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Friend's Downward Spiral

Question:

I have a friend who is on a downward spiral. She has stopped working 4 years ago… has lost her license for 5 years..( I don’t know what for.. most likely drinking) I think she takes pills too. Sometimes when I ring she is incoherent. she finds it hard to go out. Sometimes she makes it out & comes out to lunch but at least two or three times a year she leaves me standing on some street corner or cafe waiting for her. She doesn’t show. She rings and makes some lame excuse. The recent time makes me more concerned because this time I turned up at her house with my 4month old baby and she simply didn’t answer her door. She rang two hours later and blamed me for not showing.. Even though I did and I knocked for 20 minutes before leaving. I told her this and got a little mad.. She thought about this and sent me an email apologizing saying that she had fallen asleep.. I don’t know what to do. This blaming me thing has me crossed over to where I don’t want to try any more… I don’t want to leave her in the lurch but it has been years now of no improvement… Do I walk away? I want to.. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

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Answer:

Your friend is having some significant problems, it seems, although of what sort exactly is not clear. She may be addicted to alcohol or drugs, she may be depressed, she may be getting senile, etc. Whatever its nature, she is not handling her condition well. Rather than taking on responsibility for her failings and asking for help, she is externalizing blame on to others such as yourself. Under the circumstances, it seems quite reasonable of you to be angry at her. Certainly, you have better things to do than to be lied to, or to be made to feel inadequate. That you haven’t walked away yet suggests that you may feel more than simply mad, which is good. Here is woman who is probably in crisis and who is not able to ask for help, although she seems to need it. Its a sad situation really. If it wasn’t for you being treated so poorly, you’d probably feel the same way. Maybe the best way to handle the situation is to reconcile both feelings; pity and anger. Can you confront her with her behavior and let her know that you’d like to help her in some way, but will not suffer her to treat you badly? I think you need to be able to defend yourself from being treated badly, but at the same time, if you can help this woman to get help, that would be a loving thing to do. If she can’t respond to your offer, well – so be it. You’ll be able to walk away without regret.

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