Seven years ago, at the age of 30, I did this crazy nutso thing and went back to University to finish my degree. I was nervous as all get out as I knew that coming in to complete my third year I would be interloping on an already established network of student artists and theatre makers – most of whom would be 10 years my junior. How on earth was I going to fit in to this group of people who already had two full years of experiences and bonding and getting drunk together and all that? Could I still write essays? Did I know what ‘pathos’ meant (I reckon I still don’t know what ‘pathos’ means)? Would people want to work with me? Could I match wits with my classmates and teachers? Would I pass my degree? It was scary and intimidating, but given I had spent the previous year in a depressed, stoned and fat state of self-loathing, I needed to jump right in and swim.
Within the first week, I was pretty much accepted into the fold, probably because I have no problem making a dick of myself to get people to like me. I was also fresh blood. Within six months, I had a whole new group of friends, had come out as an ex-hooker, and had earned a reputation for being unapologetically honest, accepting and funny. The age difference meant little, the laughs were a-plenty, and new theatrical exploits were planned and executed with aplomb and alacrity.
Cut to seven years later, most of these friends are gone. I must admit that the majority of them I chose to step away from, mainly because I didn’t like who I was around them, but a few kind of forced my hand somewhat. Some of them were my closest friends that I had spent the last seven years forging deeply important connections with. Seven years of cheap hair cuts, and tea, and hugs, and listening ears, and the keeping of their secrets, the countless tarot readings, the acceptance and non-judgement, the theatre, the wine and the laughs. All gone because they believe my wife abused her ex, because that’s what my wife’s ex told EVERYONE. That and many other lies that manifested silent judgement in my friends’ eyes when they looked at me, when they looked at my wife. I want to scream at them “FUCK YOU! How dare you! Damn you for abandoning me, for not returning the faith I had in you, for believing the worst, for not talking to me because it’s ‘none of your business’, but let’s face it, you make it your business because you talk to everyone else except me about it. Fuck you and fuck the high horse you rode in on!”
By gods, I miss them. There’s a hole in my life created by their absence. There are comments and messages missing from my social media page, texts unreturned and unread, conversations that I can’t have with anyone else. I feel lost. Bereft. My heart hurts and I cry often, usually alone. My pride will not let me reach out to them, my fear warning me that any attempt to connect will be rejected. I don’t cope well with rejection so I don’t try. I’m pig-headed like that.
I know it’s my own fault. I walked away. I made a choice and I stuck to it, as righteous and indignant as it may have been at the time. I still believe it was the right thing to do, because I do not believe or give any credence to what my wife has been accused of. I didn’t believe it before she and I began our relationship and I still don’t. I will choose her time and again because it’s the right thing for me to do. Yet, I still grieve what I have lost.
Wikipedia defines friendship as having the following characteristics: affection, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other’s company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one’s feelings, and make mistakes without fear of judgement from the friend. For once, Wikipedia can be relied upon as being fairly accurate. That aside, I cannot deny that I do still have friends that offer me the aforementioned things, and I can requite them the same. But the connection I have with those friends differs from my Uni friends, and I can’t quite identify why. It’s a feeling I guess.
This too shall pass, as all things are ephemeral. In closing the doors to those people, I have manifested the opportunity for other avenues of connection to open. This is exciting and different, my life has changed immeasurably, I feel there are magnificent and wonderful experiences to come, and I fully believe that all has happened just as it should have happened.
it still sucks, but. And it will suck for a while. I hope they’re okay. I hope they achieve all they desire. I hope in time I will see them again and all will be fine. I hope they miss me as much as I miss them.