Summary: There's a saying: People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Sometimes, friendships just aren't meant to last. That doesn't mean it won't hurt when it ends… AH/OOC, Alice/Bella, hurt/angst, friendship/loss.
A/N: One of the best ways to deal with hurt is to purge it.
Thanks to Kim G and Michele A for the beta and pre-read.
Reason, Season, or Lifetime
People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.
Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.
The Death of Friendship
I met Bella Swan the summer before freshman year.
After several years of attempting, unsuccessfully, to make it work, my parents had finally separated. My mother had immediately moved in with another man. Devastated by her infidelity, I'd opted to stick with my father. Realizing that we desperately needed a change of scene, he'd decided to move us away from the big city. He found a small house in a small town a few hours away, and before I knew it, we had relocated to Forks, Washington. Our new next door neighbors, the Swans, were kindred spirits… Charlie Swan was also divorced, and his teenage daughter, Bella, had just moved back to live with him after her mother got remarried. As newcomers to the town, Bella and I were both outsiders, and we'd bonded instantly over the shared experience of moving to the small, boring town of Forks from a larger, more exciting city. That first summer, we spent hours-upon-hours talking about our hopes, dreams and desires, as well as the daunting nature of being in a new place where we knew nobody. By the time school started in the fall, we were fast friends.
We were inseparable, or so I thought.
Obviously, I thought wrong.
Freshman year was scary in many ways, the least of which was because we were both new. But the good thing about being new as a freshman was that every freshman was new. Although we were new faces, we blended in. We stuck together and had a good time getting to know everyone at the school.
Even though it was a small school in a small town, Forks High was a typical American high school, with the typical high school… issues.
There were the inevitable cliques: the jocks, the nerds, the band geeks, the stoners, and the 'in' crowd. On the surface, these individual groups interacted. However, there was an underlying class separation that could never quite be breached. For example, Emmett McCarty, football star, would never be caught dead socializing with Angela Weber, the drum major of the marching band. And even though Jasper Hale was Rosalie's older brother, the entire cheerleading squad avoided him and his stoner friends like the plague.
There was also the inevitable gossip: in a town this small, there was really no way to avoid learning everyone's business. Eric Yorkie and Jacob Black were outed in sophomore year after Jessica Stanley happened upon them in one of the town's 'secret' make-out spots. Rumor was that she was scouting the venue out in an attempt to seduce Mike Newton. The fact that Lauren Mallory's mother was sleeping with Tyler Crowley's father—despite the fact that they were both married to other people—was the town's worst-kept secret. It was made worse by the fact Lauren and Tyler were dating. Talk about traumatizing.
And there was, of course, that one person who was just… perfect. In this case, his name was Edward Cullen. Edward transcended all of the typical high school stereotypes. Or maybe he was the epitome of every stereotype. He was a sophomore, the son of the town doctor, and he was gorgeous—tall and well built, with copper-colored hair and the most beautiful green eyes I had ever seen. He was talented in so many ways: captain of the football and baseball teams; class valedictorian; and musically inclined—he played guitar and piano, and had a voice that captured everyone's attention whenever he sang.
For two years, Bella and I navigated the murky waters of high school together, sticking to ourselves and our small group of friends. For the first time in my life, I felt like I fit in somewhere. I was doing well in school, making good grades, and participating in after school activities. I had a core group of friends that I trusted implicitly. I also had a crush: Edward Cullen. I knew that he was out of my league, but it was fun to fantasize, and I spent hours talking to Bella about how much I liked him. She tried to convince me to talk to him, ask him out, but in all honesty, I was content—and much more secure—just watching him from a distance.
In short, I was happy. Blissfully so. Everything was good, lending a feeling of invincibility to my teenage psyche.
Sophomore year blew by in a breeze of good times, good friends, and good-ol' girlie gossip. That said, it was fair to say that Bella was a bit more adventurous than I was when it came to socializing, and she obviously had a desire to be noticed by the 'in' crowd. She went out of her way to talk to the cheerleaders, and took advantage of every situation possible to be seen where they were—in the hallways at school, saying 'hi' on the way past their table in the cafeteria, weekend parties, and even locations out and about. For example, if she heard through the grapevine that Jessica and Lauren were going to the movies on Saturday night, she made sure she was there to be seen as well. Sometimes, I went with her; more often than not though, I didn't.
The summer before Junior year, Bella and I decided to try out for the cheerleading squad. We spent all summer practicing together. She was stronger with tumbling aspects, but I was better with dance moves. We made a great team; her strengths balanced my weaknesses, and vice versa. By the end of the summer, her dance moves had improved substantially. I was still pretty weak in the gymnastic department, but with her help, my jumps—toe-touches, herkies, and pikes—had definitely improved.
The day of try-outs arrived, and we both headed to the school gym. It was kind of embarrassing, but I still had fun. I got to interact with some of the popular girls who hadn't spoken to me before—Rosalie, the most beautiful and popular girl in school, was senior captain this year, and Jessica was the junior in charge. I was surprised by how nice they both were.
In the week between try-outs and the announcement of the new squad, life went on as normal for me. Bella and I talked about everything, especially the try-outs. I knew that she had performed well, and I was convinced that she would make the squad. She said the same about me, but I had my doubts. Those doubts were proven true in late July, when the new squad was announced.
I didn't make it.
While I was disappointed that I didn't make the team, I was very proud of and for her. And even though she was now part of the 'in crowd', she still made time for me—we talked on the phone every night and often carried on late night conversations via texting or g-chat. Once school started, we continued to eat lunch together every day, but we definitely spent less time together. The hours in the afternoon that I used to spend with Bella suddenly felt very lonely while she was at practice without me.
The change was so slight, so insidious, that at first, I didn't recognize it. It started with a change in the tone of our conversations—rather than a mutual exchange of information, I found myself having to ask what was going on in her life, and her previously detailed conversations became less and less… detailed. Not to mention, less and less frequent—our nightly conversations began to dwindle to every other day, eventually fading to only once or twice a week. When we did talk, it was only because I called her, and our conversations tended to center around her increasing responsibilities with the squad. Often times when I called, I felt as if I was interrupting something that was far more important to her than talking to me.
We began seeing less of each other, too, especially once the cheerleaders invited her to sit at their table during lunch. The first day that I entered the cafeteria and saw her sitting with them instead of our usual table, I was heartbroken. It wasn't that I begrudged her the new friends… No, I completely understood why she would want to spend more time with them. The popular cheerleaders were now her friends, too, and they had a lot more influence than I did. Let's face it, high school is brutal—it's all about projecting the right image, saying the right things and hanging with the right people. She'd made it into the upper echelon. It only made sense that she would want to spend the majority of her time with other people of similar ilk.
But that wasn't the only thing that changed… Bella and I had always been partners on biology projects. When Mr. Banner announced the first science project, I turned eagerly to Bella, only to find her and Jessica talking about being partners. My heart cracked just a little more.
As time when by, she and Jessica spent more and more time together, both in class and out. By the middle of September, it was obvious that Bella had a new best friend, and I was once again all alone. I felt lost without my friend. That was when the changes really started to manifest…
I hate to say it, and at the time I desperately tried to deny it, but Bella was different when she was with them… The popular girls. She got louder and bossier, and while she was careful to never make openly derogatory remarks about other people, her attitude completely changed—she was 100% an arrogant cheerleader. The boasting, self-important statements that were constantly exchanged between that group of friends niggled at my conscience.
Six weeks after school started, I caught Jessica Stanley cheating on a biology test. Unsure of what I should do, I called Bella. I knew that Jessica was her friend, but she had broken the rules, and I felt obligated to turn her in. It wasn't fair that she should be allowed to get away with it when the rest of us studied hard and made an honest effort. I might have gotten a little overzealous in my discussion, but before I knew it, Bella was jumping down my throat, suggesting that I was jealous over the fact that Jessica was a cheerleader when I wasn't. I was blown away—in a bad way—by this accusation; that thought had never once crossed my mind.
Even after this encounter, I still didn't realize how much everything had changed. Of course, I really didn't want to see it, so I went back to pretending that everything was the same, even though it wasn't. Looking back, I think I knew that the friendship was slipping away at that point, but I didn't want to admit it, or let it go. Bella had been the most important person in my life for over two years at that point in time. But the knowledge was like a black hole in my brain and heart that became bigger and bigger, not to mention more hollow, with every day that passed.
I was so upset by that conversation that I completely blew several assignments and failed a test for the first time, ever. In the course of one week, I slipped from being in the top 10% of our class grade-wise. A week later, my dad lost his job. Then, during the last week in October, my mother was in a serious car accident. Already on edge, this upset me even further and tipped me into a tailspin of depression. A heated discussion on ethics in our government class a few weeks later turned into a disagreement with Katie Marshall after class. I had never been a confrontational person before, but suddenly I found myself constantly on the defensive, with no reason. I had no clue why I was in that dark place, but I just couldn't shake it, which was confusing as well as scary and utterly depressing.
For two years, Bella had been my sole confidant, and I longed to talk to my friend about what I was experiencing. But now, when I needed her most, she couldn't find the time away from her new cheerleading friends to talk to me. So I turned to the internet, posting my dark, confusing thoughts in a blog; it felt good to free myself of my inner demons, and I didn't have to worry about anyone I didn't know (or want) reading it.
Everything came to a head on my birthday. Bella was sick that day, and didn't come to school. That had never stopped her from talking to me before, yet on that day, I didn't receive any sort of recognition from her at all—no phone call or even a message on FaceBook (she'd been on there several times during the day, as her multiple status changes and wall posts with the other cheerleaders indicated). Of course, she apologized the next day, but by that point the damage had been done, which only caused my depression to deepen.
When Angela confronted me, I broke down and spilled it all—what was going on with me, especially my overwhelming feeling of loss concerning my disintegrating friendship with Bella. But instead of any sort of consolation, she told me that I was probably just being paranoid, that Bella wasn't the kind of girl to let popularity go to her head. I took her words at face value and tried my best to believe them, but deep down, I still knew: Nothing would ever be the same. To make things worse, after that conversation, things with Angela became strained—she was still talking on a regular basis with Bella, and I had to wonder if they ever talked about me in a negative way.
By Christmas, I was in full free-fall. My mom had finally been released from the hospital, and I went to visit her for a week. Even though I still hadn't accepted her decision to leave my father, the accident had revealed to me that she was far more important than the repercussions of their divorce. I wasn't quite ready to forgive her yet, but we finally came to an understanding, and being able to talk to my mom was a good thing. Getting away from Forks and all the negative energy, even if just for a little while, probably helped, too.
When I arrived back in Forks after the New Year, I felt refreshed, renewed. I vowed to leave Bella alone, to not pester her with phone calls, and to try to move on. By this point, things had deteriorated to the point where we barely spoke anymore, anyway. She was spending all her time with the cheerleaders, especially Jessica, who had it in for me after the biology test incident. We spoke once or twice about inconsequential things over the next few weeks, but that was it, and once again, conversation mainly revolved around her cheerleading duties. Although she did ask me once or twice if I was feeling any better.
In an attempt to occupy myself, I joined the school newspaper. Slowly, I started coming out of my shell, making a few new friends. I started working after school with Charlotte Babcock and Peter McMillan, editing the articles for the paper, and with Maria Cortez, taking photos to go with the articles. Some of my favorite times were those spent in the darkroom, looking at all the candid images of our classmates. Especially any of Edward.
Yeah… Two years later, I still had a crush.
One of my proudest moments that spring was when Tanya Deitreich asked me to write an opinion article for the paper. The boost of confidence was just what I needed, and finally, I began to push through my dark depression. Bella actually called to talk about the article, but she didn't seem convinced that I was doing better, instead asking over and over how I was really feeling. In some ways, it annoyed me; I told her I was doing well, but she kept asking in a way that seemed to try to convince me that I wasn't. For the first time, I left a conversation feeling irritated with her, rather than just lost and lonesome.
Over the next month, things continued to look up for me. Response to the article earned me a little boost from my friends and teachers and had me feeling productive again, for the first time in over four months. I started socializing with the newspaper staff, occasionally going for dinner after school and work. Tanya asked me to write another article with one of the senior staff members. I was thrilled to be called upon again.
In the absence of any real friend to talk to anymore, I wrote about that success, and some of my lingering feelings of discontent, on my blog. One day, I asked a rhetorical question about high school social politics, because the silliness of it all really annoyed me. Talking about things had really helped to clear my mind—and the darkness from my soul—even if no one else read or responded to it.
In the midst of my small personal success and readjustment, and just when things actually seemed to be picking back up, the bottom dropped out.
Out of the blue, Bella sent me an email, telling me that she just couldn't deal with my shit anymore. She had read my latest blog post, and she was offended by my question. In her note, she implied that several cheerleaders had referred to me as whiny and jealous of their success. She also mentioned that it really upset her that during conversations with important people (i.e., cheerleaders), she was constantly asked how she could be friends with someone as negative as me. The note was couched with words that said "I'm concerned about you", claiming that she didn't think I meant to be that way, but I had earned a negative reputation. Upon closer inspection, though, the real meaning of her words was quite obvious: "I'm concerned about me."
It shocked me on many levels.
First, we hadn't really spoken in several weeks, so she really had no clue what was going on with me. I found it ironic that this kind of negative attack came at the time when things were finally starting to look up for me. Second, even though we hadn't spoken recently, she had been my best friend for years, and I had told her everything that had gone on in my life—my school failures, my father's lost job, my mother's accident. She, of all people, knew exactly all the bad stuff that had happened to me over the past few months. Prior to our falling out, that is. Third, none of the cheerleaders were my friends; they weren't my friends on FaceBook and they didn't read my blog, so the only way they'd know what I had said in any conversation from the past few months was if someone told them.
The only common denominator was Bella.
I took a day or two to seriously consider her concerns, then responded to her in my as-usual conciliatory (and it galls me to admit this, kiss-ass) manner. I didn't hear from her for a week, and when I did, it was another coldly-worded, "I just need a break from you" note. Two days later, she asked out Edward Cullen, and if the gossip-mill was to be believed, she slept with him on that very first date.
So, here we are. I am still just as lost and confused as when everything started to go to shit. Everything spiraled so quickly that I still can't wrap my head around everything that happened. All I know is that the person who sent me those emails was not the sweet, kind, funny and smart girl who became my best friend during those early days in Forks. No… this girl is sadly nothing more than a self-centered and self-concerned person who cares only about her own success. The arrogant and snarky FaceBook messages sent between her and her new friends only confirmed that assessment for me.
It's been said that hindsight is twenty-twenty. I have to agree; it's amazing how much clearer everything is when you're looking back.
Once I stopped trying to make something that was obviously dead work, I finally gained the perspective that I hadn't had while in the moment. It's obvious in retrospect that my friendship with Bella had changed long before I came to realize it. I was holding onto the past, a ghost of what had once been, in a desperate attempt to keep things the same. But I have learned the hard way that life is always changing, and when I took the opportunity to really examine my friendship with Bella, I finally came to the realization that it had been gone for a long time.
It's now the beginning of senior year, and I'm approaching life a bit differently, a bit more cautiously.
The lessons I've learned from that destroyed friendship have been hard ones to stomach, but they are lessons I will never forget. From here on out, I'll be sure to guard my heart a little more closely—just because I consider someone my best friend doesn't mean that they feel the same. I'll watch my tongue a little more carefully—I'll play nice in public forums and save any criticism I might have for private conversation. In short, I'll tread cautiously in the murky waters of the high school social scene. I'll keep my head up, and pretend as if nothing is wrong, but I know that it'll never be the same. There will always be a dull ache in my chest left by the now-empty space that she used to fill.
I won't lie… it hurts like a motherfucking bitch to see her every day, to see her talking and laughing in the halls with the other cheerleaders. But in many ways, it's like looking at a stranger, because the Bella Swan I knew no longer exists. Or maybe it was just an illusion to begin with… Bella is still beautiful and still looks the just same on the outside, but she's nothing more than a plastic replica of the girl she used to be. She's conformed to what she thinks she needs to be in order to fit in. And she does fit in. Everyone loves Bella, or at least the version of herself she presents to the world. But no one knows her the way that I do. Very few have experienced the coldness that she's willing to dish out in order to maintain her newly-minted popular status—she's too busy kissing their asses for them to notice.
After all the hurt and pain and gut-wrenching ache faded, I did the only thing I could—I finally opened up my tightly fisted fingers and let go of the one thing I had been clinging to for dear life: the desire to maintain a friendship with Bella. Amazingly, as soon as I did so, the last bit of my depression lifted.
I didn't realize how much of a noose around my neck that dead friendship was until I cut it free.
But even though I now am free from that painful relationship, I still miss my friend.
I think I always will.