I’ve been thinking for a while about doing a series of open letters to two of my former friends. I’ve decided to do it all in one post, but before I do that, a little background information:
When I went to college, I was virtually friendless. I mean, anyone I was close to lived fourteen hours away, so I had to start over. But after a while, there was a group of guys that I grew really close to. We became this sort of band of brothers and the entire campus recognized how close we were. We prayed together, worshiped in our dorm rooms together, hung out together, shopped for groceries together.
But I guess I was still the black sheep. I was the only one with mental illnesses that affected the way I relate to people. I grew close to one of the guys in particular who became, probably, my closest friend at the time and a sort of mentor. He let me talk to him, text him, call him if I was feeling overwhelmed or having a “low day.”
In the end, though, he couldn’t handle it. I remember it all so clearly and I see him via friends on Instagram or Facebook every now and then and I see how he’s moved on with his life. I doubt if he even remembers my name.
After a while, though, that pain started to subside a little. After all, even though I wasn’t at the school anymore, I had all my other brothers to lean on. Until one day I didn’t. I discovered one day that one of them unfriended me on Facebook. I thought maybe it was a Facebook glitch or something, but my attempts to reach out to him were not reciprocated.
I knew what had happened. He unfriended me on Facebook and, later, blocked me on Instagram. I never got any closure from him. I can only imagine he felt as though he had to choose between my ex-friend and I. And given that I was not in proximity to him, the choice must have been easy.
So these letters are to these two guys, who we’ll call J.J. and O.R.
Do you remember me?
Do you remember my name? The things I told you? The promises you made? Do you remember how you broke my heart, despite the scars that had only begun to fade? Do you ever think about me with sadness?
Because I do. I remember it all very clearly. I remember how you made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I remember one time when I was stressed and depressed at finals, you came and sat next to me during our test to help me feel calm. I remember when my roommate was gone, you came and slept in my room so I wouldn’t feel alone and I wouldn’t do anything to harm myself. I remember you asked me to write a book about you.
I remember when you first noticed the scars on my wrist. I remember when I would skip class and you would come find me. Sometimes alone, sometimes with the rest of our “band of brothers.”
I wonder, do you remember? Or have you let go of it all so easily. Honestly, I don’t know what I want more. I don’t know if I want the memories and the sadness to haunt you like it does me, or if I want you to move on and be happy. I think, if I’m really, deep down, honest with myself, the answer is both.
I came to this revelation the other day while I was thinking about how unfair it is that I should have to live with this pain every day of my life and you should get to keep moving forward as though nothing ever happened: I bear it so you don’t have to.
I realize, now, that I am built to bear this pain. The years have molded me into someone strong enough for this sorrow. You, though, were not built for this. And I don’t say this to put you down; I say this because you proved that you were not built for this. You proved your ineptness when you said, “You drain me” to a kid who already felt like a burden. You proved it when you promised that you “weren’t sick of me yet,” then told me the last time we talk that “you don’t care to have a relationship with me.”
But I am built to bear it all; the memories, the regrets, the shame, the sorrow. I bear the weight of our broken relationship so that you can live your life and be happy and do the things you love to do.
It’s been a year since this all happened, and I promise you there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by that I haven’t remembered you. The sad truth is, the same can’t be said for you. I know you well enough to know that you let things go very easily – too easily – and you never took responsibility. Excuses and reasons were your go-to responses. Did you know me well enough to know that I never held that over you? I showed you grace, but you never showed me any.
I was listening to this song a few weeks ago that perfectly describes how I feel right about now. It goes, ” You begged for grace, you left no grace for me.” (“Closer”, Johnnyswim) I hope you learned from the mistakes you made with me so that the next person who gets close to you never has to go through what I did.
All the best,
(P.S. – I finally wrote that book you wanted me to write about you. Except you’re not the hero.)
I’m angry because I never did anything to you to warrant being cut out of your life. Apparently, our friendship was so shallow as to be defined by proximity. Did you think I would forget? Did you think I wouldn’t care? Please tell me you know me better than that. I never forget and I never don’t care.
Remember when I was crushed by a girl I liked and you came and drug me out of my room and back to the real world? Probably not. Remember when we just walked through downtown alone and in silence, simply enjoying hanging out with each other? Again, not likely.
People like you forget too easily.
I wrote a story about you too. The same story J.J.’s in, actually. Except you’re not the hero either.
It was hard, though, trying to explain what you did when I still don’t know myself. I don’t understand it at all. I can only make an educated guess. What harm did being friends with me on Facebook do to you or your friendship with J.J.? Did he ask you to cut me off? Is that the type of person he’s become?
I don’t know. I’ll probably never know. But I hope you learn one day not to forget so easily. Because forgetting gives us license to be shallow and cold.
We have to remember, though, even if it’s painful. Because, even if we aren’t friends anymore, we used to be and we owe each other our memories. We owe each other that much.
So, I know that I’ll probably never see you again and that saddens me deeply. And I know that I’ll probably never get the closure I need, but I want to ask you just one thing: will you remember me?
All the best,