Monday, September 17, 2007

Scott...a definition of friendship...and not

I'm struggling today...wondering why I have been writing here. Wondering if the writing alone is bringing me any peace. I know that it will take much more than just seeing parts of the story of my life in print. I realize that if I believe that pouring the words out on paper by itself will bring the healing and the peace I seek, I am only destined to repeat the failures of my past. There is truly only one path to the peace that I seek, and that's through my Lord, Jesus. Maybe Jesus is using this process to see what it was I truly was for so many years. I know that I will never know exactly what it is that I want Christ to do in my life...the changes I want Him to make through me if I don't realize where I've been--and what I've done.

It has always been difficult for me to open up...to be transparent. I guess that just means I'm a man because most men face that same challenge. I can count on less than one hand the number of people that I can remember in my life that I've been able to talk to, not just listen to. That is usually my comfort level...listening as someone else carries the conversation. I've become very adept at asking the open ended question that someone else can spend minutes...or sometimes hours, answering. There is a lot of safety in that for me. As I've considered this communication strategy I've used, I've come to understand that it has been my means of protecting myself. If I'm not telling much of my own story, I've been able to keep my secrets...and my worries and fears to myself. Even some of those that I've been able to really talk to, I've managed to damage the relationship through my actions when I've been drunk.

One of these individuals is named Scott. He was my college room mate and someone who brought things out in me that few others ever have. He could make me talk...not sure the surface stuff, but really talk. I met him during my third year in college when he entered as a freshman and lived on the same floor of the dorm as I did. I had met his older brother the year before, but had never met Scott. One evening, I found him knocking on my door. Apparently he knew that I loved to golf, and he needed to know how to spell a particular word that maybe only an avid golfer would know. He was writing an English paper on golf and couldn't remember if "Titleist" contained an "e" or not. I gave him the correct spelling and tossed him a golf ball. We soon started to become friends. He was a very good golfer and we spent many afternoons in the spring on the golf course. He made me feel very comfortable and free for the first time in many years. Scott was a genuine friend, and didn't want or expect anything from me.

One night that first year he was in the dorm, we went over to a movie night that specialized in adult movies on the weekends. I had had too much to drink and during the movie, one of my hands ended up where it shouldn't have. The memory of the night was foggy to me the next morning but I woke with that fear that I often did the morning after a drunk. Scott got very quiet and the next day, began to avoid me. Our friendship was fractured. Although he never told me at the time why he drifted away, in my heart I think I knew. But Scott did something few other 'friends' ever did. He got over it and our friendship only grew stronger. It was the following year that we became room mates.

There were many nights during the two years that we roomed together when I'd be laying in my bed and Scott would be over in his small room and he would speak across the middle room, asking me if I wanted to "BS" tonight. My answer was always yes. I enjoyed his conversation and he made me feel alive. As the years progressed, Scott became like a brother to me. Actually, more than that because I developed a bond and love for him that I didn't have with my own brothers...not with anyone. I remember as we continued to build and strengthen our friendship, I told him that I wanted him to be my best man when I got married. He accepted and said that he would be honored to.

But my secrets and my life would even manage to destroy that. During my last semester of college, Scott was with me and some our other friends. We had all been out partying most of the night and about ten of us all crashed at a friends house. The friend was gay and before the night was over, the "friend" and I found ourselves together. Things happened that shouldn't have, and Scott didn't sleep all the way through the night.

When we got back to college the following Monday, he was once again quiet and distant. Even though I guessed that he must have seen or heard something, I asked him. He explained it all. He point blank asked me if I was gay. I told him what I believed then, and I still believe today. I told him "no." But I also told him that I struggled with doing things with other guys when I was drunk. I didn't tell him my entire history or things from my childhood. I never told anyone those things. Scott told me about what had happened the two years before at the movie theater and I told him how sorry I was. Scott's friendship to me was more important than getting intimate with him in any way. It took about a week, but our friendship seemed to grow back together. I remember that I took a girl back to my side of the room one night while I knew he was on the other side and had sex with her. It was important to me that he knew I was telling him the truth.

Many years passed from the days that we shared a dorm room and the weekend of my marriage. I didn't see Scott often, but when I'd go back home, I'd try to see him. I missed his wedding to Kris, a friend of both of ours. It is one of the greatest regrets that I have. I didn't feel very good that day...it was football season and I'd been coaching a game the night before. I was fighting a cold and it was a five hour drive to the wedding so I stayed home. I wasn't the friend to him I should have been. As my own wedding day approached, I thought of Scott and the request I'd made of him when we were room mates...to be my best man. But I was afraid. Scott knew too much of my past and Paula knew nothing. I was afraid that Scott might say something...let something slip that would tarnish who I was before my bride. So, I broke my word to my best friend. I didn't ask him to be my best man. I didn't know at the time how much I'd hurt him.

About three years later, I was in Spokane with a couple of my assistant football coaches for a golf tournament. One of our foursome dropped out at the last minute and we were looking for a fourth. I called Scott because he lived relatively close. He agreed to come to Spokane the next day and play in our group. It was a great day. You know how it is with friends. You just seem to pick up where your last conversation ended...even if it was five years ago. Scott never mentioned my wedding or his not being invited. After the tournament was over, we all spent a night of drinking. Scott had way too much to drink and I wasn't far behind him. As we closed down the bars in Spokane, we told Scott he needed to stay in town with us because it was too far for him to drive home as drunk as he was. But he was a new father, and he wanted to get home to his baby girl and Kris.

I told him I would drive him. I tossed the keys to my car to my friends and I jumped in his car and we started to drive with my friends following. I didn't tell them that Scott lived almost 45 miles away. I remember little about the drive to his house...I just remember getting there. Kris was awake, waiting for Scott to get home. I helped Scott into the house and gave him a big hug and he staggered into the bedroom. Then I went into the kitchen and hugged Kris. Although I was older than both Scott or Kris, we had become friends. Kris shared with me that night how hurt Scott was that I didn't ask him to be my best man. I couldn't tell her why I didn't...I only apologized to her and told her to tell Scott how sorry I was.

When I was arrested three and half years ago, Scott is the only friend that I wanted to call. But I didn't. My shame was too great. My heart still anguishes over my inability to be a good friend. My inability to trust...anyone. I know in my heart that Scott was much too good of a friend to have betrayed my past at my wedding or with my wife. But, still, at the time I didn't trust. Nearly 18 years after not trusting the best friend I had before the age of 30, I would repeat that lack of trust with the person who was the best friend I ever had in my entire life.

1 comment:

Deb said...

I am so sorry for your aloneness and for your pain. Keep writing your story. It needs to be in the light so you can be healed. Have you considered contacting Scott now? A risk, but maybe healing regardless of the outcome.