Dear Danice Akiyoshi,
My best friend has made a mess of her life and is in an alcohol rehab program. I know she is having a hard time having a suspended license so I make a lot of time to spend with her and take her grocery shopping on the weekends and out to eat. She takes the train to work. I notice that if I’m not available she hints that she’s lonely and needy and feels afraid that she’s probably going to drink and mess up her classes and sobriety. She’s been doing real well so I hate for that to happen, but sometimes I’m busy with other things or people. I feel guilty when I can’t help her. I wish she had other people to count on besides me but she says everyone lets her down. I don’t want to hurt her feelings either while she’s trying to stay sober but I can’t always be there for her. I need advice.
Why do you have the impression that your friend’s sobriety and success with alcohol rehab classes is in your hands or that it is somehow your responsibility for her to be successful? Your friend sounds like she enjoys the role of being a victim while you take her sobriety seriously and contribute your personal time to her success. She shows her appreciation by manipulating you into feeling like you’re not doing enough when you need a break from her and the constant tasking you do for her. Your kindness should not result in you feeling guilty. This is a very bad set up for you. Your friend is a manipulator. She has no chance of having a healthy functional life until she takes responsibility for herself. Do not assist her in staying weak. Your type of assistance is very kind, but it will not get the job done. She has to want this for herself. Stop enabling her so she can tap into her own inner resources. Of course you can still be helpful and friendly, but stop over functioning for your friend. You cheat her out of finding her own personal strength. People who are trying to stay sober need a strong and familiar relationship with their own personal power. Explain to her that you can see that your efforts have not been totally helpful and ask her seek professional guidance when she’s feeling weak and needy. Make it clear that you are not the right person for this job.
Danice Akiyoshi ND
Danice Akiyoshi is a Naturopathic Doctor and the head of Candid Coaching Service. She offers personal coaching services relating to all types of issues and concerns. This is a letter she received from an anonymous reader. To send a question to Danice, email her at straighttalk@ candidcoachingservices.com. You can also visit her website at http://www.candidcoachingservices.com