“What are you talking about?” comes a voice from outside my head.
My gaze shifts to the psychologist sitting near me. “Huh?”
“You were mumbling about not knowing what to do.”
“Oh…” I groan. “Guess I was thinking out loud. You could hear that?”
“I’m five feet away.”
Yeah…right. I’m back on my shrink’s couch. But distance doesn’t mean anything to me anymore. Physical, emotional…people can sting me without being close in any way.
“You want to start over?” asks my nice therapist.
I straighten out, staring at the ceiling. It’s got a crack across one corner, which is an appropriate symbol for the way I feel right now.
I clear my throat and begin. “I had a falling out with two best friends. They were married and had moved away four years ago when my wife Dana was still alive. Those friends kept in touch, when they felt like it, which is why the break-up happened again. Our connection expanded and compressed in cycles. They loved us, told Dana and me that, we’d all get together, have fun, and then they’d get involved in personal stuff and we wouldn’t hear from them for months. Once, a whole year passed.”
“That’s not uncommon, Irv.”
“I know that. But with them, it was supposed to be special. Yet it’s on-again, off-again – call me back, not call me back. I wouldn’t mind the ‘off part’ if it would just stay that way. But when we’re on-again, they make me happy. And when they skip back into their “busy” cycle and I’m out of their world, they make me sad.”
“Have you talked to them about it?”
“Of course. A few years ago, right in the middle of their ‘we’re-all-so-close-and-loving’ phase, they again suddenly stopped returning my calls and emails, both of them. On my fifth try, this time to the wife, I wrote that whatever relationship they thought they had with me, was definitely not happening, and that I had re-evaluated the friendship. On a scale of one-to-ten, I marked it down to a three.”
“How did they respond to that?”
“You won’t believe it. The wife wrote back telling me I was delusional and that they loved me and thought about me all the time and that I was building negative stories in my head and projecting unmotivated resentment onto our friendship and that I needed a deep soul searching.”
I turn to my psychologist, expecting consolation. What I get is a automated nod. So I add… “I went ballistic. Rage exploded like a volcano.”
Now she looks up, asking, “You think you over reacted?”
“I didn’t react ENOUGH. These two people had graduated from Shaman school, got some accreditation in ‘Light Healing.’ Got Shaman Bar Mitzvahs too, at the top of Machu Picchu or some mountain in Peru. I was even a test subject for her studies. She needed a volunteer to practice her shake rattle and roll. So we had two sessions at my house and something inside me opened and I gushed tears and pain for two hours. And again she said that she loved me and that I deserved to be loved and she really made a positive difference in my life…until she got busy and I turned into a thought in her head.”
“No returned calls?”
“Nope. So like, maybe she and her husband scored A’s in incense cleansing but they flunked sensitivity class. I mean, these people were going to open a spiritual center in Tennessee but they couldn’t return my freakin’ phone calls! This is common in business but friends respond to friends! That’s what makes them friends!”
“You’re angry even now.”
“You bet! Because they’re forcing me again to sing a phony Kumbaya! After our second falling out, the wife eventually acknowledged she just might be a tad self-centered, but her husband? Never heard a word from him. And then, after two years I get their email announcing that they’re coming to town and they invited themselves to my house so we could all catch up!”
“Geezz!” I shriek. “I’m tryin’ to forget’em!”
She writes a note, asking, “What is your heart telling you to do?”
“Keep my heart out of this. This needs to be rational. And rationally, I don’t want to see them again. But I don’t want to hurt’em either. That’s gonna happen if I tell them the truth.”
“You can’t assume their reactions, Irv. They are not you. They could very well be oblivious to your thinking and even if they weren’t, they might not be investing as much drama in it as you are.”
“Obviously not. But still, I don’t want to pretend I’m feeling comfortable about any of this. I don’t want to lie to them.”
“No one is asking you to.”
“No. But the alternative is hors d’oeuvres and a bummer faceoff.”
“Look, Irv. The basic question is this: Do you value their friendship enough to salvage it?”
“I haven’t decided.”
“Or are you seeking revenge even though you say you’re not?”
“You mean, by rejecting them like those assholes rejected me? Never crossed my mind.”
“Seriously. Is there some part of you that’s happy about your message? That you won’t see them again?”
“You’re pushing me into the heart thing.”
“ARE you seeking revenge? You have to ask yourself that.”
I ask. The answer come fast. “Okay, maybe I am. A little. But it still doesn’t change the game. They’ve kicked me around and it hurts. I refuse to be their ball anymore, especially after Dana died.”
“Okay. So you tell them goodbye forever. How does that make you feel?”
“Lousy. I wished they had left my door open without ever asking to come in. But they did ask and now I have to tell them I don’t want their company.”
I sigh. I hate disappointing people and I resent the ones who force me to do it to them. Again I mumble. “I hate hurting feelings.”
“Sometimes it’s unavoidable,” she replies.
I shake my head. “I don’t want to be cruel. But I won’t lie! AND NOW I HAVE TO WRITE THAT DAMN HONEST EMAIL!!”
“And feel guilty about it?”
“EXACTLY! They’re making me do it!”
“You don’t think they deserve your rejection?”
“Nobody deserves rejection.”
“Then I’d be lying about how I feel about them. I HATE THEM!”
“Because they hurt you.”
“Three, four times!”
“And now they want your friendship back and you’re not going to give it them.”
“Then take responsibility for that, Irv. Be honest with them and say your goodbyes. Tell them how you feel but avoid punishing words. And then wish them well.”
“Wish them well?”
“Yes. Honor the friendship you one all had. Do not diminish what was.”
I sigh again. She’s right. I guess what all this boils down to, is that I just don’t feel comfortable with these people anymore. I don’t trust them. Wish I did but I don’t. So I have to be kind about our final, once-and-for-all break-up. And I will.
But you know something? I’ll miss them. I already do.
Originally published on Curiosityquills.com.