Somebody I Used to Know

Bad habits are hard to break. Sometimes, friendships were never supposed to happen. You and I stumbled upon each other because we were in the same place, for a long time. I will never forget you, but I will never forgive you.

We came together in an unusual way. In fact, when I first met you, we were not pals. You were nothing to me but some girl who had broken my brother's heart. Then you reappeared for a second shot. 

I remember the first words I said to you in your return, clear as day. Do you? I was in my room minding my own business and you walked up the stairs to get to my brother's room, you had to pass me first. 

"You're a slut." I said, instead of saying hello. 

I was fourteen and you were nineteen. You ruined my older brother, my very first best friend in the whole wide world. In my eyes, you were a temptress. I didn't trust you, I had no reason to.  

Do you remember? I don't know what you were thinking. Years had passed and yet there you were back in our life's. I was unhappy, I do recall that. Unhappy and annoyed by this inconvenience. You were shocked by my behavior I think. I guess you weren't expecting me to have changed so much. I must've been eleven the last time you had the chance to lay eyes on me. Shocked you were but certainly not discouraged. You, discouraged? Impossible. You're the most persuasive person I've ever met in my entire life. Manipulative also crosses my mind, but I write this not out of spite but for nostalgia so I'll stick with persuasive. 

You wanted my approval but you weren't the only one. Brother dear also wanted me to give you another chance. You changed, he promised. You were different. "Well, alright." I thought. No longer was I holding a grudge, but I wasn't friendlier to than I needed to be either. 

The relationship you had with my brother was classic oil and water. Dangerous and toxic. If I learned anything from you two, it's how not to act in a relationship. Whatever you guys did, I'd make a mental note. On again, off again, I was less than surprised each time to see your name flash across the caller ID, phoning to tell me, "Your brother is leaving me." Most times it was because he simply wanted to hangout with his friends and you refused to allow him to go, thus making me believe your relationship was in turmoil. 

Do you remember those days? They seem so far away now. I wonder if your mind ever goes there anymore. Mine does, a lot more than anyone would imagine. 

Our friendship picked up the older I got. Our age gap, a whole five years difference, made the friendship all the more bizarre. I was still in high school after all. You were in your early 20's. What could you possibly do with a teenager and still have fun?

I remember when you decided you were going to set me up with your younger brother. I was mostly into girls at that point and I found the whole situation a bit incestuous, you were my brother's girlfriend and if I married your brother, then you'd be my sister-in-law twice. I was fifteen and didn't really want to think about those logistics, honestly. But still, I found myself allowing you to do it anyway. It didn't work, but we did get McDonald's. That was cool. 

You also called me on the phone a lot. I was still reluctant about it, I ready had a best friend and we were inseparable, and she was my age. You were legally allowed to drink and I was studying Hamlet. You could do anything you wanted to, so why hangout with me? Maybe you were growing on me, just a little bit. I answered the phone every time you called. 

By the time I was in my last year of high school, I'd gotten into a fight with my best friend and we were no longer speaking. This was good for you. Finally, you were promoted from just my brother's annoying girlfriend, who I went on random errands with and spent a lot of time listening to on the phone, to my annoying best friend who I told everything to. 

We quickly got into a routine. You'd pick me up from school on Friday and we would spend the entire weekend bumming around your tiny apartment. Most of the time, my brother would be out so it was just us girls, left alone to eat junk food and do whatever people did before smartphones. 

I had a bad case of senioritis and I would daydream of moving in with you and my brother. I'd get a job somewhere and we could all split the rent three ways. Eventually, I made enough comments that led to dead ends to know it was more of a fairytale than a realistic outcome. The apartment only had the one bedroom and you didn't even have a door. Where would I have slept, the bathtub? My brother wouldn't have wanted me around that much, anyway. I understood that. 

Looking back now, I really think I looked up to the both of you. Alas, even then, I knew you weren't exactly the best role models I could've had. My first sip of underaged alcohol happened under your roof. Not to mention the fact that I was taken to more than one party without my parent's acknowledgement. I loved you guys though. You both were my best friends. 

I graduated at last, and that same weekend I was turning eighteen. There were no plans at all for my future. All I knew was that I needed to get out of my parent's house. The night of my graduation, I stayed the night at your new apartment. One night turned into a week, and that turned into two. 

Then the unspeakable happened. My first best friend, my role model, he snapped in the way I was afraid he someday would. Alcohol had taken control of him and he after you. Wouldn't stop... 

From the bottom of my heart, I'm sorry I went into the bathroom and hid that day. I've never apologized to you for darting into that bathroom the moment you needed someone the most. You never deserved that, the act of total betrayal. I had panicked, didn't know what to do, so I ducked out and took myself away from the situation. 

He was hauled away. We were questioned by the police. I don't remember what they asked us, I was too shaken up, overwhelmed by what happened to you. You may have done some bad things in your life, before and after that night, but I sincerely hope you know with every ounce of your being that you never deserved what happened to you that night. 

Despite my parent's pleas, I stayed with you. I was eighteen and at last I could make my own choices without interference from them. My first decision as an adult was choosing to move in with you. My parents were furious. They didn't like you to begin with. But I didn't care. Let them be mad. You needed me and I wasn't sure you should be left by yourself. 

Your court date arrived. Truthfully, I didn't want to go to that. My brother would be there and I hadn't seen him since that night. I was scared. But you were scared too. And you needed a friend. So, I went. Once again, despite my parents pleas for me to stay away. I was there for you that day, not him. That was unacceptable to them. 

There was something a bit odd about being on the other side. My dad had seen me for the first time since my graduation. He glared at you but he was petrified of me. Do you remember that?

After the court hearing, you went completely berserk. Seeing him did you in and you just lost it. You weren't supposed to be speaking but that didn't stop you from parking at that gas station to use their payphone. I was less than thrilled. You weren't being smart and I was stuck in a hot car in June for over an hour with a dead phone, no charger. Once you eventually returned, you were sobbing. You had to get home. 

I don't remember what happened next but I do recall the huge change of behavior in you within the next couple of days. A parade of guys came through and I had to pretend not to notice. Whatever you had to do to get it over it, right? But then came the drinking. I never liked to see you drunk. It wasn't flattering. This was different. You were explosive, emotional. I was worried you'd do something you might regret later. In my life so far, my experience with alcohol seemed to be 'alcohol = bad decisions.' You were never one for level headed thinking, drunk or sober. 

Then you began to plan. A friend of yours lived in California and you wanted to go. You had to, you said. There was a trace of absolute urgency in your voice. 

"You can come with me." You exclaimed. "We can both have a fresh start." 

I thought about but not for too long before I came to a conclusion. The more I thought about it, the better a fresh start sounded. Maybe this was it, my ticket to a future. Things weren't going great for me at that moment. I had my own things going on. 

Just like that, it was decided. You, your man friend, and I were going to California. We packed the things we needed, sold what we could, and gave away the rest. Then we took off. 

Too bad for us adventurers, your car barely made it out of town before stalling. You and your man friend decided to change plans. We would go a few towns away and camp. I wasn't down with this plan. I was fed up, discouraged, and frustrated. Mostly, I was frustrated with you. 

"Take me to the gas station." I told you. "My mom will pick me up." 

All these years later, I still wonder what would've happened to me and my life, and you, if I had just gone along with the plan to go camping in the middle of some nowhere town. How would we have ended up, do you think?

Back at home was a disaster. Everyone was on edge. My brother was living there, just like me, with nowhere else to go. It was hard to tell who my parents were more angry with— me, for traipsing around with you for a good part of a month and a half, nearly going to California on a whim, or my brother who had been sent to jail for domestic violence against his girlfriend. It was probably me, my parents liked to have special standards for their only daughter. That however is a story for another day. 

Meanwhile, you were out in the woods, frolicking with your man friend. What went on out there? You never really told me. Nothing good, I assume, right? A week or so later, you were back in town and you too were back living with your parents. We were still friends right, was basically your first text to me. 

Were we? Things had definitely gotten out of control. Now I was under my parents roof again and they hated you for putting their son to jail. That wasn't much of a concern to me, all things considered. 

"I don't want her on my property." I was told. 

"Too late now, she's already on her way to pick me up."

We still hung out and you still loved my brother. I wasn't in support of this. I was refusing to forgive what had happened but you already had, probably weeks ago. 

I had a good acknowledgement of the fact that you were meeting him behind everyone's back. It wasn't okay with me at all. In my eyes, you deserved something better than a guy who tried to strangle you in front of me. It was hard to understand how you couldn't see this too. You were my best friend but the decisions you were making frustrated and infuriated the hell out of me. 

We had been friends for over a year by that point but when you announced to me that my brother was moving with with you and your parents because you were together again, I was done with you for a while. Disappointment would've been an understatement.

After he was out of the house for a while and seemed to be bettering himself, I did forgive my brother. For the most part, I did. I had forgiven but vowed to never forget. As if I ever could. 

I became more concerned about your latest shenanigan. Seemed as though you had developed a crush on one of my brother's coworkers. You dropped my brother off at work and for a glimpse of the guy. Okay... Seemed perfectly innocence except why did I keep catching you stalking this guy's social media? 

"Don't tell your brother." You pleaded. 

I didn't like lying. Not to my brother and especially after I knew what this was turning into. I knew what was happening before you did. 

Despite my better judgement, I kept my mouth shut. You and him seemed to be doing so much better... Telling him you had an unhealthy obsession with his coworker would only mess things up. 

Time goes forward. You've gotten hired where my brother works too. That's a little weird but hey, you were always a little possessive and you were unemployed before that. It's good to see you working. 

Things between you and my brother crack apart again. He doesn't like his job and he wants to get away from you and your constant bitching. 

You're devastated and immediately invite me over. I'm a bit disgusted when you have sex with multiple of his friends. That's a bit petty, isn't it? I know you weren't attracted to them. 

Then you start smoking pot. I have seen this behavior from you before, recklessness. You didn't smoke because you said it made you anxious. Now, it seemed you didn't care about anything. 

It hurt me to see you this way again. Uncontrolled and unfocused all because of a male: my own brother. It wasn't fair to you. I kept quiet, mostly. You just needed a friend. I wasn't in any position to hand out relationship advice. You wouldn't have listened anyway, would you? No. We both know you're too stubborn to listen to reason. 

Your motive here was not unrecognized. You made a beeline for dude's house with one goal, scoring. He rejected you. (I think it's important to note that in your formative years, you were quite slender. You were the girl all the guys wanted in high school. Time had broken down that spirit, you were much rounder. For what it's worth, I always thought you were beautiful, no matter how you looked. How couldn't I have? You were my best friend, and you were beautiful. As biased as that may sound, I never thought looked at you any other way but than in total awe). But it wasn't my opinion that mattered to you. It was his. He didn't like your shape so you weren't getting any action. 

You and my brother did get back together but I began to see a different side of you. Reckless. Dishonest, to me and everyone else. I'd lend you money and know I'd never see it again. You were back to smoking pot, and I knew better than to think that was all you were doing. That wasn't my business. You were making your bed, I just hoped you'd be comfortable laying in it. 

Food suddenly became the enemy to you. I'd have to beg you to eat while we were hanging out. It could be days before you ate again. I was worried about you but at the same time, I had my own life. I couldn't babysit you. You were an adult. You were losing the weight that set you back but you weren't doing it the healthy way. Soon you were mostly skin and bones. 

You were the girl who used to badger me into staying the night until I felt so obligated to say yes.  Now, you were sneaking around, lying. Starving yourself. It was hard, watching you turn into this stranger. What was I supposed to do? Yell at you? It wasn't my place. 

Your fearless act began getting you into trouble with the law. I had predicted as such. Weed was weed but it was also illegal. You didn't seem to care about getting caught. You didn't seem to care about anything. It was both heartbreaking and despicable to witness. You asked me to lie to my brother again and that was a like crossed. I lost all respect. 

My brother was with you, through everything. Jail, work release. All of it. But that didn't seem to stop you. When it happened, I was the least surprised by your choice. Him, over my brother. You wanted him, needed him. It was too late for your relationship with my brother to ever be okay again. 

It wasn't the end though. You kept coming back. Waiting until my brother tried to move on and you crawled back. It wasn't that you missed him, was it? I always thought it was something else. More like, you were hot now and the validation of always being taken back by my brother was a high for you. 

We drifted far apart. I don't know you anymore. My brother is doing okay without you. Not great, he doesn't quite know how to live without that girl he was always so dependent on, but he's alive. You? I wouldn't know. I moved, far away. Not because of you or my brother, but the distance between that whole situation is working well for me.

You were more than just a friend to me. You said you thought of me as a sister for all these years. Well, me too. You were a part of the family. All of those Halloweens, Thanksgivings, Christmases, Easters, Fourth of July's, birthdays, you were there. Now? I don't know you anymore and I'll never know the real you again. You were my best friend but now you're just a stranger. 

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Somebody I Used to Know
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