Today is the birthday of a dear friend of mine, and in honor of that, I’d like to tell you about her. I won’t be revealing her name, or age, or other identifying characteristics, but just talking about her, how I met her, how I see her, and things along those lines.
I first met her at Menninger. To be honest, after seeing the other patients on the unit, I was a little intimidated when she first spoke to me, because she’s attractive, and she seemed very outgoing, and those two things in concert make me very nervous. But that went away quickly, because, besides being one of the most outgoing people on the unit, she was also one of the nicest. She was very welcoming, and made me feel like there was less to be scared about. I know how much effort that must have taken from her now, and while I was grateful for it then, I am doubly so now.
She was actually nearing the end of her stay as I was just beginning mine, but the time we did get a chance to spend around each other was great, and she helped me feel much more comfortable. For one, she actually seemed to like the often bewildering array of strange noises that I make; it was one of the things she said she’d miss when she finally left. She was very willing to share about her troubles, which was also good to hear, because I was very hesitant about sharing mine among a group of people I didn’t know very well. I figured if she could do it around someone she barely knew like me, then I could, too.
She was also very willing to speak her mind if things bothered her, another trait I found admirable. As I have noted before, my roommate bothered me the entire time I was at Menninger, but I never said a word; she was willing to call people on things they were obviously dancing around, and especially willing to speak her mind if you were doing something rude. It was obvious she missed being around her friends from home, but she didn’t let that get in the way of her treatment; she worked hard, and when she was ready to leave, her final groups were full of the knowledge she had acquired, all in a very eloquent form.
After she left, I didn’t think I’d see her again, though I tried to keep in touch via e-mail. Little did I know that 5 weeks later, I would be coming to the same place as her. I feel like I have learned a lot more about her, and what I have found is that she is a very strong woman. The things she has had to deal with are amazing to me, and that she has dealt with them as well as she has is even more amazing. Also the fact that she has been willing to share all she has with someone she’s only known a few months tells me that she thinks I am worth the trust she has in me, something I strive to live up to.
I know she is still troubled; she deeply misses her friends and her dog from home. She has a hard time, like many of us do, accepting her emotions, especially the ones she isn’t very familiar with, and sometimes they just leave her feeling angry. She feels that people don’t like her, that they see her as ugly or mean, and that is so far from the truth that it may well be in another state. I know her as a beautiful, intelligent, friendly woman who made an effort to reach out to a scared, introverted new person, and a friend who has been willing to share a great deal with me. Her roommates love her, and so do many of the other people here in the program.
We see how hard she works, and how frustrated she gets that she isn’t moving fast enough. We see how she sometimes beats herself up when she feels like she has been mean, and how far she goes to make amends. She is very critical of her appearance, but I’ve never seen it, and I imagine others around her haven’t either. She has been nothing but a great friend to me; she has helped talk me through difficult situations, talked to me about her problems, and been willing to call me out when I have been going in the wrong direction. I can only hope to be as good a friend to her as she has been to me.
I, and many others, are trying to make her birthday as enjoyable as possible. We want her to know how much we love and care for her, and how much her presence and personality have affected us for the better. To her, we say happy birthday, and may each year be better than the last.
P.S. – I’m letting her moderate comments on this entry, so don’t say anything that would reveal her identity.