What’s the Statute of Limitations on Friendship?

Discussion in 'Relationships, Discrimination, and Jealousy' started by steve319, Aug 7, 2005.

  1. steve319

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    A couple of weekends ago, I ran into the older sister of an old friend of mine who had sad news to share. Seems this friend of mine is pretty strung out on prescription meds, going from doctor to doctor collecting scripts and pills to support a serious habit. She’s stoned out of her mind all day, every day according to sis.

    I’ve had the situation on my mind for awhile now and finally decided that, once the board was back up and running (BIG thanks to Mark!), I’d put this out there and get some feedback.

    She and I were pretty close once upon a time, even got romantically involved way back when (OK, I admit it: she was my "first"), but we haven’t seen one another in at least 13 years, maybe more. She’s been married for several years but only lives maybe an hour or so from me, I think.

    Now, I fully recognize how egotistical it is to even consider that I could do a damned thing to help or “fix” this, but the sentimental sucker (self-important arrogant bastard?) in me feels the urge to do something. How ridiculous is that? And for that matter, what could be done in the first place? And how weird would it be for an old flame to pop into their lives out of nowhere after so long?

    Lots of potential for screw ups and regrets on both sides of this one, huh?

    Thoughts?
     
  2. mindseye

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    My "first" and I, I'm thankful to say, are still on good but distant terms; I'm on his Christmas card list, but we have little to share other than that. 22 years (or in your case, 13) is just such a long time. The person I was and the person he was were friends, but neither of us is the same person that we were.

    What I'm hearing from you is that she's a really changed person, and I'm certain you are as well. There's no "statute of limitations" at work here: you can continue to feel nostalgic about the friendship, much as you might feel about a favorite childhood toy that you still own. But you're also not obligated to try to establish a friendship with the woman she is now.

    Incidentally, my "second" ended up serving a 10-year felony sentence (I sure know how to pick 'em, huh?), so apparently our angelic influence is of only limited duration. :)
     
  3. Pye

    Pye
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    It depends on the type of friends you were-- There are people in my life that maybe last year we were hanging out all the time and now I really couldn't care less about them (sounds callous I know) and there are people that I knew as a teen that when I see them again it's as if we were never apart for years in between.

    Were you close enough to share everything and talk for hours and hours years ago? Did you cry to each other and tell each other your hopes and dreams? Were you mysterious and secretive and have a fling?

    Only you can decide if you still know this person enough to have some type of influence on their life.

    "...it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then."
     
  4. headbang8

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    Sentimental sucker or self-important, arrogant bastard? You're gonna hate me, Steve, but IMHO it's self-important, arrogant bastard. And can I throw in "patronising"? All in the spirit of trying to be helpful, of course.

    By all means, visit. Get back in touch. Offer help if she mentions that her life feels out of control. But it's her life to live. The will to change comes from within.

    My best friend from college is, bluntly, a drunk. For many years, I was a drunk with him, albeit a less severe one. We had similar backgrounds, and wanted to drink away the same pain.

    Luckily, I grew. He didn't. Once a truly gifted engineer and mathematician, along with a being voracious reader and active humanitarian, he became a gibbering alcoholic mess.

    On two occasions, his relatives asked me to help with an intervention. I said no.

    I refused the first request because I enjoyed drinking with the guy and his absence from our wine-frenzies would whittle away at one of the few crutches I had at the time. I know, I know--that was selfish, self-important, arrogant and bastardly.

    The second time was more recent. I nearly agreed, but hesitated. Is my life such a picture of virtue in comparison to his? Maybe, maybe not. Besides, I still enjoy a drink or twelve from time to time, even though nights on the tiles are few and far between nowadays.

    No, more important is that I have observed few interventions/detoxes that have worked when the sufferer hasn't done it voluntarily, or has approached it half heartedly under social or family pressure. I have seen two freinds detox that way, and they went back to using shortly thereafter. The ones that have stuck are those who do the detox and the twelve steps of their own accord.

    Besides, how would you feel if someone hadn't spoken to you for 13 years, and then only visited you because they heard your life had turned to shit? If it were me, I'd tell them to fuck off, and (in classic film cliche mode) that I didn't need their pity.

    Actually, Steve, I'd look closely at my own motivations if I were you. This whole thing sounds really codependent. I mean, you've already moved home to look after your parents, have you not? There's a nice saying I remember form Al-Anon: something about only loving those whom we felt we could rescue. Make some time for yourself. How do they say it? Detatch with love?

    Sorry about that. I hardly know you, so it's pretty self-important and arrogant for me to say these things out of the blue. But you did ask...

    hb8
     
  5. madame_zora

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    Steve, while I don't doubt the sincerity of your intention, I do have to agree with Headbang on this one. No one can "save" another person, I know you know that. It is obviously very sad to see someone you once knew choose so poorly, but it is in the end, her chioce.

    Because of your profeesion, you are in a different postion than most of us. Saving others is commonplace and even expected of you, but there is a difference between your professional life and your private one. If she ends up in jail, she's on your turf! If not, she has to find her own path, and there's little you can do other than shame her and frustrate yourself. Now, please relieve yourself of the responsibility for others, okay?
     
  6. steve319

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    Yeah, HB8, that's pretty much my thinking too. :7 The knight-on-a-white-horse arrogance thing is just nauseating. (Pye knows I appreciate the raw honesty.)

    You guys have helped me solidify the decision that, to be perfectly honest, I'd already made before I ever posted (just thought this might spark a nice discussion). I told sis on the spot that I couldn't even begin to have an influence on this mess (she'd gotten the idea I might because I'd had some success getting her own son into counseling when he was in one of my classes). I'm not going to visit. I'm certainly not going to make some egotistical grand gesture. Like mindseye said, too many years and too much changed since then.

    I should point out, though, that if I were going to seek her out--which I'm not ;)--I certainly wouldn't do so with the intention of bringing this issue up. I'm a big believer in taking one's own steps. If someone tells me he's struggling with emotional issues but then shoots down the notion of professional help, what more is to be done? I'll listen; I'll repeat my offer to make a referral. But I can't take the gun from his hand. And I can't fix this situation for her.

    I might, however, happen to give my cell number to her little brother next time I see him, though, with a message for her to "call me sometime."

    Maybe.

    Perhaps she just needs someone who isn't bugging her about it. God knows I didn't listen to anyone when I was drowning.

    Yeah, that hits home to some degree. I've not traditionally been drawn to the needy types, choosing instead to run from them. Or so I've always thought. I do tend to attract them, though. Maybe that's the result of some unconscious signals I send.

    <!--QuoteBegin-madame_zora
    @Aug 8 2005, 09:21 PM
    Because of your profession, you are in a different postion than most of us...but there is a difference between your professional life and your private one. [/quote]
    While my work and the changes in my life roles have altered my instincts a bit, I do have well developed boundaries. I&#39;m often told they are too impenetrable (even by some here). If you&#39;ve been thrown out of your house, I&#39;ll take you to a relative&#39;s or even put you up in a hotel, but I&#39;m not taking you home with me. ;) Sometimes I think helping others might be a means of keeping people out of my own emotional terrain.

    Anyway, guys, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on this. I feel even better about my decision now. I hesitated to respond because I didn&#39;t want to bring the discussion to a premature end--and yet here we are. :happy:

    Unless there are divergent thoughts out there?
     
  7. B_Hickboy

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    I can only speak for myself.

    I have a real tendency, like hb8 described, to fall in love with people who need rescuing. I grew up in alcoholism and was married to an alcoholic for 23 years. After being an Al-Anon member for almost 15 years, I still gravitate towrd the sickest of the sick. The only difference is that now I know when I&#39;m doing it and can (sometimes - see my "Heave Ho" topic) stop myself before I get mired.

    Anyway, check your motives, and if fear or arrogance aren&#39;t behind it, let your heart guide you.

    But try to keep an awareness of the difference between a healthy intuition and a sick attraction, and to be honest with yourself about what your motives are. IME, I really can help some people, but not as many or as often my ego would have me believe.
     
  8. chrisj428

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    I have to agree with MZ here -- I&#39;m in a similar position. I found out over the last two weeks that an "ex" of mine has turned more and more to the bottle and now prescription drugs as well. While it breaks my heart to see this happen (despite what&#39;s gone on over the last eight months, I still don&#39;t want to see him fall on his face), I know there&#39;s very little, if anything, I can do about it.

    I talked to his cousin briefly...he said he&#39;d talk to my "ex" about it. He didn&#39;t think the situation was that bad, but I told him that when his cousin&#39;s boss has to sit him down and talk to him about how his drinking is affecting his work performance, it&#39;s bad.

    In the end, he&#39;s going to do what he&#39;s going to do. I learned early on you can&#39;t help someone who doesn&#39;t want help. That&#39;s not saying that I don&#39;t care or I don&#39;t try, but I have to be aware of my limits to help.

    Good luck to you, man. It&#39;s a hard place to be -- be strong & be ready to offer support when it becomes necessary.
     
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