Monday, December 18, 2006

An Apology

As regular readers know, I've been in a bit of a nostalgic mood on and off for the past few months. Thinking about the "good ol' days" quite a lot. This has been partially due to the re-entrance of an old friend into my life. A few months ago this old friend posted an very sweet and unexpected apology to me on her blog (The specifics of that apology aren't necessary to understand what I'm posting here, so I'm not going to reiterate them here. If you'd like to know what she said, you can read the post at her blog). As I said, I've been thinking a lot about my past recently, and thinking that perhaps I owe my friend an apology as well. The things I'm about to apologize likely have never actually effected my friend personally, she is likely not even aware of them, but they are things for which I feel more than a little guilty about and feel the need to clear the air between us. This probably would have been more appropriate during the High Holidays than during Hanukkah, but timing has never been my strong suit.

Once upon a time, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was a senior in high school, my friend was trucking on down the path of self destruction and I was following (almost gleefully at times) close behind. We did all the typical stuff: drank too much, smoked too much, didn't look both ways when crossing the street and just generally seemed to have little regard for our own well being. Its from this period that my first bout of guilt comes from. You see, I didn't take full ownership of my own bad behavior. It was my friend who was a "bad influence" on me. And while I did admit to having a few problems, I would often measure them against my friend's--often massive--problems and dismiss them out of hand. I used her as a scapegoat and a crutch: I didn't have issues, she did. Sure, I was behaving badly too, but not as bad as she was. I was only partaking in the bad behavior because I was sticking close to her, to keep her out of trouble (A brilliant plan, which NEVER worked). In short, I never fully accepted my own culpability in the creation of and ownership of this freight train to self destruction. A few years later, after I'd left home to join the circus (or the US Army as it is more popularly known), I fell into what has thus far been the darkest period in my life. This was caused by a variety of things--including a severe case of chronic depression that wouldn't be diagnosed until nearly 15 years later. Among the causes was the fact that I could no longer deny ownership of my own substance abuse problems. Not only was I still on the road to self-destruction, but I actually picked up steam. I could no longer ignore my own screwed-upness. And as often happens my depression latched onto my problems and went bungy-jumping in Hell. But even then, I tended to blame my friend: She had "driven me" to this, which is--to say the least--complete bullshit. Anything I did was my choice and my responsability. And, while it is true that she did a number of less than wonderful things, I was not as innocent of guilt as I would have liked to have thought.

When she and I started hanging out together I knew that there would be risk involved. I knew the life she lead and what often happened to those close to her. I knew this and accepted the risk. I thought--and still do--that she was worth that risk. If I got hurt along the way it was--in part--due to the fact that I had chosen to put myself in situations where getting hurt was a possibility. It is true that--as she admits--she did many things that were just not right and resulted in me getting hurt, but if I hadn't continued putting myself in harms way she never would have had the chance to do so. Its hard to get hit by a truck if you don't choose to play on the highway.

Fortunately, we both managed to survive those dark years and pull our respective lives together. Despite all that happened we're still friends. More than a few have asked how I can still be friends with her after the things that happened between us. Well, a lot of it has to do with the fact that I now accept that none of what happened would have been possible had I not allowed it to happen. I have to take at least partial responsibility for what happened, so how can I possibly lay all the blame on my friend. And besides, everything that happened is in the past now. We both survived and grew past all of that crap. Living in the past only serves to destroy the future. I'd rather live in the present and look forward to a future with my friend in it.

So that, for what its worth, is my apology. I am very sincerely sorry for using her as a scapegoat for my own bad behavior and for blaming her for things that she either had no part in or for which I was partially culpable as well. It may seem silly or trivial to some, but its something I felt I needed to get off my chest.



Dak-Ind said...

i do vaguely remember hearing that you had gone into the army as a way to run away from me... i forget where i heard that.

You never had a reason to apologize to me, except maybe for the night you made me search a frozen lake for your non existant corpse... you couldve told someone you were going home!

I make a great crutch. Honest, i do. Lots of practice. Some folks need one for a while. When you learn to stand up for yourself and stand on your own two feet, im also happy to let go, and still hang around in case you need me for a while, anytime.

I will say this about the old days... viewed from 15-20 years away, man, we had a good time. would i do it again, heck no. would i change it if i could... probably not. we are who we are today because of what we went through then (and since of course). I like me. I am not perfect, but that's all right. I like you. You aren't perfect, and frankly you would probably be all pompous and impossible to live with if you were. We turned out ok.

Last bit for you to ponder... John, man, after everything, growing up and since then, maybe because of some of it, i love you.

The background image on this page is a Hebrew translation of the verse from Bob Dylan's song  It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), from which the title of this blog is taken. Translation courtesy of Yoram Aharon of Hod-HaSharon's page--found via YudelLine-- which has many Dylan lyrics in Hebrew.