I think I’ve written, erased, and rewritten this a million times.
How do you tell a story without causing pain to the people involved but also share what you learned from it? How do you say that you used to be best friends with someone who turned to drugs? How do you tell the story of two girls that grew up in trailer parks and one of them got out while the other has overdosed multiple times? How do I make the truth prettier than what it is?
Truth is, I can’t. There isn’t a way to fluff this or to make it sound better than what it is-and to water this down would be a disservice. So, here I am, typing and erasing in an endless cycle in an attempt to ensure that what I am about to say is something worth saying.
I grew up in a trailer park. If I’m being honest, I didn’t know that we were less off or that we were different from other families because a trailer park was all I knew. My friends lived down the row, in a different park, or an apartment complex two stoplights down. I shared a room with my sister that had cool bunk beds, a bookcase that was stuffed with books, and a swing set in our little yard. I remember having a group of friends and bouncing between trailers, doors slamming shut as we yelled whose trailer we were going to next. Our days were spent exploring until the streetlights came on and running home with fireflies in peanut butter jars. I wouldn’t trade my childhood for anything.
My best friend until I was 12 was an extension of who I was. We were joined at the hip and I vividly remember birthdays and Saturday mornings spent laughing in her little bedroom and running through the sprinkler at her house. For 12 years, we were thick as thieves-I could have sworn that she was going to be my best friend forever.
And then my family moved.
She was my best friend and suddenly she wasn’t.
Recently, I found out that she had overdosed. Multiple times.
I didn’t know how to process this. I still don’t. We had drifted our separate ways years ago. I devoted myself to my studies and she hung with what would be called the ‘wrong crowd’. I graduated high school, she didn’t. I went to college, she didn’t. I, for lack of a better term, got out. She didn’t.
And yet, part of me wishes life had played out differently. I wish that she understood that she didn’t have to choose the life she has. I wish that she could walk away.
There are a lot of things I wish.
I think what I want people to know is that it is okay to not be okay. You are allowed to feel and to hurt and that feeling emotion is something that makes us all wonderfully human. You are allowed to make mistakes. You are allowed to have life happen to you; your response does not define you. At the same time, you have to know that you are worthy of help. There are so many resources but you have to be willing to get that help first before it can ever be effective. You have to make the choice for yourself.
I want you to know friend breakups happen. They happen for so many reasons, many of which we don’t understand. I want you to know that you don’t always keep your childhood friends and sometimes, you find them as an awkward middle schooler.
I want you to know, if my childhood best friend ever reads this, I want you to know that I still love you. I found a picture of us, cleaning out a box, and oh man, did I immediately go back to your bathroom, sitting on the toilet, applying eyeliner for the first time.
We may have taken separate paths and life hasn’t been kind to you but I want you to know that you are valued, you are loved, and you are worthy of good things simply because you are human.