Friday, October 23, 2009

"Friends are like church. . . ."

It was nine o’clock, and I had not heard from him. I was concerned, but didn’t want to be pushy or annoying. But he had called me at 4:30, on his way to a stranger’s house that was located in a questionable part of town. He was supposed to call me after his date. I decided to text him, “Do I need to send a search and rescue?”. No response.

After 10 o’clock, I began to get very nervous. I was supposed to text Michelle the moment I heard from him, and she would text Traci. So, I texted her, “I haven’t heard from Randall. I texted and messaged him.” She tried calling him, with no answer either.

With that, we devised the plan: I would drive to Randall’s house and see if he is home. If not, I would drive to the general location of this stranger’s home and look for Randall’s car or his body. I would give Michelle updates, and I would not get out of the car in a bad area without calling her first and staying on the phone.

As I drove, my mind milled over the possible outcomes. He could be in bed asleep. He could be at the man’s house having a grand time. Or my worst fear, he could be lying on the side of the road, injured or worse. There had been a gay bashing in Tulsa just a few days before. Randall is a strong man, a healthy man, and an energetic man. But he is also gay. He had taken a risk by meeting a stranger at his home, instead of a public place. He normally has his phone handy and checks it periodically. He normally tells me what’s going on. This . . . .was not . . . .normal. I had already planned for the worst—call 911, call Michelle, call Randall’s daughter. . . .

I know that people assume a man can take care of himself, but ask that young man who had been beaten, bitten, and stabbed, and you realize the world is a scary place. Three people ganged up on him. Prejudices abound, and ignorant people do cruel things. Get more than one attacker together, and most men would not stand a chance alone.

I drove Randall’s house, and his car was there. It was 11 o’clock and his house seemed very quiet. I rang the doorbell. . . . . .no answer. So, I rang it again, determined to beat the door down if necessary. If he’s home, he’ll probably be in bed and surely be pissed that I’ve disturbed him. But I needed peace of mind.

“Kristi! What are you doing here?”, he asked as he opened the door, smiling broadly.

“Randall! I’m making sure you are alive! We are worried about you!!”

He laughed. “I’m fine. I left that man’s house a long time ago. He was an ass and I wasn’t comfortable so I left.”

Randall had quickly changed focus after leaving his date, and become pre-occupied with other things. He forgot about calling, and his phone was in another room.

“I’m so sorry! I feel bad you drove all the way out here! That is SO sweet!” He said.
‘I don’t mind, as long as I know you are alive and well!” I replied, relieved.

We hugged several times and upon leaving I called Michelle. She then called Traci.

The next day, Randall told me, “That meant more to me than you will ever know. I don’t know if that’s what you guys normally do as friends, but I’ve never had any friend or family member do that for me. You know, people go to church in hopes of making friends. You go every week, shake hands, and make shallow friendships. But I did that for years and never made close friends. After church, everyone goes home to their real lives. Being around you guys is better than church. When I leave you, I feel like I’ve been to church. I’ve never had friends like you.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Losing a Friend

I had to let a friend go a few weeks ago. I created a boundary and distanced myself from someone who meant a lot to me. But his erratic behavior, negativity, and antagonizing actions were overwhelming. It was a sudden change from the person I had known.

It began with some bizarre purchases he made. He was already in financial ruin. Just when he realized the effect of his purchases, he quit his job. He became embarrassing in public, with random comments and overly zealous behavior. It’s as if his filter was removed, and it was a free for all as he said anything that came to mind, including “jokingly” discussing his desire for drugs, and his previous days as a dealer. In a bar, drunk, he gave me a “message from God’ that made no sense at all. When he wanted to buy my meal and I refused, he told me that I don’t have faith in him or God. God was going to take care of him. For some reason, that really hit a nerve, maybe because of my own relationship with God. Not only did it seem surreal to have him give a false prophecy, but it hurt that he questioned my faith in God or him. His understanding of God at that moment was very flawed. The truth is, we create our own hell much of the time, and we want God to save us from it. God doesn’t always clean up our messes, and when he doesn’t are we going to resent him?

I finally decided that he was on drugs. I do not use drugs, nor do I want them around me. I talked to him about it one night, and he denied using anything in months, which I knew was a lie. He expressed his anger at the world for dealing him a crappy hand, his resentment toward the young gay community for having it easier than he had when he came out, and his unwillingness to let go of bitterness. It’s his right to be angry, he said. I tried to tell him that holding onto that anger will eat him alive, and he should be happy that young gays have it easier than he did. But he kept talking over me. I finally told him that I do not share his anger, nor do I want to be around it. I wasn’t ending our friendship, but drawing a boundary with him.

I am a recovering codependent. Finding myself in friendships like this are dangerous. I will attempt to fix him. I will worry over his problems as much as my own. I will do whatever to appease him, so he will be happy. I will make myself his source of happiness, which is unhealthy. Recognizing my own tendencies, I drew a boundary.

His response was to for me to have a good life.

I tried to relay the story to a coworker who is a Christian, and her response was, “Maybe he needs a friend now more than ever before!” I understand her religious thinking, as if I could help “save” him by loving him the way Jesus loves us. I felt a tinge of guilt, followed by frustration that she doesn’t see the big picture. You cannot help someone who doesn’t want help.

So I had a good cry and I let go of the friend. I think of him daily. But I believe one day our friendship will return. I hope so.