Sunday, January 27, 2013

my sister's keeper?

And I'm not even talking about that book/movie so stop thinking that that's what I'm talking about because it's not.

Here's the thing.
I've never been ashamed of my ability to let go of friendships where the close friend in question became wayward and, subsequently, a potentially bad influence on me. Don't misunderstand me, it was never easy, it always hurt and it was always hard. But I knew where I needed to be in life and I knew that continuing in these friendships wouldn't help me get there.
I never turned my back on them or cut them out of my life, I just let the ties of our friendship loosen until we just weren't best friends anymore.

In the past year a very good friend of mine, one of my best friends, began to change. At first they were little things, spending her sundays with her inactive boyfriend instead of going to church. It did concern me a little, but I didn't feel comfortable saying anything about it. The more time she spent with her boyfriend, the less I saw her. I didn't mind really, I was glad she was happy and every couple of weeks we'd have a girls' night, just sitting and talking. Until we didn't even do that anymore, and suddenly it had been 4 months since I'd even heard from her. But even before then I knew she and I were heading in opposite directions. Childhood had welded us together, but even then we had almost nothing in common, and as we grew older our opinions, ideas and values were increasingly at odds.

I always knew that we didn't agree on everything but for years as much as we talked, we never really got down to the grist, really learning who the other person was, until one late night conversation. That night it became blindly evident just how much I didn't know about her. I was somewhat shocked as she revealed how she really felt about the things that were important to me. I hated the feeling I got as she was pouring out her soul to me, the feeling that suddenly that the person staring back at me in the darkness was not my best friend, but a complete stranger. I tried so hard to stop it, to stop feeling like I didn't know her at all. I wanted to stop feeling like I didn't want her to be my best friend anymore. I wanted to yell at her, to be angry at her for tricking me into thinking she was someone that she clearly was not. But just as I articulated those thoughts in my mind, they changed. I wasn't angry at her, I was angry at myself. Angry at myself for not wanting to know these things, for wishing she had never said them. I was angry at myself for having been too cowardly to admit that somewhere I had known she was like this but I had only hoped she would change her mind.

I didn't put much effort into keeping in close contact with her.
I had already begun to let go.

But she kept coming back.
and I didn't understand why.

There had always been a sense of relief from the ones I'd let go. Like they would miss me but they were glad they didn't have to protect their molly-mormon best friend from their newfound friends and behaviors. They'd been relieved that they didn't have to hold back anymore.

I hadn't expected her to keep trying.

And this morning I still didn't know how I felt.
This morning I was still trying to decide whether or not it would be a waste of energy to mend our fraying friendship, trying to decide whether or not I even wanted to try.

But this morning the Bishop pulled me aside and asked to talk to me in his office.
He asked me about her. He knew her, he knew us both.
He knew we had been close.
He asked me if I knew what was going on, if I knew how she was doing, or why she wasn't coming to church.
I told him as much as I knew, which, frankly, wasn't much at all.

And then he asked me.
He asked me to get back in there and try to understand what was going on.
He asked me to invite her to activities.
He asked me to be there for her.

And I felt ugly inside because I didn't want to.
The feelings I had then were akin to : Am I my sister's keeper?
And I hate that I feel that way, even a little bit.
It's not that I don't care about her, or that I don't want her to come back.
But I know her.
For thirteen years I know her.
She is stubborn, she doesn't listen, she always has to be right, and she thinks knows better than anything anyone can tell her.

I'm afraid of trying,
I'm afraid of  loving her again,
I'm afraid of becoming invested, and hoping and being shut down.
Because that would hurt
so
much
more
than letting go.

And as I write this I realize how selfish that is.

I don't know how I'll try, or how she'll choose.
But the tears on my face are enough to know that I have to try.

Because I am my sister's keeper.

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