Carolyn: I was supposed to go on a trip with some friends that just worked out to be a couples' trip, consisting of four pairs sharing a house. Then I broke up with my boyfriend.
A trip with friends is probably just what I need, but (perhaps I'm being a baby) I'm nervous about how I will feel being surrounded by all those happy couples. What do you think - go or bail?
Part of this is about your friends, who have it in their power not to treat you as "other." Presumably you know at least some of them well enough to project how (un)fazed they'll be about this.
The bigger part is about you. Being the single around a bunch of couples can be liberating, if you let it.
Also, if these couples are generally happy together, their company can create a relatively tension-free environment.
Dear Carolyn: We are a group of women who have supported each other for 10-plus years. One member is clearly suffering from increasingly frequent symptoms of mental illness, unable to hold a job and complaining a lot about insomnia and sometimes a desire to kill herself - though she insists she won't do it. She has been in therapy but changes frequently.
Lately, she's been saying it isn't worth the cost and she will just rely on our group. This expectation feels beyond what we can do for her.
I am avoiding the group lately because of her overwhelming issues - and really miss it.
You do need to speak up, specifically about not being available to this member as a replacement for therapy.
You can do this without ganging up by responding publicly to what "she's been saying" - and I mean to the whole group, including her: "I am not a mental-health professional, and I am not qualified to replace your therapist. Out of love for you, I will not be the place you bring things that are rightly brought to someone qualified to help you."
If you're not sure about this, call the NAMI help line, (800) 950-6264. (www.nami.org)
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