It is possible that I up until tonight I have underestimated how much I’ve been missing my best friend. I thought that I could do this life thing without her present but that isn’t true. I’ve needed her and she’s needed me and in truth we just haven’t really been there for each other in the past few months. We’ve kind of both been drowning in our own lives and instead of reaching out to each other, we shut ourselves off. We let isolation wrap its self around us and forgot how our friendship has always been the thing that has kept is relatively fixed to the world. It has been at times, the only reason I have survived the last 10 years.
I met C over 10 years ago now and although we both went to the same high school our social groups were entirely separate. We didn’t talk to each other before our third year into school when we both ended up attending the same youth grief group. Initially it was our loss that had thrown us together but as the months passed on our friendship grew. We sat outside smoking, ranting, laughing…because despite how crappy our respective lives felt to be, we could still laugh. We both had a cynicism and a dark humour that essentially allowed us to breathe and be ourselves rather than meeting the expectations to be better or positive or appear to be coping. When we were together we could just be honest.
As time went on, it was always her that I turned to.
When things got worse, we saw it out together. We didn’t believe that things were necessarily going to get better and we didn’t try to tell each other that either. We said it as we saw it and sometimes that was nothing more than agreeing that sometimes life, for no explicable reason, was just shit.
When I got unwell she was there and when she got unwell I was there.
She went with me to doctors appointments, talked me out of hiding when I ran away from home, made phone calls when things became unmanageable, got angry on my behalf, drunk with me when anger failed to make it better. Basically everything that exists in a best friends job description, she fulfilled. I did the same for her too.
Then something happened. Life got in the way. Schedules became busier and we began to drift.
And then once the eating disorder strengthened it’s grip on me, I began to turn away. I wanted to keep the eating disorder to myself and I think that if I had let her see me, if I had let her in even a little bit then she would have known. She would have called me out on my bullshit. I wasn’t ready to hear that. Of course she knew something was going on but it was a place I was not prepared to go with her. Even now I hate how I choose protecting Anorexia over being honest with my best friend.
I saw her a couple of weeks before I went into treatment and a few times whilst I was there, but the me that had somehow survived the rest of my mental health problems, didn’t quite survive this time. I let the distance grow. I let the aloneness that I felt get in the way of actually letting go of the disorder. I clung on to it. I’m still clinging on to it. It wasn’t just me though. She has many challenges that she faces in her life too, ones that cause her to turn inwards because somehow neither of us have learnt how to quite deal with overwhelming emotions or talking when things became too hard. We’re better at it but we’re still not that great.
Despite all the distance though every time we did meet up over the last couple of years, we always fell back into step. We picked up were we had left off without a slight beat missed. I think that’s how you know how amazing a friendship is, when time becomes meaningless. One of the good things though to come out of me staying at the parents though is that we are both closer to each other. We’ve started meeting up after work for a drink every few days or at least one a week and I swear in those moments it’s the only time I can feel like the real me without having to hide behind a mask. I can just let it all go when I’m with her. I didn’t realise how much I’d been holding everything in, especially these last few weeks until tonight when suddenly I felt like I snapped. I ranted and swore and laughed in between. Every little thought that has been running through my head no longer stayed silent and my god it felt so good. To be heard, not judged and offered no platitudes but simple understanding is something that I have been missing.
So I guess what my point is is that friendship is such an important thing. It is important for the soul, for healing and for living. I know how much an Eating Disorder can shut your life down and in the process cut off anyone that has ever cared about you. Don’t let it. Don’t let it take something else from you. Make a connection with your person again. Let them in because they are your person for a reason. Do it now! Call them.
I hope you are being good to yourselves.