Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lesson of a Lifetime

Dear Aunt Babz,

This requires a little bit of history...I'm totally lost here, so forgive me if I seem to be writing a book. I've changed all the names for the sake of privacy. My girlfriend, Miranda, and I have been dating for only six weeks, but we've been good friends for a year or so before that. Originally, she was chasing after me, but since we've started dating I've fallen fast and hard for her. However, we agreed to take things slow and have not done anything other than quick kisses...not even French kissing. Her best friend, Jayden, lives in England (we live in America), and her best American friend is named Alexi -- I know Alexi better than Jayden, but I talk to both of them often, at least a few times a week. Alexi, Miranda and I all work together. At work, we have three assistant managers; usually we work under a woman named Jess. She's very well liked and trusted by everyone.

Saturday afternoon, Miranda tried to call out of work for that night. That morning, Jason, her sister's fiance, hit Meg, her sister. They lived together and always seemed to be fighting, but this was the first time he physically abused her. Both Meg and Jason have rage issues. Meg left Jason, and moved in with Miranda and her parents. Miranda wanted to be there for her sister, and knew that we could get by without her at work that night. Jess would not let her call out, and insisted that she come in. I was text messaging Miranda at the same time, and I told her not to bother coming in. I told her she doesn't need this job (I'm pretty wealthy and would definitely take care of her -- since we've started dating I'm sure I've already spent over $1,000 on her; she knows that is no matter to me and that I would do anything for her). I told her to do what she needed to do, and be with her family.

She ended up coming into work, and was the maddest I've ever seen her. She went into the back and punched a locker, and was not in a good mood at all. Jess saw how upset she was and let her leave early. I could not leave what I was doing. Looking back, I should've abandoned my job and run to her before she left. I definitely spoke to her every time she walked past, but I didn't act as concerned as I felt. I let her go, I think. I think that was my mistake.

After leaving work, I learned she did not go home. She talked to Jayden (British best friend) and told her that there was no point in living. She was going to drive into a telephone pole. According to Jayden, she went on for a good fifteen minutes and was genuinely serious. Jayden asked what was wrong but never got an answer. Jayden didn't even know about the Jason and Meg situation. Jayden called Alexi in hysterics -- being in England, she couldn't do much but knew Alexi might have a bigger impact. Alexi came into work and told me what Miranda told Jayden. Both of us were obviously worried, but Miranda did not respond to either of us. We didn't want to betray Miranda's trust of Jayden, so we tried to seem concerned without letting on that we knew.

Miranda and Meg came in to work later that night and did a bit of shopping. Miranda talked to me, everything seemed normal. I didn't ask any questions other than if she was okay. I figured there was more to this situation that she just wasn't comfortable telling me. I wanted to give her space. She seemed ok, introduced me to Meg, and everything was as good as I could expect. I didn't know how to act, really, so I might've seemed a little awkward, but I would think that's understandable.

The next day, Sunday, Miranda and I were supposed to hang out. I go to college during the week and come home on the weekends, so Sunday night we always get together before I head back to school. I sent her a message when I was leaving work that I would see her soon -- all I got back was "I can't go out." I said that's fine, you need to do what you have to do and I understand that you want to be there for your family. I got no answer back. I called her that night, maybe seven hours later, and she didn't answer her phone. I just wanted to make sure everything was okay, and I left a message saying so. That one message, "I can't go out," was all I've heard from her in the last four days.

I asked Alexi what was going on. A few hours after telling me that she could not go out, Miranda asked Alexi if she wanted to play tennis. Alexi turned her down -- she had too much homework and didn't have the time. This seemed odd to me, but I figured Miranda just had something on her mind she didn't feel comfortable talking about with me. Monday night, the two of them worked together and Alexi told me that they had a good talk. She didn't want to tell me what it was about, but she said it had nothing to do with me. I was not the issue. Miranda also spoke with Jess, and all Jess told me was that I need to give her space, and that Miranda's "never been in this situation before." I have no idea what's going on, and I just don't know what to do.

Her ex-boyfriend raped her a few months ago, that's one of the main reasons why we're moving so slowly. All I can figure is that something brought up those memories, and consequently, she's afraid to love me or be close to me.

I've been texting or calling her once a day, just so that she knows I'm here and I still care. She won't answer me, and I don't know why. Even if she just said "I don't want to talk right now," that would be a lot better than nothing. I just don't know what to do or what to think or where to turn. My grades in school are really suffering because of this -- I can't concentrate at all. Last night was the first time since this began that I slept at all, and even then it was only for two hours.

I arranged for a meeting with my school counselor next week. I just don't know what to do.

Any thoughts, suggestions or comments? Please. Anything at all is greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much.

Dear Lover_in_distress,
It is not easy to try and figure someone out, especially when they are acting really uncharacteristic of themselves. And in this instance I have some advice on what you can do to help Miranda, but unfortunately it will not help you.

See, what I would suggest is to talk to Miranda’s parents because if she is feeling suicidal and had something as traumatic as rape happen to her, she is in danger. And helping her live is first and foremost.

But it will not help you (I don’t think) because she will resent that you went to her parents, she will be mad that Jayden betrayed her trust, and she will not be happy with any of you for awhile.

In the end though, she does need help. People who are happy do not think of driving into telephone poles. Miranda needs your help.

For you, I would say that getting involved with someone who has depression is very difficult and sometimes doesn’t work out. You can do everything right, but depression is a monster and cares little for the hearts of others. Not saying the person who is depressed is a monster, depression is a disease and is hard to tame or get rid of. And those who deal with it either first hand or second hand have difficulties. If you really are in love, and you really want to help, then there are steps you can take. But that will not guarantee that Miranda will be receptive to you. Hopefully she will see that you care enough to help, and her friends care as well. And hopefully you can be a part of her support while in recovery. But ultimately this is her choice, to seek help. And it is her choice on weather she will accept that help.

I found this on the web, and it is actually pretty good:

Top Tips for Helping a Depressed Friend or Relative

Learn about depression

Educate yourself about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of depression. You need to understand what you’re dealing with before you can help.

Be understanding

Don’t underestimate the seriousness of depression. Depression drains a person’s energy, optimism, and motivation. Your depressed loved one can’t just “snap out of it” by sheer force of will.

Try not to take it personally

Irritability and hostility are common symptoms of depression. Often, a depressed person will say hurtful things or lash out in anger. Remember that this is the depression talking, not your loved one, so don’t take it to heart.

Have realistic expectations

It can be frustrating to watch a depressed loved one struggle, especially if progress is slow or stalled. Having patience is important. Even with the proper treatment, recovery from depression doesn’t happen overnight.

Don’t be an enabler

It doesn’t help anyone involved if you are making excuses, covering up the problem, or lying for a friend or family member who is depressed. In fact, this may keep the depressed person from seeking treatment.

Relinquish your control

Don’t try to rescue your loved one from depression. It’s not up to you to fix the problem, nor can you. Ultimately, depression recovery is in the hands of the depressed person.

There is more on this topic here:

I hope that Miranda does get some help, and I hope you two are able to work past this. My thoughts are with you.

Brightest Blessings


Dear Lover_in_distress,

You do know that I shoot from the hip don't you? And I live by the creed to say what I mean, mean what I say and try not to say it too mean. I am going to be as sensitive as possible and I will tell you the same thing I would tell any one of my own sons, if they came to me with the same situation, ok?

First of all, I feel there was a lot of drama, unnecessary drama, attention seeking drama. While it's understandable that you would be concerned for Miranda, especially if she was insinuating a suicide attempt, I would surely ask you, if you think her behavior is within the norm? Now, far be it from me to down play her emotions but do you really feel it was necessary for her to take it as far as she did, namely, getting as upset as she did about her sister, punching the locker and threatening suicide? Take a look at this.

My fiance' threatened suicide when I was moving to Long Island from Pittsburgh. If you want to read about it, I had written, baring my soul, in this post. On one hand, I thought he was being extremely emotional. On the other hand, I was truly concerned, scared to say the least. On one hand, I felt he must be crazy, while on the other, I felt so guilty over leaving him. It was an awful situation. One side of me, if the truth were known, didn't believe a word he was saying and the other was petrified that he meant it. The point is that we should never not take someone serious who states, implies, insinuates suicide. My beau ultimately killed himself. This was the Lesson of a Lifetime.

I am painfully aware of the ramifications of suicide, threat of suicide and the way it holds those we love, emotionally hostage. As well, it's extremely agonizing to me, bordering
excruciating, to admit this but I too have behaved badly and I have attempted suicide. I am being sincere when I say that I understand the emotions behind a suicide threat. And I bare all, simply so you might see that I speak from experience. My boyfriend/fiance' was not my first initiation into the hush hush, Hemlock Society, type of thinking, emotion either. I've been around the block, a time or two, have seen more than most and maybe even felt and experienced more than most?

Long story short; It's selfish as hell to threaten suicide, especially for dramatic purpose and intent and especially, if you're just being theatrical
, seeking attention and so on. We can't read their minds, you can't read Miranda's mind and we don't know if she's actually serious or histrionic? Was she being melodramatic? Now, I am not holding any Ace up my sleeve, there's no magic here but I'd be willing to bet that she was being a bit theatrical. More importantly, I think you need to suggest that she might seek counseling. This may set her off but if you don't say it, it would be the first of many mistakes...

Having said all that and letting the cat out of the bag, I'll ask you to take a long hard look at her behavior, above and beyond all of this. Well Babz, what are you talking about?

Quite honestly, I think her behavior towards you has been rather unfair(we'll give her credit as maybe she can't help it and needs this counseling). See, I think you just so happen to be a nice guy. I also think that she has, on more than one occasion, taken advantage of your nice guy persona. But my intent is not to rile you up and it's certainly not to cause you to get angry and break up with her.

White Hat/Black Hat/Gray Hat

They say "nice guys finish last." I happen to believe there's some validity to that statement. Unfortunately, in this world, you have people, men and women alike, who are just mean spirited, users, gold diggers, etc. and they seem to have/get it all. Quite frankly, I'd rather be able to look myself in the mirror but I'd be lying if I didn't admit a bit of jealousy, in a fleeting glimpse. I mean, I would sure enjoy having the mentality to marry for money, like some women and men do. Realistically though, I will quickly shake it off and report to myself and God that I am doing my best to be a better person. But I have noticed an attraction, that I readily admit, to bad boys. It has been my demise from day one. And I think a lot of women are attracted to that "bad boy" persona. Have you noticed this?

Now, I am not telling you to be a bad boy. No, I like you just the way you are. I do however, want you to change a few things. See, girlfriend believes she's got you wrapped around her little finger. Yes, even subconsciously, a girl is capable of doing this. It's possible and rather plausible to think that your girlfriend thinks you are predictable and that you'll be there whether she calls you or not? Predictable can be boring too! You need to wear a gray hat...

Let me point out something to you, to put things into perspective. OK, if she didn't respond and ignored her/a girlfriend, who had, in a caring and loving manner, inquired how she was doing, when she'd gone out of her way to send message after message, text and voice mail and Miranda didn't respond, they wouldn't stay girlfriends for very long. Yes, it's just common courtesy, a kindergarten premise, when someone inquires about you, especially in a time of crisis such as this, to have the common decency to respond back. Am I right or am I right?

In conclusion, I feel Miranda has taken advantage of a good thing, intentional or not. If she really does care, she should treat you, first and foremost as her best friend. Look very carefully at this and any other relationship you have; If you are not best friends with this girl, which is a must, you have nothing. Understand?

Put on that gray hat, make it clear to her that you would appreciate it if she could at least let you know she's all right, when you inquire, simply out of respect. Take the kid gloves off. I understand your going easy with her, nice and slow because of what happened to her but that does not give her license to be inconsiderate to you. Unless of course, you are desperate?

I think not...

Keeping It Real,

Aunt Babz

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