By Cathy Lambert, TIWP Women’s Writing Program
What did I do? What did I say?
Did I wear the wrong cloths or my hair the wrong way?
We’ve been friends for so long, and I wanted to stay.
But they all stopped talking to me; they wouldn’t even look my way.
I was no longer included in parties, group chats, or weekend plans.
Plans were now made in whispers behind mouth-covered hands.
Does everyone just hate me now? Why? – I don’t understand.
Did one turn the rest against me? Was icing me out all part of their plan?
It felt so cold from the outside looking in
on the circle of girls who I once considered friends.
Left out and alone, would they care if I die?
I wanted to curl up in a ball and just cry.
I still don’t understand what changed. Was it me? Was it them?
I felt cast out, like I no longer fit in.
Not cool enough, sporty enough or into the right things,
I look at pictures from times past and my heart feels the sting.
If they all just pretended I was no longer there
then they weren’t being mean girls – just seeming not to care.
They never spoke the words telling me to leave,
just heartbreaking silence until I’d choose to no longer grieve.
Maybe, it was me who needed to change—but not to fit in with them,
instead to find new friends, kind friends, not so focused on the trends,
friends who wouldn’t step on my head to climb the popularity ladder,
friends who cared enough to notice and ask “what’s the matter”?
It still hurts sometimes to think about my lost childhood friends,
how awkward it will be to run into them and pretend
that they didn’t abandoned and hurt me, for their own prosperity.
Maybe, it will no longer hurt me by the time I’m 33.