The Dildo House

Not a place that sells dildos.

Not a home built out of dildos.

And if dildos are currently being used there, I don’t know or need to know.

But, this house will always be the dildo house.

It’s an old house, generations old, and many a person has lived there.

When the current owner bought it, he was young, relatively innocent, and ambitious about a total overhaul of the place.

He even had some of his youthful friends come and help with the gutting, replumbing, rewiring, and rebuilding of the still-stuck-in-the-1800’s house.

Well, almost stuck there, with a small nod towards modern day amenities.

One of these sweet young (25?) young men was sitting on the floor in the basement of the house pulling electrical wires from a hole in the wall.

The wires got a little caught on something causing him to give a feisty tug.

The wire pulled loose and with it, a great surprise.

PLOP!

A giant, pink, dildo landed in his lap.

I am not kidding.

Giant.

Pink flesh colored.

With a tube of lube.

I so wish that I had been there at that moment, but I wasn’t. But I do imagine him jumping out of his skin when an unrealistically sized silicone penis landed right next to his real one.

I might have missed that scene, but what I did get to see was the found item resting on a piece of OSB in the backyard waiting for someone to figure out what to do with it.

That will never be unseen.

In case you want more info on dildos

 

 

Huge dilemma

This may not seem so huge to many of my readers, but if you know me at all, you will understand that for me…

Well, let me just explain here.

Again, if you know me at all, you’ve probably figured out that jewelry is significant to my every day well-being. Have you ever seen me out without earrings?

Probably not.

And then there is The Bracelet:

34 years with this baby

And The Ring (9-ish years):

The bracelets are an added bonus

The bracelets are an added bonus

So my right side is all set.

The problem is my left hand. Because of my pain disorder, I can’t sport a bracelet or a watch on that arm, so if I want it adorned (which of course I do – I am me, you know) it has to be rings.

And I know this might sound really trivial, a white girl first world problem, and I get it, it is, but there is a little more to it than you might think, because it directly ties into the whole marriage divorce thing. Let me explain:

When I got engaged, there was a ring, a ring that I adored. When we got married, there was another ring – one that I truly loved, but I was allergic to it.

Red Flag that I ignored.

But I never ever had to think about my left hand – it was all set. Until I got divorced.

I took the wedding band off immediately, but it left a big, soft, white circle around my finger that to me, was a glaring “Your life just fell apart and you failed your children in the process.” I figured if it screamed that to me, then every time the children saw my hand they would also be reminded that their lives had exploded and I didn’t feel like any of us needed that white squishy aide-mémoire.

So I had a “divorce ring” made and I loved it – the ring and the symbolism.IMG_2508

 

Then I moved on and got myself into the most amazingly dysfunctional relationship with a man who claimed “I’m going to replace that divorce ring with a wedding band.”

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It’s called “Crater” and I thought the earthy name would be solid and grounding.

Thank god that didn’t happen. But when that all fell apart it seemed like a good time to once again, eliminate some of the symbols of my past and move forward. So I purchased this one from an artist down in Mexico City:

 

I also came to the conclusion that it was time to quit focusing on the empty finger and celebrate my middle finger (which sees a lot more action anyway.)

Love love loved this one, until…

Another relationship. Time for another ring.

And I will interject here that wanting a new ring with a new relationship had NOTHING to do with wanting the Ring

So I moved on, decided to get something totally different:

This seemed to be the jewel that for which I had been searching…

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…until it broke.

Because I am really hard on my hands and whatever is on them.

So then I went through all of the others that I had picked up over the years, trying, rejecting, and trying again, all while my right hand screamed – get it together, Lady, just put on a ring and forget about it.

There was this one, with the hideous fake turquoise in the middle of the otherwise, stunning piece of artwork:IMG_2507

 

 

 

IMG_2512There’s the fossil ring that my off-the-deep-end cousin made:

He just died so I tried to wear it again, but it’s just really too masculine for me.

I have a few other random ones, but nothing has felt like I want it to be a semi-permanent part of my body, my life, me.

So then I’ve been looking around at rings. I’ve also been looking around at other people’s hands, trying for some inspiration. I got some recently with my friend Dodo who wears 2 silver rings on her left hand. One of which is, of course, her wedding band.

So then I thought, maybe I should look first for something that fits my ring finger – seems novel and maybe I’ve been barking up the wrong tree.

But that is a loaded proposition. To begin sporting a ring on your left finger when you are actually in a serious relationship, sends a mighty big message to people, even when there is no message to be received.

So I have fumbled.

And in my fumbling for a fucking ring – again, I understand that this is not quite as big of an issue as world hunger – I have dredged up all of these other feelings about relationships and marriage and divorce and symbols of all of the above.

And I get stymied because suddenly, it’s not about a little chunk of silver and it’s all about where I am in my life, how I present myself to the world, and what that shiny bit conveys.

When I was single, it seemed like it was less significant if I wore something on my “wedding band” finger, but now it feels like it would be perceived as a statement.

I remember when I first wore my engagement ring – silver with an almost imperceptible diamond – I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I used to stand at work with my hand held out in front of me gazing adoringly at it. I hoped that as I reached to hand someone  something, that they would notice and say “my what a beautiful ring,” and I could then say, “yes, yes it is, isn’t it?”

And then they could say, “Are you engaged?”

And I could squeal, “YES!!!”

I still think it's beautiful. And it still fits. Bummer.

I still think it’s beautiful. And it still fits. Bummer.

I kept my engagement ring – but it’s not like I can actually wear it. And I’m not going to pass it on to one of my children because who wants to propose to a girl with a ring that symbolizes a really wretched marriage?

And I threw the wedding band in the river.

It makes me sad to think of that sweet, hopeful, and stupid young girl. And then it makes me proud to look at the display of rings past and know that each one symbolizes both my pain and my growth over the last few years.

So as I put each chapter behind me and move on to the next, I want to put the symbols of those chapters behind me too.

So maybe this is why I won’t ever find one ring that meets my needs, one semi-permanent fixture on my body – because I am not a semi-permanent fixture – I am still changing and growing and evolving.

And this is a thought that I haven’t had until just now, as I am writing this:

Maybe I should stop looking for forever and start looking for “right now.”

 

 

Coming out of the closet

I’ve been struggling to write.  I haven’t been especially inspired.  Really it all began with the shutting down of Single in the Southwest.

That was my choice – yes it was, in many ways – but to be totally honest, I hated ending that blog. It still exists, it’s just that I don’t write there any more and no one has access to it unless I allow it.

My Ex, T-dub, hated Single. Vehemently.

And I sort of can’t blame him, yet I repeatedly explained the math to him – stop giving me so much to write about and I will quit publicly raking you over the coals. I thought it was simple, yet apparently he didn’t see it that way.

In a moment of, I’m not sure what, frustration? indignation? I got so sick of him and his oh poor me I am such a victim of her writing act that I decided to rid the world of Single in the Southwest.

I understand why I did it and in the moment it seemed like the right thing to do – for the children.

Not that I believe the children were being hurt by anything I had to say – they didn’t even care about the blog – but T said that he would cooperate and be respectful if the blog was gone so poof! gone.

And I called his bluff. He “spoke” to me one time after that – ONE TIME.

And that was via text and just enough to inform me that no, he would not be paying his portion of the kids medical bills.

That was a year ago.

Could I have had my First Amendment Rights upheld in a court room? Probably. I certainly wasn’t writing anything that wasn’t true.images-2

I didn’t lie about him calling me a whore. I didn’t lie about him dying his chest hair. I didn’t make it up when he threatened me in public – in front of the kids and their entire football team – screaming that I had failed my children.

I also didn’t only write about him. There was a series on vibrators, quite a bit about parenting teenagers, and the one about work that almost cost me my job. And yet, he thought it was all about him.

Typical.

So yes, there was a good chance that I could have kept on typing away but I grew tired of the fight.

I also had a lot of fear. What if a Judge saw me as a bad parent because I wrote the things that I wrote? What if we stood in a courtroom and the Judge agreed that I was harming the children with my words? What if the judge called me a whore?

Then, the moment preceding the moment where I threw my hands up in the air yelling “I give up,” T was in the middle of insisting that of course, the blog could stay, but that he would be able to determine if anything that I wrote was suitable or acceptable.

In other words he believed that he should have final editorial approval before I hit “Publish.”

C.E.N.S.O.R.S.H.I.P.

Fuck that noise.

So, Blog – Gone.

Writer’s block – here for the long haul.

One of my greatest sadnesses when I look back over the years is realizing just how much of my life has been run by fear – primarily fear of him.

I have this deep anxiety-producing paranoia of getting in trouble which most likely started when, surprise surprise, I was a young kid and didn’t want to get in trouble.

Unfortunately I lived my marriage in a way that created the same dynamic. And then it showed up in a few other areas of my world, like work, and suddenly it became crippling.

I’d like to say that it became the litmus test for all decisions that I made, but the truth is, it didn’t.

I’m still independent and feisty enough to not let anyone else tell me what I can and cannot do.

I just suffered the consequences afterwards. In other words, I got in trouble.

So with my kids’ well-being at stake, I cowered in the face of fear and shut my trouble making mouth.

And in the process, shut myself right down.

But things are shifting for me. Or I actually need them to shift and so here is a step that will hopefully take me in that direction.

Over the last couple of years and the last few court hearings, I have come out on top – way on top. I have seen that the court system may be really flawed, but if you get a wise judge who is also a parent, sometimes things work out the way that they should; the way that is actually best for the children and…fair.

With the freedom of a few wins and watching a judge put him in his place and validate that I am a good mother, I am able to shed some of my fears.

So today, I am taking a monumental step. I am coming out of hiding.

Have I thought this through?

Probably not thoroughly enough, but I tend to be impulsive anyway.

I’m sick of the fear. I am sick of hiding. Sick to death of handing my power over to him. And living in secrecy has been doing just that.

So, today, I will link HDD to my own Facebook page.

And right here, right now I will say:

I , Suzanne Strazza, am High Desert Darlin, the artist formerly known as Single in the Southwest.

And I am a writer, a mother, a lover.

I am exercising my First Amendment rights.

And I am free.

images

No, being an introvert is not cool.

Google “being an introvert is cool” and you will get approximately 502,000 hits.

Huffington Post, Near Science, Thought Catalog Weekly, Introverts for Dummies.

Have you seen all of the memes out there? Girl wrapped in blanket on couch with cat and book. Girl not answering her phone. Girl sneaking out of a party without saying goodbye.

It’s almost always a girl.

And she’s usually quite endearing.

And happy.

There are new articles, studies, personal essays and cartoons every single day celebrating the life of an introvert, making good-natured jokes about a person hoping that a party gets cancelled or eating alone in a restaurant.

I even saw on an Introvert Bingo board “Adorably Awkward.”

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The message is definitely YAY for wanting to be alone!

Many of my loved ones find me quirky, silly, eccentric.

But let’s just clear something up right now…

IT’S NOT FUCKING COOL TO HAVE PANIC ATTACKS BEFORE FRIENDS SHOW UP AT YOUR HOUSE.

Sure, I can embrace the lighter side of introversion – I do entertain myself well, I enjoy my own company, I love to read and definitely do not need external attention to feel complete or even good about myself. And yes, because I have relatively high self-esteem, I prefer being a loner than not.

But it can be so very very dark and scary and lonely and it’s not about a goddamn bingo board or hanging out with my cat.

Last night, MCB was at the neighbor’s and when he came home he said that they were coming over for burgers (which he was preparing so it wasn’t about me having to cook.) 2 close friends, super duper casual and easy and fun. They’d been pulling thistle all day and needed to be fed.

All in all a lovely invitation from MCB and had I had notice, I would have probably gotten excited.

But, since it was spur of the moment, I lost my shit. Seriously fell apart. I ended up on the bathroom floor pathetically unable to deal, sobbing.

I couldn’t decide which was worse: telling the friends to not come over and suffer the humiliation of being rude; having them come over and trying to fake my way through the evening while my heart was pounding in my chest and I was fighting back tears and therefore couldn’t be nice, and suffer the humiliation of being a bitch to two really kind people; or letting them come over and hiding in my room pretending to be sick and suffering the humiliation of them knowing that I am a complete basket case.

I had to leave the house and go for a drive. I went to the park where I often go to cry, saw a friend and totally unloaded all of my social anxiety onto his shoulders (bless his heart.) I drove around looking at wildlife wishing I was a fox.

Then, mortified, I called MCB to let him know that I was (slowly) recovering and that yes, they should come over and hopefully I was going to pull it together and be hospitable.

I did. I actually had a good time. Since M and M were here when I finally returned and deserved and explanation I offered up, “I had a breakdown” and left it at that.

What was I going to say,”I completely freaked out because I found out that you two were coming over”?

The dark side of “cool introversion” is about exhaustion and terror and despondency. It’s about crying on the bathroom floor because you just found out that people are unexpectedly coming to your house.

It means not going to the store when you desperately need something because you don’t want to see anyone and have to talk, so doing without things like…dinner.

It’s about not getting your oil changed when it’s WAY overdue even when a mechanic shop is on your property because you get gripped at the thought of having to ask for something even though the mechanic is a good friend and it’s his job.

It’s about not returning movies on time for fear of another person standing in front of the red box.

It’s about losing friends because you are unable to keep in contact since to do so would mean talking on the phone or worse – actually making time for a face to face.

It mean people not liking you because they think you’re stuck up or intimidating.

It’s about arguing with the “more the merrier” friend because she really doesn’t get that for you, more isn’t merrier and you feel so misunderstood and flawed because you’re not able to be with great people all at one time and you’re sick and tired of having to explain that to her.

It’s about feeling deep shame when your best friend does actually get it and asks if it’s okay to invite one more person to go to the movie with the two of you.

It’s about having to offend people when you  lay down the law about drop-ins and not making exceptions even for the closest of friends.

It’s about having to have time to wrap your head around shifting gears, changing plans and being in public. It’s about sometimes being utterly unable to to that.

I live on a working ranch, there is always activity here, there are always people around.

I lie in my bed silently praying that no one decides to knock on the door.

I get resentful that I can’t go collect chicken eggs without risking a conversation. Sometimes I blow off the chickens.

I spent the entirety of today alone, doing laundry, weeding, drying mint, petting my dog. I haven’t been on the phone. I haven’t left the house except to feed the chickens. I thought about watching a movie tonight, but it feels too stimulating.

So sure, there are some really good things about not being a social beast and I am super okay with going to the desert by myself and writing for three days without fear or boredom or FOMO. I am incredibly well-read and getting sent to my room as a kids was a gift, not a punishment.

But folks, let’s not make light of this. Let’s not pretend that it’s all about the cat and the couch.

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Your very bad grammar

I’ve been so good.

I’ve been totally behaving myself.

I haven’t ranted or raved or made fun of them for quite some time.

I’m really trying to just ignore them completely.

But I just can’t help myself – they’re too easy. It’s like they are begging for ridicule…

…or at least a hearty smack down by the Grammar Police.

First, the overuse of the word “rather” – 3 times, 2 sentences.

Then, “diseased” instead of “deceased” – Wow. Just. Wow.

But this:

I understand that the complexities of two-syllable words might just be too much but seriously, can’t you figure out “I” versus “Me”???????????????????

Come on, Grammar 101, folks.

Binging

What is it about the word “budget” that makes me want to hit the mall?

At least Amazon and PRANA dot com.

All I want is new shit to wear in my poverty: new things to distract me from my empty stomach. All under the guise of  “If I dress like a writer then I will be a writer and then I will write the Great American Novel and make it onto the New York Times Best Seller List and it will be totally worth the new yoga pants. And, if I don’t get those cute pants, then when it’s time to sit down and write all I will have to wear is distractingly uncomfortable clothing that will not allow my brain the freedom it needs to put words on paper.”

So yeah, I need to shop.

Most of the time, online window shopping works for me. I go to multiple websites, spend hours finding just the right items (including the solar powered rechargeable battery charger for my new wireless mouse that goes with my new desktop computer) fill up my shopping basket, narrow it down, then close the page and leave feeling totally satisfied.

But when I am on this tight of a budget, the kind where I am not allow to spend any money on any thing except living expenses, a few full carts doesn’t make a dent in the need to spend.

Eventually I’ll get into the groove, I will enjoy seeing how much money I can save. Having been extremely successful at denying myself food for several years, I can easily starve my spending habits and gain a little pride with every penny that lands in the piggy bank.

It’s just that getting to the place of sensible self denial takes a lot of tenacity that I’m not really feeling today as much as I am the need to have a new dress to wear on my book tour.

 

Change is coming

I really wanted to write “Winter is coming” but that has nothing to do with anything since this is about fresh change, not oppressive, cold change, and besides, frigid, snowy, uncomfortable winter is already here and I’m already tired of falling down on ice.

Change though – change is acomin’, in the air, around the bend, HERE. NOW.

And I am psyched.

I don’t know what all of the changes are going to be, but I know things are going to get a big shake up because I dyed my hair purple.

And hair dying is the gateway activity.

I also redid my office and painted my desk orange with polka-dots. My mother would have a hissy fit if she knew that I had painted over the antique finish on the antique desk. But, she’ll never know.

I want to write and write and write.  I did a brief interview with Pam Houston the other day and as I wrote it up I had a sudden craving for journalism and once again being a sleuth; tracking down leads that will result in bringing corruption and crime to light and maybe even me being awarded the Pulitzer.

Or, I can earn the Pulitzer with my heartfelt, raw, gripping, memoir, or my novel which the New York Times will call, “Astounding.”

I’m on a roll here.

One thing that is changing – for sure – is a move. Bigger house, lots of inside and outside space, hot tub, a plethora of windows, and the coolest kitchen island you’ve ever seen.

Midlife crisis?

Maybe.

Who cares?

Space Space Space

I need it want it crave it.

Am going to get it.

And between the hair and the new house, the change ball is rolling.

 

The day I’ve been waiting for all of my life

Or at least as long as I have been evolved enough to appreciate the genius of David Sedaris.

I’ll admit, the first time I heard his voice on NPR, I hit scan. It was nasally and effeminate and what I perceived as a tiny bit whiney.

Then, one day I heard him talking about living in France and missing hearing English and the highlight of his day being when he tuned into NPR and heard Terry Gross say “Fresh Air,” and I was hooked.

And for all I know, it didn’t happen that way and he said he couldn’t stand Terry Gross and maybe it wasn’t even David Sedaris, but this is how it has played in out my mind over and over, so now it’s truth.

And I have no idea how I came across “Me Talk Pretty One Day” – maybe it was on the new release shelf at the library, maybe I heard Terry Gross talking about it, maybe Scott Simon. I’ll never remember, which is somewhat sad because it was a pivotal moment in my life and  I like to remember those moments that changed my existence forever.

Shit. I had a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old when it was published. I honestly can’t believe I found time to read.

But that was at the time in my life when I would announce to the entire household, “Mamma has to poo,” and then run into our tiny bathroom where I could sit on the pot and rest my head on the edge of the sink and breathe, trying to remember that I liked my family. Occasionally I did some reading in there too so that could be how I found time for Talking Pretty.

I actually hardly ever pooed

I was enjoyed it from the get-go, but when I got to the story about Easter and the Flying Bell…

Changed perspective on the world.

And, this is when I decided that I would become the Female David Sedaris.

If you have not read Jesus Shaves, you must.

I have since devoured, multiple times, every word that he has produced.  I have come to find great comfort in his snarky little voice; his brilliance has become my guiding light.

I want to live in France.

I want Hugh.

Once, I was asked to teach a writing class for teenagers. My first class was awkward, as always; angsty teenage girls (only girls, as no teenage boy would EVER sign up for a writing class, after school, for no credit) many of them homeschooled, so incredibly uncomfortable in an 8×8 room with other people, then Breakfast Club Ally Sheedy was in there as well as the two besties who wrote “fiction” about each other’s love lives.

I began the class by talking about “Voice” and finding one’s own voice in writing. I read several bits from different authors not only as examples, but as eye-openers into a world of stories that didn’t involve blood-sucking, glitter-glued vampires.

I saved my favorite for last: Jesus Shaves.

Again, a must-read. At least watch the video.

In brief, the story is about French class, in France, with people whose only thing in common was that they all had other languages as firsts and were trying to communicate in a second one about, Easter.

I won’t say anything to ruin it for you, but I will say that if someone was Jesus-sensitive, it could be a bit offensive.

Which is what I began to think, about 1/2 way through my reading, and watching the faces of the sisters-with-religious-hair go from timid smiles, to shock, to horror, to “You’re going to burn in Hell, Teacher.”

And I didn’t know what to do.

It was like that time I was waiting tables and I was really stoned and for the first time in my service career, I carried four water glasses, instead of the inconvenient three, in my diminutive hands to a table of thirsty middle-aged vacationers.  I was so excited that I began telling them about my tiny hands handicap and how it’s been plaguing me for years. Half way through that, the part of my brain that wasn’t connected to my mouth said, “Honey, they know you’re stoned. You should stop.”

But the problem was, I couldn’t. To do so would have been even more awkward that the rambling telling of the victory.

So I finished my litany and skulked away to the kitchen to do a bong hit.

And that’s how I felt with the ass-length braids staring up at me. What was I to say, “Oh my, have I offended thee?”

So I rambled on, rushing through, just to end this torturous moment. But then I got to the bit about the bell and I couldn’t contain myself. It began as a giggle and soon became a cackle, then a roar. I tried to contain it, but then snot came out of my nose, so I gave up.

Fuck the Bible Sisters. Fuck Ally Sheedy. Fuck the latent lesbians.

Fuck teenage girls.

So years later, here I am, bouncing in my seat because in just 11 hours and 7 minutes, I will be sitting in my front row seat (because I did buy the first two tickets sold) gazing adoringly, and listening raptly to this man who is my soulmate. I know, too, that he is going to look at me and think “I’ll be she’s funny – I want to be her friend. She’s probably a brilliant writer too.” and after the show, he will ask me to be pen pals so we can exchange witty observations on humanity and he will offer to introduce me to Scott Simon, then suggest that we read together on Weekend Edition, just wouldn’t that be a hoot.

I am so excited about tonight, and have been since I first heard of his appearance, that I am am actually becoming a tiny bit sad because it’s almost over.

And I have so much angst about meeting and him not having the space to really to know me until it’s too late and he’s back in his hotel room missing out. Or worse, not meeting him at all.

MyAdorablyCuteBoyfriend is a saint because he is acting very enthusiastic about this night but when I said, “You might not like him,” he responded, “I already figure that I won’t,” but he’s going with me anyway and might even wear a bow-tie.

So now I am down to 10 hours and 59 minutes and I’m thinking that I better stop writing and go scour my closet so I can find just the right attire to meet the coolest uncool man I’ll ever know.

 

Roget

roget

I love him.

Backstory: I’ve been in a foul humor lately and trying to figure out some things in my life because I need some changes. Something bigger than the dead friend’s dog. Bigger than finding 8 eggs in the henhouse instead of 2, and bigger than sitting on my ass and not running for the last month.

I know, hard to beat.

So I started picking through all of the things in my life that make me feel bad about myself, of which there are many, and many of them can’t be changed overnight, if ever, and tried to come up with one thing I could do that might bring in a little light.

One particular area which offers many opportunities for self-flagellation is the fact that I am not using my god given gift of writing except to entertain myself every once in a while. I’ve completely fizzled out into the land of writers who have either been blocked or just plain given up.

First step, start some consistency in the journal.  Next step, pick up the pace with the blog. After that, start being regular with my 11-year-old column. Then, find some freelance work. Segue into pushing the comfort zone with submissions.

And yes, this is all feeling good.  It’s kind of the bright spot of my day when I can create a blog post or respond to an editing gig.

And then today, I came home sick, and I actually do feel like shit, but I’m also excited to be at home writing rather than at work doing data entry, which is what I was working on when my head started to hurt, and I sat down to write and I needed a word and instead of going to Dictionary.com, I actually ran upstairs and got my friend Roget, who has been sitting on the shelf, ignored, for over a year now.

And even after all of this time, he is still speaking to me.

And as I grabbed him off the shelf, “The Glamour of Grammar” called out to me in her compelling voice, so she came down to the kitchen with me too, and here the three of us sit, getting reacquainted, and I realize that, in this particular arena of change, by inviting my old friends to sit down at the table, I’m on my way back.

Friendship

Years ago, I had a friend, J, who was totally sucking me dry. We’d been friends for 100 years, but our friendship had deteriorated and it felt like a chore to spend time with her – even if it was just on the phone.

This was in the days before email – that might have made things manageable.

Every conversation was all about her: her problems, her feelings, her sadness, her anger, her life.

I had small children and an abusive husband (although I was still in denial about that) and was exhausted and miserable most of the time. I looked to my friendships to bring me joy and laughter. I wanted support and to support. Friendships at that point were about camaraderie and shared experiences.

They were supposed to be two-way.

Ours always had been, but they no longer were.

For years, I believed that I just needed to “be there” for her; to listen to her, to accept her self-centeredness and anger – even when it was inappropriately directed at me. I believed that it was a phase – that this wasn’t who she really was, and that likely, at some point, our roles would be reversed and I would need her as much as she currently needed me.

She had already propped me up a million times.

But I came to resent that she never even asked about my life, my kids, my shitty husband, my happiness or discontent. I would begin a sentence with “I” and she would follow with “I” and I would disappear.

I was talking to another friend about it who said, “We’ve come to a point in our lives where we don’t have time for friendships that don’t feed us.”

I believed her and yet felt that J was too old of a friend, we’d been through too much together and she was hurting badly enough that I couldn’t let go – that would make me a horrible and selfish person.

And yet, I slowly and then quickly, began to back out. And I honestly felt more free – I no longer dreaded answering the phone.

This was also in the time before Caller ID, so answering the phone was a total crapshoot.

I missed her, for sure, but I told myself that what I missed no longer existed. I thought, “If I met J now, we wouldn’t be friends.”

We still talked once in a while, but no longer made any honest effort to see each other. I knew that she harbored some anger towards me, and I understood and accepted that.

The deterioration of our friendship made me sad and I always hoped that one day, we could reestablish our connection.

And yet…I definitely felt like I had done the right thing – for me.

The opportunity to reconnect will never happen. J is dead. She died a few years after I withdrew.

At her funereal someone actually said, “Yeah, she was angry with you. She didn’t feel like you were a friend to her any longer.”

A crushing blow – although I’m not sure why. I totally expected and deserved that.

And now that she’s gone, of course I have regrets. And I am envious of those who maintained their connections with her – I feel like I missed out.

In some ways. And some ways, not.

Obviously I still think about it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing about it on this sunny Sunday morning.

Did I do the right thing? Was I selfish? Did I bail on a friend or am I pretending that she was really a friend at that point?

It sure didn’t feel like it.

I miss her, miss what we had had for so many years. But then again I don’t miss, at all, what it had turned into.

Would it have turned around again?

Who knows.

Does the possibility of shift make it okay to stick around when someone is completely sucking you dry?

Is it okay to say, “This really isn’t working for me,”?

Or is that being equally as selfish and self-serving?

If I had the chance for a do-over, what would I choose?