Writing: Losing Friends & Enjoying The Emptiness


PUBLISHED
UPDATED ON
9 Minute Or Less Read Time
Losing friends and enjoying it

The Benefits of Alienation

Losing friends and enjoying it

The definitions for alien are mostly rather unfriendly. But at least one of them has to do with simply not belonging to a group (or all-too-often, THE group).

All my life I’ve wanted to be loved and close to people, (too close generally, especially to sexually attractive women and interesting smart men) but lately, as I get older, this need has lessened to the point where I feel alienated from many of my long term pals.

It feels great.

At first it hurt, feeling less loved, less cared about and belonging, but after a time and getting a bit more experienced at alienation it has felt better and better.

I never achieved anything by conformity, always by independence and striving to find my differences.

“Covid to the rescue” has become a standard refrain for my wife Patti and me.

“Halcion Days for Introverts” has always fit her, but I’m blatantly and noisily extroverted, so it’s taken me a bit more time to see the advantages of having a built-in excuse for not doing shit we don’t wanna do.

Most people don’t offer much back to what I feel I’ve given them.

This is, of course, at least partly a delusion on my part, but there is some truth to it.

I’ve always over-valued my skills at parlaying my need to be intimate with my ability to make everyone feel like they are my best friend, usually right up until the moment they realize they aren’t.

“The Alien Registration Act” “Illegal Alien” “Alien beings” I’m sure all of these pejoratives have some value to someone, somewhere, but for me, simply being alienated from the group is a delicious, clarifying, step towards a death that I am happy to face, on my own and alone when the time comes.

So, see you later — or not —

Whatever.


When Your Writing Costs You Friends

And not real friends after all.

Many responses I’m getting to my rabid anti-fascist/pro Antifa threads, here and elsewhere, and that I’m seeing other writers speaking about in other postings, deal with and consider the end of friendships.

Some of these are long-term and once much-cherished friendships, now destroyed, apparently forever.

So I thought this posting about friendship, perhaps a slightly deeper analysis/commentary/expression/I-don’t-know-quite-what, might be of some value.

It’s about a standard, vanilla-style ending to a friendship that never really existed in the real world in the first place.

Her association with me always felt situational in that she based her desire to be friends on her belief that maybe I could do something for her, something that would advance her career as a writer.

Many writers who have had a bit of luck and received attention for our writing, have faced things like this.

The first time we met she had reached out to me and asked for an interview for an article she wanted to write shortly after I’d won a big, national literary award.

I was excited to be famous, or whatever I was about to become, and I was happy at the prospect of meeting her and talking about myself (inflated ego anyone? But I digress, that’s a subject for a different posting).

We agreed to meet at a chain restaurant at 1:00 p.m.

By 1:20 she still wasn’t there. I was angry; If I go to the trouble of getting someplace on time, I expect the person I’m spozed to meet to be on time also, NOT 20 minutes late. Especially if I’m the famous one, offering my time to the less famous one . . .

When she finally showed up and started in with no mention at all of being late, no apology, no acknowledgment, I scolded her, “I’ll never wait 20 minutes for you again, EVER.” I said, in my famous-man pants.

She started in with a bunch of excuses, none of them too great: no bleeding children, no emergency appendectomies, no flaming auto/train/airplane disasters.

We got on with the interview.

Transactional Friend

I kind of let it go and we kind of became kind of friendly. After that, she was almost always late whenever we’d meet but never 20 minutes again and often with a better excuse.

This all happened some years ago.

Why do I tell you this? If it instructs anyone on the value of showing respect for others and not letting one’s passive-aggressive desperate need to make the world prove how loveable and worthwhile you are (by making someone wait for you), or to make you feel like you are no better or worse than anyone else, if it does that, it will be worth it (at least to me).

Further, I think if COVID-19 and our present insane politics have taught us nothing else, they’ve made it clear that we are all in this thing, pretty much on our own.

Reevaluating who we love and are loved by, thinking about what the more important elements of friendship are, seems like a good idea to me in these times, especially for those of us putting ourselves out there with what we publish.

We must get away from competitiveness in our friendships, by seeing what we are doing, owning our own b.s and spotting it in others.

At my age now, although, come to think of it I’ve always felt this way, I don’t want to have any enemies.

Yet I know there’re several (maybe more than several) people, once friends and intimates, who either hate me or intensely dislike me often out of their love for Trump and his fascistic ilk and their anger at my loathing of him when I express these views in print.

In each case where I’m aware of their animosity, I think I largely understand why they feel as they do. We have had words and fallen out and there seems no way back. And I don’t want to try and fix it any more than they do.

The cause of these social problems is often something specific to our previous friendship and sometimes based in the now of madness of our culture and my need as a writer, to comment on it.

In truth, I’m not real fond of some of these folks anymore either.

I fear that if one is living a life of integrity, it’s impossible not to accrue some animus in the hearts of some people. It simply comes with the territory, whether inspired by jealousy, envy, or disagreements across a wide range of matters.

And yes, I’m aware of how high and mighty this sounds and that it could be that I’m the problem given that the common denominator in each of these situations is me. So be it.

As writers we have no choice but to stand behind our voices. It’s important to know that sometimes there is a big price to pay or this.


How writing reveals your friends.

Writing teaches us many things, not always from the act.

Terry Trueman has a way of evoking an honest response from me, which I hate because, without some nuance, writing holds no depth in my opinion. Yet, here we are after reading his piece “When Your Writing Costs You Friends,” and hopefully, this honest addendum to his thoughts adds value to that topic.

Many years ago, I fell in love with a girl so madly that not only did I write a collection of poetry but invented a form of verse just for her. While still writing the material, the topic of books arose in a conversation, during which she laughed, “I don’t really care to read.” Undaunted, I persisted in writing and eventually gave her that collection, despite knowing she did not share the affection I held for her.

From the time before our meeting and the decades following, friends, relatives, girlfriends, and many other people who knew I desired to be a novelist never showed any inkling of interest to read anything I wrote. Compounding this irritation, these people, teachers, artists, and writers, though they read nothing of mine, fully expected me to peruse their works.

Nearly a decade after losing contact with that girl for whom I wrote that poetry collection, I lived with a girlfriend who cared so little about my writing she onetime pushed a box of manuscripts into the closet beside the litter box to which the cats scratched and sprayed during their urinary repertoire. During the same period, an ambitious comedian friend visited and tested and retested each of her comedic routines, exhausting any laughter from the bits. Despite knowing we shared similar roads of artistry, she never asked about my writing. The girlfriend and friend kept company with many other friends who never cared to know anything about my writing. On rare occasions, I asked the girlfriend, the friend, and other friends to criticize something, only to receive sighs and rushed feedback.

In the years stretching from the nonreading girl receiving the poetry so diligently designed just for her, I thought much of the friends and girlfriends too consumed with life to read anything I wrote. Giving the benefit of the doubt formed many excuses, such as “they’re busy” or “they don’t have time” and “I’m imposing on them an honesty hardship should they not like the work.” Surely, these people are friends judging our time spent together and shared interests, less writing. Countless excuses exonerated them until heart failure in 2018 began a two-year, life-threatening journey of recovery, during which none of them could still be bothered with my writing. Despite knowing my effort to publish books before exiting this world, none of them found even a minute to read.

Over twenty years, I thought about that girl and the poetry I gave her, which inspired off-and-on improvements to the collection. I thought hard about her while pulling the box of writing soaked with cat piss from the litter box area. I thought hard about her when I told the comedian to fuck off and get out of my life and when the girlfriend informed me during the breakup, “Right now, I need to be selfish for me.” I thought even harder about that girl when I ditched all those fairweather friends during that slow recovery of health.

Remembering her taking possession of that poetry always brings a smile, for knowing her honesty made her more deserving of poetry than anyone in all literature’s history. Though I cannot prove it, I would bet my life she kept those rough pages of verse, even if she never read them, giving them up only to accidental loss or theft. Though I can’t prove it, I bet she thought about that collection and me, beyond the stupidity of me not calling her back and losing her friendship.

I know she did these things because she was beautiful that way. She honestly cared about people and would never have treated anyone’s dreams so uncaringly. Had I asked her opinion of the poetry, she would have told me because she cared enough to be honest, but I never needed to ask.

Writing not only reveals your friends but what makes them so valuable.


The Desert Dune

Dreaming of a Friend, Her Dog, & Rockets

Watching Rockets Soaring Past

Waking up, thinking of you
Sitting by the desert dune
Watching rockets soaring past
Seeing futures, coming fast

Between God and whatever
All the days are forever
All things come together
In a life that won’t sever

Shaking head, laughing at you
Driving away from the blue
Watching the past spider-crack
From the heart you’re throwing back

To dream the dog forever
Faithful stays — perfect tether
Standing so strong together
In a love that won’t sever

Waking up, thinking of you
Sitting by the desert dune
Watching rockets soaring past
Seeing futures, coming fast.

~~~

After heart failure in 2018, a few years passed in a belief of having only a short amount of time to live. During this time, I began writing letters to friends as final thoughts, which became an eye-opening, sad experience to learn many people didn’t give a shit, not all but many. Still, others did care, but I will never give anyone letters like that again.

This song came about as one of those letters to a friend who got married around the same time. I wanted to say something meaningful about her, and during my struggle to find the correct words, I had a dream, which inspired this piece.


How to Lose Friends Without Really Trying

It’s easier than you might think.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve lost a couple of friends, one who I’ve loved and felt loved by for a quarter of a century. The other who, pre-pandemic, I worked with closely on her poetry (one of my fav things to do.)

The common denominator in both these losses seems to be either my increasing self-centeredness and selfishness, or their inability to accept my existing for some other reason (ANY other reason) than to be a witness to their wonderfulness and/or a never-ending fountain of support, kindness, and love, (and an ATM machine and an ultra-accepting daddy-o), but NOT a person in my own right who simply stands up for myself.

Most likely, the truth lies in some combination of both things, partly me and partly them. But at 73 and 3/4 years old I don’t have time or desire to fix this shit or to change very much. My journey and struggles in life have led me to this place where my ego integrity demands that I own and accept both the good and shitty things about myself, especially in regards other people’s reactions to me and my conduct.

I’m still learning, and I know that if my intention is NOT to cause pain or sadness (and I hope it’s never that) and yet those are consequences of something I’ve said or done, so be it. This may be wisdom or it may be asshole-ism. You can decide for yourself and so can these two estranged pals.

Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash

Copyright Vincent Triola & Terry Trueman