Her heart is big and she loves a lot, even if most of that love is reserved for herself. Sometimes, I think I could learn from her; most of mine is reserved for others. She means well—I usually believe that. But a narcissist’s periphery is limited; they have trouble seeing beyond the borders of their own lives. It’s not that she doesn’t care, because there have been times when she has been there for me. She just prioritizes differently. Your friends will warn you about boys who make empty promises, who only put you first when it’s convenient for them. They tell you to be done with them, to cut all ties. So where does that place her and I?
I tell others about her, describe our friendship to them. The many excuses I make for her behavior roll off my tongue as easily as honey drips from hers; I’ve practiced them so well. Her father is unwell, she just broke up with someone, her work has been crazy—she uses them on me all the time, so it must be true. I hate that I doubt her, that I have to take everything with a grain of salt, sometimes with a whole kilogram of it. I try to trust, try to believe her when she swears she’ll do better. How many promises ago was that?
She is the sun and we are all just in her orbit, a solar system of friends. Manipulation is her gravity. Some friends turn into Pluto, denoted from a major player to a dwarf planet, barely on the periphery. Someone who used to matter, who used to have their designated place on the inner circle. Now their place is outside of it and we all just keep spinning, revolving around her, her grip so tight.
I kissed the wrong boy once; he was in her orbit too. The tears I didn’t cry, she shed instead, comforting arms around her. I snuggled up in a sweater, wishing they were holding me too. He did it to get back at her, I was just a pawn, she was the real victim there and she is oh-so sorry it happened to me—that’s how she remembers it, that’s how she told it to whoever would listen. Even some who wouldn’t. I asked him about it months later, in a state of drunken honesty. He said she didn’t even cross his mind.
If we pulled half the shit on her that she does to us, she’d demote us just like Pluto. I’ve seen it happen. She holds herself to a different standard, because when she does x or y, it’s okay. I can’t help but shake my head at it. Why do we keep hanging out again? Our mutual friend hit the nail on the head the other day when he said she sees herself as better than us, better than the world. Her job is more important, her life more demanding, her stories more exciting, her time more valuable, and so on. She doesn’t put it like that, but I’ve learned to speak her language, read between the lines and white lies.
Men see her beautiful smile, read seduction into the curves of her lips. I see the calculation in her eyes. She is the victim of every crime, at the heart of every fight, but not ever at fault. She is the one with all the wisdom, the one who always knows best, so how dare we not live by her words every day. When I’m around her, it feels familiar, and I often wonder if that’s a sign of closeness or something that’s too easily mistaken for it. Because in her world, in the solar system she built where she is all that matters, I know my only place is revolving around her. We are planets and she is a star, the blazing sun blinding us all.