This morning when I logged onto the computer, I had a message that I wasn't prepared for. Months ago, I contacted an old friend of mine and she responded, but i haven't heard from her since. Today, I received another email from her, and when I saw her name staring me back from my inbox, a surge of joy spread through me. An old friend, someone I shared a great deal of time with in a very extreme environment, where we clasped arms and walked down the street, a friend with whom I shared a closeness and bond so strong we purchased friendship rings and wore them faithfully. She is someone whom has never left my head...or my heart. And yet, we haven't been in touch since 1995, when I last visited her and she told me that she wasn't in a plce at that moment in time in which she could be my friend. It was hard, yes, but honest. And it wasn't that I wasn't someone she didn't want to be friends with, more that she was experiencing things in her own life that couldn't allow her to be a good friend to me. And so, we broke contact. And still, I thought of her often.
So, there was her name, staring back at me. Like I said, I felt joy that she was again willing to try anew with our relationship. But then, I read the email. And the joy turned to pain and sadness as she told her story of struggles in her life, and her numerous suicide attempts, and how she is, at this moment, planning yet another suicide. She remarked on the fact that she hasn't been in contact sooner, because she has nothing good to offer me, and that she is sorry. As I reread her email again and again, I was struck with the nostalgia of our friendship, the beauty we shared as two women scarred with different issues, yet both searching together to find a place for us in the world. And we did find that place, within each other, and the boundaries of our friendship. But now, that place has been removed, and her struggles are taking over her life, and she can see no way out of the hellhole other than an end to her own life.
When I was younger, I moved to LA. It was not out of excitement for trying out the California lifestyle or wanting to check out another new state on the map. It was a move from sheer need, as I was at a down point in my life and knew that if I didn't do something, I would be gone. I needed help. So, I sought out help after contemplating suicide myself, being so disgusted with the person I was that I could no longer stand to be held in the confines of her body. At that point in my life, my weight issues, which I had dealt with daily from the time I was young, hadd become too much for me to bear. And they were causing an outgoing, fun, beautiful person to become angry, bitter, ugly, and self-conscious. I stayed to myself. I turned into a recluse and hated who I was. When I finally came to terms with the fact that I was headed down the wrong road, I searched out someplace I could get help, dealing with my weight and all the issues that surrounded it. And I found a treatment center in California that dealt specifically with people just like me. So, I rounded up the money from my savings, asked friends to borrow, and bought a plane ticket, leaving my little pooch behind with my parents. I planned to stay about 6 weeks, the allotted amount of time for the treatment program, give or take a few, but I ended up staying over a year. I learned a lot about myself during that time, and the therapy we took part in was intense. I ended up staying nearly 3 months in the treatment center, and after I found a job with one of the men who was also a patient at the center. It was an inpatient treatment center for all eating disorders, from obesity to bulimia and anoerexia. And those people I met during my time in the hospital became very close friends. They knew me from inside out, the very core of my feelings, things that had happened in my lfie that nobody else to this day still knows. It was what I needed, and I started feeling acceptance and love and a genuine desire to live after my stay at the facility. It was here that I met my friend I now speak of, and though I dealt with being overweight, she dealt with bulimia. And though I still suffer from being overweight, she still suffers from bulimia. Eating disorders are not quick to cure. However, I have found happiness, comfort, and my place in the world (at least to some extent...I still have those days where my weight issues are sincere struggles), while my friend has not. She still feels unworthy of hope. She feels unworthy of life. And she feels alone, and scared, and in pain.
So, I wrote her an email back, reminding her of why I thought she was worthy of my friendship, why I care about her, why I hope she will reconsider her suicide plans and try again to find happiness and pece with her life. I told her that she was reaching out by writing to me, that she is strongbecause her body ahs not yet given up, and that I still truly and sincerely care about her. All the while, I was thinking back to walking down the streets of LA with her, arms joins, as we made our way to our favorite frozen yogurt shop, or ducked into a shop to look at the beautiful hand-blown glass. I felt the comfort I had with her, the acceptance, the love, the knowing she was there for me as I was for her...and I didn't know how to tell her, through her pain, how very much she is worth, how much this world needs her, how much she has to offer. To tell her that it really will be okay. That I want to be here for her, that I want to be her friend, that I want to help her through this time. All the years and years she has been abusing not only her body, but also her soul...that we can make it all okay. But how do i tell her, how can I assure her, how can I be the light that helps her shine?
Being a friend is an honor. And I am honored that, even through her pain and all the years that separate us, she has turned to me. I hope beyond hope, that I can help her see that she is worth it.