Friday, August 14, 2015

Dear Old Friend

I'm writing this today, in part, to apologize. I have not tried hard to remain in contact with you. I don't write you regular e-mail. I don't drive to your location to simply visit you. I don't call you one the phone or text you. I don't even know if I have your phone number. This is on me.

To be fair, though, it's on you, too.

When I have written in the past you responded with only a sentence or two and after I wrote back you didn't. You never seem to be the first to send an e-mail. Why is that?

When I've been near where you live, I have let you know so that I could visit with you. You never seem to be near where I live. Those few times you have been near, you haven't always let me know. Why is that?

I rarely call or text anyone. If I don't have your phone number I haven't asked you for it. Which would be the same reason you don't have mine. If you asked, I would give it to you, but I'm not going to call. I have issues with myself that don't allow me to call you. Do you have similar issues?

The other part of why I'm writing this is because I think I'm done calling you/thinking of you as "friend."

"Friend" should be more than a person who can see your Facebook feed. It should be more than hitting a "like" button or posting a comment on a picture. I don't know what that more is, but friend should be more. Maybe regular reconnection through thoughtful communication to see how we've both changed and how we've stayed the same and how we're still compatible, but in a new way. We haven't done this in a very long time.

Maybe it's because you've changed so much more than I have in "grown-up" ways: spouses, children, mortgages. In my mind I can't picture myself with the first two and the third is only a possibility of a possibility. And when you have spouses, children, and mortgages those thing are what should be important to you. I understand that. I know that's how it should be. Just because I don't have those experiences doesn't mean I don't understand them or that I don't want to understand them.

Do you remember the last time I visited you? I was horribly uncomfortable. I don’t know what to talk to you about. Your life seems so focused because you have these outside things to focus on that are also intimate and personal. My life isn’t. I have no focus and my interests are not personal at all. For how long can I force the conversation into deconstruction of pop culture things that I’m interested in and you may or may not be before I wear out my welcome?

I want you to understand that this isn't a spur of the moment thing. I don't want you to think that I suddenly got tired of you posting pictures of your children. There's been thought about this.

Several weeks ago, one of my cousins got married. The person he wanted to have as his best man, his step-brother, couldn't be there because of Army. My cousin's step-father stood in as best man. Neither person was chosen out of obligation. Both were asked because of love and friendship. That's also why they accepted.

I sat there wondering if I were to ever get married, who would I have to step in as my best man? I had no answer for that. When I wondered who I would ask to be my best man in the first place, I had no answer for that either. Maybe one of my brothers, who would have to do it out of family obligation. Maybe not.

Fifteen years ago I know who I would have asked. Ten years ago I would have asked a different person, but I knew who. Five years ago I'm not so sure. Today, there is no one I could ask and not feel like I was backing them into a corner. A position like best man shouldn't feel to either party like its being forced.

This has been coming on for a long time. I remember when I felt like I was an afterthought. The person who was called only when you realized that I wasn't already there and an extra body was needed to play a good game of Risk. Not long after, I wasn't even a thought. I was a person who wasn't even invited to a party in his own home. Asked days and weeks later why I wasn't there and told I was a liar when I said no one told me. How could you not be told about a party where you live? I was asked. How, indeed.

Part of me wishes that I could be cocky and cruel about this. I wish that I could say I replaced you with someone and your friendship hasn't been necessary for years. That's not true, though. I haven't made a new friend in at least eighteen years. Me choosing to no longer call you friend leaves me with no friends. No friends.

Those words were not easy to write and I paused for a minute or two before I continued.

"No man is an island," John Donne wrote. "Every man is a piece of a continent." Many people use the first four lines of that poem to talk about friendship and togetherness without actually reading the rest of the poem and seeing that it's about people dying and how each death, no matter if one knew the dead personally, is a blow to mankind. As with so much poetry, we tend to ignore the words and meaning of the whole to focus on out of context bits.

I don't know if I'm an island. Or a rock. I do know that the longer I live, the less I desire to try to make, or keep, any kind of interpersonal connections. I can't remember ever desiring children. It's been nearly a decade since I wanted a spouse. Much of this blog has been about my lack of ability to make friends. Now, I don't have the drive to make friend, nor do I have the desire to pretend that people from my past are still friends. No matter what you may think. I can't control that. I am, however, sorry if I have offended you. It wasn't my intention, but I can see how it may be a possibility.

Last week I found a psychiatric term for who/what I am. Beyond the depression thing. It starts with a horrifying word, but the meaning of the whole title isn't as scary. It is me, though. And I know it's dangerous to self-diagnose, but in the age of the Internewts it's hard not to. Also, I don't think me finding a label is a bad thing. It makes me feel less unique to know that I'm not the only, let alone the first, to be the way I am, in a good way.

I seem the brain doctor on Tuesday. I keep wondering if I should bring this label up to him and if so, how to bring it up. There are a couple of problems, though. The first is, he is completely retiring at the end of the year and I will probably see him only one or two more times before he's done. I also doubt that I'll be seeing another brain doctor after him because there aren't any nearby who accept my insurance. There are several an hour+ drive from where I live, and that's where my current brain doctor is, but I don't like making the drive and the one on one talk seems to be mostly me manipulating the brain doctor to not ask me certain questions. (Now that I've been with him for three years, I'm much better at doing it than I used to be.) The second reason is that there isn't really any fix for this personality disorder. Drugs can be used to lessen depression that may or may not have to do with this, but it only works on depression which makes one want to kill oneself less, but doesn't really do anything to the other stuff. There's talk of group therapy maybe working, but for group therapy to be effective for someone like me the group needs to understand that I won't participate much, if at all, for months. The third reason is do I want to change. Am I unhappy being the way I am? Does it cause me to be depressed? Most people learning that I am friendless probably assume that I am lonely, except that I'm not. By myself I'm almost never lonely. In a crowd is when I feel a loneliness so crushing that I'm surprised my bones don't crack under the pressure. What happens if I lose the ability to be alone?

If this is wrong, then who am I when I'm right? Am I at all?

I don't know. In the end, I don't know if it really matters, either.

I thought you should know all of this. I thought you should know because I wanted to be clear that while I accept that it's mostly me, and it is mostly me, it's partially you, too. I also want you to know that I understand that it's not malicious. You've simply changed to accommodate things that I won't have, that I don't want.

So, when you see on Facebook or here that I was in or near your neck of the woods and I said nothing about it, this is why. I'm done making efforts. I'm done trying. I'm simply going to be me.

Be well,