I went to bed Friday night dreading the idea of Saturday before it even began. In fact, I had decided exactly how I was going to deal with Saturday as I stared at the ceiling waiting to fall asleep. As I’ve learned a lot over the past week, though, plans can change in the blink of an eye. So instead of my original plan of a cold grand finale evening outside for one, I accepted a dinner invitation… and I’m glad I did.
As I drove home, Demi Lovato’s song Sober came on just as I drove past our local psychiatric hospital — a facility I know far too well. I have so many memories from my total of four stays there between 2017 and 2019. However, the first memory that crossed my mind didn’t have to do with the staff or the breakdowns that landed me there in the first place. The memory had to do with, you guessed it, Emily.
My World Was Ending Yet Again
My first three stays at Trustpoint Hospital occurred in close proximity to each other during the fall and winter months of 2017. That year sucked for me, and the hospital kept me “safe.” Once I started dialectical behavior therapy, though, I went close to 20 months without a single hospitalization… until 2019 came.
I had just started seeing a new therapist that summer after a quite turbulent last few months with my DBT therapist. A friend had been giving me grief for weeks about my “behavior” after a night out. And, worst of all, I knew my marriage was in trouble and likely about to end (and I was right). It all felt too much like 2017, and I wasn’t ready to do that again.
Of course, when I told my therapist the full details of where I was at mentally and how I planned to deal with it, she recommended we go pay a visit to my “favorite” hospital. When I called my then-husband to tell him about this, he became angry and refused to even consider visiting me. But I needed clothes and really wanted someone to visit me that evening during visitation hours, so I called Emily (and my mom).
Instead of yelling at me or accusing me of being “attention-seeking” and “selfish,” Emily validated my feelings and told me she was proud of me for being honest with my therapist. She also said she’d love to come visit me, she just needed to know what time to arrive.
It’s funny, because the overwhelming feelings that my life was over are what led me to reach the point where I needed hospitalization. And yet, at the same time, that hospital stay ultimately showed me a lot about the people in my life, especially Emily.
I greatly appreciated that visit from Emily, and I knew I asked a lot of her that day. However, she simply said, “I’ll visit you anytime you need a grippy sock vacation. I’m just happy I get to see you alive.”
Emily and I had an amazing friendship. Because we’ve both been burned more than a few times, though, we both needed frequent reassurance that we weren’t being “too much” for the other person. But here’s the thing: No matter what, we always had each other’s backs.
I think one of the best parts about our friendship was our willingness to push each other. We’d challenge each other to make decisions in our lives that benefited our mental health and helped us grow. Emily would push me out of my comfort zone to improve my body image, and I’d push her to do things that required her to be more assertive. I don’t think this kind of friendship is always possible, but Emily and I always felt comfortable with each other and we shared a mutual respect and desire to see each other at our very best.
Of course, moving from being friends to more than friends was a huge risk because not all relationships with friends work out. However, we discussed the pros and cons at length and made the agreement that we would openly communicate how we felt about things. Emily also made me pinky promise that we could still be friends no matter what, and I enthusiastically agreed.
18 months later, and I’d like to think that we did a great job being best friends and partners.
I Still Need Friends Now
Lately I’ve found myself isolating more. In my head, I feel like most of the other people who knew Emily are handling things much better than I am, and I don’t want to bring others down. I worry that people think I’m being too dramatic about this loss or that I’m not doing enough on my end to process the grief. So, instead of asking people what they really think, I’m using these (likely false) assumptions to close myself off as a means of protection.
However, I’m still at a point where I do need friends to help me get through this. I need support. I need reminders about how Emily felt about me. I need that reassurance that I can keep going. I need games that make me laugh for a minute. I need to see that I’m not as alone as I think I am.
As the evening winded down Saturday night, I told the friends who invited me over for dinner that I’m not doing okay. At all. One of them simply said, “Our home is always open… And I mean that.”
The irony of this is that I only know this friend because of Emily. Although I don’t think that Emily knew what would transpire, I do think some people are put into your life for a reason. Emily was always there for me when I needed a friend… and she helped me make several more amazing friends along the way.
2 thoughts on “Because I Needed A Friend”
I discovered you on my fyp today and I read through your blog. I just wanted to say your writing is so beautiful. I felt the pain, the longing, the love you have for Emily. All of it is so tangible through your words. Nothing I’ve ever seen on tiktok has ever touched me the way your story does. I never knew Emily but I think she is with you and has your back every step of the way 💜🦋
Sorry for the much delayed response, but thank you so much for this! It really means a lot to hear that my words have an impact on someone.