Secret Sally And What Is Friend-Duty

I used to have 3 best friends. Now, I have 2. I met Sally in '96 when I got a job cocktail waitressing at Juanita's. When I first met her all I could do was watch her because she was just so much larger than life: my life or any other life I'd seen. She was a beautiful, rock-n-roll, bubbly, friendly, laughing girl. I knew almost immediately that I wanted to be friends with her. (She told me years later that when she first met me she thought I was weird because all I did pretty much was watch her, which is true. I just couldn't believe she was so much...herself. Truthfully, I not only wanted to be her friend, I also wanted to be her.) We worked together at Juanita's for about a year and became really good friends.

Then, she left Juanita's to go work at another club, met a guy she really fell for and disappeared from our friendship like most girls do when they meet a guy and get serious. They dated for 5 years. We didn't really see each other very much during that time. I felt abandoned, but also I felt mostly that I was being selfish because everyone has relationships and when that relationship gets serious to the point of ring-giving, it becomes the main priority in a person's life and everything else just sort of falls away. On the other hand (3 hands?), I wondered why she couldn't be friends with me and have a fiance. After their 5 years of dating and after the ring had been given to her, the relationship ended and she came back to being my friend and I moved from being a stand-in/replacement for her boyfriend when he was off doing something else, being late, or standing her up. She apologized to me for disappearing for so long and I told her what I had felt while she was gone from my life. She was my only friend and when she was gone I had felt completely alone. She promised that she would never do that to me again. I promised that I would never resent her being in a relationship again.

We were best friends-sisters-until a 1 year 1/2 ago. She hasn't spoken to me since that Christmas. About 6-8 months before that, things started going super awry in my life. I stopped answering the phone every time she called; I made excuses not to hang out with her. I didn't mean to push her away. I was sliding into the most severe, the most crippling depression I've experienced in my life so far. I was actually in therapy at the time and on medication for depression and anxiety. My first therapist started me on rather a high dose of Klonopin (a medicine for anxiety) which, in my opinion, was the start of the problem. Klonopin is very addictive. I didn't know that. Klonopin also causes mood-swings. I didn't know that either. I should have looked it up, either in a book (which I have plenty of-psych major) or on the internet. That part was my fault. So, the longer I took Klonopin, the more my moods swung and the wider the swings were. Also, I started taking more and more of it because I didn't realize in the midst of my worsening depression and anxiety that it was the Klonopin that was, at least in part, responsible for the roller coaster emotions. Amidst all of this not only Sally, but also Tanya, thought that I was deliberately pushing her away. To their credit, they did try to get me out of the house. They did their friend-duty in that respect.

That July, my very good friend, David, died suddenly. I've never experienced anyone that close to me die. It's not like the more you experience death, the less shocking it becomes, but to experience it for the first time and especially in the midst of everything else going on in my life was the ultimate blow. I didn't know how to deal with his death, my depression, school...so...insert more Klonopin here. I started cutting on myself again and my eating disorders were way out of control. I started restricting and purging again. I couldn't control anything in my life. Then, came Christmas. Let me just say here that I hate the Holidays. I have yet to get over the last time I was raped in '96. Well, most of the time I don't think much about it, but at Christmas, which is when it happened, it's thrown in my face wherever I go. Add this to the pile of shit that my life had become that year and there's a cocktail that is strictly suicidal.

A little thing happened on Christmas Day. Sally didn't call me to tell me happy Christmas. Even though I hate Christmas, I still like to be called on that day. I know it's hypocrital and weird, but that's just the way it is and I can't help it. A few days later while I was in the big middle of a complete melt down, she called. All I could say was, "You could've called me on Christmas Day." Anything else I tried to say was unintelligible due to the amount of crying and hyperventillating. Sally and Tanya were together that night and said that they were coming over. I told them not to, but they did anyway: friend-duty again. They brought me presents and wanted me to go to Wal-Mart with them. (We used to have sort of a tradition on the weekends. We used to go "Walmartin'" on the weekends and have so much fun buying useless shit we didn't need. That's what they wanted to do that night.) I didn't feel like going because I had just spent the previous several hours crying my heart out. My eyes were swollen, I had vomited several times, I was exhausted and I told them so. They were disappointed, overly so, and left my house with concerned/disgusted looks on their faces. Neither one of them spoke to me after that. The only reason Tanya spoke to me again was that I went to her work place and confronted her.

Sally has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is Bipolar. Tanya is a Rapid-Cycling Bipolar and has problems with anxiety. I am not the only one here who has major psychiatric issues. After her 5-year relationship, Sally had one year where she was so depressed that she could barely leave her house. Her parents had to take care of her. She wanted neither Tanya or I to come see her. She was completely agoraphobic. She nearly lost her job. I never stopped loving her and never stopped trying help her during all of that: friend-duty. Tanya totally disappeared on everyone for about a year after her father died and then went on the road for 6 months after that with Lainie to follow some guy in a band she thought she was "in love" with. I never stopped being her friend through all of that. I was there for her. I went to her father's funeral just so I could be there for her. (Are they the only ones in this friendship-relationship allowed to go through shit and disappear on people? Why am I the one who was totally deserted when I took longer than they thought I should to get through my shit? I don't understand that.)

Tanya and I are friends again although I don't trust her quite the way I did before. I think that's understandable. Forgiveness? Absolutely. Forgetting? Never. I do, however, expect something similar in the future from her. I've said forever that no one can have a relationship, friend or otherwise without hurting the other person in some way. I have a long memory. I suppose it should be shorter. I just don't want to be caught off-guard again by her.

Here's how I feel now about Sally: I don't know why she won't speak to me. I had to find out through Tanya that she had moved to Oklahoma for a job. I also haven't really even tried to forgive her. I've just been holding this hurt in my heart like a tumor for the last year-and-a-half. I want closure; I need closure, but Sally won't allow me that because she won't speak to me and it pisses me off that she would withhold it from me.

Am I being the victim again? Have I taken responsibility for my part in the loss of friendship with Sally? I believe I have admitted my part. Everything in life comes down to choices and although I made the wrong choice in pushing both Sally and Tanya away at one time in my life, I can say that I was in a huge amount of emotional pain and I think that can be forgiven me. I'll work on trying to forgive Sally.

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Blogger Kate said...

I have a whole complicated set of views about the idea of forgiveness. It all boils down to a basic belief that one human shouldn't really have the level of power and superiority over another to grant forgiveness; forgiveness is an I-thou experience, not meant for two peers... and all humans should be peers. ("Should," which is its own doubtful word.)

So I neither try to forgive, nor to forget, because one is beyond what I think a human should be able to do and the other just makes no sense - how can forgetting possibly be useful? How can you learn from something if you're trying to forget it? I instead try to move on, lay it down and walk away... and if I can't, then I wait until I can. No one else's time schedule applies.

April 15, 2008 11:06 PM  
Blogger Anais Nin said...

For me, forgiveness isn't really about Sally per se. It's more about me and my letting go of the anger and hurt I have stored up against her. It's more about my getting free of it. I don't have to get in touch with Sally to let her know that I've forgiven her. It's something I do for myself in my heart.

I don't think that I'm superior to her in any way. We're just vastly different. I also don't think that to forgive someone means that you think you are superior to them. It's also not you letting them "off the hook", so to speak. It's more about moving past hurt and letting go, for me anyway.

One of the things that hurt me so much about Sally is that I felt like she had some sort of time schedule in her mind of when I should be able to be "normal". You know, get over my shit. But I think if a person is not stagnant in their life then they are never really "over" their shit. There are a lot of things about me I don't like. I feel like if I'm going to continue to try to be a better person, that I must continually work on myself. The danger to me is to become complacent in thinking that I've "arrived". Does that make any sense?

Maybe I'm too introspective. My last therapist told me that I think too much about those types of things and that is part of what makes me depressed. I guess there's a happy medium somewhere in there.

April 16, 2008 8:44 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Being able to turn off the thoughts at will is a skill not many people have. Even when we know we probably should.

April 17, 2008 10:19 AM  

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