I had something happen this past Saturday, which took me by surprise and triggered grief.
First a little background.
I’ve been part of my “home” faith community for the 18 years it’s existed as such, and was part of the church organization we realized wasn’t in alignment with what we were learning about God and Jesus. I had become a member of that “church” after being introduced by a woman I considered my best friend and who I always expected to be friends with. When my current faith community split off, she went back and forth between the two.
Even though I’ve been involved with it since it began, I haven’t been consistently involved until about the last five years, with the last three having me become a known and involved part of the community. I could name a multitude of “reasons.” However, all of those reasons fall under the umbrella of my mental and emotional instability due to the undiagnosed and untreated Bipolar II Disorder and PTSD.
Unfortunately, those things didn’t just make me an inconsistent presence in the faith community, they also made me an inconsistent and erratic friend, mother, and relationship partner.
Which brings me to the next part of the story.
Around the same time as the new faith community was forming, I was returning to the “church” after having broken up, for the first time, with the man who would be my toxic partner in codependence for nearly 20 years and who is still in my life today because we are co-parenting my youngest child.
My best friend was there when he and I met. She watched when I had him move in with me two months after we met. She saw the emotional fall out from our first break up and helped me pick up some of my broken pieces.
That pattern would continue and escalate for the next ten years.
I would break up with him. I would start doing better. I would crash and burn. I would turn back to him. Things would escalate until there was a catalyst. I would break up with him.
This happened six or seven times during the last 10 years of my 15 year friendship with her. Each time it happened, I relied more and more heavily on her to help me deal with the transition. In a sense she became my rescuer.
The last break up before our friendship ended was followed by a five month manic episode brought on by taking an anti-depressant and having it trigger the manic part of my bipolar brain. By the end of that five months, when the crash came, the wreckage and damage done to my relationships with my children was so profound, I thought my son would reject me forever and that my daughter would do the same as soon as she could.
I was in a situation where I didn’t see any way out, except to turn back to him and have him rescue me financially. Which, of course led to us getting back together.
She stopped answering the phone. She didn’t return my messages. I was cut off the way a diseased limb is amputated. I was a toxic person bringing drama and chaos everywhere that I went. She had to make the best decision for herself and her own well-being. I understand that now.
Six years later, my little girl was born and I needed someone to take care of my baby while I was working part-time. I got her oldest daughter to be the caregiver. She and her husband were, are, really good parents. I trusted them with my baby. I also think that part of me thought, hoped, that I would have a chance to reconnect with my friend, who I still loved . . . who had been the closest thing to family that I’d had up to that point in my life. She made sure that never had a chance to happen.
All of that ended about six or seven years ago . . . again because of issues with the man.
Fast-forward to the present.
I had put the worship team’s chart books together and was hanging out while they got set up. The worship leader, out of the blue, asked me how my friend was. I was taken aback. The truth is I still don’t have any friends I spend much, if any, face to face time with. My most trusted and safest friends are all geographically incompatible. So, we support each other via FB Messenger, text, and phone.
I gave him a confused, “what friend?” response.
He started describing her and with the first thing he said, her name popped out of my mouth. I hadn’t thought about in so long, I didn’t even know when the last time had been.
So, I tried to give him an abbreviated version of the story. Another member of the team contributed to the conversation, asking if I’d done my amends to give her closure and if I’d come to terms with it. I was certain I’d come to terms with it and said as much.
Ten minutes later, I was crying.