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am i just being a bad friend?

I don't know if I'm reacting the way that a 'good friend' would...

 

 I have this friend, i've known her since we were about seven.

so, we always help eachother through problems (...i think i help her more often), and we text just about every day.

lately she's been venting to me about certain, idk, family issues and other things and she seems really upset about it.

whenever she does this, i sort of freak out and...it's a hard feeling to explain.

 

most of my answers become: "i know...' "i dont know" "its gonna be okay" "im here for you" "i'm sorry."

i feel like...like i'm not doing a good enough job.

and thoughts start racing through my head:

"i'm such a screwup." 

"wow, you can't even do this right"

"she needs you, and you say that?"

"that was stupid. you shouldn't have said that."

"you're a bad friend."

"say more."

and i get all shaky and my heartbeat speeds up and suddenly my throat feels like it's straining to get air.

but then, she says something like: "you're right", or "thanks for being there for me"

and i nearly start crying out of relief and all the emotion that has built inside of me collapses. i feel drained. and i just manage a small "that's what friends do."

i feel like i'm reacting this way bc i'm a bad friend. i should be more helpful towards her. a good friend wouldn't panic like that. hell, this is probably my fault. i must've done something wrong.

 

but i find this happening more often. i can't just stop talking to her. she's told me...that i'm the only one who listens. i can't just cut her off. i don't want to. 

do i just keep suffering in silence while i help her all the time?

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Re: am i just being a bad friend?

Hey @eloquent, that sounds like a tough situtaion to be in. It sounds like you really care about your friend and want to help, but aren't quite sure how to help and are finding that it leaves you pretty emotionally drained afterwards.

 

To me it actually sounds like you're being a really good friend - sometimes it's not about having the right thing to say, and more about just letting the other person talk and feel heard. I'm not sure if you've read this thread but it has some tips on self care after trying to be helpful to someone on this forum, and I think some of it could be applied to your situation as well.

 

If you're finding it to be too much to take on, or you're getting the feeling that your friend might need more than just your help, one of the things you might want to do is suggest that they talk to a professional like a school counsellor. Or you might like to get help for yourself, to help you through some of the difficulties that come with trying to support someone else. It's absolutely not up to you to "suffer in silence" or helping her all the time - it's important for you to look after you too.

____________________#iftoastershadfeelings____________________
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Re: am i just being a bad friend?

Hi @eloquent, I definitely agree with @Bay52VU in this case – you've demonstrated you're a really good friend. Sometimes it is just a matter of being there for our friends and letting them talk out their problems, worries, and stresses.

 

It's clear your friend really values your support, especially when she says 'thanks for being there for me'. That is definitely something to be proud of and is the kind of thing that makes friendship bonds so strong. I am worried, however, that this 'support role' you suddenly find yourself in is causing you a lot of concern and physical distress. If the nature of your friend's issues are very serious it is important that you don't keep this to yourself and you do encourage her to speak to others, whether that is family, a counsellor, a GP, or support service like eheadspace or Kids Helpline.

 

I would also suggest that you check out RO's article on caring for yourself while caring for others. Putting all your energy into supporting other people can be really draining, and it is completely ok to recognise this and take a step back when you need it. Don't be afraid to speak up when this happens – just let your friend know you need to take a bit of time for self-care. Your friendship will be stronger for you being able to take of your own health first.

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Re: am i just being a bad friend?

I agree with what's been said, in that you are being a good friend, but you also need to look after your own needs with self care. Yes, do encourage your friend to seek trained help, but also take advantage of those avenues yourself. Don't feel you need to suffer alone, seek help yourself from others, including helplines such as Lifeline, Kids Helpline, etc. They will listen to you and offer their support.