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Pandora’s Box

“Now we got problems

And I don’t think we can solve them

You made a really deep cut

And, baby, now we got bad blood”

—Taylor Swift, “Bad Blood”

Certain people can be detrimental to your mental health, but it can be devastating when that certain person is supposed to be your friend.

For nearly two decades, I had been friends with a couple that had been going out since we were in high school. Last summer, the wife part of this duo decided to start being an absolute jerk and my husband and I found ourselves being insulted by her over fandoms that we liked that she didn’t care for. Then she sent me a screenshot of an anime girl with a baseball bat with the subtitles “C’mere you bastard! I’ll smash your face in! Where do you think you’re going?” She thought it was a humorous joke, but with no real prompt or context I naturally found it to be threatening. She apologized for being a jerk and the threatening meme and I accepted that apology thinking that was the end of it.

Of course, if that was the end of this would be a very short blog post.

Some time ago, said friend struck up a friendship with my ex-boyfriend, who we went to high school with and I had dated the year leading up to meeting the man that is now my husband. Well, my ex is a manipulative fuck boi and he was feeding her a bunch of bullshit. After several of us in our friend group stuck up for her and got her to see what a conniving asshole he was, we collectively agreed to block the bastard from social media. Except she hadn’t blocked him. So just after she apologized for being a jerk, the fuck wad just out of the blue claimed that I had unblocked him and was in contact with him. He sent a screenshot of messenger as “proof” and she believed it even though it showed that only he had sent a single message that had no response or little blue check mark showing I had seen it. Instead of asking me about it, she told my husband, stating how the whole thing was “creepy” and requested he ask me about it without letting me know she was the one who asked. My husband didn’t believe I was in contact with my ex-boyfriend and told me my friend had told him to ask. A couple messenger conversations with my friend over the matter eventually resulted in her throwing every name and insult she could think of at me.

After throwing a fit for being called out on her bullshit, she said she was going to have a pleasant night with her family. “At least I have one…” She knows I don’t have a relationship with much of my blood family because I became cut off from them following my parent’s divorce and I’m not incredibly close with the family I did develop come sort of connection following cutting my mother out of my life. I consider my friends family and, to me, she made it clear that I wasn’t considered part of her family. Strike one.

Some more bickering and she tells me to get my “big girl panties on”. It’s a phrase she knows full well I cannot stand because my abusive mother would use it to deflect my feelings if I was upset about something. Strike two.

At that point, I had enough of her horrible attitude and behavior towards me over the past month and half and was ready to call it quits on this friendship. I told her I thought I was her family, but apparently I wasn’t and that I hoped she was proud to lose her best friend of almost 20 years.

She didn’t take this too well and did not back down from the insults. The one that sticks out was about Sakura, the “fucking teddy bear” as she called it. Sakura is a Build-A-Bear panda I bought a decade ago with one of the first paychecks I got from my first real job. At the time, I was in my early 20s and living with an emotionally and mentally abusive parent so I spent a lot of nights cuddling with Sakura crying myself to sleep. She made me feel less alone. When I met my husband years later, I found he also had a Build-A-Bear that was almost as old as Sakura. We’ve made them into coping mechanisms for our depression and anxiety by creating little stories for them to cheer ourselves up—like Sakura hating the decorative ladybug on the bamboo planter my husband got for me when we got our first apartment together. As sort of a joke, I made an Instagram account for her (@sakurathepanda), but soon found that taking pictures of her in certain places and situations actually brought me a lot of joy and happiness. Insulting a coping mechanism and something I enjoy on top of the other nasty things that followed only confirmed I was making the right choice in ending a friendship that felt like had become toxic.

Strike three. You’re out, bitch.

It’s already hard dealing with depression and anxiety issues, but it’s even worse when someone close to you is being an asshole towards you. When she blocked me, I felt relief. One less asshole to worry about. I vented about the part about Sakura on Instagram and discovered friends that actually liked the photos of her and genuinely thought it was adorable.

If that was the end of it, this would only be a decently sized blog post.

She decides to unblock me and that she wants to apologize five weeks later at one of the worst times to do so. Since 2012, I’ve been going to a convention called Kitsune Kon. Every year, I try to build a cosplay for the cosplay contest, which can be difficult due to my depression and anxiety making me lose interest in things and my general procrastination. My dream is to win a first place in my category (so far my wins have all been second place). The day of the cosplay contest is always hectic and long because you have to get dressed, go to pre-judging (which is always running late and I think I’m running late), get stopped by convention attendees wanting pictures on the way there, go to rehearsal, make sure your music works right, maybe get out of costume and get a nap in, put the costume back on, go to roll call, get stopped by people wanting pictures again, wait for your turn in a long ass line in a costume that may or may not be uncomfortable, panic, do your thing on stage, wait for the judges to deliberate, collect prizes—this is at least an 8 hour day for me. My ex-friend knows this. Despite this, she decided that was the perfect time to write up and send out a half assed apology and try to butter me up by attempting to convince me that she actually thinks Sakura is cute. I didn’t buy her apology and I didn’t have time to respond to it anyways so I completely forget about it.

Another month goes by, she sends me passive aggressive GIFs. A few hours later, I get a message from her husband, who I still remain good friends with, informing me they were at a store and a car crashed into the building a few feet from where she was standing. Even a near death experience wasn’t enough to make her rethink being a bitch to everybody because she sent me more messages a month later. Finally I blocked her, which I should have done in the first place.

A few weeks after, I’m on my dream trip in Japan. On my second day there, I’m at the Fushimi Inari shrine—“the Fox Shrine”. I have wanted to go to this place for fourteen years. I get flashes of thoughts of my former friend because she’s obsessed with foxes. During the descent back down the mountain, I come across one of the little shops selling charms and figurines. There’s a beautiful ceramic set of a family of foxes and I buy one for myself. The shrine maiden blesses it with sparks from a flint. She has me wait inside while she wraps each piece in tissue and puts it in a nice box along with some information about the Kyoto and surrounding areas. For a slight moment, I think about buying her one. I immediately reject the thought, remembering how much of a horrible person she has been towards me these last few months. Later, I would spend my entire second trip to the Pokemon Center texting my friend/her husband about what the kids would like. I fumbled through my crap Japanese when I found a display of a figure that I thought would be perfect for that same friend, but couldn’t find one in the box. I practically went all over Akihabara—with my anxiety while being bombarded by café maids on every corner—looking for a Goku figurine I had seen the other day that I thought would be a great gift for my other friend. But her? No, she wasn’t worth a single yen let alone the 5000 that gorgeous fox set cost. It was then it truly felt like this friendship was over and I didn’t feel any remorse over not getting her anything.

She had been talking with my husband about getting me to talk with her. Apparently, she wanted to apologize and try to make things right. I finally relented after a couple months and heard her out. Honestly, I felt she was only apologizing because she realized she lost one of the only good friends she has and was trying to make amends before everything else in her life goes to shit. She tells me how much she regrets saying those things and that she has no excuses, especially in regards to Sakura considering she has her own little collection of toys to keep her sane. She admits she said those things specifically to hurt me.

I could have maybe forgiven being called a “stupid psycho bitch” and a “stupid cunt”, but she hadn’t merely thrown a few choice names in the heat of the moment. She wanted to see me burn, so to speak. She wanted to hurt me as much as she possibly could and she did so by saying many hurtful things she could not take back once she said them. I felt so much worse after that conversation, knowing she had been out to hurt me and that she was a goddamn hypocrite for making fun of my coping mechanism that was similar to her own.

Even if I took her apology and somehow figured out a way for her to fix it, things would never truly be the same. I’ve thought about rekindling our friendship thousands of times and every time I do I decide against it. Maybe I won’t always think this way, but for now I don’t need to be worrying if I can trust a friend that has already burned me horribly.

“You opened Pandora’s Box this time,” I told her. “You can’t just close that shit back up.”

One thought on “Pandora’s Box”

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