When I was in middle school, I had a friend whose life was a little on the rough side. She wasn't sexually abused, nor physical or mental abused. Her stepfather was addicted to prescription drugs. I think her mother took some pain killers occasionally, too. But it wasn't really bad.
Their house was always clean; her mother was real sweet. Mary's stepfather was also relatively nice.
She was my best friend in a school I was foreign to. I met Mary in fifth grade at a school in Holmes County, Fla. In the middle of the school year, my mother remarried, and we moved to Bethlehem, where her new husband was from. Mary befriended me right away, and the great thing about it was she lived down the road from me.
We would walk to the Tabernacle, a swimming hole, and swim for hours, or just sit around and goof off at my house or hers.
My childhood wasn't perfect either, so she and I understood each other well. We were very close friends.
In the sixth grade, drug and tobacco awareness seminars began. The pictures and the movies I saw would scare me. I knew I never wanted to do drugs. For Mary, though, the response was different. Even at that age, I could tell that she wasn't particularly moved.
I transferred to a different school in high school, but Mary and I kept in touch. She even briefly attended my current school, but didn't stay. I could see she was straying from what I thought was good, and heading right into a darker lifestyle.
I tried many times to reach out to her. But she began doing drugs anyway. I alternated between trying to help her, and trying to stay away from her.
Two different times, as adults, I tried to help her. While both of us were pregnant, I moved her in with me. And during a tumultuous time I was having myself, I reached out to her again. She would straighten up for a little while, but ultimately go back to the other lifestyle.
After I had my children, I went back to college to get my degree. My major was obvious, English, but my minor was not so - Psychology. Those that knew me, knew of my lack of belief in the practices of therapists.
But I had to understand Mary. I thought that maybe if I understood her, I could better instruct my children. The only thing that I understand now is that it isn't black and white.
There is no one reason why people choose to be self-destructive.
I did figure out she was self-destructive. Some people don't like themselves very much. Maybe it is guilt over something they did, a low self-esteem because of where they come from or a mental disorder. Some are dissatisfied with their current situation in life.
My friend, Mary, comes out of her drug-induced oblivion every once in a while and tries to straighten out her life. But she never contacts me. I find out through a long-reaching and considerate grapevine. She talks to them, but she asks them not to tell me about her.
My psychological mind understands she is ashamed. My breaking heart wishes she still felt that bond we shared so long ago.