As of this writing, I’m 53 years old. My health is suspect, although I do the things for myself I need to in order to stave off utter decrepitude. I’m single…well, never married. Never relationshipped, to be perfectly honest, not even that of the overnight variety. I have lived, lost…no, not lost. Generally, I’ve driven others away as a consequence of erratic emotional stability. For 10+ years, until last year in fact, I was the full-time, live-in caregiver for my parents. This ceased last year, on July 17, when my mother succumbed to triple hit diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, with spinal cord involvement. By that time, I had finally recognized that my denial of my mental health issues (primarily, bipolar II, which a doctor long ago had very much believed was an appropriate diagnosis, a diagnosis which scared me) was impeding my ability to just survive. And my mom’s death aside, I was handling matters reasonably well, certainly better than I had in the past. After a decade of caregiving isolation (no time for friends, and no volunteers for the job, when your 24/7 job is toileting your father or accompanying your mother on a hospital trip), I had found friends.
Which is where this goes south. I don’t want to go into excessive detail here, but I need to include some. One of my close friends lost one of her puppy dogs to a rare disease that came seemingly out of nowhere. This friend had stood steadfastly beside me during my mom’s final struggle. I wanted to do the same, so I arranged for several of our co-workers and friends to sign an e-card of condolence. When she received it, she thanked everyone, but cold-shouldered me for two days before letting me know that she entirely disapproved of me telling anyone, that I had a habit of blabbing her business, and it made her not want to tell me things anymore.
It hit me hard. My emotions went into immediate overdrive. As I look back on it now, her message wasn’t overtly angry, but all I could feel was her (imagined?) anger and vitriol, even through the apparent lack of these. I understood, intellectually, the legitimacy of her argument. But all I could feel was her (supposed?) anger. It triggered an emotional reaction to a couple of incidents.
One of these took place two weeks prior. A discussion was happening amongst our co-workers regarding the poor decisions chronic drug use can induce. I mentioned that my brother had died going on 17 years prior as a result of flesh-eating bacteria contracted from a needle salvaged from the dirt. Her response was to say “What a doofus.” This really hurt at the time, but I controlled my reaction. I wanted to be able to discuss it calmly, when the sting had worn off. The second of these was the same day as her missive on my actions. Another co-worker brought in snacks, and as she grabbed one, she said that she end up getting diabetes from eating them. I’m diabetic. I’m embarrassed by that. She knows that.
Even so, I don’t believe that she meant anything bad by either of those. But, in my anger, I used these as a loaded weapon as I responded to her message. Naturally, that angered her. She accused me of harboring a laundry list of grievances, which wasn’t and isn’t the case. I told her that I didn’t believe she meant ill, but that intent isn’t magic. She called my complaints weak and meritless, that I had no reason to be upset because she clearly didn’t mean ill. Intent was still not magic. At this point in time, I was starting to feel overwhelmed with everything, and I did something I’ve done in the past when feeling overwhelmed emotionally: I cut off modes of contact with the outside world, like deleting my Discord contacts (this was our primary mode of communication when not hanging out together.) This angered her further. She accused me of thinking she was a horrible person. She sarcastically apologized for what she’d said (I say sarcastically because she apologized for those two, followed immediately by an apology for attempting to set reasonable boundaries between us. So yeah, sarcastic.) And told me to “have a good life.” The ultimate sarcasm, in that I have no doubt that our friendship is permanently severed.
And this is killing me. For, while I don’t see her actions as blameless, she had made of me a reasonable request, and my reflexive emotional reaction precipitated the progression of events which severed our friendship. Worse, my reaction was of a nature that was like she experienced with her boyfriend, and which she had told him was a pattern that, in continuing, would lead to their breakup. So, basically, I reacted precisely in a way that would be especially triggering. She was insensitive: I was a fucking asshole. And, once again, I’ve lost a friend due to my actions. This isn’t my first rodeo, and certainly not the first time this particular horse had bucked me from its back.
So, I hurt her: check. I hurt myself: check. I repeated behavior that I have spent a long time addressing via therapy, and one that I’d thought I had better reactions to. And this just hurts. I’m tired. I’m really tired, and tired of setting myself back, and tired of hurting others, especially those that have never done anything to me.