I’ve been thinking about a friend i lost years ago. She was a wonderful and supportive person. The problem was, we partied too hard together, and we lacked good boundaries. We drifted away from each other as we both tried to get our lives in order. I think she pulled away first. I think she cut me out of her life, specifically. I was significantly older than her, but in some ways i was no more mature. I say “was,” because she’s gone from everyone, now. Her demons took her from her loved ones and consumed her.

We met when i was in a powerful mania. My personality was in full shine, turned up to 11. I swept many people into my arms then, and held them with one hand, dragging them alongside me like a child with a teddy bear. I introduced her to my friends and we rode the tide until we nearly drowned. Both of us moving away to escape it, keeping in close touch until we could be reunited. But there was something wrong between us then, and that was me.

I was so sick. I couldn’t see it at the time. I presented as a woman entering middle age, but on the inside i was a teenager that’d taken the keys to Dad’s Lambo and gone on a joyride. I was run amok. And she was a broken young woman, looking for meaning, for care and connection… for help. And i consumed her like i did the other revellers around us. I was no leader, no support. But now i can see, just by virtue of the years between us, that i must have appeared to be so. I hid the worst parts of my illness and dysfunction from all but my husband, so it must have looked like one could live the way i was living with impunity. It must have seemed possible that you could have a loving and supportive partner waiting for you at home, while you went out and painted the town red.

It is possible, of course. That is exactly what i had, and what i did. But my partner probably shouldn’t have stayed with me. I’m incredibly fortunate that he stuck with me through such terrible times that were in no small way my own making. Yes, i was clinically sick. Yes, i’d been twisted and busted up inside due to a violent childhood. But i wasn’t without some ability to make choices. I just made wrong ones. I could have done better, sometimes.
But i did not.
I chose poorly, selfishly, childishly.
I chose wrong. And there is wreckage in my wake that i must own.
Relationships, mostly.
My children suffered most of all, but i hurt others, too.
I will never know how much i hurt her.

She’d been on my mind for months and months. In the barest edges of my consciousness i was considering going to her and seeing if she would be open to an apology. I was trying to figure out the healthiest, most respectful way to approach her. I was preparing myself for the possibility that she’d tell me to fuck right off. Certainly her right. I pulled up her social media to see how she was doing. My face turned to marble as i realised she was gone.
It hit me so hard and hurt so much i closed my mind as i closed the page.

It’s been nearly a year since i learned of her death. She’s been creeping back into my conscious thoughts. I knew it was time to begin processing her passing. I’m much more present these days. More vibrant, less faded, more tangible, less nebulous.
And so i actually didn’t switch when i went back to her page and it hit me that she’d been gone less than 2mos when i’d visited her page those 9mos prior.

I’d dissociated immediately. My brain took that information and hid it away, because that’s what i do in overwhelm. I run and i hide. On the inside.

But i’m sitting with it. I let it seep into my skin and settle into my blood. She’s not here anymore. I hurt her and i’ll never be able to tell her i’m sorry. My chance to make amends is gone with her to the grave. I do not understand death. I cannot grasp how she has simply, terribly, ceased existing. I was so close to reaching out. There are lessons for me in that. Some might say, Well sure, H. Obviously. Don’t wait for tomorrow, do what you can do today.

I don’t think that’s it, though. There’s truth to the adage yes, but i wouldn’t apply it in this case. My process was a wise one, and it was mine. My timing didn’t fit with the way things happened, that’s all.

The lesson is pure affirmation. It is cementing things i’ve already begun learning.
Life does what life does. It just lives until it doesn’t anymore. It does as it will until it cannot and then it stops. I aspire to live life on life’s terms.

The other lesson is harder and sharper. It is that her life and her death were about her, not me. They were no longer any of my business. She was under no obligation to wait around until i was ready to try and right whatever could have been righted between us. She was not a thing for me to use to make me feel better about myself.
I know the truth of this in a way that makes me happy and sad at the same time.
Happy that i am growing up.
Sad that it came too late for her.
Not that i could have saved her, no. I no longer suffer under those sorts of illusions. I laid that burden down some time ago. But she deserved an apology from me, and any amends that she might have allowed or even welcomed.

I am deeply sorry for being a single moment of pain and sadness in a beautiful life that ended far too soon. I love her so, still, and that will continue. And i will always wish…



IMAGE: Marek Studzinski

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