Photo Credit: Morgan Slade Photography
Editor’s Note: As with all of the pieces in our Confessions Series, this was written by an anonymous author.
Here is my confession. I treated my best friend like a jerk and was too much of a coward to apologize. I tried to talk her out of a military marriage.
Lisa was my best friend all through high school. We were the dynamic duo and did everything together. I loved her like a sister. When her boyfriend, who was a few years older than us, joined the Marines, I was secretly happy. She would be free to hang out and party with me without him around trying to control her.
And we did, all junior and senior year we had a good time. Things were great until it was time to apply for colleges. Lisa didn’t pick any. She was engaged to Tony by then and said she wasn’t sure where she would end up, so she was waiting.
I couldn’t believe it. I gave her a hard time about following some man around. What about her dreams? Her career? Her future? She told me this was her future. She still planned on getting a degree and having a career, she would have to do it a different way.
I know I was obnoxious about it, but Lisa just ignored me. It put a strain on our friendship. After graduation, she moved to California to be near him and plan for her wedding, while I stayed in Arizona to go to ASU. I was her Maid of Honor so when she would come back to visit, I dutifully would take her to the dress shops and to all the other places you have to go to when planning a wedding. At the same time, I was doing everything I could to change her mind about getting married.
I would bring her to parties on campus and try to hook her up with hot guys. When she got upset, I laughed and pretended I was kidding around. I should have been ashamed of myself, but I was convinced I needed to save her.
After the wedding, she didn’t come out to visit me as much. When I was out of school for the summer, we made plans for me to visit her for a week. Oh yeah! Hot Marines, the beach and me in my bikini- bring on the fun!
I remember trying to get Tony to call in sick since he couldn’t get time off and I wanted to go to Disneyland. As I was running my mouth about labor laws or something equally as stupid, Lisa said she would take me. We went for the day, but she insisted on bringing in lunch instead of eating there. I called her cheap and said if he didn’t make very much money, then why should he bust his butt for this job? Like money was the most important thing in a career. My complaining put a damper on the trip.
After we got back, the next day she said she was going to show me around base. Big mistake. Lisa stared at what I was wearing and asked, “You’re not gonna wear that are you?” I had on a low cut tank top and Daisy Dukes. I told her I wasn’t about to dress like those frumpy Marine wives we’d seen around base. She had a hurt look on her face and I didn’t realize until later by insulting them, I was insulting her.
I strutted around the base enjoying the catcalls and stares. We stopped to drop off lunch for Tony. The look he gave me pissed me off, which only made me act worse, much like a child.
I flirted with everyone in his office, even his married C.O. Lisa dragged me out of there and when Tony got home, he was so mad, he wouldn’t talk to me. Lisa tried to explain to me how my actions could reflect badly on Tony. I said that I was an adult and would do whatever the hell I wanted. I went home the next day.
The next time I saw her was when she had returned to Arizona to visit her family during Tony’s deployment. We hung out just like old times, minus the partying. I had grown out of my freshman partying stage, and she was pregnant.
I wanted to throw her a baby shower out here in Arizona, but her Marine wife friends already had one planned in California. I’ll admit it, I was jealous. I was her best friend- not these women. What, had she drank the Kool-Aid, joined the military wives cult, and couldn’t be my friend anymore?
During the shower, I copped an attitude. One of the other wives had made a cake and I made fun of it. I made a joke about feeling over dressed for the party since a lot of the others were dressed casually and hadn’t done their make-up and hair. I was cruel and remembering it brings me shame.
I had decided to meet up with some friends after the shower, and couldn’t understand why Lisa didn’t want to go. I left her there without a second thought. I never even offered to help my eight months pregnant friend clean up!
And those military wives I had made fun of? They were the ones who cleaned up. They were the ones who were always there for her when she was scared and upset. They understood and despite dealing with their own husbands being gone and running their household by themselves- they supported her while I, her “best friend” ditched her and only cared about myself.
We didn’t see each other after that. I ended up dropping out of college so I could get a job and move in with my boyfriend. Ironic, huh?
Just like when we were friends, I didn’t think about Lisa much since I was too engrossed in my own life, my own drama. I married that jerk and we had a beautiful daughter together. When we split up he became one of the many dead-beat dads out there. I was a single mom, trying to survive. I would get mad when my friends didn’t understand what it was like taking care of a child on your own. Half the time I was lucky if I was able to shower every day before work, much less put on make-up. I was a mess and I wondered how the heck military wives did this for years with all their family out of state, sometimes in other countries.
I remembered how supportive Lisa’s military wife friends were and how awful I was. I wondered if this was my karma.
When I saw Lisa at the high school reunion, she hugged me as if I hadn’t treated her so badly. Tony was getting ready to retire and they were trying to decide where to settle down. This time I bit down my jealousy and listened to her plans and about the places they had gone. I desperately wanted to tell her and Tony how sorry I was for the way I treated them, but was too much of a coward.
It took twenty-years and a whole lot of tough life lessons for me to understand being a military wife wasn’t some club she joined because she thought she was better than me, a civilian. It was the family that welcomed her and understood what she was going through when her best friend let her down.
I’m hoping that they decide to move back to Arizona so I can be a better friend to her. And Lisa if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry!