(Names have been changed to protect the guilty)

My most profound girlship began in 8th grade. It was really more of a girl gang--there were four of us: Jessica, Jenny, and Claire. We were inseparable. Three of us even started a band together later that year called, The Aviators--Claire acted as our "manager."

We talked about all the common shit teens discuss; from sex (and scared to have it) to school. We talked long hours on the telephone, and watched that horrid movie, Fear, every other Friday night. Going to high school suddenly wasn't that terrifying, because I felt supported--I felt safe with these girls. Until, that is, gossip and rumors began amidst our clan.

Claire shifted on to another group, so I saw less and less of her. One of my friends "from time-to-time" named, Erica, had just been jilted by her best friend. They had a falling out, and I felt bad for her. I told her to hang out with us. Our posse morphed into a new version of our foursome: Jessica, Jenny, Erica, and I. It was fun. They were fun. Until, however, I became the jilted one.

It all happened at some party (as most things do) sophomore year of high school. I didn't attend the party (I don't recall why), and my three friends began talking about me (I know this, because they later told me all about it). Apparently, they were all quite upset with me for saying things to each of them individually (at different times) about having been annoyed or pissed about various things. Now, I'll admit, I was a shit-talker--still am--but let me clarify something: I don't talk shit about my friends. Even as a teen, I didn't shit-talk about my friends. What I did was speak, in confidence, to a mutual friend in order to receive some knowledge or understanding in handling a situation with another friend. It was also a good way to let off steam, and I know I'm not the only person who did/does this. They did it, too, after all--since they had been talking about me without me there.

The following day I received three "hate" emails. They told me later that yes, they did, in fact, all "bond" over hitting the send key. When I read these, I thought they were a joke. The first one started with:

Hello Mary Sunshine, how has the queen of the bitches been doing?

Needless to say, it got my attention. I also knew exactly who was behind it: Erica.

There was one main email, and three others--one from each of them separately. In the main email, they claimed they had been "double-crossed." They said I had been "bitching" about them to each of them. Interestingly, they also admitted to doing this:

We all know we've said shit about each other, but when it comes down to it, you're the one that can't get over it.

Was I really the one who couldn't get over it? Maybe. Whether or not they knew, these girls were about to change my life.

The real clincher was this:

You're never going to keep friends if you constantly act like there is some popularity contest you just need to win. You seem to find pleasure in making fun of others, can you take 5 mins out of the day when you aren't bitching about us? Sit and think for a moment Lachrista, think about every bad thing you have ever said about us, can you even remember half of it?

Yes. I could remember the things I've said about each of them. None of it was particularly bad. It was stupid, little shit. Things that annoy; so you let them off your chest, and then it's gone. They had each told me various things about the other--and I didn't share any of this information. One piece could have been exceptionally damaging to one of them (from the other), but I still never brought it up.

All of the emails smelled of an intruder. I knew Erica was the "mastermind" behind it all, which hurt a lot, since I was so welcoming to her after her "bestie" left her. I felt like I was having a mid-life crisis at age 16.

They asked me to not sit with them at lunch anymore, so I was ostracized from my regular table, which seemed weirder for the other people there, who asked why I wasn't sitting there anymore. I think I made up some lie, because, also in the emails, the girls wrote:

We're not going to talk about you to other people, let's hope you're big enough to do the same.

They knew me all too well. They knew I would want to look "big" and "mature", so they requested my silence, and I gave it willingly. For the next couple of weeks, I ate lunch in the girl's gym locker room.

All was not lost. I had eventually gotten up the courage to speak to Jessica, the one I had felt the closest to. I apologized for having hurt her in any way, and said I would like to be friends. She talked it over with Erica and Jenny, and they all decided I could be "let" back in. They said they had missed me. I was invited over to Erica's house one day, and went feeling hesitant. The whole time we hung out, it felt uncomfortable. I felt like they were being fake nice to me, and I was putting on a front, because I had missed the girlship we had. What I didn't know at the time was that they were never going to change, and I already had.

I went through a lot of hard shit during this time in my life. I was out of school for four months, because I became extremely depressed, got put on Zoloft, saw a therapist, and also was having a weird stomach illness. I came back to school medicated and numb, with people actually asking where I had been. I was confused, as I thought no one would have noticed my absence. To tell the truth, people's asking kind of pissed me off. These were people who I was never friends with--they just wanted fresh gossip of any kind.

Finally, I graduated high school and never saw my ex-friends again. I know they are all still friends, however. Am I still mad at them? No. Some friendships have an expiration date. They were toxic for me at the end. Even though it was difficult at the time, and certainly changed things in my life, I still think of them fondly; especially Jessica and Jenny. Currently, I have wonderful girlships--girls I've been friends with for over seven years! They love me and I love them. I guess what always irked me about the hate email was the part about me never being able to keep friends. As a friend, I am fiercely loyal--to the point of absurdity, probably. My friends know I have their backs at all times.

I still have the main hate email in my possession. I don't know why I saved it. I guess, part of me wanted to use it against them someday if I "needed" to. I eventually became too mature for that. So, why did I hang on to it? Why do I still have it? I guess as a reminder of what once was--reminders of a past girlship.

And boy, has that ship sailed.