I had a dream last night about an old friend. He was my best friend for 5 or 6 years. We worked on creative projects together, we were even roommates for a while. But something happened and our friendship devolved into an energy-sucking one-way street.
I had moved to the opposite coast and noticed that our telephone conversations were becoming more and more one-sided and would end when he was done saying everything he needed to say. This went on for some time until I finally explained that we couldn’t be friends anymore. We got off the phone and I haven’t spoken to him since.
This was a very good friend and one I’ve thought about over the years, wondering how he was and what he was up to. Even now, 20 years later, I’m dreaming about the guy, still not knowing how he is, but confident that ending the friendship that was going nowhere needed to happen.
You might think that if you are such good friends with someone like this that you can overlook certain character flaws and behaviors that always put you second to their needs, but good friends don’t do that.
I was only able to end this friendship because I had just gone through an experience where I understood how it’s possible to be victimized by a vampire. Of course, I’m not talking about the kind that cringe at the sight of crosses and avoid daylight, I’m talking about psychic vampires.
I had started a job where I was assigned an office, a closet really, a tiny little space that fit a 12′ table and two small cube-shaped Apple computers. I shared this space with someone I really liked. A funny guy, a writer who loved to talk, loved to share and share and share. After a couple of months I noticed how exhausted I was after work. The work itself was a breeze, but I’d leave work completely depleted of all energy.
It got to the point where I dreaded going into this closet office. I really liked this co-worker friend, but it was like being an audience of one to a stand-up comedian doing an 8-hour schtick. That was vampirism.
He got all of his needs met. He had a captive audience. He got the responses he wanted. He got admiration and I laughed at the right times. I didn’t even get a T-shirt out of it, but I did learn something about people and about myself. I learned that people need validation at any expense and I learned that sometimes you have to say good-bye to people you love.
In the dream I had last night, it was the first time I’d seen my friend since we stopped being friends 20 years ago. There was a vibe that that was the past and we’re here now. I was shocked when he introduced me to his twin brother. There were now TWO of my friends in front of me. I wondered why he never told me he had a twin and when I woke up I wondered what it could mean. Perhaps it meant that he’s a different person now and we can be friends again. If he knocked on my front door, I’d certainly give him a hug and ask him in, but I’d find out if it was the new twin or the old friend.
Ending relationships that serve no purpose is not easy, but sometimes it’s necessary. And if we’re lucky, they will mend over time and we can pick up where we left off.