Earlier this week, a couple of friends invited me to grab lunch with them on Friday. I enjoyed the food and company, and I loved that I was able to mention Emily without it turning into a huge ordeal.
After I left lunch, I started driving home. However, I sort of spaced out while I was driving and somehow ended up in the Target parking lot. I couldn’t figure out what made me turn in there, but I knew Steak-N-Shake was nearby so I went and grabbed a milkshake.
As I pulled away from Steak-N-Shake with my milkshake in hand, I thought about a time Emily and I got milkshakes (story below). The whole rest of the afternoon, little things kept reminding me of Emily, and I kept going back to all the moments in our lives when we would confide in each other.
We Talked in Parking Lots
As you likely already know, my friendship with Emily started in a highly unconventional way. However, it didn’t take long for our conversations to evolve from short greetings or comments before and after our weekly DBT group into full-fledged discussions in the parking lot. We’d sometimes stand there for an hour, just talking about life. I loved how candid and real she became during those conversations — I felt like we could each tell each other anything.
Eventually those conversations moved away from our therapist’s office and into other parking lots. When we both worked weekends at the same rehab facility, we’d sometimes run into each other as we took our clients to 12-step meetings and talk outside the “druggie buggies” (18-passenger vans). I remember one weekend we spent the entire AA meeting talking outside just so we could catch up, and it was a blast.
When we’d meet up for dinner, we would linger in the parking lot and talk for long periods of time. If the weather was nice, we’d stand outside. If it wasn’t, we’d sit in my car. Regardless, the conversations flowed and often moved between lighthearted subjects and more serious topics.
I remember one night, we went to Chuy’s for dinner and we ended up having quite a bit to drink. Emily was supposed to do a challenge and have a dessert, so I drove us to Steak-N-Shake for milkshakes. After we got the shakes, we pulled into a parking spot at the edge of Target’s lot.
At one point, we laughed about the windows fogging up and how it looked suspicious. That led to a lengthy discussion about relationships and sexuality. I loved the similar experiences we had with some of our past relationships, but mostly I just loved that we could talk so openly about ourselves without fear of judgement.
I remember another night when we met in Smyrna at a restaurant having margarita specials. We ended up sitting in my car for a while that evening, talking about music. I played songs for her that she’d never heard because of how young she is, and she played songs I’d never heard and called me old. We laughed so much that evening that we both almost peed our pants. It was great.
Of course, even after we started dating, we still had parking lot conversations as well. Before we told the kids we were dating, I used the excuse of waking her to her car to keep the kids inside for a minute so I could kiss Emily goodnight. (Emily was a frequent dinner guest in our home even before we started dating, so the kids didn’t really notice a difference.) Sometimes I’d meet Emily after work or bring her food, so we’d meet in the parking lot then as well.
It’s funny to think back to all the intimate details of our lives we shared with each other in parking lots. Yet, given how our friendship began, I guess you could say we just did what came naturally. And it was so easy to talk to her because she just got me. She understood me in a way that very few people do.
We Talked Over Text
Obviously, any solid modern friendship thrives on digital communication, and Emily and I were no different there. Once we shared our numbers with each other, we sent each other memes, random questions, and venting novels daily.
I remember the day we exchanged numbers. We were talking as we walked out of the group therapy room towards the parking lot. At one point she said, “You know, we should probably exchange numbers.” I agreed and so we did so in the hallway.
One of the things Emily would frequently text me about was when the people around her started up with diet talk. People counting calories with their own means or pointing out the calorie content of her food, discussions about how much they’d need to exercise to “walk off the cake,” and similar conversations were all triggering for Emily’s eating disorder.
Usually I’d either offer some humor or tell her how stupid those people sounded and remind her that her body can have whatever it wants to eat and that nourishing your body is loving your body. I think it helped, or at least that was my assumption from the fact that she still texted me those conversations even the last month of her life when she was very solid in her recovery.
Emily also texted me a lot to vent or get advice during her previous relationship. The guy was… well let’s just say he turned out to be a real asshat who really did a number on her. He’d say things that were harmful to her recovery. He took advantage of her financially. He flat out disregarded any boundaries she set or requests she made. He had no respect for her whatsoever, and it was very sad.
Looking back on those conversations, there were several times where she said, “Okay, but why are you already a better partner than my actual boyfriend and we aren’t even dating?” It was usually over things like me saying, “Why the heck is he insisting you go eat there? You don’t even like that kind of food?” or “Dude, no means no. If you told him no, he should respect that,” or “That’s the worst thing to say to someone in recovery from an eating disorder! How does he not know this?”
I’m glad she felt like she could confide in me, but man did it make me hate that guy.
Most importantly, we both texted each other when we had hard days or needed motivation. There are dozens of messages filled with encouraging words where we each hyped each other up when one of us needed it. Emily was without a doubt the person I could always go to for a quick confidence boost, and I always tried my best to provide the same to her. Of course, it’s easy to tell someone like her how incredible they are — she was the most amazing woman I’ve ever met.
She Knew Me Completely
I’m having a really hard time now that Emily’s gone. I know that’s expected since we lived together and had so many plans for our future. However, it’s also so much more than that.
With Emily, I didn’t have to pretend. I didn’t have to explain myself because she saw me and understood. She knew my entire story, from my childhood through my late 20s, and then she was one of the main characters in my story for the entirety of my 30s. She knew with a single look exactly how I was feeling and what I needed. I can’t even put into words the connection we shared other than to say we were made for each other.
I struggle to talk to people because they don’t know my story, and they often don’t understand why I am the way that I am. A lot of my thoughts, feelings, and opinions don’t make sense to others. I feel completely alone even in a room full of people.
And I think that’s a large part of why I’m the weird person who finds comfort in visiting Emily at the cemetery. It’s the one place in the world where I can go and be myself completely. I sit and confide in her. I tell her stories, I share all the ridiculous thoughts in my head, I ask her questions I’d feel stupid asking anyone else.
And although she can no longer comfort me with a hug or provide a verbal response, I do feel like there are little signs I receive when I’m there with her. Sometimes the sun will gently warm my face at very specific moments. Sometimes the wind will blow or something will cause the leaves piled up around the trees to rustle. Sometimes I’ll just feel a sudden sense of calm that stops the tears or panic when I become emotional. I can’t really explain what it’s like for me to be there with her in a way that anyone would possibly understand, but I appreciate it nonetheless.
Because of Emily, I had a person I could confide in, and because of me she had the same. I don’t think I can ever explain that to anyone, nor do I think I’ll ever find a person who saw me so completely ever again.
One thought on “Because We Could Confide In Each Other”
Thank you for sharing 😊