I am apologizing to you upfront for this blog. I lost a friend this week and have just not felt much like writing. It has pretty much consumed my thoughts. I have replayed our eleven year friendship over and over. I remember when we first met. It was March 2005 and we were coaching at Michigan State. I knew we would be fast friends from the moment I saw that smile. We are the kind of friends that can sometimes go months without seeing each other and yet pick up right where we left off. Other times we cannot go a week without seeing each other. As friendship goes, there were times that I thought the decisions made were all wrong, but we remained friends through it all. Some might call our friendship one-sided since we speak mostly about his life. Yet, somehow our friendship was enough that it withstood eleven years. We reconnected a few months back after too many years gone by. It was nice to see that he and his wife had another child. His health was good and he was finally in a good place.
Call it foreshadowing if you will, but I had a feeling something bad was about to happen. Rarely was he happy or content - there was always quite a bit of drama in his life. Last week he was on his way to work when the car he was driving was T-boned by a tractor trailer. I thought he would survive since he had survived so many other tragedies. He just had to survive, especially since his life was in such a great place. But in the end my friend- Derek Shepherd died. So it’s been a tough week here.
Before you feel as though I am making light of losing a real friend, I sadly and fully get that deep sadness. I empathize. I have lost a true and real dear friend I loved and know that heartache. I am not comparing the two, but trying to understand just how this is possible. How is it that I can feel such sadness for a person who really was not my friend at all. How can the death of a character on a weekly drama series leaving me feeling so lonely? Is it that these feelings are somehow a safe way to feel sadness and experience grief? I don’t have this answer, but I can tell by all the tweets, news reports, facebook posts and water-cooler talk that I am not alone. There is even a nationwide petition now to bring Derek back to Grey's Anatomy!
In my “professional” opinion, we have OSFC- Over Sensitivity to Fictitious Characters. These symptoms include a deep attachment to someone or something that is not “real”. The propensity to develop a one-sided emotional bond with characters that DO NOT EXIST. An emotional investment made into the life and well-being of a person or thing that you have never and will never meet. You may experience a deep burning in your throat, a sort of "heart"-burn if you will. The behavior to cry or worry about this fictitious character can sometimes be all consuming.
My first recollection of OSFC was as a little girl. When Bambi’s mom died in that fire it was more than I could handle. Every single Thanksgiving when the Wizard of Oz aired on NBC I cried when the Wicked Witch of the West stole Toto from Dorothy. I had to leave school early because we watched the movie Sounder and it made me actually throw up. Friends, teachers and family would say to me, “It’s not real Allison!” But in my heart and mind it most certainly was!
I can see that this is not something I will outgrow, so I’ve learned to manage my life with OSFC. I avoid sad movies as much as humanly possible. I carefully monitor the television shows I get involved with. Even still a few sneak in. A few years back I was enjoying the show “V” on ABC. I recall it seemed like a really cool show about aliens and how they wanted to be our friends. It wasn’t long before I realized I had been tricked, and I was upset for weeks by it. It has also become blatantly apparent that Shonda Rhimes enjoys manipulating with my emotions as well. Thursday nights used to be a relaxing and full of surprise night for me. Now I find that I am either just downright depressed, upset, scared to death or stressed out. It may be time to start watching reruns of Seinfeld.
Moral: Acknowledge it, respect it, handle it and move on from it.
living with OSFC,
A little thing that would validate me: Have any struggles with OSFC you'd like to share? Or perhaps a sweet story about your fictitious friendships?