I know he thinks of me at times, my ex-friend Doug. Or he has in the past few weeks anyway.
He started messaging me the day his Book Groupie went back to Vermont.
(God Himself must have intervened in that situation for not only did the Book Groupie never show up at my facility, her ability to get to Doug was severely limited by his emergency hospitalizations. I’m sorry he’s not feeling better, but I am so glad she stayed away from me. That is an answered prayer and one I am so very grateful for.)
When I saw the first new message from Doug, there was this narrow sense of surprise and a feeling of, “that’s nice of him.”
But as quick as it bubbles up, it swirls away. And I fight with myself after every single message from him, over what I really want to say.
Not sure which part of me wins, but I have yet to say what I’m thinking.
I wonder, at this point, what purpose would my speaking up serve though? All I originally wanted to do is defend myself. I wanted him to stop acting crazy and go back to Good Doug.
I’m definitely not trying to make him feel better about anything he did to hurt me. But now, it’s all so far in the rear-view mirror. Besides his messages and calls, there isn’t even any evidence in my life that I ever even knew Doug, except for my friendship with Asa. And that friendship has evolved so very far from it’s beginning that I bear no resemblance to the person I was.
Doug sent me several photos, but I’ve not seen him since December. I don’t suppose I will see him again, except in his casket.
I suspect that it doesn’t really matter now. I think I’ve slowly come to terms with the fact that nothing will ever be resolved. And maybe “not resolved” is how it is resolved. At one point I desperately wanted to say goodbye, but now?
I knew this about him, how mean he could be, how he never ever apologizes for anything.
But it’s still extremely weird to have walked through being one of the people he was mean to. I was like his child, his pet, his project. I saw him erupt at others but we just had this very solid friendship for so long. So that all still feels so strange.
Almost like it was in a parallel universe.
So, the first message from him, in quite a while:
He asked me if I was in the loop with our Mutual Friend about his health.
Which no. HTTN.
I told him, “Doug, first of all, I’m never going to ask Mutual Friend about you out of respect for your privacy and second, I’m never going to put either one of us in the bizarre position of explaining why in the world I would need a health update on you, from her.” Because that is the absolute truth.
I’m never in a million years going to ask her anything about him. She might mention something in passing, very rarely, but as long as all three of us still live, he’ll never hear her say, “I saw Angel yesterday, she asked about you.”
So he proceeds with a horrible horrible health update. Things are about in the end of the second stage of “worst,” if “worst” was divided into three categories.
The update made me cry, but I didn’t tell him. I just said, “I’m going to need a moment to absorb all this.”
He instantly and snarkishly replied, “I wish I had the leisure of time that you have, for absorbing this, that must be nice.”
YOU HAD PLENTY OF TIME TO ABSORB THIS. You choose the experimental treatment instead of having the tumor removed so you could get away from your wife and go spend three months with the Book Groupie.
And he did have three months to absorb all of this. He gave me about 30 seconds! At the time he informed me, I was driving down the interstate and sorry, but I just couldn’t reply how he obviously wanted me to.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
I also wondered if he’d now say keeping that tumor and watching it grow for three months was the wisest course of action. ( I tried to get him to have it removed within a few days of finding it. I could barely feel it through his shirt, it was so small. Like a hard pea.) But he kept the tumor in, so he could get into a three month drug trial near the Book Groupie. Within just a month or two of the decision to let it grow until the trial opened, it had gotten about 10 times bigger.
That ran through my mind, but I didn’t say it.
When I arrived at my destination I wrote, “Sorry I couldn’t drive down the interstate doing 80 and properly respond to your message.” And I proceeded to write this really long and what I thought was sweet and sympathetic message. When really, I had no idea at all what to say to him.
Part of me is thinking, “Doug, you hurt me, you hated me, you manipulated me. WHY are you reaching out to me, of all people?”
He treated my unfairly, cruelly and beyond harsh. He manipulated me into providing him with $3000 worth of professional services. He tried to frighten me by coming by my house dropping location pings. That’s the short list.
I mean, I could go on and on about the hateful things he did, including saying I was insane, (when I asked him why he was mad at me,) and his backhanded slams at me when I asked his advice on going for the new job.
Why is he looking to me now? Why does he want to talk to me? Why is he messaging me so often? Now, after everything? I’m not equal to the task, even if we didn’t have the history we have.
Yes, we were friends. I do actually miss him as a friend. I just do not know how to walk back down the path of him.
I do, in some respects, I do want to be his friend, and be there for him, if he needs me. I pray for him. I know he’s suffering. I wish I could do something to help.
But why does he think treating me like hell for more than a few months means he can drop bad news on me at any time and expect something meaningful in return, in 30 seconds? He is mad that I can’t instantly comfort him?
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
Since that first longer conversation, he’ll tell me updates every few days. He’s called a few times, but I’ve missed his calls.
I don’t know why I don’t call him back.
So he messages me: His hair is finally falling out. He’s out of the hospital. He might have 6 months if the chemo works. He’s sick from it most of the time. His right arm is twice as big as the left due to lymph nodes being damaged.
I reply that I’m praying for him, because I am.
Then he’s sent an ongoing series of notices of events or articles he thinks I might be interested in.
Just like anything you’d drop a note to a friend about. Not even anything that requires an answer or follow up from me.
So I plant one of those big thumbs-up thingies on it and go about my life. I don’t know what else to do.
When I look back I’ll be able to say
You didn’t mean to be cruel
Somebody hurt you too”
Post Script: He came to my workplace in September 2018 and apologized, and asked me to forgive him.