“Depending on the reality one must face, one may prefer to opt for the illusion.” Judith Guest, Ordinary People
Before I hung up the phone she blurted out “Good luck with your boring life, maybe you should get a life.” I did not say a word as I hung up the phone, there was no use, she would never understand. There were many responses circulating in by brain, but for once in my life I shut my mouth as I knew she was hurting and the hurt was within herself, something she could not process so she attacked me personally.
I was certain the verbal attack on my so-called boring life gave her some immediate satisfaction and the anger toward me sustained her in the life she was currently living. However, I knew beyond a doubt that the train she was riding was going to crash and crash hard. I said a simple prayer that she was able to jump off the train safely before the train tumbled off the tracks.
That unfortunate conversation was the last time I talked to her for five years. I never once picked up the phone to see how she was and neither did she pick up the phone to re-connect with me. A friendship that had been since high school over in one instant.
For ages I knew that our friendship had drifted, she was living a completely different life than me, a life that I simply couldn’t watch from the sidelines. I needed to come clean about how I felt about her self-destructive lifestyle.
The alcohol abuse started innocently enough, one drink, two and another and another and she started to really enjoy being out of control. I, on the other hand, had seen enough alcohol abuse amongst family members and I was always in full control of my mind and body. Eventually the alcohol wasn’t enough for her and she started experimenting with cocaine. It didn’t take long before she was completely out of control and trying to talk to her about the path she was taking was fruitless as she was not ready to listen to reason, she was hell bent on riding that train.
Five years after our conversation about her abuse and the consequences I believed she would face, the phone rang. I was in a rush and on my way out of the house and I quickly stopped to grab the phone. The first words out of the woman’s mouth on the other end was “don’t hang up, please don’t hang up, just listen to what I have to say and then if you want to hang up then you certainly have that right. It was her and I could hear the desperation in her voice. She told me that she didn’t want to talk over the phone and would I consider meeting her for lunch. I agreed to meet her for lunch and set a date for the following week.
We met for lunch and the start of the conversation was awkward as we sat across from each other not saying very much. I had already decided that I wasn’t going to talk as I really wanted to listen to what she had to say. Finally after ordering our food and we put the menus aside she said, “now the reason why we are here.””The road I was on was so bad and I’ve been so low and hung out with people who were at their wits ends. I was there too and I realized that once I hit rock bottom, I needed to experience that place in hell in order to get myself back on my feet. Once I was on my feet and taking control of my life, I thought of you. Everything you said to me, the way you tried to help me find myself and the way you tried to build my confidence. I wasn’t ready, I was on my way down and no one could stop me. I hated you, I hated what you said to me, I didn’t want to hear it and I hated you for saying it. I want you to know that I no longer hate you and I’m slowly finding my way back and I hope you would consider being my friend.”
I sat in complete silence and really didn’t have much to say. She said she wanted my friendship but what she really wanted was my forgiveness. After we sat and stared at each other for several minutes, I told her that I was never angry with her and always considered her a friend and that I thought highly of her. It was because of our friendship that I told her how I felt during that unfortunate phone conversation and I told her I just could not watch a friend destroy herself. I told her she owed me nothing, she didn’t owe me an apology and that everything she owed she owed to herself and that I hoped and prayed she found happiness. As far as our friendship, I said “we’ve always been friends, we just took a little break.”
We both laughed at that comment and we talked for hours catching up on our lives. Not once did I ask her about her fall from grace and not once did she go back to that last phone conversation. As she talked about her life, I realized that she had embraced ordinary and her now “boring life” as she put it, was her saviour and healer as she cleansed her spirit of the dark forces that almost destroyed her from within.