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Thread: Should I "downsize" my old friend...?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Ultralight's Avatar
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    Should I "downsize" my old friend...?

    I have been struggling for years with a friend of mine from the old neighborhood. Our moms were high school friends, so he and I grew up together.

    We were always different from each other, but we were always friends because we grew up in the same small town (238 people) together.

    The trajectories of our lives really went differently after high school though.

    During high school is was Mr. Popular, great athlete, a hit with the ladies. I was quiet, artistic, and a loner. Somehow we found common ground outside of high school though.

    Once we graduated he kept partying -- drinking every night and smoking, things that did not appeal to me. He went to work at dead-end jobs, mostly. I eventually went to college and grad school. He became a corrections officer. I became a researcher. He became a right-wing gun nut. I became a bookish anarchist. He became a racist. I went on to be more and more open-minded in that regard.

    Anyway... in the past year or so his life has largely collapsed. His marriage is horribly on the rocks, his alcoholism is killing him. He is morbidly obese, suffers many ongoing maladies like diabetes, knee problems, memory problems, delusions, confabulation (associated with long term alcoholism). He'd taken to calling me at strange hours and going on anti-govt rants or racist tirades. This offended me deeply for two primary reasons: because I think racism is deplorable... and my gf happens to be black.

    His gun play -- shooting in town while drunk and such were just frightening.

    He also had a long history of trouble at work. The Corrections Officers union had to bail him out. But eventually his boss said: "Quit or be fired." His union could no longer help him because he had simply violated the contract. So he lost his job and had not been able to find another one since the spring. He also had a recent run-in with the law regarding a firearm. Charges were dropped but the lawyer cost his elderly father a pretty penny from his small 401k.

    Yesterday, after a leg injury that progressed into an acute infection my friend apparent had two grand mal seizures (no history of seizing). He had been drinking, taking vicotin, and two kind of antibiotics (both intravenously administered and in pills). He may have also been drinking those "energy drinks" with both caffeine and alcohol in them. Those were his drug of choice.

    As a result of the seizures he was taken away in an ambulance. The blood work at the ER showed his liver was shutting down. They flew him out to a major hospital in a big city where they were going to have specialists deal with his liver problem (if possible), his withdrawals, and the constellation of health problems he is having.

    Part of me wants to reach out to this friend, maybe for old time's sake. Maybe for... I dunno why.

    Another part of me wants to leave him be simply because he is so toxic and offensive and immature.

    Not sure what to do...

    Thoughts?
    I came from a real tough neighborhood. I put my hand in some cement and felt another hand." -- Rodney Dangerfield

  2. #2
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    I would base it entirely on what I felt. If I thought they endangered me? I would not continue it. If I thought they added another misery to my life and it became added to things I hate in my life, nope. If there was something redeeming about it, "well they are fun to reminisce about old times with" or "well I don't' have much to do when they call anyway, I was just sitting around and watching ceiling paint peel ..." maybe. Even then I might steer the conversation "ok enough about black people already ... [changes conversation to how about them red socks ... to the joys of being a minimalist ... to anything]".

    The truth is however much he hates blacks I hope he has never done the damage to them that he has done to himself! Because he's so clearly a total and complete self-destruction job on oneself (yes I have seen the type), with most everything he does geared toward total self-destruction (no minor self-sabotage here) that .... Addicted and psychologically tormented, maybe it's PTSD from being a cop, maybe it's a childhood we would sit in shock to hear the horrors of. But I would base the whether to keep contact on my feelings about the situation. I've cut off contact for much less (if I felt I was putting all the effort into a friendship), but then I've kept acquaintances I didn't have that much in common with just if it was nice if they called now and then.
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

  3. #3
    Senior Member kib's Avatar
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    ... I just read your tagline and it seemed appropriate. This guy appears to be sinking in the cement. There's not much you can do to pull him out, so I guess the question is, can you give a little comfort without being pulled in?

  4. #4
    rodeosweetheart
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    To me, if you are asking this question, then yes, it is probably time to let go of the friendship, as it sounds as though you have been in the process of doing so while he has been sliding down into his addictions and ensuing mental illness.

  5. #5
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    I don't see how it will work to keep him. He is racist & you have a black girlfriend. YOu can try but I don't think it will work. Such a sad story.

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    DH had a friend like this left over from high school. We actually sold him a house so there were ties of a sort. He was a highly educated but absolutely psychotic personality which was enhanced by his alcoholism. We were both very frightened by his behavior and I put my foot down about his continual presence so we cut the ties. In reality, he had no interest in DH as a friend but instead was looking for any kind of "support" he could find. Last we heard he was killed in a drug deal gone bad but that was not confirmed and I am always fearful he will return. If this person doesn't really want to change, then he is using you as my husband's friend was using him. I would advise cutting that tie and moving on from the past. Compassion is one thing but allowing someone to continue bad behavior isn't something you need to do if you care about your own life and future.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Ultralight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkytoe View Post
    DH had a friend like this left over from high school. We actually sold him a house so there were ties of a sort. He was a highly educated but absolutely psychotic personality which was enhanced by his alcoholism. We were both very frightened by his behavior and I put my foot down about his continual presence so we cut the ties. In reality, he had no interest in DH as a friend but instead was looking for any kind of "support" he could find. Last we heard he was killed in a drug deal gone bad but that was not confirmed and I am always fearful he will return. If this person doesn't really want to change, then he is using you as my husband's friend was using him. I would advise cutting that tie and moving on from the past. Compassion is one thing but allowing someone to continue bad behavior isn't something you need to do if you care about your own life and future.
    When we talk on the phone or on the rare occasion in person here really does not ask about me otr my life.

    He has not come to visit me in over a decade.

    His gun-nut issues are particularly troubling. He pointed a gun at my ex-wife and at me ("just messin' around"). But I about lost my F---ing cool once the gun was put away! I treat any gun as if it were loaded and mind all gun safety rules. So now I stay the heck away from him if he has a gun on him, which is most of the time because he easily got and keeps a CCW permit. This, though off topic, is a BIG reason that I support gun control of a certain type -- like mental health testing before being allowed to own guns and substance abuse testing too. Mental illness and/or substance abuse plus guns equals tragedy waiting to happen.
    I came from a real tough neighborhood. I put my hand in some cement and felt another hand." -- Rodney Dangerfield

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    Anybody who pointed a gun at me would be gone.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Ultralight's Avatar
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    I know. I know.

    The problem is that he is mentally ill. And that if I was like "F-ck you, dude!" then there would be all sorts of trouble for my parents from his family. They are in denial about his whole set of problems. As he sits in ICU for liver failure at a big city hospital his mom, dad, aunt, and even his wife are like: "Wait... he has an alcohol problem?"

    They are a family of the most dysfunctional people ever.

    Here is the crazy thing: He pointed the gun at me in his parents' living room with both his parents there. He was drunk at the time too.

    He thinks he "runs" the town and "protects" the residents as the warlord of "the local militia."

    Frightens me really. Delusions and such...
    I came from a real tough neighborhood. I put my hand in some cement and felt another hand." -- Rodney Dangerfield

  10. #10
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    I would not be caught within a mile of this individual. You could be the nicest person in the world and do everything for him but he could percieve a problem and it would be "your fault".

    PS: Pointing a gun would be the end of any relationship. No second chance. Drunk or not. Family or not. Friend or not.

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