A Thank You Letter To ‘My Sounding Board’

Two women giving the V gesture near San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge
Ian Schneider / Unsplash

Thank you.

Thank you for being the person that you are. We may not be the best of friends like we used to, but I know you’re still there.

Remember when we were in that place, though? Just friends up way too late laughing about nonsense? Texting constantly? We talked about the simple things, the funny things, the annoying things, the most random of things. You teased me, joking about how I drank way too much coffee. And I rebuttal, questioning the number of “risk behaviors” you partook in. I called you a dork and you agreed reluctantly, but swore me to secrecy: – Mr. “Too Cool” didn’t dare admit that. I could tell you whatever was on my mind. You made me laugh at myself. You told me that I needed to stop worrying, give myself some more credit, and be the fun version of me. Little did you know how hard I was trying.

We told each other everything, things that no one else knew. You were my sounding board, my dumping ground for the random thoughts that scattered my brain. But you didn’t know just how much I kept to myself, how much I left unsaid about the monsters in my mind.

Our friendship was easy. It was nothing complicated – until it was. You had me falling. Something about the way you made me smile even when I was so annoyed, or laugh when I really just wanted to crawl into bed and cry. I never told you that, though. But I fell, a little bit – well, more like I tripped or stumbled, but nonetheless it happened.

And so did you. But be both knew it wouldn’t work – we were just meant to be friends. Nothing more. And so came my awkwardness, the distance, the fading of feelings that once were at the front of my mind. Just like that – disintegrating.

And then I remembered what you helped me forget. I took three steps back as the monster of chemical imbalances returned to the forefront.

I spiraled so far into my own depths that I didn’t want to talk about what was going on with anyone. I didn’t want to admit how low I was. I didn’t want to think about how hard it was to get out of bed or focus on my assignments or put a smile on my face which once was so simple. The last thing I wanted was people’s pity or for anyone to question my strength or capabilities.

I should have told you then. I should have remembered that you were my sounding board. I should have talked about how unhappy I was and how much I didn’t like who I was. How hard I was trying, but could only bring myself to go through the motions. How nothing was working and I found myself feeling broken, constantly worrying, and struggling to understand where I belonged. I should have told you that, for the first time in my life, I didn’t want to be around people. That I had never experienced feeling utterly alone. That I was filled with so much crippling doubt and thinking thoughts that never in my life I thought I was capable of having.

But I didn’t tell you. I didn’t say anything. I would say that I lost a friend, but that doesn’t do it justice. I lost the person that was helping me to change for the better. My own mind and self-talk pushed me away from the one person that I would have talked to. Instead, I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t talk about it. I suppressed any and all emotions and kept going as was expected of me.

People started noticing that something was different. I was different. So I had to. I had to talk to someone.

That someone was you.

I reached out to you just asking if we could talk. And the moment I asked, I dreaded the conversation ahead. I knew we couldn’t go down this road. I was uneasy at the thought of admitting my struggles out loud. I retracted it, playing it off as if it was a joke – as if I was fine. But you said,

“Don’t be like that. Just tell me.”

So I started to. We were talking and I mean really talking. I vaguely said,

“I’m just not the kindest to myself. I don’t deserve it.”

That statement stood there in the stale air for what felt like centuries. There were no typing bubbles and was no quick response. No reassurance that I was fine.

I immediately took it back and said I didn’t want to bug you – after all, we weren’t close anymore.

But then you said,

“What do you mean? I thought we had the type of friendship where we could just talk about things even if we haven’t talked in a while. Just pick up where we left off, ya know?”

And it was then that I knew. I didn’t lose a friend. I didn’t lose my sounding board. I turned my volume off, not giving you any sound to bounce off of. I was the quiet one. Not you. I didn’t allow you to know. I didn’t let you see that side of me, the side that I tried so hard to hide from everyone.

So thank you. Thank you for, even in my silence, teaching me more about myself and helping me to grow whether you realize it or not. Thank you for being the lovely, reliable, risk-taking, and dorky jackass that you are. TC mark

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