Sunken Ships is a Zikoko series that explores the how and why of the end of all relationships — familial, romantic or just good old friendships.

For *James, *Annabelle was his soulmate. Two years ago, he ruined his chance to keep her in his life forever, but blames his self-destructive behaviour for the loss of their relationship. Here is his story:

In 2020, I complained to one of my best female friends that I needed a tall babe to come and scatter my life. She introduced me to Annabelle. 

Annabelle and I didn’t start talking immediately, but we followed each other on Twitter and interacted on the TL once or twice. After one of those interactions, I sent her a DM to continue the discussion, and we just hit it off from there. The friendship progressed fast because she made it easy. Plus she was a lot, in a good way. She had so many layers, and I knew discovering them all would keep me busy for a long time. I liked that. 

My mind always has about fifty tabs open at once, and sometimes, I’d just randomly throw conversations at her about the strangest things. She’d reply every single time. It’s not easy to find someone who’ll match your energy like that. 

It’s funny how the whole point of us being introduced was to eventually date, but she wasn’t interested in that. At a point, I was, but I realised we were just going to be good friends. We’ve never met in person because our school schedules meant one of us was always in school, but online was fine. We’d call every day, and as life happened to me, Annabelle would be the first person I’d call to tell everything. I introduced her to all my friends online because she was someone I was proud to know and associate with. 

When did everything change? 

When the pandemic hit and lockdown happened, it was the first time both of us would spend an extended period with our individual families. I had a terrible relationship with my family, and I refused to acknowledge that she was going through things as well.

We didn’t talk as much anymore. I neglected that she also had shit she was dealing with. She had more bad days than good, and she didn’t really have the time to talk to me as much. I felt ignored and acted out like a child. 

I took my frustrations out on her and decided to end the friendship with the same impulse I started it with. 

What exactly did you do? 

I told her she wasn’t the same person I fell in love with and that wasn’t the kind of friendship I wanted. 

Well, that’s the short version of it, because I sent her a very long message. Once she read it, she was just done.

She was the only person who could keep me in check. I don’t really listen to anyone because I get coconut head, so most times when people try to talk to me, it’s like pouring water on a rock. But with her, I always listened. She tried to make sure I wasn’t unintentionally being a bad person, and it made me want to be better.

She’d call me out on my bad behaviour and self-sabotaging ways, but she was tired of constantly doing that because I couldn’t do it myself. She doesn’t really forgive people after multiple strikes. Fuck up once and you’re done. 

Did you regret the message? 

Immediately I sent it, I realised it was a poorly phrased cry for help, but it was already too late. The damage had been done, and I had ruined one of the best things to ever happen to me. I had also ruined her birthday because I sent the message two days before it. It just spoiled her entire mood. 

I’ve been regretting that message from that day till now. I should never have sent it, but I did, and I can’t take it back. 

Did you reach out to her again? 

It took me two years to finally reach out. I was thinking about the situation. I didn’t want to trigger her by coming back into her life, and I didn’t want to hurt her anymore. But then I realised that living without her wasn’t much of a life, so I spoke to her. 

Did she forgive you? 

She did. She forgave me, but she told me that we’re different people than we were two years ago, and she’s not interested in whatever relationship I was offering.

I know she’s no longer mad at me, but I want her back in my life too. I think of her every day, some days more than others, but she’s always on my mind. 

What did you learn from all of this? 

I don’t really like myself, and so I can’t treat people the way I treat myself. My friends and people I care about, I have to treat them much better than anyone else.

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