You say, “Shouldn’t you easily get over this a**hole?”–Here is why I could not
You’d think what I previously described would be enough to make me wash my hands of Richard. But it doesn’t help that I considered him my best and closest friend. That he was the one I went to about religion.
He’s the one I found to help light my way as I searched for the True Church, the original doctrines. He already found it before I did.
We had similar backgrounds, and similar views of the various churches. We could sympathize with each other about suffering through contemporary church services.
We could discuss Orthodox theology with a similar base knowledge and interest. We could discuss the meaning of original sin, or whether River of Fire is a good source of Orthodox doctrine. We could discuss what it means to experience the Holy Spirit.
I could ask him about various things, such as why the English translations of the Latin and Greek versions of the Nicene Creed are so different, even the parts that come from the original Ecumenical Council that produced them. I could share with him Orthodox writings, and give him Orthodox books and icons for Christmas or birthdays.
I could tell him what led me away from Western doctrines, without feeling judged for turning to “heresies.”
I simply don’t have another friend with whom I can discuss all these things, at least not from the same background, baseline knowledge, amount of interest and same denomination.
I asked him about difficult points of Orthodox doctrine or practices. I asked him how to forgive people who had hurt me years before. I lamented to him about Internet-Orthodoxy and its legalism.
He was my spiritual mentor. He was the one to whom I always wrote details of church meetings or services which had been especially interesting.
Who else can I write these things to, who has the same level of interest? I wrote to him about my church because he was the one who led me there. And these things led to sharing about our life experiences and troubles.
I told him my secrets, and he told me his. He was my counselor, as I poured out my heart to him about various issues I dealt with, details of how I’d been bullied growing up, and how I’d been used and abused by college exes–including private details which I normally told no one, because of their nature.
I told him these things because I trusted him completely, was comfortable telling him.
I told him funny stories of things that happened day-to-day, or dreams. I shared with him thoughts about movies I watched, books I read, life stories. We talked for hours at a time.
He lived with us for a time, so became like part of the family, like an adopted brother, so I could tell him things I didn’t tell other people.
We could joke back and forth with each other and play off each other so easily that one guy once said, “I love it when you guys are here!”
We went on religious websites together and defended Orthodoxy.
We also had similar tastes in music, both loving the obscure Goth genres, 80s, New Wave–and yet knowing some of the same Christian artists as well.
He had actually been a Goth, while I was interested in Goth culture, did as much “Gothyness” as I could do in a small city in the Midwest.
Because of our similar backgrounds, we both knew about the Thief in the Night series, Left Behind, and other such things.
We were even the same age, so had the same nostalgia for TV shows or movies we grew up with. We both liked watching EWTN. We were both interested in paranormal investigations.
It just seems impossible to replace him. I found these elements of our friendship especially valuable and important, especially appealing, making me so attached to his friendship.
Every time something comes up that before I would write in a quick e-mail to him, I wonder, Is there anyone I can tell this to?
Sometimes I can, but many times, I can’t. So I start wishing I could write that e-mail to him, because nobody else would understand, or nobody else is privy to those things.
Where else am I to find someone like this?
I try to remind myself of all the violence, the self-seeking, the betrayal, yet I’m left with this gaping hole that it’s impossible to fill with anyone else–
–as if he were a car or a computer that can just be exchanged for something new and better.
And that, more than anything, is why I just have not been able to get over our friendship.
That’s why I still haven’t let go of the hope that one day, somehow, some way, he will repent and come back to my husband and me, ready to abandon the violence and arrogance that pushed Jeff and me away, ready to start anew.
That’s why I’m filled anew with grief every time I see him at church, he says not a word to me, and I feel I must avoid him, push him away, because of his violence and betrayal, because I can’t trust him.
I barely make it through the service without collapsing in a puddle of tears.
Trying to keep in Orthodoxy has also become a struggle, because everything about it reminds me of him. Sometimes I’m tempted to just give all of it up.