Losing My Best Friends

December 12, 2007

When I was in 2nd grade, a new girl transferred to my school.  Her name was Laura.  Blonde and pretty, with the most fascinating Star Fairy’s coloring book, of which I was extremely jealous.  A few days after the beginning of school, she presented me with an uncolored page, ripped from the majestic coloring book, for my decorating pleasure.  Thus began our friendship.  We were soon playground and lunchroom pals, and by October we had exchanged birthday party invites.  Her party was at Showbiz Pizza (Chuck E Cheese’s predecessor) which, by second grade standards, was the mecca for birthday parties.  By the end of the school year we were inseperable, becoming regulars at one another’s homes, and declaring ourselves Best Friends.

In third and fourth grades we were elated on the first day of school to find out we would be in the same class.  We continued to be inseperable, talking on the phone for hours at a time and spending weekends at each other’s homes. 

In fifth grade, we were assigned to different classes, for the first time ever.  In fact, she got into the class with most of our friends, not to mention the “easier” teacher, a scenario that repeated itself the next August.  I thought it was the end of the world however, I soon began strengthening my friendships with some aquaintences that were in my new class, even spending time on the playground and lunchroom with my “new” friends.  Not sharing the same classroom with my friends for most of the day made me feel like I had nothing in common with them.  Laura and I still talked on the phone and had sleepovers, but things just weren’t the same.  Once, I was with her family, and her mom introduced me to someone as, “Laura’s best friend Alyson.”  Laura later took me aside and told me that her mom was wrong, Lisa was her best friend.   Her mom didn’t like Lisa, so Laura didn’t want to tell her.

The first year of junior high found it both assigned to “7-B”.  We were elated.  Our bond was solidified, and continued into the next year, when we were again assigned seperate classes.  Together we survived group science projects, first loves, parents, periods, and learning to apply makeup.  She was always trying to fit in with the older girls, and on the rare occasion that she found an “in” with them, she would promptly leave me in the dust.  Soon they would ditch her, and she and I would settle into our regular routine.  Although I was hurt by her actions, I never let it show, and I would always silently forgive her, glad to have her back.  We had our share of ups and downs, but always worked them out.

In high school we remained best friends, although I realize now our status was only in theory.  We still slept over and talked regularly, but things were different.  We ran with different crowds.  She began experimenting with drugs, alcohol and sex.  I was in honors classes, and she wasn’t.   Throughout 4 years of high school we only shared 1 class of 28 total.  However, we were still close, serving as club officers, sharing a graduation party and even going to prom together.  She would ditch me whenever something or someone “better” came along, or whenever she had a steady boyfriend, but I still considered her my best friend.  To me, that was just the way she was.

After high school, I attended the local university, while she attended a local community college.  I think she always mistakingly thought that I thought I was better than her because I went to a university.  If she would’ve only known that I yearned to go to the community college with her and our other friend. 

She dropped out of school after one semester, and delved further into the world of drugs.  As far as I know she just used pills and marajuana then.  I noticed her need for marajuana slowly taking her over.   She had became close with one of her co-workers, who’s boyfriend was a dealer, and she lived with them for a brief time.  I’ve heard marajuana isn’t addicting, per se, but I think she was addicted to it, if for nothing else than the feeling. 

One example of her marajuana obsession was when her roomate had a pregnancy scare.  She found out she wasn’t pregnant, and Laura said, “good, I was beginning to think we wouldn’t be able to get high together for 9 months”.  Getting high was of higher priority than her concern for a friend having a baby she didn’t want with a man she didn’t love.  Another time she and I stopped by the home of one of my co-workers.  She stayed in the car, refusing to come inside.  My friend tried to talk her into coming inside, so that I could stay longer without feeling guilty, and she told him, “do you have any pot, if you have some pot I’ll come in”.   

During this time I had began developing other friendships with co-workers and other aquaintences.  She was terribly jealous anytime she wanted me to do something with her and I couldn’t because I had other plans.  She often belittled me, or guilted me into letting her tag along.  She refused to see that I was doing to her exactly what she had been doing to me since we were children. 

I later began spending alot of time with her and her roomate/co-worker.  Most of our evenings consisted of hanging out watching movies or listening to music at their house while the two of them got high.  I didn’t do drugs, and usually my role was of babysitter to her roomate’s toddler son while they smoked in another room.  I spent nearly every weekend in their company.  One Friday night I was at their home, as was my ritual, and I noticed bags of marajuana stored haphazzardly under the edge of the sofa along with an ashtray full of “roaches” sitting in plain view.  By this time they had also relinquished all effort to try to keep the young boy from their habit, and I witnessed him sitting playing in a fog of secondhand pot smoke, as if it was the norm.  When I left, I did it as I had every other time, as their friend, all of us under the assumption that I would be back the next week.

On the drive home, my eyes were opened.  I realized that, if they were ever inspected by the authorities, and I was there, I would be right in the middle of it.  My friend’s recreational drug use became more that just something that I could overlook as her problem.   I realized that it could very easily become my problem, with me being arrested, or questioned by the authorities, for something that I had never even touched.  I also could not stand back and be accomplice to the level of parental negligence that was going on in that house.  Alone with my thoughts, I realized that I would never go back to the place where I had spent every weekend for the last 2 years.

A few weeks later I recieved word through a mutual friend that Laura and I weren’t speaking.  There was no fight, no phone call, no letter, no anything to end our 13 year friendship.  I simply didn’t call her nor she me.  I didn’t go to her home the next weekend, nor ever again.  I heard later through another mutual friend that Laura was mad at me because I didn’t invite her to go to a concert that I won tickets for shortly after the last time we saw each other.  She told them I had invited someone else, and not asked her.  At the time, I knew she and her roomate were already going to the concert, so I didn’t bother to ask her, although I did try to call her and tell her that I won them.   At first I was offended by her accusation, but I soon learned to see it for what it was, a feeble attempt to lay the blame on me, while coming off scott-free. 

I was old and wise enough to be okay with not being her friend anymore.  Shortly after turning 21, we ran into each other at bars, and ingored one another.  I put my efforts into another friendship, one I had also had since second grade.  Her name was Becky, and she was 3 grades older than I was.  We had rode the same bus in second grade, then she had transferred to a private christian school.  We had maintained our friendship throughout the years, and also considered ourselves “best friends”, although I feel she deserved that title more than I did.  In Becky’s and my relationship I was the “Laura”.  Hurting her more often than she did me, and sometimes shunning her for my “real” friends.   Fortunately, I realized my judgement error and wrote her a lengthy email apologizing for being an idiot and telling her how much she meant to me.   

It was Laura that called a mutual friend to break the news of Becky’s death in an auto accident in 2000.  Sadly, her call was so strange, and she had become such a stoner, that we had no idea if she was to be believed or not.  She was telling the truth, and for the second time in 2 years, I lost a best friend.  

A few months later Laura contacted me via a classmates website.  We exchanged a few emails, and a few phone calls.  We reminissed about old times, told each other we missed one another, and she told me all about her daughter and husband, and how it hurt her so much that I wasn’t there when she gave birth and got married.  She told me I would be proud of her, that she was clean of drugs, and was now a devoted mommy and wife.  She claimed to have done a complete 180 from the girl I knew.  She invited J and I, along with his kids, over for dinner, to meet her husband, daughter, and step-kids.  We went, and it was polite, but aquard.   Nonetheless, I was glad to see that she was a good mother, and I believed she had left the drugs in her past.   

After that we emailed and IM’d sporadically, and stopped to talk if we ran into one another somewhere.  She called one night, and we talked for hours.  I told her J was at work, and she inquired what he did.  When I told her he was a custodian at the high school we attended, she declared that he must be “skanky”.   That phone call made me realize how much better off I was without her in my life.   

Three years ago her father died.  She emailed me, and I went to her mom’s home to be supportive, just like we were still friends.  She looked the same, and now had 2 kids, and she seemed to be devoted to them.  A few months  after that, we IM’d one night for a long time.  She had gone through a divorce due to infidelity, loss of her job, loss of her father, and a multitude of other things in the months since our last meeting.  My heart went out to her. 

The next time I saw her in person, I hardly recognized her.  I was with my mom.  She had lost alot of weight, and when my mom asked how she had done it, she kept changing the subject.  I also noticed her teeth were discolored, and I concluded she was on something stronger than her previous drug of choice. 

The last two times I’ve seen her, her stick straight blonde locks have been exchanged for fried brown ones.  Her size 14 body has been replaced with a thin stick figure.   

Last weekend I saw one of her family members.  From our conversation, I gathered that she is now living with her mother.    I stumbled upon her myspace this week.  Her picture shows a dark-haired stick person, who is slowly loosing her hair.  Her icons are all occult, drug and vampire oriented.  To be honest, her page frightens me. 

I feel like she’s crying out for help.  I don’t know her anymore, but she is such an important part of my past, it’s hard to let go.  I know I’m better off without her, but I feel the need to reach out to her, to find the person inside her that she used to be.  I want to see her be a good mommy, not a stoned mommy.  I want her to be the kind of person that would make her parents proud.  I want to help her, but I don’t know how.

In retrospect, loosing Laura was more painful than loosing Becky.  Becky was lost to death.  In one minute, she was gone forever.  Everyone that knew her suffered her loss together.  Although it still hurts, I know she is in a much better place.   Laura however, I lost alone, with nobody to understand what I was going through at the moment.  She’s still around, I still run into her and wonder what might’ve been if we had remained friends. 

   

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15 Responses to “Losing My Best Friends”

  1. Brian Says:

    I guess I never realized the length of your friendship with Laura. It’s a shame how everything turned out… with all of us.

    Drama aside, I honestly enjoyed my time hanging out with her. A few years ago, she emailed me to say how much she missed me and that she wanted to go out for dinner. She backed out a few hours before we were supposed to meet, and I still wonder if it was some pathetic attempt at getting me back for ending our friendship years ago.

    You’re right about her MySpace page. It is very disturbing and makes me worry about her state of mind. Imagine your mother having a webpage like that! Poor kids.

  2. Red Says:

    Wow, Alyson .. such a side of you I had yet to see, and Im glad I have. Thank you for sharing that with the class.
    As far as what to do with Laura – you may want to help her and all, I understand that .. but if she doesn’t want the help, if she isn’t willing to help herself then you’ll have a neverending uphill battle with her. You’ll never get her to change until she wants to change herself.
    I’ll just say good luck with whatever you choose to do.

  3. Alyson Says:

    @ Brian: I miss those times too. We all had alot of fun. I think you’re right about your reunion. The myspace page reminds me of something a teenager would have, not a 30 year old mother. I was thinking about her kids too. The oldest is about 8, and you know it’s a matter of time before she, or one of her classmates finds it, if they haven’t already.

    @ Red: Thanks for the kind words, and for reading the whole lengthy thing. I’ve been thinking about her alot since finding her myspace, and this entry gnawed at me until it got out.
    I realize she can’t be helped without the desire to be, so I’m sure I’ll just continue to be there for her when I am called upon, and stop and chat when I run into her somewhere. That seems to be our pattern, and I’m (mostly)happy with that. It hurts me to see the person she’s become, but I feel that we’re so different now that there’s no way we could have a real relationship.


  4. As a mother, you start to see things in a different way. I remember all of the changing friendships from my past, and then seeing how painful some of it was when my kids went through it. Some of their friendships lasted, some didn’t. I’d see their friends changing and moving off into different directions, and often I was more sad about the loss than my children were! Growing up can be so hard.

    Thanks for this very thoughtful post.

  5. Alyson Says:

    It is amazing how different you see things when you have kids. I kinda dread when those tough years come up for my boys. It’s so hard, but a part of coming of age.

  6. Brian Says:

    I was thinking about this post while getting dressed this morning and the following song popped in my head.

    There are places I remember all my life,
    Though some have changed
    Some forever, not for better
    Some have gone and some remain.
    All these places have their moments
    Of lovers and friends I still can recall
    Some are dead and some are living
    In my life I loved them all.

    And with all these friends and lovers
    There is no one compares with you
    And these mem’ries lose their meaning
    When I think of love as something new
    And I know I’ll never lose affection
    For people and things that went before
    I know I’ll often stop and think about them.
    In my life I loved you more.

  7. Alyson Says:

    That is wonderfully fitting. I remember the song from the show “Providence”, although I didn’t know alot of the words. Thanks!

  8. Liz Says:

    I somehow missed this post, probably due to the speed reading I do since my time on the computer is rare.
    I understand your need to help her, but I honestly think that this is definitely a relationship that you should leave in the past.

    I understand about losing a friend in death, but I also understand losing a friend through distance/growing up. I receently had a dream about one of my best friends & called her up & told her how much I missed her. We had a good conversation & a few laughs. When I remarked “I don’t know how we got this way” She said our lives are just going in different directions. She is right. As we get older and have children & everyday life choas, it seems harder and harder to maintain a “close” friendship.

  9. Alyson Says:

    It’s so weird that you brought this to the forefront. I was just thinking about this post this morning. I do the same thing when reading blogs.

    It’s really hard to keep up a friendship when you are so different. I don’t really have any regrets about this relationship, but it still hurts sometimes.

  10. Tania Says:

    i know exactly how that feels sure im not of your age yet but you make me want to help my best friend more i do not want that to happen i love her so much and yeah she leaves me at times for her boyfriend

    my heart goes out to you for being so strong for tryin to be friends with such a different person and yet so alike; she too loved you very much but drugs change a person and i am sorry for all that pain that was inflicted to you and for her to be in such pain and hardship as addiction

    only remember the good and not the bad or there you will find to not forget the past but to cherish it and hope for your friend that she will find herself and truly thank you for being there for her

    thank you; you’ve helped me remind me that even if it hurts losing them dont quit on them even if they prefer another other than you i promise i wont let go of mine and ill fight to let our friendship go on forever for you to know there is still a chance

  11. Alyson Says:

    @ Tania: Coming of age is so hard. I sincerly hope things work out for you and your friend, but if not, you will get through it.

    Thanks for the wonderful comment.

  12. Michael Says:

    I know this is a late reply but…

    I can relate to this story a lot! I’m just going into sixth- form and I have an awesome group of friends that I do everything with.

    There are some friends that I am closer than I am to others, which is what I think I’m doing in the group; being the “Laura” to some of them.

    I really don’t know. I’m really dreading growing older and losing contact. All of my friends at the minute are great and I couldn’t ask for better friends, but losing contact with them actually makes me frightend. I know it’s part of life, but I really can’t let go.

    A friend I had from primary was really smart and was doing great in school, and kida did the same as Laura, following a trend of smoking and just being a general rebal at school due to the influance of his friend. It was sad watching the gradual change, but it was his choice.

    I really don’t know what to do about losing contact though. Some people have already started getting jobs and it’s kind of becoming clear that it’s the start of our adult lives but I hate it, I can’t bear the thought of not see’ing all of them again! I don’t know what to do.

  13. Alyson Says:

    It’s never too late to reply. You’re right, it is a part of life. Sometimes you have an epiphany and realize that you’ve grown apart, and maybe don’t have as much in common as you thought.

    It is sad to watch a friend cross over, and start doing things that aren’t good for them. You are a very wise person to not follow suit.

    Best of luck to you.

  14. Melissa Says:

    I am having a fight with a long time friend right now and she said it may just be easier for us to not be friends anymore and i was and am still stunned from that! I left her a compliment that came out wrong imagine that? Now she says its to hard to work on being friend’s, etc.. its really to long to get into but i just wanted to tell you how much your story hit home.
    I think you should do the opposite of what everyone else said!! you stated that you think she is crying out for help, well you obviously know her almost better than anyone, so help her!!! If not for her than for her kids! Show her pictures of how she used to look when she was young and vibrant and not depressed and goth! Sometimes it takes happy memories to pull people from the muddy paths they have ended up on! How can you just look at her page and dismiss it?? You don’t have to be her best friend again, because it doesn’t sound like she was a very good one, but you should most def. help her out!! We are supposed to praise each other and lift each other up and it seems like your just leaving her for the weeds?? I’m not trying to say you have done anything wrong but if you notice someone crying out for help than you gotta help!!! this will most undoubtibly effect her childrens behaviour as well; if not already and these are the children that will our society years from now! It sounds to me as though she had been using meth ( when you stated the teeth discoloration) and how she is so dark now (it totally kills ones spirit) anyways just my opinion and i wish yuo and your family much love and many blessings and am praying for your old best friend that the spirit reaches her again and she can pull herslef rom this mess! It is so sad to have a mommy that is using and has no one to turn to! 😦

  15. Rachel Says:

    I suspect I am much older than all of you, but the loss of friends hurts at any age. I always had a rule of never forming personal friendships at work. When Vickie transferred to the department where I worked, I was asked to train her. We became fast friends, and soon began taking our breaks and lunch hours together. We were each other’s sounding board about work and family problems.

    After about a year, things began to change. Vickie started coming in late, leaving early, and generally slacking off. I could barely keep up with my own work, and having to do hers when she wasn’t there made me angry. The boss didn’t do a thing about it, which made me angrier. He said she was using “comp” time from working nights and weekends. I didn’t believe this, but I had no proof.

    Vickie and I continued to take breaks together out of habit, but I reclaimed my lunch hour. I no longer enjoyed her company as much, and had an instinctive feeling that she couldn’t be trusted. If only I had followed those instincts much sooner than I did!

    We had an angry confrontation one day, which was very unprofessional. I ended up walking out of my own office to get away from her. Ultimately, I got another job and left the company because of her. (This was before the recession.) I changed my cell phone number and email address because I didn’t want to hear from her. That was almost 6 years ago, and I haven’t seen her since. It was a hard lesson to learn.


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