I absolutely do not have time to write these days. But I must. It’s not that I have anything specific or significant to write about, it’s just the act of writing that moves me. I’m so far behind at work getting started a little late isn’t going to make much difference, so here I am.
I have lost a dear friend. This lady and I have been exceptionally close over the last seven or eight years since we met. We could and did talk about anything and everything. She started off as one of my employees, and we traveled together all over the country as part of our work. As long as she worked for me, the relationship was proper and appropriate for a boss and subordinate, but we did spend a lot of time together and formed a friendship. When she changed jobs, we stayed in touch, and the friendship really blossomed. Even though she was involved in a long term relationship, and I was married we still got together a couple of times a week for a drink after work. Nothing sneaky however, both partners knew we were meeting. And they both understood that we were just friends. Then my third marriage ended. She was still involved, but we became even closer. We kind of lost touch a few years later when I got married to wife #4 but we did keep in email contact from time to time. Then her long term relationship ended. And shortly after that, my marriage was over. We were both in pretty bad shape (ok, really bad shape) and it was critical that we could be there for each other. Over the next year we spent several days a week together, talking through the pain, sharing tears and wondering what was next.
She became family.
Unfortunately, the time we spent together involved drinking. It involved a lot of drinking. We never met without some kind of alcohol involved; usually in excess. I can’t tell you how many times I ended up sleeping in her guest bedroom because I wasn’t in any condition to drive home. The alcohol loosened the tongues though, and our conversations became deeper and deeper.
During this time I was also very intensely involved in my therapy. I was miserable, and determined to do whatever it took to get past everything and get to a place of peace. And the harder I worked, the better it became. Sure, I had some serious setbacks along the way, almost to the point of death, but overall I was moving forward. And now I’ve found some stability and learned to be happy and healthy with myself.
But here’s the thing.
Even after two years, she was still madly in love with the man she had broken up with. Or, to be honest, she was in love with the relationship she thought she had been in with him. Even she admitted that it had been a fantasy for all those years and she couldn’t continue with it. But she wouldn’t let go. To make it even worse, they had started a business together, and she continued to work with him even after the breakup. She would spend the day with him, come home and start drinking and then text me in the middle of the night to tell me how utterly miserable she was. But she was my friend, and I did my best to be there for her. As I got better I encouraged her more and more to step outside of herself and make some healthy changes to help her heal. I worried about her drinking which continued to increase in both frequency and volume and tried to talk to her about getting some help. Then there was an incident where she had fallen down drunk, hurt herself, and lashed out at me blaming me for her fall. I can be just as supportive as the next man, but when you start using me as your excuse for bad behavior it’s time to pull back. We went about three months without any contact at all. But time passed, and she started reaching out for our friendship again. By then I had become involved with someone, but did manage to spend at least one evening a week with her. Our conversations were now all about her. Every time she would moan about how miserable she was and how much she wanted to change. I empathized, sympathized, and tried to be as supportive as I could. I pushed her to get out of her routine and even set her up with a date with a friend from my job. They went out a couple of times, but then she just stopped returning his calls. A while later, I introduced her to another friend, and they went out for about a month, but it wasn’t good. She would text me that she really liked him and enjoyed his company, then the next day she said he was ‘weird’ and ‘freaking her out’. It got so bad my friend told me that in spite of the fact that he really liked her, he was going to stop seeing her.
And her drinking continued. Her late night texts become increasingly hostile towards me. The healthier I became, the more she seemed to resent me. At the time I wasn’t involved with anyone in particular, and did go out casually with more than one, and she would lash out at me and accuse me of being a horrible person for ‘whoring around’. Other times she’d come to me and ask how it was I was doing so well, but when I would talk about the therapy, the medications and all the effort I was putting in to change myself and my environment she would scoff at the idea, calling it so much psychobabble.
So I’ve had to make a decision. A big part of my ‘recovery’ is surrounding myself with healthy and positive people. I don’t mean to be cold or calloused about it, but my friend is stuck in the same place she’s been for almost three years. She is completely miserable, and acknowledges that she wants things to change, but she refuses to do anything different for herself. Einstein said that ‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results’. That’s how she’s choosing to live her life. By being there for her I’ve ended up enabling her with both her drinking and her inability to move forward. She always had me to count on as her outlet and her support. She knew that I would be there in spite of how badly she treated me.
I can’t do that anymore. I won’t do that anymore.
I’m not doing her any favors, and it’s certainly not helping with my own well being. I can’t fix her. I can’t make her get the help I believe she needs. I can’t force her to break her patterns and do something, anything different. I can’t stop her drinking. So as much as it pains me, I’ve had to end the relationship. I sincerely hope that she gets help. I pray that she gets the drinking under control before she hurts herself or others. I want nothing more than for her to be healthy and happy. But there’s only one what that’s going to happen, and it’s going to have to happen without me. I can’t do any more; it’s got to be up to her.
I’ll miss her.