For some reason, as I was on my way to work this morning, I started thinking about one of my childhood friends. It didn’t end well.
He and I were very similar. We even had the same name, Justin. He was being raised by his weirdly religious grandparents just like I was, that’s how we met… I suppose this is where I get my desire to avoid anyone with the same interests I have, I don’t need an echo-chamber reflecting my own psychotic thoughts back at me. His mother was young when she had him and was working hard to make a life for herself so she could support her son, much like my own mother started out.
There were subtle differences. He was into Star Wars and I was into Star Trek (I’ve always hoped that we’d be a little more organized in the future than the threadbare rebels of Star Wars). He played jazz and I sang rock music.
That all changed when he met Sarah. My longest childhood best friend, when she met Justin the two of them immediately hit it off and started dating. For him it was a real coup, she was two grades older than us and already well-developed. In essence, this ended my friendships with both of them. I have my own thoughts about their relationship, especially now looking back as an adult, but really it’s none of my business and I don’t care.
Justin and I never reconnected. Sarah and I split for several years, but we resumed our friendship in our twenties, although it’s always been tentative at best. It was the first kind of “oh, relationships are temporary” moment I ever had.
I remember an adult asking me if Justin was gay. He was sensitive, he was like me in many, many ways, but I knew he wasn’t and I communicated that every time I was asked (although, I might have made a “I don’t know, none of my business, ask him” reply every now and then because… well, I don’t know, it’s none of my business, ask him).
I did run into him a few times when we were adults. And I realized what that had done. All those comments, rumors about him being a “soft” young man turned him into a raging narcissistic asshole.... and then I realized that that was much like me.
In tracing his story, I can see the threads as they connect to myself. I keep screwing up but I don’t know how to get out of that cycle. But at least there is no need to talk to him any longer.