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An Old Friend

 
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UFAlien



Joined: 02 Dec 2008
Posts: 181

PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 7:18 pm    Post subject: An Old Friend Reply with quote

Please note that I'm not going to use real names here.

A few years ago I lived in a four-family home with this kid, Tom. A little rough around the edges, not the smartest person ever, but he was tons of fun and we were best friends. His mother, May, always meant well and was a pretty nice person, but she had lots of problems with men - the worst of which was an on-and-off thing with a man named Karl. Karl is pretty much a psycho, always has been. I slept over his place with Tom one night - NOT a night I enjoy remembering. It was even worse back at one of Tom's birthday parties - he showed up drunk and punched another one of Tom's friends hard in the gut, started screaming expletives and tearing down decorations. Tom's grandfather had to kick him out of the house, lock the door, and call the cops.

After a while it seemed like May was finally over Karl. She found another guy who seemed a lot nicer, Mark. She and Tom moved in with him, and she even got pregnant with his child. Unfortunately, she suffered a miscarriage. A while after, the truth came out- Mark was psycho too, just better at hiding it than Karl. There were shouting arguments, physical abuse, et cetera. And now when May showed up at our house, things would sometimes "go missing" as soon as she left, a phenomenon Tom's grandparents also noticed. Tom still seemed to be doing okay. He bulked up and joined his school's football team. We got pretty distant, though - the last time I saw him was around five months ago.

Somehow, Tom and May ended up moving back in with Karl for a while. That was all I'd heard until today. Apparently, May finally snapped - she turned to heavy drug use. I'm not sure if this is a recent development or simply something that just came to light - it could explain her thievery. Tom was the one who noticed and called the cops. I don't know what happened to Karl or Mark, but now Tom is living with his grandparents (his new legal guardians) and May is homeless, a drug addict living on the streets. Obviously, this is really hard for Tom's grandparents, seeing their daughter like that, and I can't imagine how Tom must feel. Like I said, I haven't seen him in a while, but nobody should go through this.

The thing is, even though I feel bad about it, I can't really say I'm surprised. A part of me really wants to talk to Tom again, to try and reassure him, make him feel better, maybe try to rekindle our friendship again.

But then the rational part of me has no idea what the heck I'd say or do.
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Wren



Joined: 22 Apr 2008
Posts: 797
Location: In my head, wondering how so many manage to step outside theirs.

PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd suggest something fairly light. If you're friends with his grandparents, maybe go visit, if he has a facebook and you do too, try that. As for what to say, something along the lines of "I haven't seen you in a while/much and wanted to say hey," would probably work pretty well. Beyond that, something you know you both like: music, sports, books, etc. And, of course, don't bring up that you weren't suprised.

If you don't wanna do that, you obviously don't have to, but do try to make sure you don't draw back from him if you still like him. I went through something similar (much smaller scale, but), and when everyone I knew who knew about it drew back, I kinda felt like it was my fault.

A bunch of it also depends on age. He's obviously a minor from the story, since custody was traded, but is he seventeen and a half? Twelve? Eight? The younger you get, the more likely it is that he is currently less traumatized and more confused (though still both, if only a little).

Just my take, though, from my own experience. Anyone have kids?
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Asa



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 7:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I have some advice, but I don't know how well it works between guys, as opposed to between girls.

First we need to qualify something: Do you want to get closer to him, or remain distant, as you've described? If the latter, I'd suggest sending him a letter (email is a distant second, and Facebook doesn't even place) saying you support him and don't judge, and then leave him alone. Changing the way you relate to him so abruptly may be construed as pity, or somehow artificial, but if you simply send some support, it may do more for his stability than anything else.

On the other hand, if you want to rebuild your old friendship, I think it's your responsibility to stay his friend. My own take would be to not make this the basis of your relationship. Take him out for a hamburger and remind him that you've known him forever, your opinion of him hasn't changed, and you'll understand whatever happens. After that, drop it. Don't talk about it unless he starts first. Talk about yourself, even, if you want to build a deeper connection. But if you make yourself his anchor to the 'normal' world, you'll be doing him a huge service.

That's my advice. This is a huge situation you're in, and I think it's a wonderful thing if you take it upon yourself to help Tom. I wish you all the luck in the world, and we're always here for more help if you want it. *hug*
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spellingmistax



Joined: 28 Jul 2009
Posts: 615
Location: Asa took this ^ I stole it ^_^

PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From what I have read both Wren and Asa advice is sound. In most cases it is not really necessary to say anything but just to let them know you are there, often times that is a great help. The right words are always hard to find.
There is one thing though, try not to take all their problems on yourself. It is one thing to help them lighten the burden it is another thing to burden yourself. That was a mistake I made once. You can not help him if you burn out.

And quoting Asa
Quote:
This is a huge situation you're in, and I think it's a wonderful thing if you take it upon yourself to help Tom. I wish you all the luck in the world, and we're always here for more help if you want it

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