DISCLAIMER: Upon reading this series of blogs, some of you may wonder, “Why did he think anyone would be interested in reading this stuff?” Well, to be honest, I DIDN’T think about that. I wasn’t worried about the entertainment value. These blogs relate to a major chapter of my life finally coming to an end, and I felt like writing about it here. Yes, I could have written it in a journal at home instead of broadcasting it on the net. In fact I tried, but for some reason it didn’t give me the same sense of catharsis that blogging about it does. So here, for better or worse, is the latest blog.
Over the years my contact with J has been mainly over the computer (email or IM chat). Sometimes I would see him when he came to New York for the holidays, but even that has become a chore and something I’ve decided just isn’t worth it anymore. I remember a few years ago Christmas fell on a Friday, so I would have my kids during the few days J was in town. He lives all the way out near Utica while I am in the Capital Region (about three hours’ distance), so I said to him, “Look, man…if you want to hang out during holidays, then you are going to have to come my way. I can’t abandon my kids. I know you already spent a lot on your plane trip so here is what I’ll do for you: if you take the Greyhound to me, I will reimburse you for the cost of the ticket.” This just wasn’t good enough for him. He wanted me to go out there and just desert my family. The one thing that angered me the most about his attitude was that he always whined about the fact that none of his other friends even bother with him during the holidays; they are all too busy because they also have their own families. Here I was trying to make every effort to see him in a way that didn’t mean shirking my familial responsibilities, and he was being a jerk about it. Now I KNOW why no one else bothers with him during holidays: it just isn’t worth the hassle.
The final straw came for me a few weeks ago when J and I got talking about this young lady I knew several years ago. (Here she will be simply addressed as N.) J started going on about how I never “sealed the deal” with her. I said, “Yeah well, that was many years ago. Besides, I’m happily married now and I don’t think it really matters.” He kept insisting that I blew it, and I would be condemned to forever wonder what my life would be like now if I had done the deed. I said, “I know you don’t believe it, but I have changed. I’m not the same miserable Steve you used to know. Over the past few months of working out and getting back into wing chun, my life HAS improved. I don’t dwell on screwing things up with N…except when I talk to you. Do you know why I don’t think about those things? Because EVERYONE has failed more than they have succeeded. Think about it: I’ve had about five or six girlfriends in my life. Obviously I’m no longer with them, but I AM still with my wife. So that means six failed relationships versus one successful one.”
Now after saying all that, do you think J said I had a point, that I DID seem more content, and that he was happy for me? No, he threw it back in my face and said, “Oh wow, you are so righteous!” I said, “This has nothing to do with being righteous. It has to do with not wanting to throw these f***ing ‘pity me’ parties anymore!” He kept on sending me messages, but I didn’t reply. I just sat there staring at the ground, and I was hit by a profound moment. I said to myself, “It’s time to get over this weird abused child syndrome I have with this guy and realize that, until he stops trying to drag me down to his level, it isn’t really good to be friends with him.” So I just signed off.
Since then J has emailed me a couple times. One of them was rather long where he talked about how he was feeling down in the dumps (shocker!) and wanted to talk to his “fellow downtrodden pal” for support. I wrote back and once again stressed that I was NO LONGER the same old miserable person, that he needed to stop trying to bring me down with him, or he needed to stop talking to me. Needless to say, our communication has all but stopped since then.
I know it seems harsh to cut a friend out of my life like that, but then again if anyone DOES think it is harsh then I guess that means this series of blogs hasn’t conveyed the right message! There is a line from the movie THE SOCIAL NETWORK that I think of. The girl with Mark in the opening scene says to him: “Dating you is like dating a Stairmaster.” I feel the same way about my “friendship” with J. When I first met him, he was a cool guy: intelligent, funny, easy to get along with. Unfortunately, the last decade of his life has consisted of tearing me down and undermining my confidence whenever he saw me getting somewhere.
Why would someone want to ruin your journey toward bettering yourself? Because they never bothered taking the first step. Seeing you pursue your dreams threatens them because THEY failed to follow through on something. It’s really sad that people like J can’t be happy unless everyone else is just as miserable as them, but there’s nothing I can do about it except drop back the frequency of our contact and hope that someday he’ll get sick of being miserable too.