Aug. 31st, 2014

besubversive: (skulking)
I still get the very occasional email from my former best friend, Elliott. For a while after our ugly fallout, I would have a dream about him the night before one of these emails would arrive. It was eerie. That kind of thing doesn't really happen anymore, which is somewhat of a relief. I respond to his infrequent emails, which mostly contain talk of major life events, book and music recommendations, and rarely, mentions of his wife, whom he started dating back when we were still attempting a long distance romance. It doesn't unsettle me to hear from him the way it used to, probably because I have spent a lot of time processing my yucky feelings about the friendship. I was probably never closer to any person, and probably never will be, but that's okay, because a lot of what went on between us wasn't emotionally healthy.

In list form, of course:

- Our friendship actually started on LiveJournal, on a pen pal community. When we first started chatting surprised, he sent me a lot of pictures of himself that later turned out to be not him at all. It was strange how I found out. He also talked about a good friend of his that I always suspected he had made up, and if I recall it correctly, I chatted to this friend online once or twice but never got to speak to him on the phone, and when I wanted to, their friendship suddenly ended. Elliott also told me that he had something like seven tattoos, and described them vividly, so when I met him in person a few years later, I was surprised to find that he had only one or two. Of course, he was 15 or 16 when we became friends, so maybe he was protecting his actual identity, but I never got a satisfactory explanation of the discrepancies.

- Elliott could be very critical about things that didn't fit his worldview, which isn't unusual in itself, but he would sometimes police the things I would say or do so that I would better match his image of me.  For instance, we had a phone conversation where I said the word "blunt," (the noun, not the adjective) and he insisted that I never use any kind of slang, suggesting that it made me sound trashy.  I laughed it off, but did not like the way he was so comfortable telling me what to do.

- Once I began dating other folks, Elliott started placing more and more demands on my time, wanting more phone calls and getting upset if we didn't talk every day.  I can't even guess how many times I had to apologize, reassure him that his friendship was important, and promise to be better about communicating.  Then he would say, "I don't care, do what you want," and I would feel compelled to win him over, time and again.  So often, he would make me feel like The Worst Person Ever, and yet I was still doing back bends to trying to keep him placated. Now I would sooner punch someone than let them make me feel so horrible.  (Okay, I wouldn't punch anyone, but I don't take any shit either.)

- Since the end of our friendship, there are things in his emails that continue to put me off.  Until recently, he would always have some kind of sexual remark, even if it wasn't about me.  Like, "That's what I've been doing to stay busy, and when not doing that, well, you know what boys like to do when left alone."  When you haven't corresponded in six months, how is that appropriate?

- Another thing I don't like is his apparent entitlement when it comes to my life and my things.  To be conversational, I mentioned that I had taken up quilting.  In his next email, Elliott said that he'd love to receive a quilt from me, and even sent me a list of fabrics he liked.  There was never any offer to make him a quilt, but he assumed that I would want to if he expressed interest.  No!

- And lastly, the thing that really burns me up is his need to insinuate every so often that I am being somehow controlled by my husband and am not autonomous any longer.  From his last email: "I would love to send you some mix CDs, but you probably aren't allowed to receive them."  Not only do I not want any physical mail from Elliott, but my husband is not some kind of domineering asshole, a la The Color Purple, dictating who I can see and talk to and get mail from, etc.  We are a team of equals, and we both respect the fact that we had lives before (or, like, in between) the one we built together.  We trust each other to make good decisions regarding interactions with exes and anyone else.  For Elliott to suggest that I'm in a relationship where one person makes decisions for the other is to basically call me weak or subservient.  And that I can't abide.

Anyway, I've learned a lot about what a friend IS by being shown what a friend ISN'T.  So at least there's that.

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