Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Friendship: It's Hard to Say Goodbye

Unfortunately Roderick "The Muscle Pundet" will no longer be a contributor to The Male Media Mind. I was considering just saying that he had a conflict with work, which is true, but that doesn't come close to being the whole story. He's been one of my closest friends for some time now and it seems that conflicts over the writing of the blog has brought our friendship to an end.  He's still officially a contributor to the blog and will remain one until we publish his final post, but it's clear that he doesn't want to do this anymore and it's time that we find someone to join us to write in his place.

Friendship is an complicated idea that has been brought into stark focus because of this and instead of talking exclusively about this situation I'm using it as a springboard to talk about friendship in general. I hope I can explain myself clearly because it is important to me.

Before this insident went down I'd been having some thoughts about friendship knocking around in my head. I was complaining to myself about the fact that Roderick and I couldn't see eye to eye on anything. I wanted a friend who would read the books I read and watch the movies I watched. He wasn't that guy at all, but it didn't really matter to me. What really mattered was that we'd be there for each other no matter what and thought that we probably had that. As it turns out I was wrong. He wasn't there and decided to throw away what I thought was a good friendship over a minor disagreement. Of course this isn't the first or last time I have or will lose friends, but it is the first time I've lost a friend since I took up the practice of blogging.

Every relationship is a little bit of give and take. We ask friends for favors. We ask them for their time, to be on our side, and to make allowances for our faults. It's a lot to ask of someone. Even so, it's expected that they will reciprocate their support. It means we have to trust that they will be there if our life comes apart. When I was contemplating what friendship is I'd just read a book that I really wanted him to read. I knew I was never going to get him to read it. I was trying to come to terms with that fact when it occurred to me that I could just write a blog post about it. It helps if friends share your interests, but it isn't necessary. We talked politics. More like argued about politics. So I was encouraged when he decided to write for the blog. Of course his posts were never close to the level of passion he showed in our "discussions" about politics but it was a start. I thought that maybe over time he'd find his voice. Even that fraction of light he showed in his writing was brilliant and it was only going to get better.

Roderick and I have never met, but I expected that if things went wrong in my life I could call on him for support. I know he's been there for me before. After this incident though, it became clear that this was not something I could count on anymore. Besides our interest in politics and each other All of the surface common interests are really only there to help build a foundational support for one another and I realized that was the core of what a friendship is. Maybe we needed those common interests for days like this when your friendship is tested. It's also just nice to have.

A real friend tells you the truth and challenges you to be a better person. I asked Roderick to do a video for our YouTube Channel knowing he was shy. I was pushing him to be open and to talk about his ideas in a way I knew would make him uncomfortable, but when we spoke about it he laughed nervously and agreed to do it. I thought he trusted me enough to know I would not go any further than he was comfortable with. He ultimately didn't trust me. I called him around the time I asked him to be ready to do the video but he didn't answer. I called him a few times expecting that he was asleep and didn't want to wake him. After about five calls spaced further and further apart to let him rest, I received an e-mail from him. He gave me an excuse concerning his job as to why he couldn't do the video which I was ready to accept. I didn't agree with him, as per the usual (we didn't agree about a lot of things), but he ended the e-mail saying "I hope we can still be friends" and it shocked me. Why would he think I'd end our friendship over this?

At that point it had not even occurred to me that we would end our friendship over a stupid disagreement like this. I mean I enjoy doing this blog, but I considered him way more important to me than any video or blog post. So I called him again. And again he didn't answer. This time I knew he wasn't asleep because it was just a few seconds after receiving his email. I was being shut out and it made me angry. Mind you Roderick and I have known each other more than half a decade and talked on the phone often. We've never met, but if he's free I've always felt like I can call him and he'd take my call. I sent a couple of e-mails telling him to pick up the phone and kept calling. I called again, and again, and again until I checked my phone and saw that I had called him 17 times. I knew I couldn't let this stand.

I sent him an email saying I'd call him three more times and that if he didn't answer that was it our friendship would be over. It's not the nicest thing to do to a friend, to give them such an ultimatum, but I need to know that if something were to happen to me or my family I'd have a friend I could call and he'd answer. The blog wasn't even the point anymore, it was getting shut out for no good reason at all that pissed me off. I was ready to end it right then and there, but I wanted to give him one last chance. I set my timer for 30 mins and sent him an e-mail saying I'd call him when the timer rang and if he didn't answer I wouldn't call him again. When the phone was ringing I really hoped he would answer, but he didn't and here we are.

Even now I want to call him again just to see how he's doing. I care about him, but I have realized that it's best for us both to go our separate ways. I need to make room in my life for people who will be better a friend to me. I wanted to help him because I saw so much of myself in him. I could see myself doing exactly what he did. I've done this before to friends in the past. I shut them out because I was in pain or afraid and I paid the price for it. It was mistake for me to treat my friends that way and lost them. We need people we can trust and depend on if we can't be that for someone it doesn't matter how much you care about them we have to live with the consequences of our behavior. He obviously had his reasons for not answering the phone and so I have to respect that. Still if he wants to write for the blog he's welcome to he is after all a brilliant guy, but I had to realize that investing in him emotionally was a mistake.

I hope in the future I will make better choices about who I call a friend. He was my inspiration for the article about vulnerability because I knew he'd been hurt bad and had trouble connecting with people. Even more reason why it pains me to say good bye. I identified with that in him. I knew how it felt and it forged a bond between us. But I lost friends for being broken in this way and it helped me learn how to be a better friend when they left. Sometimes the best thing you can do for a person is to walk away and wish them well.







MALCOLM TRAVERS
Male Media Mind