My friends and I went to the beach on Thursday. I was hesitant to wear my bikini; unsure about whether I wanted to have my scoliosis and surgical scars out on display like that, but when I finally built up the courage to put it on I thought I looked pretty damn good. I had been to the beach on my trip to San Diego, but I didn’t have a bathing suit that time. So, after seven years of avoiding coastal waters, Thursday afternoon was the time for me to take on the beach for real. I needed to throw myself into that beautiful body of water and face my fear. I was still a little nervous about showing so much skin in a public place, but once we started towards the water I realized there’s nothing weird about me, because I like me. Plus as the saying goes “ain’t no nobody looking at you!” We dipped our feet in and squealed, it was sooo cold. As we went deeper it felt amazing. Just like me wearing my bikini, once I embraced it I was fine.

As we jumped, swam, and crashed into waves we couldn’t help but talk about how good it felt to be there. We discussed how the ocean is said to have a significant amount of negative ions, which is why we feel see so high and overjoyed when we’re near it. It’s so much stronger than us. It makes our lives seem insignificant, and in a good way. I belonged there. I felt silly for denying myself this joy for almost 10 years.

When we got back, I decided to have a sleepover with Annabelle at my house because it had begun to rain and she couldn’t get a ride home. The beginning of the night was pretty calm. We sat on my porch and watched the raindrops fall between the trees that surround my house. You would’ve thought we were in a rainforest. Then someone who I thought was a good friend drunkenly FaceTimed me, and everything went sour. At first, I thought she was calling to jokingly complain about petty boy drama. However, 30 minutes into her whining I realized she was actually seriously upset because a boy who she claimed she wasn’t trippin over didn’t text her all day. I thought this was a really stupid reason to call me acting like the world was ending, but me being the “good listener friend,” decided to endure her theatrics, and tried (and failed) to see it from her perspective.

She asked me for advice. When the advice wasn’t what she wanted to hear she began yelling at me. She asked for advice again and did the same thing, going in a virulent circle. I let her know that this cycle wasn’t going to get her anywhere. She asked what she should do, I replied “I don’t know,” because I genuinely didn’t. I’m usually good at putting myself in others shoes, but no part of me could relate to being stressed about not getting text back from a boy who isn’t my boyfriend. This prompted her to get angrier. She was acting like she owned me; as if I had some magical answer to her problems that I was purposely keeping away from her. I tried to comfort her and tell her she wasn’t crazy but then she screamed, “BITCH, DON’T CALL ME CRAZY!”

I wasn’t having it. She called me out my name when I was just trying to help her. I attempted to explain that she’d misinterpreted what I’d said, but she refused to listen. She just wanted to be mad, and as long as she was mad everyone else had to be mad, too. I yelled back at her and hung up the phone. She called back. I told her to relax, then she screamed about the text again. Listening and occasionally chiming in, Annabelle then noticed how wild this whole situation was, and how uncomfortable it was making me. Her eyes widened, “Wait this is all over a text?! Dude I sometimes go a whole day without looking at my phone!” I laughed with relief, happy to know that I wasn’t the only one who thought she was blowing this out of proportion. My friend on the phone laughed then, too, then went back to demanding that I fix her problems. She was still being dramatic and yelling when a different boy texted her. Her entire mood shifted. She smiled: “Oh my god, never mind I feel better now, thanks. I’m ready to party, you guys are boring.” I hung up the phone.

I was suddenly overwhelmed with disgust. If all it took was a different boy texting her to make her happy and calm the fuck down why did she call me? I’d never felt so used. She literally just called to have someone watch her talk to herself. In those moments, I realized that she was only yelling at me because she couldn’t yell at the boy she was mad at. She saw me as an emotional punching bag. That is not how a good friend is supposed to treat you.

In the morning she texted me, apologizing for calling me boring, as if that’s what would have bothered me. There were a shopping list of things, besides that bogus insult, she should’ve apologized for. I texted her explaining how what she did hurt me, and showed that she had no regard for me. She didn’t care and felt she had done nothing wrong. I pretty much told her if she doesn’t want to be a logical person, who respects people’s emotional boundaries I don’t need to be her friend.

Ending that friendship kind of felt like a breakup. We’d been close for more than two years, but the fact that she was comfortable enough to treat me like that made me wonder if our whole friendship was a farce. Did she only like me because I’m a good listener? As frustrating as that argument was, it did put me into a fit of rage and I decided to text everyone who has been using me for my emotional support to tell them how I really felt. I held nothing back, letting them know that this was an ultimatum, and if they continued draining me of my energy I would dead our friendship just like I did with the other girl. They responded with sincere apologies, and I haven’t been harassed for advice since.

I also woke up without a voice that day, which I have to admit was pretty funny: I left the ocean, came back to land, and lost the ability to speak. I felt like Ariel in The Little Mermaid. I was only worried because a different friend I haven’t seen in almost a year was throwing a big brunch on Sunday and I wanted to be able to talk to everyone! I assured her that I’d still be coming, but I wouldn’t be as chatty. I was then reminded that I still have the most caring and sweetest friends in the world. She texted back saying she didn’t mind at all because she would feed me mint tea all day to heal my throat. Why should I be be hung up over mean spirited former friends when I have so many others, old and new, that respect and love me for who I am?

The brunch was just what I needed. It’s always a sweet, settling feeling when you get to meet up with friends you haven’t seen in forever. I totally forgot about the drama of the day before. Maybe growing up means leaving behind some friends to make room for other, kinder ones. I want to be happy, and I know happiness is more of an up and down concept than something I can just keep up with indefinitely, but I do want to consciously avoid situations and people that purposely bring me down.

I’ve figured out my payment plan for school and I move in next week. I’m so ready to step into this next chapter of my life. I’ve experienced so many drastic encounters in my life that in the long run, caused me to grow into a better, more seasoned version of myself. Inner change is something I’ve found to be unavoidably beautiful. And I’m super excited to meet and deal with all these new personal changes I’m going through right now. A whole new me is incipient. ♦