After a night out with my friends, we were all hungover in the morning. But my friend, let’s call her Hannah, will never say no to a party. So the next morning, she woke up (still hungover) to attend a beach party that her friend had invited her to. I checked Snapchat during the day and saw the stories of the party. It looked pretty lowkey, just a couple of kids trying to have a good time. Then, during dinner, I got a call from Hannah.
She asked if she could stay at my house for the night because her parents weren’t home. I was caught off guard because I knew she had been drinking all day from the Snapchat stories. She didn’t sound too drunk, but she sounded really pissed off and definitely more aggressive than usual. I didn’t want my parents to see Hannah like that because they knew we were good friends and I didn’t want them to think she was a bad influence. But she sounded desperate so I told her to take a taxi to my house – and then she hung up on me. I thought it was weird but then she called me again. This time, she was screaming. She was yelling at me to pick her up. I tried to calm her down and told her I was in the middle of dinner. “Listen to me, just find a taxi on the road, show them the address I texted to you, and I’ll come down to pick you up when you get here”. She hung up on me, again. At this point, I was getting really worried; I didn’t understand what was happening. I tried calling her back several times, but no answer. Is she with her friends? Is she drunk? How can I help her when I’m so far away and she’s not responding back?
I went back to the dinner table and my parents asked me what was going on. I was so anxious about Hannah but I didn’t know what to say because it would mean that I’d have to explain that she had been drinking. And honestly, at the time, I didn’t know how my parents would react to it since we were still underage. So instead I just asked if she could sleepover. My parents were happy to host but they started asking questions – “Where is she?”, “When is she coming?”, “Why all of a sudden?” However, all my attention was diverted to my phone that was vibrating with text messages. It was Hannah, saying things like “Fuck you” and “You don’t care about me”. I was so confused because I didn’t think she would ever say anything like that to me; we were good friends and I welcomed her to stay at my house. Why was she acting this way? So I called her back again and this time, she was crying and could barely speak.
Shocked on the phone, I told Hannah to take a deep breath and that everything was going to be okay. I tried asking her where she was and who she was with but she kept crying and saying she was alone and lost. At this point, I knew the situation was much more serious than I thought. I told her to stay where she was and to send her location through Facebook so I could pick her up. Hannah started yelling again and told me to fuck off and that I was a selfish person like everyone else in her life who don’t give a shit about her. But I did give a shit, because I was the only person, out of everyone she contacted, that was going to find her.
After hearing my close friend say those things to me, I immediately started to cry and couldn’t even speak. It pained me to hear someone I really care about lash out at me. I was hurt by her words, but I was more scared for her safety. The first rational thing that came to my mind was to leave dinner and take care of her. But even if I left at that moment, I wouldn’t have been able to get to her for another hour.
I felt powerless. My parents were sitting across from me and were getting really concerned about what was happening. I told them the truth – that Hannah was drunk and lost and her parents weren’t in Hong Kong and that I needed to find her. To my surprise, they didn’t ask any questions and without hesitation they grabbed the check and said they were coming with me. I called Hannah again to tell her that we were coming to get her, but she didn’t pick up. What if something happened to her? I quickly called the person who invited her to the party, let’s call her Sophie, and asked where Hannah was. She said she had asked Hannah if she wanted to join her family for dinner before they left but Hannah had told her she was going home. I explained, in desperation, the brief phone calls I had had with Hannah and asked that she start to look for her around the beach and the area until I got there. I thought that was the fastest way to make sure she was safe. Sophie called me right after and said that Hannah had just texted her saying she was in a taxi, along with another text reading “Bye”. Partly relieved but partly worried, I called and texted Hannah again and again. No reply.
The next day, after I sent her paragraphs of me expressing my worry, Hannah texted me, “Hi”. My guess was she crashed right after getting home so she didn’t look at any of her texts. I asked if she was ok and told her how everyone was freaking out about her safety, including my parents. She asked me what had happened. She had forgotten everything but was impressed by the fact that she somehow made it home by herself as if it was a funny accomplishment. She told me she had drank a lot at the party and had gotten high. The combination was not good for her. I was glad she was ok, but I was also angry at her for getting so wasted and irresponsible.
It was hard for me to bring it all up to her again, especially because she didn’t remember that she had said those hurtful things to me. She never even bothered to check our previous texts to see what she had sent me. I explained it to her and she apologised but tried to play it off like another funny drunk night out. But it wasn’t. Not to me. Something dangerous could have happened. We were lucky that she made it home safe. I didn’t want to let this slip so we talked about it. I asked her why she said the things she had. She replied by saying she was drunk and didn’t mean any of it, but started opening up about how she sometimes felt neglected by her parents and that she felt like people were always leaving her. I didn’t realise she was going through so much. Perhaps she was just trying to have fun and take the edge off of the stress we were all under from school. Or perhaps she was going through a rough and difficult transition at home, and substance abuse was a way for her to temporarily forget about her emotions. She never likes to discuss it. I mean, who does, right? Who likes to show the vulnerable side to them? Who likes to open up about personal issues when everyone is so quick to judge?
I guess what I learned from this (besides being careful with alcohol and drugs) is to be present and pay attention to those around you. Treat everyone with kindness, because we never know what other people are dealing with behind their happy smiles, even our closest friends.