Tuesday, September 23, 2008

friends and addicts and stuff

My friend Kathy is a great friend. She calls me; I call her. We go to bookstores and movies, and stuff. We have a lot in common; we're also very different. She's my mom's age, but she acts young for her age. I called her in New York the other day, where she's at on a trip, and left her a message. She called back and said, "What's wrong?? I could tell by your voice something is wrong." So I told her what was wrong. I have been having a lot of suicidal thoughts. "I need you here," she said, like a true friend. "I know what you're going through," she said, like the empathetic person who she is. We talked about my doctor's visit, my medication change, and what her last bout with suicidal depression was like for her. We talked about the hospital. No, I said, I don't need to go. Yes, I said, I'm sure. Yes, I said, I'll call you if I need to.

Kathy listens. Kathy cares. These are the kinds of friends I really need. In truth, I'm that kind of friend myself, so I feel that it's okay to say this. I care about my friends. I listen to them. I think it's nice to have a friend who does that for me. I have a few such friends. I have a former professor who's been a mentor and friend to me for about eleven years and is a genuinely extremely kind person. I have another friend from the support group I used to run. I have a friend named Lauren I've known online for eleven years, who is just as close to me as any friends I've known in person. I have some good friends. I'm grateful for these people.

At the same time, I seem to develop relationships with other people who are not such good friends (or boyfriends, as the case may be). My ex-boyfriend, of three years, who moved out this past January after we had lived together for a year and a half, called me yesterday. I did not answer, as I was in my psychiatrist's office. Well, a psychiatrist's office (mine was out sick). He was calling because he's relapsed back onto drugs, and he's broke, and he lost his job, and he apparently is having trouble getting unemployment benefits, and he assumed that I had been paying for his car insurance for him, even though I have not heard from him in three months. I kept him on my insurance policy as a favor to him, for six months after he broke up with me. I collected the money from him when he had it, which was usually at least one month after the bill was due, and I paid the bill on time, as I always have, every month. Of course, after six months of this, when I stopped hearing from him at all, I realized this was a ridiculous situation, and that there was no reason why I should continue carrying him on my insurance policy, so I had him removed.

I figured, being 38 years old, and not incredibly stupid, he would figure out that when he stopped paying his ex-girlfriend for his car insurance, she would probably remove him from his policy. But, being a narcissistic drug addict, he did not figure that out. He assumed that, considering the doormat-like stance I took for the whole time I was involved with him, I would still do anything he needed or wanted me to do for him, despite the fact we rarely ever spoke to each other anymore at all.

Of course, that kind of behavior is typical for drug addicts. I have another friend with an addiction problem who only calls me when she is bored, or when she is looking for a favor of some kind. I called her recently to talk when I was feeling horribly low, and told her I was having problems with suicidal thoughts. "I'll call you later," she said. "I'm playing cards right now." Very helpful. Very kind. Something I would never do to her in a million years.

I'm not trying to write something disparaging about drug addicts here. I'm just mentioning this because I've found that there are some common themes among the people I've known with addiction problems, and being completely self-absorbed is one of them. They don't make for good friends to have. I don't know if I'm the best person to have as a friend, either, but I do know that I don't call people asking for favors all the time, and then ignore them when I don't need something from them.

Just some thoughts.

1 comment:

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