When the past hits your heart…

Colin saw the Chiquita banana sticker on my bananas this morning and gave me a lecture on the evils of banana corporations and how they destroyed Guatemala with the help of the US government back in the 1950’s. It wasn’t exactly the conversation I’d expected but he has eclectic tastes and a love of politics so I wasn’t too surprised. That being said, all I’d really planned on doing was making banana bread.

I got the banana bread in the oven, chatted with my sister for a bit, then got ready to wait for Kait to come over for a visit. The wait segued into a browse on Facebook and a trip through memory lane via the “On This Day” feature. One of the first things that popped up was this…

Lenny

It was a few years old (obviously) which means I made friends with him seven years ago today. I don’t know what I expected to feel when this surprise post popped up. Grief? Anger? Disappointment? What I didn’t expect to feel was nothing more than a vague sense of sadness.

It’s been just under two years since he blocked me. At the time I was devastated. We talked all the time, stopping only for sleep and work. I’d message him on my way to work, during both my breaks, then on my way home again… only to start up again after dinner and right through to bedtime. He was the first person I talked to in the morning and the last at night. He was my love and I was ready to pack up my whole life, leave my family and friends, and move halfway across the world to be with him.

I was actively suicidal when he blocked me and I couldn’t grasp the thought that the block might be forever. I hadn’t done anything to him, surely he’d calm down in a few weeks… maybe a month or two. But the days continued, each one without him. It almost physically hurt at first because I was coping with losing him on top of gaining a couple of serious mental illnesses. My entire life had flipped over and the person I talked to the most was gone.

I slowly started rebuilding myself, piece by piece. I began spending more time with family, made amends with my daughter, and coaxed Colin to try new things. I reached out for help and gained three groups to attend each week and a care team that checks in on me every two weeks. I have a friend in the building next to me and go to karaoke with her and her husband about once a month, among other visits. My life has almost completely changed from what it was before.

I don’t know what I’d do if Lenny unblocked me at this point. I wouldn’t be mean or rude by any means. Goodness knows he has his own issues to work through. But it certainly wouldn’t be the same. I can’t imagine devoting almost my whole life and all my attention to one person anymore. It’s a moot point since I can’t imagine Lenny unblocking me now. And, for the first time in several years, I’m okay with that.

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Disposable friendships…

We were friends for twenty years. Twenty years of birthdays, dinners, movies, outings, laughter, and games. And we stopped being friends over an internet meme.

We’d been friends for six years. Our kids played together, we went out for lunches, we could chat for hours. And we stopped being friends because I suggested a dog trainer before abandoning her dog.

We’d been friends for three years. Just online friends, as people say, but we messaged regularly and often. The last I heard was a message “I’m going to take my medication” then a notice that I could not respond to her conversation. She blocked me, so I heard, because I reminded her in some way of her ex. I have no idea how. The day before she’d told me I was like a sister to her. There was no warning.

I was chatting with a friend of mine a few days ago and she commented on how much friendships seem to break these days. I had to agree. My parents have friends that go back for 50/60 years. My longest friendship, one in which we actually talk more than once a year, is now fifteen.

Somehow we’ve reached a point in our society where friends have to agree about everything. And, while I agree that some lines that are deal breakers, some are just plain ridiculous. I had a friend block me once because I prefer door to door delivery over big box mail services. I refuse to believe this is a hard line ethical issue.

At some point we need to give in on the minor issues. We might not agree with religious beliefs or eating habits. We might not approve of all parenting styles. But as long as no one’s getting hurt, is that the hill we want to die on?

And, as much as I love the internet, I have to wonder how much of the disposable nature of friendship is because of the ease of online communication. You can delete someone from your life without ever seeing the hurt on their face. It’s a lot easier than saying “I don’t want to be friends with you” and dealing with the aftermath. Every friendship of mine that’s ended has been through social media. Cold, clean, swift, and remorseless.

I went through my block list a few days ago and unblocked about thirty people, none of whom I know, all of whom had irritated me on Facebook at some point. Chances are I’ll never even see them again. The next step is unblocking the two people I do know. I have no idea if I’ll see them online or not, we don’t (as far as I know) have mutual friends. But it’s a start.

I don’t have any answers but, what I do know, is life’s too short to end friendships over trivial matters. Friendship is too important for that.

P and Jeremy

P and Emma sharing a quiet conversation.