Sat 1 Apr, 2017 11:03 pm
So here's the deal...I have a close knit group of old friends from college, and one of them lives in my hometown. Last year I moved back to my hometown after 10 years away, and we started hanging out again. During that time she's had a series of unfortunate things happen in her life, including a serious foot injury that makes it hard for her to get around. She has become very needy and demanding, constantly complaining about how awful her life is, and basically just being a giant jerk to everyone. Somehow she can't even tell how much of a jerk she is being, and thinks that everyone else is being heartless when not meeting her unreasonable demands.
Against my better judgement I invited her to Thanksgiving dinner at my house. Because of her injury she wasn't able to drive the 10 hr trip to her family's dinner, and I didn't want ber to be alone. I should have known better, but I assumed she would stay for dinner and then go home. She didn't. She stayed all day and even tagged along when we went to my Aunt's house later in the day. She complained about not being able to eat or drink certain things due to food intolerances (not allergies) even though we made separate stuffing and side dishes just to accomodate her. There were no thank yous for going out of our way to be hospitable to her. Only demands and complaints. I felt bad for my family for bringing that negativity to what should have been a happy holiday.
Now, Easter is approaching and again she won't be able to travel home. Apparently she took my one invitation to Thanksgiving dinner as a free pass to all of my family holidays. I am not hosting Easter this year. It will be at my parents. I did not invite my friend and never intended to, but for some reason she thinks she can come. She just put me on the spot at a group outing, saying "By the way, I can't go home again, so I'll have to spend Easter with your family. When is your family dinner?" I simply said that my family didn't have any plans yet, and that I most likely wouldn't be hosting. I thought it was obvious that if I am not hosting, she can't expect to be invited. But she still asked me to let her know when dinner would be.
My family is generally easy going and willing to accommodate anyone. They haven't strictly said that she can't come, but I know they are not looking forward to it. I don't want to burden my family with this, and I think my friend needs to understand that she can't assume she is always invited to my family get-togethers. I need to tell her that she is not invited, but I am afraid that it will destroy her. Her self esteem is at an all time low, and she can't make it through a week without at least one crying spell. She gets offended when I have conversations with some of our other friends outside of her presence, because she thinks we are purposely excluding her. She is so sensitive over the tiniest things. How can I tell her that she needs to spend the holiday by herself?
Put yourself in her situation. Sure her attitude stinks but what does she have to perk her up? Shes miserable and causes more misery with those around her. She really needs a friend who will stomach her misery and give her some love even though she might not deserve it. Its hard, its annoying but a truly good person takes an opportunity to build up a person who is suffering rather than abandon them. If it were easy this society would be a much nicer place to exist in.
Imagine you are her. Would you want that? Maybe you would never fall to her level to begin with but just maybe you could. Maybe she just needs a person who is willing to put up with her bullshit to see she is not handling things very well.
Its difficult to care for a person who makes things difficult but I praise people who put themselves away to help them.
If anyone can understand her, I can, because I have been there. Otherwise, I would just uninvite her and be done with it. That is why this is so hard. I have been being as supportive as I can for years and trying to take from my own experience in therapy to help her in the way others helped me. But ultimately she needs to realize, just like I did, that only she can control her own happiness. She is not there yet. She is retreating deeper and deeper into the belief that everyone else is responsible for making her happy. She has pushed all of her friends away, and I am the the only one who is still holding on. But I am exhausted. I have been giving away my own happiness for hers for years. Do I really need to risk my own relationships with friends and family -everything I find happiness in- to enable her destructive thoughts? Does that make me a bad person to finally, for once, choose my own happiness over the hope that she will finally realize that she needs to change her attitude?
Just an idea here. I'm not sure if it is a good one, but it's the only one I can think of.
Instead of disinviting her, maybe try to improve her attitude. Point out how people are going out of their way to accommodate her, and they might appreciate a bit of thanks.
And I don't mean point it out right in front of the family. That would embarrass her. Just talk to her about it privately beforehand.
I understand it is hard and requires a lot of your energy. But what you think you are losing by doing this, in fact is not losing. Who would abandon you who is caring for a person in need? Are you worried about your imagine for being this person's friend? What does that say about your friends who would turn away from you for helping her? I know you are exhausted holding this friendship together. Perhaps she does need to be kicked out of the nest. Your struggle with this is telling you what is important, usually the more difficult road is the one that should be taken.
Once again put yourself into her shoes. The will to help isn't limited. Only how you see things makes you weary of losing. But you don't see what you are gaining or you wouldn't hesitate to help.
Your response. "Sorry, my mother is hosting this year, and she just doesn't have the room. Now, let's see if someone at church can help you out for Easter."
No explanations, no lies. You're offering her an alternative and getting your mother (or whoever is hosting) out of the burden. Since it is your mother's (or whoever's) house, they are the ones who would be put out. You do not put them out for the sake of your friend, particularly as your friend has been rude and difficult in the past.
I would never have a friend barge into an invitation to go to my parents', no matter how lovely the friend was. I would ask my parents first, and if they said no, then that would be that.
As for you, you need to set her straight yesterday. She is trying to steamroll you and everyone else around her. Don't be her doormat.
If she persists, or if it ends up being a later holiday where you are hosting and she tries to horn in on that, too (and you don't have the buffer of it being someone else's home so they can effectively be the bad guy), just say, "Sorry, I can't do it."
Then change the subject. You do not offer excuses or lies. YOU. CAN'T. DO. IT. Period.
You have done enough. Establish a firm limit, but be gentle.
"Mary, I'm sorry but I can't extend an invitation for Easter at my parent's house this year. They are planning something different and I am honoring their decision to change the venue."
Don't explain any more. Change the subject if she brings it up.
What a pickle. I might leave the subject alone until she raises it again at which time I would say "I already told you I'm not hosting!" I might leave it at that or, if I wanted to, I might ask if she wanted to join me for leftovers the next day. We could relax at her place and play scrabble...or the equivalent.
Apart from the dinner issue, at some appropriate time, if I loved her, or even if I didn't, I might comment that she seems unhappy and negative and suggest a doctor's visit to discuss the possibility of treatment for depression.
If it felt safe for me to do so, I might share a bit of my own struggle, but given the dynamic you describe, I get the sense that might not be wise.