Six months ago, I got back in touch with a childhood friend who married at 17 and moved away. She has lots of family drama, much of it caused by her alcoholism (which she says is a result of PTSD). Recently, she told me I have hurt her and I’m a terrible friend because since we’ve reconnected, I have never once asked her about her past and the ordeals she’s been through. She talks about herself constantly. I never thought it was necessary to ask her about the past because she never shuts up about it. I have tried to be a good listener, but I don’t think she has made the best life choices, and I don’t want to confront her with my opinions on how she has messed up her life. I don’t question people about their past, truthfully. I feel if they want to discuss it, they’ll bring it up themselves. Was I wrong for not asking her to dredge it up?
From Lansing, Michigan
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I don’t think it was fair for your friend to get upset because you imposed reasonable boundaries regarding respecting her privacy. The only thing I can think you can do to change her mindset, is for you to become brutally critical of her, and equally nosy. Here are some options for your consideration. Ask her if she misses waking up in a stranger’s home after slowing waking up from one of her pitiful drunken stupors? Or, in regards to her family, tell you feel the idiocy is so highly concentrated, that she should have their DNA researched because it appears that a lot of her relatives illegally intermarried, and screwed up the gene pool. This idea might also work. When she starts talking, open a bottle of tranquilizers (that you replaced with candy) and tell her your friendship with her has caused you to apply for a medical marijuana card. But sometimes people like her, simply needs some encouraging words. The next time you see hug her and put her head on your shoulder, and tell her that she is a survivor which should be admired. And then add, that most pathetic whining self-absorbed losers would’ve contemplated ending it all. At that point she’ll either embrace the encouraging part of my suggestion, or beat your brains out. I hope this helps.