Have you ever had a friend that was so needy that at times it sapped all your energy and strength so that you had nothing left for yourself?
I met Miss B (not her real name) when we were both 17. I moved into a hostel for homeless 16-25 years olds and she was already living there having been through the care system. At first she intimidated me, she was pretty angry all the time and could be hard to get along with but she was never like that with me and so I became her friend.
We grew close, became best friends. We had some really tough times in that hostel, we were just kids but we got through it, together. I understood her and why she was the way she was. In time, we moved out of the hostel.
When she was 18, Miss B had her first child. I was there for the birth…and even now it is still once of the best experiences of my life. At 19, I got married, I only had one bridesmaid, Miss B.
There were many times in the next few years that Miss B’s life spiraled out of control, sometimes it was her own fault but most of the time it was not her fault, to me it didn’t matter and I would drop everything to help her. Miss B went on to have 4 more children, I was at the births of 3 of them. My husband got fed up of me running to her aid all the time and gave me a choice…it was him or Miss B. I moved out…looking back it was probably wrong but I by now I was only 21 and I had been through so much with Miss B. I moved in with her…she then became my support for a while.
After a few weeks, my husband and I sorted things out and I went home. Things got really bad for Miss B. Some of it is way to personal for me to write about here and to be honest it’s not something that I really want to re-visit but Miss B’s children went into care. I know how I felt at the time about it all and it was so hard so I cannot begin to imagine how she felt about it. I tried to support her as much as I could but I also had huge stuff going on in my own life so it was hard. I did support her but most of the time it was at the detriment of myself. I was getting used up, I had nothing left to give.
This went on for years…I would pick up the pieces, set her back on her feet and sort out her crap. She lost her children, they were adopted to new families so I had to learn very quickly how to talk to Social Workers. They would blind Miss B with language and words she could not understand and this would make her angry. I would usually end up removing her from the room myself and then going back in and talking to the social workers myself…they soon realised that they could not treat me in the same manner. They couldn’t talk down to me like they did with Miss B and I knew what I was doing. But by then the damage was already done. Three of the children were gone. I started to distance myself a little from Miss B, for no other reason than I was tired. I loved Miss B with all my heart. She was the closest thing I had to a sister yet her influence started to become damaging to me. I started to very slowly take a back seat.
By 2000 I had nothing left to give…to anyone. My marriage broke down and I left my hometown to move to another county. I didn’t see Miss B very often for a few years, we did speak on the phone and she seemed to be doing fine. Maybe the fact that I could no longer pick up the pieces for her meant that she had to grow up and either do it herself or not get into trouble in the first place. Whatever it was, it worked…she didn’t need me as much.
Over the next 5 years we didn’t speak much. Not for any particular reason, I just had other stuff going on. I was now in a new relationship, so was she. She didn’t call me very much but I took that as confirmation that she was doing fine…if she wasn’t she would call me, wouldn’t she? I moved back to my hometown with my new husband and I saw Miss B a bit more. Our friendship as far as I was concerned was still strong. I missed Milton Keynes so much so we moved back there but I was still in contact with Miss B. The relationship was more balanced now that she had sorted her life out…I was proud of her. My life had become pretty tough, I had lost 3 babies in five years and my marriage had become abusive. In 2005, with the help of another close friend, I managed to leave and start again. While all this was going on I didn’t get to speak to Miss B much…this is mostly my fault, I just had too much going on, I was probably a crappy friend at that point but while I hardly ever called her, she didn’t really call me either. We lost touch.
We found each other again on Facebook on couple of years later, exchanged numbers and would speak on the phone. During the time we lost touch, the close friend that helped me escape my husband became my partner, I introduced Miss B to Steve and they got on well. She even came to Milton Keynes (with the help of Steve) to surprise me for my birthday. It was amazing. We spent some real quality time together and it made me remember why I had chosen her above so many others in the past.
In 2009, something happened in my life that had such an impact on me that I had a nervous breakdown. I stopped going out, I stopped socializing and when I look back I think it altered me completely as a person. During this time I did not hear from Miss B at all. In early 2010, I lost my fourth child…I still did not hear from Miss B. In October 2010 we lost Billie-Jane…I heard nothing. I didn’t really think anything of it, I had too much of my own going on.
A few months ago I got a message from Miss on Facebook to call her…I did. She was so happy and she had the most amazing news I could have imagined…her son had turned 18 and decided to come and find her. I was so happy, I had not seen this little boy since he was 5 and I had often thought of him. Miss B and I talked for a long time, made plans. I told her that I would come and visit them as soon as I was able to. Sadly, this has not happened for various reasons, the main one being I developed panic attacks and stopped leaving the house again. I haven’t had much contact with Miss B over the last few months but to be fair, I have many friends who I have not been in contact with, but they know that as a friend I am always there if they need me. My road to recovery has been slow and steady. I have great things to focus on and that helps such a lot. The panic attacks are almost non-exisitent…I am back on my feet.
A couple of weeks ago it was Miss B’s birthday so I thought I would drop by her Facebook page to say happy birthday. She was no longer in my friends list. So I checked her boyfriends page, she was there so I did a search for her…no results. Weird…I started to wonder if she had ‘unfriended’ me. So I sent her boyfriend a message asking if this was the case, he said he didn’t know but would ask. Miss B was still friends with Steve so he sent her a message asking her if she was ok and if I had done anything to offend her. That was last week and we heard nothing until today.
This morning we woke up to a stream of abuse on Facebook. Miss B had written on her own status, that I was not her friend, I had not been in contact and had not been to visit like I said I would, she named me by name and peppered this status with numerous swear words. This was a very public response to a private message sent to her by Steve which was in no way abusive at all…he merely asked the question, has Jules done something to upset you?
I had no idea that Miss B felt like this…none at all. In fact I think that if she had called me and told me how she felt, this would have been avoidable. We are both almost 40, maybe after all this time the relationship has just reached it’s natural end…run it’s course maybe.
In reality, I am very hurt. Hurt because I did not deserve to be named and shamed on her status. If she no longer wants to be my friend after 20 years, I can do nothing to change her mind but now I have calmed down and the initial anger I felt has gone, I have had to ask myself the question, Do you even want to fight this? and the answer is no.
I have other friends of course…I have three very special friends who I have been friends with for 20 years+, we don’t always stay in touch but are always there in the background, to be called upon if needed…sometimes these things just go without saying and that is how I thought it was with Miss B…How wrong I was.
I have had a hard life…I am not going to dwell on that because I am sure there will be times that will be hard again…that’s life, but it is the way we deal that makes us stand out from the next person. I have never treated someone badly because my life has been hard…I am just grateful that I have things in my life that make me happy, no matter how shitty things get.
I gave this person so much of myself over the years that there was nothing left for me. Today, I feel that I can breathe. My door will always be open to Miss B, I will always leave a way back for her after all I love her but I do not have it in me to fight for the relationship so I am not going to. Miss B may no longer be my friend but I am certainly not going to be her enemy.
I feel a strange sense of loss, is that weird?
Have you ever had a friend that you love so much but you have had to ‘cut loose’ for your own sanity? or someone who dumped you as a friend even though you know you did nothing wrong?