Around Thanksgiving, Michelle terminated our friendship.
As I was preparing for Departure on December 17th, I heard from her. Saying that nothing between us would change, she offered to visit my campsite for another goodbye. I asked her to confirm whether, by “nothing could change,” she meant that we would continue to not be friends, and to not have contact with each other. She confirmed. My reply:
If we are to continue not being friends, Michelle, then I’m going to pass on seeing you. I also miss your companionship greatly, so tonight would only be a reminder of the place I am no longer welcome.
I want you to know, Michelle, that I love you deeply. I always will. And, as I’ve said previously, things you’ve done or haven’t done don’t have any effect on that truth. It isn’t something about which I have a choice. It just is.
You made me promise things on many occasions related to never abandoning Stephen or you… or leaving you hung out to dry… or whatever way it was phrased on a given occasion. That, whatever became of us as a couple, you would always have my friendship.
Asking someone to promise those things comes with an implied commitment to the same on your behalf. I never fathomed that, having made my solemn commitments to you, you would one day walk away from the side of those commitments that were yours to honor. The pain of discovering that I was wrong is equal to or surpasses any pain I’ve experienced in my life.
A word about what I gave. Not to remind you… I beg you not to take it that way… but to give you some understanding of where my heart is. For many years, I failed to live up to so much of what ideals I set for myself. Getting sober and getting treatment for my ADHD offered me a chance to do better.
While it was easy to be so giving as your partner, it became less so as our relationship was strained. Continuing to honor the commitments I’d made, and continuing to give fully and selflessly to you… and to Stephen… I was realizing myself as the person I always envisioned myself to be. I was doing the thing I knew with complete certainty was right, and I was deserving of a place in what I always understood to be the “good world.” That good world, as I believed it to be and difficult as it often was… made sense to me.
Having found that place… a place where I seemed to belong and where good made sense… well, my belief in all of that was shattered when you severed our friendship. I’ll survive; I don’t think I’ll ever be that person or believe in that world again.
I believed so strongly that you make and honor commitments… that you are loyal to those you love… that, while the world around us might fall apart… that those to whom you give these things will stand by you in kind.
I was wrong, and I set off now as a man without conviction about much of anything. I have a vague notion that I might find something new to believe in… but just as much conviction that the cynics and mercenaries are the true inheritors of good things in this world. I don’t have any real hope of finding much good, except maybe a career writing about all of it.
I leave now more because I can’t bear to be here any more than because of anything I hope to discover trapsing around in the wilderness.
I hope you will change your mind about my friendship one day, Michelle. If you ever do, I won’t turn you away. I hope I’ll still be someone you would want as a friend at that point.