You Must Draw the Line
Dear Annie: I have a friend who is of Pentecostal faith while I'm of Catholic faith. She monopolizes the conversation on her religion and doesn't allow me to talk. I hate being preached to, and she has nothing else that interests her but reading her Bible and preaching.
She complains that no one calls her or visits her. It has been nine years since she lost her best friend, mother and brother, who was also her boss, which meant she lost her job as well -- all within a three-month period. She keeps bringing this up every time we talk. I suggested that she might be severely depressed and should consider getting professional help. She replied that she is not depressed and, if she were, she can't afford it.
Having been a care provider, I see that she is having issues just doing the day-to-day duties and suggested she might find an assisted care facility that would help her. She claims to either have too much money for that or not enough money for that. She is going downhill but doesn't want help, won't move and complains that no one comes to see her. I suggested that she hold Bible study at her house, but she said she can't do it. I offer to bring her devotional readings, puzzles and a few other things to keep her busy, but she refuses it.
She was on the phone with me yesterday for 2.5 hours, preaching to me 99% of the time. She is not open to change, and I don't want to be in contact with her, for I'm physically drained after we talk. She knows nothing about what's going on in my life, and doesn't care. What do you suggest I do? -- Exhausted and Worried Friend
Dear Exhausted and Worried Friend: First things first: You must set boundaries with her. Two and a half hours of being preached at over the phone is way too much. It is not healthy for either of you. Conversation and friendship should be a two-way street. It sounds like your friend is depressed or has some type of mental decline, given that she is having trouble with day-to-day activities. You are right to be concerned and try to get her help. If she won't listen to you, perhaps you could reach out to one of her family members and express your concerns.
In the end, she has to want help. I know she is rejecting your efforts now, but once you get firm with her on your own boundaries, she might miss you as a friend and be more inclined to take you up on the puzzles or devotional readings.
Dear Annie: Please tell Still Hurting and all your readers who are suffering emotional pain from child abuse, or any kind of abuse, that a therapist with Internal Family Systems training can coach them through the trauma to a happier place. I had a great deal of success with it.
Thank you for your compassionate caring! -- Feeling Better
Dear Feeling Better: Thank you for your letter. I commend you for trying therapy and finding your happier place.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette - is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.