The Garden of My Self-Esteem Blooms Where Friendships Rot
This is dedicated to the corpses of friendships past. To the ghosts of relationships that I sacrificed on the altar of my self-worth. To the ghouls that stalk my yesterdays and seek to eat the joys of my tomorrows. To the zombies that crowd around my heart seeking sustenance. To the vampires seeking to drain my soul and the werewolves who hunt to shred my will.
This is for you.
I am better without you.
It’s hard to say because I love you. Not loved. Love. As in still love you. And I know despite everything, I will continue to love you because when I gift you with the title of “friend,” I have let you in my life and my heart. You have heard my arias and my dirges and every melody in between. Whether you recognized it as such is irrelevant now, because for some reason or another, I’ve had to bury a stake in the heart of our relationship and torch its corpse to set myself free. I don’t kill lightly. Often, I wait and watch and hope and try to prevent its death, but now I recognize that some things cannot be saved and DNR exists for a reason. When a relationship goes septic, that poison destroys everything in its path and like a limb rotting on my body, relationships rot on my psyche. They become the poison that kills not just the relationship, but the people in it. I will not let the poison that is us destroy the person who is me and if self-preservation means the amputation of a relationship that was once a source of joy, then off it comes and into the ground it goes.
My graveyard of friendships past exists because I deserve more than to be tolerated. I deserve more than to be endured, patronized, condescended to, ignores, erased, or dismissed. I deserve to be respected, appreciated, and loved. I deserve to receive what I give to you: my trust and my time. I deserve to have my boundaries not just respected but mutually protected and I will accept no less than what I deserve.
Each headstone represents a stepping stone in my journey to love and appreciate the person I am and each grave is an abuse I refused to accept as my norm. Family, ex-lovers, former friends all feed the worms in my garden and nourish the glorious growth that has come since.
And while I mourn what was and what could have been, I also heal and grow stronger, more resilient, and more resistant to the poisons that once saturated my system and were slowly killing my will and my sense of self. My body, mind, and spirit heal, and I feel my power return and multiply. I flourish in my decision to protect my esteem, worth, and respect. The glory that is me shines brighter…cleaner…focused and powerful. I become a better version of me.
You came and left for a reason, even if that reason was to remind me I need, want, and deserve more. I learn those lessons and I am grateful for the ability and opportunity to learn. And years later, when I appreciate my hard-won garden blossoming in the grave of our relationship, I’ll appreciate you, too. But not now. The dirt is too fresh and no flowers live here yet. This grave is too new, the stench of decay is too fresh. The reek of putrefied promises and decomposing dreams is too overwhelming and the pain of the loss resonates too deeply. And while I cannot stand to be near that naked plot of fetid could have beens, I cannot look away. So, I sit here and rage, and ache for a loss that should have been preventable. Should have…
But it wasn’t… Because the price was aspects of me that were inconvenient for you. And that always seems to be the cost of friendships…little pieces integral to who I am that make life less easy for you. My independence, pride, and skills that I won’t let others exploit for their own gain. My self-respect and ability to say no to you. My strength of will and ethics that guide my actions in ways that make me difficult to control. I resist the series of little compromises to my self-worth that make me malleable and easier to lead. I refuse to become who you think I should be and remain true to who I am and that is fucking inconvenient to a lot of people. People I’ve decided I don’t need if they don’t think I’m enough as I am.
As with all relationships, I ignored the signs. I disregarded the small things because they were only minor inconveniences. Little suggestions that I assumed were meant to be helpful, instead of manipulative. It wasn’t a big deal…until I started hearing different voices in my head – voices that had me second guessing my decisions and questioning my choices. New voices that asked me what others would think if I said this or did that. Voices that didn’t sound like me. Voices I rejected in my head, my actions, and, eventually, verbally when I recognized them being spoken by others. Voices I didn’t realize I’d been internalizing and whose public rejection resulted in censure and “gentle” correction. Voices I had to forcibly shove out of my boundaries that I later realized were rooted in and entwined with several of my relationships and discovered would thrive or die as one.
I finally saw the undeniable truth of our relationship, the indisputable truth that you didn’t like me, but rather some elusive potential you saw in me – the “me” you thought I could be. And seeing your version of “me” had me dig out my shotgun and mourning clothes because I kill other people’s “potential” with extreme prejudice. I choose who I want to be. The ability to make that choice is what makes me the version of me I can love. Your version is a series of little deaths and I will always choose to save myself.
So, to all those people who meet me - all you vampires, ghouls, ghosts, werewolves, and zombies who are looking for easy prey…I’m not the one to fuck with. I am not your potential. I am not your vision. I am not something to mold and shape to your will. I am who I am and there is nothing you can offer me worth more than my agency, my free-will. The ability to be who I choose is integral to my survival and if I have to kill our relationships to thrive, I will ALWAYS choose to save myself.
My prospering, graveyard garden is all the proof I need.