Letter to a mate who called me a coward


It’s ironic that you encouraged me to think about what you said at the Shark Bar last time you were up.  Because, below, are my thoughts:

I’m not sure how I could have come to any other conclusion than that calling me a coward, not to mention a “little bitch”, was anything other than a large step over the line.  (You should know that before you called me a “little bitch”, because I walked away from you mid-insulting-tirade, I was planning on doing two things: walk home, or punch you in the face.  In the end I decided to just get another couple of drinks.  I made that decision because I didn’t want to punch you in the face, but neither did I want to deprive you of finishing insulting me – which you seemed determined to do one way or the other.)  It’s more or less the same shit every time you come up here and the two of us go drinking, but I usually let it go because I understand how much this city (the Gold Coast) gets under your skin.  But accusing me of cowardice (and your general hateful attitude toward me at the time) was simply not cool.

If you’re going to continue to increasingly insult me based on some kind of weird fucking fascist perception of how you think I should live my life, just because you’re never satisfied with your own despite how objectively good it is, then I’d prefer not to endure it any more.  You can give me the same repetitive, aggressive advice over and over again and I’m happy to ignore, rebuff or use what I see fit.  But you don’t get to just tell me what to do, and you don’t get to tell me who or what I am.  Your characteristically arrogant message before heading home about hoping I’d think about what you’d said was just the icing on the bitter, twisted cake.  And I don’t want to get into another useless argument with you, man, so if you can’t reply to this with something constructive – then don’t at all.  I may not have many mates, but I need ones who take a steaming shit on me when I’m down like I need a fucking hole in the head.  I understand that life isn’t treating you exactly the way you hoped.  And who knows, despite the fact that we’ve been mates for ages, perhaps there are some challenges you’re facing that I’m unaware of.  This doesn’t excuse your behaviour, however.

When it comes to us as friends, if you’re struggling with life you need only ask me for help.  Or advice.  (As you have simply done, occasionally.)  Not abuse me with reckless name-calling I can only assume is whether consciously or not designed to attack my self-esteem and build up your own.  Perhaps that’s another reason you called me a coward: the fact that I haven’t responded with much self-defence over the years when you’ve given me quite humourless shit.  You seem to have a slightly warped definition of cowardice, or at least its application to me.  I’m not an aggressive person.  In fact these days I think of myself as a pacifist.  But that’s not to say I’m weak.  I do what I have to do.  Sometimes that means fighting.  Sometimes that means simply standing my ground.  And other times that means running away.  It’s not brave to fight battles you can’t win.  It’s instead foolish.  I just wish you of all people could understand, from a creative point-of-view, that I still intend on finding a way to become a consistently successful writer, that where I am in life at the moment doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not in my own way successful and happy, and nor does it preclude future success or happiness.

You’ve occasionally over the years shown a lack of empathy for me.  But it’s alright.  I get it.  You’re the alpha male.  Or at least that’s how you perceive yourself.  You like to lead instead of follow, and you expect to enjoy the fruits of your successful leadership.  Even though such fruits always seem to be dangling in front of you, and never seem to be quite within your possession.  Unfortunately, I am not your subordinate.  I’m supposed to be your friend.  And if you perceive me to be your subordinate, despite the fact that I do not perceive you to be my superior, then we are not on the same level and we cannot continue to be friends.  I urge you to discontinue looking at me critically, and instead look at me empathetically.  I too have faced challenges in life.  And whether I’ve overcome, been overwhelmed by or outright dismissed those challenges, I’m comfortable where their outcomes have led me.  Because there’s always the future – which for no reason apart from death should be anything other than bright.  I’m not, typically, a leader.  But nor am I, typically, a follower.  I’m more often an observer.  Now, I’m not delusional.  I realise I’m no longer a journalist (thank fucking God), but I’ll be a writer until the day I die.  My observation, my detachment, it aids that passion.  It’s only a problem when it comes to the fairer sex, but I wouldn’t want a woman who can’t be bothered making an effort to get to know me, anyway.  I’d rather be alone the rest of my life than force myself to endure close company with morons and narcissists and egotists.

You’re probably wondering why I posted this on my blog instead of sending it to you directly.  It’s because while I was writing it I realised it’s of greater benefit to others who it seems already understand me better, at least lately and in the context of my writing, than you do.  Plus, assuming you read it, and bother replying, I fear you will not in fact have a constructive response – so I couldn’t justify a 50 cent stamp. Posting it here helps highlight the fact that I’m not actually overly dissatisfied with life at the moment – although I am investigating every opportunity for change available to me – and through this blog over the past month or two I have in some ways been living my life more fully than ever before.  That was one of your justifications for accusing me of cowardice: that I’m afraid of change.  Which was both ignorant and prejudicial of you to say. In fact I crave change.  But I’ve realised lately that it’s not often my place to instrument change.  It’s instead my place to perhaps stimulate it, but more often ride it and observe it and adapt to it.  I may not be an alpha male, but I am not weak.  I’m not the waves eroding the coast, but neither am I the sand drifting out with the tide. I’m the rock, which battered though it may be is none the weaker for its endurance of external trials and tribulations.  Where to from here?  Well, if you don’t genuinely think of me as a coward then I expect an apology.  Or at least an admission of error.  And if you do think me a coward, then it’s simple: goodbye. I’ll always have fond memories of our friendship, either way.

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4 thoughts on “Letter to a mate who called me a coward

    • I’m used to people not understanding me. (In fact, from a writing point-of-view it’s actually a positive because I’m able to stay more objective. Though when it comes to women of course it’s not much fun being, erm, detached.) But when you discover that your best mate doesn’t, and abusively so at that, it’s very disappointing.

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