A "shoot" from my former best friend of 21 years (warning: long, and may be TMI)

Hello all,

Last night I got the following e-mail from my former best friend of 21 years, since we were in first grade. I say “former” because I noticed us growing apart recently, to the point where he was no longer very open about anything going on in his life (we live in different cities), and I hadn’t even heard from him for months. I e-mailed him about a month ago asking what was going on, why he had cut me out of the loop, what went wrong. After some more silence, I got the following reply. I apologize for posting such personal information, but I’m really taking it hard right now, especially because I have other stuff on my plate (which you’ll soon find out). There is some truth to what he says, perhaps more than I’m comfortable with, but I also see it as overly harsh, and a betrayal. And then I feel guilty for thinking that! But essentially, I don’t think there’s any doubt that our strong friendship has pretty much run its course, and that’s never a fun realization. I’m sorry to vent and burden everyone. I know we all have our own problems. :frowning:

To clarify my subject line, in pro wrestling, when a wrestler deviates from the practiced script and cuts a very harsh, scathing promo on someone he truly doesn’t like in real life, that is called a “shoot,” as opposed to a “work,” where any kind of tension or confrontation is scripted. This was definitely a shoot.

Lou, I so wish I could say something to make you feel better about this. That was a pretty harsh email… even worse than no response at all.

It sounds like you two are just not on the same frequency. I’ve had that happen with a lot of my old friends. Doesn’t matter who’s “fault” it is. Sometimes you just have to move on.

I feel for you.

uh, that would be whose. christ.

Lou, I’m sorry for you. This dude has truly given up on your friendship, and that hurts a lot, I know.

That said, regardless of the harshness, he spoke his truth. For all intents and purposes, what he said about you is real. I’ve been on the receiving end of relentless sarcasm and perceived cheap shots, and I know how it wears a person down. In this case, it seems that it’s worn the person down enough that he really doesn’t care for you anymore.

I hope you can take this opportunity to take a very close look at your side of the street. It’s clear that he perceives your part in the relationship as taking but not giving, complaining and ostensibly seeking advice but not listening, and essentially repeating yourself over and over. When you think about this, try very hard to stay away from “Yes, but.” Don’t play the game of rationalizing your behavior, or saying “Well he does this,” or anything like that. Be brutally honest with yourself and say “what is it that I do that consistently deflects and demeans this person’s words and feelings?”

It’s possible that he has done you a big favor. And it’s possible that your freindship, if you really want it to continue, can be mended. But remember, because he honestly believes the things he wrote, they are essentially a reality. Face up to them, and if you want, take them back to him and really listen this time. Acknowledge his truth and apply it to the friendship. He’s being passive as hell about it, but perhaps he feels that he’s tried to talk about these things with you and was shot down.

Good luck, man.

Lou - I believe that you’ve posted about your depression in the past - please take what I’m about to say in the positive way in which I intend it…

Sometimes, when a person is depressed, really, really depressed, they become an emotional sink on their friends and family. It’s possible that your friend feels that your relationship has become one-sided with him doing all the supporting, and you doing all the taking. Regardless of if you think this is true, his e-mail suggests that he thinks it is. Supporting a person who is deeply depressed can put a huge strain on a person and it sounds like the strain has finally got to be too much for him.

I don’t know what sort of place you’re in right now, and I don’t know how emotionally fragile you’re feeling, but I hope that you can use this e-mail as a jumping off place for feeling better.

I think that depression can be like a lot of other things - it’s rotten, but in some ways it works. Maybe this is the sign that it’s stopped working for you and you may be in a place to help yourself.

hugs Lou very much That was horrid–truly awful. Hope that missive finds a comfy place in your trash bin.

I’ve had a good friend for the last 13 years whom I’ve been wanting to say similar things to for awhile, so I can definitely relate to the letter-writer.

On the other hand, I haven’t sent my letter (or said much in person) because my friend wouldn’t understand, or care, or change whatsoever. He would just fire back a quick email full of misspelled curse-words and be done with our friendship without ever looking back much; all this in the face of the fact that I’m his only long-term friend that didn’t tell him to fuck off and quit talking to him years ago.

You, on the other hand, seem to have taken this to heart. That’s almost surely a good thing, and evidence that your friendship might actually be salvageable, despite how he closed his missive.

One thing that confused me - because you were sounding A LOT like my aforementioned friend before this part - was that you’re taking the bar. Correct me if I’m wrong but don’t you have to finish law school before you take the bar? That’s no easy task and something that I wouldn’t guess was accomplishable for the person your friend describes in his letter. The last grade my friend completed was the 8th. He’s 24 years old now.

I don’t know you, or your situation, but from my perspective that email, while painful to read was no doubt even more painful to write. To me it sounds like an email from somebody who loves you very much, but simply has no resources left with which to help you. It would have been kinder to say so before becoming non-responsive but I don’t think that was intentional. People usually believe that the expedient course is actually the kinder one. They’re wrong, but they believe it. I hope that things improve for you, and that this friendship can be salvaged. I think that a good friend is a horrible thing to waste.

Damnit, your post was not there when I opened this thread. I thought I was getting a rare chance to use one of my favorite words.

Sorry, I’ll let you use it next time. :wink:

I did finish law school.


I’m really sorry you’re friendship has gotten this bad. I don’t really know what to say. I don’t think a hug and advice to throw throw the letter away and forget about it is the healthiest thing for you right now (and I think you know that, which is a good thing), but I also don’t want to sound like a jerk. I wish you the best.

I have to side with those posters supporting you in really listening to what is being said in that letter. I did not get the impression that he was attacking you in the slightest, only making a last ditch effort to get you to see something about yourself that you have refused to see for a long time.

I did the same thing with a friend last year, after several years of watching her life go down hill, her getting more and more miserable, and constantly blame everyone in her life except herself for it all. My every effort to help her was shot down, argued against, or just plain ignored. Finally after months of growing apart, I did just what your friend did and wrote a long letter, just as strong, emotional, and (possibly) accusatory as your letter. I really didn’t know if it would be the end of our friendship.

I got lucky. It opened her eyes, she took a few chances, got the help she needed, stopped blaming others, and finally took responsibility for her life. … Of course she also divorced her husband in the process, but they actually get along better now than they did for the several years previous to this. She’s alive again instead of just surviving life.

Anyway, that doesn’t have to do with you and your situation. But I hope it helps you to really listen to what your friend said and think about it without dismissing it out of hand.

Best of luck.

Wow. Your friend’s letter was amazing. He recognizes something in you that I recognize in myself, and have tried to change.

I obviously do not know you, but I would not discard what he wrote. You may be part of a class of people that has unlimited potential, but persists in seeing the darker side of everything, believing that you cannot catch the right breaks, cannot be successful like others, etc. Social maladaptation comes from exactly what he said, secretly envying/hating successful people, and intentionally befriending the less successful/similarly positioned to avoid moving up and having a common base to commiserate with.

I obviously don’t know if he is right about you and your circumstances, but I’m betting (as you even admitted) that there is some truth there.

This guy is really trying to help you. Even this “nasty” letter is far more of a last chance to get you to see the light than a “Fuck you.”

Lou, you may not know this, but you are one of my favorite Dopers. I’ll read threads just because you’ve posted there. Good heavens, I even read your wrestling thread! I remember we’ve had an exchange before about how conflicted you are about being a lawyer; I told you then, and I’ll reiterate, that what you’re going through is entirely normal for most junior lawyers.

Now, what follows is free advice, and you should be mindful that you get what you pay for. :wink:

Your friend clearly loves you; you have a long history together, and I urge you not to throw that away. Sometimes the hard part of friendship is telling your friend the truth. My WAG is that one of the reasons you posted his email, instead of just putting it in the circular file, is that it resonated with you. There were likely elements of truth in it, if not wholesale truth.

The gist of his email is this: you are an incredibly smart person, and a great friend, but you sabotage yourself. He no longer wants to be a part of that sabotage, because (see, infra) he thinks that you are an incredibly smart person and a great friend.

You have two choices, and I urge you to make the second one. You could write off his friendship and continue as you are, or you could take this opportunity to examine whether he has made any valid points and try to change yourself. This isn’t easy. In fact, it may be near impossible. Nevertheless, my advice (see value of said advice, infra) is as follows:
[ul]Every day, every time you begin to feel as if you’re not good enough, or smart enough, or well-prepared enough, or experienced enough, stop. Remind yourself that you got through law school and got a job as an attorney – something that a large portion of the populace could not do or has not done. You’re already in an elite group, and you should remind yourself that you got there through the sweat of your brow and your brains and hard work.*****[/ul]
[ul]You are not alone. Really. All of us who are lawyers (and, I’ll wager, just about everyone else here who entered a profession) have been where you are. So, really, you’re not special. :wink: [/ul]
[ul]It sounds like you’re worried about passing the bar. So make a plan and stick to it. This is the Fourth of July weekend – the time when, traditionally, bar takers around the nation panic and begin to buckle down to studying. So make a plan to study: set aside five hours a day to do it. Get up an hour earlier, and do an hour. Bring your books to work; on your lunch break, do an hour. Every evening, when you get home, take a practice test. Every single day, you should do at least one-half session (hour and a half) of the MBE and write two or three essays. (I’m guessing Florida is on the MBE and essays.) If you fall behind, just pick yourself up and dig in where you are.[/ul]
[ul]You can do this. Your friend, who knows you far better than anyone on this board, thinks you can. I think you can, and so does everyone here. Believe in yourself, as hard as that sounds, for the next month.[/ul]
One of the problems, I think, is that we junior lawyers simply don’t have the experience that people ten years ahead of us do. We need to get in the habit of doing what they do: project confidence, and absorb information like a sponge.

Lou, I’m rooting for you. I’m hoping that you take this chance to try, that’s all, just try for the next three weeks. I know you can do it. Your friend knows you can. And if you need more encouragement, my email’s in my profile. I’m happy to keep you honest and email you every day to make sure you’re keeping up on things.

*****Stop it. Right now. You did.

Lou, I’ve been thinking all day about what to say to you (I read the OP before there were any replies), and now several others have said most of what I was thinking: while I agree that the e-mail was an incredibly hard thing to read, I don’t believe that it was overly harsh. To repeat a little more, it sounds like it was written by someone who loves you very much. (I’ll also second what Campion said about you being one of her favorite Dopers.) But, what I want to add is that I don’t think you should count on being able to salvage this friendship. Even if you were to start changing for the better right now, I think that your friend is worn out. He’s done. He’s given all he can, and he feels like he’s been hurt as much as he can stand. If I’m right, please, please try not to hate him because of it.

A little personal story sharing, but I swear there’s a point at the end: In 2001, I lost my best friend of 16 years. To this day, I am still not sure exactly what happened. All I know is that whatever was wrong first surfaced on Memorial Day weekend, and 4 months later I finally had to accept that I no longer had Kara in my life. I feel like she went a little crazy, and no matter what I said or did she would not let me help her. By the end of that summer I just couldn’t take any more of her anger and insults, and I stopped trying to reach out to her. A friendship that had begun in our freshman year of high school was over, within a matter of months.

Anyway, here comes the point that I promised: about a month after what I considered “the end,” she called me to say that she had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She refused to acknowledge that this illness might have been behind some of her behaviour, and she expected me to just forget everything and rush to be at her side. Well, I didn’t do it – I couldn’t do it. By then I no longer trusted her at all (and for me love cannot exist without trust), and I felt that there was absolutely no friendship left: I simply could not pretend that nothing had happened because she was sick, and that’s what she wanted me to do. Yes, 4 years later I still feel a little conflicted about it, but my point is to tell you that even if you change, your friend just might be too emotionally and physically worn out to be there for you anymore.

And that sucks – for both of you – more than words can ever say. :frowning:

Now that I’ve said my piece, I can only empathize (not only because of the situation I just described, but last summer I had another friend call it quits; I kind of knew that one was over, but it still hurt) . . . and tell you that the offer for that jazz club is still open if you ever find yourself up here.

Whether it seems so or not, that is a letter written by someone who loves you very, very much. It’s meant to be an eye opener and came from the heart. I’m sure it hurts terribly to read it, but honestly I can’t imagine the pain it caused to write it.

He’s reaching out to you. My advice is to not see it as an uncompromising dismissal. It’s not. It’s hard advice, but you’re simply going to have to get your depressed head out of your depressed ass and go reclaim your friendship (:))

If you care enough to do it.

And don’t listen to quite so much Tom Waits. His is not generally a bright outlook on life.

I vote for caring but frustrated friend writing one of the toughest e-mails of his life. I don’t know you, and I don’t know if he’s right about you, but he comes across as completely sincere. Like others have said, even if you can’t salvage the friendship, please do take a good look at your past behaviour and see if you can see where he’s coming from; if you can, I suggest it would be timing to consider changing your behaviour.