One of the most crucial moments in any new relationship is when you decide that it’s time for your friends to meet your new romance. The people closest to you, those who have been with you through thick and thin, meeting the one who makes your heart skip beats and your hands and legs shake.

I’m not one to have many friends; I don’t like all that many people, really. A complete contrast to you – the king of social butterflies. You may not have cared much about what the world thought of me, or even if any of your many friends had any clue of my existence, but to me, it was somewhat different. I wanted my people to like you. Hell, I wanted them to love you. I wanted them to see the wonderful person that I saw in you; the one that I fell in love within an uncanny short time. It didn’t happen often –in fact, it had never happened before– and they knew that.

My people don’t simply mean the world to me – they are my world. And that’s the thing with real friends – it’s mutual. Because all they wanted, back then and to this day, is my happiness. They want me to have the love and life that I deserve. And I didn’t want them to be left out on living every bit of the man that I adored so much. Ultimately though, it wasn’t them who missed out on anything; it was you.

They got to see all the things that you were oblivious to.

My friends were the ones who saw the moronic smile that was constantly stuck on my face and the way my hands shook when my phone rang and your name appeared on the screen. They were the ones that heard my giggles whenever you sent me some kind of funny text, or my totally out of tune singing while I was getting ready to come to see you. They saw how my mood changed, how I was suddenly on cloud nine, happier than I had ever been.

They were the ones who watched as “one of the good ones” got sucked into a toxic relationship. They listened to my ranting and delirium, the scenarios my very active imagination came up with, to either explain or justify your outbursts or your frequent absences.

My friends were the ones sitting at the table with me while I stared at the doors of each and every place we went to, waiting for you to show up. They were the ones that I called panicking when I hadn’t heard from you all day and the ones that I ditched whenever you finally decided that you had some time to see me. They were there when you ghosted me for days upon days. They were sitting next to me when you sent me a text stating simply that “whatever it is we had” was over.

They were also the ones who saw my bloodshot and puffy eyes, which I tried –and failed– to hide behind dark sunglasses, when they finally got me to leave the house.  They dealt with my panic attacks and isolation. They’re the ones who took my phone away from me and got me home on the night I had way too much to drink after seeing you with my “replacement”.

They heard me repeat the phrase “I’m fine. It’s nothing. No big deal.” like a mantra, struggling to convince myself more than actually trying to convince them of it, more times than they can count. When moments of sheer weakness and desperation hit, my ego and self-respect at the nadir, when all I wanted was to see you for a moment, to hear your voice, they were there to remind me who I am and what I’m worth. And also what you were (not) worth.

They got to watch me fall apart, and they were there to pick up the pieces, help me get up and stand back on my feet. They were the ones that brought a smile back to my face when I truly thought it was lost for good, and they were there to make me laugh again months later.

I don’t hate you. Not really. I resent you. I don’t ever want to see your face again. I couldn’t care less what (or whom) you’re doing. But I’ve never said a bad word about you; even after everything. I’ve never wished you ill. I would never. I promised to love you forever, and though I wasn’t able to keep that promise, I do not hate you.

My friends, though better people than me by far, made no such promises. Their loyalty, love and, shockingly at times, respect lay with me. They saw it all up close and in High Definition, and although I couldn’t see what the whole ordeal did to me, they did.

They saw it, they knew, they tried to tell me; I just didn’t want to listen. I was in love and oblivious.

I don’t hate you. But they do. They’re entitled to, they have that right.

When you fall in love all objectivity goes straight out the window. You’re in too deep, you can’t see clearly. You rely on those around you to hold your hand; even when you slap it away in frustration.

They still loved me and stood by me despite the times I loved you more and put you above everyone and everything. Even when it was me, defending you, against them, they still loved me. They forgave me my stupidity, my stubborn insistence to love you; even when it was clear that you couldn’t give a shit about me.

You’re gone now. They’re still here. They still love me.

I just might forgive you someday. They never will.

Author: Nikól Peri

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