The good, the bad, and the ugly

On Friday evening I was given the opportunity to help a guy in AA.  It felt wonderful to be able to help somebody without having any hidden agendas about how this might serve me, or what I might get out of it.  I’m just glad somebody was able to help this guy.

On the same evening I found out that some people who I’ve been close with, relapsed.  It makes me sad to see people struggle with addiction.  Prior to beginning my own recovery I looked at addicts and alcoholics as weak.  Little did I know it’s not something that you can fight on your own.  I’d equate it to the U.S. attacking Costa Rica – it’s simply not a fair fight.  Costa Rica would have to enlist the help of other nations to defend itself, just like I have to enlist the help of others to help myself.

Unfortunately, these people don’t seem to want help, or are too wrapped up in their addictions to accept it.  I pray that they do not have to hit another bottom before they come back to the rooms.  Alcoholism / Addiction can wreak a lot of havoc on a person and those around them – it’s not pretty.

Tonight I went to another meeting. An NA meeting that really has a lot of good energy.  I left the meeting in good spirits, dropped off Jim, and then came home.  After arriving home, I ended up having a very hard conversation with somebody that I care a lot about.  It’s a conversation that I’ve been dreading.  One of those conversations that you know isn’t going to go well, no matter what sort of PR spin you put on it.

And it didn’t go well.

It deals with an issue I touched on a few months back – doing business with friends.  This person has been a good friend to me, and I them, for years.  I’d like to think that we’ve both benefitted from being in each other’s lives.  Unfortunately, we made the mistake of doing some business together, and that business is now coming to an end and we’re faced with some tough decisions.

I have a decision to make, with a couple of options.

Option one has me doing what I believe will give me what I’m owed, what I’ve earned, and what I deserve.  But it does not leave the friend happy – and our friendship will end on a bad note.

Option two has me sacrificing what I believe I’m owed, in favor of preserving the friendship.

But I’m afraid the damage has already been done.  The conversation was broached and there was no turning back.  I had to state my opinion as to how to proceed.  The friend was hurt, and now I feel terrible about the way things have played out.  Circumstances, events, energy forces, coincidences, etc., have brought us to this point.  Some things that we could have avoided, others that we could not have.  But here we find ourselves.

I am afraid that just by stating my opinion, I may have already irreperably damaged the relationship.  That even if I do sacrifice and go with option two, the friendship may be over.

I want to do the right thing, but I’m not sure what that is.  I’ll pray tonight that we can find a compromise that we can both be happy with.

12 thoughts on “The good, the bad, and the ugly

  1. Prayer and meditation is certainly necessary for the answer.

    Besides that, is there someone else to talk it over with; someone who may have gone through this experience?

  2. I hope your friends find the strenght to do the right thing. They are lucky to have a friend like you. On the other note, I hope you have the strenght to do the right thing. Good luck.

  3. I just went throught the same thing with a friend I had for 20 years. It sucks, but it’s better to deal with friends honestly than to nurse a grudge. That only poisons the whole thing. Hard as it is, go for truth.

  4. For a period of 3 years or so, it seems like I was a magnet for people with addictions, so I got to see first hand how it can destroy someone’s life and manage to make others lives hell too. I learned the hard way that no matter how you want to help someone, they’re the only one that can decide to go in a different direction. Its heartbreaking to watch someone you care about destroy themselves.

    On the issue with your friend, I’ve been in situation where I’ve had friends who’ve owed significant amounts of money, and at a time I really needed the cash, no less. In the end, I chose to write off the cash in favor of the friendship, and I’ve had no regrets. I just took that as a lesson not to get in that situation again. Still, I can definitely see the other side of things in your situation.

    One thing to keep in mind is that sometimes relationships end for a reason, despite our best efforts. It sounds like that maybe that is what is going on here. I guess the best thing may be to just bless the whole thing and let your friend go with love, if that is his choice. Ultimately, everyone has to walk their own path and sometimes it means letting people go.

  5. As the partner of a BF who relapsed several times before dedicating his full energies to working the program I know first hand that the choice must come from within the individual. Nothing I said or did had any influence over his drinking; a ‘light’ finally went on and he’s nearing a three year sobriety date soon. It’s all good. RE: business with friends: if by discussion you already feel the friendship is damaged beyond repair I’d say get what’s due you. If this is someone you’d like to continue a relationship with though–chalk it up as a loss and a learning experience. Sometimes I bend my “rules” for true friends. But it still sucks to not get what’s due me; basically I stopped doing graphic design for friends a few years ago.

  6. I have to say that I can’t honestly understand the in’s and out’s of an addiction as I’ve personally always thought it was just a matter of will power or self control. When I say that, I don’t mean to diminish what you or anyone else has or is going throught. I really do believe it’s a difficult thing to overcome and I’ve watched some good friends suffer from it in the past. It’s great that you can be there to help someone out and for those that have relapsed, they are going to have a difficult struggle ahead of them and hopefully they can find a friend like you to help. I’d sure like to know there was someone like you on my side if I needed help, but unfortunatly I think for most people it’s easier to just turn your back and not watch. Thanks for taking the time to explain your feelings and your challanges, it certainly helps me to understand this a little better.

    As for doing business with friends, my partner and I have a company with our 2 best friends and I have a feeling we’re going to be going through the same thing very shortly. They always say don’t do business with friends, but every believes their friendship is strong enough to handle it, unfortunatly it’s not until it’s too late that you find out it wasn’t.

    Have a great week Dan!

  7. Thanks, everyone for your insights on the friends and business ordeal. We came to a semi-conclusion this evening. Basically I turned it over and gave the friend what he wanted. I figured it was the right thing to do and that the friendship was more important than money.

    Rich, thanks for commenting. I, too, thought that alcoholism and addiction were simple matters of willpower. Man was I wrong. It wasn’t until my life got to a point where things were so bad and I couldn’t stop drinking, even though it was completely destroying my life, that I reached out for help and found out there were others going through the same things as me.

    There’s a passage in the AA Big Book that talks about the disease and explains it with a simple analogy. Basically, your life becomes unmanagable based on the choices you make. Those choices, to continue drinking, using, whatever, are causing bad things to happen, but you continue to do it in spite of the consequences. The analogy the book makes compares the insanity to a chronic jay-walker. Somebody who jaywalks regardless of how many times cars hit them, or how much pain they suffer – they just can’t stop jaywalking.

    Maybe a bit silly, but it’s quite descriptive of the disease.

  8. A lot of good thougths in this entry Dan. It’s nice to read something serious for a change.

    Here’s my advice to you about your relationship with your friend: doing the thing that you feel is right for yourself is nearly almost always right for the relationship. The only way to have an honest relationship is to act honestly within it.

    If you feel that somehow your had a misunderstanding and were not treated as you felt you should be treated, you have an obligation to honesty to mention it. This goes for friends, lovers, and business partners.

  9. Hey Dan,

    I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. I don’t know much about going into business with friends, but I do know some of the frustrations of caring about people who don’t want help.

    On a side note, can you shoot me an email? I’d like to talk about some personal stuff.

    Brad 🙂

  10. I don’t really understand alcoholism – for me. I guess it’s because I don’t like getting sick from drinking too much, so I drink enough to be merry and I’d stop. Also, for me, my rational self wouldn’t let me indulge to the point of alcoholism. I do want to understand it better though because it’d be useful for me to empathise with friends who are struggling.

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