He was once my closest friend. We met in our first year at university, and ended up living together for the whole time we were there. In our third year, we had this little apartment overlooking the seafront and I have loads of wonderful memories of the fun we had there. We did everything together, and shared all our secrets.
When I married my wife, there was no doubt that he would be my best man. I thought he would be my best friend for life. But the person I am today is not the person who was in that friendship. We had a lot of adventures together, but they were mostly adolescent and hedonistic – as befitted the time in our lives.
That time of heavy drinking, drug taking and one-night-stands was exciting and fun, and on the whole I don’t regret it. But it isn’t where I’m at today. I’ve grown. I’ve settled down. I’ve had to work on myself because I couldn’t keep using all those things to escape from the reality of my life. My friend knows all of this, but it’s like he doesn’t want to absorb it.
He doesn’t take this on board because he hasn’t changed. He really hasn’t changed at all. He’s still the same crazy, reckless guy I had all that fun with back then. And now we can’t relate to one another anymore. Since my breakdown, I’ve been on this long, painful, massively significant journey, and he doesn’t really want to know about that. He still ignores the fact that I’m working at sobriety and brings me a bottle of Scotch when he visits.
Those visits are few and far between, because he now lives on the other side of the world. But I still feel crappy about the last time I saw him, over six months ago. I feel like I must be incredibly boring to him now, and like we barely know each other anymore. He isn’t interested in my recovery, and I don’t want to hear about his wild, drunken escapades, so there’s nothing connecting our lives anymore. I felt like his last visit with me must have been a chore to him, and I don’t want to be a chore.
So when he told me he’d be in the UK for Christmas, I didn’t know what to do. I knew I didn’t want to see him and go through all those horrible feelings again. But I couldn’t tell him that. I go every week to a CoDA fellowship, where we focus on authentic relationships and communication, so I knew this was ‘bad’ recovery, but I lied anyway. I made excuse after excuse while he suggested date after date. Maybe that’s because I don’t want to upset him, but I think it’s also because I don’t want to really admit to myself that this friendship is dead. That feels too sad, like such a big loss.
At the same time, I am jaded when it comes to pushing myself to be authentic. I tried that with my sister just before Christmas, and she was harsh and distant and selfish in response. That risk backfired and basically resulted in me feeling resentful toward her and despairing about the future of our relationship. I laid it all out there, and she ignored my honesty about how I feel and chose to effectively punish me for not behaving how she wanted me to.
Then there’s the crap I went through with the eating disorders clinic. Telling them everything about myself, answering all their humiliating questions, and being sent away and told they won’t help me.
Being open with people, telling them my truth, taking those risks that feel so massive – right now I am not sure it’s how I want to live. It is so much bloody hard work, it’s painful, and most of the time it seems to get me nowhere. I’m ashamed of the lie I told my friend. I’m really sad that I lied to someone I once had a very real relationship with. But I also just don’t have the energy to handle things in a better way.