10 February 2006

What to do with a problem like"Maria"?

My best friend is in jail. Now that is a statement that not everyone gets to make.

It is a lot of things: it is embarrassing, it is disappointing, it is heartbreaking, and it is surreal.

It also brings up a lot of ethical questions:
Do you stand by your friend?
Do you sever the friendship?
Do you visit them in jail?
Where do you draw the line?

Another factor to be considered is what the crime is: DUI, a murder, burglary? Where is the line?
What is forgivable? Dealable? or deal-breaker?

In this case, it is drug-related so one would hope that the bad behavior is temporary. However, the crimes committed during such drug-induced stupors are heinous. Awful. Life altering. Things were done that you only read about in newspapers. And now I have and it is someone I know.

In addition, she aligned herself with a bad, bad man. I blame him for her troubles, yet she made choices as well. He lied, abused, manipulated, and molded her into a person that none of us recognize. However, she made the choice to stay, the choice to do drugs. She is to blame for her actions.

Because of that and more, I severed my friendship with her. She still wants to stay married to Satan, she still thinks she is being unjustly accused and imprisoned, she is pouting.

Surreal Moments that have occurred in the past year:
Watching your childhood friend plead “Not Guilty” on the 5:00 news.
Reading her name in the lead article in the newspaper.
Trying to explain to people where she is now.
Helping a friend move her stuff, knowing that it will be stored for years and years.
While packing her things, finding glimpse of a life I didn’t know she lived.
Actually saying the words "My best friend is in jail."

It has been said that divorce is more difficult than death. Death is permanent; divorce is a choice where the person still exists, just no longer in your life.
Having a friend in jail is a combination of both death and divorce. The person still exists, but in this case, it is not the person I thought I knew. Or it is the person I thought I knew – just a drug-enhanced version. This version of my friend is dead to me and what-to-do with the version I thought I knew? It is very complicated.

Her sentencing to prison is upcoming. As it nears, I find myself anxious and sad. She has been in county jail for a year and a half, something she described as “no worse than boot camp.” I have referred to it as sleep-away camp. Prison is a whole new game though. Now I will worry for her safety. I will no longer have the chance to visit or write (if I ever choose to), as I won’t know where she is. I don’t know what opportunities she will have for rehabilitation or if she will even take them.

Another issue to consider…what to do when she has completed her sentence? Who is she going to be? What if she calls or knocks on the door? Unfortunately, it looks like I will have years to ponder those questions.

So now I try to focus on the friend I used to know. The one that stood by me when I got married at 19, the one that married in the same courthouse that she is now being sentenced in. The one that used to stay up all night watching MTV with me. The one that loved Heart and ZZ Top. The one that had an incredible future ahead of her.
Hopefully she still does.

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