I just left my lifelong friend’s house in Cochrane, Alberta. One truism about life is that friends come and go, mostly. I have been close friends with Steve Price for well over twenty years and we know each other well enough that there is nothing I can do to impress him or drive him away, no more games, no posturing necessary. Steve has seen me at my worst, and that is worse than most people know. I trust him because he has proven that old maxim, “Real friends walk in when everyone else is walking out.” I have a few other friends like Steve and you know who you are. I’ll write about you next time Dave so don`t stress.
The thing is, there are far fewer true friends in my life than I once believed. When I was a very public figure I thought there were many people who I was close to. That is the key statement, people who I felt close to. People who, because of my value system, I felt very loyal to. I was raised to believe that loyalty was everything. Then my life fell apart and when the dust cleared there were only a few friends who were willing to get messy. Again you know who you are. A few years ago I went camping with some of these friends and in spite of differing beliefs and priorities I didn’t have to worry about being judged. Real friends are like that. I have a few of these hardcore friends, both male and female where I live as well, though fewer than I once imagined.
A few years ago a very close buddy decided to call it quits on our friendship. At that time things in my life had begun to stabilize and he offered me no explanation as to why he was done. I still struggle to understand, though I know that during that period of my life I was probably difficult to be around. Being friends with me probably wore him down.That’s the best I can think of and I will probably never really know the complete answer. I have found some peace, as time goes by, in spite of the uncertainty. I have also tried to learn and grow from this difficult hurt. It makes my relationships with those who have stuck around even more valuable.
As a counselor I know many lonely people who have no one like Steve. Messy and damaged people are difficult to love, sometimes. It is easy to talk the talk, as they say. It is another thing all together to walk the walk with angry, or hurting, or messy people. A true friend is a rare and precious thing.
I strive to be like Steve. He has never been as utterly pathetic as I once was but I like to think that wouldn’t matter. It’s easy to be a friend when things are going good. Loving people when they are flawed is something else altogether.
I look back at the guy I was when my life was in the toilet and I feel sorry for him. He was a mess and undoubtedly difficult to be around. I do know implicitly that he needed people like Steve in order to survive and dig himself out of the hell he was in. He desperately needed friends who didn’t moralize or lose patience. Friends who refused to quit.
Today Scott is the healthiest he has ever been. This is due, in no small part, to my family, a few amazing friends, and people like Steve. He is a rock that cannot be moved, cannot be scared off. My wife is like that. My family and especially my sons are like that. They know loyalty. Leaving was never an option.
From time to time one of my friends goes through difficult and sometimes very messy times. They will make stupid and short-sighted decisions. They will get in trouble sexually or morally. They will say and do things that will drive people away. It is in those times that I am challenged to be faithful. I am fortunate that for some reason it is no longer as difficult as it once was to stick around and I think I know why. I have seen loyalty modeled in my parents, in my family, in my friends. When I am tempted to walk away I am reminded that my job is to be loyal, and loyalty costs.
I owe a debt that can only be repaid through actions, not words.
Thanks Steve, I love you.
- Loyalty Is Hard (entropy.wordpress.com)