It took years for me to understand that life is guided choices we make, not simply a series of things that happen to us. Nearly a year ago, I wrote about drifting, described as “the decision you make by not deciding, or by making a decision that unleashes consequences for which you don’t take responsibility.”
I had a drift encounter like this recently. Not my drift, but someone else’s. Someone who to this day, somewhere in his mid-thirties, still cannot comprehend that the truth he is living is made by his creation. Someone who takes no responsibilities for the actions he has taken to get himself to this point. It was just around the New Year. He was an old friend I had lost touch with, but was hoping to reconnect with. At a minimum, I wanted to close a door, understand what happened and move on. With the end of the year, I wanted to renew or release this relationship because it had been a source of negative feelings for me. Renew if there was a possibility of starting over. Release if that could not be.
He started by complaining how lonely he was, and how he was lacking companionship in his life. Maybe I was the wrong person to complain to, since he was the friend who ghosted out on me. So I asked … what happened to us?
He answered the way I expected he would and left it at that. Being a former trial attorney, I had several pointed follow-up questions. And when I reached the most important question, the one to understand why I had been summarily replaced, he lied. He flat out lied. No release.
Good trial attorneys know that when you have one of these moments, you do not go the next step to say “were you lying then or are you lying now?” You save that moment for closing. But when in life do you get the opportunity for closing arguments? So I sat with the hurt of knowing that when called out on it point blank, he just lied. Some release.
By my age, somewhere in my mid-thirties, it is normal to have lost people. To lose friends by attrition, new interests, normal growth, weird falling-outs, and even death. I get that it is normal, but it never stops hurting. The losses that are slow drift (there’s that word again) apart seem to sting less, but it is those quick chop-you-out-of-my-life ones that ache. The cut, exposed ends of nerves reeling, shrinking back in pain. I should have realized the first time he disappeared, that our friendship was not as important as I had thought. I guess I did not see the situation for what it was – a slow drift apart that was happening all this time. For whatever reason, while I was living it, I thought there was some hope. This conversation gave me the quick cut that I was afraid of – the paper cut that will not stop bleeding.
He did not taking responsibility for ending our friendship. Who ghosts on a true friend? That is so DC. Maybe it is to be expected in a town where everyone is here to network and get ahead. But I am not from here. I am a Texan at heart, and if you do not have your word, what kind of person are you? He is drifting.
He did not taking responsibility for the actions he took that closed the door on our friendship. He cannot even be honest and say, “here’s why I ghosted.” Or “hey, we were good friends, but that time came and went.” I would have loved to hear that. While it would have been hard to swallow, it would have been easier to manage than making sense of lies. A direct approach would have been respectful to someone you once cared about, but maybe do not have the capacity to care about anymore.
This friend made all of those phony promises – let’s be friends again, let’s try to hang out again and have deep conversations like we used to. To protect my feelings, I even asked, is this door open or closed? He said it was open. But he did not mean it. Because instead of renewing for real, he ghosted again.
It is a personal goal of mine not to drift. I have taken the reins back in my life to try to own my story and not let it own me. To try and be authentic and treat people with respect. It is hard on this journey as an Authenticity Ambassador to meet with fake people. I still do not know what to do with them, how to understand them, how to interact with them meaningfully.
So it was a quick, surgical cut. And this cancerous person is out of my life. It will take some time to heal from it, but dear reader, you must know by now that I do not mind scars. Besides, if the scar is in the right place, you can probably cover it with an awesome transformative tattoo. Maybe a phoenix or a butterfly.