Disclaimer: I’m not defaming anybody or bringing anybody down. Every story has two sides. This is mine. This narration is, of course, at times incoherent since all these events have meshed together in my head. The dialogue and stuff might be a bit off key. For everyone’s sanity, I did not mention a single name.
Silence is, indeed such a powerful weapon. In several occasions, it has caused the mighty to fall and the weak to rise. I’ve learned firsthand what silence can do to people and though I stand behind my decision to keep mum about everything, I feel that there is a need to explain what really happened.
This is the first and last time you’ll hear this story for after this I shall forget about this mess. For reasons I cannot fully disclose, I am a firm believer that all things happen for a reason (yes, even fallouts) and this is just one of those things.
The Premise (December 2006)
It started simple enough, borderline stupid actually. I needed a textbook to create a lesson plan. My partner and I shared this textbook. I made arrangements to meet him on a Sunday since his house was pretty near our church and it would be convenient for the both of us. He said the book wasn’t with him. It was with his girlfriend who also happened to be a good friend of mine. I made a mental note to text her when I could.
Now this was the time when my phone was kinda iffy so it was really hard to text anybody. On Sunday, I borrowed my mom’s phone and sent an SMS to my partner’s girlfriend, making arrangements on where we could meet. By the time my mom and I separated, I still hadn’t received a reply.
When my mom and I did get to meet two hours later, I read her reply that the textbook was with my partner already. (confused much?) The car was already in EDSA, too late to meet with him at the original rendezvous.
So I texted my partner and I asked him very nicely if he and I could meet in Gateway instead. His replies were surprising and mean-natured. He asked why I didn’t just meet him near our church and why didn’t I just stick to the original plan. I told him I really didn’t know that the book was with him and I asked him why he was getting mad. I said if that was how it was going down then I didn’t want to meet him anymore since he obviously was busy with grades and stuff. It was a simple lesson about the drawing toolbar in MS Word which I could have had other sources.
But it was too late. I soon found myself in a war of words, mostly me defending myself against his cruel accusations. Based on his messages, I can only surmise that I was often misunderstood. When I said “Never mind. Bahala na.”, he must’ve thought I was making him feel guilty when in fact I was thinking I could make the lesson plan without the textbook. (In fact the book only had two or three pages about the drawing toolbar so I did use other sources). When I said “Nakakahiya naman sa iyo.”, he must’ve thought I was being sarcastic.
His last text was “Hindi, papunta na akong Gateway. Nakakahiya naman kasi sa iyo.” Now that was sarcastic. I could taste the anger from the letters in his message. At this point, I wasn’t being very nice, that much I’m willing to admit for I couldn’t understand why he was so damn ornery. I said “Bahala ka. Pumunta kang Gateway. Wala ako dun.” Of course I didn’t want him to go there. It was a waste of time and money since I was already online looking for better resources. But then he replied “Alam na alam ko yang ugali mo. Nandito na ako sa Gateway. Pumunta ka na.”
I had no choice. I picked up my belongings and walked to the MRT. When I reached Gateway, I was thinking what I was going to say to him. We were magka-barkada and as much as possible, I didn’t want this to affect our friendship. I decided I would buy him coffee for all his efforts and I told him to meet me at Coffee Bean. When he finally arrived, he handed me the book and turned around. I was able to mutter a few incoherent syllables as he walked away.
Sitting at the Coffee Bean, I got to thinking. I decided to send him another message because though we both had our faults, I wanted to be the bigger man. I said “Salamat sa pagdala nung libro. Kalimutan nalang natin yung kanina. Nagkainitan lang siguro ng ulo. Sayang, umalis ka na agad kanina. Lilibre pa naman kita
The next day however, it was very different. Our supervising teacher told me that my partner needed me to do something. I went over to him and said “May ipapagawa ka daw sa akin?” He was busy writing names of students with incomplete requirements but certainly not too busy to turn around and tell me what it was he needed me to do. I stood for about fifteen seconds (but really it seemed like an hour) waiting for his response. I assumed he was still smarting from the day before so I gave up and told my teacher that he didn’t need my help after all. She looked at me and it seemed like she knew there was a fight (even before I did) so I’m guessing he told her about it (don’t quote me on that, I don’t have any proof).
It was then it dawned on me. I had gotten myself in another stupid situation.
Here’s where it gets twisty. We had spent Paskuhan together and even had a small sleep-over where everything was nice and fuzzy but when New Year came, everything seemed so different.
New Year, New Life (January 3 onwards)
On the first day we had to go back to school, I met up with a friend so I couldn’t really hang out with them. The day after that though was really different.
I know I’m not making the most sense when I say that I can feel when things between two people have changed. It’s like you almost know that it’s different. There’s less laughter in your conversation. It’s not as easy to talk to the person anymore. That’s exactly what I felt. I remember it was a Thursday and I was finally able to join them for lunch. I had a feeling that my barkada was going to see a movie after class. I waited for someone to tell me about it, since I felt that things were different and I needed confirmation since I really don’t want to show up uninvited. When our class ended at four, I picked up my bag from my locker. I even ran into them at the staircase. However, when I went back to the lobby, they were all gone. I checked my phone but no one texted me.
In the olden days, when there’s a gimik planned, it was protocol to seek each other out. For example, if I was in the office, someone would come up for me or at least send a text informing me of their coordinates. This time was different. This time, I was not invited.
They didn’t have to tell me twice. I exited the building and texted one of my friends. I said “Nasan kayo? Iniwan niyo ako.” I crossed the street and looked for a ride.
About fifteen to twenty minutes later, he replied “Office”. That’s it, one word.
By then it was too late. The FX was in Welcome - Rotonda, a good thirty minutes away and I wasn’t in the mood to turn around and go back to school.
This friend and I continued texting and after several messages, I was finally able to say what I though about the whole thing. “As if naman hindi mo alam na fini-phase out na ako sa group.” I wanted him to refute my last statement but instead, he said “Ayaw mo lang kasi sumama.” Bingo, confirmation of the whole thing. They were going out.
I made arrangements with an old friend of mine to meet in Gateway since the whole situation was really stressing me out. Over Vegetable Tempuras and Frio Mixx Shakes, I told her about the whole thing and it was funny because she couldn’t believe it. These were people she knew so well and I can imagine she was thinking it was all in my head.
All that was about to change. On our way home, we ran into them at the escalator, my so-called friends. I knew that they went out but seeing them there with my own two eyes made it seem so real. It was a scene straight from the movies with matching suspenseful musical score. My partner, his girlfriend, and my friend. All that was missing was our other friend (who incidentally is seemingly unfazed by this whole deal and I really miss hanging out with him). Only my friend acknowledged my presence with an exaggerated smile. I thing my partner’s girlfriend made a little eye contact, feigning surprise. My friend (the one I was hanging out with) couldn’t believe her eyes. She said “(Ang plastic ng ngiti niya.) Sorry talaga. Naniniwala na akong totoo yung pinagsasasabi mo.”
That was all the confirmation I needed. That meant it wasn’t just in my head. Before parting ways she said “Not that I’m fanning the flames or anything but I don’t think you can easily be rid of them. I don’t think you’re that strong.” This became my mantra and my inspiration to be a stronger person despite the fact that I was losing my friends.
That Friday, I went to the Computer Laboratory and they were there. Expecting to have lunch with them, I made arrangements to meet with a friend of mine who had PE with me at 1 so we could discuss our game plan. I was on my cellphone and when I turned around, voila. They’ve really perfected the whole disappearing act.
I texted smiley friend and said “Iniwan niyo nanaman ako. Alam ko na kung sino true friends ko.”
That night, I went to an art show in UST (pictures soon!) and I got to talking with this friend of mine and I said maybe this is God’s way for me to become a different and better person. Like I said in a previous post, I wanted to be a better person and I don’t think I could do that with my current friends. I wanted to talk philosophy and literature and so many things that my current friends and I never talked about.
That morning (about 3 AM), I checked my phone after I plugged it in. It was my smiley friend (from the escalator) informing me of a thesis meeting at 9 AM. I had asked them that afternoon if we would meet on Saturday. One of my group mates said she’d text me if we would meet. When my phone died at about 9 PM, I assumed we weren’t meeting so I went ahead and stayed as late as I wanted to. To receive a message that was sent at 12:30 AM about a thesis meeting eight and a half hours later was simply preposterous. I told him they should’ve told me earlier and that I had just gotten home. I would go to the meeting tomorrow but I doubt if I’ll be early.
First thing I did when I woke up was I texted my partner’s girlfriend. I really gave her a piece of my mind. I was still sleepy but I was really giving it to her. I said if they had told me earlier, as agreed, that we would meet, I could’ve made the 9 AM call time. If they wanna shit on me and our friendship when in school, that’s perfectly fine. But this was different. This was my thesis, my grades, my future. Don’t mess with that.
She said she texted my old number (prepaid) which I found hard to believe since I had announced to everybody that I was using an old-new number (postpaid). She said “Dun nga kita tinext. Kung ayaw mo maniwala edi wag.” She seemed mad.
I knew I was hurting her but I was the aggravated party here. I was the one being phased out. I was the one they left behind and excluded on everything.
I was beginning to see that I was losing my worth in the group and maybe that’s why they never felt it was necessary to talk about what was happening. They just let me slip away, only talking to me when they really needed to. I remember thinking “Tapos, pag-thesis okay na lahat?! No way! Use me in a sentence, why don’t you?”
I managed to get through the week, drowning myself in layout work and occasionally meeting up with old friends. I finally learned how to eat lunch alone and that a whole pizza will never be ignored in a room full of hungry EJ staffers.
Every now and then, I miss them. I really miss the bus rides home with Unfazed Friend. I miss Nora-Eva moments with Smiley Friend. I miss corny jokes with Partner and I miss inane musings with Partner’s Girlfriend.
It’s All Coming Back
Yesterday however was a painful reminder of what was happening. As I was cleaning my phone’s inbox, I came across a message that smiley friend sent me in which he was basically saying that they never changed their attitude towards me and how it was all in my head and that I was the one who pulled away and how I should “lower my pride” and apologize to my partner. I sent him a message that basically said “I just reread your long message and I just wanna say that on top of all things, I’m not mad. I’m just nagta-tampo. I don’t think I should apologize because honestly, from the textbook to everything else, I don’t see a single fault in my actions.”
At 11 that night, he texted me and said he just read my message. It starts nicely enough. He said if I was mad or nagtatampo, I should’ve just told them. I shouldn’t have texted my partner’s girlfriend because she really felt bad. He said he thinks things shouldn’t have turned out that way and that I should’ve been calmer. Apparently, the situation was growing. He assured me that he wasn’t mad but he isn’t pleased about the whole thing either. He also invited me to play badminton with them the next day.
A good friend invited me (same person who invited them) to the same thing while we were hanging out and I declined because my old friends were going to be there.
He added that we weren’t doing anything wrong to each other so we didn’t have problems. What he didn’t appreciate is that I wasn’t hanging out with them anymore (how could I when no one was inviting me anymore!!!) and that I sent all these nasty messages to my partner’s girlfriend. He said I should think about what I did and assured me that everything’s not lost in terms of our friendship and that I should, again “lower my pride.” In fact his exact words were “Walang masama kung ikaw yung magpakumbaba.” Obviously, I was turning into this villain in their eyes. It was obvious, none of them understood me.
I replied, restating that I will not apologize for I have done them no wrong. I tried to write it as nicely as possible but inside I wasn’t that calm. Sino ba yung nang-iwan? Sino yung naging different? Sino ba naging awkward?! SINO?!
He said that not apologizing was my decision but I should just remember all the good times we had and all the good times I was missing because I was acting like a prissy fool. He said I hope you enjoyed your time with us, making it seem that our time was really over. Finished. Finito.
His last statement struck a negative cord. Lahat naman tayo may ugali. Tiyagaan nalang at pasensiya. Kaya nga barkada kasi nagkakaintindihan, diba?
No, smiley friend. How can you say ang barkada nagkakaintindihan when not a single one of you bothered to understand what I was going through. Not a single person even asked me what the fuck was going on. They just let me drift away like whatever.
Finally, he said if I was ready and the tension had seized, I should just tell them. Everyone’s willing to talk and fix things. The next part’s going to be verbatim because it really, really, really opened my eyes. “Look, ako jinojoke nila minsan. Ang plastic ko daw kasi kinakausap kita or tinetext. Pero joke lang nila yun. Sabi ko wala ka naming ginagawa sa akin kaya okay tayo. Pero ang ayaw ko din siyempre, yung mga times na nadadamay yung ibang di dapat madamay. Tsaka siyempre, ayaw ko do na sumasama loob ng isa sa grupo. Tinext mo si (---), sumama loob niya. Wala naman siya ginagawa eh. Naiipit din siya. Hindi talaga maganda yung mga tinext mo kaya siyempre, sasama loob niya. Kami naman, dapat di mo yun ginawa.”
This is what this text told me:
- They admit that there is tension.
- They think he (Smiley friend) is plastic for continuing talking to me.
- Ergo, I’m the enemy. (ugh, like I said in the last post, how incredibly high school!) Why else would talking to me equate Smiley friend as a hypocrite?
- They think I’m an evil, evil man who orchestrated this big mess to include people who aren’t supposed to be included in the fight. All in my head.
- My texts of retaliation over the 9 AM call time was seen as offensive and not defensive.
- They must think I’m a bad, bad man.
- I never meant for any of this to happen.
- I am incredibly sensitive when people feel differently towards me.
- I wouldn’t have reacted if I didn’t honestly feel bad.
- Here’s what I think about my texts to Partner’s Girlfriend. They faze me out of gimiks, of lunch, and they inform me at indecent hours of the morning about school related shit. Isn’t that wonderful? With friends like those, who needs enemies? It was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back.
- I miss them, despite everything. Honestly, I really do.
- I am avoiding them because I’m not a hypocrite. I know that I’m hurt and I know that pretending like nothing happened is not going to fix things. I know something’s wrong, whether or not they acknowledge that.
- I am not apologizing not because my pride dictates it but because my common sense does.
- Partner started this when he fucking ignored me when I asked him nicely.
- I super hate people who ignore me when I talk to them. What, I’m not good enough to merit your fucking response?
- I don’t know where this will take me but I sincerely hope that this all happened for a purpose.
I need to write this. I need to release all this negative energy that I’ve been hoarding for weeks now. I chose this medium for I do not think that talking about it to people around us will solve anything.
I’m sure they have their own version of the story. In fact, I know they do. I even texted Smiley friend that if they have their press release of what’s happening, that’s fine with me. That’s their version, this is mine. After this, there’ll be no more of this shit coming from my mouth. I say goodbye to a friendship and hello to a new life.