So a few weeks ago, I mentioned the prompting that I had during General Conference, one that I resisted. Well, I gave in Wednesday of that week (the first Wednesday of October). I stopped by his aunt's house, which is not quite a block from where the Spanish branch meets. Joseph's car was nowhere to be seen, but I felt I should knock anyways. I talked to his aunt and her husband for a few minutes--really good people, those two. They confirmed a few things for me; first off, I wasn't going crazy. Apparently it's been particularly difficult on him since his best friend essentially fell off the face of the earth (i.e. got engaged and finally tied the knot at the end of last month), leaving him high and dry. There's any number of other things that could be behind their saying that things were rough for him. Second, it confirmed something vague that he had mentioned concerning a job other than his original one. They offered to tell him that I had stopped by, but I told them not to worry about it. I'd like him to reach out to me for a change.
That happened the following Sunday. He texted me to ask how I was doing (in other words, "why aren't you at Church?"). I told him that, honestly, I'd been going through a few things that had really messed me up inside (all of which was due to my feelings toward him and his failure to even just treat me as a friend, and my social failures in an attempt to compensate for that). When he didn't respond, I explained that I changed wards hopefully to help me to resolve that. He asked if it was helping. I responded.
Then he told me that, in a few weeks, he was going to be moving back home until resuming school, and that he would be staying there during all of his future breaks from school--"So there's that", as he put it. Now consider that "home" for him is some thousand miles or so from here.
Me: "So I guess I probably won't be seeing or hearing from you for a while, between work and your plans."
Joseph: "Well, I'm hoping to get a group of friends together one last time before then, Nothing's set, but I'll let you know what happens."
My feelings about this are mixed. It feels like he already left months ago. I was already beginning to think that it was such a loss that he decided to take a second job for what short time before he headed back to school in January. I almost wanted him to leave. I was tired of his charade of acting like he still regarded me as a friend.
This past week, while I was still reeling from the whole car situation I was in, I decided to e-mail a letter to myself, as if it was designated to him. In it, I explain my feelings for him, how all I've ever allowed myself to want is his friendship, how I've appreciated the time that he has indeed spent with me, both with and without company, and how I've suspected that he wasn't just accidentally giving me distance, that he's had motives for doing so. In it I explain why I share these things, and that I wanted to give him a way out--there was no need for him to keep pretending if it was simply too uncomfortable for him to be around me.
I've actually thought a great deal about printing it and leaving it for him. I've oscillated a lot, deciding that I would not show up if he did indeed invite me to some sort of get-together, or perhaps not even respond to the invitation. Maybe I would leave the letter behind after the fact. Maybe I would leave the frisbee I bought for his suggested weekly gatherings for Ultimate Frisbee as a memento to remember me by.
Last night I was reflecting. My birthday's next week, and I was considering whether or not I wanted to gather any friends. Then I remembered--Joseph had a birthday right before mine. For all I knew, it had already come and past.
So what did I do? Like a big dummy, I decided to text him.
I waited a few minutes--why, I don't know; if he ever bothers to message me back, it's not usually for a few hours. I went to bed, and woke up this morning to his response that his birthday was next Wednesday, making him a full two days older than me. I didn't him what he was doing, or invited myself to be involved. I simply asked him what I could get him.
First punch to the gut: "All I could ask for is your friendship." I sincerely doubt that he even cares for my friendship. He's just about lost it.
Second punch to the gut: "Actually, I'm going to be headed home today." Ouch. No get-together. No notice. I wouldn't even have known he was gone if I wasn't the one to text him just hours before he left. I told him I did have one thing I wanted to give him (i.e. the frisbee. I had no use for it, and it just makes me think of him).
Third punch to the gut: *three hours later* "Actually, I'm already on the road. I guess you can send it."
I'm fighting back the powerful urge to use expletives here.
"Well, I guess I'll see you around then. Or probably not."
Those last three words were the closest I ever came at expressing my anger and hurt at him. What person does that?! I was so hurt that I deleted the entire conversation. I made to delete his number from my phone as a contact. No sooner had I done that than did he have the nerve to send me this:
":( Hey, I'm sure we'll see each other. I really appreciate having you as a friend (:"
I deleted that too.
"Not if I can help it."
Of course, I only think that last line in retrospect. He was right to call me a friend--I was, in the truest sense. So hollow, however, were his words of appreciation. He could hardly grant me the time of day, and even then, it felt so much like discreet avoidance. He doesn't deserve to hear what I'm feeling. It would truly be like casting pearls before swine.
I'm so hurt and frustrated. I wish I could disappear. I can take a stab from a sharp blade. Those wounds heal much faster. Why, then, does he insist on striking me so deeply and repeatedly with the dullest of butter knives, with such ambiguity? What did I ever do to deserve being treated this way? Why did I have to ask him about his birthday? Why couldn't I just leave him alone and forget about him? Is this what I get for trying to be a true friend? Is this my curse for caring for others more than they care about me? I'm aching all over, and not just from doing loads of deadlifts and leg presses I did at the gym yesterday.
Some birthday present.