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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

no title because sometimes I don't want to think of one

I have a friend with whom I chat fairly frequently--usually every couple of weeks, although there have times when it's been less frequent because our online times haven't coincided or because one or the other of us has been busy when online, but still, often enough for me to consider him a frequent friend. Those chats have been 100% instigated by me, as he's a little bit shy. He's always willing to talk and we have delightful conversations, but I'm aware that if I want that contact to happen, I will be the one tapping his shoulder, not the other way around...until last night.

I've often wondered during the past few years, if he felt discomfort being my friend. We're mostly online acquaintances, as we've had very little in-person time and only once have we spent time one-on-one. We met because one day, not quite four years ago, I noticed his name on my chat list. I had no idea who he was, no recollection of contacting him for any reason, no referenced connections, but I was intrigued by his surname because it was the same as some dear friends of mine who used to live across the street from me, so I left him on my list and each time his green dot appeared, I would think of those friends with the fondest of memories.

After about two weeks, I decided to solve the mystery of why he was there in the first place, so I sent him a chat message:

me: Once I had a bishop whose last name was the same as yours. Then Bishop moved to Arizona. The end.
Friend: My dad was a Bishop for a while.
me: How funny. My dad was a Bishop for awhile, too.
Friend: Yeah. My dad is now a Stake President. After seeing the time and patience those sorts of callings seem to require, there's a part of me that hopes I will only never have “Bishop" in my name. But I digress. . .
me: Weird. My dad is now a Stake President, too. I, on the other hand, will never have to worry about a religious title other than sister, which is best for all concerned.
Friend: Very funny. I'll take your word for it.
me: You must, as I never lie. May I ask, who are you? As in, what is your connection to Tolkien Boy, who seems to be responsible for your ending up on my chat list?
Friend: Right. Good question. I'm Friend. I'm good friends with Tolkien Boy through "The Poetaster Project"--the other writing group. I think we met once at Ben's house.
me: We, as in you and Tolkien Boy? Or you and I?
Friend: I'm pretty sure I met you. It was brief. But as a Fob, of course I knew of your existence.
me: Mmmm...sadly, not so. I have never met Ben, although I would certainly like to.
Friend: Wait. You're not a Fob? Then no, we haven't met.
me: I'm a humble honorary. Ben says that if I ever achieve the status of a tall, black man of heterosexual orientation, I will then become a true FOB.
Friend: Right. . . for diversity's sake.
me: However, since he dreams of having group therapy with me on a regular basis (every other Thursday), I really think he ought to grant me Fobbery simply on that basis--and on the basis that I'm a much better writer than he is.
Friend: Based on that, I'd have to agree. Sounds like you're a near perfect fit.
me: Now--to convince the Master.
Friend: Good luck.
me: Thank you. I’ll probably need it.
Friend: Now, I must be leaving, actually.
me: It's been lovely chatting with you. Good night.
Friend: Yes. Likewise. Pleased to pseudo-meet you. Have a good evening.

Later, my friend confessed to me that our first interaction seemed to him rather creepy, and I must admit, after all these years, I still see nothing creepy in it. But perhaps because he thought I was someone he knew, then found out I was not, he was left feeling weird that I contacted him in the first place. However, creepy or not, I'm glad I did, for I like my friend immensely, and I've enjoyed our fairly regular chats and infrequent personal meetings very much.

Last night though, for the first time, my friend initiated a chat with me.

The timing of this was a bit astonishing to me. I have been feeling for awhile now, that I have nothing left to say to people and therefore few people chat with me anymore (no, this is not a bid for attention--I can appear extroverted when the occasion calls for it, but in my heart I'm a bit of a recluse), and while this seems the normal course of human friendships, there have certainly been days when I've wondered what I will do when I have become invisible. This does not apply, of course, to AtP, who pops in almost daily to say hello. Part of me wants to believe it's because he misses me and chatting with me makes him happy, but I have a feeling it's mostly because he, too, has experienced many of the emotional impulses I have (including feeling suicidal) and is just checking up on me to make sure I'm still around and I appreciate that with all my heart.

Lately, though I have begun to feel that I am the only one initiating chats and when that happens, I feel bothersome. It's very possible that I am hailing friends who are busy or who are getting ready to sign off, which accounts for the lag time between responses, and sometimes the complete lack of response. But recently I've begun to feel I'm becoming intrusive and annoying, two things I despise. This feeling feeds beautifully into my PTSD responses and soon I am quietly overreacting, vowing to delete my chat programs and become silent online forever...yeah...stupid...

I was at this point yesterday morning. There have been a number of upsets in my life recently which has made PTSD sort of monstrous (but still, compared to a few months ago, very manageable--YAY!). I'd had a rough night and was tired, and all this business of being social and understanding people and enjoying closeness seemed like a bunch of crap, wasting my time when I could be working or doing something much more productive. So I immersed myself in work and stubbornly refused to think about people, hoping at some point the symptoms would subside and I'd have relief.

Then Tolkien Boy interrupted my self-imposed cone of silence, which was bad news for him because I was in a foul mood and I quite willingly shared it with him...sigh...sometimes I'm beastly.

I was still feeling remorseful late last night when Friend said hello. I stared at his words for a moment before responding, wondering at his impeccable timing and unexpected but welcome invitation to talk. Within a few moments he had confessed he was feeling a little bit lonely. I understand loneliness--I've felt it on many different levels, both in the presence of other people, as well as in solitude. I also know it's not an easy thing to admit to another person. Such admittance requires trust that the other person won't tell you all the reasons being lonely is your fault, as well as a belief that disclosing the fact will somehow ease the loneliness. When any friend allows me to know he or she is feeling this, I feel humbled a bit, because for me the cost of such an admission is high. I choose very carefully the person with whom I will discuss it.

I understand that I'm projecting and it could simply have been that Friend was ready to talk to anyone with a green dot last night, and I was that person. I'm choosing, however, to believe we've been friends long enough that he feels he can talk with me about some of his thoughts and ideas and even share with me when he feels a little bit lonely. I'd like to believe I've been a good friend to him, as he has been to me.

I'm not sure what I'm saying in this post. Maybe that I've been having a hard time lately, doubting love, losing faith in people, and most of all questioning my personal worth. It seems to me that whenever this happens, some fortuitous communication arrives from one or more sources, reminding me I'm not invisible, and occasionally someone thinks of me. Often such a communication is in the form of soliciting some sort of support from me, which also reminds me I have purpose beyond fluff and entertainment, and I'm not really as disposable as I sometimes assume.

As my friend does not read my blog, he won't know how welcome his beautiful intrusion was last night. Given his nature, that's probably best. I made certain to thank him and let him know how much I enjoy talking with him. He's important to me and I want him to know that. The rest of the maudlin story can remain here, too sentimental and self-absorbed to pass on in any dignified manner. But I hope today, if nothing else, he feels appreciated and loved, and a little less lonely.

1 comment:

  1. .

    Is it bad that I'm mostly interested in solving the mystery of Friend's identity?

    I think I've got it, by the way.

    Oh wait.

    I was right.

    I just got the pun in your dialogue.

    Well. Just look at how clever I am.