Required reading

My friend Sabre, known for her sharp tongue, sharper wit and razor-sharp (theoretical) sword that will be at your throat the second you say something stupid in her presence (actually, it’s just the way she glares at dumb people — “squeak toys” — who keep talking. And talking. And saying nothing.) that makes you realize that if she calls you friend, you’re pretty damned lucky. And smart, or else you would have nothing in common with her. 🙂

Anyway, I’m reposting something below the fold that she wrote recently because it’s on MySpace and it sucks to use that wretched tool on a Mac. Although if I hate you and you use a Mac, feel free to peruse the site. 😉


The short version is that an old friend of hers has gone missing and is presumed to be deceased. The bigger issue is that it could be any of us who had made the wrong choice, innocently enough, that set us on the wrong path that we could never really turn back from. The greater issue still is that most of us are probably not “important” enough for society to make a big fuss about if our existence ended so brutally.

This post is for all of us who have fallen in with the wrong crowd, those among us who let the wrong person get too close, and those of us who ever dared to self-preserve because we couldn’t shoulder the weight of someone else’s world.

Sabre, as you can tell by her beautifully crafted story, is looking at the pieces of a friendship gone awry and coming to grips with the fact that it ended how it ended and there’s no going back. But for as many friendships as we all let go, and for as many reasons as we have to let them go, that doesn’t always make them possible to save — or even worth saving if you could go back and do it differently.

It’s hard to write about the entry before you’ve read it. It’s called “Marginalized,” and it’s what could happen to any of us. I mean, if I went missing, would you notice? If that fucking nutjob from any of our pasts (and we can all name at least one, eh?) came and did us in, how long would it take for someone to call the cops? What kind of reward would be offered if any of us disappeared? How hard would the justice system fight to bring those people to a similarly untimely end, if that’s what they made us suffer?

I think of all the visits to the police station, the reports I’ve filed, the calls to the fucking FBI (yep, got ’em on speed dial) and confidential talks with people in authority I’ve befriended to ensure my safety. That, if something terrible happens to me, here’s all the information you will ever need. I think of all the times I went to buy items for self-defense, and the times that friends let me stay with them for a night or three because they were worried.

I also think of the times I hid someone from someone else. The times I picked someone up with nothing but the clothes on their back and made sure they were out of harm’s way, just in case. And when you do that, you just know you’re putting yourself right in the Tasmanian devil’s path, too. But it’s what you do; you don’t think about it at the time. Like Sabre so eloquently points out, our society is as strong as the weakest link.

Labels be damned, those of us with nothing but good intentions are worth saving. Even if we’re not debutantes or stars or someone that the broader society would miss if we weren’t here anymore. On one hand, we as individuals cannot personally take care of everybody, but then again, isn’t that what the government says, too?

I don’t know what I’m proposing. (Maybe a domestic social program instead of dumping more dollars into Iraq. *hugs a tree*) I just do know that to get away from someone who’s clearly brutal and possessive and insane, you basically emasculate them. And for people who have to use someone they view as weaker (i.e., a woman) as a verbal and/or physical punching bag, they’re already not men to begin with.

Which means they feel they have to punish you somehow, for not sucking their dicks or kissing their asses and taking their shit even though you were not put on this earth to do any of it.

Anyway, she tells the story better than I can.

Please read it — and don’t feel bad about running in the other direction when you get even the slightest bit creeped out by someone, even if you have no solid reason to think they’re bad news.

Those of us who’ve had to stand tall right in harm’s way, have been targeted by those we’ve dared to feel sorry for, that nobody understood them. Feel sorry for no one, hear me? Get close to people with caution as a buffer. You never can tell which one’s the real thing and which one’s just waiting to make you feel their pain.

Just think of how many nights’ worth of sleep we’d all get back if we hadn’t felt obligated to stick around just because we thought it would ensure our safety or, at least, not invite any more aggravation.

We’re all worth so much more than what this girl suffered. And so was she. I just wish she would have known that.

Read on. …

By the beautiful, illustrious, magnanimous Sabre

In the summer of 1988 I was slender, tanned, bleached blonde, not yet 21, and living life in all the wrong ways. I was a single mother who partied a little too much and stayed home a little too little. It was at one of those parties that I met her. A striking redhead, vibrant and beautiful. She was in the center of a large crowd when a mutual friend introduced us. We cliqued almost immediately. And thus began my long term love/hate relationship with Christy.

We confided in one another, shared goals and dreams. We had similar dark stories to tell, of being assaulted, abused. Of being left behind. Mostly, we just partied.

One evening, as we were attending yet another party, I was bemoaning the fact that my ex-boyfriend was following me. We had gone to three different parties, and he showed up at each and every one. Somehow, he ended up at a small get-together with us. And, being the nature of small towns, he and my new best friend hooked up. After a long and difficult courtship, they got married and had a daughter. Our friendship survived, even though it was so incredibly odd to me that she was married to my son’s father. Yeah, yeah, I hear you bitches in the back row giggling about “baby daddies.” Grow up.

Don’t be misled, we had our ups and downs. Ins and outs. But by the time I married, most of our petty girl squabbles had been ironed out and we settled into a companionable adult friendship.

After her divorce, trying to keep up with her was like trying to keep up with a hurricane. She simply moved far too fast for me. The constraints of her life were always too much for her. She was so demoralized by a system of public assistance that made her feel less than human that she simply gave up. Refusing to be boxed into a system that told her she was worthless, she moved too far outside of the box and lived by her own rules. She was on the move, on the go, living in the fast lane, and giving the finger to all and sundry who dared to question her motives or morals.

We’d break out of touch periodically. She’d be frustrated with my inability to go out (hey, someone had to stay home with the kids) and I’d be frustrated with her inability to stay in, we’d end up yelling at each other, swearing that we’d never speak to each other again. In the end, we’d be back on the phone, or having lunch, or doing something, catching up and promising to stop letting our friendship fall by the wayside.

In 1994, she fell in with a rather unsavory character whose name is not fit to print. After picking her up yet again from the emergency room, her face swollen and bruised, I begged her to please leave him. He was a walking nightmare of a man. She was pregnant with his child and he believed it was his divine right to beat her. He believed violence was the answer to any and all problems. He even punched me in the face once as I stepped in between them. Nice guy, that one.

We sat at the table the next day, she on the phone with the DA, me next to her holding her hand. And then she said the words that had become the anthem of her life, “I don’t want to press charges.” I begged her to put them on hold, just put the phone down for a moment and talk to me.

She stared at me, tears streaking down her pretty face, and asked, “If he goes to jail, how will he help support the baby?”

Incredulous, I replied that he wasn’t going to help support the baby even if he wasn’t in jail, but at least in jail he wouldn’t be able to paint her face with his fists. But her motives were driven by fear. Fear of being alone, fear of raising yet another child without a father in the picture, fear of repercussions, fear that if he was found not guilty he’d beat her even worse.

Fear. It’s the mind killer, baby.

I looked my best friend in the eye and said quite possibly the most horrific words I have ever said. “If you do this, if you drop the charges again, after everything he has put you through, don’t call me from the hospital the next time.” God, ten plus years later and I still want to take those words back.

Thankfully, the DA had a little bit of common sense and went ahead with the charges anyway. And he was found guilty and had a short stint in the county jail. Christy had dropped charges against him before that, and even after that. His court record is an amazing insight into the mind of a serial jackass. But our friendship was strained to the breaking point.

I remember holding her face up to the mirror one day, forcing her to look at the new set of bruises, telling her over and over again that no one deserved to be treated like that. No one, not ever.

And she told me that my problem was that I thought I was so much better than everyone else. That I thought I had all the answers but that it was so easy to say “leave him” when you aren’t in that situation yourself. She told me that my ivory tower would collapse one day and I’d have to crawl out of the rubble.

Well, the ivory tower did collapse when my marriage went south, and I did have to crawl out of the rubble. But I stand by those words, no one deserves to be treated that way.

Needless to say, our friendship deteriorated. I’d hear from her every now and again, and then she’d disappear into the nether as usual.

The last time I saw her, she was dining at a restaurant I used to frequent. I was shocked at her appearance. She had always been so neatly put together. She was absolutely fastidious about her appearance. One could say that she was vain, but she was a beautiful woman by all accounts who saw her physical appearance as her only weapon in her private war with men.

The woman I saw in the restaurant looked haggard and beaten down, so much so that I almost didn’t recognize her. Once firm realization of who she was sat in, I made to say hello. And was treated to one of the most hateful looks I have ever seen. We had kept up with each other over the years through gossip mongering. My eldest son’s half-sister was her child (oh, do shut up about baby daddies), so I was often treated to stories of her failures at motherhood, failures at life. And I’m sure she was treated to much the same via my son’s family, some members of which I have never been on good terms with.

But that look, it was devastating. She had been my best friend, even when she was my worst enemy, and the absolute hatred I saw her in eyes chilled me to the bone. I knew at that moment that the love we had once had for each other, as close as two women could be without being lovers or sisters, was dead and gone.

As I sat with my dinner companion, I nearly cried remembering the words I had said to her. The inability to be able to hold her up time after time while she allowed herself to be beaten down endlessly by men who were so far beneath her.

I have thought of her often over the years, I always inquire as to her well being when speaking with my son’s family. I have never forgotten her, but I did leave her behind. I simply couldn’t handle the life style she was living. She needed help, desperately so, but I was never in a position to give it.

Why do I tell you this tale? The last time anyone saw her alive was April 21. In June, her father filed a missing persons report. Last night I was told that she is presumed to be dead. Murdered, and probably in a brutal fashion, by yet another choice man she allowed to exist in her life. Her body, as of yet, has not been found, but the evidence is apparently fairly overwhelming.

You will not hear about it in the news. In fact, other than a public notice that she was missing, with a small reward, there has been nothing. The man being investigated is a hard core case of violence and insanity. As there has been no public outcry demanding an investigation into her disappearance, there will be no public outcry for justice this woman.


Because she’s a marginal member of society. She has been demonized by so many people, people who never understood, that what she needed the most was help and love and support.

I will often rage against the system that marginalizes women, that makes them disposable, but this time, I am part of that system. I turned my back on a friend who needed me to hold her up. I can’t talk about “they” and “we” without specifically including myself.

It’s an exercise in futility to chastise myself at this late stage for failing her. Hell, I could barely hold myself together at the time. But it has left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

There have already been ugly words said. “She lived this type of life, what was she expecting? Well, you know, she liked to screw men over, she picked the wrong one this time. She is responsible for her own life.”

We are all in this together, whether we realize it or not. And the most telling sign of a society’s health is how the least of us is treated and taken care of. I remember a bright, shining woman who had dreams of marriage and love and fairy tale endings. I also remember a woman so beaten down by the system that she gave up before she ever really got started.

No one deserves to be treated as she was and no one deserves to die this way.

And I think to myself, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

3 Responses to Required reading

  1. kara :

    Wow. thanks for sharing this. I will call all my long lost friends today. This has touched my heart in a very deep way.

  2. Friends make the story of your life « You can’t reason with Crazy… :

    […] Friends make the story of your life 5 08 2007 While reading through my reader this morning, I came across a gem. This isn’t a story that is joyful, funny or silly. It’s a thoughtful gem that lets you think, evaluate your life, your actions. It made me think of all the friends I lost after I gave birth. All my unmarried, childless friends who love me but have nothing left to say. […]

  3. Sabre :

    Thank you so much for posting this. It’s been very surreal. There is still no real word on her, a brief news article this weekend, and a search that turned up very little. I barely made it through a video of her father asking for help, for anyone at all to come forward and help them find her. I think he holds out hope that she is still alive, out there somewhere. It was heartening to see so many deputies out searching, but I fear it’s too late, and they know it’s too late. They aren’t looking for a missing woman, they are looking for her remains.