The Friendzone: Bratty Kids and Post-Suicidal Friendships


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].

I have a great friend who I love. We always have fun together. The problem is, I don’t like her kid. The child throws tantrums all the time, shouts, is really rude to everyone including my friend, steals and does mean things to my kid. I don’t know how such a great person can be raising such a brat. I try and make time with my friend while our kids are school, but always decline when she wants to do stuff with our kids together. I feel guilty but don’t know how to tell her that as much as I love her, her kid makes me cringe.

Children are people too, which means they can suck. I’m glad you don’t subject your child to the vicious imp’s nastiness just so that you can save face with your friend.

I think you’re doing exactly what you need to be doing, my dear. It is possible that her kid will grow out of being an asshole and will become a lovely teenager. Let us hold out hope for such a transformation, but in the meantime, keep your offspring away from this hellspawn.

In the event that you cannot avoid such an interaction between your children, see how the other kid behaves. If the kid pulls some mean crap on your child, tell the mother. At that point, you may wish to open up a discussion about other disturbing things the kiddo has done. Speak to her from a point of concern about the child’s reasons for acting out. If she gets defensive or goes on a mama bear attack, drop it. You can’t force her to be a different kind of parent, and you can’t force her child to be a different kind of kid.

I’m wondering whether I should reach out to a former friend I haven’t been in touch with for a while. There were various issues over the years (i.e. I didn’t get along with her abusive ex-boyfriend, she didn’t like my mom) but it culminated in her dropping out of my wedding party and stirring up some drama with another bridesmaid on her way out. I still invited her to the wedding, which she came to, but I later found out that she continued to speak badly about me to mutual friends during my wedding (and afterward) and hooked up with my ex-boyfriend. I’m happily married, but I wish she had told me directly so I didn’t have to hear about it from other people. Still, I miss her. Should I try to contact her?

Sometimes people remove themselves from our lives and leave a gap. And sometimes we’re so used to something being in that empty space, that we’re tempted to try and fill it back up so things can be “normal” again. In this case, it sounds to me as if “normal” equals “pretty crappy.”

This chick didn’t like your mom, fucked up your wedding, and talked shit about you? She doesn’t sound trustworthy, she doesn’t sound kind, and she sure as hell doesn’t sound like suitable friend material. It’s time for you to move on and focus on nurturing relationships with people who treat you with respect and love. I don’t know why you’re still drawn to her, but as I’m sure your other friends (and perhaps your husband, who probably had a front row seat to the drama) would tell you, it doesn’t sound like a healthy attraction. Maybe you long for the good old days, when things were happy between the two of you. But those days are over, and there’s no sense in a futile attempt to recapture old glory. Take the energy of missing her and use it to grow other, better relationships in your life.

I tried to commit suicide in November. The person who I talked to while I was taking the pills (Samantha) lives on the East Coast, while I live on the West Coast. She called a friend that I had been drifting away from (Callie) to help me. She called the ambulance and picked me up from the hospital the next day. I was mad at Samantha and Callie for a few days after. Callie took it personally and our friendship ended by my choice. Was I wrong? She seemed very hurt by my initial reaction.

First things first: I’m glad you stuck around.

A long time ago, after I went through a suicidal phase that involved a trip to the hospital, I decided that the secret of life is mostly just to stick around. You don’t have to like it and you don’t have to be happy. You just have to stick around. You have to stick around because chances are things are going to get better, and if you don’t stick around you’ll never see them change. You have to stick around because someone’s life is made better by your existence, even if you don’t know it. The guy at the magazine shop might depend on your smile to get him through his Wednesday afternoon. Your dentist might be glad to see you because you look like her long-lost best friend, the one she wishes she still talked to. Hell, maybe there’s a dog that loves to greet you on your morning walk to work. You have no idea what far-reaching effect your life has on the people (and other creatures) with whom you come into even the briefest contact. I’m not even talking about the people who love you, the ones who are deeply invested in your sticking around.

Callie and Samantha, by the way, fit into the latter category. What they did was a great act of love. You may not be able to see it right now, because you’re about six months out from trying to die, and the storm is probably still raging around you. Maybe it’s been helped by therapy or medication or both (you are seeing your psychiatrist, right?) but no one is completely out of the woods six months after a suicide attempt.

Look, I know visiting the hospital is lame. Depending on your experience, it can qualify as a trauma in and of itself. You have to see the intake nurse, the social worker, the psychiatrist and like sixteen other people. The lights are bright and sometimes the temperature’s too hot or too cold. The little cups of water they give you always manage to taste like plastic. When you’re there for a psych visit, there is frequently someone freaking out loudly (or maybe the someone is you). Sometimes the meds make you feel strange. Sometimes the care providers are insensitive or inefficient.

Now I don’t know you personally. But here’s what I think: I think you wanted someone to help you. I think you knew Samantha was a good friend, and that she wouldn’t sit idly by and listen to you poison yourself. I think it was an enormous act of courage for you to speak out and tell her what you were doing. I think it was an equally huge act of courage for her to call a friend for assistance. And Callie really did you a good turn by coming and getting you.

I have a Callie and a Samantha. Their names are Alexandra and Katherine. They are among my best friends because they told my parents what I was up to. They did it behind my back, and my parents didn’t tell me about it for a few years. You know why? My mom and dad knew I’d be pissed at my friends, just like you are at yours! Even or perhaps especially when we are suicidal, we are still people who want to have the ultimate control over our lives. It feels shitty to be powerless for a moment. But in actuality your friends returned your power to you by helping you to live.

About ten years ago, I really wanted to die -– or I thought I did. And you know what? Now my life fucking rocks. I’m not bragging. I’m telling you this so you know that it is possible for things to get better. I’m not rich or famous or thin or any of those things that are supposed to bring happiness. But I’m alive. And if I can do it, you can do it.

Go easy on Callie and Samantha. If you need distance, take it. But recognize that they violated your trust in order to save your life. You don’t ever have to be friends with them again.

But you do have to stick around.

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