I lost the friendship of one of my closest friends. The loss shakes my life. He’s the friend I talked to the most, besides Ming. We txted a few times a day, and pics to each other. We had a weekly phone call, shared projects, co-worked sometimes. I told him everything–there’s almost nothing I held back. I was my full self, with him.
In California, I have a Best Friend of 30 years. This recently lost friend I’m talking about, he was not my Best Friend. But he’s the one I was most directed toward and gave a ton of energy to, with mutual support, trying to help him have a good life.
His hurtful behaviors broke my heart a few times. There was too much pain mixed in with the pleasure. The addictions and domestic violence in my friend’s life were definitely making things harder, stressing me to the point of panic. Old traumas were activated, from my childhood abuse.
Another struggle was my friend would make promises and not follow through with them. And there were communication issues. I offered to help! But he never said yes to that. He’s not a super intentional, deliberate person, like I am–he’s somewhat erratic and chaotic. I enjoyed our differences, but the one bending was mostly me.
After a while it hurt, how much I gave to him, vs what he gave to me. Language would have helped. But it got more hurtful, the way I would ask about what was going on inside him, and he mostly wouldn’t talk about it.
Felt gaslighty, how I couldn’t trust what we were doing, without his honest communication about it. Wait, I thought we were close–oh, I guess I was mistaken. Oh, but now he’s acting again like I really matter to him. Oops, no, he promised me this stuff, but he never followed through. I guess I made all that up. Oh wait, now he told me he appreciates me and I’m in his inner circle. It confused me to the point of pain. My self-doubt was disorienting.
I learned more about what I need in close relationships, like clarity, follow through, balance, reciprocity. What is integrity, really? How much does a good heart matter? If he flaked and I was hurt, I would pep talk myself about his good intentions and comfort neglected parts of me. But that felt silly after a while, to do my part and his part too.
I would blame myself for feeling too much and caring too much. Of course my friend hurt me–I’m an unreasonable person with wrong needs. He hurt me because I’m too hurtable. But wait–most of my friendships are happy. He was the only friend hurting me such that I came to the conclusion that I was too much.
I learned more about how I can be so wrong about people. I really thought we were doing something that I guess we weren’t. Honestly, I’m still confused.
Some of it is probably that I have autism, so I have a whole different project, program, mentality, mode, or inner culture, from how most people do things. I have around an astounding 95% understanding of my own inner reality, while I have a super low maybe 10% understanding of what’s going on inside other people. How uncomfortable, the vast discrepancy.
In some ways, my friend was not being a grownup. Inside, part of him is a kid, about relationships. He’ll do what he does, but the language around it might not match the behaviors, at all. I noticed that, over the year.
He couldn’t have known that one the most painful things someone can do to me is to ask me to pretend something’s not happening that’s happening. I need the language to match the reality really bad. Deceit about my own experiences is one of the worst things someone can require of me. It has to do with the denial I was forced into, in my family of origin, forced silence about the violence being done to me and others. To be hurt is one thing, but to be required to pretend I was not being hurt was a whole other layer of hell.
The loss feels stupid, not to be friends with this person who is one of my favorite people on earth, who I have a shared language with, important interests in common–gardening and plant life, prayer, ritual, radical mental health, art, graffiti, wordplay, rapping. We shared some beautiful tenderness, and a year of life. I longed to visit–hug him, cook for him, and learn about the plant life of his area.
what friendship is
Still not sure what’s going on inside him, but I think he’d rather sing karaoke on the beach than really show up for love, with me, at least. Maybe if I was sexually attractive to him–he differentiates harshly among different kinds of love in a way I can’t relate to. I could love anybody 100%, with my entire being, no matter if they are a friend, partner, community member, mentor, bio-family, chosen family. Most people are not like that, prioritizing partners and family.
I tried to adjust my needs and expectations, communicate honestly, nourish myself with the language that I wished to receive from him. I talked it over with friends and my therapist. This relationship was huge to me–this friend meant so much. I would have been happy to go to relationship counseling with him, to try to work it out!
But we were “just friends.” I was never his spouse or girlfriend; we had no children, pets, or investments together! But this is my third try, breaking up with him. Friendship is usually low key. I think we were doing a hybrid, but I was supposed to pretend we were not.
Who am I? A lady 3000 miles away in the desert, joyously married to Ming, with a full, rich life. His life is full and rich too. He referred to me and Ming as his Vegas fam, before. I was delighted. But I guess he was just kidding. The lighthearted playfulness that charmed me now breaks my heart. The loss is brutal.
I look at my friendscape now, without this friend. He was the tallest tree. The space feels weird. Things look really different.
Part of the idea of breaking up is creating loss-room for something that might work better, with less pain. A chance to direct a lot of energy in a new way, to see if that’s better for my life.
It feels like a huge loss now–that sprawling, majestic God tree no longer nourishing me with the comfort of its awesome presence. But I hope I helped my life, in a long term way, to make this change.