Just sometimes, ya know? Like when somebody you absolutely knew was trustworthy – somebody you considered family, somebody you invited into all areas of your life, somebody you would have sworn felt the same about you – turns out to be a goddamn liar without any particular capacity for, oh, you know, integrity?
It’s impossible to write this post without being annoyingly vague, but that is the burden we must bear, for this isn’t a story I can detail. I can, however, tell you this: A person my entire family loved like a fucking brother – a non-blood relative each of my kids called “uncle” – betrayed the shit out of us, lied about it, kept lying about it, lied some more about just in case there were some lies left untold, and then, just when we were about to open conversation with him in the hope of some reconciliation, re-engaged unapologetically in the same shit that ended our friendship in the first place.
But the details are unimportant.
The point is, and the thing Mac and I have been asking ourselves since this happened a couple of months ago, after all the tears and rage and confusion – is how difficult it is to not simply shut down the entire friend division of life.
After a loss and betrayal like this, the feeling of “How could I be so wrong about a person?” is overwhelming, and I question my ability to assess character, morality, integrity.
And in the pain and confusion, there’s a side of Mac and me that never wants to open up to anybody again, never wants a new friend, never wants to let anyone come over on motherfucking Christmas.
As in, friendship closed for business until further notice.
Because truly, how can you love somebody so much and have them throw ya away for nothing?
For real, how can we be so goddamn wrong about people?
That’s the thing, you know? That feeling of having been hoodwinked, played, taken for the ultimate heart ride. But this time, we included our children. This motherfucker caused serious emotional pain for our children.
And I had to navigate that, answer their questions about why he doesn’t come around anymore, and how much they miss him, and I had to come up with something to say beyond: “Some people are fucking assholes.”
Because that wouldn’t have been entirely true anyway, though I wanted to say it in the heat of my sadness. I wanted to rail and scream and tell them we were simply wrong about this person and fuck him and the boat he rode in on.
But that ain’t true, and I know it. And they need to know it.
Instead, I told them, “Well, he made some decisions that make it impossible for us to be friends, but we loved him, and he loved us, and we had some great times together, but sometimes love isn’t enough.”
Sometimes love isn’t enough. Sometimes it isn’t enough to counteract the brokenness and imperfections of a person, their inability to show honesty or decency or maturity, and you have to let both parts stand. Sometimes you have to accept a person is just too fucked up to trust.
Even though you want to.
I know, I know. “We don’t harm people we love.”
And to that I say, Lolllllllllll. That’s a good one. Either we do harm people we love, or no human on the planet knows how to love, because come the fuck on. Seems to me we harm the people we love often.
I’ve been harmed by AND harmed every single person I love most on this earth.
Seems to me we have love and we have all this other shit inside of us too, parts that do harm, and the people around us feel both.
But with most people, the people we keep in our lives, the support and love and devotion and service is way bigger than the harm, so we can tolerate a person’s humanity, their brokenness.
There’s a difference between imperfect and FUCKING TOXIC AS FUCK.
We gotta let the toxic ones go.
But then we’re left with all the love we shared and nowhere to put it. We’re left with memories of the pain and the friendship, and the confusion of where the fuck it all went wrong.
Part of me wants to shut off, shut down, shove everyone away. Mac and I took turns saying, “I’m never trusting anyone again.” We were joking, sort of. We were being dramatic, sort of. And yet, I see people who do exactly that. I see people hurt by the inevitable betrayal of humans, by the imperfections of those around them, and turning themselves into impenetrable fortresses.
I get it. We have to survive somehow. And honestly, in moments, it’s rather appealing.
But this isn’t a threat to my continued survival, and as such, it’s something that simply hurts, a lot, and makes me question what I thought I knew of people. Makes me wonder what I could have learned, and should learn, and will learn. I look for my part in all this: Where were the signs? What could I have done better? It’s all we can do, I guess. Try to gain some wisdom while also recognizing that sometimes there is nothing we can do, nothing to foresee, and people are just goddamn WEIRD.
I know in my heart that “never loving a new person again” is not the solution. I know that openness to deep friendship is not the solution. But goddamnit, I would have staked my life on this fool.
I suppose I find myself making the ultimate choice again, to let the fucked up nature of humans exist alongside their exquisite beauty, and holding so damn close the friends who’ve stuck around, the family by my side—to remind me not only of the fleeting nature of connection, but the sacredness of the threads that remain.
I have never felt more grateful for the friends in my life who exist like rocks, have withstood the test of years. If nothing else, I see that, and it’s blinding in its brilliance.
So here’s to more ridiculous loving.
Join me in January
for the first workshop in my series, and then write with me ALL YEAR.
“Write Anyway” is for the person who:
- has a nagging question or persistent feeling of “You should write this,” but isn’t;
- can’t decide what to write about;
- constantly hears the “you suck why are you even trying?” voice when she sits down to write;
- is too afraid to write what they’re really feeling/thinking/experiencing;
- is agonizing over what people will think;
- is obsessing over perfection; and/or
- getting bent out of shape for 3 days over assholes on the internet criticizing in ways that hurt (and somehow they always hit where it hurts). Insulting intelligence. Name-calling. Making fun. Crafting Reddit threads against you.