I'm really concerned about one of my close friends. I've known her for over 10 years now and when we were little girls, we were nearly identical in measures of spunk and mischief. Now that we're older, the differences between us are glaring and wide, but I honestly believe that those anomalies have added to the richness of our friendship. Nonetheless, these last few months have been particularly difficult for me to witness and I don't know if I can just stand around and watch her tear herself apart. The differences between us are quickly increasing and sometimes, it's difficult for us to relate to one another anymore.
We are rapidly approaching adulthood and as you can imagine or remember, this is a challenging, emotional, and frequently frustrating period. Sometimes, I feel so much older than my friend because our maturity levels are so different now; even though we're only a year apart. In fact, sometimes I feel like an uptight prude whenever she tells me about what's going on in her life. For example, this last New Year's became pretty wild and she ended up having drunken sex with a guy that night in a place she doesn't quite remember. Now, I'm all for affirming one's sexual identity, but I think that this behavior is pretty risky, especially for someone who is not yet 18 years old. When I voiced my opinion, she immediately scoffed at my concern and told me to loosen up. There are so many other similar instances that just have red flags emblazoned on them, but that New Year's tale was kind of the last straw for me.
But how can I possibly loosen up? Though I don't think she's necessarily out of control, I do think that she's being irresponsible and very reckless of her personal safety (emotionally and otherwise.) I always feel like I have to pick her messes up and constantly keep a wary eye on her; it's like I'm becoming her other mother. What do I do? Every time I try and talk to her about the way she is treating herself and her future, and me and my feelings, she gets very defensive. I'm a naturally hot-tempered person, but I honestly make an effort to make my olive branch NOT seem like an attack.
How can I communicate to her that she needs to be more responsible? What could possibly cause her to be so reckless and immature? This is very tough for me to witness because I remember a time when we both had big dreams of higher education and feminine empowerment, but now it feels like I'm the only one still holding onto those notions. Am I the one who's not growing up?
Posts: 6 | From: Seattle, Washington, USA | Registered: Feb 2004
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This isn't going to be easy for you to hear, but you need to protect yourself.
You say that when you voice your concerns, she becomes defensive. You feel like you're always cleaning up her messes, and you feel like the mother. Well, all mothers must do this too, and so should you--step back. Let her clean up her own messes. If she has drunken sex, offer to take her for testing to your local Planned Parenthood. Be there when she comes to her senses, but make it clear that she's responsible for her actions, not you.
You are the one who's grown up, which might be why this hurts you so much. I was there once, too. Even though we're all in our 20s, my two friends and I still fall into the same roles, with me being the parent figure. It's where I placed myself in high school, and it's where I remain. The consequences for the youngest actions include her beautiful 2 year old son whom I adore, but I won't sugar-coat it--it was a very hard time for all three of us when she became pregnant our senior year. But it wasn't my mess, she took care of it herself, and she's a better person for it. I protected myself by stepping back when it was clear she didn't want me in her life, and I was there for her when she was ready for me again. And this is after 16 years of frienship.
It's going to hurt you emotionally. If you can, write her a letter and express your feelings of concern, and leave it at that. Let things fall where they may, and hope for the best.
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