A few months ago, I threw a temper tantrum that was so severe that it prompted my friend Shani to break up with me.
Her reasoning was that my temper was “cooler” than hers, and although she too had experienced trauma, she actually enjoyed being mad as much as I did.
She was “right,” of course, but it still hurt to know that her opinion was the only one that mattered. I am empathetic to the fact that sometimes we don’t see things as they really are. In that same vein, I’ve learned that we often only have a direct view of other people when they’re sleeping or eating, and we suffer when we allow that to become otherwise normal.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from my relationship with Shani is that I need to take care of myself not only for my own survival but for the survival of those I love.
It’s undoubtedly difficult when our partners reject us for the person we are, but I’ve learned that I need to prioritize my own happiness more than anyone else’s. I have a tendency to look for the “next best thing” when someone has already shown me that they’re unconcerned about me, and I’ve learned to be wary of anyone who seems to want to take advantage of that concern.
I can’t say that I don’t regret the way my relationship with Shani ended, but I don’t regret trying to make it work, and I don’t regret trying to make a friend out of her. We have an argument or two (thankfully in response to her genuine worry that I’m in love with her), but we’ve largely avoided irreconcilable conflict. I do regret the painful rift that opened between us, but not the part that my sister took.
However, I do regret not moving past the pain of our past and learning from it. I don’t regret the time I wasted being hurtful and dismissive, but I do regret not learning from it and not being able to stop it. I don’t regret trying to salvage the friendship I had with Shani, but I do regret that this human being was so flawed and human that she couldn’t understand or forgive the ways I had hurt her.
For the time being, this is how my heart feels. This is how my soul feels. Yes, I have had my fair share of heartbreaks, but this is the one that sticks out in my mind.
It’s easy to see the good in people, to trust their kindness and their motives, but it’s always challenging to know the difference between what we can see and what we see. And it’s even harder to know that what we think we know is simply the tip of the iceberg, base-level emotions hidden beneath the surface.