The 7 Year Itch Times Two


Thursday, November 7, 1996…

I woke up to the phone ringing. I answered it with, “When did he die?” Somehow I just knew that my Grandpa, who had been pretty ill lately, had just died. It was my mom, and she asked me how I knew he died. I just did. I told her that I would try to get the funeral off, but I had only been at my new job for 2 weeks, and was afraid of being fired. She said she understood, and told me to go to Grandma’s after work, to be with the family. I hung up and went to work. I tried to hold it together, but my eyes started watering just before we opened the doors. One of my co-workers asked me what was wrong, so I told her. She immediately went to the manager, and he sent me home to be with family, but asked if I would call at 5:00 that night. I was so thankful, that I drove straight to my Grandma’s to be with family.

At 5:00, I called as instructed, only to find out that they needed me to come in and work this party of 100, but it would be OK, because I would be with another person, and could leave as soon as the party was done. My mom wasn’t thrilled, but she knew how badly I needed this less than minimum wage waitressing job. So, I went to work, put my brightest smile on my face,  met my co-worker, and set off to please these vile and rude guests. They were so rude to us both, but we both kept that smile on our face through it all, while they ran us ragged. Every time I went to the kitchen, I swore up a blue streak, but the second I stepped back out, there was that smile again.

This is how I met my bestest friend in the whole wide world, Joan. We just celebrated our 14 year anniversary of being friends. I don’t know where my life would be now if it weren’t for her. Funny, that night she was willing to do all the clean up so that I could go be with my family, because that is how much of a giver she is. I couldn’t do that to her, because my conscience never would have allowed it. That was the first thing that really drew us together, and to then find out we were both in the National Guard. And on top of that, we both had only the dream of wanting to serve our country. We were so much alike, and yet so different.

I tell everyone I know that Joan is my best friend in spite of me. After everything I had gone through in my life, I trusted no one, because I had been hurt so many times. I also learned that you could never trust another female soldier, because they will turn on you faster than the men, in order to save themselves. But Joan was relentless, and wore me down. Within a month, I think we were inseparable. It wasn’t for a couple of years that we each told the other of our sexual traumas we suffered at the hands of our fellow soldiers. That usually isn’t the first thing you tell a new perspective friend.

When Joan quit the restaurant we worked at after a year, I was sad. I thought for sure that would be the beginning of the end of our friendship, that we would simply drift apart. She refused to allow that. She convinced me to go to the next restaurant with her. When that didn’t work for me, I had her turn in my keys to the manager, and I never set foot in there again. I thought for sure that was the end, but no, she had me go work for her husband. Joan was there through my father’s death, thank GOD! I never would have survived without her.

Then she left her husband in 1999, and I thought for sure that was the end of us. Then I kicked mine out 6 weeks later, so we went through our divorces together. Then she moved 40 minutes away, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that was the end. But it wasn’t. We continued to live our lives separately, but still talked all the time. Then she moved even farther away, and I just couldn’t make the drive to see her because of my panic attacks. Around the 7 year mark of our friendship, Joan re-married, and I was the Maid of Honor. I caught the bouquet, and scared my fiancée with it.

I have never had a close friend for more than a year or so before Joan, we always seemed to drift apart. But the forces that brought us together seem  content with keeping us that way. So, we made it through the 7 year itch, and are now past the 14 year itch. Longer than either of our marriages or other relationships with men ever lasted. She has been such a blessing, and a big part of my life that I can’t imagine life without her. Last weekend when she found the discharge in her breast, all I could think is that God could not be that cruel to us now. I keep telling her not to plan her funeral until we know she is dying, but that isn’t helping me with the worrying.

We need each other more than ever. Even my mom and my daughter got teary eyed when I told them about it. My mom waited patiently for me to call her Monday with the results, but never told me to call. The mammogram and ultra sound came back with no lumps, and we are just waiting on the pathology now. This is what I told my mom when she called me at work, and just the sound of worry in my mom’s voice made me start bawling like a baby at my desk (not that I would ever admit it to Joan).

So, my question is, do you ever look back at your life and pick  out the defining moments that made you who you are today? One of mine and Joan’s has to be 11/7/96. Finding a true, once in a lifetime friend, then to find out years later that you both suffered MST and other abuses. Both of us have always been willing to be a voice for the silent wounded for years, and this last year so many opportunities to be voice just that keep coming up, and we are ever so thankful for them. If something good can come out of our horrors, then we will know our suffering and strength really did make a difference.

Note to Joan, thank you for the last 14 years. I expect us to still be bestest friends for at least the next 5 or more 7 year itches! You are the best!

Brigid

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3 Responses to “The 7 Year Itch Times Two”

  1. Jerry Says:

    You are lucky to have found such a wonderful friend. Discharge from the breast could be nothing more than a leaking milk duct which some women expirence. We’ll hope for the best. I think it’s harder for men with MST to have close friendships with anyone, especially if you have ever felt betrayed or used by someone. I personally do better staying to myself. I am still very bitter and angry for what I’ve been subjected to while trying to get help for this. Talking about it seems to make it better, so I keep posting about the trauma. Peace.

  2. enemyinthewire Says:

    Jerry,
    You are so right. We know that we have been blessed, and are so much luckier than most (if you can call being MST Survivors lucky) to have such a close friendship. Although I can’t begin to fathom what it must be like to be a male MST victim/survivor, I can tell you that it is also usually lonely for the women as well.

    Having a close friendship with anyone has always been difficult for me as well, because of all of the betrayals I endured along the way as well, mostly by other women in the military. So finding Joan, and being her friend was something unusual for me. Even then, it was a couple of years before we trusted each other enough to tell each other about our MST experiences.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know of a single female I ever served with that didn’t suffer from some type of discrimination or harassment just for being a woman. That is a really sad fact to have to admit.

    I will tell you one thing, from the bottom of my heart. Keep talking/posting about it. The more of us that come forward and say, “Hey, this happened to me, and it is happening to 1000s of us, and it is WRONG!” the more likely someone will finally listen, and force things to change. Plus, it is very theraputic to talk about it. I think that is the one thing that really bridges us from victims to survivors.

    As for Joan, I am happy to report the pathology came back negative for abmormal cells! 🙂

    Peace to you Jerry. Thank you for all your words of wisdom and encouragement. Keep them coming!

    Brigid

  3. Jerry Says:

    Thank you for your kind words and I’m very happy that Joan recieved good news. I post on political web sites and talk about surviving sexuals abuse. You mentioned that women have been treated unfairly in the military, I agree. The repeal of DADT would be beneficial for all who serve. Let’s hope the DOD will have a satisfactory review by Dec 1st. By the way, I feel my attacker was a heterosexual sadist. It wasn’t sexual, it was horrific violence. Peace.

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