|I’m a cofounder of The Scintilla Project, along with the beautiful and talented Kim and Onyi. We believe that your stories make you who you are and we’re asking you to share yours. Interested? Learn more at scintillaproject.com and find us on twitter @ScintillaHQ.|
prompt: sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. write about teaching someone a lesson you did not want to teach.
this is not a story where you’ll be able to clearly delineate the cruelties and the kindnesses. don’t expect that.
i’ve written about him before.
we lived a thousand miles apart and spent hours a day on the phone. we had a schedule – i knew exactly when his breaks were and he knew mine and we rang then. he considered moving here and i considered moving there, but despite fantasies, it never happened. i don’t use the term best friend anymore, because nothing comes close to the ways we chained ourselves together.
we weren’t in love. at least, we told ourselves we weren’t. after we crossed a line and crossed it again, this is when the house of cards began to fall, in slow motion.
he told me i was a tease, i didn’t care, i abandoned him. we told each other to grow up, in hateful tones. in one breath i would tease him about being secretly in love with me and in the next i would tell him about how i spent the night with someone. i would question his devotion to me, to our friendship, when he told me he didn’t want to hear these things.
for people who loved each other so much, we were horrific.
we said i love you all the time, but never in that way. we never sat down and said, this is what we’re doing, and this is why, or this is what we’re NOT doing, and why. we let silence speak and we made assumptions and we were so fucking wrong, all of the time. maybe if we had really communicated, instead of hurled accusations, maybe…but i don’t let myself really think of maybe. my heart will collapse on itself if i even consider that path. there is no maybe. what’s done is done. black and white is much, much easier.
the last thing he said to me was something about calling him when i could get my head out of a guy’s ass. it was when i first started dating the bouncer, and i was asked to lie every time i saw him. you would think i’d remember his final words to me, but i don’t, because it was routine at that point. and so, i let it sit. we needed a break, i reasoned with myself.
it sat for a few weeks before i reached out. he never answered. three quarters of a year later, i sent a handwritten letter for his birthday. i wished him well. i told him how much i missed his friendship and that i was here, but that i was also happy to see his life growing, getting better. he seemed to be emerging out into the world, something he’d never done when yoked to me. he was dating, and back in school. i was proud, really, truly. i was devastated that it took the loss of me, the absence of my presence, to set him free.
i say to myself that after the spectacular fire we made of ourselves, at least we have grown. i say, though i can’t know for sure, that he is better off without me, and i don’t say this for pity. he stayed withdrawn as long as i was there. i was a safety harness that maybe choked him sometimes. i never meant to sever us the way i did, but i also never imagined that this would be the requirement for his happiness.
i will never know if these are only the pale compromises we give ourselves to be free of the weight of loss, or if they are the truth.
15 thoughts on “#scintilla13: pale compromises.”
Ugh. Beautiful and heart wrenching. Ugh. No words. Well done.
Yes – beautiful and heartwrenching indeed. It makes me think about how certain people are only in our lives for a short period of time -like flashes of light and then they move on…and so do we – but we never forget.
Hurts to read in the way only honesty and truth can. Well done.
This post reminds me of many things but mostly of why when first read you in 2010, I was pretty convinced I would coerce you into being my friend 😉 These words pack a punch and fuck, deliver it right to the gut. I’d like to say that he is worse off without you because hello? It is you.
This reminds me of who closeness and distance between to people sometimes are so close together.
this is a song to all those people that are beautiful tragedies together, simultaneously creating and destroying…to intense to be in the same room.
so painfully beautiful and achingly familiar
This is so beautiful but so sad. It’s something I can definitely relate to. It’s sad being the person that lost another because they were branching out, or because time just distanced two people, but it’s nice to have it to look back on and to remember the good times. He was brought into your life for a reason and he left for one, too.
Whew. Yeah. Can I coerce you to be my friend? I have pizza!
I have no words for how deeply this resonates within me… or for the excuses I have concocted to ease my conscious when I cut someone off in much the same way. Perhaps I should reach out because, unlike you, I never made the attempt. Bravo to you for making that effort and bravo to you for sharing!
That last paragraph. About maybe being a safety harness, about what happened when you set him free. Straight to the core. I could feel it.
I love you and cannot imagine anyone in their right mind resisting the call of your friendship. What struck me most about this is not the ending but the symbiosis where you both brought out the ugly in each other, because I know that can skew the way you see everyone else that is just an ordinary friend without the hit of bile and intensity. I’m glad you came out of it the way you did, even if you aren’t unscathed, because this is one of those stronger-in-the-scarred-places situations.
And I say it again, I love you, because I do.
whew. powerful, honest words. and i agree with kim about the stronger-in-the-scarred-places feeling. that’s what ends up resonating most from this post.