Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Disappearing People

I've always been afraid of ending up alone. Not just in the romantic sense of the word, but also in basic friendships. I'm aware of my challenges in forming connections, I'm aware of the fact that I don't open up easily and I'm aware of the constant hum that goes on in the back of my head when I meet someone new - "Are you to be trusted?" I'm also aware that given enough time, people screw up hugely and that sometimes, I can't find a way to cross that bridge without burning it. And because of all this hyper-awareness, and my fear of being alone, any shuddering change in my social circle gets my full attention.

Lately I've been looking around myself and seeing that the people I used to know have changed. I don't mean change in the personality kind of way, not even in the "s/he has become a different person" metaphorical sense. I mean, literally, the people I used to know have dropped out of my world, replaced by another bunch of people.

Some of the disappearing acts have happened dramatically :
"You and I are done!"
And some have been hurtful:
"I wonder if I was ever your friend, or did you just use me to feel good about yourself?"
And some have just gone into the fugue of "Let's catch up soon" knowing we won't.

All this has happened in a very short space of time - say a couple of months. And I've been pretty cut up about it. I've bawled myself to sleep once, I've sat quietly and collected my shattered calm a few times and sometimes I've just stared askance at a computer screen reading the words that go like, "You're going to be nutty about a Facebook friend request? Forget I asked."

The thing is, I like all these people. I've liked them for a while. Almost all of them are super bright, talented, funny - exactly the kind of mix I thrive on. But making those deep exclusive friendships somehow hasn't happened for me. I'm too open to new people, I'm too easily bored, I'm too excited by the possibility of what could be new and different about many experiences to really believe that the five people I cobbled together as friends when I was 20 would be the same five friends I'd need when I was 36.

And then I took a closer look at all the people who have disappeared - dramatically or otherwise. And I start to see a pattern emerge. Each one of them has grievously wronged me in the past. And each one of them, today, made it seem as if the rift was my fault. And each one of them found it mighty easy to let me go. If I was writing a film, none of them would be the hero - not because they are flawed but because they show a remarkable lack of substance (which they hide behind oodles of charm) and very poor taste. And while I forgive easily, I never forget.

Trust is a tricky thing. In my life, I hand over my trust to people unguardedly when it comes to friendship. Like blown-glass, it takes the shape of a unique glass jar that is truly representative of the two people involved. But, like a glass jar, when trust truly shatters, then no amount of glue can remove those cracks from the relationship. The best that can be hoped for is that the jar doesn't shatter again, and over the years you get used to the cracks to the extent that you stop noticing them. Sometimes, I think that those relationships are the ones that are truly unique and worth saving because, if you look at any of the masterpieces of the world, they're nothing without the cracks in the paint / ceramic.

But the thing about relationships is that it can't be done solo. That's why, with every goodbye, I feel a part of me tear out and crumble.

And then I discovered something very interesting. It seems, in the study of Alchemy, there's a belief that says that if you change a few chemical bonds in mercury, you'll get gold. I think the same is true among people - if you change the nature of a few bonds in your life, it's likely that you'll become everything you can be. And then, those are the kind of people you'll attract in your life as well - the people who aspire to be better.

Because if the Universe gives you everything you want, then friends are the last thing you'll ever lack.