I got dumped recently. Well, not really, but that’s kind of how it feels. A friend of mine with whom I’ve been very close for the past year or two deactivated his Facebook account and changed his phone number. Seriously. I know him far too well to think that he did this to me out of simple carelessness. No, he thought it would be funny. He knows how deeply I trust him and how easily he can get under my skin, so he removed himself from my life in the rudest manner possible. The last time I talked to him was back in May. He invited me to see The Avengers with him. We live over an hour apart, but I made the drive to see it at the theater he’d be at rather than one near my home. When I got there, I texted him to find out where he was. He didn’t answer. I called him. He hung up. When I finally found him, all he did was talk about his costume. (He was dressed as Taskmaster, the dude in the picture.) Since the theater was crowded, I couldn’t sit near him, but figured we’d chat after the movie. When it was over, he brushed past me without even asking me how I’d liked the film. A few weeks later, I invited him to come watch Doctor Who at my house. He didn’t answer. When I pursued him, he told me that he was far too busy with other things to attend. Since I was about to leave for grad school, I figured he’d want to see me one last time. Instead, he sent me a text reading, “Good luck!” That was the last I heard of him.
I’ve talked about my arch-nemesis once or twice on this blog before. He was a man who, when I’d finally started to work up the courage to talk about my sexuality, told me that since he’d grown up in the Castro and knew people who were survivors of the AIDS crisis, he might be able to offer me some advice. As soon as I gave him permission to do so, he immediately began to undermine everything I said. He insulted me, belittled me, put words in my mouth so that he could accuse me of saying the opposite of what I actually had, then repeat my original argument back to me as if he’d just thought of it, and at the end of it, told me that I had nothing to be worried about because he was only doing this out of love and support. I’ll decide for myself whether or not to feel loved and supported, thank you. The friend I described in the last paragraph is not as parasitic as my arch-nemesis was. My nemesis took all of my best qualities–outspokenness, common sense, and a certain talent for “tough love”–and twisted them into a force for pure evil. I’ve honestly never felt as violated as I did when I was talking to him. I opened up to him about the most painful and sensitive subject there is, and his response was to shit all over me, then blame me for getting hurt. I felt raped. That man was a half-person, able to function only by finding needy people and making them dependent on his approval (which, of course, he always withheld.) My friend was three-quarters of a person. I still have the birthday gift he gave me, a lead figurine of Doctor Doom that he said reminded him of me. But when I found out that he’d changed his phone number, the feeling was one of great emptiness, as if I couldn’t figure out how I would function in this world without him. If I said that to a support group, they’d probably tell me that in the long run, this is for the better, that I’ll be able to stand on my own now that he’s gone. I know that already. What I really want to know is why he did it.
Abusive people always seem to convince themselves they’re doing you a favor. Since they know better than you what you want, they’ll go ahead and give it to you. My mother, after getting a glimpse of what a rage-filled and bitter man I can be, suggested therapy. I don’t need somebody with a psychology degree scrutinizing me under a microscope. There are people for whom therapy works. Good for them. I’m not after a shoulder to cry on. The only thing I care about is respect. My friend probably thought I found his dismissive nature endearing, expecting people to laugh it off with an, “Oh, that’s just [insert name here].” He never truly understood how damaging and infuriating that could be. Someday, he might. But I don’t think I’ll get to tell him.
There is, when you get right down to it, nothing in my relationship with this douchebag that hasn’t happened to me before. I’ve been through this with my college roommate, a friend from high school who, when he realized that our lives were taking different directions, simply stopped talking to me. We shared a room for two years, but during the second semester of the second year, he said not five words to me. I kept hoping he’d ask me for something just so I could deny it to him. Of course, he didn’t. Such is life.
An apology is not half as good as just not doing the bad thing in the first place. If I sense someone is expecting my forgiveness, I’ll withhold it. It’s all I get.
On a musical note, I’d like to say that while the Jeff Buckley version of this song is superb, I think John Cale’s take is more fitting for this piece.