DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I have a friend who’s been one of my best friends since my first day as a new freshman at a new high school in a new town. I love her and she has seen me through some rough times. When I was dangerously depressed a few years ago she was one of my rocks. I’ve been slowly recovering, still struggling sometimes, but trying to keep away from the darkness, just as she seems to be heading deeper into it. She is in therapy and takes meds, but she is impossible to deal with at times. Everything I do is wrong, and she twists everything I say around to be an attack on her.
I can’t turn my back on her, but all my other friends and even my family say I might need to cut the ties for my sanity’s sake, but she has been such a big part of my life for so long it isn’t easy. Plus given my experience, I know I could help her if she’d let me.
So, do I cut and run or stick it out? --- HURT AND Confused bff
DEAR HURT AND CONFUSED: You’re the kind of friend we all need in our lives, and being no stranger to the darkness, I get why you believe you’d be a perfect resource for someone in crisis. But the thing is, you also need to safeguard your own on-going recovery.
Since your friend’s getting professional help, you need to step back and let the pros do their job. To your great credit, you don’t want to abandon her, but modern life further tilts an already slippery slope.
In this age of constant, instant communication, failure to constantly and instantly respond to messages annoys many in good circumstances. To someone literally not in her right mind, any delay – no matter how reasonable – may feel like a betrayal.
For your sake I suggest avoiding daily for the time being. Try periodically reaching out with an old school letter or card expressing understanding, support, and continued friendship. It’s amazing how much more you can say if you have to really think about what you’re putting down on paper. Whether it’s a thing of beauty or a proofreader’s nightmare, you’ll have given your old friend a piece of yourself – from a hopefully safe distance for you.
When she receives your offerings she can read, shred, frame, or put them away unopened, depending on her emotional and mental state at the moment. She may respond by blowing-up your phone; or the silence may be deafening. Whatever path she takes don’t be surprised by her reaction, and don’t take it personally. You’ll have held out your hand and your heart, and sometimes that’s the best we can do.
Good luck to you both.