My Workout Buddy Outed Me as a Recovering Alcoholic


Welcome to Friendzone, Jezebel’s column devoted to dealing with the valuable people in your life who you’re not humping. Got an issue and looking for guidance? Email [email protected].

About a year ago, I sought treatment for alcoholism. I shared this with very few people, one of whom was my workout fitness buddy from the office. I figured I saw her all the time and needed to account for some changes in my schedule. I also trusted her as a friend. One day, in front of a co-worker, she tried to talk me out of going to my regular Saturday morning AA meeting so I could do a spin class with her. The co-worker didn’t know I was in AA. I confronted my friend about it, and she was truly horrified and apologetic. I told her I needed a break, and we agreed to work out on our own for a while. Now she’s pressuring me to train with her again, and I still don’t feel comfortable. I don’t know how to tell her no, because I see her every day at work and this seems to be important to her.

First of all, holy wow, congratulations on doing something amazing for yourself (and, by extension, for all those who care about you). I can’t speak from personal experience with a program, but it seems to me that healing an addiction may be one of the toughest and most worthwhile things you can do. I admire you (which may sound weird coming from a stranger, but it’s true).

Now here is an embarrassing personal story that I’ve never shared with anyone (hey, why not put it on Jezebel?) Back in school, I didn’t know much about AA. I asked someone flat-out in front of people whether he was living in a sober dorm because he was in a sobriety program. He looked at me and said, “Um, it’s called Alcoholics Anonymous for a reason.” I felt like a real idiot. I apologized profusely. He forgave me. We moved on. I learned my lesson, and we became buddies. But I wouldn’t have held it against him if he wanted to have nothing to do with me!

Obviously, I can relate to your friend. I can understand her mistake, even. Perhaps it came out of ignorance; perhaps out of selfishness. But what concerns me is that she’s pressuring you to hang out when you’re clearly not ready. Maybe she is trying to do the #1 most unhelpful thing we are taught to do in social settings: pretend everything is okay. Repeat after me: Everything is not okay, and that’s okay. You may even want to tell her this. Tell her quite honestly that while you wish her well (I assume you do), you don’t feel ready to hang out with her again socially. She can deal with that as she wishes, but you’ve got to focus on your own health and well-being right now above all else.

I am close to 30, still single with no children. I’m the only person in my friendship group without kids and/or a husband. Honestly, I don’t think I’m ever going to want kids. I treat my friends’ children like family and love them very much. I have noticed since my friends paired off and became mothers, they no longer seem to hold our friendship in the same regard as before. As you can imagine, this is incredibly painful for me, because my life & my feelings/commitment toward the friendship has not changed. Living in the Bible Belt, I’m the crazy one for not wanting to “lock down” the amazing man in my life. What do I do?

Well, it seems to me like it may be time to make some new friends! I know that’s easy for me to say, but if your current batch of pals doesn’t support and nourish your life and well-being, I say back away from them. I know this isn’t an easy fix, and I don’t expect you to dump your friends altogether. But your life would be enriched by hanging out with other child-free folks and making friends who understand or at least affirm your life choices. Seek people out through online meet-ups and groups – make an effort to make friends based on mutual interests, not on family obligation or on long-expired school connections.

As for dealing with the ones you’ve got, I’d kindly and calmly speak to each person one-on-one if possible. Start with the person who matters most to you, and work your way through pals until you hit the ones who mean nothing to you. They don’t really require your attention, anyway, so don’t even bother talking to them.

The ones that do matter need to understand that your life is full and exciting and fun and interesting and delightful without kiddos running around. It may be difficult for them to admit this, particularly if they’re secretly unhappy with their own lives. Don’t expect anyone to suddenly proclaim, “I see the light! I was wrong to judge you!” But look at how they behave after you give them a little talk. If they seem to be consciously trying to change their ways, that’s wonderful. Even if they fall short sometimes, at least they’re making an effort.

If, however, some buddies simply have no idea how to deal with someone who hasn’t made the exact same life choices as them, well, I say you ought to stop wasting your time. They don’t deserve you.

Years ago, my friend met a real jerk. I told her not to date him, but she did. Fast-forward five years and now they’re divorced. I was right about that guy, and she seems to resent me for it. She’s on the prowl for one-night stands and all that. I know she’s having fun, but I see her making bad choices. Our relationship has devolved to the point where I’m the nagging mom and she’s the sulking teenager. We barely talk except for innocent, cute little Facebook comments that don’t reflect our true feelings. We’ve been best friends since childhood. What do I do to save this?

I was talking to my therapist the other day and she said that some of us have a rebellious teenager inside us who automatically says, “I’ll show YOU! You can’t tell me what to do!” whenever a fellow adult gives us a talking-to. It sounds like this gal’s inner rebellious teen comes alive when you two have a conversation about romance.

I know you care about her, but you’re not her mommy. And even if you were, she’s an adult. Bite your tongue the next time you feel the urge to nag her, scold her, shame her or blame her. If you were getting through to her, I might tell you to keep on keepin’ on, but it sounds as if you’re just getting on her nerves. And recognize that while you love her very much, you don’t have the monopoly on right answers. None of us does, not even your friendly local advice columnist. Maybe these one-night stands and adventures are exactly what she needs after a crappy marriage. Just a thought.

Anyway, I think you should give the friendship a little more breathing room and time, then consider inviting her to do something light like watch a movie or go roller-skating or ride unicorns or make mudpies. Do something fun and entertaining that doesn’t involve you analyzing her love life.

Image via Getty.

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