A smile comes to my face now as i remember some of the things she’s told me about her romantic adventures. We cried together, laughed together, got drunk together, breakups, hookups, family problems, financial problems…you name it. We had each others’ backs.

Fast forward 13 years from 7, I was 20 and completely and totally in love. My attention wasn’t held for long by boys, and it wasn’t until university that i discovered girls could keep me interested … and interested and interested. I had met someone in my algorithms class, and things had developed… it was such a rush, so much was happening inside of me and it was amazing.

I didn’t think twice before telling Ellie. Sure i was afraid, but if there was one person I felt I could talk to it was her. So one day I gushed it all out to her, and imagine my dismay when her first reaction was to try to talk me out of it. It’s a phase, it’s wrong, it has no future… she said it all.
It’s ok I told myself. She is worried about me, what did I expect? Of course she was going to worry about me! Unfortunatey things didn’t end there. First she wouldn’t sleep over at my place anymore, but insisted it wasn’t related. Then she wouldn’t sit very close to me. Next being together became physically awkward, hugs hurried and uncomfortable. And while this was happening, the frequency with which we saw each other was steadily decreasing until finally we hadn’t seen each other in 4 weeks and she’d been dodging my calls and messages, making up excuses.
One month we hadn’t seen each other or really spoken, so I sent her a text message asking her to please pick up, and I called.
The line was picked up but no one spoke. Hello?
I heard shuffling and faint voices in the background and understood that the phone was being passed from one person to another, and then not her voice but a voice I knew very well, her boyfriend of 4 years, spoke through the phone:

layke ya 7ayeti, Ellie is straight and she has a boyfriend, so why dont you get the message already and stop calling her? Rou7i thayyaji 3a gheir 7ada.
-and he hung up.

I can not describe how that moment felt no matter how hard I try or how many adjectives I use. I died a hundred deaths. Even thinking about it now my heart gets cold. But despite everything I was feeling, and although I have no idea how, I managed not to call back. After that, she should call me. But she didn’t.

Can you believe it? She never called me back. So many years of friendship, just poof. She couldn’t even have the decency to part ways amicably, to explain to me what irreconcilable differences she believed my being gay meant we had.

7 years ago that happened, and I have not heard from Ellie since. Of course I hear of her, and I have an idea of where she’s at in life these days, but that friendship I thought would last a lifetime is gone. Pity.

-Loss Overcome

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My Confession

I told her. I finally told her after a year of suffering, but I regret doing it so much it hurts. She was my biggest crush and we’d grown to be the closest of friends. It had been a year and I was almost over the whole thing, except that I had a hunch that told me she had always known.

I wanted to let it out of my system, I thought that since we were friends, and shared so many secrets that all will be well. But apparently that wasn’t enough.

After my confession, she went into a state of shock. Took her almost 2 hours to reply back. And boy, I wish she had never replied. She said she didn’t want me to part of her life anymore. That she thought I was gonna change and get over those feelings I’m having, this phase i’m going through. She was totally chill when it was other girls I talked about but when it became her she couldn’t take it.

Today, I lost one of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life. But I’m not sure if that’s what she felt. I feel relief, but simultaneously pain and betrayal. I pray upon a time where I wouldn’t have to justify my actions and hide in my own shadow. Upon times when I can be me and nothing else…

-Mess

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I Don’t Know if I Should Tell You

We’re sitting around the dinner table, my mom, my sister and I. The conversation is flowing, and they’re heckling me for not knowing how to cook; it’s all good fun. Then my mom asks me about my ex-boyfriend, the guy I’d broken up with over 5 years ago… yes 5 whole years have gone by and she still asks about him. Maybe it’s because she never heard about any guy after him, but still! I think he’s fine I tell her, I don’t really know. Before she can pursue the matter further my sister shoots me a sympathetic glance and changes the subject.

There’s a large age gap between me and my sister. She is 8 years older than me. Basically when she was in her teen years I was in my childhood i-wanna-be-like-you period, and to those of you who have younger sisters you can imagine how annoying I must have been to her. I wanted to go wherever she went, do whatever she did, dress in the same style… Looking back I’m sure I must have been a nightmare, but we were sisters and she was stuck with me!

Despite the phase described above and the many sibling disputes we’d have, she was always the perfect big sister. She helped teach me how to read fluidly, was the source of my first exposure to “good” music, and I went to her for advice. She protected me; I know this is very movie cliche but only she was allowed to call me an idiot! And our relationship evolved, as I grew older and more mature we were able to connect in different ways. I stopped being the child in the relationship and our conversation became more two-dimensional. And well today, I’m old enough that the age-gap doesn’t really make a difference anymore. I can even give her advice now!

Although the progression above seems linear, there was actually a fork in that road. When I began exploring my sexuality I couldn’t tell her. At first it was hard enough for me to admit to myself the reality of the things I was feeling and experiencing, let alone speak of them. But even as I became more comfortable with myself and sure of my sexuality I couldn’t bring myself to tell her. I was scared. I had no idea what she would think or say, or if she would tell our parents. Maybe she’d round up the village-folk with pitch-forks and chase after me!! Ok, I know, that’s ridiculous, but I really was scared.

The fear kept me quiet, but quiet means that I kept a lot from her. For years now she’s thought that I’m single. Whenever we talk I leave out so much of my life it almost feels like I’m pretending to be someone else. And the more things I left out, the less I felt we really knew each other. Questions about how I’d spent my weekend, why I was upset, and a million others all resulted in half-truth responses. And let’s face it, half-truth is just a pretty way of saying I lied to her.

About a year ago I couldn’t take it anymore. On one side of the balance was the fear, and on the other side of it were the lies, and the fear just wasn’t heavy enough anymore. I wanted to tell the truth to my sister, and I wanted it to be alright. I wanted her to see me, to understand me, to be there for me the way she’d always been. And so far I hadn’t given her the chance to because I’d kept her in the dark. I decided I would tell her despite the horror stories I’ve heard about how wrong these things can go sometimes. I told myself that either she’d take it well, and we’d have an honest close relationship again, or she’d take it badly in which case we’d lose the more and more superficial friendship we had but she’d always have me; she’s my sister. And as the voices in my head whispered their paranoid warnings to me  I knew that I was in a place in my life where I am able to support myself should things go completely south, but I didn’t allow myself to dwell on that.

So we’re sitting alone together, chatting about nothing important, and I feel nervous. The tension builds inside me until at some point things change, and it’s like I’m on autopilot. All of a sudden I feel like I’m standing behind myself, a spectator to the scene that is playing out. I open my mouth, and the words tumble out.

“I don’t know if I should tell you this. I don’t know how you’re going to take this. I’m gay. I’ve been with a girl for 3 years now”.

Whenever I remember saying those words my heart beats a little faster and I feel a little nervous all over again. She asked me if I was joking, twice. I said I wasn’t. She was silent for all of about 5 seconds and then she hugged me. You never need to hide from me, she said. And … it was alright.

It was alright. At first I didn’t believe it. I was suspicious. She probably was still in shock. Tomorrow things would be different. She’d act different. She’d say something. But she didn’t. It really was alright. And I know that there are so many people out there not fortunate enough to have a positive experience when they come out to a family member, many of my friends were not so lucky. But oh my gosh I’m so relieved. I’m so so relieved that my sister knows me again, and that I’m still the same person to her.

-Yakhne