Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dear “Friend”,

About seven months ago, we got into an argument. You said that there were times when you felt that we were so close, almost like brother and sister and all you wanted was to keep that up. But then there were other times when you felt we were distant, tense and too uncommunicative. If you remember correctly, I said that friendships can be like pendulums, swinging very far in one direction and then turning around to swing in the opposite direction. I told you that we may live our whole lives with our friendship in a constant state of motion, but not to worry I will still be at the end of the string.

I am sad to say that I fear the pendulum has swung too far, the string pulled too taut. When you picked up and left three and a half weeks ago without saying good bye to me, your other “friends” or even your boss, I said, “enough”. What was basically a flippant “Dear John” letter to your coworkers was a slap in the face after being there for you through thick and thin for four years. I have listened to you and offered you valuable advice regarding issues both professional and personal. I knew you were at a crossroads in your life, but I expected more of you than to simply cut and run. Maybe you thought your friends would talk you out of it. Maybe you thought we would be disappointed in your ultimate decision. I can’t imagine being more disappointed than I am now- that you didn’t have the decency to at least give me five minutes of your time to say good bye, and good luck.

And you know what? Even when you left I expected more. I expected an apology, an explanation. I expected you to tell us what was so bad that you couldn’t turn to us. Instead I got a message from you on my answering machine at 6:00 in the morning saying your car broke down at the Florida border. I say: good. I say that Karma or the Collective Conscious or God(ess)/Allah/Buddha/Ying & Yang or whatever form of higher power you believe in is punishing you for running away from your problems.

Then, today’s email. I know I should be glad that “[h]ealing discussions in rural Oklahoma and the high country of Northern Arizona have been undertaken...” and that “[a]fter many, many hours of introspection and emotional/cognitive struggle” you have chosen to teach inner-city underrepresented minority children. Really, that’s a noble choice. But the selfish part of me wonders why you needed to run away from us to do your “soul-searching and reflection”.

I am coming to terms with never knowing the answer.

Wishing you success in hopes of achieving a stronger scientific community.

Natalie

13 comments:

lefty_grrrl said...

Oh boy. Can you say 'bipolar'? Cut the string - only meds and therapy are gonna help this person make lasting relationships.

dancingo4 said...

I don't know the details of this relationship but I agree with lefty_grrrl. Cut the string and let this person step out of your life. You have so many more positive people in your life. I think you can use this post as "closure"

magnetbabe said...

Until today I had never really considered this person to be emotionally unstable (besides generally being a committment phobe). But I'm starting to think that maybe intense therapy is what he needs, though I seriously doubt he will reach out for help.

I intended this post to be closure for me because I can no longer expend energy being so angry at him for thinking so little of his friends, not to mention his advisor of 6 years. I had been perfectly willing to help at the time leading up to when he left. I didn't mean to imply that I knew nothing about the problem. To the contrary, I was deeply involved with it and did all I could until it reached a head.

When he decided to run away from it rather than step up and be accountable, he forfeited my support. I had to say: Not. My. Problem. And I certainly can't chase him around the country. Writing this let me figuratively throw my hands up.

By the way- thanks, ladies for agreeing with me. When I wrote this I was worried that without knowing the whole sordid story my readers may accuse me of emotionally doing what he literally did.

DearOldDad said...

There are more than a few people that I literally spent decades doing what I could to retain some fragment of a relationship. One day, (while I was experiencing the disintegration of a 45 year friendship), I thought: why am I doing this? Everyone with skin in the game has matured and changed; and maybe I’ve changed – I happen to believe that this is something people should do - Anyway, I made a conscious decision to cut the whole lot of them loose and you know what? I wish I’d have done it decades earlier.

greensunflower said...

You know when I got REALLY depressed all my friends hung on when it wasnt too bad, but after the 2nd suicide attmept all left except one. They said I was a selfish beast for doing so. If only they could have understood the horrible desperation I felt at the immense pain, which was tearing my mind apart. I think if they had stopped to consider that angle (as my husband does) they would not have left. Today that one friend that stayed through it all is so close to me. I trust them enough now to call when I am suicidal and things are falling apart. And I am the most awesome friend possible to them. I guess when you first make a radical change, you dont tell anyone because you dont know who you can trust, but after you have done it a couple times, you know the ones who stayed are the ones you can trust.

Scott said...

I like what your dad had to say on this. It hurts. Really. Bad. To leave friendships behind. I lost the golden era of my life when I cut loose all my friends because they didn't support me in my break with one of the group. It hurts still today, but less and less all the time. Sometimes status quo doesn't work any more. Maybe there is no blame here at all. Maybe your friend just had to go for reasons he can't explain or understand. But people do change, needs change, and as sad as it may be to everyone involved, it is probably for the best.

magnetbabe said...

greensunflower~
I will address you first because I read your comment and then thought about it in the shower. I am grateful for the perspective you bring to this discussion. What I think you are not addressing is that not everyone is as good of a friend as you can be. I thought about your story and wondered if I was being too harsh. Ultimately, I don't think so. You see, what prompted me to react to this situation the way I did was that I don't think he was that great of a friend for the four years I've known him. He was fun, hilarious, adventurous and we had a lot of interests in common. Unfortunately he could also be untrustworthy, spineless and undependable. We were very close, but I always had to keep these things in mind.

Another friend of mine suffered tremendously from emotional problems and was hospitalized on two occasions. No matter how he behaved I knew it was his illness, not him so I stuck by him. For that, I was rewarded with a (sometimes brutally) honest, loyal friend who even changed the way I saw the world.
Thanks for your thoughts.

dearolddad and scott~
I know my dad and I have talked about this before as it pertains to other relationships. Things get sticky when your closest friends are also your coworkers. When I compared us to brother and sister, it wasn't always a good thing. We were forced to spend 8+ hours a day together in a confined space- there's no way I could have ended my friendship with him sooner, even if I had wanted to. I think ultimately it is a good lesson to learn that we don't always know the motivations of people no matter how well we think we know the person. And I know it will get easier. Unfortuantely right now the work aspect sucks because while I am trying to deal with a friendship ending, Dr. Hari is having a shitfit about the situation (as he should).

Jackie said...

Sorry that your "friend" ended up like this.

Also, I noticed the new link on your blog, I loved the About section. Very cool!

lefty_grrrl said...

I just had to walk away from a friendship, too. She's harming herself (physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, etc.) and I cannot condone it. She knows where to go to get help; she just doesn't want to do the work to get better. What kind of friend stands by idly and watches someone hurt themselves? Is that love? Accepting that behavior? Saying it's okay? That's not love for me. That's complacency.

So, I think that washing your hands of this is the best thing. It's the mature thing. It's what is best for you, and in the end, also them.

Hot4Teacha said...

I'm proud of you for finding a way to emotionally let go of this person and relinquish the negativity that might otherwise fester. Sometimes, the string needs cutting, and while you may be ultra-aware of its absence for awhile, eventually it will hardly even chafe. To reference, may I just say - Josh Oxendale?

Also, congrats to you & Willie. I'm so happy for your upcoming nuptials.

magnetbabe said...

Well, I am reminded by lefty and hot4teacha that deciding when to say "enough is enough" seems to be part of the human condition. I hope we all have to do it as infrequently as possible.

Thanks, Jackie. I think I'll explain about it in my next post.

brainhell said...

Yin & yang

magnetbabe said...

Damn. I noticed my typo yesterday and thought no one would nab me on it.