Not too long ago I reconnected with a friend I hadn’t seen or spoken to in 40 years. If you read my blog often, you may be saying to yourself, didn’t you write about this already. Yes and no. I know, I can’t have it both ways. If you read the post “In A Muddle”, you are correct, that was about a friend from 40 years ago. It was a different friend that I had a different relationship with.
It has happened again. This, however, was a high school friend, not an old college flame. I never dated this man nor did I even “hang around” with the same crowd. But I liked him as a friend. He was really smart, funny and cute (and still is all of these things). Maybe I was, too, back then. He was one of those people who, decades after high school, you find yourself wondering, “I wonder what happened to …. .”
The social networking sites sometimes answer those questions, which is what happened here. Suddenly I knew. A series of comments, chats and messages has allowed us to reconnect. Actually, I think we have connected in a far deeper, better way. I really enjoy having this “new” friend to share with. He is one of the few people I know with whom I can hold both frivolous and erudite conversations.
But I am concerned for him as well. He is a very complex human being who places reason about feeling many times. I lived like that for a time and it was not productive – or healthy – for me. I made decisions based on logic, rather than listening to my “inner voice.” You know the voice I’m talking about, the one that tells you “don’t take that path” or “look in the other direction.” You ignore it only to your detriment. Some call it conscience, but it is truly more than that. It is the connection you have to the universe that tries to guide you to the things that are best for you. Just you. It might not be the same for the next person.
I do not know the reasons that my friend has become the person he is right now. He lives far from me (those who read here frequently will be asking “So what else is new – all your good friends live far away from you?”) and I am not able to just sit down for a few hours and really get to know the history he has lived. I have had a bad experience with trying to find things out too fast for another person, so I have learned patience. I will wait until he feels ready to share them.
My friend seems to have a lot of anger simmering inside. He acknowledges having been hurt by many people and, rather than forgiving and moving on, he has used his pain to hold the hurt close to him. He has not let go. I believe that anger and hate are a poison in our hearts and souls. They make us sick and cause even more pain than the original hurt. My friend seems to be clinging to this poison with all his might. Many people are like this, but they are not all my friends. This man is my friend. It hurts me to see him in so much pain.
His pain seems to have become a badge of honor to him. He flaunts it for all to see. He tries to rile up his friends, perhaps to see if he can push them away or if they are true? He spends much time stewing over the people who have hurt him and thinking of how he would like to hurt them back. I think he spends an awful lot of time and energy reliving the pain that could be spent in far more productive ways. In better, healthier for him ways.
In this way, he is sadly like the first 40 year friend I found. He, too, had significant pain that he could not discuss or let go. It destroyed any hope of a renewed friendship. I found that very sad. I learned from that, however, and will work damned hard to not let that happen again.
My high school friend drinks more than most people would find healthy or smart. He says he can handle it, has been doing it for so long it doesn’t have the same effect on him that it would on me. I only buy the second part of that argument. He brags about how good his liver function tests are. I wonder why the drinking is necessary.
My high school friend smokes cigarettes – a lot of them. I wish he didn’t. I’ve seen the health issues they can create. I won’t say a word for now, though. I wonder how it happened that he needed them so much.
My high school friend has used drugs in the past, though I don’t believe he does anymore. That’s what he’s told me and he is usually painfully honest, so I believe him. I wonder if the drugs did any lasting damage.
My high school friend has attention deficit disorder (ADD). He uses it to both understand and justify his behavior. I wonder if all these self-destructive behaviors began as ways to “self-medicate” for his ADD.
I am a person who cares deeply and loves completely. I have been blessed to be given the strength to overcome my pain and become more loving for it. I wish I could give that gift to others, but I do not know how. It makes my heart ache to see those I care about in pain and be unable to take it away – or even tell them how to get rid of it themselves. But I know it is possible and I know the path is love.
So I will continue to care about this friend. I will pray for him. I will give what I can.
Honesty and love.
It is, after all, what we all need.