I had been friends with Mary since our grade school days. We were technically sisters from different mothers, and there was no secret between us. We knew all the good and bad points of each other, and we did not care about that.
Mary and I managed to continue our close friends even when we went to different colleges. You see, I decided to stay closer to home and study psychology at a local university. Meanwhile, she went to the East Coast to become a surgeon. There were no cell phones back then, but we were always on the telephone on weekends or sending emails to each other, so it was like we were not apart at all.
Then, when I got married, Mary was my maid of honor. It was the only time in seven years that she went home. We would see each other between those years, but that’s only because I would go to her place.
What Happened To Mary?
It must seem weird that my best friend had not returned to our hometown for many years until my wedding day. The reason was that she had a lot of awful memories there, no thanks to her mother.
Mrs. Jones was an alcoholic and drug addict, you see. She could only get menial jobs because of her criminal records, and what little money she would receive would mostly go straight to her addictions. It was lucky that Mary was brilliant; she always had scholarships even when we were in grade school. Still, there were many times when Mary would go to school without breakfast or at least lunch money and would have to wait until dinner for her mother to bring home leftovers from the diner where she used to work.
I honestly did not know about that initially because Mary was so good at hiding her mother maltreated her. She would make different excuses as to why she would not eat with everyone else. I only found out when I went looking for her after finishing my meal quickly and finding her at the swings in the playground without any food in sight.
I told my mother about it, and she felt bad for Mary. She asked around about her family, and that’s how we learned about her situation at home. Mary already said that she did not want the social services to know about it because they would then bring her to the foster care system. To help my best friend, my parents told me to invite Mary to stay with us whenever she wanted to. My mom would also pack lunches for both of us until we were in high school.
At first, Mary was extremely shy about it. She said that she was fine and that she did not need to eat three times a day. But my parents knew better than that. Eventually, Mary opened up to my family, and we became inseparable.
Three years after getting married, I got pregnant with my first child. During that time, Mary also tied the knot with her long-time boyfriend. Because of that, I told her half-jokingly to start the babymaking process at once so that our babies would be close in age and go to school together.
To my surprise, Mary said that she did not want to have a child when I asked why she looked down and revealed that she was afraid of being a bad mother like her mother. “I know I can be a good wife, but bad parenting might be genetic, and I might have gotten that from mom.”
I wanted to give Mary a big hug and tell her that everything would be okay. However, I tried to let my counselor’s side take over because it was evident that my best friend’s fear stemmed from childhood issues that she hid from me. I had always assumed that she was all right because she technically grew up in our home. But that’s not the case.
I told Mary, “Please don’t think like that. Your mother might not have been that way before she developed substance addiction. The alcohol and the drugs altered her brain function, and that’s probably why she was awful to you. Still, you are not addicted to anything, and you know what’s wrong and what’s right. I believe that you can be the best parent that any kid can ask for if you choose to become one.”
Of course, Mary had to get a few more sessions with me before she finally accepted that. We worked together to unravel all her childhood issues and ensure that they were all out in the open. Then, I helped her find what coping mechanisms would work for her when she doubted herself.
I was the happiest best friend in the world when Mary told me the exciting news that she was also pregnant and could not wait to meet her baby. It’s a clear indication that our counseling sessions worked.