A boyfriend of mine once told me that if you want to make something official, or at least have indisputable proof that you wrote it on a certain date, then mail it to yourself. The USPO is a government institution and when it stamps the date on a parcel, it is proof positive of that very moment in time.
The boyfriend who told me this did not stay my boyfriend. He became my friend. We have been a part of each other’s lives for 10 years this October (we dated for two of those years in the beginning). Our friendship has certainly had its naysayers claiming that we can’t really just be friends and surely we’ll end up together. I try not to waste energy fighting those people because they’ve already made up their minds’ and are happy to inflict a Hollywood ending on my story. I know better. We’re friends, and all of my very close friends know and accept this. I’ve stood by and watched him date both casually and seriously. He’s been my sounding board for boys, and I’ve been his for girls. Never at any point has either one of us suggested to the other that we give romance another go. At some point over the last decade we became brother and sister. Much to my dismay, this is about to change.
He is now seriously involved with a woman who does not approve of our friendship. I didn’t realize how serious her distaste for me was until the end of last year when he confessed to having told me many lies because he wanted me to like her. He was lying to me to protect me, which I can appreciate, but it hurts no matter what when your best friend lies. He continues assuring me that they’ve worked it all out and our friendship will be fine. Except it’s not. We are hardly in touch. He’ll tell me he’ll call me so we can catch up and then he doesn’t (normally that’s not something that would bother me too much, but under these circumstances I am looking for evidence that everything will be fine.) When I try to tell him that his lack of communication hurts me, he says, “I don’t need this. I don’t need this.” (All I can hear is “I don’t need you. I don’t need you.”) He’s saying he doesn’t need to fight about the situation with his girlfriend and then turn around and fight with me about it. I don’t want to fight either, but I need to be able to tell him that he’s hurting me and have him care. If a friend doesn’t care that you’re hurt can they be called a friend any more? He would care if my heart were broken or if my father were in the hospital, but when he’s the source of the pain he doesn’t want to deal with it.
I suggested to him that he take six months away from me and reassess whether I mean anything to him or not. He got very angry at me saying if I walk away then he looks like a fool (and I subsequently look like a fool) for defending our friendship to such an extreme degree to his girlfriend. Unfortunately, he’s right. This reminds me of an Edgar Allan Poe story called “The Oval Portrait.” It’s about a man who is painting a portrait of a woman. He becomes so obsessed with the painting itself that he stops paying attention to the woman he’s painting (she is in extreme discomfort). When he’s finished, the painting is beautiful, and the woman is dead. He’s working so hard to defend our friendship that he’s not taking any time to actually be my friend. This hurts. It also pretty much ensures that the situation becomes a self-fulling prophecy. I know things have to change when your friends are involved in a relationship. I can accommodate change. I can’t be ignored.
I can’t explain this to him (as he’ll get annoyed and angry with me), and I can’t walk away. All I can do is stand here and wait for the inevitable to happen. In the meantime, however, I’m going to take his advice. I’m going to write him a letter and delineate my hurt over what’s going on, my gratefulness for ten years of knowing him, and my understanding that the end is now in sight. I will mail this letter to myself. Someday I will give it to him (stamped with the current date), so he knows that my denial ended long before his.
Oh yes, and he doesn’t read my blog. This much I know is true.