Yesterday my best friend told me some information that kind of blew my mind. Let me start with some backstory: We have been best friends for twenty years now. We do tell each other everything, but not always in the moment. It is not unusual that he will tell me a few months after something happened, that it did and how he was feeling at the time. It usually explains a lot about his behaviors and moods around that time. I never push for this information. When he wants to tell me things, he will. The same goes in reverse.
Now, life has been tough for my best friend. He's always struggled with laziness, although that has dissipated over the years as he and his family have grown. There were a lot of anger issues stemming from an abusive father who died when he was young, much to everyone's relief. He's had trouble holding down jobs and has quit more than one in anger, on the spot. I had to inform him once that I would never recommend him for a job at my work. I loved him, but he wasn't a good or reliable worker. His resume over the years has not really improved and shows no clear career path or direction. A few years ago he decided to go back to school, which is awesome. At the same time he and his wife had a baby and then almost exactly a year later they had another one. Anyone who has children will tell you that they test your marriage. Their marriage has all but fallen apart, with both holding on for dear life because that is what they are "supposed" to do in the eyes of God. My best friend is miserable. He sank into some serious depression, which became more and more obvious, but he would deny deny deny. He finally told me a few months ago that he thought he was depressed and I had to say, "Yeah, I know." He seemed surprised by how obvious it was. Dude really really needs to be in therapy, but they can't afford it.
Yesterday he graduated with an associate's degree and over lunch he informs me that he has been shoplifting for years. Say what now? "I don't even know why I kept doing it. At first it was because I didn't have any money to buy the things I wanted so I started taking them. But then, I just kept doing it." He finally got caught a few months ago at an event that he has been going to for years. The vendor is working on getting him banned from all the geek conferences in the area. Clearly, best friend was embarrassed to be caught and embarrassed about the situation, but mostly was confused about why he was doing it. "What's wrong with me?" he asked.
Folks, this explains sooooo much. I always wondered how this guy with barely any money and who was constantly broke, managed to buy so many movies, comics, action figures, etc. He was pocketing them. I always figured he was getting either some really good deals or trading for them. It never occurred to me that he would be stealing them. This also confirms my gut instinct to not hire him to work with me. Now, he says that over time it almost became a compulsion. Like at first it was a concerted effort to obtain things that he wanted. But then he started stealing things he already had, just because. It explains how he was always able to sell things online, but never seemed to run out of things to sell. I also suspect he may have lied about a few things. Back in December he was fired from an overnight jobs for taking drinks from the front display and not paying for them. He says he just forgot to pay. It seemed weird that they wouldn't just make him pay for the drinks and give him a written warning. But now I suspect he was probably taking more than just drinks and he lied to everyone about why he was really fired. He was probably caught stealing.
I'm sure there are a dozen explanations why someone would do this. For him, it probably began as just wanting things and then he liked the feeling it gave him, made him feel more alive. It also makes me incredibly sad. I truly thought he was becoming better, growing, maturing, working hard for the things he has. I thought that having two kids and going back to school were signs of him finally getting his life on track. This degree could actually lead to a solid career where an entry level job pays more than he has ever made before. But he put all of that at risk for what, a few comics or some action figures? Something is wrong with him. Normal adjusted people don't do this shit. And because he has been doing it for years, it's clear that something has been wrong for a long time.
I wish he had told me sooner. I wish he had dealt with these feelings ten years ago. Most of all, I miss the guy I met twenty years ago who went to rock concerts with a blue mohawk, played soccer, laughed easily, and could discuss Marvel vs DC until midnight. He's a good friend, but he clearly struggles with being a good person. Lazy, angry, argumentative, abrasive...this is how people describe him behind his back. I know there is more to him than that, but those labels aren't wrong either. He's still my best friend. I wouldn't trade him for the world. Armed with this new information, perhaps I can help him walk through some of the issues that have led him to this point.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.