Loyalty

I am not a particularly loyal person.

I wonder if it’s because one thing that life has taught me is that ultimately I can only rely on myself.

This revelation may seem paradoxical given the fact that I am beloved. Not only do I have a Master but also a well-cherished friend coterie that serves to insulate me from the world. I tell them many things and am vulnerable and open with them, and I do love them dearly.

But I don’t for a second count on them.

What does this mean? you may be wondering. It means I know that they any one of them could turn on me or leave me at any moment, so I always have to be prepared to take care of myself in the event that this were to happen.

I learned a long time ago that no matter how kind you are to people, how much you fight for them and protect them, no matter how much you trust them, there is always a chance that they will betray you.

One particularly hard lesson was learned back in middle school. It was 1994, and my oldest sister had just come out, and some of the girls at school were being mercilessly cruel to me about it (I refused to denounce my sister; I love her, and they were being bigots). The bullies were relentless. When my sister came out, I went from being one of the most popular kids at my school to one of the least – all in a matter of 3 days. And all the friends I had defended in the past (as a kid, I’d been good at out-talking dimwitted bullies that picked on the shy, geeky kids) sat there and let it happen. Some of them still hung out with me outside of school. But not a one defended me.

When the dust settled, I resumed my normal friendships with those who had stood by and watched it happen, but I never forgot.

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I’ve known a lot of people who seem to attribute length of relationship, whatever the nature of the relationship, be it with a friend, lover, etc, with a lot of intrinsic merit. For example, one friend told me that he felt even in a polyamorous setting that he could never feel more or even as much for anyone as his wife because she had years of a head start on anyone. My heart doesn’t work that way. While for many experience does have a way of cementing a bond, I’ve never been able to escape the personal reality of my inner landscape, that all experiences stick, positive and negative, so ultimately a longer relationship is comprised of more debts and assets and is only more complicated than a newer one, which starts more or less with a zero balance. Depending on the older relationship and the balance of positives and negatives, it can start out a great deal behind a fresh new simpler start.

And as much as I enjoy connecting and catching up with friends who knew me when, honestly my newest friends reflect my life and who I am today much better than the ghosts of Christmas past. People change. My childhood friends have changed. I’ve certainly changed. Those friendships don’t exist as they did anymore.

*

Many times in the past, I’ve watched friends enthusiastically support another friend’s ill-advised actions out of what seemed like blind loyalty, completely divorced from any facts of the matter, sometimes even resulting in some additional wrongs being done. It becomes about the battle of the social capital of two individuals, a tangle of loyalties and power plays, a popularity contest rather than a conflict of any substance.

I’m going to say it now. I do stupid shit. I am capable of stupid shit. This is because I am human. My friends are human. They do some stupid shit sometimes. Therefore, I don’t agree with everything every friend I have does. Now do I stop loving them simply because they do some stupid shit sometimes? No. To err (i.e., do stupid shit) is human. However, this doesn’t mean I endorse their behavior just because they’re my friend, and I love them. Logically speaking, I’m not always β€œon their side.” I can’t ignore important facts just because I love someone.

And before any drama llamas break loose from the zoo, there are no specific events I’m thinking of, just general patterns I’ve observed, which I find far more interesting, all things considered.

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