Maybe I should be grateful you’ve disappeared from my life. Though it’s hard to think that way, you’ve been a friend since we were pre-teens. Our lives both treacherous, though yours more so. A horrible mother who abused you, a stepfather who cried when he saw you because you reminded him of his dead daughter, a sister who turned everything into gold.
I wanted to be there for you, and as kids, I helped you escape. We’d run through tunnels under the highway to play in the stream on the other side. Take boxes from the back of the supermarket to make forts as big as mansions. I helped you write Mike a note and put it in his mailbox so he’d know how cute he was. Then I ran with you when his mother caught us and yelled, “I better not see you girls messing around here again!”
High school divided us. Our social circles drastically changed and pulled us apart, but we still kept in touch. The first time you were sent to the “nuthouse,” as you called it, I got a phone call. I pictured you behind bars eating nothing but slop. I wanted to come to get you, but at fourteen there wasn’t much I could do but hate your mother alongside you. Before you were able to return to school your parents moved three hours. You vanished. It might as well have been the moon.
Silence grew between us for over a decade, but we reconnected on a random night at the beach. The crowd was rowdy and you hated being pushed around, so you left. I knew where to find you, walking alone on the beach. That night I knew we’d always been friends, even when we had distance between us. Off and on we’d see each other after this, and often email several times a day/week, depending on the reason.
We shared our anxieties and fears. The difference was I sought help and you remained in denial. I wanted to tell you what was working, but you wouldn’t hear of it. I let this slide, because I loved you.
At times you’d disappear, but I knew you’d come back when ready. We’d read each other’s stories and talk about the horrible and good things our husbands did. You’d tell me how proud you were to raise two boys, even though you never wanted kids. I cried to you when I couldn’t conceive, and you did your best to understand.
The years went by like this. We’d hug once or twice a year in person, your smile infectious and warm. Then it was all taken away when I saw you at your worst.
Paranoia struck you so hard. You called me in a panic, your voice quivered and you spoke with no brakes in your sentences. I’ve heard this before, only on mentally ill people that have gone beyond an immediate return point. The flags were waving, I begged you to go to call, email, text a professional for help. You continued to lay it on me though. Claiming stories so bazar I felt lost. I called in our mutual friend, who pushed you harder than I would to get help. You needed her, not me, but you didn’t want either of us. You claimed she wasn’t who she said she was, and that you would report her to the police.
My own anxiety rushed through my veins, tingling and frightening every second of my day. I absorbed your delusional ride and let it take me down until our mutual friend dragged me back.
We made a pact without you. We told ourselves we would give it one more push, involve your family, give you resources, but then we had to walk away. You were being so vicious I didn’t know you. I told myself it was your illness; I still know it was.
That was five months ago. I didn’t know where to go after that. You didn’t trust who I was. I walked away saving myself. Now I know nothing about you and every day it kills me.
On February 8, 2019 I wrote. How Do I Get My Friend Help? She read it and in rapid-fire sent emails attacking me. She found my bruise and pressed her thumb into it, twisting and poking. From the day we met she brought up things I don’t remember; assaulted me as a mother, wife, friend, and human. I couldn’t read the entire emails, though I saved them. I don’t know why I’ve saved them. Maybe to remind me not to contact her? I want to though. At least to know how she’s doing. To see if she’s alive.