Losing to Win

So two years ago, yesterday, I made one of the biggest decisions / mistakes of my life and said “I do.”  Although I still live with the woman I’m divorcing, and her kids…  We get along pretty well overall.  Yesterday came and went with no real pomp, why celebrate an anniversary when you’re in the middle of ending the marriage?

When I got married, my wedding party was composed of my brother, my brother in law, and my best friends.  It was a grand time, prior to the wedding, my friends and I celebrated my bachelor party on a fishing boat off the coast of New Jersey.  Much was said about making the trip an annual trip, so we could all get together and have some fun.  However, with minimal exception, the moment I said “I do” 99% of my circle of friends vanished.

Granted, my living situation is unique… and people are allowed to move on with their lives… but people I would see, if not at least talk to on a regular basis – vanished.  My marriage was troubled early on, and when I needed my friends they were nowhere to be found.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve reached out only to get a ‘sorry, busy this weekend, maybe next week?’ only to have next week come around and get the same answer.  It’s one thing if a single friend seems to blow me off… But with very very very few exceptions… all of them did.

It’s been about 8-10 months since we decided to get a divorce.  In that time, I’ve been able to go out more, to do things that I haven’t been able to because I’ve been locked in at home.  The first thought on my mind any time I had a chance to get out was “Hey, I wonder what (fill in the blank) is up to?”  I’d reach out, and if I managed to get a response, it’d be the aforementioned “maybe next week.”  It stinks to think that the day I gained a family was the same day I lost most of my friends, but looking back – there’s no other way to see it.

It’s lonely, and frustrating.  I’ve always had a small group of friends, a go-to group that I could spend time with, have fun with, vent with, you name it.  I valued that, I never quite understood the value of having that until I didn’t anymore.  Recently I finally hit my breaking point with getting blown off… With trying to get a hold of friends to do something with my free time other than dig an ever deeper rut in my couch playing video games or once again flying solo to the movie theater or local bar.  Yes, I’m lonely and depressed, but I’m in the middle of a divorce here, this is the time when friends should wonder how I’m doing, should be reaching out to me… God knows I’ve been trying to reach out to them.

So the “maybe next weekend” finally arrived and I reached out… There was already a plan which included a handful of people whom I haven’t hung out with in months if not years… but I’m told “it may change since its supposed to rain” but that they wanted to go out and get something to eat later on, minus a few people – and would let me know.   I decide to go out and see a movie, tell them this, and ask them “please let me know so I can meet up.”

An hour and a half later, I get out of the movie, check my phone – no texts.  I send one out letting them know I’m out of the movie, and wondering when/where we plan to meet up, while suggesting going to my favorite local bar for dinner.  An hour or two later, I get a reply that they’re looking for somewhere to eat, Warwick is packed, and they’ll get back to me after dinner.  I lost it.  Warwick is 5 minutes from my  house.  They went to Warwick, saw that it was packed, and moved on… No mention of where next, no suggestion of where to meet up, just a “we’ll get back to you.”   I’ve been struggling to find someone, ANYONE, in my “circle of friends” to hang out with for 2+ years now, and have been constantly, consistently blown off.  My first thought when I had any free time was to reach out to them… but I can only take so many un-returned messages and calls, and can only be told “maybe next weekend” so many times.

I just replied “don’t bother.”

I haven’t heard anything since.  At that moment I shrugged off all of the doubt and concern… I discarded all my questions “do they not like my family? do they not like me? do they not give a shit about me anymore?”  I’d rather have no friends than the illusion of friends.  I’ve still got other friends, but this was my “group.”  This was my go-to group of friends for over ten years…  I’ve spent the past 2+ years hemming and hawing, lying to my wife saying “I’m going to meet up with some friends” when in actuality I would go out, by myself, and try to find something to do on my own.  I spent so much time and effort trying to reach out to people who for all intents and purposes couldn’t give two shits about me anymore.  I blew countless hours, days, weeks of my life over the past 2 years pretending that I still had that group of friends when many of them, at least the group that I knew best and considered my closest friends tucked tail and ran the second I was married.

I subsequently shut down my Facebook profile.  “Wow, look what (fill in the blank) is doing” – watching people doing their own thing every single day, people who at this point don’t include me in their actual life let alone their online life.  Hell, maybe it is me, maybe they’re just tired of me…  Maybe I just don’t care anymore.  Throughout the rollercoaster that has been my life over the past several years, I’ve been trying to make friends, keep friends, and there are still a handful that I can talk with – but beyond family, there’s one out of them all who I’ve known since I was 14, and who – to this day, I can reach out to and hang out with just about any time I want…  There’s no judgment, no bullshit, no convenience aspect, no feeling that I’m being tolerated instead of accepted.

This friend is a guy who actually referred to me once as his ‘nemesis’ in an official legal statement, we’ve been at odds over the years, but throughout it all – throughout our various phases, my sometimes questionable romances, he’s been an absolute rock – a best friend.  I just had to “lose” all of the people who I considered my closest friends to re-discover the one friend who has been my best friend all along.  Thank God for him.

I’m going to re-activate my Facebook again today, but instead of being glued to it, trying to find something interesting outside the chaos that is my life… I’ll keep it there so those who want to reach out to me will have an easy and direct way to do it, and to stay in touch with some friends who I can’t really stay in touch with any other way… but I’m done wasting my time, effort, and emotion on people who won’t do the same to me.  I’ve got a best friend, and a group of other friends that I can be myself around and not have pretend to be anyone but myself.  It’s a cliche, that you’ve got to lose to know how to win… but it’s true.  I lost, and because of that, I’ve realized that I won.


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