Holy crap! So you know those facebook “memories” that can either be: “Awe! I remember going to the zoo lights 5 years ago!” or “Oh shit, why facebook? Why?! I never want to remember blacking out and throwing up at a frat and having photographic proof that it happened!!!!!” Yeah well, for me most of those “memories” that resurface are the latter.
So I just came across this blog in my facebook memories, and re-reading the old posts really did a lot for me. First, it cracked me up. I mean hell, I am one funny person, and my humor about 5 years ago makes for a cringe worthy but belly laugh kind of moment. Secondly, re-reading these posts was like a helpful snapshot in time. I was, for the most part, pretty impressed by my writing, something I’ve never thought was a skill I possessed. I was able to look back and see where I was in life and see that I was excited about college, about learning, about my potential and it showed my writing. I was also scared shitless, confused, and lonely, that also showed in my wiring. I think the part that really stuck out to me was all the drafts I didn’t publish, many of which were downright angry or negative.
I was going though a lot back then, and it showed. I can now say that yes I did graduate college, the first of my family, (yey!), and I did move away and travel. I have not yet been to Paris, but as Billy Joel says “Vienna waits for you,” I just swap out Paris for Vienna though. It was after my post “What Did You Learn?” that I started re-gaining perspective in my life. I can’t help but laugh now because I was so melodramatic about the “break-up”. I wouldn’t even consider it a relationship now and years later we are actually great friends. Even though we’re across the county we spoke the other day and I helped him with a problem.
That situation was truly small potatoes.
The real dilemma that I was facing at the time was that my best friend and roommate for 3 years of college had decided to try to commit suicide. I remember knowing it was bound to happen, it was just a matter of time. I went to class one day and I left her in the house alone. I picked out her clothes for her because she was too depressed to get out of bed. I had a bad feeling. I remember talking to classmates about my concerns. I told one of her co-workers to call me in 10 minutes if she didn’t show up. He called. I picked up in he middle of class. Luckily, it was a small theatre class. Everyone knew my situation and my professor let me go. I ran home. Outside was her co-worker, he was crying, sobbing actually, and banging on the door. I opened it to find her with a bottle of pills open and consumed lying next to her. She was completely out of it. He was on the floor bawling. It was at that moment something else took over. I ran into action mode and called 911. It wasn’t long before an ambulance came and got her, and my stupid landlady tried to meddle, asking me a billion questions, which I remember being really annoyed at. I hoped into my car with the co-worker and we followed the ambulance. I knew that nothing would be the same again. I knew that our friendship was over. It had been over for a long time now, and this was just a clear capstone.
I didn’t cry. I didn’t even get upset. Not that I didn’t care, but I was so focused on keeping her alive, I didn’t have time for annoying emotions. Her co-worker on the other hand was a mess. I felt bad for him, but in my mind the only thing we could do was to get her to the hospital. That’s all that mattered. We stayed in the lobby as they pumped her stomach and put in charcoal in her through a tube which made her lips black. We only saw her for a moment before we were ushered away.
We stayed in the lobby for hours. Not really talking. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I know that at some point we went to see her. Her mom kept calling me from Arizona. I couldn’t answer. She decided to stay in the mental facility. She didn’t want to, but I could not have stayed home 24/7 for suicide watch, not with finals coming up. Eventually, her mom did get through. I answered. I told her what happened. She screamed at me. She told me “How could I let this happen? How could I not have told her the moment it happened?” That’s when I really cried. I remember back at home bawling on the floor of my apartment alone. I felt so helpless. I was angry too. This person I cared so much for and this person I tried to keep floating, was just going to sink herself deeper and deeper into depression. It was like it was inevitable. I could see her doing this to herself, but I was behind glass, unable to actually intervene. I knew above all else she did not want to return home to Arizona, I was scared her mom was going to come up and get her. I thought that honestly, that would kill her. Eventually she did call her mom back, and sort of straightened things out, at least her mom would let her say in Oregon.
After the suicide attempt I was in go mode. I could not and would not let the events that just happened ruin my term at school. Nothing was going to stop me from passing all of my classes with all A’s, nothing ever has. Easier said than done. I was actually impressed with how calm I was under all that stress. As the co-worker was distraught, I made it my priority to be the opposite and be the most rational person I have ever been. After the hospital we called our other friend, who was really a long time friendemy, and we all agreed the best thing for everyone was for us and the co-worker to rent a house together so we could care for our friend. She would never be alone, and she would have all of us to support her. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I remember the friendemy telling me I needed to cry, I needed to “let it out”, but that was the exact opposite of what I was feeling. All I wanted to do was to fix things. Things got more complicated as she got out of the mental hospital. I remember visiting her in the clinic, her boyfriend, who I thought was absolute scum, came with us most days. I remember looking at her and feeling awkward. Not really knowing this person I was looking at. Where were the jokes, the laughs, the sarcasm, the banter that was so natural to her? Instead she sat there with no sharp objects with everyone treating her like she was five. I had no idea who I was looking at. I felt maybe for the first time, I was looking at my friend and this is who she really was, and our whole friendship from the moment I arrived at college until now was a lie.
So all four of us moved in. The boyfriend became a live-in fixture. I hardly talked to her anymore. I felt like he was standing in the way of us. Our friendemy told me that I don’t know how to handle the situation because I’ve never been depressed before. It pained me to see her a complete shell of the witty, sharp and clever person I once knew. I felt like the real friend was under there somewhere if only I could make the right joke, or say the magic words to make her come to life and fight back. That’s what was really missing. Her ability to fight back. I had never seen anyone lose that before, and I thought that she was the last person on earth that would lose their will to fight.
I still didn’t cry. I didn’t have sob fests like the rest of the crew. It was weird seeing myself, the one that everyone considered the weakest, the most sheltered, the most sensitive taking on duties like getting groceries, paying bills, etc. I took less classes the next term and signed up for summer courses so I could still graduate on time. I signed up for a singing class to fulfill some sort of bacccore assignment. My teacher was amazing. I love singing, but I hate doing it in front of anyone else but the mirror. My instructor was kind but not lax. She had me doing scales all the time. I think she could see I was in emotional turmoil. She had me do breathing exercises, and told me that she didn’t think I had taken a deep breath in a long time. She was right. Signing was sort of therapy for me. It was cathartic. Somehow I let out my emotions though my crappy broken voice. And the scariest thing I ever did (but I am so proud of now) is sing my final in front of a group of singers (most of which were operatically trained). I started gaining confidence. I was feeling good about myself again. Maybe for the first time. Like my instructor said, I was taking a deep breath. I felt re-born.
While I was discovering this new side of myself, my life at the house I shared with the roommates could not have been worse. I felt like a prisoner. I would only ever hangout in my room or go to the kitchen to grab a snack. That’s it. Luckily, my room had its own bathroom and was connected to the greenhouse so I had a lot of privacy. I loved taking care of my plants (all of which died eventually) practicing my singing, and rehearsing lines for the plays I was in. I got a role in A Streetcar Named Desire not as a lead, but as the comic relief character Eunice. I loved that role. My singing helped me project and become super confident in the character. I spent all of my evenings at the play. I met one of my new best friends there. He was my play husband and we would sit in the rafters before our lines and talk about everything. He told me about how great his girlfriend was (now his wife, and one of my closest friends!), how he too had just had to break off his friendship with a close buddy, and just things going on in his life now. He was a great listener. I had “known” him for years prior talking theatre classes together, but we had never really talked. He was sort of the class clown, and I was there to learn. Now I found out he was an extremely intelligent person and a veteran. Things I never knew before, I was peeling back the layers. I felt good when I was at rehearsal. I felt surrounded by friends. People that I had taken classes with for years, but never got to know because I was so consumed with my friendship with my roommate.
I started to hate going home. When I got back I knew that friendemy #1 and my former-best friend would hound on me for “being out late”. I was rehearsing every single night and I didn’t feel like I was blowing them off, I felt like I was accomplishing something that was for me. Some nights after rehearsal I would go out and get drinks with the theatre crew. I felt like they were finally getting to know me. I felt like they liked me for who I was and didn’t try to put me down. They reveled in my accomplishments, instead of tearing them down.
I took a summer job at the theatre, one I did every year, and this year I was Stage Manager, a big step up! I focused my energies on that. I made a stipend and when all of my roomies told me they had no financial aid and no jobs to pay for rent I flipped out. I used literally all the money I had, all the money I worked for, which was hardly anything compared to the hours I put in, towards rent. I lived with 3 other people and one of their live-in boyfriends and no one could or would help. It was that combined with a note I saw on the fridge one day that really did it for me. The note read “I can’t wait until this monster that is theatre releases Bryanna!” with some sort of a doodle. I was angry. I was red-hot. How could they not understand that I had done so much, broke my lease on my old apartment, paid for rent, worked, bought food, and more for them and now they are pissing on the one thing that actually brought me joy. It was at that time I decided to move on my own for the first time.
Pt. 2 to come out next