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Friends Who Drink

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
So, I copied this over from my diary. I really need feedback on how to deal with friends like this. Hope this is the right place.





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Tbh, it sounds like a lot more than alcohol is going on for this person. Which is very often the case.

If it were me, and I didn’t consider her dangerous to me, I’d probably recommend that she get help. I’d be direct about: you’re drunk, and you really don’t seem okay. I think you should try getting help. Maybe start with an AA meeting. Even just visiting your GP.

And that conversation would occur on my doorstep, and I would close the door once I was done.

ETA That’s the thing I used to do, when I lived in a very shady apartment complex. Occasionally I’d actually go out to the stairs and talk to whatever drunk or strung out person was out there having an episode.

It’s not just compassion driving that. Sometimes it’s just the safest and quickest way to deal with it. As long as I think I can keep myself safe.
 
you’re drunk, and you really don’t seem okay. I think you should try getting help. Maybe start with an AA meeting. Even just visiting your GP
Thank you for these very direct words. I have a co-worker who has moved from texting me drunk to a phone call. I did the phone call once and now I won’t do it again. It’s really hard for me to imagine saying your words to her if she were to somehow get me on the phone again. In @whiteraven ‘s case she has to be more direct since the neighbor is showing up unannounced—my heart goes out to you white raven—that’s a big responsibility to be so direct with her.
As long as I think I can keep myself safe.
In my case I would just have to see her at work and might feel bad if I had shamed her for being drunk—but at the same time, she’s kind of shaming herself if she’s drunk calling me and maybe it is a subconscious cry for help. Not that it’s my responsibility to help her, but if I find myself in that situation again I hope I have the courage to say something like that.

In whiteravens case you would have to keep seeing her but you’re going to keep seeing her no matter what. I think sideways has a good idea. For me personally I’m not courageous enough yet to say something like that though it does help to hear the words and imagine myself saying them.
 
It sounds as though she's struggling and that she has had a relapse?

If she gets help, she can be the friend you had again.
If she doesn't, looks like the friendship is lost.

I second what @Sideways says. Boundaires. Compassion and care but boundaires.

I hope she is able to get help, make the change she had before so she can turn back into the person you got on with.
 
bh, it sounds like a lot more than alcohol is going on for this person. Which is very often the case.
Yeah...I've also been thinking so.
f it were me, and I didn’t consider her dangerous to me, I’d probably recommend that she get help. I’d be direct about: you’re drunk, and you really don’t seem okay. I think you should try getting help. Maybe start with an AA meeting. Even just visiting your GP.
I wish this would work. I'm 1000% sure she wouldn't do anything to get help. She doesn't seem to be together enough to follow any kind of suggestions. She's been without a refrigerator for a couple of months--she's tried getting a new one (at least she said she did), and when one thing goes wrong she gives up. But then, she's told me several conflicting stories since the latest attempt, and I have no idea which is true.
In @whiteraven ‘s case she has to be more direct since the neighbor is showing up unannounced—my heart goes out to you white raven—that’s a big responsibility to be so direct with her.
Yeah, I have a problem with that. I am going to insist that she start texting me again--gonna tell her I just won't answer the door anymore. I don't know, it may not be as hard as I think. When she was down yesterday and repeating things so much, I did tell her--repeatedly--that we had already discussed. Part of my issue is that I have 0 compassion for regular drinking and involving others, so I may not be able to be very kind about it.
For me personally I’m not courageous enough yet to say something like that though it does help to hear the words and imagine myself saying them.
Same here.
 
I'm 1000% sure she wouldn't do anything to get help.
Definitely, and leave the responsibility for what she does with her.

The question for you is not: how do I fix her so this is something I can cope with? You aren’t her therapist, or her sponsor, or her mother. You can’t fix her.

The question is: how do I set healthy boundaries with this dysfunctional person? (so that I have a safe home…which is critical, yeah?)

Boatload of ways to do that.

The approach I would try and take, if it’s safe is:
(1) state the problem I have (You’re drunk)
(2) acknowledging where she’s at (you don’t seem to be okay) - I do that because it gives me the best odds of communicating effectively
(3) setting the new boundaries (you can’t come in here).

Adding in specific suggestions for where to get help is something I do because most people don’t offer those suggestions - they don’t acknowledge the issue at all, let alone voice potential lifelines. Yet, over time, if more people are willing to explicitly acknowledge the issue in a reasonably compassionate way, then the person has much better odds of eventually seeking treatment.

Instead of being the one voice that persuades her to get help, I say something so that I’m contributing to number of times she needs to hear it before she decides to get help.

Substance abuse to the degree that your describing isn’t just a mental health issue, it’s mental health crisis territory.

Let me be really clear on this: that doesn’t make it your problem.

But if you have the opportunity to say something to her (which you do if she comes hollering again), saying something useful, rather than nothing at all, is a compassionate and helpful thing you can do for the person, during that small window of opportunity you have, without compromising the boundaries you need to set.

If you’re the only person to tell her that day “You have a problem and you need help”, you’ll be the most helpful person she speaks to that day.
 
(1) state the problem I have (You’re drunk)
(2) acknowledging where she’s at (you don’t seem to be okay) - I do that because it gives me the best odds of communicating effectively
Number 1 seems really hard for me to say. And I think this gets into my freeze/fawn response when I realize someone is drunk or high. It goes back to a child part who wanted other adults to take care of her at a moment’s notice if need be. I don’t have that need anymore but recognizing when an adult is drunk or high can trigger fear and a need to hide myself. Stating the problem seems rude and confrontational. I remember when I was an addict and I feared people telling me I looked high and I rarely to never admitted it. So I project that onto the other person and I either flee if I don’t need ti be near them, or fawn if I do. Because for some reason I think that their being drunk or high is a problem for *me*. That’s the child part. But also I have this idea (fantasy?) that they are drunk/high because they have some kind of pain that is so great that they *need* to be drunk/high and it’s not my place to judge or shame them, neither to rescue them.

Being drunk/high isn’t just my problem or just their problem, it’s a problem for both of us, if they are trying to dump their emotions or act chaotic around me. Or maybe I don’t need to worry about whether it’s a problem for them. It’s a problem for me because if they’re not okay then I don’t want to worry or carry them emotionally. Which gets into number two.

Number two blew my mind open. Because saying, “You don’t seem to be okay,” is *exactly* what my co-worker with the bad boundaries who called me drunk has said to me multiple times, and said when she was drunk. I didn’t make the connection in the moment that she was projecting onto me. And I don’t like the game of someone projecting and then arguing with them that it’s actually *them* who feels negative emotions. I’ve learned that once someone starts in on projecting emotions onto me it’s game over because *any* kind of engagement tends to ramp it up.

However, it’s possible that if I recognize that she’s drunk I could say it before she does. Or I could say something like, “It’s funny you say that I don’t seem okay because you are drunk and I was just going to tell you that you don’t seem okay.”

Then the boundary has to be set. Which would be… <scrolls back up>, “I’m busy and I won’t spend time talking to a drunk person. I used to be an alcoholic and I suggest you go to AA when you’re ready; I found it really helpful.”

Man that last part seems like it would be impossible for me to say. The first part would be really hard. But I do think saying number two is the most likely. But I think if I said number two and didn’t acknowledge that she seemed drunk then it would just invite her to cry and emotion dump on me.

Anyway, I found those three steps really helpful and number two really opened my mind because of how many times she’s said that to me.

I forgot about how when people project their feelings onto me it’s generally because they want me to pull out of them how they are feeling. Which old me was conditioned to do—manage my loved ones’ emotions.

I’ve only recently began to really get a grasp on projection, what it is, how to recognize it, and how I feel when it happens. For me it does seem to be wrapped up in this issue of confronting my friend when she’s been drinking. And also my own guilt about my past addictions. Lots to work through!
 
The question for you is not: how do I fix her so this is something I can cope with? You aren’t her therapist, or her sponsor, or her mother. You can’t fix her.

The question is: how do I set healthy boundaries with this dysfunctional person? (so that I have a safe home…which is critical, yeah?)
This.

Yeah. I'm learning that boundaries are VERY hard for me.
Try this formula:

If they ______ then I ______.

You can ALMOST mad lib it. And it’s actually pretty durn useful to come up with a few dozen possibilities of “then I”. Both serious & totally silly/ groaning into a pillow/ extreme/ pointless/ gasoline on fire/ reprehensible/ practical/ a good excuse to do this other thing/ etc. I’ve left THIS list just off the top of my head. Clearly, my head is very boring, right now, as there’s not a lot of silly… like put on a hula skirt & mime face paint and only respond to her with interpretive dance. I’d almost never DO the silly, but coming up with them is stress relieving.

For example?

(In no particular order, although it helps, when you’re making the list, to go back and order it into groupings; answer the door, don’t answer the door, engage, don’t engage, stay, leave, etc.).

If (I know or suspect) they are drunk and knock on my door then I

- Don’t answer the door.
- Amswer the door and tell them to go away and come back when they’re sober.
- Answer the door and listen helplessly to a 3 hour long story that takes 15 minutes to tell without repeating one’s self.
- Go run a bath & listen to some music.
- Take my car keys and walk out the door and only talk with them as they follow me down the hall.
- Take my car keys and walk out the door pointedly refuse to talk with them as they follow me down the hall.
- Answer the door and scream at them
- Get busy with home improvement projects or snaking smoothies
- Call their brother
- Call the police
- Answer the door and hand them an AA meeting schedule.
- Don’t answer the door and put on some headphones and watch a movie
- Shout at them through the door that you don’t answer the door for drunk people.
- Answer the door and fell them you don’t talk to drunk people, and close the door.
- Don’t answer the door, but do Rack a shotgun.
- Answer the door and spray them in the face with mace.
- Answer the door and spray them in the face with whipped cream.
- Answer the door and invite them in for a nice long chat.
- Answer the door and invite them in for shots of tequila.


^^^ ALL OF THESE ^^^ and hundreds more, are potential boundaries to have.

Come up with a shortlist of things you actually feel you can do, from your long list of possibilities. Then? Do them.

Most people have escalating boundaries (rather than shifting boundaries). So step 1 might be answer the door and tell them you don’t talk with drunk people, and close the door. If they keep knocking, or come back in less time than it takes them to sober up? Don’t answer the door…. And… (put in earbuds, make a smoothie, take a bath, whatever distracts you from the knocking & awarness of them being out there. If they STILL don’t go away, or come back, yet again? Shout at them through the door, or call their brother, or call the police… or… grab your keys and head out for awhile. Both of which remove her ability to be annoying you by knocking knocking knocking, talking talking talking. ALL of which maintain the boundary, your not going to comfab with her when she’s drunk, just in escalating steps.

So it’s not like you have to pick one thing you always do, no matter what. And that’s why a list is useful, to find your own “happy place” of options to take when they ______.
 
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The question is: how do I set healthy boundaries with this dysfunctional person? (so that I have a safe home…which is critical, yeah?)

Boatload of ways to do that.

The approach I would try and take, if it’s safe is:
(1) state the problem I have (You’re drunk)
(2) acknowledging where she’s at (you don’t seem to be okay) - I do that because it gives me the best odds of communicating effectively
(3) setting the new boundaries (you can’t come in here).
This is super helpful. Something that will take a while for me to be able to do, but something I'll work on. Thank you.
If (I know or suspect) they are drunk and knock on my door then I

- Don’t answer the door.
- Amswer the door and tell them to go away and come back when they’re sober.
- Answer the door and listen helplessly to a 3 hour long story that takes 15 minutes to tell without repeating one’s self.
- Go run a bath & listen to some music.
- Take my car keys and walk out the door and only talk with them as they follow me down the hall.
- Take my car keys and walk out the door pointedly refuse to talk with them as they follow me down the hall.
- Answer the door and scream at them
- Get busy with home improvement projects or snaking smoothies
- Call their brother
- Call the police
- Answer the door and hand them an AA meeting schedule.
- Don’t answer the door and put on some headphones and watch a movie
- Shout at them through the door that you don’t answer the door for drunk people.
- Answer the door and fell them you don’t talk to drunk people, and close the door.
- Don’t answer the door, but do Rack a shotgun.
- Answer the door and spray them in the face with mace.
- Answer the door and spray them in the face with whipped cream.
- Answer the door and invite them in for a nice long chat.
- Answer the door and invite them in for shots of tequila.


^^^ ALL OF THESE ^^^ and hundreds more, are potential boundaries to have.
Oh, also helpful! Because I need to work up to saying something to her about being drunk, and this give me some ideas.

She has already violated our agreement to text me before she comes down, so I am going to let her know she MUST do that from now on. It's a small thing, but a boundary I think I can set without much trouble. I've decided not to answer if she doesn't text. Next I'll see what I can do about the rest...

Progress maybe.

Thanks, again!
 
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