A Year in (of?) Review

calendarAs I pulled my blog up this morning, I realized it is only a few days short of a year since I last posted. A year. Incredible. Not because it’s been a year since I have added something here but because of how 2017 changed me. Without getting into too much detail, I lost the person in my life who I thought would be be there forever. She was, in my mind, elastic and ever patient. It turns out she was not and was more than willing to give up an intricate and challenging friendship without much explanation other than about a forty minute conversation without much of a warning. We had been joking around in text in the hours leading up and I’d sent her some URL’s through email which she responded to.

If this sounds bitter, it is not. I made her departure very easy. I was not in a good place and that had nothing to do with her but I put a lot of it on her so when a knight in shining armor came into her life and immediately started painting me in a bad light (again, I made it easy), then she was more than willing to drop our friendship and run. “He made some valid points.” was her response when I asked her if this was her decision or if he had given her an ultimatum. I had my answer but it didn’t make watching her walk away any easier. To his points, I’m guessing they were pretty spot on. I was in a horrible place and unknowingly I was probably taking her with me. She did what I could not, she got out.

In the months that followed, I had a few unpleasant moments. I couldn’t go into downtown Dallas and avoided it at all costs. I nearly ran into her one day in a mall and had to pull out old stealth moves to avoid her. I’d break down at random times and cry like a hungry child. I was a mess but I hid it well from everyone including my fiancé. Well, most of the time. She knew what was wrong because I’d come home from that “last meeting” and told her everything about what had happened but in the coming days I’d tell her I was fine and she accepted it. I went on to deal with the hole alone.

I kept a six month journal because that was the time my ex-friend had told me she needed to sort things out. I figured a journal of daily ramblings might help and it did. It turns out that six months was just a buffer and that she had no intention of returning to our friendship and trying to figure things out. I bought it though and kept that journal faithfully with the intent on giving it to her when we met in six months. It now resides in my safe.

If this all sounds melancholy I apologize. It was to be honest but things got better. I am part of a Ren Faire for two months a year and while it was still difficult in those months, the fair was a fun distraction. I had also met someone at work who has since become one of my good friends. An unlikely friend but a good one. Summer is a blur to be honest.

August came and was a turning point of sorts. I had some kind of silly hope that I’d at least get a Happy Birthday from my old friend. That day came and went and I began to accept that she wasn’t going to call, that I wouldn’t wake up to another friendly text or get an email saying “look, I just need more time, I’m moving, big things are happening, I’ll give you a call someday when I get settled.” Anything would have been better than silence. Instead, her family slowly started dropping me from Facebook.

It began with her sister, after I posted “Have fun!” on a trip she was taking to San Diego. I imagined my friend and her sister talked and that she told her I was nuts, or that I was some horrible person and so she removed me. In reality it probably was not that dramatic.

As fall came and wedding season picked up (I own a DJ business), I had plenty of distractions. Between fall weddings, lifestyle events, planning a trip, Help Portrait and other things, I was pretty occupied and Christmas came quickly. We planned a trip in the new RV (the old one was stolen in July) to the Grand Canyon which turned into 10 days and six National Parks, meeting a new friend and joining up with some other friends on the road and a night in the desert on BLM land. It was an epic adventure.

When I came home, I posted a Throw Back Thursday picture of my old friend on my photography Instagram with a message of understanding and support. Her two cousins, one of which I’d seen not four weeks earlier at a volunteer event and even talked to about my friend, her cousin, were the first two people to “love” the post. Less than two weeks later both would delete me from their profiles and block me. I imagine at the request of my old friend. Where a year ago, I would have immediately assumed anger, I did not, instead choosing to believe that seeing my comments or posts on her cousin’s profiles might be difficult for her. Whichever is true, I accepted it instantly and there was little of that gut wrenching sensation I would have had previously.

So what did I learn?

If you made it this far, congratulations because that is some depressing stuff above. It was depressing to be sure but here I am, still breathing and that is the point after all, isn’t it? Breathing? Continuing on.

I learned that it was possible for someone who no longer wanted me in their life to continue to affect mine nearly a year after they departed. I learned that I can never let that happen again. I learned that I can sink into a pit of depression at levels far deeper than I had ever thought possible. I also learned that sometimes it takes a jarring life event to wake someone up and make them realize who they are.

In the end, it’s very possible that even had our friendship been pristine, she would have pulled out of it anyway. One thing my old friend was unfortunately prone to was manipulation in the name of love and love is what happened. I’m almost certain that if her new love had said “I don’t want you to have any male friends” that she would have complied. This near certainty is bolstered by something one of her family members mentioned to me earlier in the year when they reached out perhaps feeling sorry for me.

I learned that my belief in open communication is a good path and because of the events of 2017, my communication has gotten much better with those I love. I rekindled some friendships that had gone away due to lack of communication, ended some that were detrimental to my life and my relationship with my fiancé strengthened beyond belief.

I learned that I should support my friends no matter what I believe and then be there to celebrate with them or hold them as they cry, whichever the outcome. I failed horribly in this with my old friend and it absolutely contributed to the outcome. Even had we split due to the possibility mentioned above, it would have been an easier departure for both of us.

Most importantly, I also learned that I can change. Without trying to sound like an “old man”, people my age are usually set on a path they established long ago and do not want to change. I went the other way. Over the last year I have gone from an angry, “screw everyone who doesn’t like me” to  someone who values input on who I am and someone who would rather say “You make a good point, I should take a look at that about myself.” Many things have changed. My political leaning even changed which, honestly, beforehand I really didn’t lean either way and was happy in the middle but as I began to actually stand up for what I truly believed in, I realized I lean more to one side than the other.

Something I am still working on is trust. If anything was damaged by the events of the last year, it was trust. When someone jokes with you like nothing is amiss in the hours leading up to their sudden departure, it takes a great deal of trust out of you. This has manifested in not getting to know people like I once did. I used to want to know someone inside and out as soon as possible, I craved their story. Now I tend toward staying with those I already know and trust. My work friend was the exception, she told my walls to f-off. I also have become somewhat of a recluse. Depression has that effect on people but though I’m on the other side of it these days, I still prefer to stay in my house working on projects, hanging out with close friends, my fiancé or the dogs. I’m sure in time that will level out as will other small details.

All in all, I can say as I write this that I am happy. I miss what is lost but I’m thankful for what I’ve gained from the outcome.