Congratulations on your success. I'm sure a lot of people worked very hard to make that possible. I'm truly happy for you. I'm happy when anyone I care about sees their dreams come true. I keep hoping that one day mine will come true as well, but it's getting harder and harder to hold on to that hope.
We haven't talked in a long time Dude. Not since two Christmases ago. That was the Christmas that my book came out, and I was hopeful.
That was also the Christmas that...like many before...my daughter was being bullied and traumatized by the situation she was stuck in, and I was hoping to have a little success with my book, so I could get a place to live and get her out of that whole mess. I know you were aware of her situation, Dude, because I told you myself at the Bible study we attended. Others brought it to your attention too. So, I know you knew what was going on.
You knew I was homeless. You knew I was trying so hard. You knew how hard my life was and is and how lonely and crushing the isolation was. I know, because I told you. I told you that day in your office when you called me in to bitch-slap me for "not handling my trial the right way" as you put it. You even told me to "Get saved"
I was already doubting my value as a man, my ability as a daddy, and my worth as a human being. I left your office doubting my own salvation. Wondering if perhaps you saw something I had missed and now I wasn't even a Believer.
Thanks for that too, Dude. That was special.
So I guess that Christmas, when I really needed a little shove for the book...the one you claimed to love so much and actually endorsed (at least between us) and instead, you went far out of your way to ignore it and sand bag it...that shouldn't have surprised me.
But it did...and it hurt. It hurt a lot. You know what else hurt, Dude? Being homeless in your presence and in the presence of your church and never even getting so much as an e-mail encouraging me. Telling me not to quit. Telling me you were proud of me for doing what I did to stay in my daughter's life and remaining faithful as a dad. I never asked for financial help in all this. I lost my career...I lost the very things that make a man feel like he is a man. And never once did I ask you or the other beloved to rent me an apartment, give me a job, or even buy me a cup of coffee. I never asked. But I did reach out when I was hurting, and lonely, and scared. I was SO scared. Especially in those early days. I have always been a successful man and being homeless was frightening. It felt permanent. You don't understand that because you've never been homeless. But I have...and I still am. I've worked for three different companies that have gone out of business in this time. How odd is that? Do you think I'm lazy, or not wanting to work after knowing that? When I reached out to my small group, crying out desperately for answers when my world was crumbling and my daughter was suffering and I wished, sometimes, that I could die...I got bitch-slapped again. I saved a few of the emails I received, if you want to read them. They sure weren't loving. Or encouraging. Or hopeful. In fact, they made me feel worse. When I would come to church and sit by myself and hear the whisper of the enemy of my soul telling me what a loser I was, reminding me I was homeless and hadn't seen my daughter for more than 30 minutes in a couple of years...instead of reinforcing the truth, they reinforced what he was saying. I was ignored, rejected, and dismissed. People were more bothered by my sadness than by what was causing it. Thanks for that, too, Dude.
And still I stayed. And I supported. And I was a team player and a big promoter. When your book came out, I bought a box of them...even though I was broke and homeless, and gave them away. I gave one to my ex wife and she wound up buying a case of them to give to dying patients. I believed in YOU, Dude, way more than you believed in me. Way, way, more.
I got behind everything. I trumpeted every cause you were involved in. Because in truth...I loved you like a brother. When I use the term "brother"...I mean it.
But all I really got was more disappointment. More rejection.
Remember when I graduated from college two years ago? That was huge for me...a lifelong dream. I was homeless while I studied for those two and a half years. That was hard, Dude. Very very hard. I have permanent damage to tissue in my neck from studying in my car. My graduation was a big victory. I never even heard from you at all...not even an email saying "congratulations", nothing. If it were the other way around, I would have been very proud and let you know how proud of you I was. But I got crickets.
When I came to you for advice, because I knew God had been talking to me and calling me to ministry, you gave me fifteen minutes, (while your body language said, "I'd rather be anywhere but here!") and told me it wasn't God. That hurt Dude. It hurt a lot.
All those times my daughter was hurting and helpless and nobody ever asked how she was...that hurt. It hurt because I didn't have any family here, and you knew that, and you ignored it. That hurt Dude.
It hurt when I was rejected for the final time. When you were in a position that you could have helped, with just a word, and instead you remained silent. That hurt. It hurt because had I been famous, or powerful, or wealthy, or connected...you would have moved on my behalf. But I couldn't advance your cause in return, so it wasn't worth it to you. But it would have been worth it to me. And the thing is...I would have done it for you without hesitation.
It hurt, Dude. And it all hurts. This life of mine hurts. This crushing, loneliness and shame and embarrassment and pain and failure...it hurts. And all I wanted was a friend. Maybe a prayer partner. Maybe a slap on the back, congratulating me for the occasional victories I have managed to squeeze out in the midst of this devastation.
But I got silent rejection. Over and over. And came back for more because I loved you dearly.
I don't feel that now, Dude. I also don't feel hate. I feel nothing. Nothing but the empty vacuum of rejection and isolation and the unChristlike silence that narrated your place in this desert I have been walking.
Congratulations Dude. You worked hard for that "big get." You put great effort into your success and -knowing how hard that sort of success is- I know what a coup that was.
I'm truly happy for you. I mean that.
I miss your friendship, but I realize that apparently, we don't define "friend" the same way. Or "brother"
The Dude abides.