Several months ago, one of my two best friends stopped talking to me. Apparently, I didn’t do anything to make that happen besides get sick. There was a time, at the very beginning of all this brain stuff, where it looked like I might have a serious problem. I spent three days in the hospital and from that point, she only called once. Before I knew it, half a year had gone by with no communication until earlier this week. Tonight we had dinner. It is now five hours after a meal that ranks on the Top Ten Most Awkward Moments of My Life list. After almost a decade of friendship, my best friend and I just ate and engaged in small talk that was on par with a truly crappy first date conversation. But it was worse because it was us and no matter what distance or time or events have stood between us, we’ve always been able to find our equilibrium in the past.
After dinner, I meant to go to work and get some Lawyerly Things done. But I found myself heading for the outer-belt. My best thinking occurs in my car while I drive and I think I instinctively knew I needed to drive tonight. I did three laps on a very empty I-270 while music played at ear splitting decibels and I sang my heart out. During that time, I thought and thought until eventually, I found myself getting off somewhere near Gahana. I pulled into a deserted parking lot and proceeded to lose it. There I was, crying for me, for her, for the last six months that I feel like I lost. I cried because my life is changing and while I welcome that, it also scares me beyond words. In that hour of crying, I also let go of a lot of things: friends from college who I lost and I still miss; my dreams of being a size six again; and the ex-boyfriend who I really am not over but can’t have back. Suddenly, I realized this is what adult pain feels like. It all came out in a mass of snot and hot tears and sobs that were so strong I was chocking at times. And in an act of fate that is so typical of my life, I had no tissue or napkins or anything in my car. When I realized that, I found myself doing that laugh/cry thing and then crying some more until I just cried myself out.
I am home now and I’ve been trying for hours to explain to myself why tonight hurt so much, why it caused this extreme reaction. For weeks, I’ve been on the edge of a crying jag that borders on breakdown. I thought I had actually experienced it earlier this week, but I guess not. Now that the emotional storm has hit, I am struggling to explain myself and my feelings at dinner and even how I’ve felt in the last few weeks and months.
At dinner, I hated every second of hearing about the six months my best friend lived and knowing that I was not a part of it. I hated it even more because I knew that I will never be a part of that time no matter how much I hear about it. I was intensely jealous that she found somebody to replace me and our conversations and our jokes and… And I hated that she got a job offer but I couldn’t tell if she was happy about it when she brought it up. I hated sitting there and listening to her talk about how long my hair had gotten and that I didn’t feel like I could say it was because I couldn’t drive to get it cut. Even more, I hated that such an innocuous comment could stir so much pain in me. When she asked what I’d been doing for the last six months, it hurt to have to acknowledge I’ve done nothing. My excitement has been getting the latest installment of Smallville from Blockbuster Online. Is Lana going to marry Lex and how will Clark take it? Ooooh, that’s a life. It appalls me that I’ve spent the last six months wallowing on the edge of depression and immersed in fits of intense self-pity. And I detest that people tell me it’s OK to have felt this way. It’s not me and it bothers me that I’ve let myself feel those things so consitently. More importantly I felt that I couldn’t say any of this to her. I would never have held back before. And most of all, I hated that I couldn’t tell her how badly she hurt me six months ago when she couldn’t deal with my being sick and walked away. Really, that is the essence of all this pain: that she couldn’t take it.
There are times when it has been really hard to be her friend. In ten years, there are times when I know it must have been hard to be mine. But I always thought our friendship could withstand something like illness. I was there when she was sick, when she got divorced, when… Now all I can feel is the disappointment, the lack of trust, the betrayal, the intense hurt. Ultimately, I don’t feel loved by her and I never expected to feel that way. In passing tonight, I said I needed some new friends. She pointed out I’ve been saying that for awhile, and I immediately thought that in the past I would never have included her in the statement.
Still, this medical stuff has caused so much loss and so many changes for me. There are very important aspects of myself that have become casualties of what I now refer to as my broken brain. I don’t want my best friend to be one of them. But I don’t know that we can find our relationship again. Or that I can forgive her for leaving me when I needed her most. Here I am, just redefining what normal means in my life and part of me wonders how inclusive I should be. Or emotionally can be. So, while I figure it all out, I think there is going to be a lot of driving. And next time, I will have tissue.