Tuesday, November 17, 2015

So, I Have This "Friend" ...

I was out walking my dog a couple of weeks ago when i saw someone I recognized from my home town.  ...


Sorry. He just called.


Anyway, i stopped and he didn't recognize me. Then he did. Then I did. I remembered I didn't really like this guy. He wasn't a bad guy. I just remembered that he irritated me.

He used to go to my high school. A couple of grades below me. I think his sister was in my grade. then we saw each other again at the gym. After a few years of that, he got fairly huge. (Though he's not tall ... 5'7 or 5'8.) But before I left Hamilton he'd let himself go. I remember seeing him looking pretty portly.

So, we talk. He's moved to Toronto. Looking for work. We should get together. We'll see each other around.

We bump into each other again and we have to exchange numbers. (Alternative: I could have refused.)

See, I don't need yet another person i have to walk past in awkward tension.

So, I get a call to come over. Smoke some weed. What the hell. I do. I have weed at home, but I'll be social.

The guy's taste in television is reality tv about yuppies buying houses; teenagers in trouble being "scared straight" by visits to the prison; drug fiends having interventions; and sports.

I've watched more NFL and NHL in the last couple of weeks than I have in the last 5 years.

It comes out: He smokes a lot of pot because he's depressed. He destroyed his hips through work and through (somehow) bodybuilding. He's 100 pounds overweight. He's had both his hips replaced. He's trying to pick up work waiting tables. He has no other job experience. He doesn't know anybody else in Toronto. He's 47, balding, poor and decrepit.

But hey! I go to the gym! We'll go the gym together!

Sure. Why not?

So, he hoarks loogies on the sidewalk all the time. He makes comments about young women's bodies for my consumption that it's entirely possible they can hear. He was staring at some young woman at the gym. (later, he reflected to me on how buff she was and how she could probably beat him up)

When we do dumbbell curls, he says "Curls for the girls!"

I told him not to stare at women on the street. He says: "What am I supposed to stare at? Guys?"

One time; we were watching television, and somehow I started talking about right-wing Margaret Thatcher fans. He mentioned a boss he had who was from Britain. How the guy said all sorts of nasty stuff about "Pakis" and "Niggers" and he (remembering how he'd been called a "Diego" and a "Wop") told him to lay-off that kind of talk around him.

(Side note: This racist British boss had a Chinese wife and had had kids with her! He should be sent to talk to the Anglo-Saxon racists in British Columbia!!!)

So, after every session at the gym, ... Can I come over? Come on! Nah! Come on!

So, I've done it a couple times. A few times. The weed and the booze help to make it semi-interesting for me. I learned a little bit about the economics of pro-wrestling for instance. While high.

He often asks me questions he's asked twice before. He's says things he's said twice before.

Out of the blue one night, he asks me to move in with him. I blurted out: "Fuck off!"

I've got my own bathroom to shit and fart in. I don't need to share the joy.

I told him I couldn't come over after our workout because I had a date. He felt bad. After the workout he asks: "You sure you don't want to come over?" As if I'd cancel a date to smoke weed with this guy from my home town.

People; ... I think this guy is suicidally lonely and depressed. Someone (a woman I know) told me to tell him the truth and that he's not my problem.

But I'm soft-hearted and soft-headed.

But I'm also depressed myself and I'm in no mood to make anyone a "project" to improve them.

What should I do?


Scotian said...

Shit. I know I said I was gone for good, but I saw this post title come up at TGB blogroll and I let curiosity get the better of me. This is an exception to that policy because like you I cannot simply ignore someone with a real problem like this when they ask for help, even when they and I do not tend to get along. So please, please take this in the spirit it is intended, which is genuine, and not in any way coloured by our past history, I promise you I am separating that in this case. On my word.

From what you wrote, I suspect you are right about where this person's headspace is at. I am also presuming from what you wrote that as far as you know you are about the only friend/aquaintence he has where you both live at this point. He clearly seems to be holding onto you like a lifeline, and it seems to me that you know that yourself, which is partly why you cannot bring yourself to just cut it and walk away. Assuming I am reading all this correctly, the short answer is this: Knowing what you know and feeling what you feel, what do you believe you can still look yourself in the mirror with after making the choice of either cutting him out of your life entirely or finding some way to maintain enough connection to him so as to keep him from doing anything "extreme".

Some years back I was faced with this kind of choice, and I chose because of my health issues to separate myself. It wasn't easy and it hurt a lot at the time, but I felt I had no choice, that I simply lacked the stamina to be able to give what this person needed. Some time later I found out that this person suicided. Needless to say I started beating up on myself a hell of a lot for a long time after that, and to this day it is still a bit of a sore spot. However, I still could not change the ugly truth that I simply was not in a position to be able to help them at that time, and that if I had tried I almost certainly would have ended up in the hospital or worse myself. Yet that did not change how responsible I felt, nor the guilt I felt (mind you growing up Roman Catholic didn't help, guilt is the lifeblood of that faith IMHO), and it took me a long time to stop flinching every time I went to shave.

I tried to get that person into alternate social contexts to replace the role I was being cast in and knew I could not continue, but it failed. In the end I could not be there for that person, and rationally I know I made the only choice I could, but the pain of it haunts me still.

So what you need to do is figure out what and where your limits truly are, and if you can live with yourself if you are right and this person takes being cut off by you as the trigger to suicide, whether the cost of trying to continue to aid this person is higher or lower for you, and whether you truly can even if you want to try have the stamina/resources within you to do so. This is not something with any easy answer.

All I can honestly recommend is you must first look within yourself to see what you truly can handle or not, determine what/where that leaves you in terms of this person, and make your decisions accordingly. I'm sorry if this seems like sucky advice, and I hope you are not offended that I chose to offer it given our history, but your comment read to me like someone grappling with a real problem and like you I find turning away from such not an easy choice, even when there is not the best history with that person.

So take it for what it is worth, and take my best wishes for you in this difficult situation, and my hopes for you to find the best path for you that you can.

zoombats said...

The quote from Scotian "for what it's worth" got me to thinking. Have a great Sunday evening and enjoy your space.