I lost my two best friends in 2019. My girlfriend Gayle to cancer. My boyfriend Antoine to a mental institution. Both were the most loving persons of my seven-decade life; the ones I could cry with anywhere, anytime, and for as long as I needed. It may not be surprising with my girlfriend as she was a psychotherapist like myself, although I remember a few years back while at the Psychotherapy Networker Conference in Wash DC where I was giving away my books at the BEYOND TALK THERAPY booth, one therapist saying: I can’t do “vulnerable” or was it be?
For me, vulnerability is what makes a best friend, (Karamo says it is the word for 2019) the best. Brene Brown says vulnerability is essential in order for us to connect with one another as her Ted talk went viral. Often, I hear ‘so-in-so is my BFF’ (best friend forever) …I guess that has to be in my heart, as my BFFs are no longer present in body. Surprisingly, Antoine was drawn to me because I cried in his arms, awkwardly for him, on our second outing together, hiking to waterfalls, where I become a waterfall of tears myself. Yes, I’ve cried with my four husbands, especially the fourth because I had evolved to becoming a primal therapist foundationally while being licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist. But Antoine is unique, saying he was drawn to ‘being us’ although much younger than me, because: “I want a real relationship where I can talk about anything.”
In my own healing process, through connecting to my childhood pain, feeling ‘overwhelming grief…into unspeakable love,” as Washington Irving says, that I also connected to some of my past lives: one as a prima ballerina in Paris. I sensed Antoine and I were together back in the 1800s, as in this lifetime he has a natural ability to dance as do I. (Maybe we are a present-day Harold and Maude?)
I have made non-gendered friends with the feeling ‘helpless’ as a child and now as an adult, because I don’t understand how Antoine’s life, after achieving a master’s degree in physics at Cornell University, being so loving, now lives in a world of mental illness.