It’s funny the things you think about sometimes when you work an overnight shift. On my Sunday night shift, I had little time to think of anything but programming, because I had two assignments and a test looming overhead. I managed to knock out most of one of the assignments, all of another, and I completed the test after sleeping Monday.
I spent the day recovering from this shift that doesn’t allow for any really meaningful sleep pattern, then I went grocery shopping to restock on the things I had depleted while funds were low, and then I went with my older son to visit some very lovely new friends.
Really, that visit had just as much to do with my turn of thoughts as anything, because it had me thinking about friendship.
I have had many people I call friend over the years. Some have been closer than others. There have been people who have made me laugh, and some I have cried with. We’ve shared joys and sorrows. We’ve shared coffee and tea and many a meal.
Sometimes friends do not agree in how they see the world. It isn’t always necessary. It can be very interesting to have a friend whose view is opposed to your own, who challenges you to see things through a different set of eyes.
Sometimes, though, the people you call friend are only your friend as long as you do not challenge them too much.
I lost a friend of nearly two decades back in the last presidential election cycle.
Let me say right now that I could never run for political office because if someone went back and checked a history of everything I’ve ever said, they would find I’ve swung like a pendulum on where I’ve stood on many things. For the most part, I was raised with “Centrist” views – conservative in some ways, liberal in others. I felt everyone had the right to be treated fairly and with equality from the time I was a kid. My older sister and I staged protests against the Senior Warden in our traditional Episcopal church because we didn’t think it was right that girls were not allowed to become accolytes.
In college, I tended to be more liberal. But I was rather disgusted by the state of affairs by the mid-1990s, and wound up registering as a Republican. That was the point in my life when I met the friend in question, who was, in many ways, a social liberal, but who identified more strongly as a conservative.
I married a “Puritan trapped in the 20th/21st Century” who had an “Old Testament sense of justice,” and as the doormat/eager-to-please sort of person I was, I let many things rub off on me, and I suppressed much of my own personality for years.
It was during the “awakening” of what I suppose some would consider a midlife crisis that I went through therapy. I was trying to get out of a particular situation that was making me miserable, but in the end, I had to become more assertive in other situations in which I had previously allowed other people to speak over my voice.
I began to really explore the things that *I* believed or didn’t believe. Not the things I grew up believing, or the things I wanted to believe to fit in with a certain set of people, but the core things that my brain and my heart and my soul whispered to me were “true.” I think those things really are different for different people. I found my balance between my logical brain and my creative brain, and realized I need to fully engage both to be at peace with myself.
When I started delving into politics, it was both with logic and passion. I dug beneath the propaganda, and I searched through numbers and data, and I came to some conclusions that went against some things I had believed for most of my life: namely, that Republicans were the more fiscally responsible party. Looking at the numbers, I could no longer tell myself that was true. From there, it was a hop, skip and jump to voting against the party that seemed to want to impose their own religious beliefs on the masses.
My “friend” took that as a personal attack. It wasn’t meant to be, but things grew ugly, and the short story is that we don’t speak or have any contact with one another any more. I think we’re both just fine with that.
But on an amusing note, when you block someone on Facebook, it doesn’t erase any previous comments or messages you made or sent them before you blocked them. So all of the messages we shared that I never had the heart to delete are still in my Facebook archives. All of the comments she made on my posts are still there. And the funny thing is, she keeps changing her name on Facebook, like she is trying to go off the grid like some kind of militia lunatic.
I said that was amusing. You know, it’s not, really. It’s a long, dark rabbit hole of fear and anxiety that drives people to do things like that. It’s the kind of rabbit hole my brother fell into that caused him and his wife to lose custody and then parental rights of their kids, kidnap them, and serve prison time. It’s the kind of schizophrenia that has people out in Oregon taking over bird sanctuaries and asking for snacks.
We may laugh, but we are laughing in the dark. Because we are all a few bolts away from falling into a panic that has us planning for the zombie apocalypse. For some, it’s fear that President “Obummer” is going to kick in your door and take all of your guns away. For others, it may be the threat of a Donald Trump or a Ted Cruz presidency.
In the end, as another Republican friend of mine says, we all have to get up and go to work the morning after the election.