Friend…or not?

Back in January of 2008, I was in a bad place. I was deployed twice in 2007, but only for a couple of months each time. One was in the spring and one in the fall. On both deployments, something happened that caused me extensive pain and nightmares. Both were combat-related things that I was part of and I could not stop thinking about them.

Personally, everything had fallen apart. I was deeply depressed and considered offing myself more than once. At work, the new commander thought I was a piece of crap and I had finally been told why that January. When the commanders switched out in April 2007, the evaluations program this particular officer was responsible for had fallen apart. For most of 2006 and 2007, I was the one handling it by myself with no help for him AT ALL. When I had to requalify on my flying job, someone else was tasked to manage the program. It fell apart completely and when the new commander asked this other officer who messed up, he named me as the one who wasn’t doing my job. I was devastated. Another officer told me and was trying to help me. He gave me high visibility tasks to complete and I did them well, which he knew. But in early 2008, my evaluation was purposely weakened and the things I had done well were removed and put on someone else’s evaluation.

I was sent upstairs to another office to take on what had previously just been one piece of my job. I was doing the work of four people for over a year and now I was finally able to concentrate on enough work for one person. It was a relief, but I was sure my career was over.

It was at that time that I met this kid. He was from Minnesota and he had so much energy. He was a pilot and had just finished his training. He was a breath of fresh air because everyone else around me sucked. But this kid was great. He loved hockey and I was really into hockey at that time too. We talked hockey every time we saw each other and he told me that I was one of his favorite people in our squadron. I told him to dump his girlfriend when he told me she didn’t like him watching hockey. What kind of person tells a Minnesota kid he can’t watch hockey?! Not someone he would want a long term relationship with, that’s for sure.

In 2009 I moved to Florida, and in 2011 he moved to Texas. I went back to that base in 2012 and he came back with his new wife (not the hockey hating girl) in 2014. We were back to being friends in real life again and not just on social media. His wife was nice. He and I were on a deployment crew together in 2015 and had a blast with our crew. In 2018, while I was on my one year deployment, I ran into him in the chow hall and we ate lunch together. He and his wife were working through divorce proceedings and she wasn’t signing the paperwork. He was sad, but we had a great conversation about life, the fun on our 2015 crew and some of the people from the way old days of 2008-2009.

I don’t even recognize him on social media now. During my one year deployment, he got close to another girl we both know. They ended up getting married and had a kid last year. He lacks reading comprehension skills and cites fringe YouTube videos as evidence for his beliefs. He is incapable of having rational conversations and doesn’t care to even engage on a sane level. It’s not worth trying to talk about anything with him anymore.

His recents post have me concerned that he’s no longer a healthy friend for me. I don’t think that I should get myself worked up with his craziness, especially because we no longer live near each other and there is no chance we will ever run into each other. Maybe in person he is more rational, but I am not sure I should keep him around on social media just because I want to believe in the best in people. He might be too far gone. It looks like other mutual friends we had ditched him. Or maybe they ditched me, I am not sure.

I feel sad that my former friend seems to be someone else now. Or maybe this is what he always was? I have no way to know, I guess. I will think a little longer about whether it’s time to drop him or not and then I will make a final decision soon. There will be no going back on this one, though. No regrets, if I drop him, he will be gone forever.

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