DISCLAIMER: I am, for all intents and purposes, a sentimental fool.
It is an odd trait of the human condition that we possess the intrinsic ability to, simultaneously, love and hate someone. I struggle with this regularly. And in one instance, it makes me a complete hypocrite.
I had a “best friend” once. A long time ago. And things were good. We enjoyed each other’s company just enough to make it fun, and we annoyed each other just enough to keep it interesting. Our discussions were substantive and our interests were more-or-less similar. He was my best man, and I his. And then we both became teachers. And that was cool too. But then, I made the unfortunate choices which changed everything about everything, forever.
He disavowed our friendship after my release from prison (along with his entire family) and I, clearly, did not deal well with losing my best friend. I saw him in public about a year ago (a few months after my release), and he wanted to shake my hand. I obliged, then walked away, snarkily remarking to him, “Well, this is awkward.” I was subsequently informed that my actions had offended him, and so, feeling as though I had the upper-hand, decided to fire-off an extremely honest and extremely vulgar and extremely rude email to him.
He never replied.
Listen: I meant every fucking word of that email, and I wish I’d never sent it. I was brutally honest – too honest. He ended our friendship for reasons that were valid to him, no matter how ridiculous I may perceive those reasons to appear. And rather than accepting his perspective, I lashed out.
And therein lies my hypocrisy. There is no way I can expect him (or anyone) to forgive me for what I’ve done without first forgiving the things that others have done to hurt me, even if I was deserving. I cannot demand forgiveness while simultaneously refusing to forgive.
I’m not writing about losing a friend; I’m writing about forgiving a friend – a former friend. Should he choose to forgive me, then so-be-it. But I ask for no such gesture. Instead, I have come to my own peace by forgiving him for the way in which he hurt me, deeply, when I was in need of a best friend. I will likely never talk to him again, and I’m fine with that; but that is immaterial to the overall point: In order to be at peace with this particular aspect of my life, I must first forgive, whether I am forgiven or not.
And yet, the reality is this: Whether or not he forgives me as I have forgiven him, the friendship is, for all intents and purposes, dead.
So it goes.