When I was 9, my family moved, and I had to switch schools. I remember the day vividly. My stomach was upset as I was worried about my clothes and fitting in. We started the new school right after Thanksgiving, and I can remember that I hated my coat. I was terrified.
I somehow made it through the day and on to the school bus. This was strange to me because it was the first bus I ever had to ride because at my old school we walked.
On the bus, this girl from my class plopped next to me and started talking. A lot. I don’t think she shut up the entire ride home. I discovered she only lived 2 blocks from me. Actually, I discovered pretty much everything about her in that 30-minute ride. From that day on, she became my best friend.
We did everything together. Sleepovers, swimming in summer, bowling, you name it, we did it together. It was inevitable that we took our first drink together.
The first led to many drinks together. Our jr. high and high school years were filled with many nights of drinking and holding each other’s hair while we threw up.
As the years passed and we had our own families, we didn’t see each other often, but often enough. There were very few times we saw each other where alcohol wasn’t involved.
We celebrated all of the milestone birthdays with a lot of drinking. Divorces happened, life happened, and we helped each other in our typical fashion.
Here’s the thing. I always thought she had a problem. That she needed alcohol to get through life. I never felt like it was me. I mean, I would go months without drinking until we hung out together. Sometimes she would get sloppy drunk and cry or yell irrationally at her kids. She had the dui, not me. So, she had the problem. That’s what I thought.
What I feel now is that whenever we got together, we would act the way we did when we were young. Balls to the wall – so to speak. I suspect a therapist would say our relationship was toxic. My drinking progressed with my depression. I was, after all, the one with the problem.
After my suicide attempt, I left the psych ward to discover that my family had decided she would no longer be in my life. She didn’t visit me there. My last conversation with anyone before the attempt was with her. I don’t feel like they blamed her actually, just that she wasn’t good for me. She was blocked from my phone and all social media accounts.
She had been an essential part of my life for 40 years. I sang at her wedding. We watched each other’s kids. We gave each other rides to the airport and helped each other move. Now, I couldn’t even say…what? Goodbye? See you later? We’re not good for each other? It felt like a divorce.
My heart broke a little. She never tried to contact me. (She could have reached out through mutual friends or email) She didn’t visit me in the psych ward. She just moved on while I was trying to piece together what was left of my life. I’ve cried more than a few times over this lost friendship.
It’s been 3 years. We have seen each other a few times over the past year. Her mother’s funeral and her daughter’s housewarming. We’re pleasant to each other. We ask about each other’s family. We’re socially polite.
The funny thing is – I’m glad we are no longer friends. I have grown more as a person in the past 2 years than I ever thought possible. I have surrounded myself with strong women of faith, with people in recovery and with family that only wants to see me thrive. “Iron sharpens iron.” I believe that. I think that when we were together – neither of us could ever get to our full potential. I sincerely hope that she is growing and is happy as well. But the friendship we had – looking back – seems weak to me now, as our common denominator was always alcohol.
So, this friendship goes down as a casualty of alcoholism. The breakup, however-became the leg up to my recovery.