Storytime #1: Toxic friends

Hello my fellow friends! I started a poll over on twitter a few weeks ago (I think) and questioned whether I should start this series and majority said yes, especially starting with the story of toxic friends! Honestly, I’m not doing this to throw shade at my ex friends or those toxic ones, because I’m sure all friendships fall apart because of both parties, I just hope that I can give some things that I took away, learnt and some tips so that people don’t make the same mistakes that I did.

(I would first like to apologize if you see a ton of typos because I sleepy af and ate some strong painkillers, so, I’m sorry for the horrible typos!)

Okay, let’s start from the start, when I say start, I mean right at the START! Back in primary school!

In my country, our education system is primary school (primary 1-6), Secondary school (1-4/5), JC/Polytechnic/ITE and then University. I’ll split the story into 3 major parts, Primary school, Secondary school and Polytechnic!

Part I: Primary school

Okay, so in primary school, I was actually the nosy kid. Apparently talkative enough that one of the teachers used a ruler to hit the calves of my legs (and I was like, what, 7). So I ended up hating my primary school life and especially that teacher, and I still remember her to that day. Okay, horrible teachers aside, I had my first best friend when I was in primary 3/4 (9/10 yrs old). The two of us were in the same row because of our register numbers (on the class list) and the two of us quickly became friends.

We hung out every day and even talked about our crushes (who were best friends too). So there was this one time when I had a birthday party, and she suggested for me to invite our crushes (I question my life choices when I was younger lol). Let me just call her A and her crush B, and my crush C. (I hope this isn’t confusing)

So before the party, B asked me what I liked and so I told him that I liked stuffed toys. (Isn’t that normal for kids that were 10?) And so the party approached and B gave me a teddy bear that was holding a heart with the words ‘I love you’. And I didn’t care about that heart, I was happy that I got a freaking teddy bear, but was sad when my own crush, C, gave me stationery. Well the now me would have liked it, but I was a kid who hated studying back then, so I was extremely disappointed.

So I think A was horribly angry when she found out B gave me a teddy bear, and you know what she did next? She literally told the entire class that I had a crush on C. So when I started avoiding her and hanging out with another group of classmates, she was furious and she actually told the teacher that I was ignoring her. So the teacher pulled me to the back of the class and confronted me and A didn’t dare to look me in the eye after that. I ended up sobbing while returning to my seat but my crush very nicely whispered to me that she a bad friend (That is probably the most romantic thing that happened in my entire life lol).

So after that, the two of us just never talked and ended up in different classes a year later. The sucky thing is that our parents know each other and honestly I’ve forgiven her for then, but I probably wouldn’t talk to her.

The next major incident was when I was Primary 5/6 (11/12 years old). I had another friend, but honestly she wasn’t a good influence. Let’s call her D. D would get me to skip remedial classes to grab bubble tea, pick on a male classmate who was weaker than us (nothing serious of course, just like taking his stationery but returning it of course), she literally showed me R18 games.

So now let me introduce E. E was an outcast in the class because there were always rumors about her scratching herself in private places and well, sniffing her hands. But because the three of us all liked anime, we quickly became friends. I admit that I was jealous that D and E seemed closer, but that was the extent of my jealousy. There was once, I saw E well, scratching and casually told a classmate (at that time, I didn’t realise how loud-mouthed this classmate was). And literally less than a period later, the entire class knew. I definitely felt bad because I never expected that that classmate would tell everyone and obviously E blamed me for it. (I even apologized to her a few years ago via FaceBook, but then after thinking about it, it wasn’t really my fault, it was the fault of my nativity. But she brushed the apology off anyway, so…)

So E wasn’t friends with us anymore but I was still hanging out with D. D had an online boyfriend in primary 6 and she even introduced me to him, so I just said ‘hi’ and all. And sometimes when D wasn’t online, her boyfriend would message me to ask where she was and casually chat like “oh, D has shown me some pictures of you two.” (Talk about creepy?) So I just laughed (but I was kinda freaked out).

There was one incident where it was Christmas and I think we were just chatting because he asked where D was and I was telling him she wasn’t online. So I just casually wished him ‘Merry Christmas’ and he replied that he didn’t celebrate it. So I felt bad and just sent an image of like a Christmas tree to him. (That’s normal, right?) So, apparently, he took it the wrong way.

A few weeks after that, D told me that she and him broke up, but she didn’t tell me the reason and I didn’t press her for it. Nearing the end of primary school, she also suggested that we didn’t be friends anymore. (It was heartbreaking for the 12 year old me because that was when I discovered I had anxiety and was recovering from my first broken heart about my OWN online crush -will be in a different post.) So I was crying badly because I was dealing with the loss of some love, and now my best friend threw this bomb down.

So I literally begged for us to stay friends and she agreed, but of course we didn’t. And then I found out from her ex, that he ended up liking me. (Okay, this is extremely creepy because all I did was to send a photo for well wishes for Christmas, this still freaks me out and makes me go WTF until today.)

And that was how my primary school life ended. Well, after typing all of that out, I kinda understand why I’ve never been able to keep friends, because I’ve never trusted people after those incidents. (I find them pretty traumatic, especially for a 9 year old kid.)

Part II: Secondary school

ANYWAY, now move on to the next part of my life, Secondary school (secondary 1-5, 13 to 17 years old.)

Out of all the friendships, the best one was actually here. I managed to find my best friend here and honestly, we actually weren’t even close while we were in secondary school. Honestly, I had the best time of my life in Secondary school because everything was going well.

In secondary school, I was the opposite of my primary school self. I was extremely quiet and studious, topping my classes frequently because I studied so much.

I ended up meeting F, who came up to me on the 2nd day of school to ask whether we could be friends and I agreed. After that we met G and the three of us became an inseparable trio. The trio of us hung out frequently and joined the same CCA where we met H,I,J and my current best friend.

My friendship with F and G was okay, I did get jealous a few times but kept it to myself (of course) but we did end up drifting apart during secondary 4/5. But honestly, I did feel that F only stayed friends with me because I was good at studying and teaching people.

(It’s taking me a long time to write this segment, I’m having an anxiety attack rn 🙃)

I treated G like a big sister, but she was hanging out with another group of friends more than my clique and I guess we drifted apart which was sad. Also, after secondary school she moved overseas to study and I kinda was the one who burnt the bridge because when everyone was gathering to send her overseas, I was recovering from my first break up and seeing people I knew back then would really break me even more. And I guess they didn’t care much because they didn’t care to ask either, so… there was that.

H was someone I looked up to because she was fierce and ready to right any wrong. She was great at studying (better than me in maths and science) and I really looked up to her. Being in the same CCA allowed us to work together often and we usually were placed in leadership roles frequently. But I heard from my current bestie that H actually made fun of my name like using the first three letters of my given name (MIC) and she would make fun of it by calling it, “Made in China”. When I heard that, all the respect I had for her was lost. I mean I never tried to compete with her for the top spot in class, I just wanted to quench my thirst for knowledge, I guess she took it the wrong way? But we were never really close so….

‘I’ was actually a great friend, she would play 20 questions with me during class to get to know me better. I actually felt that we would have been closer and better friends if she didn’t treat me like a second option, only coming to me when J was busy. I am pretty thankful to I because she was the one who spotted my toxic relationship with my ex even before I saw it and she told me a ton of times but I refused to listen (if you happen to be reading this, I never got to say thank you! And I’m sorry, you were right.)

Honestly, the most toxic one was J. J is a very persuasive and guilt-trip talker. Since she was a Christian (no hate, I’m a Christian now, but wasn’t back then), she would invite us to her church for events. And I and me would attend with her and both of us didn’t convert but did visit regularly. We went for service and even had bible study together. But the sucky thing was that I told her I was uncomfortable with lying to my parent and telling them “i was hanging out with my friends’ when I was actually going to church, but she managed to persuade me that it wasn’t a lie. A ton of times she would guilt trip me into standing in front during service for alter-call and I wasn’t ready for that, but she always would try to get me to do it, using things like “If you don’t do it now then when will you do it? God will protect you and all… You are disappointing God.”

And when I started to see what was happening, of course I stopped attending church. Even the friend who was in charge of bible study got angry if I didn’t want to go for bible study and would even come to my house area just to get me to do it. And honestly I had to INFJ door slam all of them if not they wouldn’t stop.

And lastly, K. K wasn’t a part of the same CCA and we were only friends during secondary 4. A ton of people didn’t like her because of her rash and impulsive nature, she would get angry really easily and she wasn’t afraid to show it. She found a place at my side and I guess we just became friends. We did help each other with our studies and we got along quite well because I would confide in her whenever me and my ex had problems and she would tell me ‘not to cry’ because she knew I cried almost every night. And she was honestly the only person who stood by me during that time because everyone in my clique didn’t like her. Even my classmates didn’t like her. And not trying to toot my own horn, but in secondary school, a lot of people liked me because I was really approachable, kind and really good at teaching people what they didn’t understand.

But K didn’t really take advantage of me of course. But there was one time that until now I still felt really bad. Because my clique didn’t like her, one of them told me that K was lesbian, because of the way she would stick close to me and follow me everywhere. When the others chimed in, I easily gave into the peer pressure back then because I knew my clique longer than I did K, and honestly, I was homophobic back then (because I didn’t even know what it was and was brought up knowing it was wrong and sinful, that isn’t the case though, if you caught my LGBTQ+ post ) So I did avoid her for a while but she confronted me and we sorted things out.

We didn’t remain friends after another incident though. There was this time I was thinking of selling stuff on an app and wanted to find a supplier, so K introduced her friend who was an ah lian (singlish slang for ‘gangster’). And I didn’t really understand the way she explained things so I questioned K, but accidentally sent it to the group where the other friend was at. And this friend went ballistic. And I didn’t type or ask it rudely, I remembered asking nicely, like “Hey K, I don’t really understand your friend’s explanation of how she runs things, could you explain it to me?”

K’s friend went ballistic over nothing and K took her side even though I wasn’t even at fault while trying to clear up what she was trying to explain. K’s friend even went “If K didn’t tell you to apologize, you wouldn’t.” But why should I apologize if I didn’t say anything wrong? So, me and K are no longer friends.

And that is the end of this part! This one was the hardest to write because I was happy too. I know that thinking back now, some of them were toxic, but I did pull away pretty quickly too. Because personally for me, I don’t do well with big group of friends because I would feel left out really quickly. And when I make a friend, I kinda expect you to treat me as your first choice, because I would do that for you. When I make friends, I’m loyal to them as long as they are loyal to me. Like I can go to any lengths for my friends, but only when I deem you’re worth it and know you would do the same for me. (INFJ expectations 😂)

And honestly this part, I learnt that you don’t have to buy your friends with time. What I mean is, don’t spend all your time with them and let them push you around. I spent a lot of time on people who weren’t worth it because I never had the ability to say no. Learn to say no, if they’re your true friends, they will understand. And also, learn to compromise. Real friends will do that for you. And those that won’t, just leave. If they don’t bother to care about you or put you in second place although you put them first, it’s okay to leave.

It’s okay to leave and to say no, you’re allowed to do that. Don’t let that friendship blind you to being yourself too, don’t lose yourself while trying to make friends.

Part III: Polytechnic

Honestly, after writing the first part all the rest of this post seems insignificant lol.

In polytechnic, I was even quieter than in secondary school and my grades weren’t good although I did study hard, but I guess it’s objective in design school, right?

Okay, moving to the last part of this post! (I swear it’s been 2 hours lol.) Lastly, is the Polytechnic phase where I met L,M,N and O. We were in a clique and as mentioned before, I really don’t do well with cliques.

L was the queen bee, everyone would flock to her and heed all her decisions. Wherever she wanted to eat, we would follow. Many times I would turn them down because I became strictly pescatarian during this phase of my life. I was pescatarian since birth, but was still eating a little meat in primary and lesser in secondary. (I’ve totally stopped eating now, only maybe once every 6 months, but am going to stop that too lol.) So being pescatarian, I would always turn them down because they LOVED meat and wouldn’t go anywhere else (I’m not expecting them to go to places that have no meat, but at least somewhere where I would have an option, because isn’t that what friends do?)

So I really pulled away from them because I felt left out a ton of times, I had curfews but they loved staying out and spending a ton of money eating out and Starbucks. I’ve never been a starbucks person and still am not.

There was one time I worked with L and I did tell N and O that I wouldn’t work with her again on a project because we had different styles and I’m sure L took that the wrong way because she took that personally. Just because I said we couldn’t work together professionally, I didn’t mean we couldn’t be friends.

Also, I remember the exact point where I begun to cut them off. When we had a local staycation and we played truth or dare. I’m never a dare person so I picked truth. So she questioned me, starting with, “You’re over your ex, right?”

I wasn’t. It was 3 months after the break up and who are you to determine whether I am over him? Different people have different healing times and mine wasn’t 3 months. I had been with this guy for 2 years, did you think that 3 months was enough? And this guy was someone more than a friend and you already know that it takes me a long time to trust friends so… you get the story lol.

So L proceeded to ask me “How far did you and your ex go?”

Now, I would have understood if I had asked her this question prior to my turn and she was getting revenge, but I didn’t. And at that point in time, the whole clique’s attention was on me, of course I had to pretend I was okay and of course I had to answer. I ended up pointing the question to N to answer. I knew that was a cowardly move, but that was a very personal question that I never wanted to discuss in a setting like that. If you asked me privately I probably would have told you, but that was a low blow.

M was a friend that only came to you if she needed your help. She expected you to give her everything she asked for and go with her whenever she asked, but she would never do the same for you. And I don’t think I need to elaborate more, right?

N and I were initially best friends, but I was never her first option. She always had more important people that she would put over me although I was there for her a ton of times. She also flipped 180 degrees after a module and well L and M would gossip about it so much.

I only became close with O in the last year and she was a good and supportive friend. But she didn’t understand me enough. When the clique started ignoring me, the whole course knew and obviously I was the bad guy, I mean the quiet ones always are, right?

I was still friends with O, but the way the friendship went, it felt like she was still hanging out with me because of pity. She would claim that she defended me. And I never forced her to choose between me and the clique, but I guessed the clique did. But her answers were obvious, but she was still pretending to be sitting on the fence. She was already facing the side where the grass was greener, and it wasn’t my side.

I literally became known to the course as the girl who gossiped, A LOT. But the thing is, the only people I gossiped to was my current best friend (who wasn’t even in the same course or faculty) and the people in my clique. I guess now we know who spread the gossip rumors, right?

And honestly, the clique never respected that I was pescatarian. Forget being forced to go to all the meat BBQ places (I went once and never went again), but there was this one instant and after that I immediately cut them off.

One friend saw that I was eating Wanton mee, which had char siew pork and meat-stuffed wantons. So I gave them to O, and that left me with just the vegetables and noodles, right? This friend said, “Like that, you might as well not eat.” And that instant, I knew something in me snapped.

Also, there were many times I had to stay up to accompany them or had to stay out late even though I had a curfew, I literally had to buy my friendship with them using time. Because if I didn’t spend time with them, I wasn’t their friend.

So that story ended with the clique ignoring me and they never confronted me or anything so it was left like that. And that time one thing my director (for my project) said resounded within me. He said he was glad that I wasn’t hanging out with them anymore and I questioned him why. He simply said that they were childish. And that moment I was literally enlightened, because I didn’t realise what was going on.

An additional two people are P and R who were my project mates. P wasn’t well liked by a lot of people because anytime she opened her mouth, she would talk 24/7 ABOUT HERSELF. Everything that you added, she would link it to herself and wow, you must imagine my horror when she tells me that she and I are the same MTBI type (INFJ). Honestly, I only hung out with her because I didn’t want to sour the relations in the group (let’s just say I was secretly taking one for the team) and both of us didn’t have a ton of friends. But I knew she was using me too. We just used each other and honestly it wasn’t that bad (apart from the fact that she only talked about herself), but at least she respected my dietary needs. (Like only my best friend still picks somewhere there I can eat.)

And R actually told me that she has a mental illness and is getting treatment for it, but the way she said it, she wielded it like a sword and shield, using it against people and using it to push the pressure and responsibilities off her.

I won’t delve into anymore details, but I want to share what I’ve learnt.

If they won’t do the same for you that you do for them, leave. It’s not worth it. Friendship doesn’t need to be bought with money or time, it’s more like friendship must withstand all that.

Friendship doesn’t see money, it doesn’t matter. You two can walk around a mall with $0 in your wallet and still have a bloody good time. Friendship withstands time. You and your friend should be able to talk as though nothing has changed even though you probably haven’t talked in 3 months.

That’s how you know the friendship is worth it. You need both of you to understand how each of you view friendship and embrace that. Me and my best friend can not talk for months and when we text, it’s like nothing has even changed.

Don’t make the same mistakes I did, that was the point of this post and it still was. I wanted someone to tell me this when I was going through all that shit in the past, and I hope that my words here will be able to help you if you see yourself in any of the situations.

Don’t be afraid to walk away, you’ll find better friends, friends who will respect and not judge you for simply being you. You don’t need to buy their love, time or friendship. And if they can’t see that, walk away.

Don’t destroy yourself trying to love someone else, because in the end, you’re the only one who gets seriously hurt. Because it’s like throwing plates at a wall and you have to clean up everything later.

Peace out,
Michelle (Firstbooklove)