Just over a week ago I saw an old friend while driving through the little town he lives in. This friend had withdrawn with sadness when I came out to him early in 2009, and we had not seen each other since. The encounter was sudden and unexpected, and it upset me. I couldn't stop. But I wrote to him next day, proposing an experimental meeting, simply doing the ordinary things we'd always done on our former monthly meetups. I knew that he looked at my blog at least occasionally, so he'd know what I looked like, and something about my current thinking and attitudes.
Actually, I didn't think I had changed all that much. I had some hopes that he would have reappraised me, found merit, and now felt ready for some kind of reunion.
I had a letter from him ths morning: it was brief and disappointing. He used kind words, but he did not want to make the experiment. He wished to retain his fond memories of me as I used to be, as he knew me for twenty-four years until I changed.
It was gently expressed. But not seeing me to protect a fond memory was really no different from not seeing me for any other reason, including the one that I had become persona non grata. I'm sure it wasn't the intention of my friend, but I felt rejected, and it hurt enough to bring me close to tears. He wanted to avoid me, to not see me, and to keep me away.
I won't harbour resentment. I'm not made that way. But it seems to me that if this is how my friend still feels after almost three years to ponder on my situation, then there will never be any change, and I must accustom myself to that. In my past life I did not have many personal friends, and my impulse to show friendship had been very much concentrated into this particular friend of very long standing. His loss in 2009 was therefore severe. And this fresh reaffirmation of that loss is equally hard to take.
I am lucky, of course. Some of us have multiple losses like this, so many that the accumulating rejection affects basic self-confidence, even health. It is very, very damaging. But all you can do is be strong, forget the hurt, and carry on. There is no other way.