For those of you who have read my blog, you know that I recently went through a rough friend breakup. Someone who had been a friend for fifteen years and I parted ways, and it was rough.
I talked about it several times here, because it was particularly devastating, given my health issues.
Well, he offered and olive branch, and, after some thought, I accepted it without condition or argument. Why? Because friendship, especially one as old as ours, is much more important than being right. It doesn’t matter to me if he was right, or if I was right. What happened is in the past, and buried with the hatchet.
I have several men whom I consider to be my brothers in this life (thus far). As some of you know, I do not have any biological brothers. But, blood is not the only thing that makes brothers, it is intent, action, being there for one another. Each of my brothers has been there for me, and I for them. And I will be in the future. I suppose that is why it did not take me long to look past what happened, even though it hurt as much as it did.
It is said by common media that it is hard to find good friends, the older one gets, but I am finding that my friendships are more meaningful, as I have less tolerance for bullshit. I am lucky that I am finding more good friends, even now.
We have seen the passing of one of my personal heroes this week, Leonard Nimoy. To honor him, I watched the first five Star Trek movies. The funeral scene in Wrath of Khan made me cry, as did several of the other scenes related to death. I told my oldest that he was one of my heroes, and I realized he was. His views on life, both in and out of character, helped me through some dark times in my life. I mourn his passing.
I have already seen people speaking of him in Heaven, and some dismissing him as an atheist. From all of the information I can gather, he was a lifelong Jew. So, yes, he may be in Heaven, but he is not hanging out with Saint Peter. Sorry to dash your hopes of playing pinochle with him. To be honest, I don’t know if that was a game he liked or not. I could see him enjoying many different types of games. Maybe that is my own projection.
I’m sorry that it has been a long time since my last update. My heath has been an issue; I got a pretty severe head cold, and, with Multiple Sclerosis, it makes everything more complex. When the fever one is running makes it hard to move or think straight, blogging sometimes takes a hit. Thankfully, I survived it, although our finances have taken a hit, with my lovely wife having also been sick and having to take some time off. So, to cover some of my ongoing medical expenses, I have had to resort to a Gofundme fundraiser. Links are to the right.
Yesterday, I woke up and my right hand had gone all pins and needles. It is a new symptom, a departure from the slow decline of my left side, and something quite worrisome. It will probably take me some time to get used to the way my right hand feels now. My typing has slowed, and I am considering teaching myself touch typing with the new condition to improve my speed. Coding will be difficult, but I have too many projects to be slowed down by something silly like a disability.
I think that recent events have caused me to reflect deeply on some very serious issues and concepts in the realm of friendship. Specifically, the foundations upon which a friendship is built.
When people are young, friendships are easy to form, and can be about shared interests, location, schools, activities. As we grow older, there is less and less overlap, as there are fewer and fewer people, for most of us, that live in the same place as we do and also work in the same place, and also do the same social activities. Look at the show “Big Bang Theory”; the four male friends have jobs at the same place, similar interests, and hang out together in their spare time. This is not as common in the real world, unless we make it so. Adult friendships have to be based on conscious choice rather than happenstance.
However, many of us carry childhood and young adult friendships into adulthood. Sometimes, we have to shed these friendships as we grow and change. And, sometimes, these friends shed us before we think we are ready.
Over time, people have come in to and gone out of my life, sometimes easily, and sometimes not so easily. Recently, a person I considered to be a very close friend left my life, probably permanently. I mourned for the lost friendship. It was a hard thing to take. This person and I had been friends for more than a decade.
But, the more I thought about it, the more I examined our past and his present, the more I realized that I hadn’t lost as much as I thought I had. I’m not going to turn this into a post about how horrible he is or was, or how wrong he was, or any such nonsense. What I want to talk about is more a concept I am working on called Friendship Harmony.
If you think of each person as a complex melody, then any two given people will either be discordant or be harmonious together. One can see this in just about any interaction, whether it be work or play. Either people get along or they don’t. And, as people change, they may be harmonious far a while, and then fall out of sync and become discordant. To be honest, I think this is what happened between the two of us.
The hurt that he cited as being the wedge that drove us apart was a ten year old wound that, as far as I knew, had been dealt with at the time. Either it had, and he used it as an excuse for whatever reason, or it hadn’t, and it just took this long for him to get pissed enough to deal with it, in which case he has issues that he refused to deal with. Either way, we became discordant.
And that’s okay. He has his life, and I have mine. I do not hold a grudge, I do not fault him. Mostly, I do not fault him because I do not and cannot know what his motives were behind his sudden change of heart, nor do I have the energy or time to try and guess what they are. If, at some point in the future, when the wounds on both sides are sufficiently healed, maybe we can meet over coffee and discuss it. Until then, I have much more important things to do with my time and energy. We grew apart, and that is good enough for me.
In the mean time, I have other friendships I need to focus on and grow, friends that are close to me that I can spend my time with. Harmonies that are pleasing for both of those involved, and music to make.
Just under eighteen years ago, I was a very different person.
I was nineteen, pretty stupid, brash, trying to take on a world I did not understand with a head full of what I thought were good ideas and a heart that, although true, was influenced more by hormones than experience. I traveled two thousand miles on a half promise from someone who made a lot of promises, many of which were just to impress, not with the intent to actually keep.
In other words, I had thrown my lot in to some bad situations.
Into the midst of this mess, I found myself in desperate need of some real friends. I found a few. One in particular helped me through that period, a good man, and odd man, a kindred spirit, someone I relied on who grew with me and, when I returned home a bit worn and wiser, tracked me down and continued our friendship.
As I said, a very good person at the time.
He was slightly bitter and cynical towards the world, and with good reasons to be. I helped him find work for the company that I had found work with, let him live in our home, in the nursery we had started to build for my unborn child, helped find a sitter for his step daughter while he worked with me, went to bat for him with that sitter when he absent mindedly hemmed and hawed about finding a way to pay her back for the service of watching her day after day. When the time came to move his family complete here, I helped shuttle his belongings here, helped his new wife, pregnant with their child, find a good OB-GYN here. I was a good friend to him, as good a friend to him as he was to me. I enjoyed his tiki birthday party his wife so lovingly put together. I watched him be kind of a pain in the ass to her from time to time, but I knew he loved her. Being a tech guy, I knew what kind of pressures he was under, and what kinds of quirks of personalities he had, as I had them myself.
I shook my head as he was so excited about one thing or another, like a kid in a candy store. For months he would talk about nothing else, then move on to the next thing as if the previous thing had never existed.
When he had a grand plan to take over the company we both worked for, I listened. Sounded good. He was a bright guy, and it sounded like he could pull it off.
Two weeks later, after the boss fired everyone involved (except for the one guy my friend had included in the plan who went straight to the boss with the information) and my friend was able to swing some piece work from that boss, I did not begrudge him. I had other irons in the fire.
When my marriage came unraveled, my friend and his wife were my strong and vocal supporters, even setting me up on a date with on of his wife’s coworkers, helping me through some of the hardest parts of the process.
The beginning of the end happened only five years after we met, even though the end happened ten years later. I had started dating a woman in Ohio, and was anxious for my friend to meet her. I had grown to be friends with the wife of the lawyer who had handled my divorce, a woman half his age, full of energy and who liked to hang out at all hours of the day or night and drink coffee and talk, much as I did at the time. So, deeply enamored by my love from Ohio, I invited them both to Denny’s to meet her. She had to head back to Ohio at midnight, so I thought we would call it a night at that point.
My two friends did not do so. In fact, that was the beginning of their affair.
Soon, the two of them were sneaking off to be together quite frequently, with me being the unwilling confidant to the whole thing. As I was friends not only with the two of them, but with both spouses as well, I ended up in a very uncomfortable position. It all came crashing down a few weeks later, while I was in Ohio with my lady love. The wife of my friend discovered the affair, and demanded that I be the one to inform the female half’s husband. As if the whole thing were somehow my fault and responsibility. She ranted and raged at me until I finally cut the connection to her, and I gave him enough information for him to figure it out on his own.
The whole thing imploded (including, eventually, my relationship with Miss Ohio, albeit for other reasons). And, of course, nearly everyone blamed me. My friend’s wife blamed me because I knew about it. My female friend blamed me because I “told on them”. My friend, I think, blamed me for a similar reason. He almost came to blows with my lawyer in my lawyer’s house (Bad idea, by the way). Everyone got divorced.
And now we come to my big mistake.
During the whole kerfuffle, my friend’s now estranged wife called me, distraught about the whole thing, nearly in tears, and asked me to chaperon while she went out looking to pick up a guy at a bar. I told her I thought it was a horribly bad idea for her to do that, considering they were in the middle of the divorce, and that she was in an emotionally fragile state, and it would just complicate things, and that I didn’t feel comfortable doing that to my friend in the first place. It was bad enough that he was cheating on her, I could not in any good conscience help her, in turn, cheat on him. She convinced me that I could help her from going too far, that she just needed some companionship maybe just needed to go out and be an adult for a while. I finally agreed, more determined to save her from herself than to help her get lucky.
Before you continue, dear reader, know that the contents that lie herein are now ten years in the past, are difficult for me to write, as they detail a betrayal I committed and am ashamed of. I have left all names off of this document and will not allow any comments that include any names to be published. The only reason I write these words at all is to clear my conscience, as a way to atone for my wrong doings to an extent. I am not looking for forgiveness from any of those involved, merely understanding.