Monday, December 9, 2013

An Old Friend and My Lost Smarts

Have no fear I will continue the I miss and love my dad series but today I do need to take a detour.  I had friends growing up.  There were a group of us that hung out and were mischievous together during the junior high and high school years and there were a couple that I became close with.  This is the story of one of those friendships over the past twenty eight years.  Don't worry it will be fairly short, we did not see each other for twenty years.

I will give you a brief overview of the first six years of our friendship and then you can feel in the details that would suit your narrative of a good friendship going through those years.  Both of us were being raised by our mothers and I am probably being generous when I use the term raise, it might be more accurate to say we were both in the legal custody of our mothers.  We spent a great deal of time together and never seemed to run out of things to say.  We had all the usual things in common that you would think friendships are based on, we liked the same music, the same books, the same games and so on.  What really made us close was bonding over our dysfunctional families and the trust that we were able to build with each other when we could not even trust our mothers to be mothers.  I told you it would be brief, I am a master of condensing.

We both managed to make it to the age of eighteen without a drug habit or a criminal record which was more than most of our other friends could say.  Neither of us had been religious during our friendship but upon the age of eighteen my friend found religion.  His family were all Latter Day Saints or what is more commonly referred to as Mormons.  This did make me uncomfortable, it would be another fifteen years or so before I found a faith of my own.  I started to see him less and less.  Part of the reason was we were becoming adults and growing apart but him being religious played a part as well.

When I finally stopped hanging out with him on any regular basis was when he got into multilevel marking.  If you do not know what that is Google it and when they talk about the fringe aspects of it that was what he was into.  He wanted we to participate in some of the investment opportunities afforded by multilevel marketing and I was not interested.  When I finally lost touch with him completely was when he went on a mission for the Mormon church.  For those of you that do not know in the Mormon faith if you are a devote young man and feel the calling at the age of nineteen you will go on a two year mission to bring the Mormon faith to people all over the world.  I can not recall exactly where he went but it was somewhere in Central or South America and I know they spoke Spanish there because he had to learn Spanish.

We both live in same town still to this day.  I moved away and then came back, outside of his mission he has always lived here.  At any rate we have bumped into each other over the past twenty years and at each of these points I see a small slice of his life.  The first slice was a year or so after he returned home from his mission.  He had converted a young girl while on his mission and had married her after his mission was over and brought her back to the US.  I remember she was attractive but painfully shy and spoke almost no English.  The next slice was years later and at this point he was studying Hebrew and the Middle East at the local University and had two or three kids, still religious at this point.  A few years later he was still studying at the University and had a job as a parking enforcement officer on campus, he also had more kids and was still religious.  A few more years later he is graduated from the university has five kids, at least one of them is autistic and I think I remember that two were autistic and at this point he is still religious and working for the university in their IT department.

Full disclosure the sarcoidosis and drugs I take for the sarcoidosis are robbing me of my memory, mainly my short term memory (almost completely gone) and to a lesser extent my long term memory so all of the above is to the best of my recollection which is definitely not the best.

Now we are up to date.  He friends me on Facebook.  He is using a rather silly pseudonym but fortunately or unfortunately as I will find out later I look at the picture I recognize my old friend.  Now at this point he sends me a long rambling message about how he is no longer Mormon and that he likes beer and smokes a pipe and his marriage is on the rocks.  May I say from my perspective you may lose touch with friends but you don't stop caring about them.  Now the part of the message about beer and smoking a pipe seem to me like he is proud he has earned a merit badge.  It seemed odd but hey he has just spent the last twenty years being religious and now he is not and it might seem that drinking beer and smoking a pipe are like earning merit badges.

I see him using Facebook over the next month or so and I have come to the conclusion that he does not know what when he comments or likes items that it shows up in his friends news feeds or he is not embarrassed by some pretty racy comments on some fetish pages.  At this point I am starting to be a little uncomfortable.  If a Facebook group posts a picture of scantily clad girls dressed in vinyl or leather or something I do not want to know that he thinks they are both naughty and deserve a spanking.  I do not mind that he thinks that they deserve a spanking I just do not want to know about it.

Now I would say about a month later a friend of his on Facebook friends me and I am like sure whatever why not.  Well I will tell you why not, she has a lot of time on her hands or is lonely or both.  Either way in my weakened state I am not capable of catering and placating a stranger about their neurosis and oddly enough technical support questions.  At this point as a courtesy I ask if I unfriend her will this cause him any issues?  I also ask about his marriage, the status of his living situation, and the kids.  At this point he gives me another long rambling reply telling me that I do not need to ask his permission and why does everyone need to ask his opinion, he also starts going into some Libertarian basics.  I explain I am also a Libertarian and that I was not asking for his permission but asking if there are going to be issues for him because as a Libertarian I am allowed to care about how my actions will effect my friends.  I was nice and joked about and then went on to ask about his wife and the kids.

Then it started, he proceeded to write me an essay about how I did not know what I was talking about Libertarian philosophy and he did not know what audience I was playing for or why I was using such stupid methods to try and manipulate him.  I did engage about, I never got angry but I do love to argue.  I responded I did know about Libertarian philosophy and I was not playing to an audience and I was not trying to manipulate him and I did not ask him for permission.  The exchanges literally go on for days and his response become more and more paranoid and less and less based in reality.  I feel guilty saying that but it is true.  The sarcoidosis has robbed me of not only my memory but a lot of the abilities that make about what people would call intelligence have been effected.  I will admit it I am significantly less intelligent than before I got sick.  I still have enough left over smarts that I can fake it most days but truthfully I know I am faking it and I have lost a lot of my smarts.

I still trust this friend despite the lack of contact and I confide in him that I have lost a great deal of my smarts and I really do not understand what he is talking about.  He keeps bringing up what audience am I playing for and why am I using such stupid methods to try and manipulate him and he wants to know what is really bothering me.  I finally have a friend look at the whole exchange to see if I am missing something and sadly the second opinion comes back that I am not missing anything and that his response are of such a nature that she hopes he gets counseling soon.

I did not mention this earlier but to end this post today you should know that one of his uncles is in the state mental hospital and in my opinion one of his brothers and his mother should both have intensive psychiatric care and they should have been or for all I know are in inpatient mental care facilities.  At the end his messages became more aggressive, threatening and paranoid and I sent him a final message asking him to get some help and to not contact me in anyway.  Why did I relay this whole story today?  With the sarcoidosis effecting my brain am I more worried about pain and dying or losing my mind completely in one way or another and needing to be inpatient at a psychiatric care facility?  I do not have the answer but today I am little more scared of losing my mind than pain and dying.