This is the first writing I’ve attempted outside of my personal journal in some time. It is the result of a request by someone I care for deeply, for a cause I find commendable. But there are other reasons to write this particular essay, other than to appease an already-appeased friend or to step out of the literary kiddie pool.
In recent months, I’ve dealt with confrontation entirely too often. As an attorney, this is not the confrontation I’ve been trained to do, where two relatively-dedicated professionals talk in hypotheticals and puff out their colored feathers in the process until one or the other backs down. I’m speaking of the confrontation between two people who care about each other, but not intimately enough to remove all filters and barriers between them before engaging. This is the awkward, silent moment, when one realizes, “Although I yearn to run and hide, something is going to happen that has never happened with this particular person before: I am going to tell this person my opinion, and they aren’t going to like it”.
We aren’t a nation of open conflict, at least not those that don’t involve armored divisions in a desert. I would go so far as to surmise that avoiding confrontation, for many people, cuts as close to the quick as possible: not engaging with one’s closest friends and family. How else could so many stories of prolonged personal suffering in marriages, families, and friendships pour so continuously into our cultural zeitgeist? And yet other stories persist, in literature and cinema, of protagonists triumphing through confrontation and escape, through self-realization and strength.
But we’re just eating our popcorn through most of this, living vicariously through heroic archetypes just long enough to settle for another week or another month. Not really satisfied, but having no idea how to speak what’s in your mind to anyone, perhaps even to yourself.
In the last few months, I’ve had to let go of one of my closest friends of the last two decades. The details of this decision are unimportant, other than the fact that a confrontational moment was not possible due to my friend’s unwillingness or inability to allow a face-to-face meeting to occur. Finally, after a month after being told I was on the top of some imaginary list, I called it. When compiling the totality of our long friendship, I found it unbalanced and wanting. While no fan of strict reciprocity, I found very little if any benefit to my own life, to my own happiness. But it could have been different.
Tomorrow: I wanted to sit down with this dear friend of mine and tell him what I felt…
Guest post by ericb, mindless drone from Sector 7.