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A Special Friend

by Liz

I've known C. for over twelve years. We first met when he started work with the same company that I worked for. Right from the start we had a very good friendship. He was a good friend, easy to talk to, and willing to share and listen. At this time I was not aware of any of his feelings regarding his leg and his desire to become an amputee. He kept this very well hidden, although at times he became inexplicably depressed and things were obviously getting him down. As our friendship grew over the years C. shared in my good times and the bad - the birth of my children, my divorce; and he was always there to help me through. He is a special part of my family. My three sons love him and over the past few years have always accepted his waves of depression, although not knowing why he felt the way he did.

About four years ago C. finally told me why he got as depressed as he did, and we got to talk for the first time about the feelings he has regarding his leg. This only came out when he could no longer cope with his problems and was admitted to hospital. From what I could see, he was treated abominably, and they tried very hard to blame his feelings about his leg on to some other sort of psychiatric condition that they made up, rather than listening to what he said.

During this time, and often since, he would telephone or call in and see me, in total despair, and unable to cope. I felt so useless, unaware of what I could say or do to make things better. All I could do was to listen and be there when he needed me. I learned a lot from my own experiences: No, there is nothing constructive that I can do to help to resolve his problem. I am not in the medical profession: I can't amputate his leg; but yes, I can be a friend, listen to him, talk to him about it, and reassure him, tell him that to me and my children, he is still C. Yes, he has a problem - a problem I can't explain, but one that for me makes no difference. To me his problem is a strange - I don't have the desire and to a certain extent cannot understand why he has either - but we all have things that cause us problems, however large or small they might be. Why, because his longing, superficially at least, may appear so bizarre, should I think less of him?

In the middle of last year C. and I went to see Margaret Child, and for the first time things began to settle into a sort of context for me. We talked in a very general way about devotees and wannabes. I never realised that there were so many people with similar desires or problems and the very serious effects that they can have. I appreciate some of the problems that partners might have when they first discover this interest in somebody that they thought they knew very well. I also know that it is one that can be talked about and come to terms with, without bringing disaster. It's sometimes easier for a friend like me to accept, talk about, and help where I can, than it would be for a partner.

Before Christmas C. had a special leg brace made up to cover his leg, and this has helped in a small way to partially alleviate his problem. One day when C. and my oldest son M., who is eleven years old, were playing, he discovered that C's leg was hard and, not sur prisingly, asked why. I sat him down and explained as much as I thought he could understand about C. and his leg. To M., my son, this made no difference and when I finished my explanation he said 'Well, Mum, we all have things that we find hard to cope with, but he is still C. and we love him just as much.'

If only we could tell the world and make them listen, perhaps more people could begin to understand that people like C. are just human beings affected by some quirk of nature - it is one that does nobody else any harm. It makes them no less worthy of friendship, affection, and love than anyone else. Note

...he was treated abominably...
Compare C's treatment with Kevin's described in A Case Of Bad Handling

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