For the past 20 years I’ve had a close friend at work. He’s around 15 years older than me. Knowing him used to be fun – he was the office Lothario, but his relationships were consensual and with women the same age.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appHowever, as he’s got older, he’s become lazier, tawdrier and more and more obsessed by sex. The women have got younger as he entered his 60s – drunken teenagers, and vulnerable women in their 20s. His drinking has got heavier, and he even received a police caution for a sustained campaign of harassment against a colleague of a married lover – a caution he didn’t declare to his employer.
I realise I’ve simply replicated my behaviour within my own family (alcoholic father, narcissistic mother, drug-addled brother) and excused his transgressions, while casting myself in the role of saviour. I am the “straight man”, listening uncritically to his bad behaviour, and giving him advice, which he nods at sagely, then cheerfully ignores.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appNow he’s had a minor heart attack. I lost my brother to heart disease two years ago: I’d covered up his criminality and addiction for nearly 30 years. I can see I’m simply allowing this person to play the same role, but I can’t get out of it. My friend won’t change his lifestyle – he continues to revel in his drinking and poor self-care. He drives my wife mad – she has her own history of abuse, and is horrified by his misogyny – and taints all my “normal” friendships (as this guy scornfully calls them).
How can I get rid of this albatross, without being crippled by guilt? Why am I more comfortable around sociopaths like this?
kieran, via email
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appAllow me to quote Philip Larkin (suitably redacted for a family newspaper):
They f--- you up, your
mum and dad
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThey may not mean to,
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appbut they do.
They fill you with the
faults they had
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appAnd add some extra, just
I suppose Larkin could have worked in “brother” too, but you get the point.
In fact, you were there before me. It’s obvious from your letter that you know you are simply repeating learnt responses to bad experiences in childhood, adolescence and adulthood, thanks to your dysfunctional upbringing.
There’s a line in Larkin’s third verse: “Get out as early as you can.” Good advice, and it’s never too late to take it. Take your insight in one hand, your courage in the other, and end your friendship with this deeply unpleasant, selfish, narcissistic individual. It’s a relationship that can bring you nothing but grief, and your wife will be so relieved and grateful if you pull the plug on it. Why add to her troubles and pain, anyway? Hasn’t she been through enough? Surely she should be your priority, not this waste of space?
Rid yourself of your albatross, and don’t be afraid to do it. You’re not the Ancient Mariner.