Back in the day, my great friendships could be started as easily as giving out a cigarette or holding someone’s beer while they urinated on another school’s placard in front of its administration building. These were the friends you could depend on—depend on to bring cheap vodka to your party or dance naked with in the wilderness around a bonfire. But when things go tough or emotions were involved, we were all unready to be empathetic, give advice, or even just listen. Sure we might cuddle, but there was no true emotional intimacy or even connection. For example, I once told someone I considered to be my best friend about my childhood sexual abuse. It was a vulnerable action, but I felt I needed his support and we had been “close friends” for about a year and a half. He said, and I quote, “Wow you were a bad kid.” Thank you; not only did you infer that it was my fault, but you also increased my shame and guilt. You are a great friend.
As I descended in a variety of addictions and mental illnesses, I noticed they distanced themselves to me. They saw what was going on months or even years before it occurred to me just how bad I was. The point is they didn’t really care. It was fun to drink with me but when shit hit fan, they were gone.
I attempted to make my life art, because it felt that way when I was under the influence. I save my pubic hair to make realistic latex molds of the progressive cycle of herpes. Nobody but the really sick ones wanted to smoke a bowl after class. I noticed that the people around me were increasingly sick, but I did not identify. Sure, I wrote a suicide letter just in case, but my “friends” really have problems. The worse I got the further I descended into a world of sick people.
For a while, my best friend was an alcoholic. I drank more with him to keep up, but I only saw his narcissism and alcoholism, and he only saw my depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. We got high and drunk while he tried to “fix” my life.
Honestly, in sobriety I have a few friends, but a lot of acquaintances. I don’t need more friends than I have. It is a true quality of quantity philosophy that seems to suit my needs. I love my friends, and I can count on them to be honest and compassionate. They are smart women and men, and, in a lot of ways, I look up to them. A lot of the acquaintances just aren’t as easy to relate to, or I identify qualities with which I don’t care to associate. I know they aren’t my friends even though I sometimes enjoy their company. I look forward to my own place so that I can better select the individual friends and acquaintances I wish to spend time with. Today I am truly grateful for my friends.