I thought she was my best friend.
We planned to grow old together, laughing on the lawn of the old folk’s home where we would inevitably end up, wearing bright shades of lipstick and gaudy caftans.
We would be like the Golden Girls: brash, spunky, flashy, and so full of life that no one would dare ask us our age — they’d have no reason to, because we’d be so much fun to hang out with that no one would care if we were incontinent. We would outlive our husbands, of course, and maybe take a lover or two. Our children would come visit, their own children in tow, until the day we quietly died in our sleep.
I couldn’t imagine life without her.
I abruptly ended our friendship almost 9 months ago, and she left a bottle-shaped hole that I’ve worked daily to fill with other, less toxic, things. That was the problem; she was a stone cold bitch. I loved her too much to see it before now, but now that she’s out of my life, I understand clearly that she wanted nothing more than to see me dead.
She made me believe I needed her to make me happy. She made me think I had to bring her with me almost everywhere I went, that people wouldn’t like me unless she was there, and that I’m no good without her, period.
She made me sick on my honeymoon, clutching the tiny toilet in our cruise ship bathroom. Because of her, I got myself into dangerous situations. I wandered drunk and alone in the middle of Manhattan at 3 a.m., too messed up to figure out how to get an Uber. I picked fights with my husband, threw things, blacked out, and made terrible decisions.
She erased a whole lot of memories that I wish I had.
Her influence touched every corner of my life. I made a living writing jokes and essays about our friendship. I didn’t miss a day without her, even when I was sick or taking antibiotics or a host of other prescription drugs that you aren’t supposed to mix with alcohol, because I believed the lie that nothing bad would happen.
She put me behind the wheel of every car I’ve ever owned, too drunk to see the lines on the road. She whispered that one more shot of whiskey or tequila or vodka wouldn’t hurt, that I could handle it if I just drank enough water. When I was angry or depressed, which happened more and more frequently toward the end of our friendship, she convinced me it was everyone else’s fault. She fanned the flames of my anger in every direction away from her. My problems were never, ever because of her. They couldn’t possibly be. She was my confidante, my closest companion, the one I ran to when life became too much.
It was always too much.
Towards the end, she was systematically ruining every relationship I had in an attempt to have me all to herself.
Getting sober from alcohol has been liberating and terrifying and life-changing, but I am also grieving the loss of a friend who knew all of my secret fears. She was aware of the darkness that I’ve learned to hide behind a happy exterior, the wounds that have never healed and the pieces of myself that I’ve tried and failed to smash back together without help. Breaking up with her, and staying broken up with her, is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
But bitch, we are no longer friends. We aren’t even frenemies or arch-nemiseses or regular enemies. We don’t have a connection or a tie whatsoever tethering us together because I have burned every bridge that connected me to you. And really, I’m not even sad because I don’t want to die.
I want to live.
This is why.