Don’t let me read this. It’ll make me sad.

I’m back from a 2.5 week vacation with my folks in London, Drumnadrochit (a wee town on Loch Ness), and Edinburgh!

But that’s not what’s flitting through my mind.

I lost a friend somehow. A best friend.

I said something possibly insensitive in a text. I didn’t think twice about it. Looking back, it was probably misguided, even though my intentions were to be amusing and share a silly moment in my life that made me feel connected to this person.

This was three months ago.

I hadn’t heard a word from her. I continued to text, to “like” on Facebook, to comment, to talk about, to generally act like a friend through this whole time. While in the UK, I sent a text like usual, remarking on a funny thing that was happening that I wanted to share. Her response was that she has been distant because I really hurt her with my text, she wished I hadn’t said it, and maybe we can talk about it when I’m back.

Heart. Pinioned.

We were headed out the door to breakfast when I got this, so I dashed off a reply along the lines of “oh my god. I had no idea and I am so sorry I hurt you. I hope you know that I would never hurt you on purpose and I regret hurting you then. I love you, but I understand you need your space and please do what feels right.”

And subsequently deleted every single communication so that I couldn’t look at that text ever again, and left my phone at home all day, even though I wouldn’t have Wifi or cell service anyway. I sobbed through breakfast, and burst into tears throughout the day. I still am hurting, deeply. The shame is overwhelming, and I’m hurt too.

***

I’m also finishing up a two book audiobook contract with an author who HATES me. She hired me, for goodness’ sake, but she is horrifically disappointed in my work and condescends to me at every juncture. And of course all the stupid little things are going wrong in production, so she treats me like I’m unprofessional and terrible at my job. The worst was the three page LETTER she wrote me after I finished the first book, about how much she hated my narration. So that whole situation sucks.

Obviously one hurts more than the other, but they both make me feel physically SICK.

I’ve gotten to a point where I get that sick feeling when reading an email from the author about the audiobook, but I’m able to let it go within a relatively short amount of time as long as I make the change she wants or respond IMMEDIATELY.

***

But this friend.

It hurts so badly.

And I have many feelings that contradict the sick, shame feeling:
Our friendship of years couldn’t withstand a mistake?
Everything we’ve been through together can fall apart because of this?
Why didn’t you tell me till now?
Why couldn’t you let go?
Why couldn’t you forgive me?

How could you not wish me happy birthday?

How could you watch me reach out, continue as if nothing was broken, while you pushed me unknowingly away?

***

So there’s definitely anger.

But mostly, I am sad.

I am so, so, so sad that it makes me want to throw up.
It takes my heart and pokes tiny little holes in it so it wheezes with each beat.
The shame wears me like a thick, wool coat, the heavy hood pressing my chin to my chest.

What do you do when your best friend isn’t your best friend?

Does the sadness go away? Does the SHAME?

Do people forgive as easily as I do? Because I do.

I have to let her go. It’s in her hands. And if we talk, I’ll collapse in a heap and the tears will never stop. So I hope she just forgives me.

I wish I didn’t care so much. I wish I didn’t feel shame so deeply.

Awful, awful, awful.

I’m sure you’ve all heard now about the tragic shootings in Santa Barbara. 7 people dead, shot by a young man who shot himself in the seconds before the police got to his car.

It’s terrible. Truly awful.

What is really different about this case is the fact that this young man, Elliot Rodger, left behind a deep, horrifying blueprint all over the internet. Comments on forums, an enormous (over 100,000 word) manifesto of his “retribution,” and YouTube videos that outline his disturbing views on, in particular, women. One video is titled “Why do girls hate me so much?”

I’m not sure what my feeling about the whole thing is, beyond the most basic sadness and horror and disturbance.

But watching his videos, in particular the one he posted hours before the attack (now taken off YouTube, but of course accessible elsewhere), makes me feel such incredible sadness. Not for him– although it’s hard for me to not feel sad because he was so lost– but because I am honestly unsure what could have prevented this.

People did call the police on him. He was questioned. They didn’t find the gun in his bedroom.
His parents were clearly not the best parents (not that I blame them) but they also made an effort, at least when he was a kid, and he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. He was incredibly wealthy– mental health care was accessible to him.
Gun control would have helped. Perhaps if he hadn’t been able to buy a semi-automatic weapon.

There will be the assholes who blame women (like he did) for not giving him a chance. “That was all he wanted!” they’ll say, “He’s not unattractive, why won’t you feminists just fuck him?”

And of course, that’s one of the real tragic parts of the whole thing, and what disturbs me so much. We always search for reasons for acts like this– Elliot Rodger gives us one. “If I can’t have you, girls, I will destroy you.” Obviously there are societal issues in place that allow this opinion (and those who defend it) to profligate. Again, you can’t hang his actions on society. But I think this brings up an important conversation.

I’m not sure I’ve ever written about my one experience of harrassment (mild, but it happened). This is also brought to the fore in my mind because I’m working on a short film about relational abuse. I spent a summer at a theatre festival, which has a program that admits two apprentices per summer that have some kind of special need (things like blindness, asperger’s, amputees, etc). There was one young man who had Asperger’s. I was kind and friendly, of course, as always, and we ended up in a lot of the same groups. Fairly quickly I realized that he was attracted to me. This happens, and I gave off the signals that normally do the trick. That didn’t work here, which makes sense, considering his diagnosis. So I became more clear. But he continued to approach me, to touch me, to engage me, and also to hug me– hugs which went too long, and, more than once, devolved into his thrusting his pelvis on me. I was incredibly uncomfortable with this, but didn’t know what more I could do beyond what I’d already done. I had told him to leave me be, that I wasn’t interested in him like that. So eventually I approached the program director and asked if we could possibly stop being put in groups together, or at least LESS (it was every day now) and explained how I felt very uncomfortable. In no uncertain terms, I was told to “get over it” and just be nice to him. “He just wants to be your friend,” and “You have to be clear with him.” Completely unhelpful. Eventually, the flirtation took a turn, and he started making comments about how “nobody likes him” and “girls never want to date me because they have something against people with asperger’s.” It was a very sophisticated guilt trip and made me feel terrible. That little voice was always saying “there’s something wrong with YOU that this is happening, YOU must be a bad person, YOU must be doing somehting wrong, YOU are hurting this person.”

So reading about Elliot Rodger, I think I become extra uncomfortable because I’ve heard that rhetoric before about “girls don’t like me” because “girls are bad.” Obviously there was other stuff going on, both in my personal experience and with Rodger, but the repetition of it strikes me as problematic. No one “deserves” a woman’s body. No woman is “required” to date or sleep with a man just because he’s attractive.

Anyway. Long story short… This is a sad day, and I don’t recommend the internet wormhole I just fell into.