Hitting Bottom

The thing about hitting the bottom is that outsiders view it much differently than insiders. You are convinced your friend will finally change her ways because of a terrible episode last weekend. How could she not? This was so clearly the nadir. But your friend doesn’t see it that way because, of course, if she was seeing the world clearly she never would have been so close to a nadir in the first place. 

Still, your friend isn’t happy about last weekend, isn’t so confused to think apologies are unnecessary. This is the frustrating disconnect: both parties agree the weekend was bad, but only you think it obviously proves radical change is required. While you grant that your friend hasn’t been a model of responsibility and accountability for some time, you can’t help but think this episode would trigger such traits. And that’s the mistake: projecting your high-functioning self onto someone who is running different software is all but guaranteed to create that frustrating disconnect. 

Software upgrades are indeed always possible for your friend, but don’t count on them being downloaded per your expectation timeline – you truly can’t comprehend what it’s like to be operating from your friend’s base.

The best you can do is not care about what your friend is losing so long as it doesn’t directly affect you. How could she throw away her job, her boyfriend, her whatever? It’s beyond frustrating to witness for any halfway compassionate human, but it is frustration you must learn to dissipate. Step one: make sure you have honestly and kindly expressed your concerns. Step two: help where you can. Step three: stop caring. 

Step three sounds brutal and perhaps impossible. Achieving it begins by never initiating. Instead of calling to check, inviting to events you hope will help her psyche, or comforting when you feel she needs it, you act to help if, and only if, she requests it. There will be times when you feel like you should do more; you must remind yourself you did what you could – it’s on her now.

Lastly, don’t ignore your own selfishness. With a look of utter exasperation, you retell the entire episode to another friend painting yourself as some Mother Teresaesque altruist. You are not. While you truly may want to help, a notable part of you craves recognition for these efforts. And the fact that your friend isn’t singing a paean for your intervention is a contributing factor to your general irritation.

Oh, and one more thing. You may well be perversely enjoying your friend’s struggles because they make you feel better about your own life. Given this undercurrent, your I hope she gets better claims are outright false or deeply conflicted. And if you don’t actually want your alleged friends to be well, maybe you shouldn’t be so worried about others hitting bottoms, maybe you should instead focus on how to improve yourself.