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Eternal Company: Part 1
* Trigger warnings for self-harm, suicidal ideation, eating disorder
It all started when I was only eight years old. The year I met my best friends. My only friends. The ones who were there for me when no one else was. They warned me of the dangers of this world and gave me advice when I needed it most. Mother told me not to listen to them, but I knew she was just jealous. She was jealous because for the past four years I had only spent time with them. She was jealous because she never got to meet them. She was jealous of them, but I didn't care.
"You're too fat," said the first friend I met. I probably shouldn't say "friend" because, as you can see, he wasn't the sweetest to me. But it was later that I realized I was wrong. The hours I spent looking at myself in the mirror with him by my side made me see things differently. He was right all along and was speaking the truth out of benevolence because that's what friends do, right? They protect you from embarrassment. So, my first friend, glad I was starting to believe him, gave me my first advice. "Don't eat anymore," he proposed. It was tough at first, but he was always there for me. I would never have succeeded without his encouragement. He gave me the strength to fight my cravings and soon enough food became my biggest enemy.
A few months later, I was introduced to two new friends. They were cousins, but oddly enough, they contradicted each other all the time. Their differences, however, did not prevent them from being together. Wherever one of them went, the other followed.
The first one was very good at analyzing things. Thanks to him, I now knew why I never had and will never have real friends other than them. What was the reason? I was fundamentally flawed. And every night he whispered in my ear reminding me that I was pathetic, exasperating, and worthless. How lucky I was to have him because no one else would’ve wanted to be around such a horrible person. It’s wonderful to have someone like you despite your flaws; what a great friend he was! He also taught me some of the strategies I used to deal with the strong emotions I often felt. "Bang your head against the wall, that'll calm you down. And when your sadness becomes unbearable, slit your arm in order to release the emotional pain as well as the pressure", he advised me. Surprisingly, it worked!
The second one helped me think. Overthink. He also helped me prepare for worst-case scenarios: "What if you fail your exam tomorrow? You will definitely fail! Why bother studying for something you will fail anyway? You’ll just feel bad that you got a bad grade after having studied all week. And next week’s presentation, don’t do it. You might trip and fall, everyone will laugh, and it will be really embarrassing." Avoiding the worst became my superpower.
Although these two cousins were very good to me, their different opinions made me indecisive, and their conflicts gave rise to the insomnia that invaded my nights. "Get up and work or you'll fail in life," one would shout before the other interrupts him, "it doesn't matter, just stay in bed." They kept fighting against each other. Fighting to determine who was right. These two opposites were constantly demolishing my mind and it started to become really exhausting. It felt like I was being sucked into an abyss from which I couldn’t escape.
Mother said that my friends weren't real. She told me not to listen to them because they weren't really there. She told me that these words were all lies created by my own mind. And when I would cry, asking her to stop criticizing them, she would yell that I was too old to have imaginary friends. But I knew they weren't imaginary. Yesterday, I asked her why she didn't believe me. "Because, honey, no one can see your friends," she responded. Loneliness came over me then as it always did, but this time something was different: my fourth friend arose from his darkness. He first apologized for being away for so long, then offered me a solution to everything: "I'll give you a way to come with us, your true friends, to a better place. No one will bother you anymore and you will be happy", he said. Of course, I couldn't refuse such an offer, so I left with them — and I honestly could not have asked for more.
(To be continued…)
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