Reflections on healing trauma, writing, and books by Tokyo-based memoirist
I’m Trying To Be My Own Friend, but I Keep Letting Myself Down

I’m Trying To Be My Own Friend, but I Keep Letting Myself Down

Back when I was single, a friend of mine sent me one of those ten-question memes. You know the kind; “What’s your middle name?” etc. This one asked, “Who’s your best friend?” For the first time, I had no problem answering this question. I wrote, “I am my own best friend,” and I didn’t feel any embarrassment or remorse about it. I was my own best friend, and I was happy about that.

We were good friends. We liked doing all of the same things. We had the same taste in food and music. Our opinions always aligned. We even had the same sense of humor!

Then, I got into a relationship, and I was suddenly too busy for myself. Isn’t that always the way?

Abandoning myself wasn’t a conscious decision, or maybe it was, I don’t remember. I only know that when I’m in the presence of another person, I compulsively prioritize them over me. Their desires and opinions suddenly matter more than mine, even if I don’t think they should. I feel obligated to ignore myself, even if I don’t want to.

I don’t even make them a slightly higher priority. Every situation immediately turns into a master-servant scenario, even in situations where that couldn’t possibly be the case. I feel like this when I get a haircut, and I’m literally paying them.

The only time I don’t do this is when I’m around someone who is more determined to abandon themselves than I am, in which case, I feel obligated to let them have their way.

When I said I was a people pleaser, I wasn’t joking.

This is the reason I’m so introverted. I feel helpless around other people. I feel as if I’m reliant on them to give me what I need because, at that moment, I’m incapable of giving it to myself. If I’m around a real-life person (or people) for too long, and they can’t fulfill me as I would fulfill me, then I just end up crying inside (or on the outside).

So, you’d think that this would translate into a pretty rough life, especially considering that the relationship I mentioned above has lasted more than 13 years now, and you’d have thought right. Luckily, I was willing to fight for my physical boundaries—time and space for myself—and I get those things.

However, I haven’t known how to fight for my psychological and emotional boundaries. By that, I mean, I haven’t learned how to be around other people without immediately abandoning myself.

My way of dealing with this has been to wait until I have time and space for myself. When I get back together with me, I apologize, tell her how sorry I am, and ask her if she’ll have me back. If it’s been a long time, she’ll be a little hesitant, even angry, but what choice does she have?

Because of this blog, I need to stop doing that. I need to stop being such a fickle friend to myself.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been blogging for more than 25 years. I always blogged anonymously, and I was a blogging nomad. I would blog for two or three years in one place and then start a new account somewhere else. Often, I wouldn’t bring a single reader with me.

Being a blogging nomad meant that I could interact with others and prioritize myself at the same time. It was the only way I knew how to protect my emotional and psychological boundaries around other people.

Why did I need to do it this way?

When I think back over the course of my life, I can’t remember ever feeling accepted for being me, even a little bit. I don’t think that’s unusual, but I do know that it affected me deeply. I’ve gotten enough criticism for my point-of-view that I have no confidence in it. I’m embarrassed to have any perspective, at all, because I’ve so often been told that the one I have is the wrong one.

It took me a really, really long time (more than 25 years) to finally claim my blog as my own. Not only that, but I’ve been occasionally sharing the links.

If you don’t know me, you’re probably thinking, “What’s the big deal? I don’t know you. Most of the literate world doesn’t know you. You are still pretty much blogging anonymously.”

I didn’t think it was a big deal either until someone mentioned my blog to me in my real life. They said that it isn’t very cohesive and that some entries are diary-like (after having made fun of diaries a few days before).

That was the moment that my blog stopped feeling like a safe space that’s fully mine. The judgments that I’d worked so hard to avoid for so many years have arrived.

So, the questions become: How do I get through this? Can my blog still be a safe space that’s fully mine if I learn better boundaries? Do I have the ability to do that? Am I doomed to always hide in a dark corner of the internet because of this?

If I can still remain friends with myself, even when someone else wants to drown me out, maybe it won’t hurt so much.


  1. Once again I can sympathize so much with everything you wrote about. I can especially relate to the master-servant scenario. I always feel like it’s rude to show any aspect of my own personality and try to give the spotlight to the other person as much as possible. To deal with those situations I often resort to holding my breath until it’s over, which always causes me to be exhausted at the end.
    In any case I hope you won’t desert this blog, at least not because of being judged by someone who obviously didn’t intend to provide constructive feedback. I actually did switch blogs as well when moving to Japan so I would understand it though. All I can say is that I really enjoy reading your posts.

    1. Amy

      Oh, Fray, you’re so sweet. I’m not planning on going anywhere. When I moved to this blog, I knew what I was signing up for and I wouldn’t have done it had I not thought I couldn’t handle it. It doesn’t mean that it’s easy, of course, but it helps to get it off my chest.

      You mentioned listening to the Magic Lessons Podcast. I’m sorry I didn’t ask about it earlier, which episodes did you listen to? Did you find it helpful?

      1. I only listened to the first few episodes and was mostly inspired by the one in which she talked to a songwriter who struggled with creativity. She said she was a late bloomer and worked really slow, which I could relate to a lot.
        I haven’t listened to many other episodes because I think most of the advice would be lost on me now. Hopefully I can come back to it once I fix some other problems in my life.

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