Saturday, June 28, 2003

Painful Lesson



John* has worked in the same store in town for as long as I can remember. His father George owned and ran the store, and took John on as his partner before I was born. He's been a fixture in town and in my life for so long, that John told me he actually remembers seeing my Dad change my diaper on top of his car one day, in typical fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants and get it done Dad fashion. Since I've known him forever, and especially since our Dads knew each other and were all pretty friendly, he's got a special place in my heart.



Having said that, I know that he's got a special place in the heart of the people in town, too, because they all love to make fun of him behind his back. John's a little bit quirky, specifically in the area of vocal tics and personal hygiene. Okay, I'm being kind here. He's got a couple of phrases that he uses over and over, sort of like, "That's the ticket!", which you can insert into any conversation a number of times, and which he does, to the point of absurdity. Everyone has apparently picked up on this, and on an average week, you will hear at least one person use on of his pat phrases, and it's obvious that it's an attempt to poke fun at John. I have to add here that not all of this is done cruelly - some people seem to think that it's just a funny little quirk, and the mocking is done almost affectionately, but others are definitely very cruel about it, especially when they delve into the area of his less-than-ideal personal grooming habits.



I am ashamed to admit that with certain friends and co-workers, I have joined in laughing about some comments about John, particularly when the subject was the phrases he uses over and over, but sometimes also when the comments were not very nice, but concerned things that just seem particularly absurd. For example, the question of why he will not go to a dentist, despite the really VERY obvious need, and the clear lack of financial woes keeping him from visiting the dentist chair, has come up frequently among people I know. It's gotten to the point where it's the first thing you notice about him, and even a casual observer would say, "Damn, boy, go to a dentist already!", especially since he works in a store and has constant contact with the public.



I've sometimes chided myself after having one of these gossipy moments, thinking, "John is one of your oldest acquaintances, and how would he feel if he heard you saying that?" I immediately vow not to join into such conversations again, but always seem to revert back to smiling or laughing along. Oh, what's a harmless little joking around?



This morning, two of my co-workers were ripping people up and down in my presence, one co-worker with whom I have a pretty cordial relationship, Friendly Clueless Guy, and another, the Cruel One, with whom things have always been rocky, because he's got a cruel sense of humor. Alongside the Cruel One sat his friend, Snide, who used to work with us, and who had stopped by to visit. I was disappointed by how cruel they were being about the people they were talking about, all of whom were known to me, and in the course of things, they took a turn mocking John's dental problems. I asked them, in all seriousness, if they thought it had gotten worse, or was it just me? The cruel one said something typically scathing about John, and I admit that it was humorous in the context, and I laughed.



They moved onto other victims, and I had the feeling that the Cruel One was kind of showing off in front of his friend Snide a bit. As they continued, one comment seemed particularly rude, and I kind of groaned, as if to say, "Oh, that was harsh." At that point, the Cruel One turned to me and said, "Just wait until =you= leave the room," and my so-called friend Clueless Guy laughed and said, "Yeah - no one is safe."



It hit me like a slap across the face, and I quickly made an excuse to get out of the room before they saw me get upset. How could I be so dumb? Of COURSE they say cruel things about everyone else, so why should I escape their scathing scrutiny? And, with the lovely low self-esteem issues raging through my veins, I immediately began imagining the very things that they would be attacking me for the second I was out of ear shot. The blood was pumping in my ears, I was crying so hard, and I was overcome by such a feeling of shame. Shame at the things they were saying, shame that I had trusted the Friendly Clueless Guy with any personal information that he could use against me in these slamming sessions, and mostly ashamed that I had ever participated in such talk about others. And shock, that even though I know the Cruel One is such a neurotic bundle of personal issues and cruelty towards others, he could say such a mean thing TO MY FACE. How many people would say to your face that they were about to rip you up the second you left the room? And not mean it as a joke?



Intellectually, I know that this is his problem, and Friendly Clueless Guy and Snide are just spineless joiners-in. I shouldn't worry about what they think of me, since their opinion of people is low overall. Emotionally, I am still recovering from the body blow of meanness, but moreso, from the realization that I have been a spineless joiner-in as well, and that passive acceptance of cruel gossip is just as bad as being the one to start it - because either role is equally painful to the subject of the gossip. And in order to be able to continue to look John in the face, and to be able to respect myself just the teensiest bit more, I have to nip this nasty habit in the bud.



*Names and certain details have been changed to protect the maligned.

Friday, June 27, 2003

Hospital Buddy



J's mom had to have some really serious surgery this week, and thank God, she's come through it well. She was supposed to have it done the week before, but then the pre-operative testing showed that the problem was MUCH bigger than first thought, so they got all ready for it one time, and then had to deal with it being postponed for a week. It's been really hard for J and his brother, as they both live about 4 1/2 hours away from their mom, and her hospital is another hour and 1/2 away from her house, so the driving back and forth and taking time off from work has been really draining. Not to mention the emotional toll of worrying about whether or not she should have the surgery, and if she would survive the first 24 hours afterwards.



J lost his Dad to the same problem his mom has, and both of my parents are gone, so we're both veterans of the hospital wars. J tends to suffer things alone, and will let you know when he needs help, and appreciates it if someone offers help but accepts his "No, thank you" as his final answer. I asked if he would like me to be there with him, but he said that he would rather do it on his own (his brother would actually be there too, so he wouldn't be totally alone). I accepted that, and I've been trying to be helpful and supportive long distance, by doing little chores for him and bringing in the mail and stuff while he's gone.



It's been hard not going up there to be with him during all this, because when I have a loved one in the hospital, I crave supportive company. When each of my parents died, I really wanted someone , to listen to me talk about how I felt, make sure that I was taking care of myself enough to last through the crisis, and to help me see the big picture when I needed advice. It was even helpful to have someone in the hospital to go get me a cup of coffee or run an errand or make a phone call, when I wanted to stay by my parent's bedside.


The trick to being a good hospital buddy is to pay attention to all the little signals, and know when to talk and when to listen, when to shut up and read and when it's time to go home and let the patient sleep, etc. etc. I wish J knew that I wouldn't make a nuisance of myself, and I might even be helpful to have around. But I know this isn't "about" me, and he needs to do things his way. It's not about how I want to help him, it's about how he needs to do it. Still, I've been going stir crazy worrying long distance and feeling impotent, because I know that I'm a good hospital buddy.



I've gotten really good at doing the hospital thing, since I've seen most of my family members in the hospital close to death at some point. I even had a little hospital bag ready during some crises, with the basics you need for sitting around in the ER or hospital room when someone is really ill. Just in case you ever have need of this kit, here are the essentials:



  • Something mindless to read, because you won't really be able to pay attention to anything deep, but you need to occupy yourself while they bring the patient out for tests, or make their bed, or do something so invasive that you are sent out of the room for privacy. And if your loved on is in any shape to read, bring them something to read to, because you will run out of things to talk about, and they will need to be distracted from staring at the machines and IV stands and all that scary stuff.


  • You should bring a small non-perishable snack, like a protein bar or something, because you will be sitting around at all odd hours waiting for test results and such, and you will feel too guilty to go have a proper meal, even though you are getting testy from hunger.


  • You also need to keep lots of $1 bills and change, for parking and vending machines. Whoa unto the person sitting at the parking garage gate without the right change, the parking token, whatever they want from you. The people behind you WILL NOT CARE if your loved one just passed or you are stopping by to see someone who just had a baby, they will go medieval on your ass for making them wait while you fish for coins. Prepare yourself.


  • If you find somewhere to get coffee, get extra napkins and whatever sweetener you use, so you have extras just in case. At some point, you will be tempted to get the vending machine coffee, which brings every one of its victims one day closer to death, but you will do it anyway, since you are tired and bored, and believe me, you will happy you hoarded those extra sugar packets.


  • Bring extra dosages of whatever medicine you take, because you will be stuck there well past your next dosage time, guaranteed.


  • And most important, get a small pillow or a head rest of some sort, because hospitals suck all of the oxygen out of the air, and you will be sitting in the most uncomfortable plastic seat ever, and the air conditioning and awkward positions you fall asleep in sitting up will leave you with excruciating neck pain if you don't.


  • There will be more traveling back and forth as J's Mom recuperates, and I'm determined not to push my agenda on him, but instead to try to hold back, and help in the ways he wants. I'm sure there will be more blogging on this topic as things go on.


    Wednesday, June 18, 2003

    My Maine Adventure


    There we were, sitting around the small formica table in the low income housing section of town, eating store brand crackers, Cheez Whiz, and cake, downing it all with beer, celebrating my uncle's birthday. My aunt and uncle must've met our hostess,their friend Ann, while drinking down at the "Amvet's", because I couldn't figure out any other way that their paths would have crossed. She seemed like a nice enough person, a salt-of-the-earth sort of woman, who'd been kicked around by life for years, but who would give you her very last crackers and Cheez Whiz if you stopped by to talk and laugh with her.


    Middle aged and older people dressed in flannel and jeans with varying amounts of teeth seemed to mill in and out of the house, all being greeted by the people at the table, so I assumed that this was the normal course of events in that house. A man with the least amount of teeth present, who slightly resembled a much older Dave Mason, kindly showed me where the refrigerator was, so I could store the milk we'd purchased just before unexpectedly stopping by. The birthday cake, a homemade blueberry concoction, arrived with a woman from across the street. She said that she made the cake especially for my uncle. She had another woman with her, older and rather unkempt, who shyly presented my uncle with a present, a used Bic lighter. I was proud of my uncle for being so very gracious when he accepted it from her, as if it was a precious family heirloom. My uncle had a kind heart, that was for certain.


    My aunt leaned over and told me in a stage whisper that this woman was "not right in the head", forgetting for a moment that with my background and life experiences, I should be able to spot any loony from several miles away. She was also incredibly kind and accepting of people, so I figured she was just trying to warn me away from any discomfort, which was considerate. Still, they both had a tendency towards over-explaining the obvious to me, as if since I wasn't a Maine native, there would be no way for me to understand events without a guide. It was to such an extreme sometimes that If I didn't know that it was all coming "from a good place", that they truly meant well, I would have been incredibly insulted by being spoken to as if I were simple.


    I did my best to nurse my one beer for as long as possible, having accepted it only to be polite. Something about the surroundings made me feel like I should stay on my toes, and the lack of creature comforts made me think that if I had another beer, I was most likely depriving someone else of one, someone who needed it far worse than I did. Although, as time went by, and the conversation continued on and on about the ailments of people I didn't know, I was tempted to throw caution and consideration to the wind and down as many beers as would take me away from that place. But I stuck with my original plan.


    The conversation finally made its way around to other things besides ailments, and Ann told me that she had a bag of sweaters up in her room that she was selling, and that I was welcome to go look through them, if I wanted to. She was selling them for $1 a piece, and I felt that it would be impolite not to take her up on her offer, not to mention that the woman could probably use a couple of dollars, so I went up to look. I only intended to go up and pretend to look, but I walked into her bedroom to find the Dave Mason guy lying on the bed, watching tv, with his ashtray carefully balanced on his chest.


    At first, I was very uncomfortable about being alone in the bedroom with him, because it seemed weird to be in a stranger's bedroom with this old toothless man. But since the door was wide open, and he was friendly enough, I started to figure that he must be fairly harmless. Besides, I reasoned that he and the hostess must have some kind of thing going on, or what the hell was this guy doing hanging around her house? And surely he wouldn't do anything untoward with his "old lady" right down the stairs. As I was thinking all this, he cheerfully waved me over to the closet where the sweaters were, and then I felt compelled to actually root around in the bag and make a show of looking over these garish, badly pilled sweaters. He implored me to dump them out onto the bed so I could get a good look, and out came the nightmare clothing, sweatshirts with iron-on pictures of birds, kitties and cutesy nonsense, along with the acrylic cheap sweaters from hell. I picked out the three least offensive sweaters, and brought them downstairs, and everyone seemed very pleased as I handed over $3. Oh, and lucky me, it turned out that another guest, Donna, had a similar pile of sweaters for sale at her trailer, and we would be stopping by there the next day, so I could look through those, too. And while we were going to be there, she would show us her legendary doll collection.


    Shortly after the sweater adventure, still sitting around with beer and cake, I saw an unusual parade of young people come in the back door and make their way upstairs to visit with the Dave Mason guy. Guys, girls, white and black, about four or five altogether. It struck me as particularly unusual, even given the loose door policy of the house, because none of the people coming in said hello, as all the others had, and no one at the table paid them the slightest bit of attention, either. After about 5 or so minutes, the group of them all trooped down the stairs and out the front door, again without a word of greeting.


    After hours of visiting, we finally said our goodbyes, and I was able to convince my aunt and uncle to stop at a late night Chinese food take-out place, because I was starving from avoiding eating the few crackers and beers little those poor people had to offer. During the drive towards the life-reviving boneless spare ribs, they explained to me that the Dave Mason guy was living out in a trailer in Ann's back yard, and that she let him come in and watch tv. Since he looked to be very cozy in her bedroom, I asked if there was more to their relationship than just friends, and they said that she wasn't telling, and they weren't asking. I drew my own conclusions.


    Since I was getting the lowdown on this arrangement anyway, I ventured to ask how Ann felt about this guy dealing drugs out of her house. I have never seen my uncle's head whip around that fast before or since. What on earth was I talking about? It became my turn to explain the obvious to them. I relayed the events I'd observed, particularly the strange parade of kids who came through the house, walking so close to our table as to actually have bumped into someone's chair in passing, and asked them how they could possibly have not noticed that, nor guessed at what was going on there? My uncle, the man who went ballistic when he so much as suspected my grown cousin of smoking pot in his house, and who howled about how disrespected he felt for that, had never imagined that he was whiling away the hours in a house where drug deals were rather blatantly conducted. Amazing.


    In hindsight, it was pretty satisfying to realize that they stopped speaking to me like a simpleton after that night.

    Tuesday, June 17, 2003

    Three Fell Into the Cuckoo's Nest



    Whenever it becomes obvious to someone that I am behaving awkwardly about something most people take for granted, I jokingly explain it away to people by saying that I was raised by wolves. This statement is not fair to my father, who did the best he could with a bad situation, but there was only so much he could do. Even with the best of intentions, a lot of things fell through the cracks.


    For example, after all these years, simple things like inviting someone over to my home still seem foreign, since we NEVER had company at home growing up. Well, not on purpose. If some hapless person came by the apartment and assumed, as people seem to do, that it would be normal to be invited inside, we would do everything in our power to keep them outside. For one reason, the place was usually a sty, since there were four packrats living in a two bedroom apartment, and cleanliness often fell by the wayside. But the second, and more important reason, was that my mother was in there.


    Mom was mentally ill, and had been my entire life. I never knew the woman that my grandmother and aunts described, the intelligent, vivacious dancer with a beautiful singing voice. The woman I knew was a paranoid, unkempt, chain-smoking schizophrenic, who alternated between moments of clarity, where she cried because she wasn't able to mother us the way she wanted to, to moments of complete selfishness and delusion. From catatonia to screaming and slamming pans against the walls, we lived through it all together in that small apartment, and our dark humor was the only thing that got us by.


    Very few people knew about our secret apartment life, because we were resilient, humorous and friendly in the outside world. My Dad was the cheeriest guy you'd ever want to meet. Very few people knew about the mad harpy he had to go home to, or all the pressure that his poor sickly heart was under. My brother was a funny fat kid, who escaped the house as often as possible. I was cheery like my Dad, did well in school, and avoided bringing friends home by making few close friends. I didn't even realize that I never spoke of my mother as a child, until one fellow grammar school student told me that she thought my mother must be dead, since my father was the only one who ever came to school, and I never once mentioned a mother. I was ashamed that we had this crazy person in our home, that we had to protect from the world. It was too difficult to describe to other little kids, especially since I wasn't completely sure what was going on myself, so I would just work around the issue in every way possible. I didn't realize what a good actress I was becoming, showing one face to the world, and living a completely different emotional life.



    I know that there are people with horrible stories of abuse to tell, and I try to keep our family life in perspective. It's not like we were being burned with cigarettes and molested, I completely understand the difference. We were loved and cared for, and occasionally other dysfunctional family members would try to pitch in and help my Dad out. But the emotional wreckage that was borne over years of living in that complicated situation is still coming up in unexpected ways, informing the ways my brother and I behave at work, in relationships - in ragged self-esteem issues galore.



    How I wished that Dad was able to be a selfish bastard and have her committed to some institution! I know that it wasn't an option, considering the quality of the "institutions" available and the guilt that he would have felt denying his marriage vow of "in sickness and in health", but damn, the consequences of three people walking on eggshells around one mentally ill person for years on end are still being felt, years and years later. Basically, my brother and I were raised in an insane asylum from which there was no asylum.



    Sometimes now, when my brother and I are alone, we laugh as we reminisce about the insanity we lived through. It's something that we do alone, because experience has taught us that people think that we are exaggerating our experiences, or they try to pooh-pooh our feelings about them. Worst still, they feel deep pity for us, or think that we are cruel when we indulge in some black humor about the situtation. Hey, it was laugh or go crazy, and we did a little of both.



    I'm open with most of my friends about my upbringing, because I've learned that my mother's illness is not my shame, but I don't go into details with very many people. Most people really do not want to know about it, and I don't have that great a need to ruin their nice day with my moldy old classics, like "The Day Mom Was Writing Out Her Suicide Note When I Came In From Playing With My Friends", or "The Day Mom Was Talking On The Phone With Grandma, And Accused My Father Of Molesting Me." Whew boy, those sure are classics, but since she is dead, and that was my former life, there is usually no reason to tell people these disturbing things. (Oh, except for the entire internet, that is. LOL)



    J knows the parts of the story that I think are pertinent to his understanding where I came from, and to understand when sometimes old ghosts come back to haunt me, but I haven't even told him those two old chestnuts, because it was bad enough that we had to go through that stuff, no sense putting the details of these mental images into yet another brain. We do sometimes talk about the (now) funny OCD things she used to do, like the incessant counting of things, the way she would yell at people who would call on the phone during the "wrong" hour of the day, the complaining about mundane noises, like clocks ticking, birds chirping and planes flying overhead (because they were signals that THEY were plotting something against her and her family), and a host of stories about her insane friends that would come over and make our family life so very special. Apparently, I've learned the knack of telling these stories in an entertaining way, because the few who I feel comfortable telling them to will usually howl uproariously along with me. Now, some of the stories are quite funny, because they are so absurd. You can't make this shit up. Well, I guess you could, but I'm not.



    Thursday, June 05, 2003

    Uncongratulations


    I can't believe that I heard the news about Lydia's wedding from Sandy, who heard it from Janet. She's not my problem any more, I know, but I have to wonder what the hell happened to the person who was once my best friend and confidante. I may never understand it.


    The back story starts here: Over a period of about five months, Lydia went Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, and our once close friendship disintegrated to the point that I had to ask her to move out of my house. That was at the end of 2001, after months of increasingly alarming and irrationally controlling behavior on her part, and moving from being sympathetic and supportive to defensive and frightened on my part. The last few days she lived in my house were excruciating. We'd been friends for so many years - I was devastated that her personal problems had become so all-encompassing, that she couldn't even see how irrationally she was behaving. It was really scary towards the end, and I began to fear for my safety. I cried bitterly in the shower every morning, knowing that she was falling apart, and there was nothing I could do to help anymore, because she was lying to her therapist about whatever was really the problem, and was busy making me the cause of her troubles. How can you help someone who blames you for their breakdown? I couldn't.


    After she moved out, we only spoke on the phone a couple of times, and I'll admit that I was so angry that I was not able to forgive her immediately, as many times as she begged, pleaded and demanded that I do so. I said that I needed time to get over all the ugly things that had gone on over the last few months, knowing full well that if I didn't keep in frequent contact with her at that point, she would shut me out of her life for good. I let her do just that, for the sake of my own sanity.


    I heard through the grapevine that she'd met some guy a few days after her move out of my house was complete, and then that she moved in with him a few months after that, and that she'd become engaged a few more months down the road. I can't help but think to myself that this is awfully short work for someone who I witnessed falling to pieces a very short while before this meeting occured. How on earth did she get herself together to go out and meet this guy? What was he smoking that he couldn't see her mental condition at that point? Of course, I've heard that this guy was going through a miserable divorce of his own at that time, and battling for custody of his teenage son (which he won), so I have to wonder what kind of meat tenderizing hammer marks were left on both of their souls when they hooked up. It's either a blessing from God, or the worst mutual case of being on the rebound, ever.


    Now, when I said being on the rebound, I know that some of you sharp readers are leaping to the conclusion, Aha! Lydia was Carrie's lover! No, no, emphatically no. Not that there's anything wrong with that, in a Seinfeldian aside. It's a little more complicated than that. I can't say what she was thinking, since I don't know the real answer, and I won't be calling Lydia (not her real name, btw) any time soon to ask, but I had some disturbing inklings that there was more to her downward spiral than the reasons she put forward.


    Some pretty disturbing things came out towards the end of our friendship, when the showdowns were more and more frequent, and the one that made me most queasy was that she said she considered us "soulmates", and that her therapist told her that we had been in a "love relationship", even though it wasn't a physical one. !!! Oh, to have been a fly on the wall in those sessions. What the HELL was she telling that woman? Or did Lydia make that crap up? It was tough to tell the truth from her fiction by that point, anyway.


    Ooooooh, I thought, that's why she was taking it so hard that I was falling in love with J, and spending more time with him. I knew that she had issues with women who drop their women friends as soon as Mr. Wonderful comes around, and I always thought that was pretty shitty myself, but I thought she was being incredibly unfair, anticipating my (bad) behavior before I'd actually done anything of that sort. "Give me a little credit!", I implored. We'd only gone out three times by the time she started in on me with all kinds of paranoid and rather insulting insinuations. She went on and on about before she knew it, he'd be over every night, and then soon she'd be looking for somewhere to live. That's not my style, and I was insulted that she assumed all kinds of bad behavior on my part, when she of all people should have known better.


    And then the demands began. I had to pick a day every week that was just hers, and I couldn't make plans with J that day. Uh, ooooohkaaaay. And I had to give her warning when I thought that he'd be stopping by. Okay, that's pretty reasonable. But then, because she was feeling Invaded that a MAN would be spending time in her home, (oh, heavens!), she would need to feel comfortable about his presence in her own time, and I wasn't to invite him home until SHE was comfortable with him being around, and she had to pick a public place where she would meet him, but it had to be somewhere she chose, I had to sit on the same side of the table as she was, I had to arrive at the diner and leave the diner WITH HER, definitely not with HIM, or she would feel like an abandoned third wheel...and on and on. The demands became more strange as time went on, and the crying and hysterics when her demands weren't met exactly as she stated were scary. All the while, I was keeping her behavior a secret from J, because I hoped that she would regain her sanity, and he wouldn't know what went on, so they could be friendly at some point. This was the balancing act of my life, keeping her insanity from corrupting my budding relationship with him.


    Then, the packing began. I would come home from work, and find a new area of the house rearranged, her things obviously packed up and moved into her bedroom, and MY things put into new places. Since she was getting so loopy and I was trying to pick my battles, I didn't get outwardly angry with her for moving my things around, but it was hurting my feelings that she was acting like I was attacking her, when in actuality I was walking on eggshells around her, hoping that this was all a kooky phase, and if I was kind and gentle with her, once she got comfortable with J, met him and saw that he was not the enemy, that she'd calm down. Apparently, I was just dreaming.


    The one that just really topped it all was when she dismantled MY computer and put it in a pile on the floor. Since it was my old Macintosh and we were kind of sharing her new PC at that point anyway, I suppose she thought it wouldn't bother me, but damn, to do such a thing without even asking first! I held my temper in check and asked why she'd taken my computer apart, and she said that it bothered her being so close to the door. Uh, oooohkaaaaay. [Insert cuckoo clock sound here.]


    The final straws were her waking me at odd hours of the night to discuss "our" problem, crying outside my bedroom door until I came out to talk to her, staging scenes where I was forced to choose between her and J, and then finally harassing me at work by phone and email, until I couldn't stand it ONE MORE DAY.


    Now that you know the background, you may understand why I was incensed for the first few moments after I heard that it took her all of three months to move in with some guy she met DAYS after moving out of my house. After accusing me of moving too fast in my relationship with J (who I'd know for a few weeks before we even got around to exchanging phone numbers), and harranging me daily about how upsetting that was to her, she went about setting land speed records for shacking up. Talk about the pot calling the kettle "Black!"


    Now, hearing yesterday that she married this guy last month makes me feel all kinds of emotions rolled into one. Why didn't she go on her Husband Quest before she attempted to drive me insane? Why take out her mental problems on me? And what the hell are these people in for, Mr. Just Got Out Of One Mess And Right Into Another, and Miss Control Freak See I'm Not Gay And Now I'm Married That Proves It? According to people who work with her, she's all drippy gooey with lovey-dovey talk on the phone with Mr. New Mess I've Gotten Myself Into, and they were "all over each other" in the store where they bumped into a mutual friend. Need to prove to the world that you are the most in love people ever, do you? That's fine if you are a teenager, or are standing on a bridge over a river in Paris. But really, this hanging all over each other and lovey-dovey crap sounds like such an act. Who are they trying to impress? Oh, whatever.


    Yes, YES, I know I sound bitter. I am surprised to see how angry I still am over these stupid things that happened so long ago. But it's that childish feeling of, "It's not FAIR" that keeps nagging me. She was so crappy to me when I finally found someone to be happy with, at precisely the time I really needed my best friend to talk with and giggle with about all that new boyfriend stuff, and I am still resentful about it. I guess that spiteful little payback beast inside me is what is keeping me from being happy for her that she has supposedly found what she was looking for, but to be fair (there's that word again), she put me through so much hell in such a short period, I can't imagine that even Lydia would expect me to be all sweetness and light about the news.


    This part makes no sense at all, but I'm going to say it anyway. I'm really pissed that I had to find out about her getting married through a third party, a month after the fact. All those years we were such good friends, or so I thought. I was supposed to be her maid of honor, helping with plans for her wedding, going to gown fittings and throwing the bachelorette party, all that stuff. It really smarts to find out this way, from the outside, after the fact. I supported her and helped her through her mother's death, her own cancer, depression, unemployment, romantic disappointments, you name it. And she helped me through personal tragedies galore, too. I thought we were the closest of friends, and that we would be buds until we were old. But when I found J, she was so terrified of the imagined abandonment, that she didn't have it in her heart to be happy for me. Shame on her for all that crazy shit, smothering me and then pushing me away like that. I tried my best to be a good friend to her, and I feel cheated.


    And shame on me, too, because I don't think I have it in my heart to be happy for her now, either. At least not yet.

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