The criterion is simple: if you cannot offer a word of solace in this, my greatest crisis, then you are not my friend and never were.
I am not asking anyone to take sides. That would be both unfair and unreasonable.
But in my years I have had many friends who have divorced. The decent thing to do in every case is been to tell both persons that I am still the friend of each.
At the WSBA, there are several with whom I broke bread on a regular basis from whom I have heard silence no matter how I reach out to them. In contrast, there have been those who, within the bounds of propriety, have hinted at support and the wish to continue friends. It's awkward for them I know, and I would not repay their decency with the embarrassment of naming them, but you know who you are, and I thank you. Others have frankly been merely professional relationship and that's cool; we have a decent working relationship and this has nothing to do with it; it is mildly comforting to know that this professional friends does not skip a beat.
But as I inventory the false friends for a final good-bye, I realize that most of them have great pains in their lives. Is it coincidence that what I know of their karma is already sad? Perhaps the pains in their life interfere with acknowledging those in mine; I am tempted to reject that as pop psychology piffle, but actually, it's a pattern. Perhaps I can forgive them because ... and I just realized this as I write ... each of them is worse off than me.
Whoa. That was strange!
This same pattern obtains among the my Ex's family. Each has a greater misery than the next. This is neither the time nor place to enumerate their issues (I'm sure they can do that on their own) but the pattern is there for all to see - except that I have been blind.
The falsest friend of all was the one I had the poor judgment to marry: Kris Marie Hickman Larsen McCord. What a surprise it was to learn in December that, according to her, she had never loved me; it was just something to do! All the charity and bar activities and the home we were to grow old in together were a source of grand amusement to her; she actually wanted me to earn more money and drink more alcohol, so I could be a proper husband she could display like her Coach purses.
I have always been a trifle literal; I didn't understand that "I love you and you should pursue your dreams and bugger the money" meant "Knock it off, go work for wages as I do, because money is all there is".I know her pains better than anyone other than herself. It grieves me to let go of my anger, for it has been a steady friend, but by golly, I understand her pain.
Something very bad happened to her in her youth; my guess is that it was associated with at least one of the drunken scum that her mother slept with while toting around her two children. It was a point of pride with Kris that she could move an apartment quickly, because she'd learned in her youth that you just have to run off when the rent comes due and your man has disappeared with the money.
In her life, she has had three lovers: her first, who she never discusses or even names, but who she disliked; her first husband, for whom she has great contempt; and me.
Well, that's a pattern. I think I understand her way, and it is sad.
This really complicates things.
Among my other false friends are two men with unhappy marriages - and that's an understatement - an engineer with health problems, and a paralegal with an unhappy past she never discusses. I had hoped that at least one of them would have the character to respond to my outreach with a modicum of understanding - not agreeing with me but at least recalling our friendship enough to extend sympathy - but I guess it really is true that suffering does not necessarily ennoble.
So off with them.
I still have a great many friends. First, I have a bit of a surfeit of family. Somehow I have managed to get along with everyone on every subject except politics, and we laugh about that last one, so I will never be short of crash space as needed. Next, I have solid friends from school - even that cute girl from fourth grade is around, thanks to the magic of Facebook, although we have somehow begun approach sixty.
Yes, friends of the seminary; you have been beaten by a little girl ;-)
College, SCA and law school friends abound. I have only to reach out to them and they respond. Perhaps I should do so more.
My neighbors could not be better. It's like something from a 60s sitcom: a street of zany characters, each one with an idiosyncratic yet kind word. I try not to lean on them too much, but they are just too much fun not to enjoy, a little each day, like a full rack of syrups at a coffee bar.
I don't know which character I am in the comedy; I suspect it is the straight man ;-)
And now I can say hello to new friends. I'm not sure who they will be, but friends always come along. Just last Friday I met a few while bar-hopping. I guess when I drop something out of my pack, it only leaves room for something else to go in.