- 8 years ago
- Wedding: July 2009
I generally post here under another name, but I just realized that my weddingbee name & pic is not at all mysterious to anyone who knows me, and although it is unlikely the person concerned would ever stumble on this, I don’t want to take the chance. This is going to be extra long and rambling, just a warning.
At issue is my best friend from high school, whom I’ll just call X. Now, I know you can have real friendships in high school, but ours was largely based on hating school and liking Duran Duran – a real bond when you’re 15 or so, but not much glue to hold you together in the long term. We actually started going in different directions long before high school ended (she heading into the realms of casual sex and drugs, and me not, basically), but continued to hang out together anyway.
When we were 19, I left town to go to school elsewhere, and she got a job as a nanny in New York. We kept in touch, although some of her partying stories just made me shake my head in disbelief. I came home for the summer after my first year of school, and was very surprised to get a phone call from her that she was back from NY. So we get together, along with another friend, and she tells us she was raped by her employer and that’s why she got sent home early. It was an odd story, but it didn’t occur to me to doubt her then. (Years later, another friend of mine that had gone to high school with us told me she’d seen X on some cheesy talk show … the topic “Nannies from Hell” … and that on that show she’d said she’d been having an affair with her employer. So honestly, I have no idea what the real story is.)
Anyway, for a few weeks she and I and friend 2 spent lots of time together. That is, I spent lots of time driving the three of us around, not having the best of times, really, because they wanted to go to dodgy parties and crap like that. Then X’s dad got her a car and I suddenly stopped hearing from them. Which pissed me off but confirmed what my mom had been saying, that I was being used and taken advantage of. Fine, whatever. I hadn’t been enjoying myself anyway. When she did happen to call, I didn’t bother calling back. I figured I didn’t need a friend like that and we had nothing much in common anymore.
I didn’t have any contact with her for 4 or 5 years. However, I got back together with an old boyfriend I had been seeing when X and I were still friends, and he asked me what she was up to. I said I had no idea, but she had been planning to move to a certain city when I last had contact. So he actually looked her up and got in touch with her. It turns out she had just had a baby. Well, anyway, we were going to that city to visit boyfriend’s grandfather, and we stopped by to see her and sort of opened this whole can of worms.
I moved back to our hometown shortly after that and so did she, having ditched the baby’s father. We saw each other once in a while – mainly it was her calling me, because really, as I said before, we had so little in common that I found spending time with her not much fun. I felt sorry that she was a single parent, and tried to make the effort anyway. In spite of having parental responsibilities, she still liked to party and if anything, her taste in men (always terrible) got even worse. She would periodically get back together with her son’s father, as well, whom I’ll just call loserboy from here on out.
Anyway, within the next couple of years she was diagnosed schizophrenic. So any time I saw her, I never knew what to expect. The medications for this are really quite awful, better than being pyschotic, but not by much sometimes. She’d gain weight, she’d lose weight, she’d be barely functional, she’d be hyper … all depending on what meds they were trying. Her sister tried to get custody of her son (oh did I mention what a weird, dysfunctional family she came from?), and the rest of her family was split on the issue, some supporting her and some her sister. She was going to marry her son’s father. Then she said he was a loser. Then she was living with some other guy. Then she was back with loserboy. Then she’d ditched him and planned to go to medical school (seriously, she said this.) When I saw her, I tried to be supportive and sympathetic, but wow, it was draining. Mental illness is hell.
I left town again, and our contact became quite minimal. Out of the blue one day she called and told me she was getting her son baptised (he was 5 or 6 by then) and would I be his Godmother? I was at this time barely Catholic, and really not a good choice, but I stupidly said yes. So that kept us in slightly closer contact, as I felt a duty toward my Godson. But generally, she only called me to gossip and when she needed a favour … i.e. someplace to stay when visiting the city, etc.
My father passed away, and I moved back to my home town yet again. She was living not far from me, and we did get together periodically. Still, much weirdness. For example, after our high school reunion, she was obsessed with “who was most successful” and wanted to discuss this in detail with me. She decided it was K, who owned a horse farm, so clearly had the most money. I said I really didn’t think of success in those terms, but whatever. She left the Catholic church and joined some fiercely anti-Catholic denomination, which sort of left me hanging as a Godmother (I had by this time actually come back to the Catholic faith in a serious way). Then one day, she tells me that loserboy is NOT her son’s father. Understand, she had never, in any way, suggested this as a possibility. Her son had his name, and everything, and she had badgered him for child support for years (never getting much, but still). Then she tells me this story of this brief affair she had with her “soulmate”, whom she is sure is her son’s father, and coincidentally this guy is a member of this new church she is going to. Now this story sounds totally whack to me. I have no idea if there is the remotest grain of truth in it. I don’t know if it’s true, or it’s a lie, or if it’s a schizophrenic delusion that she has come to believe. I don’t know what to say to her. At all. Like I said before, every contact with her was totally draining. But I did feel sorry for her – I mean, her life sucked, that was clear. I actually felt guilty because my life seemed so completely charmed compared to hers. So yes, I still called her back whenever she called.
Through work, I got tickets to the Duran Duran reunion concert. I hadn’t listened to them for years, but the nostalgia of high school has a strong pull! I decided, since that had been a thing we’d shared so long ago, that I’d invite X to come with me. So she came, but she really didn’t seem to enjoy it much. Which meant I didn’t enjoy it much. Which was a shame, because it was a surprisingly awesome concert. I would have been dancing on my seat and singing along with every song if not for her.
Anyway, our “friendship” limped on. The last time we actually talked was just over 3 years ago, when she phoned me. It was not my best day. My oldest brother had died suddenly and unexpectedly not that long before, I was just completely raw and could not face having a conversation about it with one more person. So I made some lame excuse why I couldn’t talk just then, she didn’t call back, and neither did I.
Last year, when I was preparing to get married, I seriously debated inviting her. We hadn’t had any contact for 2 years, but I felt that was my fault for blowing her off that last time. We had been “friends” for a long time. But at the end of the day, I simply did not want her there. It was a small reception, mainly relatives and my absolute closest friends. The only people she would have known would have been my mom (and I wasn’t going to put that burden on my mom) and the MC (the only person from high school I did invite, who hadn’t seen X since high school). I could just imagine her sitting there, telling complete strangers the saga of her life, saying weird stuff about me, and bringing everybody down. I felt bad and I knew she’d be upset if she knew I was getting married and didn’t invite her, but I just could not do it. So I took the coward’s way out, didn’t even let her know I was getting married, moved across the country right after the wedding, and that was that.
Fast forward to this year. In February, I’m talking to my mom on the phone, and she says, oh, you got something in the mail from X. So I asked her to open it, and it’s an invitation to X’s 42nd birthday party and “debut as a Mary Kay representative”. Er. Hmm. Well, again I feel guilty about the wedding thing, although also somewhat cynical because we haven’t talked for 3 years but now she finally contacts me because she needs me to buy her Mary Kay crap. I asked mom if there was an email on the invite, because I thought I’d email her and say … something. But no, only a phone number. And I was still too much of a coward to attempt a phone conversation. In the end, my mom called the number to RSVP for me that I wasn’t coming … it was her mom’s number anyway, so she told X’s mom that I had moved and was married. Eep. I can imagine how that went down. I probably didn’t mention that X’s mom had never liked me, from day one.
So anyway, I’ve been trying to psych myself up to write to her for months. I don’t even know what to say. I do feel guilty but I don’t really want to repair or maintain this farce of a friendship. She has generally only called when she needed something from me, and I have called back from a sense of duty and, well, pity. She has confided in me, but I have not really confided in her for years, mainly because such problems as I have had (aside from losing loved ones) seem trivial beside the everyday suckiness that is her life. And the big losses, well, when I tried talking to her about the loss of my dad (that I adored), mainly I heard about her loss of her dad (that she hated and didn’t miss at all). So we weren’t really in a mutually supportive sort of relationship, at the best of times.
Wow, what a ramble. Did any of you make it to the end? I don’t know even know what sort of advice I’m looking for. I guess I’m wondering … do I have a duty to her? Should I write to her? And what on earth would I even say?