The next morning, I awoke to a letter in my Facebook inbox. Therein was a short note from Jessica, accompanied by an attachment (I never knew one could add a Word Document to a Facebook message before that day (some social media expert I am)) entitled “Nick Lyons.doc”.
Upon opening the attachment, I found the following letter. I have removed some bits as they are exceedingly personal, but I have altered nothing.
The past couple of months have been really hard on our friendship. I was going through some big life changes right about the time that you started what you call your “up” phase. And I think that some how that combination of things made for a wedge.
I need you to know that very little of the strain between us stems from Ken. And for the record, he and I broke up the night after you and he spoke at Smith’s. We had been taking that week apart to figure out what we both were wanting and the morning after Smith’s we called it off. I expect that we will still see each other occasionally, because we both still really care for each other, but we aren’t going to pursuing a relationship. I wasn’t because of you, but the timing of it all made me really angry with you. I just feel like you have never had a conversation with Ken and so you don’t actually know anything of his “character”. You have never had a conversation with me about Ken and so you know nothing of what I was wanting from him or getting from him. I don’t think you were acting out of a place of love, and what I saw was a supposed friend who couldn’t even be bothered to find out what I wanted before presuming to “take care” of me. And that not only made me mad, but it really hurt my feelings to think that the friendship I so cherished was made on a make-believe version of me and that my dear friend both a) knew me so poorly and b) didn’t care to learn more about me. I found it quite devastating. And I think you should know – the things that Ken said to you that night he got from being there for me as I struggled watching yours and my friendship fall apart. He got them from listening to me and being supportive as I worried about where my real friend went and as I wondered how I could some how connect with you and help you through what I see as a very scary and dangerous time. He was caring, understanding, supportive, and never said a bad word about you.
One more piece on Ken and then I’ll move on. Nick, for what it’s worth, despite things with him ending, Ken has truly been my favourtite relationship I have ever had. I went into it very casually and was not looking for anything heavy – and neither was he – we talked very openly about things. And that was the difference – we talk so openly about things – everything. We really connected. We were both able to let each other in in ways that we both have struggled with in the past. He was smart, and funny, and we liked so many of the same silly goofy things. He has an amazing circle of friends that he cherishes. He is thoughtful and kind and gentle and generous. He is pensive – he thinks about the world around him. He is empathetic and considers how his actions affect those around him. He is creative and welcoming and without judgment. And most of all, for my first time in a relationship, I felt that he truly understood me and I didn’t feel the need to hide or conform. So, when you say you don’t like his character it cuts me to my quick, because I absolutely love his character. He was so so so good for me. I only hope that I am lucky enough to find another man just like Ken and that I am able to truly commit.
So here’s the thing, Nick. You have said a few things in our facebook messages lately, and in the past when you were “blue” about how you are when you’re “up” and they lead me to believe that you don’t have an accurate understanding of what people close to you see when you are going through this. It isn’t that it is a “sudden change” that is confusing, or that you are just so productive and energetic that people aren’t sure how to respond. Maybe for acquaintances who don’t understand, but not for me. I know you and I love you and you are not yourself when you are like this.
The night of my Anniversary Party was also devastating to me. You wrote the next day and apologized because the day was supposed to be all about me. That wasn’t the issue. I could give a fuck if there is a day all about me. I was scared to see you so out of control the very next night. I was mortified for so many people who were there who had no understanding of what was going on. I was sad for your wife. It wasn’t you that people were looking at – it was her. People wonder why she lets it happen, people wonder what is going on in your marriage to make you drink so hard, smarter people wonder why she isn’t doing more to help you. I know the truth in it all and it just makes me very very sad. Even at my birthday you were out of sorts. Not nearly as drunk, but clearly uncomfortable in your own skin and uncomfortable not being the focus.
Another thing that some people may think is funny, but really makes me afraid is when you go through phases of creating facebook personas. I don’t find this funny. To me it is like you are screaming at the top of your lungs that you can’t stand being in your own skin, that you are desperate not to be you. I have literally wept over my computer over this one. I see all the fevered activity over Frog Communications, and I truly hope that some of it is real, but my first reaction is that it isn’t. That it is part of your manic phase – it makes people feel productive but it also lies. This one s hard for me to articulate, but I wanted you to know that, to me, it is a huge red flag that makes me sad.
We have talked in the past about this. You have said that you think people like you better when you’re “up” something about you being more interesting or some bullshit. But really you just turn yourself into a spectacle. Strangers and acquaintances my get a kick out of it – but I (and I think most of your true friends) feel like you are hollow. Empty. It is like you are a puppet or something. We see you just going through motions trying to get a rise but there is nothing inside you. Nothing to connect to. I would a million times pick a mellow pint and a conversation over slam dancing, shouting, spectacle Nick. I never ever ever miss him when he gone. He brings nothing to my life. I miss even Nick. Nick I can talk to, walk with, hangout with. I miss him every single day when you are going through this.
I have been worried about you and I confess to having voiced my concern with some of our friends. And I have been told “oh, well, it’s just Nick, he goes through these phases”. And I know that is true. But I am really not comfortable with that being the only response. I’m not ok with just watching and letting this pass without trying to explain to you how this affects me. And how dangerous it is for you.
I love you so much and I just really wish that there was something I could do to make you see that. And I wish I could help you through these times. I know I can’t help, but I would really like to at least be able to be there. I see you hanging out with other friends and stuff and it hurts my feelings. But I also know that the real reason that you can’t see me is because I love you and I worry for you and I see through this into what it really is and I think that makes you uncomfortable. I get it. But you need to know how I feel about you, what I see when I look at you, and how I worry about you. I hope that you understand the things I am saying to you here.
Your Forever Friend,
Upon reading the letter, I was shattered, though amused. I laughed aloud while reading some parts and shook my head as I read others. I was baffled, angry, and scared.
I had been pathologized in the past, but never with such meticulous rigor as Jessica had demonstrated in her private pelican brief. As she might say, I was “cut to the quick”.
In the space of about 10 minutes, I went through all of the stages of grieving (I hadn’t known her for as long as her letter might suggest). And I ended up laughing uncontrollably by the absurdity of that in which I’d read.
Essentially, a complete stranger had diagnosed me with a severe mental illness, claimed that she was one of the unfortunate few who “really knew” the “real me” and had shared her concerns with the friends I had introduced her to in the first place.
I laughed because I had faith in my friends. I had faith in my wife. I thought that the mere dross of her speech would be carried, along with her back to Southern Saskatchewan’s barren soil. I was wrong– dreadfully wrong.