Advice

Dear Julie: “Am I a Jerk for Not Wanting to Deal with my Friend’s Breakdown?”


DAME’s Friendkeeper helps a put-upon pal and soothes another dealing with summer’s biggest drain: travel envy.



Dear Julie,

This woman I’ve recently gotten to know through a friend seems to be having a kind of a breakdown. And I feel for her. But for some reason, she’s decided that rather than call on her close friends—like our mutual pal, e.g.—she’s decided I am going to be her caretaker, her savior, her everything. And frankly, I don’t know her well enough to take on such a responsibility. Obviously it’s not really up for discussion with Miss Mental Breakdown because I don’t want to exacerbate matters, and I’ve gently brought it up to our mutual friend, who thinks I’m making too big a deal of this. But I just don’t feel like I know this person well enough, nor do I feel well equipped to handle this new friend’s breakdown solo, and yet I’m being made to feel like a total asshole about it.

Am I being hazed? Or am I really just an asshole? 

Signed,

Not a Licensed Savior

 

Dear NaLS, 

You asshole! No. You know, my feelings about brain surgery, breakdowns, and venti macchiatos? Leave them to the pros. I don’t want a surgeon making my inane hot beverage or a barista shuffling my medulla and cerebrum, and your friend needs professional help. 

Even if this woman were your bestie-bestie this would be out of your jurisdiction. It’s almost easier that she isn’t a bestie-bestie because you don’t have to feel any ambivalence of doing what really needs to be done. Get her professional help. And not, “see a therapist once every other week.” If she’s in this much pain, she should be talking to someone several days a week and then calling or texting them when she is in trouble.

How to do this: I seriously wouldn’t fuck around. Be direct. Do you or one of the other friends have a good therapist who can give some guidance and recommendations? “Mary, I am very, very concerned about you. I have the names of two excellent therapists that you should call and consult with.” Or tell her closer friend to do this. In every way conceivable, you’re not a position to take care of this. And you should not be pulled in any further than you are now. The consequences are bad for both of you.

xx Julie 

 

Dear Julie,

Summer is in full swing, and I know this because I have a friend who has taken no less than three amazing vacations. And not just a weekend upstate, I’m talking villa-in-Tuscany-style trips. And I’ve seen every photo and heard the excruciating details of every single one. Excruciating because I am locked into a 9-to-5 with almost zero vacation time, and when I do have a day off (thanks 4th of July!), my bank account isn’t flush enough to have me gallivanting around the world. I don’t mean to begrudge her the time and money she has to vacation like a boss, but I can’t help but feel a sharp stab of envy every time she returns and wants to “catch up.” Because catching up means hearing about the rare bottle of wine she put down at a secret restaurant in Paris, or the mountains of pasta she ate in Italy, or the infinity pool she lounged at for a week at some spa in California. I mean, give me a break. I realize this is petty and I should be happy for her, blah blah blah, but I need her to rein it in before I snap. 

Help!

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted 

 

Dear VAIEW,

Having just returned from a vacation to Paris and London (it was the first vacation I took in 13 years and the one 13 years ago was my honeymoon and since I’m divorced that one doesn’t really count) that was maybe, MAYBE, a little overshared on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and family group texts, I feel just the teeniest bit defensive. I don’t think the problem is her vacations, I think the problem is that she’s commandeering the conversation. Why is catch up only her delicious beaches? Why isn’t catch up the things happening in your life?

Okay back to me for a second, I had a great trip but travel is stressful, too. Like, you know, if I have wine in the afternoon will I still get a buzz from the wine at dinner? (I’M JUST KIDDING!) But it is, and I don’t love to travel, ask anyone who’s travelled with me—I’m from a long line of anxious-about-wandering Jews. My boyfriend and I were just in London and one thing I was really interested in was the Tower of London, so we went over there and then I saw that it was 24.50 pounds per ticket (that is $38.30 x 2 = $76.60)—almost 80 BUCKS TO GO INSIDE—when there was a lot to see on the outside. Also, you get inside and there’s this dude dressed like a Beefeater screaming in that “Hear ye, hear ye” kind of olde English. Sorry, like my mother and aunt before me I went into the gift shop, flipped through the exclusive souvenir guide and was done. Actually, there were plenty of things to see on the outside of the building. And even some stuff to read (I would’ve liked to have seen the crown jewels, but for 80 smackers I could buy myself a little bauble). I did go to the Louvre because I felt like I should see the “Mona Lisa” (not cheap either!). And let me tell you what a transcendent experience that was—I got to stand 40 feet away from the painting in a mosh pit of sweaty tourists with selfie sticks. Really, quite moving. I shant forget it for a long while.

Okay back to you. I maintain that one of the most difficult things for people to express besides anger is jealousy. People have as hard a time saying they are jealous as hearing that someone is jealous of them. It’s ugly and smells like b.o. But as long as it’s there and not being expressed, it’s only going to go from stinky armpits to bad breath. You’ve got to get it out. And it doesn’t have to be an angry, teary declaration. You can just say, “Dude, I really wish I could travel like you and I am so glad you have such a wonderful charmed life but sometimes it’s really hard for me to hear about it.” If she’s a good friend, she’ll back off or at least share with you that it’s a lot of schlepping and twisted ankles before you get to the adorable café on the cobblestone street. And if she doesn’t get it, you should find another friend. 

xx Julie

 

Got a platonic problem of your own that could use the Friendkeeper’s advice? Fire away: [email protected]. No situation is too uncomfortable or too small and all details are kept confidential.

 

 

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