This isn’t the first time I’ve had a friendship broken but it’s certainly been a long time since I’ve had one that’s been built from years ago. And this friendship comes from the days of my childhood. Usually, in life, childhood friends tend to be the longest lasting friendships you’ll ever have in your life but common wisdom also says that “friends come and go” no matter how long the friendship has lasted. It’s really a shame because, well, that’s life.
To tell you a bit about my childhood friend, or rather my former childhood friend, he’s actually one of those friends who has been my emotional support back in the days when, like most kids who grew up in a really dysfunctional family or in my case, a broken one mired by the death of my parents, that sort of support is most needed growing up and going through puberty and adolescence. He was that guy. Not to say that I didn’t have other friends who shared that burden with me but he was the main one that has taken in most of it and be that affectionate brother I’ve never had.
Mind you, I do have my own set of blood-related brothers but because of how dysfunctional we became after our parent’s death, whatever previous bonds we had were torn asunder never to be fixed again in the same likeness or depth.
Getting back on track, in this friendship, it happened to have been the case that I broke friendship with him back in the days when I dated my first girlfriend who he had personally known long before I knew about her and I suspected for the longest that he had an unrequited love situation happen with her. He was the one that introduced me to her to begin with, which I found odd in hindsight of it all many years after the fact, but we were all more innocent back then. I certainly knew I was. At that point in time, I believe I had broken the friendship because he kept interfering and passing judgments on my romantic relationship with the gal I dated who he had mutually known for far longer and simply couldn’t accept that we were happy together, for however short a time it lasted. In hindsight, had I known that he had been playing devil’s advocate all along, putting land mines in my relationship with that gal along the way even as he played the “caring and loving friend who loves me like a brother,” I would have broken the friendship a lot sooner before this relationship with the gal in question crashed and burned. I only found out about it through her after the fact, many years after the relationship ended. But I forgave my childhood friend and never actually brought it to his attention. And he was the one that broke radio silence and stepped up to re-build the broken friendship that I had ended. Nevertheless, I kept that idea about him in the back of my mind that this is the sort of person he is when forced into a corner. That this is his most natural response to an unusual level of stress put upon him, much of which he created on his own without my input or say in it, might I add.
This has always been a part of his personality, actually, but I never really brought it up with him since it’s a sore spot for him and I, as a good friend, don’t want to inflict unnecessary suffering onto another, unless it’s totally unavoidable and necessary. And I knew it’s a sore spot for him because back in our childhood days, he reacted in the same likeness to an unusually stressful situation for him at the time and this was during our middle school days. At that age, I intuitively made a note in my mind and buried it deeply to remind myself that this is the sort of person he is and if he were to react that way again, I know not to get in the way. again because it’s not pretty if I did. For me, pain is a powerful motivator and for me to make a mental note to myself to remind myself of that is nothing short of pure genius. Who knew that this “mental note” that I buried deep within my mind, as a kid, would resurface again and again to serve a purpose many years after the fact when I was older and had the vocabulary and understanding to describe just that sort of thing I experienced with him as a kid but didn’t have the words to describe the phenomenon? I certainly have to pat my “kid self” in the back for that mental reminder because on the one hand, I want to believe in the good of humanity and I wanted to believe that my friend’s good nature will override our human tendencies to be selfish and self-interested but I guess, in hindsight and the other hand, I was giving him far too much credit. And that mental note that I made for my future adult self served to remind me that no matter what happens, no matter what “surface changes” may occur during the course of this friendship, he’ll always resort to his core self when forced into a corner.
I wanted to be proven wrong. I wanted it so badly to be proven wrong, especially for my childhood friend that I’ve known literally all of my life. But alas, human selfishness 1 vs human altruism 0. Fail. Just a major fail.
I accepted him for who he is and what he continues to be. As a friend of so many years under our respective belts, that’s what it means to be a good friend to each other. To accept each other’s flaws and protect each other from those same flaws. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of protecting while he did virtually none of it for me and my happiness. He, over the course of these recent years, pretty much dropped the ball consistently on that front. And each time I forgave him and hoped he would grow and mature out of whatever his silly phases were. But I’m sad to say that he never actually outgrew any of his childish tendencies. If anything, he had actually regressed from his high school self, which is sad but it is what it is.
And it’s not for lack of trying to help this guy either. In fact, in numerous points of his life, many friends, myself included, have tried to help this guy. When high school ended, one of our mutual friends applied to a community college and did all the grunt work of submitting transcripts for him and even registered the first two classes for him to continue his education. What did he do? He pretended and lied to us for 2 straight years that school was going good and he was about to get his associates soon. Meanwhile, the rest of us actually were studying hard in college, passing classes, and growing into the people we want to be while making new friendships and relationships with the opposite sex. Ultimately, his decision to lie to all of us broke two friendships right then and there. They were his friends long before I knew about them and I was only introduced to them at some point later in life. Meanwhile, I stayed behind and continued to be his friend after his two friends broke friendship with him and rightfully so. They had every right to be angry with him and had every right to end the friendship especially when the both of them were actually trying to help him. I mean, they both went out of their way to get him into college and offered to tutor him, which he never took. That’s real brotherhood right there and if he didn’t see that, he never really will. I knew that even back then but I stuck it out hoping he would outgrow whatever phase he was going through. Once again, he failed me over and over. And I forgave him over and over. There’s really only so much I can forgive and there’s really only so much I can do for him as a friend, to inspire him to be a better person, to encourage him to go find out what he wants out of life. After all that talk and all that encouragement, nothing came of it.
He literally just wandered through life aimlessly until someone from the city library took pity on him and offered him a part time job, which he had worked for over a decade now. Then when the opportunity came up, he had asked my other group of friends and I, if he can use us as job references for a bookstore he never worked at and with a group of people he never worked with so he get a full time position at the city, we all agreed to do it for the sake of friendship. And you know what? He got that promotion. He’s full time now with all the benefits of a city job. He’s set for life, provided he doesn’t mess up and even then, the city has a strong collective bargaining HR department, aka, a union to protect him from that too.
In hindsight of it all, I may as well have not tried at all but I gave it my all because I believed in our friendship and I believed in brotherhood, just as his former friends did, and well, now I know for sure that I cannot change someone who has no desire to change themselves. In fact, there was a period of time in our long friendship where I no longer intervened in how he lived his life and I hoped to dear God that he would learn on his own and grow as a person without me as a crutch. What actually happened, you ask? Well, he found himself another crutch. What a fail. What a major fail. And that other crutch just happened to have been another childhood friend of his from ages of yore, aka the Professor and his cousins. And I see history repeat itself with the Professor and the cousins that have welcomed him into their circle. They all try so hard to help him to no avail. They all encourage him to take up Muay Thai or some other sport, to go back to school, to fly to another country and gain new experiences. And all he does is disappoint them yet they have big enough hearts to keep forgiving him for his constant failures but I personally don’t see it lasting any longer than it did for me. And I allowed it to happen for the better part of the two decades that I’ve known him. You can call me stupid for that but maybe I’m just too forgiving on him, specifically, because I know how he is.
Anyway, in the back of my mind, I knew right then and there that he’s the sort that will never really change. Again, there may be “surface changes” but they never really affected his core personality. He’s just a selfish guy that needs to be saved by other people, all day, every day. And he will lie his way out of anything resembling responsibility for his own actions. His entitlement is off the charts and he honestly believes that the world owes him everything for all the “pain and suffering” that he endured in life in his early years. He also believes that the world is out to get him for all that he is worth because every time anything happens at his workplace, he is so certain that all his co-workers purposefully go out of their way every single day to be assholes to him while he, the damsel in distress, (and he’s not even a girl!), did no wrong that brought him the wrath of his co-workers. I mean, for that level of hatred to exist, it has to take an almost endless supply of energy and time to spend on doing it to him. I personally don’t know anyone (except my childhood friend) that would hold onto that level of hate and spend it everyday making his work environment a living hell. I don’t even know where he gets the idea that all of his co-workers would spend all that energy on him day after day hating on him. That is a ridiculous amount of hate. just saying.
Going back to this broken friendship, there was a time in his life when he was taking anti-depressant pills where he broke friendship with me when he acted crazy over a point I brought up about his former two friends that broke friendship with him. And that is that it is in their right, given how big a lie he made to them. And we didn’t speak to each other for a number of years and at some point, he stepped up again to re-build the friendship and let bygones be bygones. And then it happened again with my new group of friends at the time of my first job at the bookstore. It’s not so much that we stopped being friends but rather we stopped hanging out due to diverging interests. I liked to drink and after one drunken stupor of crazy-making that he caused to my group of friends one night, he stopped drinking because of it. As a result, we stopped drinking altogether. In fact, we also stopped going out to restaurants to eat together because he was on a special weight-training diet since he gave up drinking. That was my favorite past time with him. Besides eating and drinking, there was not much else that I enjoyed doing things with him as our interest in films and movies differ. I didn’t care about art, celebrity gossip, or general American news but he did. We used to have a shared interest in going to arcades to play videogames but not any longer. I continued to go to arcades while he pursued PC gaming, which was a past time I enjoyed in college but not any longer due to lack of time. We used to have a shared interest in Japanese anime and in the same genres but over time, his tastes gravitated towards mindless action while I grew a taste for the non-mainstream titles and other uncommon genres that no one would consider.
I suppose the point is that we no longer have shared interests and the friendship has ended numerous of times over stupid things. Really, the pettiest of things. Not even real issues worth crying over. One was over a girl, one was over whether his other two friends were right to end the friendship with him, one was over drinking, and in the very distant past, the friendship had ended over even more silly things like not liking the same things anymore. Many of those times, the friendship had been rebuilt again, on his taking the initiative to rebuild it. I don’t think there was ever a time where I had gone out of my way to rebuild the friendship because I thought it was worth saving. I continued to grow and evolve as a person long after high school ended while he, more or less, regressed as a person after high school. In fact, he hated me for the longest time for changing so much after high school like I did him a mortal wrongdoing by growing up. You know, things that everyone else does in the course of their lives?
To date, I’ve only gone out of my way once for a male friendship that I thought was worth saving and that was with a co-worker of mine and interestingly enough, over a girl he’s engaged to. I saw the error of my ways after much discussion with other people in similar situations where I was being the unreasonable one and as a result of that, changed my worldview, set a more realistic expectation of said friendship, if it can be rebuilt, and attempted to rebuild the friendship. It worked. Admittedly, for this friendship, it took me a long while to understand why I was being the unreasonable one (over 2 years) and it took talking to many different people, different age groups, young and old, coupled and non-coupled, from various bars, and other random places talking to strangers and old mentors to really fully understand and come to that final conclusion. I, unlike my former childhood friend, am open to reason and have the desire to understand and learn from the events that transpired rather than just apologizing prematurely but never actually taking the time to understand and learn from what had just happened and why it happened the way it did.
At this point, I personally think that all those times he took the initiative to apologize and rebuild the friendship was not out of brotherhood or a family bond, or a higher reason. You know, things worth crying over? But rather that he stands to lose more by breaking the friendship with me than if he just kowtows to me, which is just all wrong to start with, if that was his intention. Merely kowtowing to me and not taking the time to understand why I’m upset is one of the worse ways that he can do to disrespect me and this over 2 decade long friendship.
To take a side tangent for a moment, the funny thing is, during a conversation with him and my boss yesterday, my boss made the succinctly direct and, at least to me, plainly obvious observation about my childhood friend and how “big” he really thinks about what life is all about, which isn’t really big at all. In fact, it’s very myopic of a view of life. And that is the ‘good life’ is having a good paying job, a wife and kids, and house to live in. Not to say that this is an invalid path in life but it’s too typical. It’s like, “That’s it? That’s all you really want? You don’t want to start your own business? Or end world hunger? Or even create a better world, even if it only really benefits your inner circle of friends the most?” My boss said to him that he’s too short sighted and thinks too small, if that’s really all he wants in life. And I have to agree with my boss but this was never really a topic I ever brought to my childhood friend’s attention because again, this is a sore topic for him. He doesn’t give a shit about humanity at large.
And as much as I’ve tried to respect him as a person, there’s really not a whole lot about him that is worth respecting. From where I stand, I’m doing him a favor by forgiving him for essentially being human each and every time for his repeated failures over the same topics and issues and never actually learning from those failures. I stuck it out like a good friend would and I accepted him for who he is and despite repeated frustrations on my end, he is who he is and as long as he’s happy being that, who am I to say how he should live his life?
Alas, none of that matters now. He ended the friendship with me yesterday over a drunken stupor and over trying to sober up at a restaurant who messed up the order. His refusal to eat food spurred a whole argument about people and responsibility and since we were on the topic, I decided to bring up how he should take more responsibility in life like that incident two weeks back when I had gotten really drunk and caused a scene, mind you, not at a bar or with anyone in particular except him at an empty parking lot with no one around, thus, no one for him to feel embarrassed. And he responded that he did by paying for a new pair of glasses and I told him that this isn’t being responsible. Being responsible is about taking a proactive approach to anticipating shit that may go down and preventing it from happening in the first place and I gave him numerous examples where my other group of friends did just that for me. When my other friends knew that I was far gone and no longer my usual self, they instinctively knew that it was time to remove me from the scene to prevent further damage or stupid shit from happening. And I told him that him taking the responsibility of paying for my glasses after shit went down is only a small part of being responsible and that it’s the equivalent of allowing your friend to get beat up by a bunch of gang bangers while he stood in the sidelines and watched it all go down. And then only later after the gang bangers left did he step in and offer to help pay for my medical bills because he was too chicken shit to step in and help me get out of a bad situation. He honestly thinks that since he’s paying for my new pair of glasses that all the pain is resolved now and that I shouldn’t continue to remain angry with him over the incident. That, my dear readers, is some serious childish thinking right there. Seriously.
That’s about all I want to say about this former childhood friend. And I’d like to close this chapter of my life for good. But if he were to come back a few years later and offer to let bygones be bygones, honestly, I’d be hard pressed to allow him back into my life. He doesn’t really add much to my life anymore and we no longer like the same things either. Most times, I prefer to do my own thing on my own and not have to worry about taking care of this guy and making sure he’s happy. It’s like I’m taking care of a child whenever I’m with him and I ain’t got no time to do that. I just want to go out and drink, chill, blow some steam, and have a good time without having to expend the energy to take care of a child while I’m at it. He’s really the only one in all my group of friends who doesn’t really act like an adult. And it’s sad. And I’ve told him numerous of times that he’s an obnoxious asshole when he’s really shitfaced drunk but I tell him that I let it go because it’s the weekend and hey, we’re friends. Yet, it never really occurs to him what a burden it is to me every time I drive his monkey ass out to drink with me and then have to drive his monkey ass to go sober up while he creates a scene every single time without fail and then I drive his ass back home. It’s like, “Hey dude, I know I said it’s whatevers but seriously, think about it. Don’t be a douche” yet none of this actually goes through his head. He just thinks “Oh, my buddy told me it’s whatevers so I’m not going to worry about it. Period.” Uhhh…,normal adults don’t interpret it like that. Normal adults will think “Oh, I guess next time I’ll be a bit more responsible about it and not be a douche to the person who’s driving me to go drink, eat, and have a good time.”
Anywho, until next time, my dear readers~