Dear Diary

October 5, 2011

Friendship breakups, siblings and the lack thereof, and Arthur.

Katherine

The other day at lunch, a group of friends and I sat in a circle and talked about friends we had left behind. Everyone at some point had drifted away from a group or had to break up with a close friend. Some had been dumped themselves. It brought me back to this story.

Ana* and I met in second grade. I had just transferred from a public school and had no friends at my new, private one. Shy and easily intimidated, I kept to myself. Every day at lunch, I got my lasagna or meatloaf, grabbed a carton of milk, and sat down at any table where I could have an empty seat on both sides of me. On the playground, I sat in front of a fence and read, longing instead to swing with the girls with long, silky hair.

One day, while I was reading, Ana came up to me and asked me to play war. I looked nervously at the wooden jungle gym, where the guys were reenacting WWII with sticks as guns. “Are you sure?” I asked. She told me that she was sure, but that there could be only one girl in the game, so we would have to take turns being a dog.

We were instant friends, and our friendship continued throughout elementary school. We were on the same softball team, and I stuck up for her when the other team members made fun of her for not having a boyfriend. She, in turn, defended me from kids who threw basketballs at my head in P.E. (I know it’s not an accident, jerks, I can see you there laughing.) Ana and I did everything together: book club, cheerleading, birthday parties, etc. We even had our own toothbrushes at each other’s houses.

If I had to pinpoint the moment when our friendship started to change, I’d say it was Field Day in fifth grade. Ana beat me in a race, and as we were getting our ribbons and water after, she held up her blue ribbon and said, “See, I’ll always be that much better.” Deeply offended but also somewhat of a doormat, I said nothing in response. Every time we hung out after that, she always had some underhanded comment or backhanded compliment for me. She’d say things like, “If you were as skinny as me, you’d probably be better at sports,” or later, “Geez, you must be really disappointed not to have a date to homecoming. I’d hate to be you right now,” or, my favorite, “Wow, you actually look cute for once.”

I eventually figured out that best friends don’t treat you this way. They also don’t trash-talk your other friends to your face, which Ana was starting to do whenever I started to get close to someone who wasn’t her. I now recognize that this was probably jealousy more than anything else.

At the same time, we were developing different interests. Ana was getting really serious about sports and her grades, and I was starting to take an interest in music and drama. I was making new friends, but she was so focused on dominating me that she didn’t pay attention to many other people. I tried to slowly worm my way out of our friendship, making excuses for not hanging out Friday nights and openly opposing everything she liked (I made a huge point of being disgusted by Avril Lavigne). But no matter how much I dodged her, I just couldn’t shake her.

So I became increasingly nasty. I talked smack about Ana behind her back, letting people know just how ridiculous I thought she was. One morning sophomore year, I parked next to her car. She was starting to walk away when she saw that I was about to hit her car with my door. She literally dove between the two cars, wailing, “My baybeee!” Without thinking, I screamed, “Ana, I don’t give a fuck about your car!” She stood there stunned. I had never been so harsh to her. She later asked me if we were still friends, and I said no.

Ana still goes to my school, and we see each other in the hallways now and then, and when we do, we usually casually talk about college or class schedules. We both seem eager to keep our conversations as brief as possible. Also, I’m a lot happier since our falling out. I can’t speak for her, but I feel a lot better.

I’m glad that we can move on, but I’m not proud of how I treated her. I wish I had confronted her when I didn’t like the way she was treating me. When I felt us drifting apart, I could have been honest and told her I’d like to spend less time together. My main regret is that I didn’t end it before it really hurt her. ♦

* I’ve changed her name to protect her privacy.

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24 Comments

  • Annie October 5th, 2011 7:18 PM

    I usually watch the Colbert Report religiously, but I didn’t watch this one. I’m an only child too, so I knew it would probably just upset me. I relate to basically everything in this post; it’s really comforting to know that I’m not the only one going through this stuff.

  • Gretchyn October 5th, 2011 7:28 PM

    This is really honest + comforting for me, because I just went through a friendship breakup very similar to this + I’m still in a blunder trying to deal with encountering her/our mutual “friends” (I really didn’t like them, we had nothing in common) at school. This does help though, I’m really glad you shared this. X

  • junebuglove October 5th, 2011 7:34 PM

    Dylan, it is not because you are an only child. I am the same exact way and I have an older and younger sister. Go figure.

  • Marguerite October 5th, 2011 8:02 PM

    I have two older sisters and i would have failed at life without them! I have no idea how you do it Dylan!

  • Nomi October 5th, 2011 8:22 PM

    Dylan – I’m an only child too, and I’m actually quite a normal teenager. I do read a lot, and I know a lot of other only children, so that has helped a little. But I’m very very sensitive, so much that even the slightest, friendly insult comment can make me want to shrivel into a snail. I sometimes wish I’d had a sibling so that I could learn to defend myself–from what I’ve seen, siblings fight a rather lot. I also, actually, sometimes feel a little bit childish compared to my friends. I think since having siblings is such a norm, us only children may always feel a little out of place. (I always feel like people look at me funny when I tell them I have no siblings!) Our lives would both be different if we had siblings, that’s for sure, but who’s to say they would have been better? What if our siblings HATED us, or what if our parents played favorites? My friends all love their siblings, but they always express jealousy at me having my own room and getting all the Hannukah presents. Besides I’ve always felt like my friends are my siblings. But that’s just my experience, every only child’s is different, Im sure. What I’m trying to say is, hey fellow only child, being only doesn’t mean alone, which is something I’m still learning.

  • rhymeswithorange October 5th, 2011 8:50 PM

    That’s so interesting dylan, I feel sometimes like I miss out on all the typical teenage stuff too because even though I go to a public school, it’s an options school, meaning it’s not the usual big high school, everyone chooses (or their parents make them) go there. And when I talk to people not from my school honestly sometimes it feels like we’re from two different worlds. I’m not sure how this’ll effect me later.
    Also I’m pretty self-absorbed (or maybe in tune with myself?? I feel comfortable talking about/dissecting myself) and I have a younger brother.

  • Carol October 5th, 2011 9:20 PM

    Dylan, I too am an only child. I know exactly how you feel — though sometimes I’m thankful it’s just me, more often than not I crave for siblings. Your words rings true more so because as of late I’ve thought an awful lot about my only-child-ness. I found the following piece really interesting and somewhat resonant: I hope you enjoy it as well!

    http://www.threepennyreview.com/samples/dyer_sp11.html

  • Mememeo October 5th, 2011 9:31 PM

    I’m an only child too, and I’ve experienced the same thing – not only a lack of typical teenager experiences, but I’m was also very awkward when socializing until I was 15… I was incapable of striking up any sort of casual conversation. I found out that I had to go halfway around the world in order to get the typical teenager experience.

    These days, though, I’ve learned the art of subtly injecting the weather into any awkward silences ||D

    But, for the most part, I’ve found that I DO like being an only child more.

  • koolkat October 5th, 2011 11:32 PM

    I have a younger sister, but I the near five years before she was born, I guess I developed the same personality as an only child. I get really shy and find it hard to join in with group discussions and stuff. And I did grow up really fast because my parents spent those early years stimulating and working with me so I guess I look into stuff deeper or something? I’m also really paranoid so either I’m just weird or I was badly hit by only-child syndrome!

    I think if you’re the older sibling it does help with being selfish, but ultimately you still don’t have the older sister. Luckily both my parents were only children, so my mum especially is really good at talking to me and stuff.

  • Angie Bitchface October 6th, 2011 1:24 AM

    Dylan — I have an older brother and I had a similar high school experience as you — I didn’t go to prom, didn’t go to most of the school events or parties, didn’t have a boyfriend in high school or all that many friends, always felt pretty out of place among people my age — but for me it wasn’t a conscious choice to distance myself from people my age, it seemed more at the time that they were distancing themselves from me. later on I found out that everyone in high school (other than my friends) apparently thought I was really shy and kept to myself all the time, but I had thought that people just didn’t want to talk to me. anyway, my point is, I don’t think it’s the number of siblings you have that determines these things. maybe it’s one factor, but there are many other factors to consider. there are other factors in my upbringing that I think could have contributed to me feeling out of place in high school.

  • chloelrd October 6th, 2011 2:27 AM

    I hear you! I am an only child and I don’t like it very much, i think that it has made me more closed off to other people. I also feel more lonely, I really wish I had a sibling. All my friends have great relationships with theirs, it would just be nice to have someone from the sam parents etc.

  • JennaF October 6th, 2011 8:03 AM

    I think the problem is not lack of siblings really but lack of unsupervised, unstructured time with other kids. I’m an only child and was lucky enough to have a lot of that — I’d come home from school and go outside and find the neighborhood pack and we’d stay outside until dinnertime. And if it was summer, we’d go back out after dinner.

    Kids are different when they aren’t being supervised.

    That was easier back in the day, but still possible. I was happy enough being an only child that I had an only child myself. I made sure to find a community that had a lot of free-range-type kids, and she spends more time with friends rather than whomever just happens to be outside, but also is a very socially comfortable creature (at 11).

  • erin October 6th, 2011 11:04 AM

    I think you might have a point about the only child thing, though I don’t know many. However, I think the same might go for eldest kids, since they’ve got no one to look to for advice either. I feel sometimes like you did, and I’ve got a little sister. I think though, that having older siblings does kind of guide you…

  • WitchesRave October 6th, 2011 12:48 PM

    You could drive in sophmore year?
    Jeez, we cant drive till we’re 18 in my country..

  • jeanette October 6th, 2011 2:46 PM

    Just to let you know that this diary sounds exactly like what mine would! I love your diary the most because you’re both in England and the same age as me. I thought I was being prepared for the unexpected hot weather today but it was unexpectedly expectedly cold. Like, freezing cold. Like, what the heck! Currently re-watching Arthur too. The new CBBC shows are kinda sucky now. Remember that show, 50/50? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Wbh4sB8394 & Watch my Chops? Was reminiscing about old shows like that which I’d forgotten. Sighhh!~

    • Naomi October 6th, 2011 6:36 PM

      i remember 50/50! that used to be amazing.

  • Illusen October 6th, 2011 4:00 PM

    Dylan- I am also an only child, when i was a kid my parents used to talked about having another baby, after a while, i started crying when they did it because i knew it wasn’t going to happen.
    I also think being an only child shaped my personality, in fact, the way you described yourself sound much like me. :)

    Naomi- I never liked summer, it burns my skin and makes me sweaty and sleepy!
    Cold has its beauty and it’s much “cleaner” than heat, besides (and i don’t care if i look superficial by saying this) winter clothes are so much cuter!

  • back2thepast October 6th, 2011 7:08 PM

    GREAT CAESAR’S GHOST!!! I JUST DISCOVERED THROUGH THE WONDERFUL WIKIPEDIA WORLD THAT ZIGGY MARLEY SINGS THE AURTHUR THEME SONG! HAHAHAHA!

    • Naomi October 7th, 2011 6:39 AM

      OH MY GIDDY AUNT.
      that is AMAZING

  • Izzy October 7th, 2011 10:33 AM

    Naomi, I can agree with your post so well! I live in Bradford, in England, and all geared up with my gloves and my jumpers and chunky boots, and then, WHAM! Heat! It just did not feel right…and now it is cold and rainy and windy!
    (And I’ll always have a sneaky go on the playground slide)

  • jessejames October 7th, 2011 3:26 PM

    Naomi- i think Arthur was my favorite show for far too long. Did you see the ep. with the World Girl Dolls. It’s hilarious, esp. how the Tibetan doll was discontinued because there weren’t enough accessories.

  • GraceHF October 8th, 2011 5:33 PM

    I’d just like to say that my mom and I are both only children, and it’s working out really well for us. I love being an only child and I don’t feel that I’ve missed out. I think the way you see being an only child depends a lot on how your parents see having an only child.

  • stellar October 10th, 2011 8:44 PM

    yow! i had a best friend in 3rd grade who got taken away by a more aggressive girl who tried to get me to say mean things about her that weren’t true. i was too afraid to say what was going on with that, and regret i didn’t speak up more. later on, i made friends who were alternately catty and nice; just sort of tolerated it. years later, pretty much the same because it feels ‘disloyal’ to point out when something is off. well, that’s a good way to lose potentially better friendships, but maybe they weren’t friendship material to begin with –sometimes just hard to know for sure.