It’s been a long time since I wrote, and I’ve spent a great deal of the time trying over and over how to figure out what to write. There are a million thoughts and experiences, and I have attempted multiple times to just start up the blog entries again as though I hadn’t been silent in this space for an obvious amount of time. But time and again I have known that I can’t, because I can’t pretend on an honest account of the evolution of life that what has happened didn’t occur.
I got screwed over, and it put me under.
In part, I’ve been trying to balance out the right measure of information to relay, and with what level of emotion to convey it. From where I sit, our American culture has two examples of what I don’t want to be: there’s the traditional and eternally mocked-by-hollywood W.A.S.P. – white Anglo-Saxon Protestant. This stereotype is the ever-perfect white picket fence person who says only what is proper, and never ever steps out of the bounds of decorum. Most importantly this includes having no emotional outbursts, or speaking ill of others. That would be inappropriate, un-classy, and beneath the true dignity of an evolved individual. Of course, I’m evoking a complete stereotype package, but there are also plenty of people who espouse the emotional content of this image, even if none of the rest of it.
Then there’s the other stereotype in my mind: the Jerry Springer individual. The person who can’t wait to spill every detail of dirt for the whole world to see, and who’s behavior often leaves the crowd wondering if they were dropped on their head hard before coming out on the TV stage. Dishing dirt and screaming vitriol can make a person somewhat like a fascinating train wreck to watch, as well as awkward and uncomfortable. Also, as often as not, I have been left to wonder when watching snippets of anything like Jerry Springer: what made the guests want to air their story publicly?! As a viewer, it feels like watching gladiators from a ring-side seat, just for entertainment purposes. Most often, I am not entertained; I just feel embarrassed for the people there in the ring.
But I got screwed over, and it put me under.
So, I have a story to tell, and I’ve been trying to figure out, how do I tell it? And just as much as ‘how’, is the question of why do I tell it. I keep feeling stumped by not being able to tell if my reasons are worthy enough. Alas, perhaps they are not, but I need to tell my experience, and reclaim my blog space and right to write about the evolution and journey of this life. Hence, here I am. I hope those reasons are good enough to step into that revealing space.
Because I got screwed over, and it put me under. And it’s time to come back up.
The very basic of it, is that I got betrayed. Big time. The tiniest bit of knowledge or research about projects related to this blog will easily reveal that I began a business with incredible promise called HisXHers; but perhaps even more importantly, I started moving through life more actively because I believed I had found safety, loyalty, and connection with my partner in that venture. I thought I’d made a lifelong best friend, and I offered up myself to walk a journey with her. As it turns out, I was exceptionally mistaken.
So yeah, this “friend” kicked me in the face, spit on me, and skipped away laughing. And yes, that’s exactly what I mean, and wanted to say, but I’ll admit in a New York second that it sounds straight off of Mr. Springers daytime drama fest of a show. How, then, should I say it differently? It’s still the truth. On the timeline of things over the last year, I spent time daily supporting and being present for The Friend (I like that title) as she struggled through her divorce. But really, like a bottle of long term antibiotics after an illness has passed, I got thrown away when she didn’t need me anymore. Worse, I had started to need her in return. As the month of Heather’s passing and then Christmas came and went, I requested her help and support as just a friend. Over and over. What I got was silence, followed by a lot of anger, because I was asking for friendship – making requests and deigning to have expectations that she spend any amount of time on me – and she believed relationships are supposed to be free of all that.
I guess we just found the place where we disagreed about what connection and friendships are. I do believe that love is free; but relationships are not. Perhaps it’s just the way the cookie crumbled, but I’ve felt very bitter that The Friend decided she owed me nothing after I’d spent so much time being present for her; she felt her life was better and she’d grown beyond me, because I was still struggling with my own sadnesses. I stay stuck in my Heather stuff, (she called it “shit”) and she wasn’t going to be part of that any more. And sure, she admitted to making promises about long lasting friendship and being present, but she meant those things in the delightful moment of saying them – not literally.
So I got screwed over, and it really put me under.
And I guess there it is; we viewed our commitments as having been made and as needing carried out very differently. She expressed the desire to stay friends, but only if (ONLY if) it would entail nothing more than playing and laughing together. Sadness, grief, or difficulty would not be tolerated; I was on my own for that.
Look, I get that people are all different. Some can’t sit in weighty matters, and others simply hold to an internal belief that part of living life wisely means choosing NOT to sit with and experience weighty difficult things. I get that concept. I know lots of people that believe that discomfort, or sadness is easily conquered by choosing happiness every day – and why not?! With only one life to live, there’s some pretty simple logic to deciding to refuse to tolerate feeling anything you don’t want to. And yes – I choose and want to experience sadness and difficulty. I find my happiness and sometimes joy embedded in a grid containing all the real experiences I have in life; and my spiritual and/or chemical make-up doesn’t allow me to ignore difficult emotions without doing so resulting in depression, anger, or some other kind of dam to my soul. Maybe some other people really can just choose to be happy and never be downed or drowned.
But I cannot.
And we had some other worldview differences as well…
I find that empathy is one of the primary, and additionally completely necessary ingredients to human connection. Real relationships, I believe, walk together through sunshine and rain; no matter how long each may last, or when the rain brings a flood or the sunshine a sunburn. I believe relationships are imperfect but worth time, because time and presence cannot be indefinitely substituted for. And I believe that friendships – whether it be inside marriage, family, or at any age – must be mutually supportive, welcome communication, and have a consistently nurtured level of great trust. The Friend and I powerfully disagreed about these things, though I dare say we each thought we were right. I think she’d say (this is dangerous territory, speaking for someone else, but I’ll own it) that she actually believes the same things I do. But apparently, we basically define the words very differently.
There is a difference in people that is very real – the internal experience of being an introvert or an extrovert. (Forgive me, for the sake of keeping things shorter, I’ll define and use these words in rather simplistic terms – they’re ultimately more complex.) The intros generally need a few very close people, and find a large group of humans to be energy sapping. The extros find lots of life force in casual connection with loads and loads of people. I’m and “I”, and she’s an “E”. As such, I ultimately needed something must greater from The Friend than she was willing to give (despite direct promises that she would ), and she needed me to be super fun, lots of delightful, and despite the perks of me being incredibly supportive, she needed me to have absolutely no expectations of her giving to me what I gave to her.
Of course, being a counselor I think about most of life in terms of psychology, and I could go on for hours about the pathology that I think exists here in this situation. But I won’t; it just so happens that that is MY paradigm for viewing things. Suffice to say, I think ultimately the hurt I have experienced that shut me down so hard, is because of our ultimate differences. I think I saw my presence and support for The Friend in her hard time as special and important, and I became really offended when it hadn’t somehow earned me a reciprocal presence and connection from her. But what I believe is the truer truth, is that she ultimately needed helpful listening ears – ANY ears. Mine weren’t special or important. So, what we needed, what we thought should be involved in a true friendship, and how we communicated and felt about it all, were essentially just on two different planets.
So it should be fine, right? Whoops, we’re different and made a mistake. You happily go your way, and I’ll continue my journey, and mistakes were apparently made but everybody wishes everybody else well. Sometimes it happens that way, people in relationships realize it isn’t working and they part ways amiably. Why didn’t we? Why did The Friend leaving me hurt me so bad that I’ve been incapacitated?
I have felt screwed over, and it’s put me totally under. Our break-up didn’t do that to The Friend. So, why am I the broken one?
Well, in part, it’s because I take verbal promises very intensely seriously. I thought I was making a good decision connecting so deeply to The Friend, because her words said I would be safe to do so. A brief and simple history of The Friend reveals that life’s behaviors and actions should have informed me otherwise. But I liked being with her, and wanted to be safe so badly because my attachment figure (Heather) has been so so gone. Therefore, I invested where I should have known better. And that would be a hard enough lesson to swallow for me, but my decisions also hurt my children.
I brought The Friend into our lives in a way I haven’t let other people, and didn’t protect my little ones, because I thought it was good when she hugged and kissed and acted intimately with them, since she promised me (and them) she’d be around forever as our friend to do so. Just last week, my eight-year-old came to me and simply said “Dad, I thought Brooke loved us!” And here I am, having to apologize that I brought another loss into their life. Because there was nothing to say except “I thought she did too. I’m so sorry I was wrong.”
And really, I do think I was wrong. Semantically, I suppose we can play games with the word love, but as we define it in our family, I was fooled. I was fooled by The Friend, and probably because I just wanted to be loved and safe so incredibly badly.
Which all leaves me here grieving again.
Yet, I discovered very quickly that I didn’t know how to have or experience this grief at ALL! With Heather, grieving her makes her feel closer and honors her with all my soul has to give. But The Friend chose to walk away, and not with kindness. How do I grieve the loss of something that apparently never actually was? Especially when the loss is something that left on purpose, because I just needed too much from her? I’ve had so much hurt, so much anger, so very much confusion. Meanwhile, she’s hosted multiple parties. That is a strong demonstration of our differences.
Perhaps my hurt and hardship is simply my own responsibility. If I hadn’t been such a fragile and difficult soul in the first place, this wouldn’t be happening.
But I am. And I have been. So I’ve reacted by pulling away and feeling betrayal and experiencing great confusion about whether anything in life is safe. I stopped blogging, because I couldn’t figure out what to write. Why? Because the concern over what other people think came back and put a strangling choke-hold upon me. What if I say the wrong thing? How can I say anything without looking like a whiney jackass? There’s isn’t anybody anywhere (except the rather real contingent of people who have my same kind of story – believe me I’m not the only person who has experienced this with The Friend) who doesn’t love and delight in her. Everybody loves Brooke, she’s a bright, shiny, glitter-filled star-kissed dancing fairy to everyone she meets; that is her gift! I’ve felt scared that telling my experience could be the equivalent of saying cute furry little puppies should all be run over! (Are you reading the level of drama here? It rises to annoyingly higher levels than even this.) If the person that everybody finds delightful actually finds me annoying, needy, burdensome, and completely unworthy of even the tiniest bit of her energy or time, does that mean her opinion is right? I mean, everybody loves her, and she can’t stand being with me. Maybe according to the court of public popularity her distain for me is valid!
It’s been a mental tailspin. I didn’t expect it; and I guess I naively thought I’d be smartly protective enough of myself and my children after Heather died, that I’d never get really close to anyone ever again unless they were truly safe and never going to break my heart or cause me to feel worthless.
Obviously, I was an idiot.
Except maybe I wasn’t a total idiot. First, because she just plain betrayed me and wasn’t a good friend. I’m sticking to my definition of things in life, and that’s the cut-and-dry of it from my view. But even more so is the second reason: maybe I wasn’t a total idiot because this is just evolution and life and growing hurts. It goddamn sucks! I should have known better than to think I could control getting hurt ever again, but that doesn’t make me an idiot that I tried to. It was silly to think I’d somehow avoid heartache when delving into relationships because they’re messy and a lot of work when they’re really good! That leaves a lot to say for when they aren’t.
So there it is. I can’t say there is ALL is, because there are so many details, and so much to the story, and hashing it all out isn’t a necessity I feel. However, I needed to tell this truth and let it inform my future and let it be an open topic for discussing the lessons I’ve learned from it. There are many. Getting this out there feels yucky and uncomfortable, but after so very many weeks of festering with it, I finally concluded that I needed to lean away from the say-nothing-ugly place because I’m allergic to it, and I find life hard to breathe through during constant allergy attacks.
There are two sides to every story. I know there have already been versions of this story told by The Friend that are literally black to my white in how different they are. And of course that is the case. We all see our view of the world as most correct, I think. There has probably rarely, if ever, been a relationship break-up where the stories of who did what, who behaved how, and who holds the responsibility are the same. It was time to generally journal my side, though. Time to really disengage the muscles in my soul that are clasping tight to this story, and begin the process again of believing in my own worth and value, in opposition to what The Friend experience says.
I got screwed over. It totally put me under. But I’m ready to be done with that.
I have valuable people in my life. I can try again to allow powerful friendships with trust, and not be damaged by this hurt permanently. And though I’ve been very saddened and thrown off my future goals by the loss of HisXHers – and even more so by the loss of the friendship I thought I had – I can still grow and I can be OK.
I offer my apologies to readers of this blog for the times this entry may have felt uncomfortable as I dipped into the Jerry Springer level of communication to point fingers and speak ill of The Friend. Sometimes, I feel the need to learn better ways of expressing my truth, and sometimes, I just have to go with what I’ve got and tell my story until I find a better way. It has been a very ugly break-up, and I can say that some of my words have lightly touched on the way I have felt. My anger wants to say a lot more, but my heart feels like this is good.
Has it been the right kind of, or an appropriate level of vulnerability and expression?
Who knows. But it’s my truth.
And now I will return to Spring Break time with my chilis. I feel raw at this moment, but a little less burdened. I guess there are times you just have to speak the ugliness, even when it isn’t all resolved and has names-to-name involved. I hope for you all that you’re finding evolution in the rawness of your lives, too.