I don’t remember exactly when, but we met at a young age and shortly developed a connection. As I started growing up, she never left my side. We soon became close, it became impossible to part my ways with her. Although she was an enemy most of the time, she was also a good companion, someone who was always there for me, irrespective of what. She was like a sister, my other half. She was like a shadow, always there, following me, advising me to concentrate on my work.
We fought plenty, by which I mean every time. But it wasn’t entirely her fault. It was mine too, thanks to all the emerging hormones I didn’t sign up for. She was irritating at times, then again she was just doing her work, cautioning me here and there, constantly looking out for me in times of need, and well that’s what a good friend does.
We were so intimate, it felt like she always spoke out my sub-conscious thoughts, as if she could peep right into my mind like an open window, and shut it whenever she wanted. It was one of those critical windows which only she could see and had the control to. Well again, who coined the term “best friends?”
She was always around, easily reachable and knew exactly what I was thinking. This infuriated me. Was I really easy to read or had it been long enough to our friendship, or I had nobody else but her to open up to? I didn’t want her to know everything every time. Hello privacyyyy?
It was upsetting. Some things are to be kept a secret, even from a best friend. I didn’t want her to be around so often, I didn’t want her seeing all my disordered thoughts and imaginations, giving me useless suggestions all the time, which I already knew. But that’s the thing. Once you’re attached to someone, the road to suffering begins. Attachment makes you mentally enslaved, and it inevitably destroys you in ways you never imagined.
But something about her kept our friendship going. She didn’t mock me like the others and never made fun of me. She embraced my flaws and imperfections. Told me it was normal to think like that and be vulnerable at times. She infact, helped me get through it. We all have a friend like that right!
Even though she was the more dominant one within the relationship, I didn’t comply with her all the time. Sometimes I argued and refused to give in to her terms. She’d fight with me, shout at me, mentally abuse me, and give me temporary headaches. On and off, she would hold me down, scream down my ears until I zoned out enough to hear nothing else but the sharp screams of her voice.
Sometimes when I acted stubborn, she’d rebuke me and stop talking to me altogether and pay no heed to my complaints. But it’d only ever last for some hours. Soon she’d be back to normal and she’d come to me. We’d sit hugging one another like two friends in a new place, and we would hold onto each other for a long time. That was her way of telling me that she’d forgiven me, and she’d make everything perfect. She would reassure me that all the worries inside my head were real but easily controllable. All I had to do was hear her and follow her commands.
Listening to music, taking a deep breath, and writing down my thoughts, were some things that helped- things that she taught me as part of my growing up, things that I could use to handle the bad days. “No, don’t go there, it’s not safe”, “What if you fail?” she’d say. “Face it, you’re good for nothing”, “Don’t try this or people will laugh at you”, so on and so forth. I’d generally take her advice now and then. No questions asked.
The first time it happened, I felt embarrassed, like why does she need to make it so obvious? But there was logic to her words. Whenever I did what she told me to, it felt a burden had been lifted off my heart, like everything that was pushing down on me had wiped out. Surprisingly, even she would leave me and go once I complied with her norms.
We used the ‘this-is-how-you-cope-up-with-bad-days’ methods she taught me, quite a lot. Distancing myself from people and shutting myself to the world for some days so I could rejuvenate myself, was another of her suggestions. When the typical methods weren’t enough, this might come in handy. It was sort of a physical reminder that I had done something or something terrible had happened to me. So when I returned to the ‘normal me’, I could relax and I didn’t need to worry.
We had to make sure that we worked together. It was exasperating and everything simple became complex. I didn’t like her now, but I knew I needed her. If she left me, I’d lose a part of myself too. She was wise. I couldn’t deny her of that. She knew ways to encourage me. She knew how to make the pain go away and if it didn’t go away, on the bad days, it might just worsen and she knew this.
I still feel embarrassed. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, good or bad, normal or not. Sometimes when I’m working, I attempt to cover it up, pretending I’m fine, smiling, and acting like things are all right. I walk around as if nothing is happening, I’ve become quite the actor you know! I should definitely give it a try just in case I fail, and here we go again! You’ll know what I’m talking about once you reach the end, don’t worry!
It’s harder to pretend when people are around. I feel like they’re watching me. Judging me. Laughing at me. But if they heard what I did, if they saw the things that I did, if they felt the things I did, they’d do it too.
I’m not crazy. I understand that it’s not logical. I know that I have given my best during exams, I have been loyal to my boyfriend, I have selected the right career choice, I have turned off the AC in my room, or I’ve locked my house, but what if I haven’t? I know that I have brushed my teeth before eating food, but what if I haven’t? I know that by placing my lipstick in the exact same position after I used it, won’t mean that something bad won’t happen, but then, it’s not been proven otherwise.
I don’t know what part of ‘I know it already’ does she not understand. She is still there. Sometimes in front of me, sometimes behind the back of my mind. She looks out for me. She is my “best friend”, as she likes to call it. And for a few hours, sometimes minutes, seconds, she gives me peace. But she is the one who gives me hell too. She is my other self, a part of me that I can’t unfortunately cut off.
She is my anxiety.