Friendships are great things. They make you smile, make you feel warm inside and make you really happy. But with friendship comes jealousy, especially with close friendships. This is the story of how jealousy ruined me. Before I start, there are some things you need to know about me. When I was in primary school, I was a loner. I still had friends, I wasn't friendless, but there was no one with whom I spent the entire school day with. During breaks, I was always on my own. I was bullied by the boys in my class and since there was no one that I could talk to, I suffered in silence.
Then came secondary school. On the first day that I stepped into my new class in an all girls' school, I saw her. I've always thought that I had something like a premonition, and this was it. Even though I knew that I have never seen her before, she still looked familiar to me. Her name was Chelsea and we became instant friends. Finally, I had someone who would hang out with me throughout the entire school day, someone who would follow me down to the canteen and to the library. For the rest of the year, I was extremely happy, happier than I have ever been all my life. All that changed when we reached secondary two.
We were in the same class and on the first day of school, we sat together. In front of us were two other girls. One of them was going to be my greatest enemy, Roxanne. For the first few weeks of school, I was still as happy. Chelsea and I were sitting next to each other and did all projects together. We got along well with our new classmates and it seemed like the entire year was going to be the best. All that changed when the class chairperson changed our seats. I was sitting with a girl named Abigail and Chelsea was sitting with Roxanne. Both of them were in front of me.
At first, it was okay, Chelsea was a little bit frightened of Roxanne because she was very enthusiastic. I had actually wanted Chelsea to be friends with Roxanne so that she would have fun during lessons. Of course, I came to regret that decision later. As the days passed, Chelsea slowly stopped being afraid of Roxanne and they became very good friends. They talked and laughed during lesson time and looked really happy. That was the start of my jealousy. If Chelsea and I were able to talk and laugh with such vigor while together, I would be fine, but while Chelsea laughed and talked with Roxanne, she was silent with me, only laughing occasionally. I felt her begin to distance from me, talking more with Roxanne than she did with me.
Life in school was hell for me as every day, I had to watch them laughing and enjoying themselves in front of me. Sometimes, while laughing or talking with Chelsea, Roxanne took peeks at me, as if to see how I was. And it wasn't out of concern, when she peeked at me, it was as if she wanted to see my suffering and revel in it. I didn't understand why she was doing this at all. She had her own group of friends and they were always joking and laughing when they could. So why would she see the need to do this? She was the type who could be your best friend in just one meeting. I even had some trouble feeling resentful towards her as when I had the chance to speak with her, I just couldn't help but like her. In the past, I have always hated Chinese lesson. It was boring and I wasn't very good at it. However, during Chinese lesson, I would sit next to Chelsea while Roxanne sat at the other end of the class. I slowly started to look forward to Chinese lesson, as only then was I able to sit next to Chelsea.
Before I met Chelsea, my self-esteem was not very high. I did not feel treasured as a person and always walked with my eyes on the floor, unable to face the world. After a few weeks in her company, my self-esteem began to build up and soon, I was able to walk with my head held high, full of confidence in myself. I began to smile more and became more optimistic. But after Roxanne, my self-esteem was put to the test and failed miserably. I've always known that I wasn't compatible with Chelsea. She had almost flawless skin, save for birthmarks and the occasional pimple, while I had a never-ending stream of pimples on my forehead. Her teeth were perfectly straight without the use of braces while my teeth are crooked and I was missing two of my front teeth. She was underweight while I was the opposite. She was physically fit while I was struggling just to past the physical fitness test. She could make friends in an instant and could always strike up a conversation, while I have always been an awkward girl, always quiet, never socialising well. It's not like I didn't try, it's just that I couldn't do it. After meeting Chelsea, I was more sociable and could talk more but I couldn't change the other imperfect parts of me. After taking a good look at Roxanne and enduring a few weeks of the pain, I began to think that maybe it would be best if Chelsea did go off with Roxanne after all. Roxanne had flawless skin, with no pimples in sight, her teeth were just a tiny bit crooked and she was in the healthy weight range. She was extremely fit and never had any trouble with the physical fitness test. She could even talk more with Chelsea than I did. My pessimistic past and previous insecurites came back after those thoughts. I began feeling unworthy and useless again. Every day I saw them having fun together brought along a dip in my head until finally, I walked with my eyes to the floor, unable to face the world and all its cruelty.
Everything was still bearable since Chelsea and I did group work or pair work together, sat together during chinese lesson and hung out together during breaks. But the pessimistic voice in me wondered: How long would this last? How long would it take before that changed as well? As a result, every day I waited for the moment when Chelsea would choose Roxanne over me.
Every time a teacher announced that we had to do pair work and that we could choose our pair, Chelsea and I would turn to each other with a huge grin on our faces, then burst out laughing. In our language, that meant that we chose each other. During biology lesson one day, we had to discuss the process of something in class and we could choose our pairs. The first person who popped into my mind was Chelsea, of course. I looked up at her to do our usual thing when I saw something that made my heart stop. Chelsea and Roxanne, leaning towards each other with a huge grin on their faces. I interpreted that as: I choose you. My pessimistic self thought: So it begins. Then flashes of what could follow this new development appeared in my mind. It would first begin with Chelsea telling me that she didn't really want me to sit on Roxanne's sit anymore during Chinese lesson. Then Chelsea would hang out with Roxanne and her gang during breaks. Then, she would not talk to me anymore and people would look at me and think: That's the girl who was dumped by her best friend. Now she's all alone. Then I would be back to how I was before secondary school, all alone. While discussing, I saw Roxanne sneak peeks at me again, mocking me.
After biology, I wanted to confront Chelsea and ask her why she chose Roxanne instead of me but I feared that if I revealed my thoughts and feelings, that would make Chelsea leave me faster. What if she thought that I was petty and stopped being friends with me as a result? What if she stayed away from me? So I kept quiet, that incident burned into my memory forever.
Some days later, I wasn't as upset about that incident as I was before. The optimistic part of me pointed out that Chelsea still hung out with me during breaks instead of with Roxanne. The pessimistic part of me was still waiting for the moment where Chelsea would join Roxanne and her gang in their activities instead of me. I was a conflict of emotions, my true thoughts always masked by false expressions in front of other people. I pretended to be perfectly okay with everything, including Chelsea's closeness with Roxanne while inside, I was a ball of rage, hating the world and all its unfairness. I was ready to snap at any moment, at any trigger.
There was one other incident that eventually led up to my breakdown. It was somewhat similar to the biology one only worse. It was during geography and the teacher told us to pair up again. It was to draw something on a worksheet and we later had to present it. As usual, I looked to Chelsea but although she didn't do what she did before, she still did not turn back. This time, I poked her and asked if she wanted to pair up. Her response? "No, it's okay, I'm with Roxanne." I'm with Roxanne. Those words kept repeating in my head and for the rest of the lesson, I tried dissecting the meaning of those three words. Did that mean she and I were no longer 'together'? Did that mean that my pessimistic self was right? What do those words mean when used in that way? I wore my indifferent mask for the remainder of the day, my true self wanting to burst out and start throwing a fit. But I kept that part of me hidden, compressed, but like a spring, it could not be compressed forever.
It happened during English lesson and we were learning how to identify character traits of the characters in a book. It was a Tuesday, and after English we had lunch then history. While completing the worksheet that the teacher had given us, I heard her say that we could work in groups of four and that we would have to present our answers the next day. I immediately looked up in front of me, just in time to see Roxanne indicate to Chelsea that she wanted her to join her group with the pair sitting beside them. I waited for Chelsea to refuse, to give any indication that she remembered my existence at all, but she just agreed without looking at me. I thought that she would at least explain it to me after agreeing but for the remaining hour of the lesson, she did not look back even once. Knowing that, I decided that it was time for me to take action.
After the lesson was over, I went up to Chelsea and asked her if she had a group. Her reply? "Yeah, it's the four of us." Saying that, she indicated to where Roxanne and the pair next to her were. I waited for her to say something, even if it's to remember that we were always in the same group but she just turned away and talked to Roxanne, leaving me standing there. That got my blood boiling and I felt like punching something, preferably Roxanne's face. But I instead gathered up my history things to go downstairs. For a final confirmation, I said, "Chelsea, let's go."
"Wait, it's too early. Let's stay here for a while," so that I could continue talking to Roxanne. Although she didn't say the last part, I heard it as clearly as if she had shouted it at me. Hearing that, I turned away and stomped to the library's project work room. On the five minute walk there, I kept my ears sharp, hoping to hear footsteps behind me, or even someone calling out my name. But from my classroom to the library, I was alone. No one caught up with me, no one followed me and no one even cared.
Lunch was only a twenty minute break and I sat alone in the project room, studying from my history notes to pass the time and take my mind of Chelsea. I found that doing that didn't work and instead thought about how I would act when Chelsea came. Should I pretend that everything was alright? But I had walked away without a backward glance. Should I keep glaring at her to show her that I was mad at her? Or should I just ignore her, making her fret about what she had done to make me do that? I finally decided on ignoring her after a while. It was childish but I couldn't just not care about this.
When lunch was almost over, Chelsea came in, sitting opposite me. "Why did you just walk away like that?" I didn't say a word, just continued reading my history notes like I was still alone. She asked me a few more questions after that but I continued ignoring her. "Why are you so no reaction?" Just then, I looked up and gave her a huge sunny sarcastic smile, and saw that she wasn't even looking at me. I looked down quickly, fuming. What's the point of asking me a question if you don't even bother to look at me? For the rest of the lesson, even though she was only one arm's length away from me, I didn't talk to her and she didn't talk to me. After the lesson, I left the room and went down to the canteen. I was actually supposed to have a CCA but there wasn't any that day. My mother could only pick me up an hour after school so I had to have lunch in school.
When I went down the steps to the canteen, the first thing I saw was Chelsea's bag on one of the benches. I immediately walked far away from that bench, sitting alone on another instead. On a typical day, I would have a huge appetite, buying something very filling. But on that day, I had no appetite at all and only bought one small plate of fried rice, which I could barely finish. While eating, I had invitations from my other friends to sit with them at Chelsea's table but I declined.
After eating, I studied more. The group from Chelsea's table came over to ask me if i was okay. "We've never seen you like this. What's wrong?" Gloria asked. I could feel Chelsea's presence on the bench and didn't feel like talking in front of her so I kept quiet, just shaking my head. For a while, the group remained at my table. I continued talking to Gloria, trying to seem happy. I deliberately kept my eyes away from where I knew Chelsea was and noted her silence. A part of me hoped that she was suffering, that she was feeling even a fraction of the pain I felt.
Soon, I had to leave. I put on a mask of happiness as I sat in my mom's car and remained that way for the rest of the day. That night, I fell asleep with dark thoughts.
The next day, I went to school as usual. I had my breakfast in the car, but I couldn't finish it. When I arrived in class, I saw Chelsea sitting at her seat. Instead of greeting her as usual, I just ignored her again. I fully expected her to be sad throughout the whole day, fretting about what she had done or even try to apologise to me. But during the entire day, not only was she not sad, she continued chatting and laughing with Roxanne like the entire episode yesterday hadn't happened. The only thing she did to let me know that she actually noticed me ignoring her yesterday was that she talked to me. "What did I do? Why are you so angry?" she continued asking me questions until I spilled that it was because of the groupings in English.
"But aren't we always in the same group? I thought you knew that. You were in my group."
I scoffed at that. If I were in her group, someone would have discussed with me. I replied coolly, "Well, you certainly didn't act like it." At that note, I stalked off. For the rest of the day, she didnt talk to me again, not even to ask me to elaborate. I concluded that she thought I was being petty or unreasonable, or even decided that she didn't care anymore. During recess, I couldn't eat again and walked around alone. It seemed as if my earlier thoughts and predictions were correct, I was going to be alone for the rest of the year.
Things only changed for the better at the end of the third day. Everything was the same as the previous day, me ignoring her, lost appetite, Chelsea being blissfully happy without me. But at the end of the day, I was walking to my locker with a stony face as I had been throughout. I had no idea how happy I would be in a few seconds. For the instance I opened my locker, a huge grin spread over my face and joy-true joy- filled my heart. Sitting comfortably inside my locker was a pink piece of paper. Chelsea knew the combination to my lock. I took out the paper, opened it and read the note written in a kiddish crayon in Chelsea's large handwriting. The note was a poem that touched my heart in ways that I cannot explain.
I quickly kept the note in my file, took my phone from my locker and rushed back to class, desperately hoping that Chelsea had not left yet so that I could tell her that I forgave her. As luck would have it, she was still packing her bag. I silently thanked her messiness for being the reason. I ran up to her and said: "Okay!" She smiled as well and on that day, we walked downstairs together, talking and laughing as if the cold war had never happened.
Life was normal and truly happy from that day on. But happiness like this can never last long. Months after that incident, something else happened, something far worse than this. Firstly, after the semester examinations, we were allowed to move our tables around and sit with our friends, Chelsea and I sat together, of course, far away from Roxanne. We were accompanied by another girl, Jane, who had helped Chelsea with the note and all. I was perfectly fine with it, after all, Jane had also been in our class last year and all. I even welcomed her. It truly seems like I make the worst decisions.
Anyway, for weeks after that, I was happy siiting there in between Chelsea and Jane, talking and laughing like nothing ever happened. It was fine, Jane disappeared during breaks. For group work, the three of us would work together as well. I was happy, I had my best friend back and Roxanne was no longer an issue. What's there to be upst about? If only I knew.
After a few weeks of happiness, I began to notice something. Sometimes, we had to walk to another place for lessons. Normally, I would walk with Chelsea. We wouldn't talk or I would try and get short answers back but we walked together nonetheless. However, these days, I noticed that I would miraculously be walking alone in the corridors. Being a caring friend, worried that something had happened, I would look around me to find out where she was. I would then find her ahead of me or behind me with no other than Jane. And they were talking like they didn't have a care in the world. I tried to walk with them but the corridors were not designed for more than two people. So, I walked alone, left out once more.
I decided to let this go. After all, I didn't want a repeat of what happened earlier in the year. I mean, who would right? So I endured this day after day.
One day, Jane made plans for a group of friends to go and watch a movie. That group included Chelsea and me. I arrived at the cinema with a few friends and waited there until everyone had arrived. Chelsea was the last to arrive. While everyone was talking, I was looking out to see when she would arrive.
After a while, she finally texted in to say that she was at the escalator. So I exited the cinema and went to wait for her at the top of the escalator. She came and we greeted each other. I tried to start a conversation, my attempts were thwarted with short answers. We entered the cinema and went to join our circle of friends. I stood in the circle while Chelsea stood on the other side. With Jane. I shrugged it off, after all, there was hardly anymore space where I was standing. But what bothered me was how they started talking. They talked so effortlessly while I had to struggle just to maintain a minute of conversation with her.
We then went to buy our tickets. Instead of buying as a group, it was decided that we would buy individually or in pairs. Naturally, I looked for Chelsea, who was standing behind me and Jane. I motioned for her to join me so that we would get a seat next to each other and be able to share a movie snack but she did not move an inch.