I used to think I was a strong kid: confident, outspoken, a little brash yet honest and straightforward. But after a few failed friendships here and there, I became emotional, terribly sensitive, the exact opposite of who I thought I was. Oftentimes I wonder if I’m pretending to be someone I’m not — or maybe the real me is just as terrible as they say I am.
The word “gaslight” has been thrown around so often that people no longer know what it really means, as if it’s just an unimportant joke that doesn’t harm anyone (gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss!) I don’t want to give the people I used to call my best friends this much credit, but they, knowingly or unknowingly, taught me what it means to be gaslighted. “Why do you have to be so sensitive and dramatic?” They ask, shifting the blame to me. They’ve always been good at pointing fingers and playing the victim.
“That’s not what I’m trying to say,” I reason; really, is it my fault that I want to voice the pain and suffering they caused?
“It’s your fault this happened. Because of you, everyone’s going to leave you one day.”
And so I started to believe them.
Their voices became the voices in my head, and the whispers stayed even when their owners left — if I had been a better friend, a better person, would they have stayed? Surely, it’s because I was so sensitive, so dramatic that they couldn’t take it anymore and had no choice but to cut me out of their lives. Ever since those days, I began to blame myself for everything, even when that wasn’t the case. I cry easily, at every little thing, then I blame myself for being sensitive, I cry a little more, and the cycle repeats.
It took a long time for the voices to fade, and if I said they were completely gone now, I’d be lying. They’re there, but now, they’re quieter, and I’ve regained a little bit of my own voice — that confident, outspoken voice from the past I was proud of. I can’t say I’m glad it happened, but it’s an experience I’ll take with me in the future. I tell myself not everything is my fault, and I tell myself it’s okay to cry. I’m proud of myself and of how far I’ve come. I’m glad I’m surrounded by people I love and people who love me for who I am.
I’m happy with who I am today.