Tuesday, January 30, 2018


I'm not sure anyone ever suggested that life in general is supposed to be easy. I'm certainly not finding it to be that way. Some people allude to the placidity and to the carefree nature of childhood. I'm not sure that even childhood was an especially happy-go-lucky era in my life. If memory serves me correctly, most of my childhood was spent walking around on metaphorical eggshells, trying not to make anyone angry and trying not to get into any trouble. Undoubtedly the times of stress were interspersed with good times, but it just seems like, for as far back as I can recall, my raison d'etre was to keep someone from finding out about something, to smooth over someone's ruffled feathers, or to make amends for some real or perceived slight I had committed. It would be easier for me to rationalize this away if I had good reason to believe that I was somehow more the exception than the the rule in this regard, and that most children devoted large portions of their childhoods, at least allegorically, sniffing or plucking wildflowers from fields and meadows.

I'm not blaming this on my parents, either. While we've had our moments a family, as I would assume all families have had, I had caring and nurturing parents. If my relationship with one parent or the other was tense, it was probably because the parent was doing his or her job as opposed to either of them acting in a way that was either overly guilt-producing or punitive. Things at home were, for the most part, tranquil when we as a family were not dealing with something along the lines of a family member's life-threatening illness. Little of my childhood angst was connected to my parents. More often, it was peers or teachers, coaches, music teachers, extended family members, or other miscellaneous authority figures with whom I was continually struggling to navigate relationships and keep in harmony.

I'm finding young adulthood to be more of the same, as in the more things change, the more they seem to remain the same. I'm lucky enough to count among my friends a very small number of individuals who have never given me cause to distrust them or to question their loyalty.  Where time is concerned, though, I do not have the luxury of limiting myself to hanging out exclusively with my tried-and-true homies while pretending to myself that the rest of the world does not exist in a social sense. I must, unfortunately, interact with the rest of the world as well.

Socialization in today's world has grown to be unusually complex in that, in most of our circles, people exist with whom we rarely if ever have contact in the flesh, who, at the same time,  are very real parts of our worlds and of our lives. In the view of many people, this is symptomatic of many of the ills of today's society and is wrong in every sense. We need to be concerning ourselves with what is and who are concrete, real, and physically present in our lives. Emphasis upon and obsession over digital presence in our lives will, in the view of many, ultimately lead to the downfall of society as we have previously known it to be. or at least insist the naysayers.

Whether or not there is any substance to the degree or extent to which the virtual or cyber matters complicate our lives, digital presence and cyber-relationships are here to stay.  Whether they confound our existence to any greater degree than do more physically substantive relationships is a point over which nothing resembling consensus has at this point been reached, if ever it will be reached.  Regardless, I'm in the midst of what appears to be an at least moderately serious rift with a friend as defined under the parameters of cyber-friendship.  Following in very close proximity the fracture of my most recent and most serious romantic relationship to date, this schism has hit hard; to say that it hurts is an understatement.

I cannot share the details to the degree that I would like because friends (our relationship  presumably still falls under the technical category of friends and possibly always will) don't dish on one another just because a friendship isn't as close as it once was. I'm failing miserably at explaining what this is about in such a way as to allow my feelings to be at least cursorily  understood without saying more than I should say, and also to do so in such a manner as to avoid appearing to be the ultimate self-indulgent, self-pitying martyr.  Everyone has fallings out or at least driftings apart with friends. Why should I expect my own life to be sheltered beyond what is endured even among those whose existences would have to be considered charmed by almost any standards in the grand scheme of things?  (I read recently that if a person owns more than a single pair of shoes, he or she is in the top half of the world in terms of the cushiness of his or her lifestyle.  If there is indeed any validity to the link between a single change in footwear and privilege, I can claim no status other than one of extreme entitlement.)

My friend of whom I write is married. An unspoken or sometimes spoken parameter in friendships between members of the opposite sex when at least one is married is that marriage and family trumps all else, period. His matrimonial status hasn't introduced  any significant element of awkwardness in this relationship characterized largely by comfort, yet there was always a tacit understanding, at least on my part.   Any disquietude concerning any real or perceived lack of propriety in our friendship has been circumvented in the past to a great degree by a  considerable physical separation which was a reality of our relationship. It is possible for two or more people to have what is known as "phone sex," but that possibility in no way characterized the reality of our friendship.  Ours was a simple friendship. I'm feeling especially crushed in all of this because I  felt that I took extra care to show respect for my friend's status as a married man and to his marriage and family. 

The vast majority of communications between my friend and myself have taken place through text messages though we sometimes have held actual telephone conversations. My friend mentioned to me relatively recently that the two of us should speak, as in to hold an actual telephone conversation versus to communicate via text messages, concerning physical symptoms of ailments each of us suffer for which some of the symptoms of the two are in common.  I  noted a few times in the days immediately following in which I would possibly be available to talk by phone, then noted that I had no idea what my schedule would be like following that.

A text discussion concerning a third party -- a person considered to be erratic at best by those in the know concerning such matters -- ensued.  (In a matter that is really neither here nor there as absolutely no one other than the two of us would care about the details concerning this, we disagree concerning details related to the matter. I don't like to be one of such people who always HAS to be right because I find such people to be most obnoxious, but in this case, I AM correct and have proof. I erase my own  personal texts and those connected for the purpose of preserving the privacy of all, but a nurse texted with my friend using my phone. I never saw the text she sent until recently, much le'
other wma " sort of relationship, you're not the only woman to whom it sounds as such. Keep in mind, please, that our friendship is NOT an "other woman" relationship nor will it ever be, nor would I ever allow myself to be anyone's other woman. I'm giving my friend the benefit of the doubt in assuming that he , neither, has any desire for anything extracurricular by way of any sort of  extra-marital relationship, at least where I'm concerned. No man ever does. I'm simply not that attractive, and I am speaking from my rational self and not from any part of a martyr complex I may possess, nor am  I including this opinion so that others will comment "No, Alexis; it's NOT true! you really are pretty and thus salvage my ego. It's merely that I'm not on any sort of equal footing in this friendship. I understand his need for discretion, as despite the benign nature of it all, perception can be everything where one's spouse and children are concerned.

Because my friend had earlier proposed a telephone conversation, I alluded to it in a text exchange.  Because he had only recently suggested a telephone conversation, I followed up regarding how that telephone conversation was supposed to work. His response was something to the effect of, "If I want to talk to you, I text you and ask if you have time to take the call. If your answer is yes, I call you." Period. Pardon my if I admit to feeling only the most of limited if any relational reciprocity whatsoever under this system. While, I get that he is the partner in our friendship who stands to have a spouse whose feelings could be hurt by random telephone calls, still it seems to be a friendship that is on nothing close to equal terms. If he desires to talk to me -- even if he says he does, then forgets that he ever said anything to that effect -- it's his choice to text me or to call me (occasionally he does not text first, though typically he does. If I were to really want to talk to him, the best possible answer as I can see it would apply is, "Tough shit,"  though I was never told such in so many words. My feelings were bruised by the callousness of the handling off situation, and left me in doubt as to my status a a friend to this person.

For some reason -- and I do not entirely rule out misperception or hypersensitivity on my part --  I felt an immediate impression of relationship-oriented awkwardness to my having mentioned the earlier suggested telephone conversation. I was left with the feeling (again, which may have been nothing more than a misguided feeling on my part) that I was in some way being considered a pursuer or an aggressor of sorts, though the telephone conversation had not been my idea in the first place  My friend did not directly accuse me of any such thing, so I cannot unilaterally blame him for this or for any other feeling on my part. Still, it was a most uncomfortable sensation.  I was left feeling as though I might somehow unwittingly or unintentionally be considered to be chasing the man, or at least, for lack of a better descriptive term,  creating the impression of doing such. This is an action in which I simply do not engage. even in kindergarten, when some little girls chased boys around the playground, I wanted know part in such activity and considered it beneath my dignity.

I immediately dropped the topic of any telephone conversation.  Times attached to text messages are unclear; I don't recall when either he or I last sent a message to the other.  It's been longer than twenty-four hours, but we've never made it any sort of point to message each other on any sort of a regular basis. The interval between our most recent text messaging is not of significance. On the other hand, if I even as much as exchange a text message with this person again, which will not happen unless he initiates the exchange, I certainly will never again broach the subject of a telephone conversation between the two of us. 

I suspect I've somehow, by my reaction to this situation, convinced my friend that I am more emotionally needy than to be  worthy of his or anyone else's genuine friendship. We all know too many basket cases in the flesh to encumber ourselves with those slightly shaky individuals who have somehow managed to attach themselves to us through the cyberworld. I've certainly found such characters out their in the vast online world myself. We all have enough questionable people in our real worlds without taking on the unstable cyber-population among us. My mom tells me my friend is too busy to waste his time assuaging my ego. She's probably right. Live and learn.  

I'm reasonably certain I never in my own mind built up the intensity of our friendship in my mind to a state it existed beyond what it was in reality.  I never harbored any illusion that my friend would be the officiant at my own wedding ceremony or that he would surprise me by unexpectedly showing up at my medical school graduation.  I always knew my place in the grand scheme of all things relational, which would have placed me in terms of priority behind my friend's immediate family, his extended family, his real friends, his co-workers, he lowest of his low subordinates,  his closest cyber-friends. his bookies, his hair stylist, those who remove his trash from the designate receptacles regular, yard waste, or recyclables from their designated bins placed on the streets, probably his mail man, the technician who schedules his prostate exams, his usual FEDEX deliveryman, and his pest control person as well. Still. I feel somehow cut off by his responses to my questions.. Following my recent romantic breakup, this all happened at a time when, emotionally speaking, I could ill afford to be discontinued in the manner in which I was by someone I had considered a good friend.  The pain isn't literally killing me (I admit to a pet peeve concerning use of the word literally; were the pain I suffer literally killing ,e, I would be either dying in a hospital, or holed up in a corner somewhere, most likely bleeding out. In any event, I wouldn't be typing my "woe is me" story so that I might have the sympathy of all who read it), but it I can honestly admit that the pain makes me want to dig a hole, crawl inside it, and cover the top with a  heavy board, leaving enough air so that  I can breathe but not to allow any light or extra air inside.  Emotional pain isn't as unlike physical pain as those who have lived truly charmed existences would ever know.

I cannot know everything that has gone on nor presently is going ion within my friend's marriage, nor do I have any need to know. Perhaps my friend is wise to snub me at the present time. His  feeling ever so slightly insecure in regard to his  friendships with other females at the moment (assuming the insecurity extends to friendships with females beyond myself) may be for reasons quite logical to anyone in possession of all the facts. Maybe the wife, were she to know of my existence,  would have visions of me as being some sort of young femme fatale, as opposed to the more likely scenario that, were I to be introduced as the love child of Bernie Sanders and Paris Hilton, who unfortunately emerged looking a whole lot more like Bernie Sanders than like Ms.Hilton. (As a saving grace in this fictitious debacle, were I the product of such a union, my intellect would have to be said to more closely resemble that of Senator Sanders than of Ms.Hilton. ) Few to whom the story would be told would be unlikely to have reason to question the account of my parentage. It's far more plausible that this particular story of immaculate conception would have a ring of truth to it that would any of the other  immaculate conception stories that have come about in the past two millennia, give or take a hundred years. For that matter,  no one ever suggested that the conception necessarily occurred immaculately. Ms. Hilton hasn't always been discriminating with regard to her choices in coital relationships.

The situation is not improved by the reality, to me anyway, that at least one mutual cyber-acquaintance and probably a few real-life ones as well would and/or will be most pleased and/or amused by this recent development. Adding publicity to humiliation typically only serves to intensify it. I know this very well. I  was, just about a month ago, unceremoniously dumped by the guy I was dating, who was arguably the best-looking male in our cohort. I'm still the souce of many jokes over that incident, with many casual observers wondering what a man so handsome would ever see in a female who looked the way I look.. Some days it's all I can do to force myself to  leave my condo in the morning for work.

Meanwhile, I must finish my subinternship, the remainder of the this academic year, then ultimately my internship and residency, and I must do it without unnecessarily bogging down any actual friends I've been lucky enough to hold onto, because they also have their own problems with which to deal, and they will not continue to be my friends if being in my presence does nothing except to drag them down with me. Three-and-one-half years ago, I would have guessed that life would be some version of smooth sailing by now, which only goes to show just how little I knew then.


  1. So you're upset because you have a male friend who is married? And he's basically told you that he alone will decide when you two can speak on the telephone? It doesn't sound like much of a friendship to me. I can understand not wanting anyone to think you two are screwing around. That is a valid concern, but friendships should go both ways.

    On the other hand, I know it hurts to lose people who might be friends. I've lost a few myself.

  2. That pretty much sums it up. I don't know if I'm losing a real friend or merely the illusion of one, but it hurts just the same.

    1. I understand. I've been dealing with some of that lately, myself.