advice: friendship becomes endship… again

In ALL, STRAIGHT UP ADVICE by Stephanie Klein20 Comments

QUESTION FROM A GREEK TRAGEDY READER: I am wondering if I can rely upon you and your readers for some advice. I wrote to you and received excellent advice regarding a spoiled friendship and a baby shower (When Friendship Becomes Endship.) Now the saga continues…

You and the fine readers/responders of StephanieKlein.com suggested that I ignore the situation and avoid attempting to address a very *mean* girl about several friendships that I had lost. As painful as it was to ignore the situation, your advice paid off tenfold. After nearly 2 years, many of my friendships (except for the instigator *Tory*) have been restored. One by one, each friend called and said that they had been manipulated by Tory and their friendship had ended too. (I did end up getting invited to a shower, Tory was invited to the 2nd.)
In a weird twist of fate Tory’s mom had reached out to one friend and asked for some help with her daughter. The short story is that her daughter isn’t just mean and jealous -she has serious mental health problems and dependency issues. She has hidden it well – none of us knew, not even that she had past problems. Tory’s mom addressed many things with my closest-lost friend sharing with her, her daughter’s ability to manipulate and destroy people. Like a blessing from God, Tory’s mom suggested that my friend explain everything to me, and attempt to rebuild our lost friendship. We’ve been working through it all since August. I am really forever grateful to Tory’s mom.
Tory’s mom also reached out to me over the summer. She asked for my help with her daughter suggesting some kind of intervention. I explained to her that I didn’t think it would be possible given the amount of anxiety she caused me and I did suggest that she loop in Tory’s husband. The conversation was polite but it didn’t go any further. I wished her all the best and told her that she and her daughter would remain in my thoughts.

Fast forward until now, Tory’s mom is still desperate to get her daughter help, but seems oddly opposed to involving Tory’s husband. Tory has since reached out to me (though I’m not sure of her motives).

As I mentioned in my last post, she now has a baby. There are a few of us who are worried about the baby’s safety and in some fashion Tory’s, too. Her husband works long hours and travels internationally with great frequency and he, from all accounts, seems clueless to Tory’s issues. (We were too so I’m not surprised.) Her mother mentioned to me that she’s completely isolated both physically and figuratively.

There is a part of me that feels like I should help her because I have back everything I wanted. My reputation at work has been restored, my friendships too and most importantly my confidence. Knowing that her issues, while serious, can be overcome and she has a shot of being a good mother and good wife, I feel obligated to do something.

The questions are: While I know that I’m not obligated to do so, should I get involved to save her and her baby? If you were in Tory’s shoes would you want your old friends involved? Does anyone have any experience with interventions?
As always, your help is REALLY appreciated.

ANSWER: I’ll keep this simple. Stand behind the yellow line; there’s a train(wreck) approaching. Don’t ride that kind of crazy, no matter how kind you want to be. Want to feel good about helping? Donate your time to a needy child, volunteer, offer to walk a neighbor’s dog. Pick up some dog shit. Trying to help that kind of crazy makes you just that.

If I weren’t to keep this short, I’d add this random tangent. I sometimes start reading a book only to realize that I don’t like it. I’m bored. But I feel obligated to finish. Maybe it will get better. Maybe there will be this twist, a surprise. I complained aloud once, and a friend tsk’d me. That’s right. Tsk, tsk, tsk. “Stephanie!!! There are way too many good books out there, tremendous books, and you can’t possibly read them all in this lifetime. Why would you waste even a second continuing to read something that doesn’t move you?” And she’s right. Put the book down. Put the receiver down. Put your foot down. Then the other one. Again. And again. Now, you’re doing it. You’re walking away. Nicely handled.

Comments

  1. It’s straight-up weird that Tory’s mom is approaching you rather than her own daughter. Why does she want to stage an intervention instead of talking to her directly? It makes me think that maybe the apple didn’t fall far from the cuckoo drama tree.

    If I were in your shoes, I would stay the hell away from anything having to do with Tory, including her mom. (If Tory really is her mother’s daughter, she could turn on you, too, or at least stir the pot in your group of friends.) You say you’ve finally gotten back what you lost; I say don’t open the door for problems to walk back in.

  2. You should help. As you said, you have everything you lost back, and now that everything is out in the open you won’t lose it again. You’ve gotten yourself back to a position of strength, and helping an ex-friend if you can is the right thing to do. And not to be melo-dramatic, but if something should happen, you won’t forgive yourself if you did nothing.

  3. This is a tough one, though there is some scope for intervention with the baby. If you have concerns that she may harm it then you have a duty to protect that child – this does not mean that it would be taken away from it’s mother it just means that she would be given the extra support – as well as the baby being monitored to make sure no abuse is taking place

  4. I say run! It’s not your job to save her from herself. Her Mom should address her concerns to her husband and work with him to get her help. It’s great you are a compassionate person but she has caused you enough pain.

  5. Girl, this former friend is not your responsibility. And it also sounds like she needs professional help. Her mom seems to realize the gravity of the situation, so I say you should keep the healthy boundary you set between yourself and these people, knowing that the people who care about her most (excluding the husband) are doing what they can to make sure she gets the help she needs. Some things are just not for friends to try and help solve. When this all began, you walked away from the crazy, and that turned out to be the right answer. Same now. Unless the baby is suffering physical or emotional abuse or neglect, in which case it must be reported.

  6. Personally, if I were in your shoes, I would put everything behind you and help out with the intervention. It will make you look like the bigger person. As you said, you have back everything you want, and your life is going great, so why not help out a former friend in need? No one says you have to be this girl’s friend again. Chances are every bad thing she did to you was, in part, due to her mental illness. Which doesn’t leave her not at fault of course, but at least you can feel like you did something to help her and then move on with your life. The girl probably needs as much help as she can get. My thoughts are – if you have to even ask for outside advice on whether or not to help her, then that means a part of you really thinks you should. i say go for it. You’ve already let her go as a friend, which is good for yourself. I see no harm in helping her and then letting her go. Who knows…. she may contact you a few years down the road and thank you for it.

  7. I agree, stay away – this is not a situation you are ever going to fix and you should ask yourself why bring all this toxic stuff into your life again. Unfortunately the old adage “no good deed goes unpunished” probably applies here too. You have been nice enough to her mother!

  8. If you feel a deep need to help Tory then help her mother with an intervention. Do not get involved with her on a one on one personal level again! You stated she is reaching out to you again but are unsure of her motive. Rest assured, she has a motive. Do you really want to go down that path again after you have rebuilt and reclaimed your life SHE destroyed? And if you still have those nagging worried guilty thoughts in the back of your brain (hey, I know we all have them) just remember, if she or the baby were in any immediate danger her mother would jump in and take control. If she is concerned enough to stage an intervention, she won’t let her grandchild suffer. Take care of yourself first and foremost and good luck with whatever decision you choose.

  9. I doubt you really even could help her. You really think Tory will listen to you after everything that has gone down? I say stay out of the situation, unless you actually do have concern about the safety of the kid and then report it to child protective services. I agree with one of the comments about the mom too, she sounds more than just a concerned mom and may be the reason why Tory is so messed up.

  10. If this woman is as unstable as you describe, your personal mental and physical health could be in jeopardy (again) if you get involved. You need to do what you need to do in order to be able to sleep at night. But that doesn’t mean putting yourself in harm’s way. Help the mother get in touch with a counselor experienced with mental illness and staging interventions. (Your local hospital can put you in touch with appropriate contacts or facilities if you don’t know where else to start.) And then, I think you should stand back. You will never be “friends” with Tory again, because (a) your trust in her has been irrevocably shattered and (b) she is mentally incapable of being a friend in her current state. The best thing you can do for this woman is to try and get her the help she needs, and of course you must protect that child with a call to social services if you think he/she is in danger. I would suspect so, as Tory’s mother is afraid to involve the baby’s father (why?) and given Tory’s erratic and unpredictable past behavior there could be abuse or neglect. GOOD LUCK to you, and I will pray for Tory’s child’s well-being.

  11. Run. Seriously. I sense some major weirdness about the mom; I think you want to help out of guilt; you did a lot of work to remedy the initial situation. Wish them well, be friendly but firm.

    Not your responsibility in this instance.

  12. wow… this woman sounds familiar. If she were to see a psychiatrist, I’m betting her dx would be Borderline Personality Disorder. That said, if you fear for the child’s safety, call Protective Services. In most states, you can report anonymously online.
    If the friendship was mutual and as amicable as friendships *should be, you wouldn’t hesitate to jump in. However, since you’ve been devastated by this woman in the past without provocation, I’d wish them well and don’t look back.
    Trust me, you can’t cure this woman and your attempts to “intervene” may have consequences you can’t begin to imagine. Just… let her be.

    1. I agree with you that she would probably be given a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. This woman destroyed your life because of her mental illness, and she seems to have not gotten better since her mother is asking for your help. I say to walk, no, run, away, as far away as you can from this situation. Your life is better without her in your life, so why let her back in?
      Personality disorders are very difficult to treat, which means that the likelihood of your former toxic friend becoming an ideal friend anytime soon is highly unlikely.
      I also find it fishy that her mother isn’t asking your friend’s husband for help. There must be some screwed up family dynamic between your friend and her mother that the husband is staying away from.
      As Mary Ann said, your efforts to intervene could be worse than anything you’ve dealt with before with her. It isn’t worth it for your own happiness and well being to help her.

  13. Things tend to look better when they’re 100 feet in the rearview mirror, but think back on how many things in your life that Tory destroyed and how hard you’ve had to work to regain them. Do you really want her back in your life, knowing what she’s like?

    If anything, help the mom research a mental health professional for an intervention and then let her take it from there. This is not your responsibility anymore.

    And as someone else said, if you’re genuinely concerned about the child’s safety, call CPS. In most places, you can report anonymously 24 hours a day.

  14. I see nothing that suggests you should get involved. First, now that you know it is a psychiatric issue, only family should be dealing with her motivation and treatment. You aren’t family, and the best thing you can do is suggest the mother become involved with her local chapter of NAMI, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

    Second, this is a great opportunity for you to learn about yourself. No matter the reason, this person disrupted your mental health, your job, your social structure, etc. This wasn’t a small thing, like being late for a movie, this was a huge thing. It is one thing to forgive her, bravo for that, but your desire to jump back in the mix after your devastating experience is wonderful fodder for therapy.

    What was your motivation to jump back in? Is it a self-esteem issue, or something else that would let you expose yourself to such a fatalistic situation. I’m guessing you get taken advantage by other people in other situations. You are clearly a kind and evolved human being, but you must learn to protect yourself. Your instinct is to forget get the pain and the cost of interaction with this person and come to her aid. She doesn’t need friend aid (and she isn’t your friend) she needs family aid and they need to step up to the plate and deal with her or wait for a BIG explosion and deal with it then. In no way can you move this process forward, not to mention that your interaction ended 2 years ago.

  15. Run, the other way fast. Unless, of course, you like this kind of drama because, doll, you’re auditioning for Act I. And there’s a good 2 hours plus intermission coming.

  16. i dont think its a coincidence that you have everything back in your life that you wanted and tory is no longer in your life. i had a friend for about 9 years that was very manipulative and tore peoples lives apart. i never noticed it much until the past 2 years when we became very close friends. she caused me so much stress an anxiety in my life. i decided to end the friendship and for the past year have never been happier. it turns out she also has some mental issues(which i did know during the end of our friendship). her family has tried to reach out to me and our friends but i just cant do it. she has lost all her friends and her boyfriend because of all this. the few friends she has left remain in chaos and that makes me able to sleep at night knowing that that is no longer my life. if she has mental issues YOU are not going to save her. she needs to seek professional health. i think you need to leave her in your past.

  17. I was once friends with a girl like this. And so were two of my other friends. None of them are friends with her anymore. She caused so much trouble trying to control all of us, it ruined our friendships. She managed to turn two of my friends against me. Years later they contacted me. Guess what? They are no longer friends with her, because of her controlling, selfish, manipulative ways.
    This is the type of problem that can only be helped by a professional. It’s not your problem. And you say her mom is contacting you? I wonder where this girl learned or inherited her behavior? Beware of the mom, too!
    This really isn’t your problem. Protect yourself and don’t fall into this trap again.
    Best of luck.

  18. Your only obligation is to YOU and YOUR family, and there’s nothing selfish about that. I wouldn’t touch this one with a ten-foot pole, if I were you. Wish her the best and know that you’ve learned your lesson about getting involved with this person or her mother.

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