Some Long Overdue Gratitude

She’s known me for seven years and some change.

That’s seven LONG years, during the majority of which I was a teenager. In fact, she’s knew me through the entirety of my teenagerdom. What’s even more amazing is that she still likes me.

Today, I need to take some time to say the things that I haven’t been saying. She blogs here, of course, where she tells the stories of the children I call Monkey Boy and Munch. And she writes beautiful stories. But unless it’s to be funny, Kelly doesn’t usually write about herself. Today, I want to do that for her.

Kelly and I fight. We fight hard and often. Really, it’s more of a bicker. A constant battle of wills in which nearly anything might be said, but whatever it is will be forgiven in a few hours. That’s just how we roll, and I’m okay with that, because it makes the relationship real.

Everyone has arguments. Even best friends. Maybe especially best friends.

And the arguments? They don’t matter. Not in the long run. I only start with this because five minutes into writing this post, Kelly and I had a bit of a disagreement. Or perhaps that isn’t the way to describe it. It was more like… well…

If a train carrying hormones leaves Albequerque at 9:00, and another train carrying hormones leaves Tulsa at 7:00…

And then, instead of the trains crossing paths, or doing whatever it is they’re supposed to do (I always HATED those kinds of problems), they collide in a fit of anger and tears?

That’s what happened.

But it doesn’t matter. Because I am grateful for all of the little things that have served to cement our friendship over the past seven years.

Let me tell you about Kelly.

She makes me laugh, even when I’m anxious, sobbing, or angry. One look, a raised eyebrow, a sound effect. A propensity to break out into outrageous dance moves and quoting bits of The Princess Bride at me.

She understands my phone phobia and has been known to: talk to my credit card company, talk to my bank, order pizza, order chinese, talk to my boyfriend, and, on one occasion, field a “breakup” with a stalker who sent me fifty text messages the day after our first kiss (while I HID under a blanket on the couch across the room).

She took the time to learn about OCD.

This is huge, and it’s something that I’m reminded of once or twice a day, as I encounter others who don’t have the support system I do.

This woman, who knew next to nothing about OCD and panic attacks in the beginning, took the time to go to therapy with me. She read the books. She LISTENED to me. She paid attention. She trusted me when I didn’t trust myself because the OCD put horrible thoughts in my head. She was strong enough – mentally, emotionally, physically – to refuse to allow certain compulsions. She REMOVED her vacuum cleaner from my hands after an hour of compulsive carpet line straightening. She wrestled the broom from me. She held me when I’ve fought her during panic attacks. And once, I’m sure that she actually came to my house and MADE ME LEAVE, when agoraphobia threatened my functionality.

She knows the dialogue of my OCD loops. She knows how they work.

And when many friends would have simply chalked me up for crazy, during the years when the OCD really did rule my life, she not only stuck it out, but she grabbed me by the wrist and told me that I was getting out of that hell, whether I believed it or not.

Last October, she spent the first six and a half hours away from her children since her daughter was born… at a conference I was running for OCD. And she followed it up by asking me to write a guest post about OCD for her blog, and then making sure that blog post got pasted all over Facebook. Why? Because she said it was important that people know.

Just a couple of days ago, I wandered into a post on another blog that was written about mental health and I saw that Kelly had commented. Six months later, she’s still spreading the word about OCD and linking to the post I wrote for her.

It made me smile and go all warm and fuzzy. The thing is, I’m a huge advocate for OCD awareness. I spend huge amounts of time doing work here in Austin to promote the treatment and understanding of this disorder. I do it because… I have OCD. Because it makes me feel useful. Kelly does it because it is important to me.

And that’s just it. The things that are important to me… they tend to become important to her, in one way or another. I see that.

Kelly knows me well enough to spot the signs of anxiety and call me out on them. Am I twitchy? Jittery? Did I just repeat a word four times in a row?

At this point, I don’t have to tell her what I need from her. She just does it.

Often, it involves telling me to get off my ass and do something about whatever it is I happen to be whining about. That’s another thing. She doesn’t take any shipwreck from me.

Good or bad, I always know where I stand with her, and while it frustrates the hell out of me sometimes, because I go in looking for sunshine and optimism and am met, instead with “Okay, but…,” I trust her.

She is the one I call when I’m in OCD hell, manic, looping, and terrified. “Okay,” I’ll say. “I need a reality check.” And somehow, she manages to sort out the tangles and help make things make sense.

She’s the one I trust right now, as I sit through this tidal wave of depression and anxiety. As hard as it must be for her to listen to me vent, night after night, she just does. And then tells me it’s okay, and that it will get better. And also… to get off my ass and do my Russian homework, whether I want to or not.

She makes sure I’m not ignored. She introduced me to twitter and made a point of letting people know that I was new and worth talking to.

She’s there, even when it’s 11:30 at night, I’m calling her from Arizona because I don’t know what to do, and she’s exhausted.

And she always reminds me when I should take my umbrella to school.

I could keep going, of course. In seven years, we’ve had a lot of these little moments. We have a lot of little routines. Inside jokes and shared secrets, at the core of which is the kind of trust that you don’t find every day. It’s woven, bit by bit, string by string. The rest of the world may go to hell in a handbasket, but Kelly? She’s a constant in my life.

I was recently told (not by Kelly) that I wasn’t so great at expressing myself verbally. That I didn’t say thank you, or show much appreciation. It’s probably true. I’m not good spoken. I’m a listener. I’m a writer. But on the whole? I’m not much of a talker, especially when it concerns emotional things. The more I’ve thought about this, the more I’ve realized that it’s true. I don’t always say what I should.

And even though I know that I don’t have to – because she already knows – it’s important to me right now to say this.

Thank you. You anchor me and hold my kite string. I appreciate your comments, your feedback, and your support. I wouldn’t know how to function without you in my life, and even though I don’t say it nearly often enough, I am grateful to you for all of the little things that you do. I don’t always deserve them, and I’m lucky to have you in my life. Love you. Mean it. Always. Dork.



3 Responses to “Some Long Overdue Gratitude”

  1. Awww .. great post about a great friend. Nice! 🙂

  2. This is such an eloquent tribute to your friend! I have a friend like that, and it is a blessing I never expected! She went with me to the grocery store and showed me how she makes decisions on what to buy, and gave me little missions like “choose a chocolate bar while I get something in the next aisle” and then she told me to take two, and totally got the fact how scared I was to make a mistake and choose “wrong” like my ocd was telling me I would.


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