Friend, where have you gone?

I lost you somewhere along life’s path.

We used to talk.

We used to laugh.

Now, we don’t communicate at all.

Where have you gone?

Over the past 5 or 6 years I have noticed a disturbing personal trend. People I was once able to have meaningful conversations with gradually began to wall themselves off emotionally and intellectually. Many have become so unrecognizable that it takes my breath away just thinking about how quickly they declined. It was as if they had to frantically protect themselves from some perceived threat, a threat they felt I was creating each time we talked apparently. Was I? I can’t get a straight answer so I may never know for sure.

In trying to coax the truth out, getting at the real source of their fears, without resorting to bile filled retorts, I hit a nerve. Over and over I hit that nerve without even knowing that I had but, they were keeping score it seems. For that, I am sorry. It was never my intention to cause internal strife or conflict for you, within you or between you and other acquaintances we had in common. And, while I know that I am not the sole cause of the obvious pain you may be feeling now, I will take the blame. I want to help you heal.

If you will let me.

And, just so we are clear, per my last post about not wanting to “be good” with those who lashed out over political differences by being threatening…this isn’t the same. This is more like a need to host an intervention of sorts. This is a desire to reach out to someone that I feel is struggling mentally, someone who got so caught up in the fervor of political divisiveness and felt that taking sides meant cutting ties with anyone who disagreed with them no matter what. It took a bit but I now respect their decision to cut off ties. I get it now. My firm stance was intimidating and, again I’m guessing, they came to the realization that I will no longer back down and defer to “the man speaking” because I have a right to speak as well. I know who I am now but, it seems they haven’t found their true self yet. I’ll be here waiting when they get that figured out.

Now, back to my internal dialogue with my former friend; this is just a guess, so pardon me if I am wrong but, I feel as if the anxiety, turmoil and anger you exhibit started long ago. Long before you even knew I existed. I feel, and again, this is just a hunch, that somewhere along the way to adulthood you were let down multiple times. Maybe, it was a parent who betrayed your trust. A father who held himself up as a Man of God but, merely a man none the less who failed miserably in the area of fidelity and honor. A mere man who would not own his mistakes. A mere man who set a miserable example. Maybe it was a mother who, despite her best efforts, never held that Man of God accountable for what he put you and your siblings through. I could always be way off the mark so take my words as an amateurish attempt at trying to understand your apparent torment and nothing remotely resembling mockery. I don’t like to see people hurt, especially people I was once so fond of.

So, when did we first start to go wrong? I know I should have made more of an attempt to visit, call, email or text over the years and I tried but, I don’t think that was it. What began as our usual back and forth banter, just like old times, suddenly turned into biting barbs designed to land flat, emotionless and seemingly heartless. Where did you go? Is the person I once knew still in there, somewhere trying to break free from cynicism and paranoia? Do you need help? I have offered it multiples times only to be rebuffed with an LOL, a curt, “No thank you, I’m fine”. I know ALL about the “I’m fine” response and am pretty certain it’s not fine, you are not fine and we are not fine. You are talking to the Queen of I’m Fine who resided in the Land of Not Fine for 20+ years. I recognize the distress call.

How can we repair this damage? I’m not certain we will ever get back to where we once were and that might not even be wise but, I want a new connection with you. An adult connecting with another adult and not two emotionally damaged kids, lashing out at everyone and misunderstanding everything meant to be tongue-in-cheek. We used to have fun but now…we don’t. Where did you go? Am I allowed to come and find you? I really don’t know what to do with this uneasy feeling but that isn’t your fault. I’m the one who apparently still feels deeply and still has the ability to care but, even so, if the answer is NO I can take it.

I am strong.

But, I want you to be strong too.

That is all.

© 2020-2021 L.A. Askew

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