Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Spring Cleaning in July
In cleaning out my overstuffed email inbox (over 3000 messages) from the old address I used to use I ran across some emails from a former best friend with whom I had a falling out over a year ago. I hadn't given him much thought for some time. Although the end of our friendship was a lot like a big breakup emotionally (at least for me), time and space made it clear that the only things that brought us together in the first place and had allowed us to hang out together for so long was the fact that we both shared a common background involving deep emotional scarring and a penchant for using alcohol as an escape vehicle.
It wasn't all bad. I've got lots of good memories from times we hung out together too. But with him, I was usually a victim. There was a strange competitiveness between us that at times meant that we acknowledged each other's strengths and at other times meant that we were deeply jealous of each other for what we perceived as our own failings.
I was surprised how reading the angry and accusatory emails he'd written (that were actually from a year or two before our final showdown) still had the power to make me question myself. Had I really been that terrible of a friend to him? Were the things I told him so hurtful that they were completely out of line? The fact that I was reading these at 3 in the morning probably made me significantly more vulnerable to these feelings. Late nights are like that.
The next morning I thought about it some more and remembered what led me to stop chasing a friendship with this person... it was his complete inability to accept responsibility for his words and actions. I'm the first to admit that I probably acted like a bastard towards him sometimes. I may not have been "nice" when I told him things that I felt he needed to hear. But the underlying message was something I believed and something that I told him because I felt it was information he needed to hear. I was starting to emerge from out the other side of a self-destructive tunnel I had been in and all I could see was that he was still caught up in that self-destructiveness. A pattern had developed between us where he dominated our friendship and I allowed him to act that way. Of course he wouldn't like it when I started to assert myself, and it makes sense that I probably asserted myself in negative ways as I was learning how to do so. When it came down to it, I believe we liked our ideas of who each other was better than who we actually were. Constant drinking only exacerbated the situation.
This digital organization of my email ended up extending into the real world the next day when I started going through the piles of things accumulating around my desk. I tend to hoard anything that is written down, worried that someday I might "need" that information/knowledge and then where will it be?
Well, I was more ruthless with my discards than usual. I threw away a lot of things that I was holding onto for the wrong reasons and it felt great! I might be late in getting around to doing my spring cleaning, but at least I'm finally doing it. And on several levels too.