When I started college I didn’t really have any friends, but during my sophomore year I made two of the best friends I have ever had: Tim and Tory. Tory was a fellow biology student and we actually met on the first day our freshman year and slowly got closer until by our sophomore year we were best friends. Tim was a professor who taught some of our biology courses. My freshman year I was really intimidated by him. He seemed to hate the students and I couldn’t figure out why he taught if that was the case. Sophomore year he was the professor of a Mammalian Ecology course that Tory and I decided to take together. After a few weeks in class the three of us became really good friends.
Over the next few years we spent tons of time together. We went to lunch, watched movies, had inside jokes, and even helped him rewire his barn. I could talk to him about things I didn’t understand, namely why people act the way they do, and he was never condescending when he explained what I asked about. When I finally sought counseling for my abuse he was one of the few people I actually opened up to. I had told Tory and decided to tell Tim as well, and I remember being so nervous that he would judge me for what had happened. I told him that I wanted to go out to lunch with him and that I had something important to tell him. He met Tory and I in the Science Center and he could tell that this was something serious. He looked at Tory and said “wow, that big?”. As we walked to the restaurant I told him what had happened and what was going on, including that I had been diagnosed with PTSD. He only interrupted to say “This happened when you were seven and you’re just now talking about it? No wonder you have PTSD!” We had lunch and that was it. We were still friends.
The day we got back from spring break in 2009 he gestured to me and Tory to come into the hall to talk to him. It turned out he had been offered a job at St. Paul University as the Biology Chair, including tons of perks and he was going to take it. He and his wife Ruth were going to be moving that summer, and he wanted to let us know first. Of course we were disappointed, but we understood. He was still going to teach the summer field study that Tory and I were both registered for, but that was going to be his last Wittenberg course.
That July, Tory and I headed to Wisconsin to start our field study, and I was so nervous. We met Tim and Ruth in Wisconsin, along with the other students in the course. We did a week of camping and studying before we headed to Minnesota for the main part of the course: canoeing the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. We got to the canoe outfitters and practiced canoeing, and while we were on the lake I had a panic attack. I made it back to shore and went back to our cabin and got my anxiety medicine. I tried to hide what had happened but ended up telling the girls and Ruth in my cabin what had happened. That night we all went out to a nice dinner and as we were getting ready to leave Tim had me stay behind. He asked me what had happened and if I thought it was likely to happen again when we were in BWCA. I don’t remember most of the conversation but I managed to convince him (and myself) that I would be fine. I regret that so much.
We got up the next morning and headed out, and for the most part I was fine. I sucked at canoeing, but I was okay. When we started looking for somewhere to make camp was when things started to get bad. By the time we found a place, I was holding back tears. As we got out of the canoe Tim saw my face and we wordlessly communicated that I would go off into the woods and he would come find me later. I went off until I couldn’t hear anyone and then I started to cry. A while later Ruth came over and I explained why I was having problems. Later Tim came over and we talked. We decided that I needed to leave the trip, and he asked if I needed to go right then or if I could last one night. I told him that leaving the next morning was fine. When I managed to calm down we went back to the campsite and I could tell that the other students were wondering what was happening. I helped with dinner and once everyone had food Tim looked at me and I nodded; he could tell them what was going on. The students were so supportive and Tim picked a group to canoe back to the outpost in order to get me out. There was no cell reception so there was no way to contact the outpost to communicate that we needed picked up. We put 4 of us in a 3 person canoe and made the journey back to the launch point. When we got back, Tim found a family camping and the dad took him in his truck to drive around until they found cell service. The other 2 students and I waited on the beach for him to come back. He finally came back and told us that the outpost was sending someone to get me and that they would wait with me until the car got there so they could trade out their 3 person canoe for a 2 person one. Tim wrote a note to someone at the outpost explaining what was going on and that I needed to be sent home as soon as possible. I hugged the other students goodbye and told Tim I was sorry. He hugged me and I left. I got home by bus the next day and didn’t see Tim for weeks. Tim, Tory, Courtney and I met for lunch before I left for Duke and I told Tim that the BWCA trip had triggered my PTSD. He asked if I was okay now and we had lunch, during which I invited him to my wedding to Robby.
Over the next year we got to see Tim a few times, and he said he was planning to come to the wedding but there was a legal issue that he had to deal with at Witt and he wasn’t sure if it would conflict with the wedding. He did say he already got us a wedding present. He didn’t make it to the wedding. He did get to see Tory graduate the day before, but he missed my wedding. That hurt so much. I don’t think I’ve seen him since then. When Tory moved to WA for a program she and her family stopped by and got to visit Tim and Ruth. Tim still had his old cell number so we texted a few times, but we pretty much lost contact in 2010.
I can’t believe it’s been three years. I’ve sent him messages via Facebook and his old cell number several times but have never heard back from him. When we announced our pregnancy last summer he liked a post that Tory wrote on my wall but never actually wrote to me.
It hurts so much. I feel like I lost one of my best friends and I don’t know why. When Tory and I were helping him wire his barn he looked at us and said “I could have had daughters”. He was one of the first people I opened up to, and for a while it seemed like he accepted me. I thought he did. But now I don’t know. Did I ruin our friendship by saying I could go to BWCA and then not being able to finish? Did he think I had changed too much? Did he only like the mirrored version of myself and when I revealed the real me did he change his mind about being my friend? Every message I send him (i’ve sent him 3 in the last 2 years) I feel like I”m desperately trying to understand what happened. I just want to know. I haven’t talked about it before because I didn’t want to admit that it bothered me as much as it does, but it is starting to eat at me. I feel like I took a risk, revealed the real me, and one of my best friends decided he didn’t want to know the real me. I feel so rejected.
Today I sent him a message that said this
Hey Tim, I’ve written you a couple of FB messages over the years and haven’t heard from you. I know you aren’t on FB often, but I was hoping to at least hear from you to say you got the message. If for some reason you don’t want to get back to me, can you just let me know so I quit bothering you? Sorry if this is totally out of left field.
I hope I hear back. I just need closure. It will hurt if he does say he doesn’t want to be my friend anymore, but I need to know. I just need to know.