Of the various internal questions you'll have about yourself in life, "What is wrong with me?" is the hardest to both ask and answer. Because recognizing it takes a hell of an existential beatdown. The first reaction is to assume something is wrong with other people. We're conditioned to believe this. We hear things like "if Gary shits in your shoe he's not a real friend" and "Susie doesn't deserve you if she can't handle your prolapse." The problem is always someone else, because you're the top dog. But say no one can handle your prolapse. Say 100 people in 100 days running screaming from your knife-wielding parasitic twin. Then you start considering the possibility the shit end of the stick is in your hand. And when little Kuato uses it to stab people, that makes them unhappy.
So acknowledging that you fucked up somehow is a difficult first step. But if you're not sure how you fucked up, especially if it's not a super simple "Sorry I burned your grandparents with a curling iron," then you may be in a pickle. And here's the tragic part: If you're up to your nuts and/or lady nuts in that situation, you may never get to know. What if not a damn thing was wrong and your erstwhile friend is just burned out on life because their job sucks and they legit haven't even had time to think about you?
Ideally when that happens, you can find the time to reconnect. Something brought you together, maybe you can stoke that fire and find the time to hang out, even if you have to work around frustrating stuff like being an adult or appeasing your shared, insatiable appetite for arson. Have lunch once a month. Waste an hour looking for something to watch on Netflix, then decide on nothing and go home. Figure something out, because there's 365 days in a year and you could probably spare one.
But outside of that, there's a sad fact to be acknowledged: You might not ever regain them. Life isn't the only thing that gets in the way, sometimes it's minotaurs (I just saw a movie with a minotaur and I apologize for that). Shit can happen so severely sometimes that you're just done. No big fight, no alien abduction, just kaputsky. I tried to figure my shit out with someone who had been a friend for literally most of my life -- we met when we were six. And now? Not. Just not happening. I asked, he was busy. We tried to make the odd plan here and there, always fell through. And when you stop and realize it's been months or years since you saw each other, it'll sting like vodka in your urethra, which I will tell you all about in a different column.
People tell you that you need to move on from situations of loss -- you get dumped, someone dies, they stop making that flavor of lube you really liked. Move on. Personally, I file that in the bullshit folder. You have moved on. You didn't want to, but you did. Because today you did something without your friend. You did it yesterday, too. You may have distracted yourself from the mental sting by doodling pics of Tony Danza filling livestock butts with marzipan (don't judge me; we all cope differently), but you did it. And if by "move on," they mean "stop thinking about it," I file that in a folder marked "Also Bullshit." I ascribe to "just keep going." I don't think that's just semantics. Their advice implies that you dump your awesome memories like last night's hot wings. I look at my advice more like luggage: Yeah, it might get a heavy after a while, but I'm not tossing it in the ditch so I can walk a little easier.
Another platitude we all seem to hear is "Life is short." And it is, relative to something like the lifespan of any innocuous, non-humorous example I could come up with. Let's say Uranus. Your life is insignificant compared to Uranus. Uranus was here before, it'll be here after. Are you going to waste the little time you have, in comparison to Uranus, just stewing over why you can't compare anuses with an old friend instead of finding something new to do? There's a world with 7 billion people in it, many of whom also have anuses. I'm sorry, the minotaur movie had a lot of butt stuff in it. Really distracted today. Point is, it's little more than self-serving/self-loathing to get focused on the motivations and whims of other people because that will always be out of your control.
So maybe you fucked up. Maybe you're kind of a suck-ass friend. You weren't there in a pinch. You offered shit advice. You only talk abut minotaurs and Uranus. Or maybe you're aces and your friend sucked. Potato potato (read the second potato with a different inflection and emphasis so they sound like different words). If this isn't your cool movie friendship that you can rekindle, if it's literally been four years since you hung out, it doesn't matter. Because you're not losing a friend ... you already did. It happened, and you can't put the toothpaste back in Uranus. You need to take that final step ... incidentally, the hardest one: stop wondering. You'll never get a good explanation for why 16 And Pregnant is a TV show. Or how magnets work. You'll never crack this nut either.
So what do you do? Anything. Everything. Nothing. The action isn't the important part. There's no step-by-step guide on how to deal with the loss of friends. The important part is that you don't let the "What is wrong with me" eat you alive. Accept it, keep living your life, and enjoy the memories. Those are the things you can control.
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