DAME’s Friendkeeper untangles some family ties and helps an addict face the truth of a toxic friendship.
My best friend just started dating a wonderful guy. They have a great rapport, have been spending a lot of time together, and the best part is, I already know him incredibly well…he’s my brother. This is also the problem. My friend doesn’t have the best track record with men. And though things seem to be going great right now, I can’t help but worry about what might happen if they go south. I realize fretting about the future is a moot point, but in the meantime, I’m also starting to feel a little left out. My brother and I have always been very close, and obviously my friend is my best friend, but now when I hang out with them I feel like a third wheel…with my two dearest confidants! And they hang out so much together, I don’t see either one nearly as much as I used to. Whereas before I was the connection between them, they’re now closer to one another, in some ways more than they are with me, and I’m having trouble finding my place in this new dynamic. How can I support their budding relationship without being resentful?
Been there. Long ago my brother dated my old bestie. Beforehand, I made each of them pinky swear to keep me out of the loop because my brother was a serial dumper and the friend was the kind of person who NEVER LISTENED WHEN YOU TOLD HER THAT MY BROTHER WAS DEFINITELY GOING TO DUMP HER. So they both promised to leave me out of it and then surprise, surprise, he dumped her and she whined to me and when I said, “You’re not allowed to,” she continued. I said, “If you say one more word about this I’m placing a tape X over your mouth.”
It’s a horrible situation when it goes south and it ain’t that fun when it’s going well. I think it’s important to remember this is a transition; they are either going to settle in as a couple or not but you’re in the height of all things weird right now—the movie kisses and all that junk. My advice is to tell them each discreetly, creepy things about the other. “Hey, did my brother tell you about that weird genital rash he gets?” Or to your brother, “I assume you know that Debby’s father was jailed for killing her boyfriend, but don’t worry, he got off. I mean, not because he was innocent, there was jury tampering….”
If that doesn’t work, just hang back and make other plans with other friends for a while. You really need to not feel like a third wheel. It’s okay to tell them how you feel but make it clear you aren’t looking for pity, just wanting to let them know. Unless you want pity which I believe is everyone’s God-given right. Maybe it would be good for you also to think about whether or not you’d like to have a relationship in your own life. Sometimes when the people close to us couple up it puts into relief something that has been missing for ourselves. I know that happened to me when my friend Barbara got a boyfriend. Formerly we happily hid away on weekends ordering in food, watching movies, and adoring my dog, Otto. But when Barbara left the cocoon it forced me to examine my own life. (And I decided it was just fine the way it was thankyouverymuch.) But maybe you’re different. All good things to think about!
I have a best friend, Michelle. We’ve been friends since we were 15, when we used to cut school to watch The Young and the Restless. In high school, all of our friends started using heroin; I was one of the only ones who didn’t. I watched my best friend lose her baby, her husband, her home, job, everything. I swore I’d never do that and I didn’t for a long time. But after getting married, having a son, and then getting divorced (my ex is a wonderful father who has custody of our son), I fell for a musician. What I didn’t know was that he was a heroin addict. He pushed me to do it and one night when I was drinking I finally caved and did a tiny little sniff. I was addicted from day one; I spent my life chasing that buzz. I got sober after going to treatment. It’s been years and Jen’s still my best friend; we’ve been through so much together. She moved back to her mother’s, doesn’t work, and has been on methadone for years. She’s also become a raging alcoholic. Truth be told she is a hot mess. I love her, she’s like my sister but my problem is I’m still in recovery. I drink here and there but I’ve stayed off the drugs. However, now that I lost my job, I’ve got time and I’ve been partying with Michelle a lot. I’m slipping back into my old ways; I want to get high, especially when I’ve been drinking. I’ve told her repeatedly that we have to stop, even just cut back. I moved out of the city to get away from all the bad influences. I moved to a beautiful small town in the country and Michelle’s the only friend I stay in touch with. I have no friends in this town and Lord knows I’ve tried. Our friendship is toxic but I’m easily depressed and so sick of being alone. This is one relationship I just can’t let go of. What’s a lonely girl to do?
I Can’t Quit Her
After getting your letter I spoke to a couple of counselors I know because honestly this doesn’t fall into my ENORMOUS area of knowing everything about everything. They both had a very similar reaction, which is you really need to start with yourself, and neither of them thought drinking was possible for you. This is a quote from my friend Daniel Conroy, the founder of Aim House: “The main thing is you need to go into a program. I would encourage you to go to AA or NA for 90 meetings in 90 days and share openly like you did with in this letter. After 90 days you’ll have enough info to make a wise choice. You may or may not stay with AA but you will have a lot of people telling their stories, which likely will mirror your own. Alcohol affects inhibition first. You will likely use again if you aren’t 100 percent abstinent. You will likely be miserable if you are just abstinent with no support.” It seems like very wise advice to me. Get yourself help, don’t hang out with Michelle for now, and see what comes of really diving into this. Think about where you are in your life and how you’re feeling, I would imagine you aren’t in the best place to even know who the right friends would be. And as corny and lame as it sounds, you’ve got to befriend yourself first. Good luck.
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.
AN INDEPENDENT FREE PRESS HAS
NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT.
Your financial support helps DAME continue to cover the critical policies, politics social changes impacting woman and their allies.