I know I promised a post tellin' you what I thought of the new Star Trek movie. I haven't gotten around to it because my personal life has pretty much gone to shit all at once over the weekend.
And it's all my fault.
Y'see, there is a certain way friends act. Friends are supportive, not overbearing. Friends don't force themselves onto others. Friends don't consider what is going on in their life, in their heart. A true friend only considers the needs of those they care about.
This is where I failed.
I have a friend. I have known this friend for years-- literally, her entire college career. We met, and for me at least, it was love at first sight. Our friendship was somewhat rocky from time to time, as I put her needs above my own consistently. This was not always a bad thing (more people, I think, should do this) but the few times I put myself first, it damaged our relationship spectacularly.
Regardless, though we had feelings for each other, we never got together. Our timing was off, or there were other people in the way, usually.
She eventually got married (a mistake by her own admission) on a whim. She had a son, and then her marriage began to fall apart. I had stayed away at first, still burying the pain her marriage had caused me. But, I recalled my duties as a friend, and when she fell, as she had before, I was there to pick her up. I carefully hid my feelings, both from myself and her, and thought that since they were hidden they were dealt with.
As her marriage began to end I started to feel these deep emotions bubbling to the surface. I knew that being in love with a married woman was wrong only if I acted on that love. So I hid it. Even when she was at her lowest point during the separation, I kept my mouth shut and only administered to her needs.
I finally confessed to her a little while ago that I loved her. And I learned, to my surprise, that she loved me too. She and I began tentatively reaching out to each other, and this is when I committed my greatest sin: I hoped. I actually began to believe that maybe, for what seemed like the first time in a long time, my life wasn't meant to be one of loneliness and dissatisfaction. That maybe, after watching so many of my friends embrace happiness, I too would be allowed my heart's desire.
I returned from Afghanistan, and things seemed to go well for the first month or so. Then, she got officially divorced. (*I know this is incriminating, and that my legalistic friends will point their fingers and scream "SINNER!!!!" My only response is, "Yeah, I am. And so are you. Realize that that covenant was broken the moment my friend's husband cheated on her. And once you've turned that over in your mind, you can promptly go to whatever Hell you choose.") Around this time, she started acting strangely. I didn't quite notice, and what I did notice I wrote off.
A brief aside: I am a Christian, and I value my relationship with Christ highly. But the final few months of my deployment to Afghanistan I backslid. HARD. I did not read my Bible, I didn't pray, I was embarrassed when people mentioned God. I used profanity without regard to the feelings of my fellow Christians. I became a practical alcoholic. God has been slowly working on me these past few weeks, and I can see visible improvement in my life. There is still much work to do, but He is making me- willingly-- into the man He wants me to be.
I began to harbor a fear-- irrational, I later learned-- that she and her ex-husband were getting back together. I acted like an idiot, and she refused to talk to me. About two weeks later, I saw her and we talked briefly. I learned what the deal was (they had suddenly gotten joint custody) and things seemed, after that conversation, to improve for about two days. She even said hello to me (!) two days later. I asked her if she needed some space, and she said yes.
I left town and gave her the space she asked. When I returned, things still hadn't seemed to improve. I went to her son's birthday party.( For those of you who don't know him, he is the cutest little kid in the whole wide world. And I fell in love with him too...) There was a moment when she and I were alone, and I asked if we could talk later. She practically exploded at me. She explained that the day we talked before, I had cornered her and trapped her (But, of course, I never grabbed her and locked her in bedrooms, like other people I could mention...) and that this was a wholly inappropriate place to bring this topic up. I asked her how could we bring it up in an appropriate place, if she wouldn't return my texts and calls. She said for me to give her two weeks. (Graduation Day.) Looking back, I realize that she never intended to talk to me, that she was simply buying time for her to get the hell out of Dodge, knowing that she would never have to see me again after graduation. I agreed to give her the time.
But alas, whereas a real friend would actually abide by the wishes of the one they cared about, I didn't. The Monday after the party, a friend that we both confided in told me that she admitted to him that she stopped loving me around the time she got her divorce. That Monday (April 27th) was the lowest spiritual point in my life. I was so completely broken. (On the plus side, Jesus found me that night.) I saw her later that week, and told her that I was going to give her a letter explaining my feelings on graduation. She wouldn't make eye contact with me. In neutral tones, she said that would be acceptable.
The next Monday was where I royally fucked up. I was doing my normal late night routine (namely, obsessing over this whole situation) when I saw that she was logged into Facebook.
I should've restrained myself. I should've stayed away. But I didn't and I was in SO MUCH PAIN. I told myself "She is my friend. She'll understand my problem. Despite all that is going on, we are still friends, right?" So I sent her a Facebook message, apologizing for bothering her, but also explaining that I was hurting and that she was the only person who could help with my pain.
And it was ignored. I continued to watch Facebook refresh itself, as she left comments and photos and took stupid little quizzes.
And I began to realize that the woman I had loved was dead, to be replaced by this person who looked like her, acted like her, and was her in every way, except for a deep apathy where I was concerned. I came to understand that she not only didn't love me, but she didn't even care about me as a human being. And I got angry. I picked up my phone and left a furious phone message.
And you know what? I slept, my first nightmare-free night in almost five weeks to that point.
But daylight made me regret what I had done, especially since I realized that I had failed as a friend. I had let my needs come before hers. So I anxiously awaited graduation day. I decided not to give her a letter, because that might make her feel cornered, like I was trying to force her to talk to me. I had decided to give her all the time she needed. Even after all of this, I still had hope.
I showed up at graduation early. I saw her, and tried to explain to her how I was sorry about my phone call on Monday, and that I was proud of her for accomplishing her goals in spite of everything, and that I was going to give her the space she wanted.
She cut me off, and told me that she DID NOT want to talk to me at all. I asked her if she would talk to me eventually, and she said "maybe". When she said that, I had the first moment of true clarity that I had had in weeks. I saw how everything had come to this point because I kept pushing. I had been so selfish, so stupid, that I had lost my best friend. All that we had been through, all the ups and downs that only seemed to make my love stronger, all of that had gotten to the point where I was not even worth a straight answer.
I stared into the gray, empty future. A future where I am alone at twenty-five, thirty, forty-five. A future where I come home to an empty house. I saw my future laying before me, bleak and sad.
And I said the only thing left to me. "I am sorry that things turned out this way," I said to my love as she got in her car and drove off.
I went home. For the first time in probably a decade, I lay on the ground like a little child and sobbed. I felt every inch of my failures, every inch of my pain. And there, curled up on the kitchen floor, Jesus came to me. He came to me and He held me and He let my grief run its course. I asked Him to watch over her, and to bless her in everything she does from now on. And I asked Him to give extra attention to her son, that he might grow up into the kind of Christian man God foresaw when He made him. And I also asked Him to give her good friends to replace me, friends that would succeed where I had failed.
I lost everything that mattered to me on Saturday, May 9th. But Christ found me again. So I suppose it is a net gain.
Life is full of loss and pain. Full of grief. But in those losses, there is a kind of victory. Because I know that I am reunited with my Savior; my Hero. And I also know that we who are in Christ have a joy that cannot be measured, cannot be taken away. "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God, and are called according to his purpose."
I know there will come a day when she and I see each other again. And we will stand in the shadow of Christ, and our eyes will meet. And we will see all the pain we have caused one another, and we will overcome that pain. And then, we will be friends again.
I look forward to that day.
"True Love never has a happy ending, because True Love never ends." - Alexander the Great