The Silent Treatment

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I hate misunderstandings, especially the kind that lead to the silent treatment. When I was in middle school, I had a “friend” who at the drop of a hat would decide she was mad at someone — as if she woke up that morning and decided, “You know, I’m going to pick on Carla today.”

One time she didn’t speak to me for more than a month because I chuckled at some procedure she had to go through. She thought I was making fun of her. I laughed because I thought the word sounded funny and had no idea what it meant.

There were threats of kicking my ass, and she turned other people against me. I sometimes went to school and literally felt sick because of the stress.

In high school, I had a history class with two of my friends, Jennifer and Julie. I was closer to Jennifer, but one day, our teacher had rearranged the room. I thought it’d be fun to sit at some tables way off in the corner where no one else was. Julie was game, but Jennifer got the message a little later and ended up staying where she was. After class, I started talking to her, but she made some smart comment about how I wanted to ignore her.

She could have punched me in the gut and it wouldn’t have hurt as badly as the way she spoke that sentence. I left her alone, but hearing those words felt like I was swallowing a cannonball. At lunch, I ate by myself in the corner of the Band Room instead of in the middle of the room with her and my other friends. I figured she wouldn’t want to talk to me.

Eventually, I couldn’t stand it anymore and I started crying. Another friend of mine came up to see why I was sitting by myself and then began quizzing me on why I was upset. I explained the situation, and she immediately went to Jennifer and announced that I was crying.

Jennifer ran up to me and through her arms around me, saying she didn’t realize how what she said affected me. I told her I wasn’t trying to ignore her in history class. She wiped my tears and started crying herself, and the whole incident was pushed away.

And some people want to be a kid again? No thanks.

It still frustrates me when someone whom I’ve considered a friend and who I thought considered me a friend as well thinks I’m intentionally being cruel. I’m not a mean person. Mean people suck, and I know I don’t suck as a friend. In the words of a true Southerner: “My momma taught me better than that.”

It urks me even more when apologies go unanswered, as if I’m incapable of being sorry. And the bitter icing on this unsweetened cake is a “friend” who blows me off as if I’m the chaff on a wheat stalk or the curd that has settled at the top of a container of milk — unnecesarry, unwanted, unlikeable — even after I’ve apologized and tried to explain the situation. It leaves me wondering if the word friend was ever sincerely used at all. And you know what? That hurts.

Is it stupid of me to feel bitter? Perhaps. Is it childish of me to bring this in a public forum? Probably. But it’s been eating at me for a couple of days now, and I can’t let another one go by without expressing it.

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