Axe
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Message to her:

I wanted to say thank you for talking to me last week. The only other time we've hurt each other you told me, “messy explanations I can handle, but not knowing I can not.” Not knowing how you felt or what you thought was agony for me. Talking to me was probably unpleasant for you, so I thank you for granting me that small mercy. It meant so much to me. In the week since we talked, this bit of understanding has helped me get a small handle on my emotions, so it's helped me to start to recover from this loss.
Your answer wasn't the one I had hoped for, but at least it wasn't the worst outcome: that you thought I did this intentionally. I can understand the conflict between your thoughts and emotions. Your mind believes me that this was an accident. All the nights I spent at your place, all the times I looked out for you when you were incapacitated, I never sought to take advantage because I never wanted anything more from you than your friendship. I'm not good at showing people how I care for them but the Christmas card I sent you before this happened said what I felt, that “your friendship was the best gift I've ever received.” I may have been drunk and high that awful night, but I know who I am and I know that I never wanted to betray your trust. You said you believe me and I try to take some comfort in that. But I understand that your heart can't unfeel the hurt inflicted on you by my carelessness. So no matter what your mind believes, your heart is what drives your actions now.
I'm dealing with that same conflict right now. After talking to you, I . . . understand that there's probably no real chance that we'll be able to repair our friendship, regardless of how desperately I wish we could. I heard your words and I thank you for them, painful though they were. My mind understands but my heart . . . my heart is a slow learner. I still feel and believe and instinctually think of you as a dear friend. Every time I see you, I want to laugh with you, bitch about students together, make plans for breakfast pho, and look forward to our weekend shenanigans. My heart doesn't realize that that will never happen again, but when that realization starts to sink in, it just breaks me down all over again.
I only have a vague sense of the anger and pain you must feel over this. Or maybe you've buried it already and me trying to save things is only making it worse. I don't know. The only person I know of that you've completely and utterly cut out of your life is Will. If I'm receiving the same punishment as him, then I can only conclude that you truly hate me for how I've hurt you. That's what breaks my heart, that I could cause my best friend to hate me as much as she's hated anyone. I don't even know what kind of human that makes me, if that can be said about me. I've never hurt anyone like this and I've never despised myself more.

Even knowing that you may feel this way, I believe that you're capable of forgiveness. And I believe that we had a genuine friendship, not just something built on boredom or alcoholism or convenience. I believe we were real friends. I believe we can recover from this. Maybe not ever again the same as we were, but we can recover. That's really why I'm writing to you today. I may be stubborn and loyal and optimistic, but eventually even I'll give up the hope that we can return to being friends. I will be able to accept that eventually.
Yet, I at least hope that we can ease the atmosphere between us at work. Not for my sake though. I fear that if nothing changes between us, if this iciness and discomfort becomes the norm, then a few months from now when the school year winds down, my mere presence at school may be a factor that pushes you away from somewhere that you want to be. I don't want to be something you dread about your job. I don't want you to have to decide between staying here or escaping my presence. I've already caused you so much pain and discomfort, I don't want to add to that. I would rather forfeit my position here than cause you further troubles. But I hope that it doesn't come to that. I couldn't bear this situation permanently. Four more months of this would ruin me.
I hope that we can find some path of reconciliation forward. I keep telling myself that I could give up on the hope of being friends again and settle for just being colleagues. As long as we could find peace between us, that's probably all I can realistically hope for. I hope we can do this together.

This last part I'm embarrassed to mention, but reality doesn't give a shit about what I'm going through. I'm facing a $2800 repair bill for my truck right now and I'm too broke to be replacing things. If you can find an opportunity, could you return my stuff to me? Especially the rice cooker and keyboard. The cooker was $500 and I haven't been able to use my home computer since I lent my keyboard to you. You can keep the food processor though. I bought that on the way over to your place when I couldn't figure out how to turn on my identical one at home. I don't need two of them.
I'm sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for your help.

Axe
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The axe fell this morning. Brittney came by before school. I was shocked, frankly, to see her in my doorway and I’m sure the apprehension was plain on my face. She didn’t come too far into the room and had her arms folded on her chest. Apparently she had read my letter and the journal. One of the first things she asked was that I make the journal less public. I told her I’d delete it on the spot.
I can only recall fragments of the conversation. I couldn't take it all in. There was so much I wanted to say, and ask, and know, but she hadn't come to talk. She'd come to deliver her message.

She said she appreciated that I’ve been trying to reach out to her. But that she needs me to respect her need for distance. We can be civil.

She’s not sure if she believes me, because she says there was a video of me adjusting the camera. I was speechless. I didn’t realize it looked like that to her.
When I mentioned, “If you don’t believe me that it was an accident . . .” She replied, “It’s not a matter of believing.” I made her feel unsafe in her own home. It felt like a violation. That’s something she may never get over. She doesn’t know if she’ll ever be able to trust me again.

Her: “It’s not that I don’t have fond memories of our friendship . . .” and she even thanked me for what I wrote, about her big heart. But maybe she gave off the wrong impression with that, maybe she needs to change that about herself.
Me: "No, don't let me change you. Please don't let this change you."

Me: "I deserve all of this pain, not you. I fucked all of this up."

“I don’t know if you even read my letters,” to which she replied, “I’m not an asshole. I read them.”

The truth is that camera was there for days and you never mentioned it. You never told me, “Heads up.” The truth is that you left a camera in my bedroom.
I forgot about it. I didn’t even think about that thing. I was drunk and high when I left it there.

Her: “I’m sorry to do this first thing in the morning.”
Me: “No, thank you for finally telling me. The not knowing was . . . miserable.”

Me: “What do you want from me now? What do you want me to do?”
Her: “That’s just it. There’s nothing you can do.”

Me: “Can I please say what I haven't been able to say in person yet? You are the best friend I’ve ever had and I never wanted to do anything to hurt you like this. I swear on my life that I did not get that camera to use on you. If there’s anything I could do, and I know . . . I know there's probably no hope of this, but if you ever can forgive me, if you ever-- I will always consider you my best friend, Brittney and I would do anything to save our friendship."



It’s not the answer I’d prayed and hoped for, but at least it’s an answer. I almost feel . . . better now that I know.

1-30-17
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After Brittney got mad at me the last time I tried to talk to her, I thought there was no point in trying any further. If she's held onto anger for that long . . . well that says what she's not willing to put into words. But as of today, we've been strangers for longer than we were friends. I've seen no sign of hope for these past few weeks but to me this feels like a tipping point. Even as stubborn and loyal as I am, even I can't continue to hold onto hope after this.
So this milestone is the excuse I used to try to speak to Brittney one last time. I stopped by her room after school. Anna was there. (Sidenote: This morning Anna stopped by my room. I was shocked to see her and once she started talking to me, one of my first thoughts was, “She doesn't hate me!” I was embarrassed at how happy I was to see her. Even though she'd only come by to get some help with physics, it still meant so much to me. I know it's ridiculous, but this was the first time I've felt happy all month.) I didn't want a repeat of the last time I tried to talk to Brittney, so I asked her, “Do you think you'll have any time to talk this afternoon?”
“No, I have to grade these papers and then I'm meeting a friend afterwards.” Her tone was casual and almost pleasant. Almost as if nothing had happened and we were still friends. Or maybe she was just being polite due to Anna's presence.
I nodded. I hadn't really expected her to be willing to talk to me. I approached her desk. I had planned on asking her one question even if she didn't want to talk, but I couldn't bring myself to, not after confronting her the last time. I handed her a letter Read more...Collapse ) that referred to the milestone mentioned above and it's main message was, “Five weeks of silence and anger have now passed between us. Is this how you want things to be permanently?” The letter also contained a link to my journal, which detailed all of my thoughts since the beginning of our friendship. I asked her if she would take this letter from me. She nodded.
I hesitated. I almost wanted to reassure her by saying, “I won't bother you again. I have no words left.” This past month I've turned myself inside out trying to reach her and poured out my heart, and none of that has earned any response. I really am out of words. If none of this has convinced her that our friendship is worth saving, then there's really no hope at all.
Instead, I apologized for my behavior last time. She accepted my apology with an odd easy-going blaise. Then I left.
I must be pretty stupid for only just now realizing that the silence was the message she wanted to send all along.

Burning Bridges
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I had said I’d given up, but I couldn’t. None of my letters had gotten a response. I caught her in the hallway as she was leaving her classroom for the day. Either this would be the conversation that began the healing, or the last one we’d ever have. A student was accompanying her for a few steps. I thought she might allow us to return to her room to talk, but she kept moving; she wouldn’t be stopped.
(It was a hurried, freighted conversation and I can’t even accurately recall all of it. There’s gaps, but it’s not missing much.)


“Ms. B, can we talk for a minute?”
“Sorry, I really have to go.”

Student: “I’ll go this way.” *departs*

I drew closer so that we wouldn’t be overheard, but a couple or so teachers still passed by during our exchange. “I really need to speak with you.”
“I don’t want to speak with you.”

“I have to know what’s happening.”
“Nothing’s happening. I told you that I would respond when I felt ready.”

“I know, but the longer this drags on . . . I don’t know what happened. I only know half of what happened. I don’t understand what’s going on. I gave you the truth and I thought if you read that, you would understand that this was an accident.”
“That doesn’t change how it made me feel.”
“No, it doesn’t. I know that. That will never change.”

At one point she mouthed, “Stop this,” and anger flickered across her face

“We have to have this conversation.”
“This is not the right time and place for this.”
“I know, we can do it anytime, anywhere. But we have to . . .”
“I really don’t want to do this.”

By that point she was at the exterior door and I couldn’t follow her out without making an obvious scene.
I know I was being selfish but after three weeks of not knowing, I couldn’t bear the silence any more. Her anger was apparent. The fact that she didn’t deny that this was an accident didn’t feel like a victory or vindication for me. This was a rotten way to find that out. It’s probably made things worse and crushed whatever infinitesimal chance I had. Or maybe this first dribble of anger will open the gate on what she’s been holding in. Even a torrent of anger . . . or hate if she doesn’t believe me, would lead to some conversation, some understanding, some catharsis. I just couldn’t bear not knowing any more.
But I do know one thing now. I don’t dare do that again. It’s clear that I crossed the line, but there was no other way I was going to get an answer.

Giving Up
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The tears had almost stopped and I knew that was a bad sign. When the tears stop, you’ve stopped grieving or stopped caring. The wound is closing over with a scab, to be replaced by unfeeling scar tissue. Monday I’d forced a “conversation,” but her reply had been limited to a couple of sentences. And whatever hope and optimism I gained from those non-commital answers faded quickly. This morning I wrote what I knew would be my last message. If I’ve reached the point where I’d rather not care instead of hope, then … it’s almost all gone. This week was the end of our school’s semester. We’d have 3 (4 if you count staff development) days off. A 3-day weekend would be plenty of time to consider my last plea, if she’s listening at all.

******

I keep waiting, hoping for a conversation that I know will never come. My heart continues to hope, but my mind tells me it will never happen. The conflict between the two continues to hurt me and I’m tired of crying about this every day. I could end that turmoil if I knew one thing.

Do you believe I did this intentionally?

If you do, then I must have lost your trust long before this, or somehow planted the seeds of distrust in your mind early on in our friendship. If you believe I’m a piece of shit and I should go to hell, tell me that. I need to know what you feel and think. I need to know definitively that there’s nothing left of our friendship other than memories and regret, if that’s the truth of things.
If you believe me when I say this was an accident, but the pain you felt was too great for you to ever trust me or consider being my friend again . . . I can understand. I can only hope that with enough time, we could once again be something more than strangers to each other.
If you don’t know, then that’s a question that can only be answered by talking.
Any time I’ve lost someone close, a friend, a girlfriend, or a fiancé, it always began with silence. By the time I realized that silence was permanent, any chance at healing and understanding was long gone. I’m not reaching out to you to make myself understood; I’ve already forced my words upon you too much. I want to understand you. Even if you hate me Brittney, I believe you would feel better or unburdened if you told me how you feel, what you think, and what I did to you.
I continue to do wrong in order to do right. I know it was wrong of me to force the conversation in your room the other day. I know it’s wrong of me to ask you for an answer. I know I’m breaking my promise not to contact you. I’m probably only making things worse rather than better.
But I can’t leave it like this. I’m stubborn AND an asshole. If I don’t know your side of things, if I don’t know the truth, then I can’t fully give up hoping. And that hope drives me to seek understanding and reconciliation with someone who is very important to me. Not knowing is agony because I can only assume the worst.
I wish we were talking. I miss you terribly.


******

Part of me felt this message sounded too beta, too supplicant, too pathetic. But time is not on my side. I can’t spend days finding the right words. The words don’t really matter, just my message. I don’t know why she won’t believe me, why she never gave me a chance to explain. But after two weeks of depression and crying, I’m just so tired of it. Hope just hurts now and I have to let it go.
Worst of all, I didn’t even have to wait through the weekend for my answer. Since today was a short school day, the campus hosted a free lunch for all the teachers in the cafeteria. I sat at a table with the science teacher whose room is next to mine. As the other teachers eventually showed up, a nucleus of science teachers sat at my table and the neighboring one. Brittney eventually showed up, made herself a plate, then left to eat in her room. The most gregarious person I know was secluding herself.
A staff meeting immediately followed the lunch. She returned for that, but sat tables away from the science group even though there was room. As the meeting concluded, she stopped by my table to talk to the department head, who was two seats away from me. I didn’t try to make eye contact or talk to her, but she had to have been aware of me. She was practically within arm’s reach. And then she left that room faster than anyone else. She must abhor my presence.
I’ve told her the truth, bared my heart to her, forced a conversation, and tried to reach out one last time. If all of that doesn’t warrant a response, then the only explanation is she must truly hate me now. I’m not even worth the breath or the text for her to tell me to get lost. I just don’t …
If we were friends, why didn’t I get a chance to explain myself? Did I over-estimate what we had? Was it easier to throw me away or hate me rather than consider my side? Why don’t I deserve a chance? I know I have many faults, but goddammit, this isn’t one of them. Why don’t I deserve a chance to save this friendship? I’ve lost her and all the people I met through her. I was beginning to discover new people and new outlets and it was so exciting and I felt that I was beginning to discover new aspects of myself through that. But I’ve lost all that. How did I manage to fuck it all up so quickly and totally? Why can’t I fix this?
I’ve never regretted a mistake as much as this one. Losing a fiance, losing girlfriends, in those cases I could feel it coming on, I understood why and saw the inevitability, at least in hindsight. This hurts so much more though, because … I lost it all instantly by accident and I can’t save it.

In the last letter I wrote her, I promised I wouldn’t contact her again, because I felt that was the appropriate thing to do. I didn’t need to promise this time. I’ve run out of words and hope. There’s no point in trying any more. I’ll never have answers or closure, just silence and hate from the person who was my best friend.

She didn't tell me to go to hell,
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So that’s something, at least.
A new Monday, a new school week. I never heard back from Brittney this weekend and my brief feeling of hope faded within a few hours.
This morning I contacted Anna. I still had Brittney’s statue that I’d repaired over the Christmas break. Whatever happens between us, she needs to get this semi-family heirloom back; my belongings at her place are inconsequential in comparison. I hoped that Anna could be the courier and return it to her so that I wouldn’t have to deliver it myself. But when I contacted her, I discovered that she’d de-friended me on the internet as well. That briefly stung, but I still had her phone number and dared to try that.
I was surprised that she came to my room to pick up the statue. I was expecting no response at all. She was cool towards me, almost unreadable. I have no way of knowing how this fiasco had affected her, so I told her as best I could, that if I had ever done anything intentionally or accidentally to hurt her or make her feel uncomfortable, that I was sorry for it. She seemed almost indifferent to my olive branch. She essentially responded, “I don’t have any problem. It’s between you and Brittney.”
I hadn’t asked her there to try and win her to my side, but I couldn’t help but take a minute or two to try and explain that whatever had happened, had been a mistake. And then I thanked her for being Brittney’s friend through all of this. She didn’t seem interested in discussing this matter at all, so I gave her the statue and she went on her way. Along with the statue I attached a flashdrive with various photos and videos of her and her friends I’d taken during our time together. If I wasn’t going to see her again, the photos were more useful to her than I.

I had thought something would happen that morning, or that day. I’d sent my explanation to Brittney via work email on Saturday. So even at the latest, she must have seen my email by that morning. If my missive was going to have any effect, it was going to be now. And maybe with the help of the repaired cowboy statue and the photos, that might help thaw her feelings towards me. I was probably being over-optimistic, hoping against hope that my heart-baring message would stop the door that was closing on our friendship.
I didn’t hear from Brittney.
By late afternoon I resolved to talk to her directly. Even the email wasn’t a guarantee of communication. If she was deleting my messages out-of-hand, then there was still a chance that she didn’t know the truth. I had to know that my words weren’t falling on deaf ears. Even though the advice of my friends had been unanimous: Give her time and she’ll give you a chance to explain, I couldn’t heed it. Every time I’ve lost someone close, a friend, girlfriend, or fiance, I always think the same things towards the end. “I don’t want to hurt them.” “I just want them to be happy.” “If that’s what they really want, then so be it.” etc etc etc. And I back off in order to be gentle and undemanding, to give them “time”. But everytime one of those close relationships end, I inevitably wonder, “Did I hold something back?” “If I’d been more open and honest, would that have been enough?” “Did I not fight hard enough for them?”
I’m not willing to entertain those doubts this time. I’m tired of losing people by being passive and just accepting it. I’m not going to lose someone else without fighting for them. I know I was crossing a line by approaching her at work, the one place she can’t avoid me, entering her space without any sign that I was welcome there, but I HAD TO KNOW. I can’t just lose her without knowing.
As soon as I entered her room, Brittney’s expression was hard. Not angry. “Wary” might be a better term. Anna was there, but she was on her phone. She gave us some space as I approached Brittney’s desk.
Although I’d been working out my thoughts for the past hour and picking over my letters for the past week, I almost couldn’t begin to broach the subject. I hardly made eye-contact; I didn’t want this to be more confrontational than it already was. I definitely wasn’t eloquent, but at least I didn’t cry.
From the jumble of my thoughts I expressed regret that I’d come here, but that I had to know that she’d received my message. How I was willing to accept any decision she made, so long as I knew that she had at least considered my side of things. If I was going to lose her as my best friend, then she needed all the information before she made that decision. I just needed to know that she’d received it.
Brittney had been working on her tablet when I came in and as I spoke it came up to cover the lower half of her face. I don’t know if that was a defensive or pensive posture. In a careful manner she replied that she had received my messages, but that she would only reply in her own good time. She said she needed “a break” to think about it.
That was all I needed to hear. I told her I wasn’t asking her to trust me, or believe me (those decisions are wholly up to her), all I was asking for was that she consider what I’d written. Nothing more. I could give her all the time and space she needed, so long as I knew she was at least willing to consider it.
It was a short conversation, over within 4 minutes. I wish I’d spoken better, but all my rehearsed words and critical points went out of my head the moment I entered her room. Besides, there’s no way a blitzkrieg conversation like that was going to do anything more than barely scratch the surface.
I don’t know if going there made things better or worse. No, actually I do know. It was inappropriate of me. But so often when I do what’s “appropriate,” I feel that I’ve denied my true self. For better or for worse, now I truly believe I’ve done all that I can. I probably went farther than I should have, but now I have my answer. This is a huge weight off of my shoulders. Now, whatever she decides, I can live with.*

*Yes, the rational part of my brain says I may be reading too optimistically into a non-commital answer as she gave. Maybe she just had the good grace to spare me an outright rejection. BUT this definitely wasn’t the worst possible outcome so I’m taking encouragement from that.

I've done all I can
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It’s been a long, miserable week. Depression, little sleep, little appetite, and nausea. But by Friday the emotional jags began to diminish in number and length, enough that I could move beyond sadness and shock and begin to think more constructively. Plus it helped that I talked to Cameron and Katherine and some friends about what I was going through. They all sympathized in their limited way and their advice was essentially unanimous: give it time, if she’s a true friend she’ll forgive you or give you a chance to reconcile. That made sense to my thoughts. Really, what else could I do but wait and hope? This was beyond my control. But in my gut, I couldn’t help but think that the longer I patiently suffered in silence, the more it would look like I was slinking away in guilt and shame. The longer the silence drew out, the more her heart and ears would close to me, if they haven’t completely done so already.
I resolved to contact her one final time today, Saturday. Last Sunday was when I sent her my explanation of things. I hadn’t heard from or seen her at all since then. This morning I texted her:
******
I don’t fully understand what has happened between us. I have so many things to say and questions to ask, but after a week of silence I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance. But I have to know; Did you ever read my last message?
******
Brief and to the point. All I wanted to know was if she had received my explanation. If she had and still didn’t believe me, then there was nothing more to be said. If she hadn’t received it, then maybe there was some hope. If she told me “yes,” “no,” or “go to hell,” it would be a conclusive answer one way or another. It would end this agonizing limbo.
Six hours later, she hasn’t responded. I thought that this direct question would have warranted some response, if only to get rid of me permanently. Then it occurred to me that maybe she blocked my number when she discovered the camera-clock. If that were so, then she never would have received my explanation. There might still be a chance that I could redeem myself. I know it’s a thin hope, but at this point I’ve decided that I have to do everything I can to salvage this friendship or else I’ll always wonder what more I could’ve done.
The only avenue of communication that I have left and that I 100% trust will reach her is our work email. That can’t be blocked. I know it’s not the wisest way to communicate personal matters, but this isn’t the time for half-measures. So I sent this brief email with the same Explanation from Sunday attached.
******
I’m sorry I had to resort to using this channel to talk to you. I couldn’t tell if you were ignoring me or if you had blocked my number, in which case I’ve been speaking to thin air. Your friendship is so important to me that I can’t risk that chance.
I beg you to read the attachments.
I know this email will reach you. From now on I’ll know that your silence is intentional and not accidental. I won’t bother you again.

******
Besides the Explanation, I attached a Goodbye message, in the event that she couldn’t bring herself to believe or trust me. In it, I’m not trying to defend myself or persuade her or beg for forgiveness. It is my goodbye to her.
******
This letter isn’t meant to convince you of my innocence. I thought our friendship would have granted me a chance to explain myself, but your silence has told me you’ve already decided. At this point you probably never want to hear from or see me again, but if this is the end of our friendship then I literally have nothing left to lose. I need to say this in order to let you go. This letter is to say thank you and goodbye.
From the first night we met as people, you gave me your trust. I never knew someone who was so free of insecurity and confident without being arrogant. For the duration of our friendship, I marveled at how freely you gave your trust and honesty and heart to other people. I couldn’t help but wonder, “How has the world not taken advantage of her trust, of her generosity? Why isn’t she more protective of herself?” I tried looking for your cracks. I couldn’t believe you were that strong and whole after all you’ve been through, but I couldn’t find them. It made me want to emulate you. To stop being sarcastic and evasive and defensive, old protective habits that I’ve always had. I admire you, not only as a friend or colleague, but as a person.
That’s your gift. That’s why you’re so successful with your students and the world at large. Hell, that’s why you were willing to befriend an asshole like me. You give of yourself without hesitation or thoughts of gaining advantage or protecting yourself.
Even though it was just for a few months, your friendship became one of the most important things to me. I can’t remember forming a friendship as quickly or as strongly as I did with you. You are someone I never had to be different around, or had to second-guess myself with. You quickly dropped all pretenses between us and showed me who you really are and I was deeply touched by your openness and I tried to match it.
But I couldn’t adapt quickly enough. I know I was unnecessarily rude to you at times. Only recently did I realize my rudeness stemmed from my jealousy of your ability with people and how you flowed amongst them, winning jewelry from strangers or phone numbers or friends as easy as breathing. I couldn’t match your talent and I wrongly blamed you when I felt left behind. I should never have faulted you for having those qualities that allowed us to even be friends in the first place. But I was insecure and lonely.
It wasn’t just the new lifestyles or the new people you exposed me to; your very behavior gave me a glimpse that it was possible to approach and see life differently, with less anxiety and more trust and faith. I wasn’t trying to flatter you when I said I had never met anyone like you. You led me to reconsider who I could be as a person.
Throughout it all I couldn’t help but feel that I was a poor companion. I don’t dance, I barely smoke, I’m not that funny, and I’m often downright dull. That’s why I leapt at any chance to help you. When you were bored, when you were hungry, when you were cold, when you were grieving, when you were injured, when you were wasted, when you were stranded, when you were lonely. I may not have been the best company, but I wanted to repay you in any way I could for the gift of your friendship.
That is why my biggest regret and shame is that in the end, I repaid your friendship with an apparent betrayal of trust and the pain that goes with it. I couldn’t convince you that this was all an accident and frankly . . . it doesn’t matter anymore. The pain that I’ve caused you is reason enough for you to excise me from your life. I can’t forgive myself for that and I can’t expect you to forgive me either.
I’m sorry that George and possibly Anna ended up involved in this. They should not have to help pay for my recklessness, but I am truly grateful that you have them close by to help you through this. I would thank them if I could.
I take some small comfort in knowing that you’ll soon be able to replace me and forget me entirely. I won’t be able to replace you. It took me 37 years to meet someone like you. I don’t think it will happen again.
Brittney, I’ll never forgive myself for losing you as a friend. More than that, I hate myself for being the one that makes you trust the world a little less, of dimming the light that you bring to everyone. I wish there was something, anything, I could do to save our friendship, but all I can do for you now is spare you any further discomfort. I promise that I will not contact you again or approach you socially or professionally.

You deserve a better friend than me.
Thank you, and goodbye.

Cody


******
I’ve put it all out there. My explanation, how I feel, and how important she is to me. I’m afraid that baring my heart to her still won’t be enough. But it’s all I could do.
Somehow, sending her this message has eased my burden a bit. I’m still terribly depressed, but now that I’ve done everything I can and held nothing back I feel a bit of calmness and courage to face whatever comes next.

1-4-17
building
astillar
Today was our first day back at work. I’m still torn up about this and a student almost caught me crying in my classroom before the day started. As depressed as I was, once the bell rang, I had no choice but to go through the motions of teaching. Even though I was hardly in the proper mindset, the demands of work at least held my feelings at bay while school was in session.
During the passing periods, when we’re required to stand outside of our door, I couldn’t even look down the hallway in the direction of Brittney’s room. I was both dreading and hoping that I’d run into her today. But I didn’t see any trace of her. I couldn’t even tell if she was here at all. After-school, I half-expected to see her arrive at my room to dump my belongings and vent her hate at me. But there wasn’t even that opportunity to explain myself.
This is extremely painful for me. I can’t bear the thought of someone who is the closest friend I’ve had in decades thinking that I’m scum. I’d hoped telling the truth would have counted for something even if it came late. I can’t bear to think I’m losing my best friend over an accident. I don’t even know if she’s read my admission or if she already made up her mind beforehand and has ignored it. I’d do anything to fix this but I don’t know what else I can do. Pushing my case any further would be selfish. She’s suffered so much more than I have from this incident, my pain right now is nothing compared to hers. I just … can’t accept this loss. How can I lose this great friend over a stupid mistake?
At the absolute very least, even if I do lose her entirely, I just hope that she knows that I never meant to hurt her like this. If I could convince her of that, I wouldn’t ask for anything else.

I've screwed it all up
building
astillar
This all started a couple days before Christmas.
Brittney and I went out to a Mexican restaurant as a belated celebration of the commencement of our winter break. We had margaritas, 2 or 3 each, I think. On the way back to her place, she stopped at a nail salon to fix her nails. I wandered and browsed at the Spy Shop next door. As I was looking at the gadgets, I got the idea that one of those spy cameras could help me figure out how my students were cheating on tests. Of all the things that my students do, cheating is the one thing that I can’t forgive or ignore. And yet, they keep doing it. It burns me up. If I’d been sober I don’t think I would’ve bought the clock with the concealed camera. But it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Back at her place, Brittney felt like taking a long bath and left me alone. I plugged in the camera-clock to my laptop to figure out how it worked. It was much more complicated than I thought. I could get it to work through motion-detection, but I couldn’t figure out all the internet/wi-fi stuff. Brittney came out unexpectedly and asked me what I was playing with.
I didn’t want to tell her that I had bought a camera to spy on my students. I don’t think it’s technically prohibited, but it would have been shaming to admit that I needed to resort to this to combat the problems in my classroom. Especially to her. Even though we’re both first-year teachers (and I have roughly a year of experience substituting), she is a superior teacher. Her failure rate and cheating problems are virtually non-existent. I try not to be envious when we compare notes on such matters, but I am. She has personal skills that I don’t and my teaching suffers as a result. So in that moment, I couldn’t bring myself to admit what it was. I mumbled some reply to the effect of, “It’s a wi-fi clock that my brother bought me for Christmas.” She said, “Oh cool,” and returned to her bath.
As I sobered up I started to have second thoughts about this idea so I put the camera away in my bag with the rest of my belongings I keep at her place.

Both Brittney and I had separate plans on Christmas Eve and Day. On the 26th we went to the BBQ. The 27th was the next time I visited her place. In the mean time I’d tried looking up a better translated manual for the clock online. One resource pointed out that I needed to charge the battery before using the clock the first time. So when I went back to her place that evening, that’s one of the first things I did. I took the clock from my bag and plugged it alongside my charger, where I kept all of my things. This was in her bedroom.
We went out to dinner, sushi with beer and sake, like last time and then came back. Anna came over and we realized we were out of smoke so Brittney suggested that she take a power-nap while Anna and I went to get more. So we did. When we got back, George soon came over and we continued drinking and smoking. But Brittney still seemed tired so after an hour or two, it became clear that she needed to go to bed. George left. I assumed Anna would be spending the night so I headed out. Between the beer and the grass, I forgot the clock was still plugged in in the bedroom.
I didn’t really hear from Brittney the next week. Considering that we hang out virtually every other day and talk to each other daily, after three days of not being able to get a response from her, I started to wonder what was going on. On the rare instances when she would reply, she’d simply say she was “just chilling,” which was an odd response since she’s almost always “bored af” when she’s stuck at her house. My first thought was that she’d gotten tired of hanging out with me and just didn’t want to say that she was having more fun hanging with other people. Or maybe David (her glass-blowing friend) had made her that rig she wanted and she was just getting high as fuck. Or maybe she’d met a guy and they were having fun together. That seemed like a stretch, but I could only guess. My best guess was that she was mad at me. I kept trying to remember if I’d said something offensive or treated her badly at the BBQ. The night hadn’t ended well, but it hadn’t ended badly either so I couldn’t figure this out.
She hardly responded on New Year’s Eve. But the next day we’d made plans to go to a Bloody Mary Brunch together at Katherine & Mark’s, 2 of the 3 people that she actually clicked with at Courtney’s party. She’d asked me to get her an invite weeks ago and I had. So Sunday morning, when I asked if she was still interested, she turned it down. At that point I could no longer deny that something was wrong. I asked her if she was feeling okay or if she was mad at me or … .? I got no response.
Then that night it all came out. George texted me, angrily, with a picture of my camera-clock, essentially saying, “WTF is this spy shit doing in her bedroom?” That caught me off-guard. I hadn’t thought about the camera-clock in days. He proceeded to tell me that it had been recording her bedroom. I don’t know how long, but apparently it had been running. He demanded answers. It looked really bad for me. I’d never meant to use that camera on Brittney, but there was a camera that I put in her bedroom, that had been recording video. How else did it look? My stupid, panicked response was to stick with that lie I’d told weeks ago, that it was from my brother. I said I didn’t know it was a spy camera, that it must’ve been his idea, to get a look at the “secret girlfriend” that I never talked about. George didn’t respond after his first few statements. I could only assume that Brittney was witness to the conversation. I knew my story sounded stupid and paper-thin, but the moment to tell the truth had passed and I wasn’t thinking straight.
I couldn’t sleep at all that night. This explained why Brittney had been giving me the cold shoulder. She thought I was a peeping tom. It hurt even more that she hadn’t confronted me at all during those days. At least then I might’ve been able to explain myself directly. She must have just believed the worst and cut me out of her life. After a few hours of dwelling on it, I realized I had to tell the truth if there was any chance of repairing this. So early that morning I sent her what I’ve written here, with this preface and ending.
******
I told you a white lie two weeks ago that has led to this moment. And in a moment of panic last night I maintained that lie. This accident was all my fault, but you paid for it and I’m so very sorry for that. I lied to you because I was ashamed and I caused you unimaginable pain, so I don’t deserve a chance to explain myself but I want you to know the truth.
I got the camera-clock not to watch you, but to watch my students. I got it the day … [etc.]
… I’ve been up all night thinking about what you must’ve been going through the past few days and I couldn’t hold onto that lie any more. Of course, at this point you may not believe a damned thing I say any more. And I have to accept that.
I can never apologize enough for what this has done to you Brittney.

******
I know I should’ve told her the truth at the very beginning, or if I was doing something I was ashamed of, then I never should’ve bought it to begin with. Or I never should’ve left it at her place. Or I should’ve told the truth when George confronted me. Any of those choices could’ve averted this disaster.
It’s crushing me to be losing my closest friend. I told her the truth, or sent her the truth at least, three days ago. She hasn’t responded. If I had told her the truth from the beginning, we wouldn’t be here but I was trying to hide something else I was ashamed of. And now that white lie has grown into something even worse than the truth would’ve been.

Stacy's BBQ
building
astillar
Brittney and I went out to Stacy’s for a BBQ party they were hosting. We’d met Stacy at the teacher’s Christmas party; she’s the Chemistry Head’s daughter. Brittney and her had hit it off quite well. I happened to run into Brittney at the same grocery store just before the party, which turned out to be delayed for half an hour. We got our snacks and then detoured to Chili’s to get a couple of drinks to kill time with.
It was a small gathering. Other than the three of us, there was also Brandon and James. I’d been under the impression that Brandon and Stacy were together, just from their casual proximity to each other at the last event, but that wasn’t the case. The weather was nice and we had drinks and chatted while they prepared the meat and stuff. Us boys were having beers, Stacy was too busy to drink, and Brittney was having rum. James almost seemed TOO agreeable, like a dog that’s just eager to receive affection. He was just like always agreeing with or laughing at every joke, but rarely ever contributing to the conversation. I couldn’t help but think I wasn’t seeing the real guy.
At one point Brittney gave me the thumbs signal, as in “get out”. I was like, “????” I stepped out, but texted her, “Why do I gotta go?” Apparently she wanted to have a ‘girls-talk’ with Stacy. Which I’m like, “okay, but … . :T” So then for the rest of the evening she kept having girls-talks and boys-talks with the other three people at the party. It seemed she was digging around for why Stacy and Brandon weren’t dating. And then once she hit a dead-end with that investigation, she started coaxing James to make a move.
I was ignorant of all of this, except for when I’d get displaced and shunted to whichever group she was excluding at the moment. That’s how I found out that no one was pleased by her intrusion. Brandon brushed it off with only minor irritation, but later in the evening when Stacy and I happened to be getting some air she expressed how she was genuinely troubled that Brittney was meddling. Stacy had perceived her as someone she could be totally cool and open with, but that Brittney’s current behavior was out-of-bounds. Stacy was trying to understand where Brittney was coming from and mentioned that she didn’t know what Brittney and I were. I told her we just liked to hang out together, because we’re both mostly alone in this new city. Stacy said she was glad that Brittney had a “protector” like me, which rubbed my hackles the wrong way. Friend, yes. Boyfriend? I’m flattered, but no. Protector? What’s with that white-knight crap? What am I, some deluded eunuch?
When Stacy and I got back from our lap around the block, the guys were gone. Brittney was the only one there, on her phone and deep in her cups. Stacy tried reaching out to the boys to see where they were. I stuck around for awhile, but when she started closing down the house (at 7:30, no less) I figured the party was pretty much dead. It might’ve been due in part to Stacy’s “protector” comment that I was inclined not to stick around to look after Brittney. Anyways, she’d told Stacy that she would be spending the night, so she’d be okay. I made sure to tell her goodbye, even though she was busy on the phone. She waved me out with an “okay” and I left.
I don’t mean to sound rude, but I would say that Brittney ended that party. She got too drunk too fast and got into that zone where she just does her own thing, oblivious to everything else. It was unfortunate. They seemed like cool people and it was way too early to end it.
I felt a little guilty about how the party had turned out so on the way home I texted Brittney and asked her if she wanted me to check on her animals. I couldn’t really get any consistent reply from her, so I gave up. But then Anna texted me, saying something to the effect that she had made plans to stay over at Brittney’s, but she wasn’t there. I tried again to get in touch with Brittney, but couldn’t. I don’t know. I tried to sort things out but without Brittney’s help I didn’t know what was going on.

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