The author and the boy

This is a long overdue apology. I’m going to explain some vulnerable things about myself and hope you take this letter’s honesty for what it is: A chance to get to know me a little better.

Several years ago I suddenly slammed a door on our friendship. I had informed you in a text message that my silence meant: “I need space. You invade my space more than you know.” When you didn’t respond I knew I had hurt you. That sucked. However, I was simultaneously glad to finally feel the relief I had been seeking deep down. Because it was true: I did need some space – a lot of space actually. All the space you ended up giving me. I liked it. So I withheld from apologizing and instead routinely brought my awareness to it, asking myself why I was okay with not reaching out to you and explaining my outburst.

Over these last 3 years I kept up with personal growth through depth psychotherapy sessions, meditation, and journaling. I would often reflect on that text message confrontation as it became increasingly clear that this uncomfortable moment with you was a huge turning point in my ability to express interpersonal boundaries. I began to understand that I’m a person who’s gifted in the art of attentively listening to others and I wind up knowing my friends deeply and intimately. If I’m not vigilantly mindful of that, a one-sided closeness develops too quickly and at the expense of my own needs.

You’re a very sweet and well-intentioned person. I really appreciated your efforts to draw me out into the world, help me with a resume, and the encouragement to pursue an interesting job opportunity. You even believed in me as a writer and gifted me some good books on dealing with writer’s block. But back then I struggled with setting boundaries while you were quite forward. Our professional relationship and friendship quickly became tinged with troublesome undertones.

In truth, I wasn’t totally onboard with most of your proposals and suggestions. What you witnessed of me was more of an aimless shot at challenging myself by spontaneously accepting your calls to action. From the moment I agreed to portray Ethan for you at that extras casting for that TV show, to applying for the position at your job, to collaborating on the book – these were all instances of me trying something different and getting out of my comfort zone. However, deep down, my enthusiasm was severely lacking because these weren’t things I truly cared much about. Not to belittle the fact that the experiences taught me a lot; because they did. It’s just that I definitely could have been more straightforward about my level of dedication. Had I communicated that to you, I believe you would have taken it to heart and tempered your own enthusiasm in response. And for that I take responsibility.

I also felt like you assumed more about me than you had authentically gotten to know through active listening. I felt pressured to conform towards some idea you had of me more than I felt heard and understood by you. And because of that, I found it awkward and hard to be around you. Additionally, I wasn’t looking to talk everyday or collaborate on your book to the degree you seemed to believe. I didn’t know how to tell you any of that (nor were these insights even consciously clear to me back then). Eventually the underlying resentment reached such a point that I blew up in that text message – where I communicated my need for space very, very poorly. I know now that I have to speak up about these things early and carefully. Others can’t read my mind, not in the least. I can imagine how, from your perspective, our interactions objectively looked like I was genuinely onboard with everything. And my childish outburst must have been quite confusing to you.

This experience with you became a pivotal progression in my focus on interpersonal boundaries. And I’m at a place now where I feel confident and able to express them. I feel like I owe you lunch and the opportunity for you to speak openly about any pain I caused you due to my immaturity. So if you’re interested in that let me know and we can set something up. If not, I hope this letter conveys that I’m truly apologetic for shutting that door on our friendship. Thank you for respecting the space I needed and for just letting it be. I always kind of hoped that somehow it helped you put the finishing touches on Ethan’s character.

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