Swede had been back in my life for all of five days when we decided, in a blur of too much wine, to take a cab to Atlantic City at three in the morning. At the time, without a proper place to go dancing in Manhattan, it seemed like the next logic choice. Paying $400 for a cab to drop us off at the only open bar in Atlantic City also seemed whimsical and something only he and I would do. It was Halloween weekend 2010.
Knowing my phone would be dead before the weekend was over, I thought it a courtesy to call my closest friends K and S to tell them where I was. We had a standing brunch date every Saturday at the same place and since I was in hotel room that overlooked the ocean, I was quite certain I would not be back in time to meet them. Also, part of me wanted to gush: “See? He’s not so bad after all! Look at what we did! Look at fun we are!”
Both K and S were not impressed with the choice I had made to hop a cab to Atlantic City with the same person who had driven me to not only leave the city on several occasions just to outrun him, but who had also taken advantage of me, broke my heart and all that other sticky shit that comes with a tumultuous relationship that should have dissolved before it even started. There were a few lectures from them, and as if they were my parents, they told me to have fun and “we’ll discuss this when you get back.”
But we barely discussed anything when I returned to the city late Sunday night. K and S had already decided how this “situation” was going to be handled. I was given an ultimatum. I could dismiss the weekend in Atlantic City as something fun that I needed to get out of my system so as to end on a high note with Swede and move on with my life, or I could go back to the chaos that was my existence with Swede but I’d lose them in the process. I had never been given such a choice before in my life. It also felt childish and unnecessary. I mean, he had changed after all. Couldn’t they see? We got drunk and went to Atlantic City! That must mean something, right?
I didn’t spend much time thinking about it. I told them that now that Swede was back in my life, I couldn’t just give him up again. I told them I’d meet them halfway and that they’d never have to see him and should I end up being a crying mess on the floor over him someday, they’d never have to know. But that wasn’t good enough. It was all or nothing. K and S had watched the nonsense of the last couple years in shock that a woman who is, or at least appears to be, smart, independent and capable of making the right choices when Swede wasn’t around, could collapse into a fragile, broken child who thought the sun rose and set on this one particular person.
Could I not see the effect he had on me? Could I not see how self-destructive it all was? Could I not see that he is absolute shit and in no time at all I’ll have another setback because of him? Why was it that I couldn’t understand how well I flourished when he was gone? Of course, I could see all those things if I tried really hard, but the fact was I didn’t want to see them. And that’s when my friendship with K and S ended. It was the first week in November of 2010.
Although my other friends stuck by if only to do the “I Told You So” dance months later, and then again a few more months after that, it wasn’t quite the same without K and S. I had tried on a few occasions to reach out to them, but always got nothing back. Even Swede, the man whom at one time I probably would have sold a nephew if he wanted me to, tried to reach out to them with promises that would eventually end up empty, but still they never replied.
To this day, I have friends and family who balk at the fact that two of my closest friends in the world could have not only forced me to make a choice, but then gave up on me entirely because I made the wrong choice. And for a long time I agreed that they were wrong to do so, but I don’t feel that way anymore.
As a friend, you can only witness someone you love suffer for so long. You can only listen to them cry, watch them fall apart at the seams and behave in irrational ways as a means of self-preservation just so many times. It was not K and S’s responsibility to pick me up every time I fell, but that’s what they had been doing. So when it came down to the obvious fact that Swede was back and it was just a matter of months before they’d have to do it again, they washed their hands of it. I was angry at them for a long time, but not so much anymore.
Losing K and S was one of the most difficult lessons I had to learn, but it was necessary. I had to lose them to realize just how much I meant to them and how much I should mean to myself. In the end, losing them was far more detrimental than losing Swede. Granted each situation was a lesson in itself, but watching your friends give you up because they can see what you’re too blind to see is something that you don’t find everyday.
I was given an ultimatum and I made the wrong choice. But at least now I know the next time a friend so lovingly points out to me that someone in my life is shit, I’ll make an attempt to see it more clearly. I’ll try harder to see around the fog that comes with loving someone more than he deserved or was ever capable of loving back. And I fucking swear to myself and my current friends, I will never ever doubt them again. I’ll also be sure to steer clear of anyone that I may have to reference as “Swede” in an article.
I do believe many lessons have been learned here.