Stop Gap

12 Jun

Letterbalm Hand StopDear LetterBalm: Last year, an old middle school friend and I reconnected. Both of us are single mothers with eight-year-old sons. At first, it was fun – our boys got along well, and we enjoyed coffees and weekend play dates together. But as time went on, I noticed she was monopolizing my time and didn’t like the time my son and I spent on friends and activities. She calls me, hysterical that some disaster has happened (it’s usually nothing) and she complains about her life. She guilt-trips me if I don’t drop everything and help her – many times I can’t because I work part-time. I think she’s lonely and depressed. The summer is coming, and I don’t want her to be clinging so much. I feel overwhelmed and guilty that I’m her only support system.

–Guilty Momma

Clearly, your friend’s neediness is overwhelming you. You don’t have to feel uncomfortable or guilty if you keep saying no. You have other responsibilities, and being her primary caregiver isn’t one of them. It’s perfectly O.K. to tell your friend that you don’t feel qualified to help her, that her problems are too much for you. This may cause her to end her friendship with you. Needy, dysfunctional people have a talent for moving on and finding someone else’s shoulder to cry on. Ms. L.B. suggests you invite her for coffee without the kids and have a talk. Do some research first on reasonably priced counseling services in your town:

Adela, I wanted to sit with you a bit. I’m worried about you. You’re calling on me for problems that are beyond my ability to solve. I don’t feel qualified to help. I’ve looked online, and there are some reasonably priced counseling services in town that might be able to help you work on your anxieties and feel better about yourself. Here’s a list of several clinics. There also might be free or low-cost therapy offered by your employer. Adela, please do this for yourself and for your son. You need to be a strong, confident mom for Georgie. I know you love him very much, and I think you owe it to your son to get some professional help.

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