One of the things that I have learned over the past few years is that there are certain consequences to having a blog under your real name and a visible presence on social networking sites. Namely, people from your past suddenly start finding you again. This can be both a pleasant surprise and an unpleasant experience. This is especially true when said friends last associated with you when you were a completely different person — say an evangelical Christian who identified as heterosexual.
In most cases, I’ve been very fortunate when people from my past pop up. They either don’t comment on how I’ve changed (though I suspect some of my old high school classmates might actually be pleased to learn I’ve loosened up since leaving Williamson) or they’ve expressed curiosity and a desire to understand how I got to where I am today, given my starting point.
This week, I had one of the — fortunately rare in my cases — less pleasant experiences. A friend from my first two years in college decided to contact me expressing a strong desire to rebuild our friendship. She also expressed remorse for how badly a prior attempt to rebuild our friendship turned out. That previous attempt was extremely short-lived, so much that I never revealed any of the changes I had undergone. It simply became clear that a friendship was not possible — at least not the kind that was being sought.
So when Lynn apologized and asked again to rebuild a friendship, I did so with some hesitancy. I still got the impression she had expectations for what the friendship was going to be like — expectations based on the person I was in 1993 and which would not be met by the strong, self-loving person with a decent sense of boundaries that I am today. But I’m also the kind of person that wants to give people the benefit of the doubt. So I told Lynn that I’m willing to be friends, but that she needed to understand the kind of friendship I could offer due to the changes I’ve gone through in my life. To give her an idea, I gave her the address to my website so she could learn about me again.
Alas, it would seem Lynn can’t deal with the person I’ve become. I’m not entirely surprised by that, though I had hoped that things may change. So she’s decided to let me go, though she promises to be there for me and be my strongest supporter if I should ever choose to “leave these lifestyle choices.”
To that I say, “Bah, humbug.” I tried the good little straight boy routine before and it almost cost me my life. I simply have neither the desire nor a compelling reason to return to that nightmare. And if it means that I will have to struggle on without Lynn’s support and friendship…well, let’s be honest here. I’ve thrived without her support and friendship since around 1994, and I’m pretty sure I can maintain that trend indefinitely. After all, I wasn’t the one who sought to renew our friendship after all this time.
In the end, I think that’s what bothers me most about this experience. Lynn came to me looking for something. She talked about how she had missed me and wanted me back in her life. But the moment she realized I no longer met her expectations based on her recollections that are over a decade old, she suddenly decided that wasn’t possible anymore. Not only that, then she started acting as if I would eventually be the one that needed her. That’s just not the way things work in the world I know and understand.
In the end, I’m a bit sad. I don’t like realizing that there are just some people I can’t maintain a friendship with. And in some ways, I’m sad that Lynn is unable to maintain a friendship with someone who doesn’t meet her expectations and is apparently even unwilling to understand what happened in the sixteen years she’s been absent from my life. It tells me that blessing I offered her is still need of fulfillment: that she finds the healing her soul needs.
The sad irony is that she now probably thinks it’s my soul that needs healing. If only she took the time to learn the truth.