Dec 20, 2013 by

Emotionally drained


Maria sprawled out on her bed by 8:30 pm on a Thursday night with no plan of leaving it before morning, staring at the ceiling while listening to Do I Wanna Know? by Arctic Monkeys (which doubles as both a hot-as-fuck song and a sad-as-shit song) on repeat, calmly breathing in her loneliness. (Okay, there were tears at one point, but they lasted no more than ten minutes.)




          HoHoTO is an annual holiday event in support of Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank. What began as a Twitter discussion between friends grew into a party of 600 people and $25,000 raised in 2008. The success of the first HoHoTO, which came together after less than two weeks of planning, warranted five more. Thus, the sixth HoHoTO took place last night. I was supposed to be there. I was not.

          Yesterday, while on lunch at just past 3 pm, I saw a health update sent via text from the friend that I was supposed to go with. She felt as though she was in labour – or what she suspected labour must feel like. She had gone for a biopsy that morning, which landed her in pre-delivery state minus the epidural (and minus the baby). She was 100 percent willing to be a trooper and stick out HoHoTO, but would need to leave early. I was 100 percent unwilling to let her do so. The girl was in pain! No 45-dollar ticket is worth putting a friend through a torturous night out for my own want to party. I told her to go home to rest and not to worry about it! She felt so bad that she was willing to give her ticket away to one of my other friends for free. Bless her.

          Stupidly, my first instinct was to call Olivia. Our friendship is on fucking life support right now, but I did it out of habit. She’s who I’m accustomed to turning to in situations like these. I knew I had a better chance of attending HoHoTO by contacting friends that I’m actually friends with or, in the absolute worst case, going alone, but I called her anyway. As I had expected, her answer was no – an easy, thoughtless, immediate no. In all fairness, she had plans in Guelph. However, her plans could be worked around, while mine were inflexible and about to cost me $45. I know it is irrational to expect someone to rearrange their plans to help me out. (I know, I know, I know! I’ve already lectured myself about it and beaten myself up for calling her in the first place. No need to make me feel worse, friends.) Nonetheless, I expected it. She just is (was) that person for me – that person I could count on. No matter what, friendly or fighting, we would come through for one another when needed. Yesterday, it was made clear that this is no longer so. I reacted as if my heart had been viciously sliced and hung for display. I don’t know why. This came as no surprise. In March, Olivia told me that we are not each other’s people. I didn’t know then how each future action supporting her statement, whether it be hers or mine, would stab me with increasingly more force than those words. (To every human being in existence, from a girl who has lost her person, I hope to God that you have yours.) She was not saying no to me because she couldn’t make it happen; she was saying no to me because she wouldn’t make it happen based on principal. I understand. I do not cancel on one person for another. If I had a friend stuck in the situation that I was in, though, I would at the very least consider ways that I could move things around to help. HoHoTO would continue late into the night. We could have gone after she hung out with her friend in Guelph.

          Losing care for HoHoTO but internally freaking out about the current state of our friendship, I began testing our new limits. I explained that our mutual friend was sick. No. I offered to pick her up from Guelph. No. I promised to drive her back to Guelph if she was dead-set on sleeping there for the second night in a row. No. Ugh, I am even more ashamed of my own desperation to win her over now than I was in the moment. I didn’t need her to say yes to go myself. I knew that. Yet, I continued pleading to the point of silence. I had begun to cry and I didn’t want her to hear it, even though I’m sure she guessed by my speechlessness. I didn’t care about potentially missing out on the event; I cared about actually missing out on the years of friendship yet to come that she and I had forecasted at 15. This girl was my family, my future maid of honour, my hypothetical children’s (hypothetical because I don’t want children, but it’s the thought that counts) zia/godmother. I was stunned, hurt, and furious. I felt that she was being spiteful. She was angry that I don’t want to live with her. She was mad that I don’t want to put any more effort into the friendship that she so easily set aside years ago. She was bitter that I’m happy for everyone else’s happiness but hers. Rightfully so, she was trying to prove assertiveness, both to me and herself. Point taken.

          I began reaching out to friends, knowing my chances of finding someone available that last minute for a night out on the Thursday before Christmas, with snow-storm warnings threatening the GTA, were slim. One of my friends told me that if I had called him a few hours earlier, he definitely would have gone, but he had made plans to bake Christmas cookies with his best friend. (Cue my self-hatred. Why do I never check my phone? My friend had texted me her post-biopsy status in the morning!) He told me that he would go with me if he finished baking early enough, but warned me that it didn’t look likely. As he made my heart melt for simply being willing to try, I grew angrier at Olivia. He, who I only see every few months or so, was going to attempt to help me out by rush baking. Even if he couldn’t come through (which he ultimately couldn’t, because pizzelle are time-consuming little bitches), I was so grateful to him for caring enough to want to be there. That was far more than I could say for my labelled best friend.

          With under an hour left to go of work, I asked around the office upon returning from my lunch break. Understandably, everyone had Christmas plans of some sort. Even one of my girlfriends, who is always down for going out, had to reluctantly decline to Christmas shop (she hates Christmas shopping), because it was her last free night before being completely booked with family through to Christmas. (I found out this morning that she was at the mall until 11 pm last night, and wrote Christmas cards until 1 am. Sounds like my Christmas-shopping fate, since I still have to get on that.) I know she would have come otherwise.

          As hopeless as my night was, it warmed my heart that I have friends to reach out to, and that they displayed genuine concern and care to help. Before The Happiness Experiment, my search would have ended at Olivia. Okay, let’s be real: my plans would have been with Olivia in the first place by default that she was my only friend. I love circumstances that remind me how far my social life has come. #brightside!

          By the time I got home from work, I was exhausted. The last couple of hours had consisted of pathetically crying over lost friendship and wracking my mind for backup options. At this point, I didn’t even want to go. There were a few more people that I could have asked. I thought about texting them. I thought about sucking it up by going alone. I thought about getting in the shower to shave my legs before throwing my red dress over my head and plastering a smile on my face. These thoughts alone were leading to burnout. I put my phone down, I took a breath, and I attempted to clear my head.

          It’s been a while since I’ve had to resort to happiness-experiment basics. Acting in line with my wants has become more natural to me. Last night, though, I needed to think it through. What would make me most happy in this moment? How did I want to proceed? My options were essentially to go to HoHoTO or to stay home. If with a friend, going would mean pushing my tired self out the door to dance late into the night in crippling heels (positivity at its finest). If alone, going would mean repeatedly initiating conversations with strangers. In all honesty, I was neither in the mood for an adventure in Christmas-partying nor independence. I decided to relieve the pressure I was putting on myself to socialize, and act in accordance with what would make me feel least shitty. Not going meant that I had essentially spent $45 to stay home, which is $10 less than a two-way flight to Cuba for me; but, I rationalized that the money wasn’t wasted because proceeds from my ticket went to Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank. Someone out there will be a little less hungry as a result.

          So where did my Thursday night land me? Exactly where I’ve been dying to be for days: my bed. I normally avoid my bed and scold myself on the rare occasion that I end up there pre-bedtime. Not last night. Last night, I gave myself a goddamn break by choosing to see it as a positive that I could spend a night in bed (a) without having a fucking breakdown and (b) with confidence that I’d get out of it in the morning. I let myself fall into loneliness, as I let go of guilty thoughts about choosing solitude over social interaction. And so, for a night, I checked out of life. It was kind of fabulous.

Happiness Tip: Temporarily check out.

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