Have you ever wronged anyone? I mean reaaaaallly wronged them. Not just a little bit, but a LOT. I have. Thanks to Facebook, I can periodically search for said people. Most of the time, thankfully, I can never find them. Sometimes, like yesterday, I can.
When Jon and I were first married we lived in an apartment complex in Florida. One day at the pool, I struck up a conversation with a lovely gal who was there with her two year old daughter. Her son might have been there too, I don’t remember. Our husbands had both been in the Navy, liked to fish, etc. We began to hang out, have dinner, watch football. It was fun. Yeah, until Jon and I ruined it.
It was like a sick coordinated attack. They were smart people, it didn’t take long for them to figure out that Jon had a major drinking problem. They felt sorry for me and did their best to include us in their lives, despite Jon’s erratic behavior. One evening she and I hung out while the guys went fishing. I decided to head home with Jacob when it got dark. On the walk back, I noticed that Jon’s truck was home. Hmmm, I must have just missed them, I thought. I headed upstairs, assuming her husband was already home, and maybe Jon would be sitting in the living room ready to share his fishing tales. Um, no. What I walked into was quite opposite. Let’s just leave it at that.
Now, understand, that I had seen Jon go from drinking and quite awake to passed out in less than five minutes. The bathroom was still steamy and wet. I chalked the whole thing up to him being so drunk when he got home he had showered and promptly passed out on the bed. Jacob and I went through our normal bedtime routine and put an end to that night. During the night, our goofy loud neighbors had someone pounding on the door. They were partiers and made a lot of noise. I woke up and thought maybe this time I should call the police. Soon enough it stopped and I drifted back to sleep.
The next morning, Jon woke up and had NO memory of the night before. He did not remember coming home. Nothing. Now, either the phone rang early, or my friend met me outside, I don’t remember, but she had PLENTY to fill me in on. Jon had left her husband and drove off. Left him. By a river. In Florida. With wild beasts. Her husband had to hitch hike home. It had been them pounding on the door the night before. The sheer embarrassment and disbelief on my face, might have been the only thing keeping her from believing I had a part in it. I’ll never know. Needless to say, her husband removed himself from any further participation with Jon. With anything. I didn’t blame him. Neither did Jon. It was awful.
She and I managed to still be friends, but it was different after that. How could it not be? We both started working at the same place. Some of the women there treated her really crappy. She tried so hard to be perky, friendly, and vivacious, only to be met with sarcasm and scorn. I watched as she suffered silently at home as well. She wanted everything to be perfect, and to show that she was good enough. It was a tough veneer to crack. At one point, I got after her about it. I told her she needed to stand up for herself and not be such a Pollyanna. Oh, she so needed to hear that from me. Right. I couldn’t even keep my own life straight. How dare I be so self righteous?
After noticing that her husband was saying jerky things to her and how it tore her down to a tiny nub, I decided to do her one of my special favors. I was going to SHOW her how this pursuit of perfection would affect her daughter. I wanted to hit her hard so that she would wake up before it was “too late”. I sat down and I wrote her an email from the futuristic view point of her daughter . It was absolutely wretched. I sent it to their joint email account. Her husband read it first. (Which was part of my plan. He needed to wake up too.) He fired back with an explosive email, then he let her read it. She was extremely hurt. Instead of waking her up to the peace of not having to be so perfect, I basically called her the worst mother in the world. Shame. On. Me.
We never really spoke again. She has probably forgotten about me. At least, I hope she has. We were jerks. Incapable of doing anything but injecting drama into everything we did. What the heck? Did I go to the soap opera school of friendships? I would like to say I should have known better, but I didn’t. I do now, but that doesn’t keep from occasionally getting into hot water with my writing.
I have dreamed about her. In the dreams I apologize profusely, then I find out she has lived down the street from us for years. Sometimes, I think of her in passing and wonder what she’s been up to. Yesterday, one of the names of her kids popped into my head. I looked him up and there he was. From there, I found her and saw her face after ten years. Should I tell her I’m sorry? Should I leave it alone? As usual, I want to fix this. I’m not a very good fixer.