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Old 07-24-2007, 04:14 AM   #1
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How to help a friend?

I found out a couple of days ago that the parents of one of my close friends have separated suddenly. I won't go into all the details as it is not my place to do so, but it seems the mother has walked out on her 3 daughters (aged 13, 18 and 21) and husband of nearly 25 years for a high school sweetheart she recently saw at a reunion function.

I have particular concerns for my friend who is a very emotional person and has gone off the rails in the past, but we always intervened before too much harm was done. We have always been lucky that when she had her issues we saw her daily at school, but since leaving school we rarely get to see each other and i worry that this safety-network not being there on a daily basis will do her harm.

Some of our friends who saw her a few days ago took her out clubbing to try to cheer her up (i was shocked and disgusted to learn they let her drink excessively). I've had friends in the past who have had parents separate, but the sudden nature and emotional instability of my friend in this case worries me much more.

I would really appreciate any advice for helping my friend and how to approach her on the topic without causing her distress.

Thanks for reading,

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Old 07-24-2007, 07:03 AM   #2
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Wow that is staggering. How could a mother possibly do that? Does she have no conscience?

Sorry not helping. No I'm afraid I can't offer much help myself, I wouldn't know what to say. What I will say is that you are bound to get some great help here, and good luck to your friend. Hope all goes well.

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Old 07-24-2007, 07:55 AM   #3
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Honestly Acrobat Angel....I don't think there is much you can do except being there for your friend, sometimes the greatest thing you can do is just listen. As long as your buddy does not go on binge-drinking every w/end, I would not worry about her doing a all-nighter.

I really don't think that in one night your friends mum just said "What the hell....I'll leave my husband and children for you" There would have been cracks in the marriage long before this event. No-one really knows what goes on inside a marriage except for the couple in the marriage.

I can imagine it is difficult....but with good friends/family around your mate.....she will get through it.
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Old 07-24-2007, 08:53 AM   #4
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never ever underestimate the power of a good counselor. i've learned that myself. these people are professionally trained to listen to us and help us. during times of struggle what we need most is that kind of affirmation and support. i recommend that you suggest that your friend and her family go get a counselor to help them through this. it will really make a world of a difference.
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Old 07-24-2007, 10:11 AM   #5
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When I was 15, and my sister was 18, my mom announced the day after Christmas that she was leaving. I hadn't seen it coming at all. Dad already knew, but my mom had kept it from us to not spoil our holiday. The next day, she was gone. Presently, my parents are back together...but back then, when this went down, it was very hard. I was already a bit of an emotional, unstable person, and to have what I had always viewed as a stable family suddenly have a huge fracture was devastating.

As for what you can do, I can tell you right now that my friends didn't have to do anything special. They were just there for me, as usual. Sometimes, I'd talk about things and they'd be my shoulder to cry on, but I really just loved to continue doing the same stuff we'd always done. If we couldn't be together, like how you're saying you don't see your friend, even just a phone call meant a lot to me.

If you really are worried about your friend doing harm to herself though, I think somebody who is qualified should be brought into the mix to help though. Friends can only do so much on their own. It can be emotionally draining to try to be the person to always make things better for your friend. You obviously have a good heart though, and a friend with a good heart can do wonders.
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Old 07-28-2007, 06:16 PM   #6
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I agree with Bonochick. AND something similar happened with my folks. Unbeknownst to anyone the rug was pulled from beneath my sister and I when I was 19 and my sister 16 when 2 days after my wedding my father packed his stuff & left Mom a note saying he was leaving. Long story short my parents did get back together 2 years later and lived happily until my father's death some 20 years or so later. But my sister and I were so angry with our father to see how his sudden departure affected our mother. She was beside herself.

Since those years I have seen so many relationships crumble, including my own marriage. All I can offer in the form of advice is to be a great listener and Rock of Gibralter for any friends or family going through such hard times. Any seeming unstable might be encouraged to seek professionale help. But Time heals, and I find myself telling people that no matter what happens in life the sun will set and tomorrow rise again, so to be strong, put one foot in front of the other and take life one small step, one day or even just one hour at a time. Life isn't meant to be a bed of roses and happy all the time, so brace yourself for the hard times and be strong to get through them or to help others to get through their hard times. Be patient with the processes involved in working through issues and life's difficulties. Make the best you can of the Journey, even if at times it might be 3 st4eps forward, one step back or one step forward, four steps back.
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Old 07-29-2007, 01:40 AM   #7
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Thank you all so much for your experiences and advice

I've spoken to my friend a few times this week and she seems a bit angry and confused by the separation, but we talked through some things and thankfully she is coping better than what i'd expected her to.
I will take note of what some of you said about suggesting counselling to her if she needs professional support in the future, but for now i think she's ok with the support she's receiving from her friends/family.

Thanks again to everyone for there help- this place sure has some beautiful, special and kind people
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Old 07-29-2007, 06:47 AM   #8
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Acrobat Angel, I'm glad to hear your friend is coping better than you'd expected her to. All you can do in times like these is just be there for her, being a good friend to her, listening to her and giving her advice and help through it all.

My parents have separated as well years ago, but it's different to everybody, how they cope with a situation like this. I agree that when some people say it's good to seek some professional counselling in the future when you feel like your friend can be emotionally unstable sometimes. Friends can provide for a lot of help and support, but sometimes it's really good to leave some situations to the pro's. They know how to handle with such situations and know what can be the best help for them.

Good luck with everything, I hope your friend will continue to feel better

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