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Not sure how to handle a friend


alexisgrace

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Hi everyone,

I have been having some issues with a friend for a while now and from my perspective things have come to a head. We met about five years ago but have only really been close for two. I would call her my best friend and she has been there for me through a lot. I am grateful for her and love her as a friend in that regard. For the last few months I have felt that she is very depressed. Both because she has told me so (with comments like "I hate myself" and "i wish life would give me a break" etc.) and because of her recent behaviour. She has been getting really angry/upset over things I truly don't believe would have bothered her before. For example, she will get really upset if I go out with other mutual friends of ours and don't invite her. It is never intentionally excluding her, it might be a spur of the moment thing. But then I will make special effort to ensure she is included next time and she will visibly appear as if she is not enjoying being there in the social situation. arms crossed, looking unhappy, slumped, not socialising, making very limited conversation. I invited her to come on holidays with a group of friends, and when i told her the dates, she said that with work and other things she wouldnt be available. the trip was organised quite last minutes and we ended up going for a day less than originally planned to a different location. she was very angry about this, stating that I shouldve invited her again to the different location, whereas I thought that since she had said she was unavailable for the dates, asking again would have been redundant. that was an argument I felt that she was looking for.

Other people have commented to me that she never seems to enjoy being around them, so why should they invite her. She told me I ruined her birthday celebration and she was "in tears" because I had been teasing her and said that I wanted to sit next to a friend of ours at the table. the most offensive thing I said according to her was mocking her style because I commented that she was a fan of peasant skirts. I told her at the time that I was sorry but I thought she was being quite sensitive about it. BIG MISTAKE as she believes that this is a poor excuse for my bad behaviour. But I really think it is true - had I made a similar comment at any time of life for example, she might not have reacted in a way that made her cry to me over the phone about it.

She also gets upset if I don't text her without having received a text message from her first. and she is very sensitive about some of the jokes or offhand comments i have made in the past. in her defense I can take some jokes a little too far and they can be a little bit insensitive. she hates when I make comment about her being single. I told her recently that I think she should appreciate some of the male attention/flirting she does get, because she doesn't seem to notice it at all sometimes, and she got very angry at this. The other day we had a really big argument where all the frustrations I have been feeling about these and other things came out. I am feeling really guilty about this and even though we made up for the most part, I dont know what I should do now. she was crying hysterically throughout the argument and was still quite inconsolable (although not heavily crying) hours afterwards. I am considering bringing up with her that I think some of these issues she has had with me might be the product of a bigger problem, that she is feeling depressed as she has confessed to me.

 

My background is that I have never had a friend that has been as close as this. I am a bit of a loner and an introvert and I don't know if other friendships have these kind of problems or if i am right and there is a larger issue at hand. what I do know is that myself and numerous family members of mine have dealt with depression, so i am quite familiar with the signs, and I really think that may be a substantial factor at play here. But in short I just don't know what to do next because I am having a hard time being her friend. I want to be there for her and I really try to be but I feel like I am a bad friend all the time and being nitpicked.

 

Any advice, even if criticism for me, is welcome. Would love to hear anyone elses perspective.

Thanks!

Alexis

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I am considering bringing up with her that I think some of these issues she has had with me might be the product of a bigger problem, that she is feeling depressed as she has confessed to me. [...]

 

But in short I just don't know what to do next because I am having a hard time being her friend. I want to be there for her and I really try to be but I feel like I am a bad friend all the time and being nitpicked.

 

My heart goes out to you and friend. I've been in this position, where I felt more like a social worker than a friend, and I got too exhausted to continue the relationship.

 

I'd tell her what I've highlighted from your post above and then listen. She may go defensive at first, so I'd tell her I understand her reaction, and rather than argue with her, I'm going to step away and let her consider this for as long as she wishes. If she decides that she wants to contact me because I can be of help to her, I'm willing to go with her to a therapist--and I'll support her.

 

What I'd leave unsaid is all the stuff I've said already in our arguments or any other criticism--that ship has sailed. If she chooses to be offended, she can do that--for as long as it takes for her to reach through my open door. But that door is only open if she's willing to address and work on her larger issue with proper assistance. I'd be done with the eggshell walk, and I'd be done standing in for the professional she needs.

 

Write more if it helps, and you are NOT a lousy friend.

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Thanks a lot for your reply. Reading it has helped me feel a lot better. I just feel like I am walking on eggshells all the time. I have the problem that I generally get pretty defensive as well and it often leads to an argument started by me, so I will try and refuse the argument if she starts one. I just can't keep apologising to her for these things - I feel like all I do is listen to her and apologise. She puts all her eggs in one basket - me. I'm really exhausted.

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Thanks a lot for your reply. Reading it has helped me feel a lot better. I just feel like I am walking on eggshells all the time. I have the problem that I generally get pretty defensive as well and it often leads to an argument started by me, so I will try and refuse the argument if she starts one. I just can't keep apologising to her for these things - I feel like all I do is listen to her and apologise. She puts all her eggs in one basket - me. I'm really exhausted.

 

 

That's why it's important to put an offer on the table of, "either accept my help to get help, or I can't do this anymore." You can even give her a list of therapists, along with an offer to take her there if she'll make the appointment.

 

Short of that, you'll only keep dodging her bullets as she keeps making you her target--and all the 'talk' in the world won't change that.

 

If you're not exhausted enough to walk away yet, give it time--you'll get there. That's why it's important to suggest the professional help now, while you're still willing to deal with her. If she won't get help, she WILL force your hand--that's the trajectory she's on, and this will only get worse.

 

It does her no favors to allow yourself to be positioned as her lifeline--it's unhealthy for both of you.

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