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August 24, 1998   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

I have a female friend, K, who is dating R. Well, sort of dating... she's been trying to end it for about 6 months (that would be about 1/3 the time)... the problem is, she cares for him, and she senses how much he cares for her, and feels guilty trying to end it. So there I was, minding my own business, just being her friend... and I saw how hard she was struggling and, being the enabling personality I am, I got to helping her deal with some of her self-esteem issues etc... and we got to be closer friends... now -- before you think you know where this is going, we're still just friends... but we're friends in a way that I've never been friends with anyone -- and the closeness of it disturbs both of us at times...

Neither of us knows where it will lead; we both hint around it, but the R situation continues, and she's started getting really really drunk and apologizing to me for not being better... (which is odd because I'm not a very judgmental person...). She goes out of her way to prove to me she's not deep down the person I see her as, and I know it's just her way of testing or being afraid... I have been patient, and I have tried to be understanding, but the other day, R got onto her computer and read some of the email we'd exchanged -- a lot of rather personal things for each of us... at that point, I laid down the line... I said, "That's it -- I'm tired of you drinking yourself into oblivion, I'm tired of the self-destructive R thing, I'm tired of the "R does a bad thing, you forgive him, R does a worse thing" cycle -- I can't do this any more." I felt awful saying it... I don't want to step away from her -- hell, I want to spend all my time with her... but this environment -- nothing good can develop here... so I'm trying to step back. Of course, she isn't reacting well -- apparently I'm "as bad as he is" or something... I know she knows better, and maybe me being there was a place for her to vent and helped her not to address some of the R issues... I don't really know...

I try to have a good attitude, that if she doesn't come out from behind this R thing, she's not really the person for me anyway... but that only helps on some days...

So I guess the question is... how do I help her when I can't help her... tell me I did it right... pat me on the head and give me a cookie... if you have advice, or another angle, I'd really appreciate it...

-- Exhausted in Texas

Dear Exhausted,

Good friend, good friend. Pat, pat. Here's a cookie: you did it right! You're especially right about how she's not the one for you as long as she thinks R is. And at very least, clearly the triangular rut you were all in wasn't doing anyone any good -- the sheer act of shaking things up could well make a difference, scare her straight. As far as I can tell , the only name she'll respond to is Emergency Crisis Drama Queen Who's Not Allowed to Have It Any Different/Better. Don't call her by that one. But if you want to spend occasional time with her, go ahead -- might remind her that it IS possible to have good, nice people around -- but do specific activities (not involving alcohol) and set some ground rules. Like: I'll stand by you as a friend, but we are not allowed to have any conversations about R that sound really really familiar. Otherwise, no cookies for either of you.

Breakup Girl



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