Ten years ago, you were twenty-three and your high school was having a five year reunion. Normally reunions start at the tenth year. But your graduating class was a very tight knit group, so getting together on a Saturday night at a fire station hall was more than just an excuse to party and dance, it was an opportunity to re-establish connections with old friends.
For you particularly, it was a reuniting of “The Three S’s” or the “Super Smart Sisters” or the “Sultry Soul Singers.” Whatever the name was back in the day, a title you and your two best girlfriends actually dubbed yourselves, it simply reflected the fact that you were dear friends and all your names started with “S.”
Your name is Sara, then there’s Stephanie, often referred to as Steph, and lastly Sandra.
And when your trio stood together at the makeshift bar, in a converted fire engine garage, listening to “Karma Chameleon” from Boy George and The Culture Club, you raised your beer cups and promised to never wait five years to get together again.
10 YEARS YIELDS DIFFERENT RESULTS FOR THE GIRLS
For the next decade, or close to it, you all connected via social media, relaxed on spa days in mud baths, shopped for shoes, sweated 5K marathons, and experimented exotic foods in trendy restaurants.
And along the way, you all met three guys and fell in love, for the most part. And this certainly wasn’t a hindrance to your bond. This was the beginnings of girls night out, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, weddings, and even baby showers.
Now you are thirty-three, married to a pediatrician, living in a large colonial in the suburbs, and have a two and one year old, with plans for more.
Stephanie also tied the knot. Her husband is a general contractor. They have a newborn and live in an old brownstone in the city, which needs work but is quickly being beautifully renovated. Her construction husband is very talented.
Then there’s Sandra. She’s lived in the same small apartment since she was twenty. And as mentioned, she too met a man, but their relationship has been rocky throughout, mostly on again, off again.
But there came a point, a couple years ago, when they decided to make a final go at the relationship. Sandra’s boyfriend moved in her apartment, and they got engaged.
Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out as Sandra had hoped. Her fiancé was needy, and not just when it came to finances and pampering. Apparently, he required extra physical attention.
Three months ago, after repeated attempts by you and Steph to contact Sandra, a friend of a friend gave you the scoop. Sandra caught her fiancé in the apartment with another woman, was devastated, and obviously terminated the relationship.
REUNIONS CAN BE DEPRESSING REMINDERS
It’s time for the fifteen year high school get together. But you and Stephanie now understand why Sandra hasn’t been answering her cell and has fallen off the grid with social media.
And under the circumstances, you imagine the last place she’d want to go would be a reunion. Stories of happy families and careers would make her feel even worse.
Still, you decide it’s up to you girls to pull Sandra from the shadows. You want all three S’s at the party together.
DESPERATELY SEEKING SANDRA
Getting Sandra on board was proving difficult. As mentioned, she wouldn’t reply to texts, emails, voicemails, or instant messages.
It was a Friday night. Both yours and Steph’s husbands were home to watch the kids, and you got a rideshare, in case a remedial drowning of sorrows fit the occasion.
With just an hour before the start of the festivities and not a word from Sandra, you and Steph remained determined to get face to face with your friend.
The driver brought you to Sandra’s apartment. You rang the buzzer, no answer. Her apartment was on the second floor, and you could see the light was on, but without being buzzed in, you couldn’t even enter the building.
So, you tried yelling up to her from the parking lot, even throwing little pebbles at the window. Steph was getting frustrated and progressed to larger rocks. You got nervous she was going to shatter the glass, so you put a halt to that plan.
Finally, a nice old lady coming home from the grocery store, sympathized with your plight and let you inside. But this was just the first door. You had to get Sandra to open her actual apartment door.
Sandra didn’t acknowledge the doorbell or the knocking, but when you resorted to pounding, the kind that people call the cops for, Sandra unwillingly opened the door.
She hardly looked at you and Steph and didn’t speak. She turned around and made a beeline back to the couch, curled in a ball, and covered up to her chin with a blanket.
SUPPORT FROM FRIENDS COMES IN THE NICK OF TIME
Inside the apartment, there were smells that weren’t easily recognizable. Was it the week old pizza box in the corner, the rotten salmon in the refrigerator, or possibly even Sandra? She looked like she hadn’t bathed in weeks. Who knows how long she’d been on the couch?
To add insult to injury, she had lost her job due to repeated absences, and she was sleeping in the living room on that worn piece of furniture. She had no intention of ever again sleeping in the bed where she caught her fiancé.
With the dishes piled in the sink, trash overflowing in the kitchen can, mail scattered on the floor, and an assortment of empty wine bottles on the coffee table, you’d think it was a college frat house where the mess was a sign of good times.
But that wasn’t the case with your dear friend Sandra. This was sad, difficult to witness, absolutely heartbreaking.
What happened next took all your mothering strength and determination to accomplish. You directed Stephanie to pay the rideshare driver, you turned the shower on, drug Sandra off the couch and down the hallway, and forced her under the water, “Now stay in there and don’t come out until you stop smelling like a dirty foot.”
In the meantime, you and Steph went like a whirlwind cleaning and straightening up the apartment. Then you called for Chinese delivery, texted the husbands, and prepared for a long night.
Sandra was in a very bad place. Depression had put a grip on her and refused to let go. Her disappointment with where she was in her life had weakened her spirit, her will to fight. She had become paralyzed by despair.
But a Callemonit approach consisting of getting Sandra to talk about her feelings and behavior, followed by group hugs and tears, is not enough in this situation.
So, what’s the “extensive” Callemonit from two close friends, who love and care for Sandra, but who have busy lives of their own?
Do you have any advice to make a lasting improvement in Sandra’s wellbeing? Should qualified professional counseling be the immediate course of action?