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emotionally supporting a friend when you are running on empty?


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Last week I posted about my emotional struggles. I've had a tough few weeks.

 

Yesterday a dear friend unburdened herself to me at a neighborhood BBQ. She & others were supposed to camp out at a music festival a few weeks ago. When it started to rain & lightening a married couple invited her, her female friend & 2 guys they were with to stay in the couple's motorhome. The wife decided to run home to check on the couple's dogs but never made it back. The 2 guys went to their car to get something after the wife left but never returned. The husband slept in the bedroom by himself while my friend & her female friend slept in the kitchen / living room. Nothing happened. Now the wife is up in arms carrying on that it was inappropriate for my friend to stay in the motor home. At the wife's request my friend was disinvited to a Labor BBQ & my friend is hurt. When my friend called another woman for emotional support that woman said she didn't have time for this "drama" which also upset my friend.

 

I understand all of that. I listened to her be upset for almost 2 hours. I tried to reassure her that she did nothing wrong; that the wife was being ridiculous & yes, the friend who uninvited her was being mean.

 

As the sun set & the BBQ was winding down, my friend started to cry. My heart broke for her & I knew she wanted me to invite her back to our house where she could continue drinking & then pass out on our couch. I'd had a few glasses of wine throughout the day & was tired. My husband & I had a full day by then This friend had only rolled out of bed around 4 pm to join us. I didn't have the energy to coddle her on the couch for 4+ more hours & while my husband will be a gracious host when she's here & I have entertained her for the majority of the night, I couldn't expect him to deal with her for hours while I slept. He'd already put in a full day doing some of my favorite activities, including several he doesn't exactly enjoy (we went swimming & played mini golf) because he was trying to cheer me up, which I appreciated.

 

My friend has had many struggles in her life. She's divorced from an abusive husband. Her daughter died tragically. She's habitually out of work which causes financial problems including a foreclosure & a bankruptcy. She's estranged from her family. I could go on. My husband & I tried to do what we can, making sure she is safe & gets hot meals. We include her in every free or low cost social event we attend.

 

I feel lousy that I didn't have the resources to deal with her yesterday. Am I a bad friend? What would you have done? FWIW I was fast asleep by 9 p.m. yesterday, within 1 hour of getting home.

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This was not an emergency and I get that you were dealing with a gray area situation - you were exhausted and your friend was upset. I think you did the right thing by taking care of you. You would have felt resentful otherwise.

 

For example. Now that I’m a mom and in bed by around ten I tell people I only talk on the phone at night in an emergency. I can’t clean and prep and talk because it will wake up our son. And I don’t want to - I’m typically done, need chill time. Etc. so when a friend tries to skype or call at night I will text if at all possible and only talk in a true emergency. There are some who try to get past my personal boundary. I don’t appreciate it.

 

I also am very very aware of others need for space and boundaries and basically stop way before I cross them or I check in “it’s fine if you can’t talk” etc. be wary of people who don’t seem to have filters or boundaries in a non emergency. Enforce your boundaries even more. I know validation helps and I think you know you did the right thing.

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Agree with the others. You did the right thing—for you and, I think, for her and your friendship.

 

You were very much there for her. You put in real time, two hours of emotional nursing, which for many (like her other friend) would have already been a stretch. But you had that in you to give, and you gave it. And that you your limit, understandably. She is an adult—one who has been dealt some rough cards, and who had a bad day, but she'll get through it. That's part of adulthood.

 

It's okay to worry about someone without making that worry your primary focus, or always reacting to that worry. Gotta put yourself first, ultimately, not because it's selfish but because you can't be a good friend to anyone if you're not being a good friend to yourself.

 

To answer your question: I would have likely done the same, perhaps even "less." Two hours about this one thing? It seems excessive to me. When I feel myself crossing the line from listening and supporting to enabling, I tend to try to change the subject. While I appreciate my friends who will let me unload on when needed, I equally appreciate them for nipping it in the bud after a certain point. Kind of gives me a needed jolt of perspective, so I can turn off the poor-me faucet and get back to just being me, if that makes sense.

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You did more than enough for your friend...in fact you are going more beyond anyone would. You have been a good friend. Your friend needs to start getting a grip on life. She needs to get herself into a counsel group which are free, and start sorting herself out...she needs you to point her in that direction. Tho as charitable as you have been, she doesn't need coddling, she needs a good solid push getting herself out of her slump she has been wallowing in. She is where she is because she is having trouble coping and it's only getting worse. Crying over not being invited to a BBQ is ridiculous...disappointing yes but to need consoling/coddling, there's an issue there that definitely needs to be addressed. Have a talk with her about how she has been and figure out where she can get some help.

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I have suggested counseling many times. She screams. She faithfully attends a support group for people who have lost children. I have tried to help her get jobs. She's got great credentials but she can't hold the jobs once she gets them. What is that saying? You can lead a horse to water. . .

 

I know I can't fix her. I just felt awful leaving her crying yesterday but I really didn't have the wherewithal to deal.

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Hey God help those who help themselves.....we all know people have to hit rock bottom before they come to their senses. She's not there yet. But when she does, try to arrange an intervention with friends and family to give her that initial push. Oh and welcome aboard TeeDee ;)

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You listened to her for two hours. Wow! That is a long time. I think that your friend overreacted to this situation. I think that she should have kept it between her, and the other woman. Are you friends with that other woman? You should have shut down that convo after five minutes.

 

Your friend sounds like she has a lot of issues that you are not responsible for. Has she sought counseling? She sounds like an emotional vampire. Has she always been like this?

 

You need to stop enabling this woman.

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I have suggested counseling many times. She screams. She faithfully attends a support group for people who have lost children. I have tried to help her get jobs. She's got great credentials but she can't hold the jobs once she gets them. What is that saying? You can lead a horse to water. . .

 

I know I can't fix her. I just felt awful leaving her crying yesterday but I really didn't have the wherewithal to deal.

 

You need to stop all of the helping. it is not good for her! You are sounding co dependent.

 

How old is she where she needs to pass out on your sofa?

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You need to stop all of the helping. it is not good for her! You are sounding co dependent.

 

How old is she where she needs to pass out on your sofa?

 

She's old enough to know better; she's pushing 60. She stays here because she's terribly lonely & in the winter she doesn't always have sufficient heat.

 

I'm not going to stop all the helping. I am not about to watch her starve or freeze to death. I'm having trouble leaving her crying. Do you actually think I could not feed her?

 

Yes she needs to fix her own life but at this juncture I believe her mental illness are so entrenched she may not be capable of helping herself.

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She's old enough to know better; she's pushing 60. She stays here because she's terribly lonely & in the winter she doesn't always have sufficient heat.

 

I'm not going to stop all the helping. I am not about to watch her starve or freeze to death. I'm having trouble leaving her crying. Do you actually think I could not feed her?

 

Yes she needs to fix her own life but at this juncture I believe her mental illness are so entrenched she may not be capable of helping herself.

 

Then I would find her the government and/or community resources that can help her.

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Then I would find her the government and/or community resources that can help her.

 

I have tried. My husband filled out the forms for her. She gets VA benefits. The local police & fire are WELL AWARE of her. Every church in the area knows of her needs. The folks in the local emergency room know her by name.

 

I don't mean to sound ungrateful to the people who offer suggestions. I know I take on more of her issues then I should. That is my choice. But yesterday I felt bad because I was at my limit.

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I have tried. My husband filled out the forms for her. She gets VA benefits. The local police & fire are WELL AWARE of her. Every church in the area knows of her needs. The folks in the local emergency room know her by name.

 

I don't mean to sound ungrateful to the people who offer suggestions. I know I take on more of her issues then I should. That is my choice. But yesterday I felt bad because I was at my limit.

 

Then you know she will not starve or freeze to death with all those resources. If she asks repeat the relevant phone number to her or text it to her by a link.

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She's old enough to know better; she's pushing 60. She stays here because she's terribly lonely & in the winter she doesn't always have sufficient heat.

 

I'm not going to stop all the helping. I am not about to watch her starve or freeze to death. I'm having trouble leaving her crying. Do you actually think I could not feed her?

 

Yes she needs to fix her own life but at this juncture I believe her mental illness are so entrenched she may not be capable of helping herself.

 

You have to be kidding! I thought she was in her early 20's.

 

She will never learn to help herself, if you keep supporting her in this manner. There are government agencies for this. Are you going to do this until she is 80? You are enabling her, and that is not good. You are sounding very co dependent.

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What do you get out of this friendship? Was she like this when you met her? How long have you known her?

 

No she wasn't like this when I met her. Her daughter was still alive then. All of this was a spiral down after that tragedy. I've probably known her for 15 years.

 

I actually get a lot from her friendship. She is a kind, generous person who gives of herself. She would give a stranger the shirt off her back. She was my friend when few other women in this town would give me the time of day. When I moved here I was unmarried. I still don't have kids. Around here, that makes me a husband stealing 5-letter word beginning with "w" meaning promiscuous.

 

She knows "everybody" and has introduced me to dozens of people, helping me to fit in and make new friends.

 

She is very intelligent & a good conversationalist.

 

When my parents died she was supportive & helpful. She's the first person to check on us after a storm.

 

Believe it or not, she's reliable. If I need somebody to wait for the plumber or cable repair person while my husband & I go to work, she's there for me.

 

All in all she is a good person.

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No she wasn't like this when I met her. Her daughter was still alive then. All of this was a spiral down after that tragedy. I've probably known her for 15 years.

 

I actually get a lot from her friendship. She is a kind, generous person who gives of herself. She would give a stranger the shirt off her back. She was my friend when few other women in this town would give me the time of day. When I moved here I was unmarried. I still don't have kids. Around here, that makes me a husband stealing 5-letter word beginning with "w" meaning promiscuous.

 

She knows "everybody" and has introduced me to dozens of people, helping me to fit in and make new friends.

 

She is very intelligent & a good conversationalist.

 

When my parents died she was supportive & helpful. She's the first person to check on us after a storm.

 

Believe it or not, she's reliable. If I need somebody to wait for the plumber or cable repair person while my husband & I go to work, she's there for me.

 

All in all she is a good person.

 

Then yes you should reciprocate. But not more then or try to replace the government/community.

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Has she tried to seek any therapy? She needs professional help.

 

She doesn't believe in therapy. That is her choice. Like I said she does attend a bereavement support group at a local church. She puts one foot in front of the other every day & is actually less depressed then I am most of the time. She is genuinely a positive person.

 

Again this isn't about her. She's not here posting. I am the one asking for reassurance that last night when I left her in tears that I was not a bad, selfish, unsupportive person.

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You are not qualified.

 

I'm not trying to address all of her issues. I was focused on this one thing. . . the business about staying in the RV. I listened as any good friend was. I validated her feelings of being upset. I tried to reassure her then I tried to change the subject. After 2 hours of this, I did not have the wherewithal to continue propping her up. I know I am not qualified to address her grief or her employment problems. I am also not trying to.

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You aren't a bad friend for being tired and needing sleep like humans do.

She wasn't in an emergency situation, you said she wanted to stay up drinking. She wanted to cry into a beer bottle some more. Why do you feel bad for saying no to participating in that?

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