Back is August I told you about a friend of mine who had died from Cancer a few years before.  How I was heartbroken because it was only 6 weeks from diagnosis to death, how me and my other friend did everything we could to help him out, how it crushed us.  August would have been his 53rd birthday.

Today would have been the 53rd birthday of another friend of mine, M.  The death and situation around it were vastly different.  Part of me regrets the situation with M.  Part of me knows it was the only way I could survive.

M was my closest friend in High School.  We met the first day of 9th grade- she sat behind me in homeroom.  I had just moved to a new town and new school.  For an incredibly shy kid, this was akin to torture.  M was outgoing and friendly and fun.  She also only lived a few blocks away from me, so I would have someone to go to and from school with.

Now, back in high school M was a little crazy.  She was famous for prank calling boys.  Repeatedly.  She had no censor.  If we told her she was acting a little strange, she would stop speaking to us.  She was the poster child for teenage drama.

I was a shy, quiet withdrawn kid who really never even stepped a little over the line.  It was exciting to have a friend that was a little crazy.  Her wildness was tamed by having a good heart- inside she was a nice person.  Well, when she wasn’t getting mad at you because you told her she had to calm down.

We remained friends for years.  Now, the level of friendship changed.  We saw each other on college breaks, hung out a lot after college ended.  But we both had crazy jobs, and I moved off of Long Island, and was dating the asshole who would become my first husband.  The relationship shifted focus.  We saw one another every few months.  I no longer wanted to hang in bars trying to meet guys.  In truth, this had become our bonding experience- hanging in bars and clubs.  So every few months turned into dinner twice a year.

Now, it was one of those relationships where even though we hadn’t been in communication, we could pick right back up with where we left off.  She always had a crazy guy story to tell me.  Always a variation of this guy was so bad so I had no choice but to…..  Not unlike prank calling in 9th grade, or figuring out a guys locker combination and leaving things inside.  it didn’t seem quite as funny anymore though.

She had always been an excellent worker- highly intelligent and hard working and capable.  She tended to switch jobs a lot.  She got promoted quickly, but something always happened, someone was always not treating her respectfully so she would get another job.  When you produce results in your given field, this is easy.  At the end of the day, results count.

About 14 years ago, I noticed a slight change in her behavior.  Her behavior seemed way more erratic than it had ever before- spiraling from dizzying highs to swampy lows.  Now, 14 years ago, I had a 2 year old.  A typical 2 year old and a husband who worked a lot of hours.  I was typically exhausted and covered in some sort of young child thing- dirt, food, paint- you get the idea of mothering a toddler.  I didn’t have the time or inclination to hang out in bars and say stupid things to men.  My focus had changed.  And honestly, the only thing we ever did together was go to dinner at cool places.  I noticed how much she actually drank when we were out.  These outings weren’t fun for me.  I didn’t have the time or patience to do things that didn’t make me feel good.  These outings made me sad- she talked about fighting with her parents, her brother, whoever she was dating, whoever she was working for or working with.  Her life seemed to be a constant battle.  She was switching jobs about once a year, she was switching partners about once every two months.

We began seeing one another less, maybe every 18 months.

But about 8 years ago I began to get the texts and the calls.  She would contact me, drunk, and just yell about anyone and everyone.  Just incoherent rants about how the world was against her.  She would leave me multiple texts of just jumbled letters- some code that I could not decipher.

I began not picking up the phone when she called.

After a few months of trying to figure out message she was leaving on my voicemail, I called her during the day.  I told her she needed help, help that I was unable to give. I didn’t know if she had a mental disorder.  I didn’t know how dependent she was on alcohol and drugs.  I didn’t know.  I did know that I was not qualified to actually help her. I told her I would support her, but she needed to seek professional assistance.

She cut me out.

But every year, the rambling texts and calls would resume. I would repeat the same thing- I couldn’t deal with her in the state she was in, I couldn’t give her the help she needed, but I would support her while she got proper attention.

This went on till she died 3 years ago.

My Mother got the call from a mutual friend.  At one point, my Mom worked for my friend M, so there were mutual friends.

I sighed.  I didn’t actually cry.  I was relieved.  I hoped she was finally at peace.  I was the one who contacted our little high school clique.  I didn’t have much to tell them.  We didn’t know if it was suicide or an accidental overdose.  In the end, that’s just semantics.  I reached out to her brother.  They hadn’t spoken for the last 8 years of her life.  Apparently, he received the same treatment as me, and said the same things to her as I did.  She responded to him the same way she had responded to me.  He apologized for not contacting me directly- he said he didn’t know who she hadn’t pissed off.  It seems no one wanted to be around her anymore- she chased away anyone who wanted to help.

There would be no memorial or burial or any sort of service.

Now, I’ve often thought about what I could have done.  How could I have helped.  Was there more that I could have done?  Should I have dragged her to a hospital?  Was I selfish, only taking care of myself and my family?  Or was I surviving, knowing I could not help someone who didn’t want to be helped.

I talked about M with another friend.  We were saying that even back in High School we should have realized that something was off- that there was probably some sort of issue rattling around in her brain.  In hindsight, the signs were there.  We just didn’t know to look for them.  We just thought she was wild.

So, if you were to ask me about regrets, I’d say this situation might be a regret.  I don’t know how I should have handled it.  I console myself by saying everyone tried and failed to assist her, so nothing would have worked.  But that’s only rationalization.

So today, I silently nod and think about M.  And I truly hope she is at peace.

 

 

45 thoughts on “November 15

  1. “everyone tried and failed to assist her, so nothing would have worked.  But that’s only rationalization”

    Nope. It’s not rationalization at all. It’s a statement of fact; one I had to learn in recovery. I can lead a horse to water but I cannot make it thirsty. In other words, the people I loved that needed a 12 step program? I couldn’t work the steps for them, they had to work them for themselves which meant they had to want help. You did the best you could with what you had to work with. I’m so very sorry this happened to your friend (((hugs))l

    Liked by 4 people

  2. The “what if’s” will always be there I think, and sit like a weight pushing down. I have never been too sure about that idea that people express, the concept that one should have known more, done more, given more. You cared, you gave of yourself, but you also recognized that her needs were too great and not something you were equipped to handle. In the end she made choices. Having come out the other side of a long situation with family and alcohol abuse I can now say that the questions of “what if” that I had will always sit on my shoulder, but I know that I gave what I was able at the time. That is all that I could do and I’m okay with that.
    I hope you can find peace as well… {{hugs}}

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t think that there is anything you could have done. It’s so hard not to help someone that needs help but they have to want to help themselves first. You did the right thing. You had a young family to take care of. You had to put yourself first. There was no other way. Maybe do something special on this day to remember M donate to mental health facility or help out at one for the day. I know you have regrets but you can only help people that want to be helped. I’m giving you a virtual hug

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am so.sorry! That would be so hard to see your friend.spiral downwards like that.
    I.believe you did all you could. Don’t beat yourself up! You dared to be honest with her but you couldn’t force her to listen.
    ((((Hugs)))

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “…how I should have handled it.” She, M, didn’t know how to handle it. As for any rationalization, you were an early friend who for decades lend an ear, an honest peer who called out her self destructive behavior, but you were not a mental health professional charged with providing corrective or prescription.

    Would a word you might have said or a gesture you made lead to a different outcome, perhaps. But that just a rationalization that makes a lie of our shared human condition. Life is often unfair. For M, unfortunately, and for those who cared about her.

    Thoughtful post.
    Regards,
    Doug

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Some people simply canNOT be fixed, because they prefer to be broken. The tools are out there, and easy to find, but she had to want to find them and use them. She did not.

    It is a torturous thing to watch a friend spiral into the depths, a worse thing to find that those depths claimed them permanently…but there was nothing you could have done, it was her choice.

    Your words are a remembrance – and perhaps this will be enough to persuade some other soul traveling the dark pathways to seek out their light.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I feel sorry for your friend. It’s not her fault she was cursed with a mental problem, but she should have sought help instead of raging at the world. I have friends who have shared their burdens with me, and sometimes have felt like a surrogate counselor instead of a sympathetic ear. Sometimes we’re not doing people any favors by doing this when they need professional help.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, I clearly knew I couldn’t help her…the best I could do was hold her hand while she got needed treatment. Honestly, I don’t know exactly what her issue was. I don’t think she ever tried to fix it at all. It’s sad because she was smart and funny and had so much going for her

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What a sad story and a reminder that we never know the full extent of what’s going on in other people’s lives. We can only do our best and hope they will look for a way out. You were wise to recognize that you couldn’t “fix” her addiction problems.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s a sad, helpless feeling in which all you can do is watch. I’m sorry you went through this. You did right in protecting your sanity. They cannot be helped until they realize they need help. Unfortunately, that can be a very hard bottom, or death. Hugs to you. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I doubt you could have done more. You can’t force someone to accept help, and sometimes the most effective and only way is just to drip feed advice when you can, hoping that at some point some of it will resonate. I’m very sorry it ended that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m so sorry. But honestly, I don’t think there was anything else you could have done. Even if you had dragged her to a hospital, they wouldn’t have admitted her unless you could prove she was a danger to herself and others, and maybe not even then since you aren’t a relative. As for knowing what you were seeing in high school and college, please don’t second guess yourself. At that age, we weren’t mature enough to understand her behavior could have been a sign of mental illness. You did what you could when you told her to get help and offered your support, and that was all you could do.
    Honestly, I think one of the hardest things to accept in this life is that our best isn’t always good enough to fix things….

    Liked by 2 people

  12. How unfortunate to not know the exact cause of M’s death, LA. I dare say you executed your role in her life, as it was meant to be. Some people never learn how to give or even reciprocate true kindness, loyalty, caring, concern, and honesty, all core values that you gave her, unselfishly. You deserved for her to show up for you, as an equal, or as close to an equal as she could. It sounds like it started out as the M show and you were a supporting character…and it never seemed to change.

    My heart goes out to you, as I’ve survived two suicides from close friends in my life. The guilt and exasperation are exhausting. You did what you could. I had a similar friend like M. I sadly had to say goodbye and it hurt because she was an enigma.

    We can always do better, I guess, right? But, in this case, I don’t think you could’ve done more. You had a family to care for. And, you had to care for yourself in order to grow a loving home and family.

    I’m sorry you went through this. Namaste. 💗

    ~JM

    Liked by 1 person

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