I try to keep this blog upbeat and positive, but I also strive to be totally transparent and honest in my writing. Sometimes, this blog is nothing more than a sounding board … that’s what it is for this entry. I’m sure there are plenty of people who can relate to what I’m about to share.
I lost a friend today. He didn’t die, but our friendship did. I’m not going to go too far into the details other than to say that he came out to visit me in Colorado two days ago…and it was a mess.
An utter disaster.
I know he’s reading this post. The problem is substances. He can’t stay away from them. And I don’t trust him because he’s lied to me so much about being fucked up. For the last two and a half years, I’ve largely had to guess where his head was in any given moment – if he was clean, if he was high, if he was withdrawing from something…who was he going to be in any given moment? Which version was I going to see?
He’s always got to alter his mood, his mind, with something. Pills, nicotine, pot, herbs, alcohol… since I’ve known him. As a result, his moods are either a roller coaster of ups and downs, or deep, dark lows. Being his friend, I have endured a lot of emotional whiplash. I’ve felt like a bad friend for getting frustrated, for wanting to give up on him. I’ve had times when I had to step away from him, drop contact for weeks or months because I couldn’t take any more. In his drug-fueled furies, he has said some terrible things to me over the years. He’s been downright mean. And I gave him a pass, knowing it was the substances that were talking. I took it because as his friend, I loved him. I wanted him to get better.
I’ve tried to be there. I’ve tried to help him, to encourage him, to support him. I’ve tried tough love. I’ve looked up resources for him. I’ve offered to help him in any way I could. But he never let me.
The part that makes me so sad is that I see his heart….I see what a kind, good person he is at his core. But it’s always muddled with whatever shit he’s flooding his brain with. And he doesn’t see the problem. To him, the problem is me. To him, I’m some up-tight, vanilla, straight-edger. Maybe I am. But you know? I get all the elevation I need from the inside… I don’t need alcohol or drugs to enjoy life. I need experience, freedom, love. That’s just me.
I wanted his visit to be really nice. I wanted for him to have a great time. He’d never been out west before. But I could tell pretty quickly that he was closed off. He barely spoke to me the last two days and then got defensive when I asked him what was wrong. I felt like there was nothing I could do to change things, to help him have fun and get out of his own head. We rode into RMNP today and he just seemed apathetic. I asked him what he wanted to do the rest of the day and he said he didn’t care. Did he want to hike? No. Rent a mountain bike? No. Drive to Estes Park? I don’t care.
Then I had it. I had it. Here’s where the lesson kicked in (there’s always a lesson, and I always try to see it). He said he wanted to leave… so I arranged that. His flight back home from Denver isn’t until Tuesday, so I got him a ticket on the last train back to Denver and then rented him a hotel in downtown Denver until Tuesday. I arranged and paid for it all, drove him to the Amtrak station, and sent him off.
He didn’t thank me and I didn’t expect he would. I wanted him to at least be able to have a nice time downtown, should he choose to. I guess it’s up to him at this point.
I lost a friend today. He shook my hand and wished me luck, and I drove off from the train station. I wish it could have been different. But… it wasn’t.
I also learned something about boundaries today and when to say when – when to call it even when it hurts. Today, I made sure he was set up, that he wasn’t being sent off or abandoned… but I put my emotional well-being first. I didn’t let myself struggle and sit in angst with him for the next three days to avoid upsetting him. I cut the cord.
Sometimes that’s what has to happen. People outgrow one another, relationships of all kinds can fizzle out. I want the best for him, but I can’t create it for him. He’s got to want it for himself. The reins to his life are in his hands. I also learned today how exhausting and futile it can be to try for years to help someone who doesn’t want to help himself. It becomes toxic.
Although the experience sucked, I am proud of myself for walking away. Indeed, there were lessons to be had today.