This week's topic is about "That One Friend". And I've been having a devil of a time thinking about it.
I have friends who are very dear to me. I have a group of women who are my chosen sisters. Women I know I can rely on for anything. Women who I could tell you hours of stories about.
But, they didn't fit this topic, in my mind.
I couldn't decide which of my friends was *The One*.
And then, sitting in the parking lot of the local University....waiting on my husband to talk with his Advisor, and register for Spring Semester....I had a thought....
And I'm afraid. Afraid because I don't know where it's going. Afraid it might go down forbidden paths.
For some random reason, I started thinking about my childhood in Panama. I used to dream. I used to have horrible dreams. Don't get me wrong, I still occasionally have nightmares...but those are your standard, run of the mill nightmares.
I used to have NIGHTMARES. I would wake up, screaming in terror, fighting invisible demons, trying desperately to get away.
My husband would take the blows. He would call my name, remind me where I was. Chase away the demon.
That unmentionable demon that used to stalk my dreams as a teenager. Even as he stalked me as a child.
I recall, one summer's memories....
I had a blood sister. We swore sisterhood over summer scrapes and vending machine cokes. The deepest of bonds. We knew it was meant to be, with the complete confidence of children. After all, we shared the same first name....Tamara.
We loved the same things.
We went everywhere together.
Summers in Panama and two little girls. Playing Cat's cradle and eating fresh bananas from the tree. My pet rabbit. Going to the movies. Lemonade stands.
Oh my God....our love for horses.
I had every Black Stallion book written, in hardback no less. Rainy days we'd hide in my room and read, loosing ourselves into the world of races and far away deserts. On sunny days, She *rode* the Black and I *rode* a horse named Ghost.
Holding our reins tightly we would ride all over the base, across the golf course and parks. Our trusty steeds would carry us from the housing unit to the Quadrangle for cokes from the Shopette. It didn't matter that we were mounted on ten speeds. Or, some days, only our own imaginations.
I can smell the grass, impossibly green, under our sneakers. We flew down to the Shopette for a candy bar and a soda. One day there was a local selling flowers on base. He had a horse. A real one. Suddenly we were focused. We bugged that poor man until he lifted us up and led us around in a circle a few times. We were in heaven.
When he left, we turned to each other and our make believe horses grew wings. They could travel faster than the sun and we touched clouds. I remember we collapsed on a sunny hill, laughing until we ached.
We loved listening to Michael Jackson, En Vouge, New Kids On The Block, and were in love with Tom Selleck. Magnum P.I. was a doll.
With her brother and mine, we'd take my dog out and run wild. We'd gone native that summer. If it wasn't for the blonde hair and blue eyes, no one would have known the difference.
She was *That One Friend*.
My parents and I saw ships, traveling from lands I'd only read about. We saw them tower over us as they went through the Panama Canal. Nothing could be bigger. Diving down to grab shells from the sand. The tight feeling of salt on the skin as we dozed in the car, on the way back from the beach. All worn out.
I can still remember the smell of the jungle, steaming in the dawn. The rain, coming down in torrents on the tin roof. The grinding of the swamp cooler. The parrot wake up call, outside my window every morning.
I remember spending the night at her house one weekend. I remember her Mother.
And her Mother's boyfriend.
I remember being confused. And scared of everything. I couldn't go to school. Blood in the water attracted the sharks. I wonder now how much of it was my own mind, fighting to grasp this new information. It seemed as though everyone was out to get me. I was out to get myself.
I remember my parents trying to figure out what was wrong. Something inside me couldn't speak and for years I was the odd child. Always sick. Never in school. No close friends. Even after moving back to the US. I still hear the double locking doors close behind my parents as they left me in the care of the nurses at the psychiatric hospital.
Clinical depression, and in one so young.
My doctor, one day, told me that if I didn't straighten out, he was going to send me away for a very long time. Then he stepped towards me.
The staff took that formerly calm girl, turned tiger, and carried her away kicking and screaming trying to claw out His face. The chair that girl threw missed Him by inches. The angry teenager wouldn't allow the frightened child to be harmed again.
For a very long time I suffered from panic attacks. Paralyzing fear and then blackness descending. School was a nightmare. Public outings were the deepest pits of hell.
8 years of therapy. 8 years of learning to control my mind. My friends would ask my parents why I was the way I was. They told a few close people, who I was often in the company of. If she starts hyperventilating and passes out, don't panic.
Just catch her and wait.
I remember going through life not caring. Lost in my own little world. I found friends, and occasionally lovers. But never totally did I let them in. Even if they talked with my parents, they never heard it from me.
At some point, my mind cleared. I distinctly recall this as an actual event. I literally woke up one morning and had enough. From that day on, I learned the fine art of control. I still had my defenses, but I was more honest with myself than I ever had been.
The change was noticeable. I began to work. I went to college. I made friends and I stayed out late, and overnight at other people's houses.
She wrote me once, out of the blue....and I didn't write back. I used the excuse that I was too busy....school, work, life.....
But, in reality, I was afraid. Afraid of dredging up those memories again.
Today, I regret not writing her back. And I would do almost anything to find her again.
But I think things changed in 1993, when I met him. Finally, I had someone with me, someone who gave me a feeling of security and strength. No matter how bad the dream, or long the panic attack, he never left. He would catch my fists and hold me down. He would count the time until I started breathing again on my own. He would take my pulse and stroke my hair until I calmed and fell asleep.
He was strong and allowed me to be weak. He stood by me and waited until I got control. And look at how I got control. I was a changed person. I was confident. I was strong. I was independent. I walked in power. I still had dreams, but they faded. I still had panic attacks, but they faded as well. Together we faced the last remaining ones and weathered the small storms.
In June of 2000, we stood on the shore of a lake in Oklahoma, surrounded by our chosen family, and we promised to always be each others strength, during those weak moments.
He was *That One Friend*.
He still is.
I still remember the friends who have passed in and out of my life. I think loving thoughts of those friends I call *Family*. I remember those wild innocent summers with my best friend.
But today, I have *That One Friend*, that I know I can count on, that I can lean on, that will support and love me, no matter what.
And I think I am the luckiest woman in the world.