Sunday, February 20, 2005

4th Annual Sheepsheadian Gift Exchange (which has turned into a vant about an ex-Sheepsheadian)

The holidays are over and it's time for the Sheepsheadians to get together to exchange holiday gifts! It may seem odd to those out there in the blogosphere that our group is getting together tomorrow afternoon (at 5 PM Central) to celebrate Christmas, but it's the truth.

The first year of gift exchange was split into two evenings. Adam, Keem, DM, and I got together to share gifts on Christmas night, after the family obligations were complete. We held it at DM's apartment and I remember that Keem and I made scrapbooks for Adam and DM. A few days later, we all got together at Matt's place to do gift exchange with Matt and that other person whom we have expelled from our group. At the second gift exchange, I remember DM getting magnetic poetry (the erotic version) and we each took turns using cookie sheets to make up poems in Matt's living room.

The second gift exchange included Matt, DM, Keem, Adam, that evil witch, and myself at the apartment I shared with Adam. It was a scrapbooking extravaganza for Keem and DM and we all had a good time watching DM play with her new Ken doll and Gandolf dolls. Who knew Gandolf was gay? That exchange was pushed back from the actual holidays, but not too far. We celebrated that one during the first weekend of the new year.

Last year's gift exchange was pushed back to late January, mainly because of budgeting reasons. It made more sense to let everyone get another paycheck before going out to shop for each other. One other reason for the delay was to see what everyone got for Christmas from their families and to avoid duplication. Unfortunately, Scott couldn't make it last year although we sent home presents for him. It was at my apartment with Adam again. The attendees were DM, Keem, Matt, Adam, and myself. We laughed quite a bit while watching this on my computer (no negative comments please. We know we're going to hell for finding enjoyment in this.) It was the first year we didn't have to purchase gifts for the woman who makes Satan look like a saint and we enjoyed the day. I do remember not being pleased with Adam's choice of wardrobe for the day (he wore a shirt that said, "Rock N Roll Motherf***er" when he knew we would be scrapbooking the pictures).

We decided early in the year to push gift exchange back to February this year. Since most of us get paid on the 15th (okay, Keem, DM, and I do, but three out of five is not bad), we decided we could hold it after Valentine's Day.

Tomorrow afternoon it will be Keem, DM, Matt, Scott, and I sharing gifts and making memories. It is the first year Adam was not included. And you know what, I'm finally at a point where I'm okay to say that. If he were to read this site (which he doesn't, it's not about him so why bother?), I would not care if he read it. He has drifted so far away that I don't care anymore. Yes, I was hurt terribly and constantly reminded of how much like dirt I was to my "best friend" when I lived with him, but the healing has been in full effect.

I tried to maintain his friendship. Don't ask me why. Common sense told me to drop him and I fought back against all logic and reason for way too long. I guess I didn't want to admit that someone I cared for as a friend could feel so indifferent towards me.

And he's good at being fake. He knows how to react when you're in front of him, but he doesn't deal with anyone not in his face.

I got a Valentine's Day card from him a couple of weeks ago (early) and it surprised the hell out of me. I have known Adam for five years and this was just a little out of character for him. I'm sure he saw a penguin card and it reminded him of me, just as if I would have seen a dolphin figurine and thought of him. I emailed him and tried to call him after I got the card. It was like talking to a wall.

If he were to call and want to talk, I'm sure I would talk to him. But I don't rely on his friendship anymore. I don't crave talking to him anymore. I miss the five hour conversations in our living room, but I don't miss living with him. I don't miss him when he's not there.

So he was not invited to gift exchange this year. I'm going to have a great time with the friends that count and no bad feelings are being harbored anymore.

I don't know if anyone reading this has ever been in an abusive relationship (mentally or physically, friendly or romantic), but I imagine everyone has had a situation somewhat similar. I'm talking about when the status quo doesn't seem to be healthy for you anymore, but you don't know what to do. Severing the ties seems like such a huge step and it seems like such an impossibility. When I lived with Adam, that's what it felt like. I knew I was unhappy with the arrangement. I felt like I should hide in the corner to not bother him and I felt disrespected. In the last few months of the arrangement, it was false smiles and small talk. I felt like an intruder in my own home.

When the lease came up, I had such a hard time dealing with the fact I wasn't going to be living with him anymore, even though it was making me miserable. It's probably the closest I've ever come to depression. It was a situational depression and I found ways to cope (thank you, thank you, thank you Matt - you truly are the best big brother in the world and I don't know what I would have done without your support. I can never begin to express how grateful I am to you in words other than to say I love you. You are part of my family.) Even though I was miserable, I was scared to death of the possibility of NOT living with Adam. It was what I had come to understand as the norm. I couldn't see past the present and all I could think was, "Well, it's bad, but it's not that bad."

Since I no longer see Adam, talk to him, email him, or work with him, I smile more. I'm getting back to being "permagrin" (one of the many nicknames I picked up at Bugs). I don't worry about coming home from work and having to hide in my room. I don't worry that doing homework at the computer will be uncomfortable.

I do understand that Adam found a man that he loved and that Rich was living with us. I was fine with Adam's relationship, it was the disrespect that I had a problem with. I did not enjoy being forced to try to finish my education while they were hot and heavy on the other side of the wall. And for the love of God, I WORK NIGHTS!!! Get it over with BEFORE I get home. (Well, maybe there is a tad bit of aggression left - who knew that two years of hell could do that to a person?)

I have not written much about my friendship with Adam. The main reasons are because it hurt and I was scared to ever have him feel pain because someone else in his life decided he wasn't worth it anymore. He's good at chasing people away and I didn't want to run. I didn't want to give up and that was part of myself being stubborn. It hurt me too much to tell him that I didn't really like him anymore.

I guess I still consider him a friend, but he's a distant friend. He's like an old acquaintance, one that I could hold a conversation with, but I don't search out. I told myself a million times that I wouldn't let him get to the point where he could look around and no one was left, but now I just don't care if he gets there. I tried. I can finally admit that I did give it all I could. Anymore would have hurt me too badly to heal. The wounds may have been mortal if I tried harder.

It feels good to be able to say that. And it feels great to know that tomorrow afternoon, I'll be surrounded by those I love and we'll have a great time, without the drama, without the hurt. And that's the way it SHOULD be. Now, I just need to shop and wrap presents before they all get here! (And I am cleaning my apartment tonight, I promise. I've already done so much! I'm slightly proud of myself and I deserved a break to blog!)

I can see clearly now, the rain has gone.