“Were you surprised to see me on May Day?”
“Yeah. I didn’t expect to see you again – for years at least.”
I was back at the cafe where I’d first started hanging out with Mo, watching him sip a beer he’d brought in with him.
We had a pretty good conversation. He talked a bit about his travels, showed me too many pictures. We reminisced about the time we’d spent getting to know each other. I told him about my romantic relationship with Ron, which Mo had seen forming before I was aware of (or willing to admit to) my own feelings. And we talked about languages.
Then he brought up the elephant in the room: the reason why he’s moving. I’d found out from someone else, and Mo had said I should hear his side. So I agreed.
Hearing his side of the story, I no longer think he was trying to manipulate me. He wanted to return something that had been entrusted to him, but she wouldn’t speak to him, so he asked me.
This topic consumed the rest of our time together. I listened, supported, tried not to cry when I saw the pain in Mo’s eyes, tried not to strengthen any false hopes when he became wistful. He asked me questions I couldn’t answer – maybe no one can answer. He asked me questions I didn’t want to answer, and I felt a small part of me die when I skirted around the truth – or lied.
Mo told me about someone he knows who is getting divorced, moving, starting a new job, all of it – because she feels like she can’t be herself with her husband. It was around that time, maybe a little later, that I realized I wasn’t being myself with Mo. I was too careful about what I said, too busy stroking his ego, feigning interest after I’d started to get bored, scrambling to avoid getting sucked into his emotions and perspectives.
“What do you think I should do?”
“I think you should find a therapist.”
“You wanted me to tell you all this so you could turn around and tell me I need a therapist?”
“I did not come in here with the intention of telling you to speak to a therapist. I wanted to know your side of the story. I’m suggesting it now because I think it would help you.” (and because I refuse to fill that role)
We left almost an hour later than either of us intended. Hugged near my car. He said I probably wouldn’t see him again, at least not for years. And then I watched him walk away.
“Go in peace, and find the healing you need.”
I … I don’t know what I ever saw in him. I don’t understand why I was willing to listen to him for so long. There were times when it was like I wasn’t there, it was all about him. Even in the brief moments I felt connected, it was specifically because I was making the effort to connect with him.
He’s just not in a place where he can have a reciprocal relationship. He’s too caught up in his own pain. I empathize with him, but that pain is not my pain. I cannot heal him.
I let him go. I watch him walk away. I hope he’ll put down the booze and make an effort to heal – and I accept that until he does so, he cannot be the friend I need.