My friendship with Tyler always had cracks. They’re easier to see now. They were always there. However, the cracks really began to show my second year of college.
Tyler had periods where he was distant and during this time, those periods were becoming more frequent. Finally, after asking about it, he revealed to me he had ventured into drug use. He had attempted to keep it a secret from me, but it was too much for him to hide. He told me he was only smoking weed. He told me it wasn’t dangerous and that it made him feel good.
Of course, I didn’t like this at all. He knew my stance on drugs and it made sense why he was keeping his secret from me. He would never admit it, but I knew the drugs were a coping mechanism. He was having trouble with his father, his job, among other things.
From that point on, the friendship went downhill faster and faster. We’d hang out, but he would be high. As time went on, he’d be higher each time. Some times, he’d giggle forever or he’d just want to watch tv and snack. Hanging out with him was boring as shit. But I didn’t have many friends, so I overlooked his flaws. But, it soon became too much to ignore.
Before long, I was covering for him. One time in particular, RACHEL, the girl he had been crushing on, made an unannounced visit to his apartment. “SHIT!” he said and ran into the bathroom. I followed him and watched as he placed drops into his eyes. He blinked and screamed, “Do they look clear? Fuck, what do they look like?” They were still red, so I told him I wasn’t sure. He rushed into telling me to stall Rachel and he slammed the door.
I let Rachel in. She was always polite. We hugged and she asked me how I was. I had to turn my acting face on and not let my panic show. “Fine! I’m great. It’s so good to see you!”
“Where’s Tyler?” she inquired. I stammered for an answer. But, right on cue, Tyler emerged from the hallway, wearing sunglasses. I couldn’t believe how dumb he was. I knew enough that sunglasses hiding bloodshot eyes was the oldest trick in the book.
Rachel giggled. “Sunglasses? Inside? That’s strange.” She said, giving Tyler a hug.
“I just found these bad boys… I had been looking for them forever…” He then removed the sunglasses… and his eyes were pretty damn clear. Tyler was a masterful liar as this moment proved. He was convincing, Boy, did he ever dodge a bullet.
I was very angry with Tyler after that. I argued that he needed to tell someone, that he needed help… but it all went on deaf ears. Combined with my insecurity and my social anxiety, I began to crumble. I had relied on Tyler as my support for years by this point… and he was unable to fill that role. He was always high or drunk. And, I soon learned he had ventured into acid and other drugs.
By this time, I was an emotional wreck. My friend was no longer the guy I had first met and I was in a deep depression. Our friendship was very unhealthy at this point. Tyler would say things to me that scared me. He would say, “Who else are you going to hang out with?” and “I won’t be your friend if you tell anyone.” These sorts of comments increased.
I remember one particular night where he said the most chilling thing. I had texted him late in the morning and asked to see him. He had been my ‘therapist’ since the beginning and I was sick enough to still call upon him in his drug use. This night, he actually came. We met outside the dorm and sat on the bench.
I remember it was cold and I could see his breath. I’m sure he was high, but I’ll go ahead and say I think this was the most lucid I had seen him in months. He calmed me down like he had in the past and I was relaxed. He then said he had to go. I can now say I saw him wanting to leave as abandonment. I didn’t want him to leave. I wanted to hang out with him. So, I confronted him, saying he never called anymore. He never responded to texts. He never did this, that– He was not the old Tyler.
We were two sick people. I was a doormat and he was a manipulator. After I called him out, he began a monologue of hatred.
“You do realize I just came and talked to you… I just sat here and listened to you bitch and moan like you always do….”
In this moment, Tyler’s opinion of me mattered. So, as he went on, my emotions got worse and worse.
“You don’t do anything for yourself. You just drain me all the time… “
His words then took a more devilish turn:
“You need to know, I’m the only reason you have friends. People get so annoyed with you. But I stick up for you. I tell them you’re a good guy. I was the one that pulled you into the group. No one wanted you there. But I was the leader so they all did what I wanted.”
And then, he ended his tirade with the most evil, vile thing he could have said:
“You know I could make you commit suicide if I wanted too, right?”
Our friendship was still “in tact” a little after that. But, he never returned calls or texts. I would talk with Rachel and other people he knew. But no one could make him talk to me or resolve the problem. I went back and forth of trying to rationalize his behavior to wanting him to feel a lot of pain.
One night, after months of nothing, He answered his phone. I was so happy he answered but realized he was in no shape to talk. He was “shitfaced” meaning he was drunk and very high. He slurred his words, had long silences and eventually hung up on me.
I was pissed. Anger overtook me. I wanted his world to crash down and I was on a mission: I texted his younger brother. I was very dramatic in my text: You have to know, your brother Tyler has a secret. He’s been doing drugs for awhile. I think he needs help.
I never got a response.
A few weeks later, Tyler called me up. I thought, “Oh shit… I’m in trouble…” But, he wanted to hang out. He sounded sober. We went for a drive and grabbed some fast food. We had a nice talk and all seemed fine. He opened up that his life was chaotic right now and he apologized for “all the shit” that happened in the course of his use.
I thought about telling him I had texted his brother. But, it had been weeks and I figured his brother had shrugged it off…
Well, that was the last time I saw Tyler.
Obviously, his brother eventually talked with him. One day I called Tyler and I heard a message saying I had been blocked from calling the number.
For two years, I struggled with guilt and attempted to get a hold of Tyler. I wanted to talk with him, explain that I acted out of anger… I was sad for a very, very long time.
He made good on his threat. “You tell anyone I’m doing drugs, I won’t ever talk to you again.”
Looking at the situation now, Tyler was extremely abusive emotionally and he was manipulative. He knew not talking to me would drive me insane and it did cripple me for a long while.
As I think about him now, he is not a bad person. He is just very sick. His anger, his sadness— led him down a certain path of no return.
I can not claim my life is in perfect shape. But, I can say that I am taking steps to better myself and to live. I have bad days, still. But, I am no longer in a constant state of sadness.
While I haven’t heard from him myself, I sometimes hear through the grapevine about how he’s doing. I know his pain has increased and he does not know what to do with his life. And I also know that a majority of the people we both knew no longer talk to him.
Tyler took so much pride in being the most popular person in the room. As I think of what he told me that one night, how HE was the reason I had friends— and knowing he no longer processes the social power he once did— I smile.
I smile because my greatest fear was being alone. And after it all, I’ve maintained friendships with the people he proclaimed only spoke to me because it was his wish.