For as long as I can remember, I’ve been what you could call the disposable friend, the invisible mate. I’ve written countless blog posts about being bullied throughout my childhood, my experiences with feeling left out and even of how I wish my University experience had been different, but what will probably never leave me is the feeling of simply being forgotten.
I finished wrapping my presents for Christmas the other night and as I was sorting them into organised stacks, ready to distribute to my friends on our respective Friendmas gatherings, I thought of the bag of wrapped presents that lives in our loft.
There's legit still a bag of wrapped, never-given Christmas presents in my loft from when my 'friends' at school never invited me to a Christmas gathering and so I never got to give them out 🌚 Forever the invisible mate.
— Michelle Chai (@winyeemichelle) December 15, 2017
When I was in secondary school, we had an unspoken tradition of swapping presents on our last day, often at a mini lunch gathering at somebody’s house or Frankie & Benny’s, as one can only do when they’re 13. It was the sort of present-swapping where you’d ask Mum on the sly whether she could spare £20 so each of your four friends could have a cheap Boots 3 for 2 present, but it was nice and it made us all feel very grown-up indeed. Until one year, I had my presents beautifully wrapped, a stack of cards to distribute… and I was never invited to the gathering.
The weekend passed and I tried not to think too much about it. Mum asked me why she didn’t have to give me a lift anymore and I sat quietly at home in the study, mindlessly scouring MySpace for new coding to learn or how to make a new glitter graphic. I saw photos flash up on my feed of my ‘friends’ at their gift exchange. When Monday rolled around, I could hardly catch my breath thinking about what it’d be like walking through the gates up to where our pack hung out.
And to really rub salt into the wound, it wasn’t even like those parties or sleepovers where they’d suddenly remember and say: ‘Oh where were you on Friday Michelle?’, knowing full well that I’d not been invited. It was a straight up, ‘we totally forgot you and we don’t know or care’.
It’s been more than 10 years now and the presents live in our loft. They’ve watched me move out of home to University and back again, land my very first job, watched me hunt for a suitable suitcase (because, duh, the loft is the land of suitcases and the Christmas tree) for a move abroad, and back again. The presents remain dressed up with nowhere to go, and that’s a little sad, isn’t it?
I Tweeted about the entire debacle on Friday and the response was absolutely incredible. One lovely reader even suggested I climb up to the loft and donate the gifts to a children’s charity and I think that’s just what I’ll do this afternoon. And to you, my reader, if you ever feel like how I did then, please please just let someone know or even send me an email and I promise you’re not alone.
Part of the 12 Days of Daisybutter Blogmas challenge. See the challenge introduction here and post along!