Days of Gratitude, Day 6: Autopsy of a Friendship

This might be one of the harder entries I’ve had to make.

I had a friend who lives in California. Had.  We are friends no longer.  Ive known him for 15 years.  We didn’t have much face to face time with each other due to the distance, and we haven’t seen each other in person for about ten years, but we have kept in touch.  The internet is a marvelous thing, after all.

Ironic that the internet is seemingly why he suddenly started sending me a barrage of scathing messages, accusing me of being a Facebook automoton, and how I am just like all the other mindless people who just share stupid pictures and bitch about life.  Okay, I might be guilty of that to some degree, but I like to think I do other things online besides share pictures of cats wielding lightsabers.

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Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I was rather shocked and hurt by l my friend’s anger.  He expressed feelings if abandonment, said I didn’t care about him or what was going on in his life.  All I cared about was being a big faker on social media.  My friend is not without his share of problems.  He has struggled with relationships and substance abuse.  He is a cancer survivor.  He has had a very rocky relationship with his family.  He lives in a part of California notorious for being ultra-conservative, and growing up gay was not easy for him, not at all.

Though he is younger than me, our upbringings have a lot of similarities and we had much in common.  We both love music, we bonded through our love of metal and hardcore.  We made out in front of the drummer of Atreyu who had never seen two (rather large) men lock lips and play tonsil hockey.  He looked up to me, he admired me, and at one point he loved me.  While I was very fond of him, though, I was never in love with him.  He and I had some intimate contact.  We shared every detail if our personal lives, our deepest thoughts, our most guarded personal secrets.  We had that level of trust.  I think that he misses how close we once were, despite the miles between us.  We would talk on the phone quite often and he would ask me for help and advice, or just vent to me about what was going in his life.  He is one of the reasons I am a good listener.

There wasn’t much I could do to help him with his problems, though.  I couldn’t give him a job when he was unemployed.  I couldn’t fix his car when it broke down.  I couldn’t be there to physically comfort him when he was upset.  I couldn’t heal his broken relationships.  I couldn’t mend ties between him and his family.  I couldn’t stop him from becoming an alcoholic.  Even as he managed to find work and get his personal, temporary issues under control and he started a really cool business for himself, his drinking was getting worse.  I know this because he told me.

I have had friends who come and go like the tides.  One day we’re really close, and another day we’re distant.  It’s not because one doesn’t care about the other, it’s because life is in itself a force like gravity.  It pulls us from some places and leads us to others.  We may think we’re the captain of our own ship but we’re not, no one is, really.  We’re just here for the ride, and though we can control what we do in the moment, we can only work with what is available to us.  At least that is what I tell myself.  Am I at fault for letting our friendship grow fallow?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  My friend definitely thinks so.

He said as much in his last and allegedly final communication the other day.  After unfriending me on Facebook, he has occasionally taken to text messaging to alternately tell me how horrid I am and to say he’s going to die soon.  I had hoped when he said hi to me a few days ago that he would be back to his old self, but he was nastier than ever to me.  Some of his choice cuts at me were,

“It’s funny that you think anyone cares about what you have to say”.

(I never claimed they did care, I write my blog and do my other online sharing for me, not to please a crowd).

“You would fuck people over, just like (my ex). I feel so bad for him.  You left him for someone else and got married”.

(Yes, because sometimes relationships don’t work out, like yours, my friend.  I remember you being very upset that he broke up with you after you cheated on him and he didn’t want to take you back.  It was my e-shoulder you were crying on)

“You won’t ever get it your band is a joke”.

(A joke that you liked at one time.  I also never claimed to take it super-seriously).

“Haha well it’s a joke just like your existence. You fucking diaper baby freak lol”

(Calling me names and kink-shaming me doesn’t work.  I’m comfortable in my own skin.  Even diaper rash doesn’t affect me, I am made of tempered steel).

“I don’t expect shit from you, you always acted like you care and I knew you never did you selfish fuck”.

(The words of someone in terrible pain, someone I do care about, but am powerless to help)

“It’s not pain for me, I feel betrayed”.

And yet, he wouldn’t tell me how I betrayed him or what I did to deserve his rage.

Eventually, I asked him not to message me anymore.  I don’t know if or when he will again, and I had to put the friendship to rest; a real friendship with someone I once called my little brother.  Who once shared to me things that were so personal to him, he swore me to never say to anyone, and I’ve kept that promise and will continue to do so.  I also would never use the things he told me against him just to be hurtful.

So where is the gratitude here?  What is there to be grateful for when a longtime friend turns on you with such vitriol?  It’s easy to say there’s none, but there is.

I’m grateful for what we had when we had it.  I’m grateful for all the times I was there for him, and he for me.  I cherish the occasions we got to share in person.  Even though we only spent a handful of days together over the years I will never forget them.  He has made an impact on my life for the better.  I can’t judge 15 years of friendship based on how it ended.  I will probably wonder why, but I won’t dwell on it.  Like a funeral of sorts, I prefer not to go and see a corpse in a coffin.  I would rather remember my friend as he was when he was alive and full of love.

I mourn the passing of our friendship, Danny, and though I will leave the door open should you want to try and start over, I expect nothing and wish you all the best in life.  I sincerely hope you stop hurting soon.

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