I realize she came into my life for a specific reason at a specific time.
“A good friend will betray you,” the soothsayer warned. I had been walking down 18th street near Rittenhouse Square, a ritzy area in Philadelphia, minding my own business. The last thing I expected was for a random psychic to stop me with an ominous prediction about a friendship.
“Um, I don’t think so. None of my friends would do anything like that.” Convinced she just wanted $900 to remove bad luck or other such nonsense, I brushed her off and walked away.
Little did I know, years later she would prove to be right.
I met Misty (not her real name) at a pivotal moment in my life. My parents and I had a rocky relationship at best and one that would continue to deteriorate to the point where they eventually felt they needed to disown me. Misty swooped in like my savior — the salve to my wounded soul.
We immediately bonded while waiting tables, the spark palatable between us like Amy Poehlerand Tina Fey. She was adopted, her mother had died, her father was abusive, and her older brother had sexually abused her. We were two lost souls without a family eager to make our way in the world in spite of the fact that we had no family to love us.
Misty was there for me when no one else was. She listened to me cry after I overheard my mother call me a slut. When I found out they had a private investigator following me around. When my sister took their side. When I broke up with my boyfriend. When our coworkers mocked me when they realized he was dating someone new.
I was there for her, too. Like when her abusive ex-boyfriend ran into us at a club and tried to start an argument. When our boss tried to fire her. When her new boyfriend dumped her. But it wasn’t just our emotional connection that bonded us together. Misty and I shared a mutual love of Led Zeppelin, making fart jokes, and vintage shopping. We were Cher and Dionne meetsBlink-182.
I eventually left Philly for L.A. with my boyfriend after we got back together. We talked constantly, with me trying to convince her to move to L.A. After all, what did she really have in Philly? We were both fresh out of college, still waiting tables and trying to figure out what to do with our lives. But she was happy in Philly and I dove into life in L.A., making new friends and trying to start a life there.
After I broke up with my boyfriend (again), Misty finally revisited the idea of moving. I was thrilled at the idea of having her with me, particularly post-breakup. After discussing it, we decided she would move out in two months and we would be roommates.
At first I was excited, but as her arrival approached something had started to shift. In the day preceding Misty’s arrival, I began to feel uneasy and my stomach began to churn at the thought of her living with me. But I couldn’t put my finger on it. I went over all of our past conversations in my head but couldn’t find one thing that presented a red flag.
So I quieted my intuition and the pounding of voices in my head that told me she shouldn’t come. Misty had always been there for me. How could I doubt her now? As I drove to pick her up at the airport, I felt sick. A sense of dread came over me. What have I done?
She got into my car. “Hey!” she said giving me a hug. “I’m so excited!”
“Hey!” I said trying to hide my unease.
We chatted a bit, catching up since the last time we spoke. She told me about the guy she just hooked up with and the new skirt she found at a vintage store for $1. I told her about the new guy Brett I was dating who was the lead singer in a band. A few moments of silence passed when she addressed what I had been trying so hard to hide.
“You’re not happy to see me,” she said flatly.
“No, I am!” I said, surprised she picked up on my discomfort. “There was a giant dragonfly in my car before I came to get you and I had to kill it. It was super-stressful. So I’m a little out of it.” It’s true I had a dragonfly in my car that I attempted to kill before getting a guy to get rid of it… but that was a week earlier.
“Hmm, OK. I guess it’s just me, too. I’m pretty tired. I can’t wait to go home and pass out.”
“Yeah, me too.”
Misty and I had always been super-close. But now that she was living with me, I began to see a co-dependent side I hadn’t seen before.
My relationship with my parents was finally starting to mend and subconsciously I started to change. In the months that I wasn’t speaking to my parents, I spent time in therapy, healing my anger toward them, and began to feel whole again.
A month before Misty moved out, my parents and I finally sat down and talked, successfully mending our broken relationship. I no longer felt the need to hold on to Misty (or anyone for that matter) like a life raft to save me from an ocean of loneliness and pain. And she knew it.
One night after we had been out bar-hopping, she asked if I could take her to Carl’s Jr. to get a snack. Misty had tried to get a driver’s license (which she hadn’t had in years, as she lived in a city and didn’t need one), but couldn’t because her last one was expired and she couldn’t find her birth certificate. Or so she said. Who knew what the real truth was?
But I trusted her so much I couldn’t bring myself to question her. I had become not only her sole friend and confidant in L.A., but her chauffeur as well. Anytime she needed something, she expected me to take her. I had been obliging, simply out of guilt.
Knowing she had been my emotional life line for so long made it hard for me to say no. But this night, I was just exhausted.
“Can’t we just go to Jack in the Box?” I asked wearily. “It’s on the way home and Carl’s Jr. is completely on the other side of town.”
She was silent for a minute before answering. “Fine.”
I sensed the tension in the car but didn’t want to address it. I didn’t want an argument about French fries at 2 AM. I didn’t want to talk about what was actually going on between us.
And so it went. Misty became angry at me because my friend invited us to a housewarming party and I hadn’t given Misty enough notice. Another time, it was because I woke her up while getting ready for work. Apparently I was frying eggs too loudly.
A few weeks after moving in, she lost her debit card. I lent her money for basic necessities and to cover her portion of the rent. Yet, a week went by and her debit card still hadn’t arrived. Then, another 10 days and finally, a month. She claimed it was because her address on file didn’t match her new one in L.A.
At this point, I was feeling frustrated and used. She at least had money coming in from her job but not enough to cover her rent. With no car and no money, I felt obligated to drive her to her job and cover her rent. Every time I broached the subject, she would turn the tables around, accusing me of making her feel bad and reminding me how she had always been there for me when I needed her.
Things came to a head when we decided to go to a show for Brett’s band. On the way there while at a traffic light, I started rummaging through my bag for a piece of gum. I certainly wanted fresh breath when I met up with Brett.
As I was about to put it in my mouth, Misty turned to me and asked, “Can I have a piece?”
“Sorry, it’s my last piece,” I responded and casually popped it into my mouth.
A deafening silence ensued. “Are you f*cking kidding me? You can’t even split the gum in half and share it with me?” she asked angrily.
I was dumbfounded. Shocked. Furious. Here I was lending her money that, as a server, I barely had myself, I was driving her everywhere, and she was constantly on my case telling me I didn’t care about her. And now she was upset about a piece of gum? I needed the fresh breath more than she did!
I felt like she wanted to suck my soul, as though she wanted to possess and control me to the point where I couldn’t do anything unless I thought of her first. I had begun to feel like I was in some sick, emotionally manipulative, co-dependent relationship. I was constantly walking on eggshells and I didn’t even know why. I couldn’t take it anymore. So I exploded.
“You know what, Misty?” I snapped. “I’m sick of this sh*t. You’re f*cking crazy. This constant obsession with me taking care of you 24/7 is out of control. I’m not your parent or your boyfriend. I’ve done enough for you. I’ve lent you money, you haven’t paid me back, I’m driving you around, and you make no effort to get a license. And now you’re pissed about a f*cking piece of gum? I’m f*cking done.”
“Stop the car,” she shrieked. “I’m getting out.”
“Fine.” I knew this was a ploy for attention. She wanted me to plead with her to stay. She got out somewhere in the middle of Melrose while I drove off to the club in Hollywood. As I drove away I heard her scream, “Are you just going to leave me here?”
After giving Brett excuses for why he couldn’t come over, I headed back home. I had no idea what I was coming home to and I didn’t want him there. Nervous, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Had she gone nuts and trashed the place? Stolen my things? I supposed I should have thought of the consequences before but something in me had clearly snapped.
I unlocked the door to find the sofa gone along with most of her things. Immediately, I knew exactly what she had done. She called up my ex (she had his number from ages ago when they were planning a surprise for me) and told him he could get the sofa in exchange for helping her move her stuff out.
After my ex had moved out, the two of us had been trying to figure out what belonged to who. He insisted the sofa was his and I insisted it was mine. We both thought that we had paid for it, and since only one person could keep it, we were trying to come to an agreement. Apparently, now it was his.
I collapsed on the floor and started sobbing. The realization that I had been friends with someone so clearly unwell, that I had lost a once important friendship, and that I had been stabbed in the back by my ex came crashing down on me. I immediately called a locksmith to change the locks and filed a police report.
As she had left some of her stuff there, I sold what I could on eBay, including an expensive camera, and trashed the rest. I doubted I would get any of the money she owed me so I figured I should take what I could get.
I saw her a month later when I took her to small claims court. Thankfully, I’m meticulous about bills, statements and paperwork, and I successfully proved she owed me $1,500. Unfortunately, though I tried to garnish her wages, she skipped town pretty quickly and I never saw her again.
In spite of it all, I’m not angry toward her. Simply put, she’s not OK. I realize she came into my life for a specific reason at a specific time. As strange as it sounds, she taught me how to be a good friend.
I grew up in a dysfunctional household which made understanding the intricacies ofrelationships difficult at times. Through Misty I understood how to have someone’s back, be there for them through thick and thin, and to be open and vulnerable. So even though Misty broke my heart, I’m eternally grateful for those lessons.