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How to help my friend get passed guilt?


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Hey everyone!  
You know that meme “asking for a friend”….this is actually for a friend haha. 
My friend Alex has been on and off with his girlfriend Cara for a little over a year. He started dating her pretty quickly after his divorce (he had been married with kids since he was about 21, and doesn’t like to be alone. He is now 38. Cara has also been married before but has no kids). In the beginning, he did notice some red flags, but he brushed them off because of that new feeling, and told himself he was overreacting.
Also because of that honeymoon phase, he did some dreaming out loud with her, as naive as it was. They talked about maybe wanting to get married one day and have a house, etc. It could always happen. No promises, but who knows? 
These two are truly on and off. Cara is possessive and controlling. Alex is accommodating and doesn’t want to hurt her feelings or be alone. Cara is incredibly jealous of his relationship with the mother of his children, though it is legitimately only a coparenting one. But she makes it impossible. She demands that he speak to the mother of his children THROUGH CARA. Also, she is jealous of his friends. Not even just the female ones (he can’t have female friends at all). But even the male ones seem to be a threat to her. You can see some resentment she has for his kids also. But she hides it by being fake to them. Any time he has summoned the courage to actually get away from her, she will use what makes his heart bleed to guilt him. She’s gone so far as to say she went to the doctor and got diagnosed with something “worrisome”. Once they were “ok” again, it magically went away. Or another time something horrible happened with her family, and she couldn’t do it alone supposedly. Again, it seemed to be nonexistent once he was back in her grip. 
He knows this relationship is over, but he is having the hardest time leaving it. He’s always had issues with guilt. Now she’s telling him he lied to her at the beginning about what he wanted and making him feel bad about that. Implying what a horrible man he is for misleading her about what he wanted. As if he’s not allowed to change his mind. Also, it’s as if he should be obligated to stick to that daydream. 
They fight every single night. He drinks to cope with having to live like this. He’s miserable and I’m worried about him, but I don’t know what else to do. It’s affecting everything in his life. Slowly the awesome parts of who he is are disappearing and he’s become a depressed shell. 
What would you do? Any tips? What advice would you give him? Anything at all would be appreciated. Please help me help him!! 
Thank you. 
Desparate to Help My Dude

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24 minutes ago, LittleHelpFromMyFriends said:

.He drinks to cope with having to live like this. he’s become a depressed shell. 

He needs to address his drinking and any inappropriate boundaries with the mother of his children.

He also needs to understand that they're not compatible and she's not really into someone who has kids or "drinks to cope".

If you are worried about him, direct him to AA were he can get appropriate help for the drinking. He can also see a physician and therapist for the depression and/or call a mental health hotline.

 

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8 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

He needs to address his drinking and any inappropriate boundaries with the mother of his children.

He also needs to understand that they're not compatible and she's not really into someone who has kids or "drinks to cope".

If you are worried about him, direct him to AA were he can get appropriate help for the drinking. He can also see a physician and therapist for the depression and/or call a mental health hotline.

 

He has a therapist at the moment. It’s not about him having kids…she’s known about his kids and she has dated other men with kids. Also, she drinks as well. It’s not about her not being “into him”. The opposite actually. He can’t get away from her. Maybe I need to reword. Lastly, there are no inappropriate boundaries with the mother of his children. As stated, it is legitimately a coparenting relationship only. He wants nothing to do with it romantically AT ALL. 

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12 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

He needs to address his drinking and any inappropriate boundaries with the mother of his children.

He also needs to understand that they're not compatible and she's not really into someone who has kids or "drinks to cope".

If you are worried about him, direct him to AA were he can get appropriate help for the drinking. He can also see a physician and therapist for the depression and/or call a mental health hotline.

 

And it’s not so much an alcoholic situation at the moment. It’s more so I’m worried it’s going to go down that road if this situation doesn’t change. 

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44 minutes ago, LittleHelpFromMyFriends said:

He has a therapist .she drinks as well. . He can’t get away from her. 

Eventually they'll drink themselves silly and crash and burn.

What is actually your interest in this?  Do you have a crush on him? He has a therapist so just be a friend.

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3 hours ago, LittleHelpFromMyFriends said:

 He can’t get away from her. 

Actually he can. He just doesn’t want to. You can’t see that because you’re apologetic over his mistakes and poor choices being his friend. That’s a blind spot for you but you’ll have to accept that he’s capable of making his own choices and not get pulled into his drama. Is he telling you all of this? He may need a listening ear. It doesn’t mean you need to do anything. 

The drinking has to stop and he’ll have to drag himself out of this toxic relationship whether he likes it or not. None of this is anything you can control so distance yourself and accept that. He has to want to get out for himself.

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They've dated only a little over a year -- are they living together?

you mentioned how they fight every night.

Okay, so HE does know this is doing him in. ( If) they are living together, he needs to get away, totally.  So, NO giving in at all - due to guilt etc.

He should make a plan... that he disapears one day & never goes back again.

So, he needs a good back bone - that inner strength.  Can he disapear like go stay with a friend?  And as for her actions. They do not have any kids together, so no need to interact any further.  Just Be Done!

Is he able to do this at all?

Has only been a little over a year.  Is not like he's caught up with a woman long term.

 

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On 8/9/2022 at 5:11 AM, Wiseman2 said:

Eventually they'll drink themselves silly and crash and burn.

What is actually your interest in this?  Do you have a crush on him? He has a therapist so just be a friend.

Haha, no crush. He’s just been here for me through so much, so watching him go through this leaves me feeling a need to help. This is his 3rd full day without drinking, and I think having a clear head is helping him navigate a plan.

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If it were my friend, I'd probably suggest a new hobby to him, and maybe even join him in the hobby, to get his mind onto something else--other ways to occupy his time. Martial Arts is great for the body and mind. The YMCA is usually a great place to both work out on equipment plus participate in classes like spinning, Tai Chi, Yoga, swimming.

Maybe forming a new routine and the social interaction in these activities will have him feeling less lonely since he no longer has a full house 24/7.

Why did he get divorced? How long have you been friends with him? 

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On 8/9/2022 at 4:48 AM, LittleHelpFromMyFriends said:

she is jealous of his friends. Not even just the female ones (he can’t have female friends at all).

He is not asking you for help. It's you who is "feeling a need to help". Unfortunately he picked her and what seems to bother you is that he is backing away from having female friends, including you. Just listen or not. He has a therapist. 

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I would tell him that guilt stems from "I should have, I would have and I could have" regarding possible changed behavior in various scenarios.  I've felt this way due to guilt. I backtracked how a relationship went downhill and inevitably headed towards failure.  Guilt often comes from feelings of lost control and once you convince him that he can't control people's personalities, characters, situations and life's problems, relationships won't work no matter how much he wishes it. 

I would also tell him that you'd be willing to support him by attending AA meetings together.  Or, at least in the beginning to get him started and hopefully he'll continue.  Drowning in a bottle is not the answer.

If it were me, I would be too tired to be in hero mode because I had been with several people in my life (miserable cousin / wife of alcoholic neighbor / mother).  I can't save people anymore.  They're grown adults and responsible for their own lives, choices and trajectory.  Don't make other people's stress your stress.  They'll only drag you down and then you'll neglect tending to your mental and physical health. 

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