The end of a friendship...

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by blackfox, May 24, 2006.

  1. blackfox macrumors 65816


    Feb 18, 2003
    Since I have seen some similar threads around lately, I thought I would hit upon the wisdom of MR members for advice on the following problem:

    (historical context)
    I have had a friend, a girl, for about six years now. We are very close, although it is somewhat of a mystery why. I originally met her when I was her boss many years ago. She, at the time, was having a hard time of things, so I took time out to support her and help her through some issues she was having. During this time, I got to know her better, and she me - and we became friends, despite the fact that we have few interests in common and I am six years older than her. Although we briefly had a sexual relationship, it was ill-advised and had not been an issue since (it has been five years). Although we have grown progressively closer, there has always been an intense and tumultous aspect to our relationship - with drama and blow-ups, mostly coming from her, but I am sure I have done my part to act as a catalyst. Despite all this, we retained a special bond - one which I don't completely understand.

    Now, I truly believe that this girl is a special person, and deserves to be happy. Unfortunately, she has had a rough run of things - poor parents, abusive boyfriends, self-image problems and health issues (cancer and an eating disorder among them). I have stuck with her through this all, as someone to confide in, and have occasionally exerted great efforts on her behalf. Though it has been very difficult, and although I often don't know what I am doing, I have done my best to be a good friend to her.

    We go out for drinks, talk about our problems, our significant others and generally share things with each other we wouldn't with anyone else. As far as her various problems go, I have learned to take a more passive role in helping her with them, as I am often not sure what to do and don't want to meddle - I have just made it clear she can always contact me and I will listen and do what I can. Sometimes, when she seems to be doing particularily bad, I might mention something and gently prod her to talk about it.

    Our relationship has gone though phases - first we were co-workers, then she inexplicably hated me, then we became almost inseperable. Then I moved 2000 miles away, and we only spoke on the phone - intially a few times a week, then perhaps once a month or so. She constantly asked me to come back to Austin, although I can't say how serious she was. I would usually come back and visit Austin once or twice a year (not to specifically see her), and we would hang out then - like two peas in a pod.

    At the beginning of this year my life brought me back to Austin to live, which excited her to no end. She put me up in her apt. for several weeks while I found a place and waited for my belongings to arrive from being shipped. We shared her one bedroom place, and slept in the same bed - and all was fine. We occasionally got into arguments in the morning and resoved them in the evening. I encouraged her to start dating again, and she met a nice guy and was really happy. During this time we had a few heart-to-heart talks and she told me that I was the "love of her life", although that should not be taken as anything romantic/sexual - as she has not looked that way at me in years. I told her I loved her too, as I have fairly often over the years. It was nice - and we shared some issues and stories with each other, as we always had.

    Then I got my apt and moved out. She broke up with her boyfriend (well, he might have done it), but stlll seemed happy. We would go out and get drinks, as usual. One night, over some wine, she explained that she had been doing pretty poorly before I arrived and that me living with her for a few weeks had "saved her life". The seriousness of her delivery made me a little uncomfortable, but kinda flattered. I let it go. Life went on.

    As the next few months went by, a got a girlfriend and she returned my calls less and less (she didn't know about the girlfriend initially - so no casuality). She still called me occasionally, however, and really helped me through a rough patch I was having dealing with a family emergency.

    So, last week, we were out for drinks and I mentioned I'd like to come by her place and pick up some clothes I'd left behind when I'd moved. She said fine, anytime - since we both have keys to each other's apts. She warned me that her place was messy, however, and that people weren't usually allowed over.

    A couple of days later, I stop by her apt while she is at work to pick up my clothes. I find that her apt is trashed - dishes piled up - fruit flies - clothes strewn everywhere - clogged bathroom sink - and misc. debris everywhere.
    I wondered how I was going to find my clothes. So I began a long clean up project. I picked up all the clothes off the floor, folded them and stacked them on the bed (and found my clothes). I did the dishes, took out the garbage, fixed the sink, vacuumed and generally cleaned up. I left a note, and left.

    At 2am, I get a message from her to call me - and she is sobbing. I get in my car and drive over to her place and she is upset about something. She is upset about me cleaning up her apt, although she is also thankful. I have the impression that I have done the wrong thing. I apologize and offer her her key back - and leave oddly disturbed. I get another call 30 minutes later of her still sobbing and saying something incomprehensible. I drive back over there and ask her what the hell is going on. She explains that "she can't take it anymore", which thouroughly confuses me. I question, and she explains that I have been her hero for all this time, and that she is dependent on me - that I am worse than cocaine. She says our relationship is over, even though it is the hardest thing she has ever done. Now confused and worried, I try to ask her to clarify - but end up just quietly walking out.

    So this brings us to the present. I am not sure what to think, or what to do. I am wondering if I should feel guilty - if I did someting wrong here. I just don't understand her "hero' comment, and even less her "dependency" comments, as I have spent half of our relationship thousands of miles away, and even when in the same city, we talk relatively infrequently (at least in modern times). She sorts out almost all of her life's problems' on her own - I certainly don't solve them - even the one's she asks me advice about. I just don't understand what is going on.

    What to do? She is obviously important to me, and I would like to have her in my life, but if I am causing her problems - I don't want to be. Am I causing her problems? Or am I being scapegoated or something else? Should I attempt to talk to her again? Or should I just let it go? She has some serious problems in her life, and I want to make sure she has someone to go to. She won't go to therapy - and the rest of her friends are somewhat shallow (perhaps deliberately). Am I a bad person to continue trying, or am I a bad person by doing nothing now?

    Am I missing something huge here? Have I been a negative influence all this time? It should be said, I have no want to "save" her (or anyone), and even if I did, realistically I couldn't. I just really think that she is a wonderful person, and have consciously just made the effort to be there for her over the years, as she has been for me. I have tried to be a good friend, under difficult circumstances that I didn't understand. I have made a good many mistakes along the way, but they have never sunken the ship before. Have I been a huge a**hole and not even known it? A huge idiot?

    Comments? Suggestions?

    Sorry this is all such a rambling, excessively long mess. I guess it is juat important to me, and is obviously on my mind.
  2. Queso macrumors G4

    Mar 4, 2006
    Sounds like you've done nothing wrong. Give it exactly a week then call her. Arrange to meet up and have a proper talk. You aren't the cause of her distress, but she's projecting something onto you as an easy fix for whatever is really the issue. It's important you find out what is actual problem is, although depression is my guess from the details you've given.

    Don't be too heavy, but be there. She may pull through this on her own, or you may have to get her to see a doctor. Don't feel guilty though. You have nothing to feel bad about.
  3. MentalFabric macrumors 6502


    Mar 10, 2004
    (keep in mind this is just one possible scenario out of thousands!)

    i have a lot of experience with anorexics/bolemics/addicts, and one of the common addictions is something usually called co-dependency, she may be worred that she's 'using' you as a drug so to speak, you don't have to be around for that to be the case, a person may feel that life is ****, but at least this person exists, and thus creates a non-existant entity to rely on…

    or of course, seeing as you helped her through an eating disorder (in just the right way i might add, getting too involved never helps, but being an ear does!) perhaps since you left Austin her addictive personality has been playing up and she knows she'll have to give up such behaviours now that you're around because you cause her to look at herself more frequently.

    in any case, i'd say to wait a little while and offer to talk it over.
    Good luck!
  4. redAPPLE macrumors 68030


    May 7, 2002
    2 Much Infinite Loops
    here is my take, blackfox.

    don't be too hard on yourself. don't let this eat you up.
  5. blackfox thread starter macrumors 65816


    Feb 18, 2003
    Thanks for the replys so far.

    It is not so much that I am taking this so hard personally (although it does bother me), but that if there is a dependency problem - what is the best course of action?

    If this girl has made me out to be something in her mind and has relied on me as a crutch of sorts, then would trying to re-establish a relationship really be in her best interests?

    I mean, I'd like to think that my continued presence in her life would be beneficial, and in many important ways (considering the options) it would be. That said, it is not my call to make and I guess it becomes more of a question of what my friend feels and can handle, rather than what I might think might ultimately serve her interests best.

    She is a stubborn woman and refuses to believe that I have any reason to continue to stick by her, as she has never felt that she, or her actions have merited such loyalty. She would cut of her nose to spite her face, and how do you deal with that?

    It has been about a week btw, I have been biding my time to try and get some perspective on the issue. I welcome further opinions and suggestions.
  6. devilot Moderator emeritus


    May 1, 2005
    Not really knowing you or her... I can't be sure of anything, but...

    I do agree with her deciding to try to establish some space or independence from you. Maybe she has become co-dependent. "Gentle weaning" doesn't usually help, I do think that it's best to just sever ties for the time being. Allow her time to adapt, I'm sure when she is more independent or more ready, she'll be more than willing to give you a call and meet for drinks.
  7. MongoTheGeek macrumors 68040


    Sep 13, 2003
    Its not so much where you are as when you are.
    You do want to "fix" her but don't know/acknowledge it.
    She likes being broken because that gets her the attention of getting fixed.

    She needs lots of professional help to be "normal" Probably including a short course of drugs. 6mo.

    On the other hand you may want to leave her broken. You didn't break her, you may have contributed a bit to her staying broken but there is no obligation there. If you aren't happy and can in good conscious walk away, do so. Move, throw away her number, don't give her your new one.

    If you want to fix her yourself its a tough row to hoe, it can be done.

    A final option is to change her into a more useful state of "broken". Is "broken" but happy better than "normal" and unhappy?
  8. yellow Moderator emeritus


    Oct 21, 2003
    Portland, OR
  9. Sharewaredemon macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2004
    Cape Breton Island
    Please expand on this.
  10. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Thinking point:
    Why wouldn't you honour her request to make a break?
    What circumstances would give you the right to decide what was better for her, against her express wishes?

    It's something she has obviously thought of (a lot!) and decided on.

    Unless you seriously feel she is a danger to herself, in which case your obligation is to call professionals to intervene.

    The question is: Where do you stand on freedom of choice?
    Does your friend have the freedom to make her own choices?
    If so, does she have the freedom to make bad choices? Or choices you don't agree with?
  11. andiwm2003 macrumors 601


    Mar 29, 2004
    Boston, MA
    from my personal experience:

    these people have a problem somewhere. they do not try to solve the underlying problem. instead they compensate and try to get attention and project what they want onto other people.

    now here is the point:
    she is just using you to satisfy her greed for attention. she is not thinking about what is good for you, she is only intersted in herself and whats good for her (in the short term because she is not working on the real problem whatever that is). maybe she does it not consciously on purpose but she does it. she needs you to feel guilty so she gets the attention she wants. and that will never end because she will never solve her problems and she is not interested in whats good for you.

    so get out there and let her figure out her life on her own. it's better for all in the long run.

    again this is from my experience and sounds cynical and probably does not apply here.
    just want to give you a different viewpoint.
  12. aquajet macrumors 68020

    Feb 12, 2005
    You sound like a deeply caring, gentle and admirable friend, BF. But you're uncertain as to the meaning of your relationship with this woman, and she probably senses this uncertainty. I suspect she's in love with you, but she doesn't know what to do and she's afraid to approach you for fear of damaging your relationship. As a result, she would rather break-off the relationship now than directly address the matter of "he loves me, he loves me not."

    Have you ever spoken at length about this issue? Perhaps you should address this. Since you obviously love her (platonically, I presume), think long and hard how you want to approach this question. She obviously has other personal issues to deal with, so you should proceed gently, of course.

    These are my own impressions based upon what you've told us. But of course I could be way off. :eek:
  13. blackfox thread starter macrumors 65816


    Feb 18, 2003
    excellent points.

    I can't help but think about the agonizing question of "what do you do when you see someone you care about make bad choices?"

    I also can't help but wonder how much of my selfishness is tied up on my considerations here, which is what makes it so confusing.

    Still, I do have legitimate worries.

    She does have a cocaine addiction.
    She is an alcoholic
    She is struggling with an eating disorder
    She has unsupportive parents
    She has social-anxiety
    She has a poor self-image
    She is depressed
    She refuses to seek professional help
    She refuses to talk to her family
    She refuses to let anyone get close (except me)

    How do these things reflect on her ability to make smart choices? Do I have a legitimate responsibility to intervene, considering the situation and my unique position in her life?

    I have never tried to make any of her choices for her - in fact, I have just tried to go out and have fun with her - to get her to lighten up, to talk to me about whatever is on her mind, to look at her life and her choices - I basically just listen. If she asks me my opinion, I'll give it. Otherwise, I try and keep things light. This is why I don't quite understand the dependency thing.

    Of course, I will respect her right to choose how she leads her life and whether or not I should be in it - but there are mitigating circumstances, right? How am I supposed to feel when a few months ago I was told that my presence literally saved her life, and now my presence is barred? Should I not be worried?

    I don't even know what my options are. It is just really hard to figure out what the right thing is to I even have the right to a choice? <sigh>
  14. ToddW macrumors 6502a

    Feb 26, 2004
    you want to fix her and she's crazy, so my advice is:

    stop always trying to fix things, and no more friends with crazy women!
  15. 2nyRiggz macrumors 603


    Aug 20, 2005
    Thank you Jah...I'm so Blessed
    I feel your pain....All i can say is to give her time. If she comes around and wants you back in her life then do so as you see fit but if it doesn't go that way....Walk away and leave it behind dont cause yourself anymore pain.

    I feel your pain cause i know this hurt.....sometimes you just got to let it go.

  16. clayj macrumors 604


    Jan 14, 2005
    visiting from downstream
    Sounds to me like she has a raft of problems, not the least of which is severe depression (not just garden variety depression, but potentially suicidal depression). Letting her residence deteriorate to the point of squalor is NOT a good sign, and the cocaine and alcohol abuse may be attempts to escape her depression or at least numb herself to it.

    I'm thinking you need to contact her family and make sure they're aware of what's going on. An intervention and/or trip to rehab might be in order.
  17. MarkCollette macrumors 68000


    Mar 6, 2003
    Toronto, Canada
    I have no idea what the right thing to do is, but personally, this is what I'd do. I'd check in on her if the separation thing hits a month. Nothing serious and interventionist, just gentle concern. At some later point I'd try and find out her feelings towards me (you), is she in love, still a friend, whatever. Until then I wouldn't encourage her to get a boyfriend, because depending on her (secret?) feelings, that could be interpreted in different ways than you might intend.
  18. aquajet macrumors 68020

    Feb 12, 2005
    This new information certainly puts things in a new light.

    She obviously has a long list of unresolved personal issues to deal with and is at a high risk for suicide ideation. There's not much you can do besides encourage her to seek professional help. You certainly can't force her to do anything, unless of course she tries to inflict harm on herself, in which case I would take measures to have her hospitalized involuntarily if she's not willing to make that decision on her own.

    She doesn't have any other friends or family that could help with an intervention?
  19. MentalFabric macrumors 6502


    Mar 10, 2004
    normally a rehab centre would tell you to make it clear you're leaving her life until she goes through rehab, but she kinda removed that option by leaving herself. In your position i would let her know i wanted to be a part of her life, but only after she got healthy, find the details of a rehab so she doesn't have to research something she doesn't really want to do anyway and leave it up to her.
  20. tkidBOSTON macrumors 6502a


    Aug 14, 2005
    The Hub of the Universe
    I would be very concerned.
    Speaking from personal experiences, I think clayj might be spot on. :(

    I personally would check in on her in a nonobtrusive way if possible. Just make sure she's still doing (relatively) well. And get her help if possible.
    ...I just wish I could give more advice as to how to do all that.
  21. blackfox thread starter macrumors 65816


    Feb 18, 2003
    As to the question of rehab/therapy etc, I have already spoken to her about this option(s), as I have said that in my opinion she (a) will probably not be able to solve these problems herself,(b) they are not going to go away, and (c)that despite my willingness to help, they are beyond my capacity to solve.

    While she seemed to understand, she was adamant about not involving her parents - as adamant as anyone could be. This has put me in the uncomfortable position of judging whether to figure out another course of action, or breaking my word (and her trust) and risking putting her over the edge.

    Unless she is willing to work at these things, however, those avenues wouldn't be that helpful anyway (short of forced in-patient, if even then).

    Even so, back in Feb, when she came to me with some of her problems and a tentative willingness to work on them - we made an agreement. Since she was unsure of therapy and didn't want to involve her parents, I told her I would give her six months to make an effort at tackling these problems. If after six months, if she had not made what we both considered progress (or worsened), then I would have to seriously consider involving her family and other serious options.
  22. electronboy macrumors 6502

    Sep 27, 2005
    Let them make them. They must learn from their choices, if this person does not or cannot learn from their mistakes then you must move on. Why burden yourself?
  23. floriflee macrumors 68030


    Dec 21, 2004
    That is far easier said than done--especially when there's a strong emotional tie involved. When you care that much for the person unburdening yourself isn't as easy as just flipping a switch to turn those feelings off.

    Blackfox, I wish I had more pertinent advice to add, but most of my thoughts about convincing her to get help in some way or other have already been said by other posters. So I guess I can only add my concurrence to those posts. With regards to the six months timeline, perhaps there's a way you (or someone) can convince her to seek help sooner. Maybe point out that things are worse than they were three months ago and that things aren't really getting better so perhaps help should be sought for sooner than the originally imposed deadline. Don't know if that would be worthwhile trying, but it's a thought.

    Good luck! :(
  24. scem0 macrumors 604


    Jul 16, 2002
    back in NYC!
    It sounds like she was just really emotional and may have over reacted to her emotions. She sounds like she yearns for independence and is frustrated by having to lean on your shoulder so much.

    I'd give her a week or so to let her emotions calm down and then meet with her in person. Let her know that she is strong and then she can get through any obstacles in her way, and that you just want to be there to help her because she is your friend.

    I would try very hard to keep this friendship intact, it sounds like a precious one.

  25. job macrumors 68040


    Jan 25, 2002
    in transit
    Given that you probably know more about her, her physical and mental state, and her issues and problems, I would ask whether or not I would be obligated to help, given that you're probably the only one who could at this point.

Share This Page