A couple of weeks ago, The Daver was on the phone with his mother and he made mention of the loss of my friend Steph, and he mistakenly referred to her as an “old friend.” I normally leave him the fuck alone when he talks to his mom, but this was too big an insult to our friendship to let be, and I promptly informed him that she was well more than that to me.
Maybe we weren’t super close towards the end of her life, truth be told, she’d become fairly unreachable to me. Growing up with a mother who had suffered through the same things that Steph did, my knee jerk reaction once I realized that there was, in fact, no quick fix to this problem was to steer the hell clear for awhile. Physically, at least.
Mentally, however, I thought of her quite often. I beat myself up over and over again FOR YEARS because I knew that I couldn’t handle her anymore, and in a desperate attempt to shield myself from the shit storm, I sort of cut her out of my life. Physically, at least.
Maybe it was self-preservation on my own part, maybe I was in the thick of dealing with my own shit, or maybe it was just because I couldn’t handle being part of that downward spiral yet again.
(I don’t feel entirely comfortable discussing all of the issues associated with being raised by a mentally ill alcoholic mother, because hey, this is The Internet, and anyone can find me. My name IS Becky (and not Rich) and I haven’t made any real effort to cover up who I am (sadly, I am not a transsexual midget living in Vancouver), and as such, I only write about people who I know read this blog.
So, just make the assumption that there were lots of trips to and from the mental hospital, lots of medication tweaking, some ECT, and several drunken ER trips involved. I’m making no steps towards going private, because I don’t care THAT much, so if for some reason, you want to talk with me about this, click on that fancy “Email Me” button that The Daver put up there for me. If not, just know that none of that is integral to this or any story.)
It’s hard to stand by and watch someone you care about very, very much make poor decision after poor decision, and as I make it a rule not to interfere in my friends’ business, I had nothing TO say about it. I mean, honestly, I highly doubt that it would have made a difference.
See, she and I started out in the same place, but ended up so far from each other that there wasn’t much TO say anymore. We both had children out of wedlock (OOOOH! OOOOOH!) with men who weren’t the best choice of partners, and while I realized it and got out of that relationship, she didn’t get out until after the second child was born.
I had the good fortune to meet The Daver and together we built a fairly solid life together. I mean, I COULDN’T call her, because her phone was always turned off. Mine is only off when the Internet is down (thank you Vonage). They had no car. I have two. I finished school and graduated with a degree. She dropped every class she enrolled in. The list is endless.
Her choices were poor, she threw away a lot of good opportunities and as a result, I knew that we didn’t have much TOO talk about. At least, this is how I logicated not reaching out to her.
And whether it’s because I know that I no longer CAN or just because I never thought that it would come to her dying at age 26 from NATURAL FUCKING CAUSES, I feel guilt and remorse and shame. It’s not my fault, not really, and I was behind her supporting her to do all of the positive steps in the right direction that she refused to take. You can lead a horse to water, afterall…
Does feeling guilty help? I don’t know. Maybe it’s part of fucking Kubler-Ross’s ‘Stages of Grief,’ or maybe it’s just “complicated” grief. I don’t know. I just don’t fucking know.
All that I do know is that physically removing someone from your life doesn’t mean that they’re gone. Not by a long shot. I miss her just as much as I did before she died. Maybe even more.