If there's one thing young girls stereotypically dream about more than finding Prince Charming or having our own pony farm, it's finding the perfect friendship — one befitting of an Enid Blyton book. It was all I wanted, and just like in an old-fashioned storybook, I finally found it.
I was quite a lonely kid. Actually, from the ages of around 10 to 13, I had literally no one to call my friend, so making a pen-pal seemed like a good way to fix that. We were 13 when we started writing to each other; I had placed an ad in a cutesy pre-teen magazine and I guess one day she opened up its pages and realized we were a match.
I remember so clearly the first day we "met" through lilac stationery pages that smelled like gel pens and Disney stickers that gleamed with glitter. As soon as I got home from school to find the thick envelope by the door, I rushed upstairs with it, slammed on some vintage Hilary Duff, and leapt onto my bean-bag chair, ready to read.
I grinned like a four year old as I carefully ripped the envelope open. I remember so clearly seeing my name at the top of the Hello Kitty stationery, the 'i' in my name dotted with a star. The first line told me her name — let's call her Bluebell, because the bluebell was her favorite flower (one of the first things I learned about her).
Bluebell was my other half. We liked almost exactly the same things, we found the same things funny, our attitudes matched perfectly. We told each other everything and sent each other so much cute stuff through the mail: posters of animals, drawings we'd made, poems we'd written. She was the first person I ever introduced to my very secret fiction writing, the hobby that was pretty much my life back then.
We gave each other advice as we grew up, I helped her through her pregnancy scare, and she helped me through my depression, amongst other things that are only the tip of the iceberg, and it continued like that for 12 whole years.
But Bluebell hasn't spoken to me since March, and every bit of my energy has gone into figuring out why — what I could have done or said to upset her, and why she didn't just tell me to go away. I did consider the idea that it wasn't me, that maybe she lost someone she cared about at home or had an accident, but this was my best friend; she'd tell me that she needed space to deal with something tough. She wouldn't just disappear on me like this.
And she was still online, sharing and "liking" posts that filled up my notifications like usual. She was alive, but pretending I wasn't.
Looking back at my messages to her, I see nothing controversial — and believe me, I'm trying to find something, anything I can apologize for or fix. Our last messages were full of innocent pleasantries about how summer was on its way. There was nothing controversial.
The more I realized that all my messages matched hers in tone and content, and how they lacked snark and controversy, the more I began to realize that the one thing that I could probably blame was the feminist content I had been sharing on my social media: the articles, the graphics, the quotes, and the art. My feminism has been steadily growing for years, and it was only somewhat recently that I had began to post feminist memes and articles.
Was it my increasing interest in feminism that she had a problem with?
If I'm completely honest with myself, I've been avoiding asking her about her stance on feminism ever since I began to call myself one, because there's nothing more confusing and worrying than when someone you care about denies a movement that fights against inequality — inequality that you yourself face.
When we were teens, I know she was anti-feminism because, heck, so was I. We were both against talking about political issues "too deeply"; but things change, and I changed. I realized that as a neurodivergant girl, I was oppressed; and more than that, I realized that millions of other people from countless other races, abilities, classes, genders, and orientations were even more oppressed than I was. This realization turned me into a feminist journalist, and made me abandon my own bigotries.
I just never stopped to ask Bluebell if she saw these bigotries too, because I was scared that she didn't.
So as my feminism grew, so did my interest in posting social-justice posts on social media. I began to share my own articles. I'm not the most aggressive of feminist writers but I always back up my work with statistics — facts, not offensive opinions. So for someone to be offended by something that is so objective makes me speechless.
It's just such a waste, and for what? Because I don't believe the world is kind enough? Because I believe I deserve equal pay to men?
The night I realized she had finally blocked me on her last social media platform was right after I shared a #BlackLivesMatter banner. I wonder if this is was the last straw for Bluebell, or if she even saw the graphic at all, and it's all in my head.
I don't have any real proof that she was ever against my feminism, and it makes me hope even more that she's just pissed off that I forgot an anniversary, didn't wish her good luck before a big day, or something that would only put me to blame. But what else could it be? If she did agree with my views, wouldn't she tell me like she told me everything else?
The only time we really came close to debating on a social justice issue was when we somehow got onto the topic of plastic surgery. I stated that plastic surgery was important for trans people, burn survivors, and so long as it was safe, then getting bigger boobs shouldn't be stigmatized. Bluebell responded with something like: "I just think it should be reserved for disfigurement. Why can't people just be happy with their natural bodies?" I had to stop and ask myself; is she still talking about breast implants, or did she just imply she doesn't believe in gender reassignment surgery? Or, to a lesser degree, the body positivity movement? I didn't ask her because I was afraid of her answer.
It was the closest proof I ever got, which actually was barely proof at all, that she may have been anti-social-justice. It's the only thing I can think of that can back up the idea that something I said in one of my articles upset her. Even in 2016, she's always shown signs of old fashioned-tendencies, so it makes sense to me.
Many people may ask me, if my beliefs led to me losing my first real best friend, then is it even worth it? And as much as it saddens me to say this, yes, it really is. Because this situation reinforces my feminism. If someone decides to ghost me because I believe in equality, then how can we be equal in that friendship in the first place? If she doesn't believe in a movement that empowers me as a woman, as a mentally ill woman, then does even respect me as a mentally ill woman? Ghosting me is a form of silencing me — something that feminism will never do.
I just look back at myself all those years ago, perched on my bed with her letter in hand, smiling because someone finally understood and cared for me. Now she doesn't; she doesn't understand me if she thinks feminism is out to do harm, and she can't care about me anymore if she just wants to forget I exist.
I don't want to be upset, angry, resentful, or even forget about it, I just want to remember the good times and move on with my life and my feminism.