Every friendship I have ever known has disintegrated…
I don’t have a single friend from school, college or university. I have 1 friend from a previous job.
I have a bunch of aquaintances, Facebook friends and neighbours.
But largely without exception every non blood related person I have got to know in life has abandoned me or died or the relationship has just run out of steam or fizzled out.
Part of it I think is being lgbt which alienates you from your peers at school age.
Part of it is being bipolar which I call the great bridge burner. Nothing destroys relationships and friendships than you being floridly mentally unwell and acting out in public. It also maybe makes people think you are unreliable.
Another factor is the 10 years or so after my second bipolar episode I spent recovering and ignoring social media and smartphones, I never joined friends reunited and Facebook or Linked In and went through the process of adding past friends and travelling companions. As friendship has largely been outsourced today to things like Facebook this means I lost a huge wedge of friends.
I moved cities. And thus fell off the metaphorical edge of the earth. It’s an hours drive between my home town and my new city but no one ever wants to make the long boring drive thus I am cut off more.
I never attend weddings. I found early on that I never had anything suitable to wear to a wedding and could never afford presents thus over a process of 20 year I offended loads of family and friends and isolated myself from their shiny new lives.
Poverty. Was a big factor. The 10 years after university I had not enough money to buy a Starbucks coffee. While other people were bonding on ski holidays I was in data entry jobs or at the job centre or just ill on anti psychotics.
Several friends and allies either died, emigrated or joined the military, made Aliyah to Israel or whatever and thus fell off the face of the known universe. Add in those friends who found religion or joined weird yoga cults.
I wrote on their Wall. I’m talking about the Facebook wall. Writing on someone’s wall is like pissing in their fridge. You do it and the friendship ceases to exist. Then they emigrate, die or join the military to seal the deal.
Then there are the people you spend time with who begin to loathe you. Familiarity usually breeds contempt. They get sick of the repetitive things you say. They get bored of your problems. They get annoyed that you don’t take their advice. The friendship slowly withers and dies by the root.
Thus gradually I have erased all but a mere handful of friendships which have been worn away over time.
It kind of does piss me off. But what can I do. I can’t suddenly make myself more interesting. Or become some kind of performing monkey. Friendship it seems is a rare commodity, especially the kind that lasts. So apart from siblings there is no one around to reminisce about what you were like as a kid or a 20year old or a 30 year old. It’s really like the years have been wasted. So much tumble weed in which I never really mattered to anyone. If I’d known that no one would care about me would I have bothered? If no one cares about me does it even matter who I am or what I do? Why be part of a community, why vote. People are just chess pieces moved around on a board by a god like hand.
It was hard growing up being different. Parents and people always told me at the next stage, over the next horizon I would find friends, community, kinship whether that was college, university, travel or a first career or moving to a new city.
Maybe I am partly at fault. I got involved in my romantic relationship with B and I didn’t maintain a lot of friendships.
Now work and money are so erratic we don’t have much time to socialise. Also we don’t have kids or pets which are big things people bond over in midlife.
Just struggling to get by we don’t really relax and get high with anyone. We drink tea in coffee shops with an invited cast of a few select friends (who are appreciated) but it feels like we are minor stars in their orbit with just the occasional meeting and message and often friendships being predicated partly on industry connections and work contacts.
I keep writing about this topic and I keep mentioning the monograph “Liqyid Love” by the now deceased sociologist Zygmunt Bauman. Unfortunately Bauman work is dense and opaque to the point where I read a few pages and become exasperated that I haven’t understood anything.
Another book/monograph/ethnography/text I wish to explore is “Kinship at the Core” an anthropological study of the English village of Elmdon by the Cambridge anthropologist Marilyn Strathern. In the text she delegitimise the notion of an English village as ‘natural’ and takes the accounts of the villagers as a mythology or Kant. It was one of the first post WW2 ethnographies to uncentre westerners.
Strathern questions English society and that is what I am doing too. I have spent a long time investigating Japanese society (the only Asian society to industrialise in the 19th century). Seeing Japanese industrial stratified society as a mirror through which to look back at England (in the tradition much maligned of Ruth Benedict).
More later on Englishness & loneliness.