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Let's start right here.

Hi, friend.

I thought you'd written me off. Eight months ago I even wrote about it here; I realize now you may have read those words, which ironically means I could have instigated or exacerbated the very abandonment I railed against without even knowing it at the time (though I've suspected it, and knew there was a slight chance when I wrote those words in pain and self protection). I have no way to contact you directly other than in writing, and I thought since I might have inadvertendly begun this lonely phase of our relationship here, I should come here to end it, and (hopefully) start a new phase.

I dreamt about you several weeks ago. I was driving in my neighborhood and saw your son run across a yard - it made no sense because you're hundreds of miles away. My heart stopped, the car stopped, and I ran to him, asking where you were. He pointed you out, in the shadows of your open garage. You weren't yourself. You'd been sick, you said. Your body had grown dependent on things that would eventually kill it, but you weren't ready to change that. I tried to relate to you and I tried to compare my situation to yours, but you weren't really there. I saw a flicker, but then you sat back and your eyes glazed over in complacency, for now, for then. It was too much for you to deal with - that was the implication. This relationship was just one more thing you couldn't juggle. I told you how close I lived, and that I hoped you would visit me, or would welcome my visits, and I left. I wasn't angry or hurt anymore; I felt sad and hopeful for you at the same time. And then I went back to my own rather insane juggling.

John and I were recently talking about Dylan, and the fact that he has essentially removed himself from our family. He won't return phone calls (when he has a working phone), and even locating him is difficult and only possible through mutual contacts (which grow fewer by the day). I asked him if he was going to call the one remaining friend of Dylan's whose contact information we still have, but John just shook his head. "It won't do any good. When Dylan works out whatever he needs to work out, he will contact us." This felt like giving up to me; it felt like accepting the unacceptable. But I recognize now that what he was saying was that you can't force someone else to love you, or to communicate with you, or to be with you. It isn't right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable: it just is.

I've started to think in the past few years that I'm some kind of weird category of friend. It felt over time that people befriended me out of convenience. I was able to fill some need - usually therapeutic or philosophical or professional in nature - and then once that need was filled, I was kind of a guilty pain to keep around. My friendships with other people seemed to be perceived as high-maintenance and burdensome to all involved besides me - the one left alone looking like a deer in the headlights when everyone else had gone on their merry way. This felt grossly unfair given the amount of effort and energy I thought I'd put into the friendships - and that train of thought lead me to believe I was some horrifying Saturday Night Live, Mary Katherine Gallagher version of myself - just clinging to people in annoyingly breathless, desperate attempts to have someone like me, to force someone to be my friend - the thought of it was enough to make me vomit and then bury my head in the sand, in shame, and in hiding (a la Kramer's Look away, I'm hideous!).

Given all this, imagine my shock and wonder when I saw your name pop up in my inbox. The sadness, defensiveness, guilt, and shame all came rushing back, and then I remembered the dream I'd had about you and everything fell away except concern for you. I don't know how much you've read from this site, and I'm sure you know that even it doesn't contain all significant details, but it sounds like our lives have run similar courses over the past year. (That would be consistent for us, wouldn't it?) I wish you had contacted me to let me know. If nothing else, I could have reminded you that you weren't alone, despite how I know you probably felt. I've missed you, friend. I'm sorry you were hurting, and that you didn't tell me, and that you thought I'd moved on in anger and had closed the door. The door is always open, no matter how much the surroundings may change over time.

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