|I will let you down... I will make you hurt.|
I had a free-association writing assignment last week for therapy, in which I needed to write stream-of-conscious around something we’re working on, and see what comes up. There's been something I relive over and over again, on a continuous loop, and we're trying to break the loop.
I’m not sure I really nailed the assignment. S-O-C was never a favorite writing exercise of mine. It’s too messy.
But the thing that kept coming up is that I kept hearing “Hurt” in my head as I wrote. Nine Inch Nails did the original, and Johnny Cash covered it. Both versions are fantastic, and if you’re not familiar with the song, give it a listen.
There are particular lines in that song that have been on repeat in my head for decades. The first time I heard the song, it stopped me in my tracks and brought up discomfort I wasn’t quite okay sitting with yet:
You can have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt...
If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way
I let a friend down once, or more accurately, a lot of onces over a length of time. And I lost a friend. I can’t get them back or apologize for being such a cowardly and ignorant shit-bird garbage-person when they needed me most. There is no making amends for this.
This changed the way I am friends with people. I am always on guard. I'm always looking and listening for some indication that something's Wrong. I cannot let myself miss a warning sign or a red flag, so when I’m around people, friends, I’m always at least a Threat Level Orange on their behalf. If something’s really wrong and they’re thinking thoughts, I’ve got to catch it. Try not to let them down.
The closer the friend, the higher the alert I'm on around them.
It reads as clingy, I think. Neurotic. I check more often than I should, probably, if someone's okay. I really try to let people know how much they matter to me. I am so afraid of letting my friends down, making them hurt, that I get to be Too Much Friend, I think, and there were a lot of years I put myself in kind of a dome and just kept everyone at a bit more of a distance. If I'm not a close friend, my way of thinking went, and goes a little, I won't smother you with friendsiness, and also, maybe I won't let you down.
It isn’t really a good way to live. I don’t think it’s fair for anyone. Intellectually, I know that I won't be able to change what happened in the past by smothering innocent people in the present with my neurotic friendship. And probably if I were on the flipside of being friends with me, I'd take like six huge steps back.
This is where it's coming from, though. I'm really working on this. It's hard work, and there are days I just burst into tears from overwhelm, from embarrassment. Something will trigger me, and I can't shake the feeling that I missed a sign, and something terrible happened to someone I love. And I will wish I could be just maybe a little more normal, a lot more aloof, back under that kind of dome that kept everyone at a bit more of a distance.
Because I feel like if you're my friend, if you depend on me for anything, I will let you down. I will make you hurt.