The Vine: February 19, 2014
A few years ago, my life went off the rails in a pretty spectacular fashion.
Years of abusing prescription painkillers led to an arrest and the loss of my job of over a decade. Cut to a year or so later, where the fallout from this has settled and I've gotten things back on track. I promptly got into a major car accident involving massive property damage and talk of how it was a miracle that I walked away from it. (I should note here that while I was at fault, it was due to a medical condition and not due to being under the influence — I was 100 percent sober when this happened.)
Here's the fun part. The above incidents all made the paper, so my name appeared in the paper three times over the span of a year. (Two articles had me as the main focus, one was just a passing mention.) So not only did I get to deal with everything that happened, I got the joy of knowing that the whole town knew all the gory details.
I dealt with this in my own way, choosing not the read the articles in question nor the comments on the online articles, and more or less just trying not to think about it too much, beyond the occasional fantasy of moving out of state and changing my name. I've pulled my life together since, have a new job that I'm doing well at, paying my bills, staying sober, etc.
My problem now is this: I am lonely. My best friend of a dozen years decided he was done with me and won't talk to me anymore (I message him from time to time, but he ignores me). I have other very close friends, but they're married and have their own lives. I do see them from time to time, but it doesn't make much of a social life. I also haven't dated for awhile, so I'm in the market for both friends and dating options.
Since we live in the era where everyone Googles each other, I'm afraid to try to meet new people. Remnants of my past problems can still be found online if one does some digging, and it worries me that it'll scare people off. (I have an unusual last name, so I'm pretty easy to find via Google.) I talked to one guy on OKCupid and we got to the "texting each other" stage. Then he asked for my full name. I never heard from him again. I haven't been very active on there since then.
Am I stupid for hoping my best friend might talk to me again? He's sending a pretty clear message by ignoring my emails. but I can't seem to help but try. (Like every six months or so, not an everyday thing.) Do I have any hope of meeting new people and not sending them running away screaming? Lots of people have a past, but not everyone is lucky enough to have a paper trail of said past that's easily accessible to anyone who cares to look.
If you have anything beyond "sucks to be you," you're a genius.
Insert clever signature here
No, you're not stupid for hoping for a rapprochement, but you also have to accept that clear message, and stop reaching out. It's not entirely clear to me what the timeline is on his cutting you off — whether the arrest and the attendant kerfuffle is what caused it, or it's more recent — but it doesn't really matter. He's done, and not respecting the boundary he's setting is only going to alienate him further. It's painful, and it's okay to feel rejected and sad, but you have to feel those things and move on. Some things can't be fixed.
You can take that statement as something depressing, heavy with regret, an indictment of you and your mistakes, and it's important as part of your continuing recovery to take responsibility for your behavior and your part in the hard times you went through, but there's a difference between taking clear-eyed responsibility and punishing yourself — and with the understanding that I know it's not as easy as pulling up stakes, tying your bandanna to a stick, and heading off down the sunny side of the street, I think it's maybe time to move on, literally. That may upheave your support system in a way you don't want to risk, and you don't have to make it a permanent change, but consider putting a state or a time zone or a newspaper catchment area between you and the Google-able headlines. Sure, people can still find it, but physically closing the door on that part of your life might give you some valuable perspective on how much of a role the past has to, or is going to, play in your life now and going forward.
Now, I don't have any firsthand experience with your situation, but I have a bit with being the — meet-ee? The Googler? And my advice based on that is, if it comes up, mention it. Don't start handing out laminated cards or anything, but work it in. Be matter-of-fact, not too jokey, not too doomy. "Back when I was having some problems with X, and fortunately I've moved on from that, but anyway, at around that same time" — or whatever. Own it. The abuse, the arrest, the gathering and rearranging of the shards of your professional life, this is part of you now, and some of it is dark, and there will be people who can't separate you from the diseased behavior — but some of it is good. Some of it is strength and hope. And there will be other people who get that, that it's all those things, that you're not proud of the past but you can't change it, either.
You can't change the way your friend feels; it may change, down the road, but you can't do anything about it either way and you need to stop trying. You can't change the past, but you can change your location, for a while or forever, and give yourself a fresh start. You need a little more distance on everything, and you could probably use a support group; NA isn't for everyone, but a therapy group or some occasional counseling is indicated here, just to help you incorporate these travails and that time in your life as a key part of your life that doesn't define it.
People fuck up and get lost. Have some compassion for yourself and trust that it will be shown to you. One guy from OKCupid is not your destiny.
Tags: boys (and girls) friendships