Tears for love lost, tears for future love
A true friend responds to frantic calls even at midnight
A good friend to walk you through depressing times is “priceless.”
Good friends are vitally important to your mental health and to the quality of your life. To live and to love are inseparable from each other. Friendship is an opportunity to love, to learn about yourself, to mature as a human being, and to open up to the full experience of life.
Julie’s best friend, Meghan, was there to listen. To hug and support. To walk her through her loss of love.
Friends endure ups and downs. Agreements and disagreements. Anger and love. But always respect that allows disagreement without censure. Support without hesitation when the going gets rough.
Let’s tune in, shall we?
It was a lovely evening, late October. Colorful autumn leaves danced. Julie had prepared his favorite dish, chicken paprika, in her lavish Victorian kitchen. After dinner, they moved to the living room to talk and relax. Then, out of the blue, it happened.
Another argument — she couldn’t believe it — an argument that swooped down from nowhere! The words sharp and angry. Irate words that severed something this time… an unraveling love between them.
Raising fingertips to her left temple she massaged the pounding pain in slow circular movements. She felt helpless as she watched their love unwind like runaway thread spooling across the floor. Through narrowed eyes, she glared at Joe as he raged on.
Veins in his forehead pulsed raging red.
“Why are you staring at me like that,” he said bolting from the couch, cursing why he had even bothered to come. Julie grabbed his arm pleading with him to stay and talk it out. He didn’t hear. He didn’t want to hear. He released her grasp, grabbed his jacket, and walked out, slamming the door.
She felt her heart plunge — like the drop from a roller coaster. She steadied herself against the couch holding on tight, knuckles taut, heart racing, waiting for the drop. The knot in her stomach struggled to untangle as she lowered herself onto the couch and cried.
Depression overwhelmed her. Too many nights of wearisome arguing were taking their toll. This last argument was even more frustrating. Joe had blown up a simple comment into an unrecognizable complexity. The more she tried to explain, the angrier he became. There was no meeting of the minds — no comforting hug of compromise.
6:15 a.m. rolled around fast. Julie reached over and turned off the cell phone alarm. Stumbling to the bathroom she looked into the mirror and puffy red sleep-deprived eyes stared back. “Oh, great!” She splashed cold water over her face and hoped for the best.
“But I love him,” she whispered. “Isn’t love worth fighting for?… but, is what we have real love?”
Even having to ask that question made her light-headed. She set the cup down and reached for her phone. She needed to talk. Intimate talk. Soul-to-soul talk. Talk like best friends talk. She texted Megan to dinner.
Megan has always been there. Even responding to frantic calls in the middle of the night while Julie mourned into her willing ear. Woman to woman they have supported each other as best friends do — rehashing every lover’s spats, reliving every situation, restating every argument, revisiting every fight, repeating every misunderstanding.
Each trying to understand her respective man, trying to find answers, trying to find comfort. Tonight, they would act as reciprocal sounding boards… again.
Megan arrived at 5:30 p.m. right after work. When the door opened Megan stared at Julie Shannon’s beautiful porcelain skin washed empty and smeared mascara that painted her eyes like a panda in distress.
“Umm, that bad, huh?”
Julie dropped her head, turned, and walked back into the kitchen to dish up the Chinese food she had ordered in. Megan went to hang her jacket in the hall closet and from the dining room heard Toni Braxton wailing “Another Sad Love Song”.
“Not good,” she muttered. Pouring a glass of wine from the bottle set out on the table, she attempted small talk, but Julie wasn’t biting.
Setting the serving tray down on the dining room table, Julie motioned for Megan to help herself. Megan filled her plate with shrimp-fried rice as Julie walked over to the blinds. Grabbing hold of the tilt wand, with a twist, she closed out the rest of the day.
The room, now cast in shadows, was like her mood, like dark music, like a broken-hearted moon.
Julie stared at the food but decided against it. Instead, she poured a glass of wine, sat down on the couch, and crossed her long shapely legs. With nervous fingers she twisted strands of lustrous chestnut hair as she stared into space, her eyes conveying wounded thoughts.
Megan sat on the couch opposite her. Julie sat still. Silent. Defeated. Not at all like Julie in crisis. Most of the time, she speaks her mind, adamant about digging in, probing for answers — tenacious in seeking the truth. Even argumentative in playing Devil’s Advocate.
But not tonight. Leaning forward, Megan caught Julie’s attention and looked directly into hollow eyes as she waited to hear all the details.
“Oh, Megan, it’s the same old story. Look at me, I hate to whine but I’m a success at everything but love. None of my relationships have worked out.
She took a deep breath; her face contemplative; her tone serious, “I’m 35 years old now and it’s time. I’m ready to settle down. You know — ready for a family, a husband, and children. I want someone special to share my life with. But the past few years my relationships have all fallen apart.”
She paused taking a sip of wine, looking down at the floor in deep thought before continuing. “This time though,” she said looking up again, “I just knew Joe was the one. Now, I don’t know. I’m not sure. I love him so much, but he’s driving me crazy. All we do is argue. Why does he make life so complex?
We argued again last night. This time I think it might be over.
“Why is he rejecting me? Is it my fault? What am I doing wrong? Why do all my relationships end?” Megan listened as best friends do to give Julie all the space she needed to vent.
“You know,” Julie began again, “it wasn’t always like this. When we first met, Joe understood me. We shared our innermost thoughts and goals. I’d reveal my dreams and he would listen.
I was so excited that I’d found someone who actually paid attention as if my dreams were his own.” She looked away, then back, her voice low. “I fell deeply in love with him. I thought he was my alter ego, that he’d be the one to share my life with.”
She looked down again, twisting strands of hair. “These last months, though, he’s changed. Now, my ideas are, as he puts it, ‘unworkable.’ Whatever I suggest isn’t good enough. Recently I made a mistake, you know, it happens.”
“Anyway, he more or less said, ‘I told you so,’ as though I were roundly incompetent.” She shrugged, “I was so excited to receive the Regal House interior decorating assignment, but he said I was ‘in way over my head.’”
Pausing, she reflected a while and continued, “Maybe I do bite off more than I can chew. After all, I did go way over budget. Maybe he was right. Maybe I shouldn’t be so aggressive in going after what I want.
“Maybe that’s why he’s been so critical lately from my new hairstyle to my choice of books. Seems I can’t do anything right. He nitpicks everything I do. It’s insane.”
“Julie, your career does take up a lot of time,” said Megan in her soft-spoken sweetness. “Maybe Joe feels you have changed too. Maybe he feels neglected.”
“Neglected?” Julie shrieked with clenched fists. And that’s another thing; I exert myself to please him. I stopped working overtime because he complained I didn’t spend enough time with him. I supported the mayor’s agenda because that’s his political agenda.
I dropped additional classes because he didn’t think it was necessary. I’ve even prepared his favorite meals on weekends when I was dead tired. Now after all that, we’re at ground zero. She sat in silent frustration.
“I’m scared,” she whispered. Panic flashed in her eyes.
“Something unexplainable happened last night and I’m afraid of losing him. Before he left, when I got the courage to ask point blank ‘what’s wrong with us,’ he turned and said us? — as if everything were my fault. I don’t know. Maybe it is. I’ve called him several times, but he’s not returning my calls.”
She rocked back and forth faster and faster as she poured out her grief. “Oh, Megan, I’m so confused. What’s wrong? Joe loves me; I know he does. So why doesn’t he let me in? Why can’t we just love each other? We’re drifting apart. I can feel it. I see it, but don’t know what to do. Maybe it is something I’m doing wrong. Or maybe I don’t want to see it.
If only I knew what to do, maybe I could make things better. Doesn’t he know how much I love him? I’ve tried everything I know to make him happy. I don’t know what else to do. How can I make it right?” Suddenly, she clasped trembling hands over her face.
Megan jumped to cradle her. “Oh, honey, I didn’t understand things between you and Joe were so bad. Come on, let it all out. Julie pushed away. Don’t you understand? I don’t want to cry anymore. I am so tired of this.
I’m just a girl looking for a boy to love me. That’s all. I’m tired of sobbing to my best friend in the middle of the night. I’m tired of crying when hearing love songs on the radio, or seeing couples holding hands in the park. Sometimes I’m so depressed I barely creep out of bed.
Hour after hour they continued. Finally, Megan exhausted and feeling anguish for her young friend stood up and said, “Maybe that’s the problem! She looked upward as if beseeching gods of wisdom.”
“You care so much about Joe. I mean, his every concern is your concern. You bend over backward for him. I’m listening to you and you sound like me years ago… everything’s about him — What about you?”
Turning to Julie she said, “I’m asking you what I wish someone had asked me when I was young and in love: What makes you happy? Do you deserve this kind of treatment? I mean, what’s Joe’s problem? Is he seeing someone else? Is he trying to break it off? Does he really love you? What’s going on?“
Julie looked at Megan and shook her head unable to answer like someone had asked her the final Jeopardy question. “Well,” she flustered, “You know . . . just to be there for me. I, I, mean . . . just to love me. Someone I can count on. What do you mean?”
Both fell silent. Finally, Megan said, “I don’t know either. All I know is that we give and give and give and still it might not work.” Gesturing, she continued, “I gave Marc three beautiful children, hosted all his dinner parties, kept a spotless home, and prepared home-cooked meals. Why I even prepared his bath water after a hard day’s work. She paused, her voice low… still, he left me.”
“Julie,” she pleaded, “Don’t let that happen to you. Don’t give your all to be let down.”
Touching Julie’s arm Megan asked, “What are you going to do about Joe?”
The blank stare was torturous.
The moral of this story: Hug. Your. Best. Friend for her support.