My oldest friend is bipolar. I know this is a real condition. I know there's a lot in her behavior that she can't help. She has poor impulse control and few financial resources.* To my knowledge, she hasn't made a single friend in her eleven years since she moved to California. This makes me sad because she can be one of the funniest people on the planet. But she gets depressed and filled with self-loathing. No one would want to hang with her because she's divorced ... overweight ... unemployed ... broke ... She's so sure everyone is judging her she seems to get paralyzed.
I love her. My heart goes out to her. But here's the thing: she really can't be there for me in any meaningful way, and I'm hurt.
In the run-up to her son's wedding in Austin, I offered to help her with a wig. I sent her a visor and masks to wear on the plane. I heard nothing back. For a month. The wedding was Friday. My phone kept going off.
Ping! She'd arrived in Texas. Ping! She loves Texas barbecue. Ping! She's staying at an airbnb! Ping! She's getting her hair done. Ping! It's raining really hard. Ping! She's home.
Ping my ass. I don't give a shit. I'm angry.
Last fall, when my niece was getting married, I got no support from my oldest friend. She has known my family nearly as long as I have -- we've known each other since Kindergarten -- and she knew how deeply ambivalent I was about spending time with my kid sister, how alone I felt going into the ceremony. She knows I'm afraid to fly under the best circumstances, and during a pandemic before anyone had been vaccinated is not the best circumstance. She didn't care what I wore or how my hair was done. She didn't ask about the coach house I stayed in.
She could not have cared less.
She never bothered to check the wedding photos I posted to Facebook. She knows my niece. She didn't "have time to log into Facebook." She was too busy writing fan fiction about Keanu Reeves on a website called Wattpad. That was, literally, more important to her than me or my niece.
Well, guess what: People pay me for what I write and I am facing a Monday deadline. I'm supposed to take time away from that while she couldn't tear herself from fantasy Keanu.
She doesn't know about Henry's decline since losing his job. She doesn't know about my broken tooth. She doesn't know how isolated I feel, how lonely I am for my friends but I've been too busy with work and Henry and Kathy leave me depleted.
She doesn't care about any of that. She's begun writing fan fiction about Beatle George circa 1964 and an American girl with a pretentious name. Oh yeah, and my friend has to find a place to live.† But here's the thing about Wattpad: entries are date stamped. So I'm not the only thing she's ignoring for fantasy.
Intellectually, I know she can't help any of this. Intellectually, I forgive her 100 fold because I support her struggle with a very real condition. Intellectually I remind myself how much she has to offer when she can. Intellectually I honor our history.
But emotionally, I'm struggling. I'm hurt. I feel used and I miss my oldest friend as she was.
Still, if she chooses to call me this week -- after my deadline and dental work -- I will ooh and aah about the wedding. I will be insincere, but I will do it. Because I am her friend.
Thanks for listening to me vent.
*In 2018, when I was away for the weekend with my friend John, I got a call from the finance company that held the loan on her car. She'd used me as reference. They were about repossess it. I never returned the call -- I'm 2000 miles away, after all -- and never told her about it because she'd be mortified. She never told me what happened to her car.
†I'm not exaggerating: her cousin sold the home she's been living in.