Before we became Real Friends, we’d sit around his living room and he would talk about his ex-girlfriend (the one he was still in love with) and he would never use her name (although I knew what it was). He’d always just say “her.”
I didn’t even know the ex that well (I think we met at a party once — I remember someone told me she came from a really rich family in Northern California or something, and I think they only told me that as some basis for me to establish an immediate and superficial connection with her and I wondered if someone had told her about where I came from in an attempt of the same vein, so I immediately hated her), but the idea of someone referring to me as just “her” made want to tear out my esophagus.
I think one of my biggest, most suppressed fears is the idea that nobody knows who I am. My Favorite Therapist, who I saw a couple years ago and never have/never will properly thank, told me this is because I have an irrational fear of being average and/or failing, and I have an irrational need for a very specific kind of attention. She strung together a bunch of stories I’d told her (Does anyone else wonder if their therapist talks about you? Sometimes I’ll tell mine things in hopes that she’ll talk to her therapist about it — sometimes I really want to stump her with my problems, but it never happens, probably because I’m average) and she explained that the root of a lot of my problems (I would tell her one thing and she’d say “You know what this is called?” and I’d scream because I couldn’t believe there was something else to add to the list of things that were wrong with me, it was getting out of control) were these fears.
You know how there’s that idea that the root of all fear is death? The root of all my fears is dying without anyone knowing who I am. At my most depressed, I was convinced nobody knew who I was. And it’s not like I didn’t have any friends or family who loved me — I am not a loner, I do not have trouble making friends, and I need to be surrounded by people or else spiders will crawl out of my eyes or something — but I had completely tricked myself into believing that I was always an afterthought. Like if any of the people who loved me had someone bring me up to them, they’d say something like: “Oh, yeah, her.” The idea of just being “her” drove me insane.
One of the hundreds of complaints about my White Girl Names article was that I didn’t make fun of my own name enough. But joke’s on you, you complete clowns, because this is actually the worst thing I could say about anyone:
I abruptly stopped seeing My Favorite Therapist once my student health insurance stopped, so she never got around to telling me how I’m supposed to deal with this.
After we transitioned from Real Friends to Not Friends, I saw on some form of social media that he had gotten dinner with two mutual friends of ours. Actually, I think someone sent me a photo of it without realizing that he and I were not on speaking terms anymore and therefore did not know that the actual sight of this photo would make me want to smash my phone screen into tiny little pieces and then swallow the shards in anger.
I looked at the photo for an embarrassing amount of time and wondered if he now refers to me as “her.”