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Thursday, December 16, 2004

Letting Go

Patty Griffin's song, "Let Him Fly" has a beautiful line about letting go of relationships when it's time for them to end. She sings, "You must always know how long to stay and when to go..."

I know how to let go when necessary. I've never been "dumped", and I have always been the one to say, "we need to end this". But each time I experience a breakup, I feel regret and pain burning like a knife in my heart. Sometimes it takes several months for me to lose that feeling of being in love. Long after the dust settles and the relationship is over, my eyes well up with tears as I think about the end of a romance.

I mentioned that I experienced a friend's betrayal when I was in New York a couple weeks ago. This person is like a brother to me. Like brothers, we sometimes act competitive. Unlike brothers, we are usually competing for the attention of boys. Time and time again I have seen it happen between us. A guy will flirt with me at the bar, and I'll find out a few days later this friend drove the boy to his car and kissed him goodnight. Once at a party I was sitting next to a cute Asian boy on the couch. I had my arm around him. Moments after I shifted and took my arm from around the boy, I looked over and saw this friend was now snuggling up to the Asian guy.

It is frustrating, but I try to let it go. I hate the fact that we always seem to be interested in the same people. But, I have always trusted him enough to share with him my deepest thoughts.

When we were in New York, I told him I was experiencing some sadness, and he seemed supportive. He knows I've had a rough year and have fallen on my face a couple of times. I've had a couple of heartbreaks, and my self-esteem has taken some blows. But I am not one to sit around feeling sorry for myself (unless I'm in The Vortex drinking whiskey), so I knew I needed to take action.

On the last day of my trip to New York, I called a blogger in NYC to initiate some one on one time with him. NYC Boy and I had some drinks together. Whether it was a date or not, I can't say. I found him attractive. We flirted. But we weren't defining it as a date. I was just hoping for a kiss goodnight at the end of the evening. Or somesuch nonsense. I told my friend, "I'm really excited to spend some time with this NYC Boy. He is really cute, and he seems like a great guy." My friend appeared to be happy for me and encouraged me to have a some fun.

After drinks and dinner and more drinks with this blogger on my last night in New York, I started to feel better. We had some things in common. I certainly wasn't looking to build any kind of romantic relationship. I've already tried the long distance blogger romance, and it doesn't work. But NYC Boy helped distract me from the heartache I was feeling. "This is really nice," I thought to myself. I felt content. I was able to forget about pain and just laugh and have fun.

At some point in the evening, and I'm not sure when, my friend must have taken an interest in NYC Boy. I walked into the bar to see them kissing. Without a word to either of them, I grabbed my coat and got into a cab. It was a disappointing way to end such a fantastic weekend. I regret very much that I didn't say goodbye to my friends in New York just because I was upset with a friend.

Of all the people in that bar in New York, I question why my "friend" needed to kiss the boy I was interested in. Were there not enough guys to go around? Was he jealous of my attentions towards someone else? I have no idea. But I'm tired of looking over my shoulder. I don't feel like I can trust him anymore.

Last night my friend and I argued, and I let him know how I felt about what he did. I told him it felt like being stabbed in the back. But it was only a dream. I woke up this morning feeling confused. Is it time to let go of this friend or not?

I know why it is so hard for me to let go of relationships. I once had to let go of every close friend in my life. Not many people have experienced that kind of loss.
Sean got up on his soapbox today and mentioned our shared past. I have mentioned my history with the International Church of Christ before. But I rarely go into detail, because it was a painful time I choose to forget. Suffice it to say, that group controlled my mind and heart.

One night, I secretly packed my car and left behind my spiritual family. Brothers, sisters, roommates, a girlfriend and all my very best friends. I didn't say goodbye. I fled in the middle of the night, because I knew staying with that group would destroy the little bit of myself that remained. The power these people had over me was astounding. One reprimand would have been all it took to change my mind and force me to stay. So, without a word to the people I was closest to, I disappeared.

For years afterwards, I had dreams about my friends in the church. In many of the dreams, they would cry and ask why I had cut them out of my life. In some of my dreams I would beg forgiveness from one of my "brothers" while he stared me down with an angry glare. The dreams stopped only after a therapist told me it was okay to miss these people. They had been my family, and I never had the chance to say goodbye to them. I often think about Scott, Criss, Oral, Terita, Jackie, Steve, Dana, Dan, Linda, Karen, Donna, Jill, Laura, Kyle, Jason, Jan, Van, Tommy, Karl, Shawn, Dean, Josh, Paul, Velma - - hundreds of people I knew and shared so much with. Literally hundreds.

When you leave a job, you usually have a farewell party. When someone you care about dies, you say goodbye at a funeral. But when you pack your car and run away from your family, there is no closure. After losing so many people at once, no wonder it is hard for me years later to end a friendship.

You must always know how long to stay and when to go. When it comes to my friendship with this person, I'll admit that I don't know if it is time to go or not. Maybe we just need some time apart. A trial separation instead of a divorce? Maybe trust can be rebuilt. My instincts tell me to pack my car and sneak away in the middle of the night and just never talk to him again. Have I learned nothing from the past? Running away didn't work very well the last time I tried it. I've heard it said that the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing while expecting different results..."

Just as I suspected. I'm crazy.

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