Today I thought about my friend Bridgette.
She is one of those friends that really left a footprint on my soul.
When I think of her, I laugh, smile, and sometimes tear up. Happy past times and life changing moments always get me. What can I say, I am a sensitive guy.
I have sat on my balcony picturing the 19 year old me and the 24 year old her hanging out at the hair salon where we use to work. Her eccentric style, short curly hair and loud voice echoed wherever she was. During the first year of our friendship, I had just recently come out of the closet. Being around Bridgette use to make me so nervous at first, her confidence was too much for me and she always said exactly what was on her mind. I remember a specific instance when she told me I needed to change the way I dressed. My tucked in Gap button down, khakis and belt was simply not cutting it.
She would sneak me into these nightclubs where they played electronic/house music and where the DJ was the biggest star of the night. Bridgette was one of those girls that danced like nobody else was in the room, so smooth and so intriguing. I loved the way she danced.
I was inspired to create my own clothes and live a life without thinking about anybody judging me. I use to safety pin my jeans and design t-shirts that I had cut up myself. My hair also had it’s own personality. It was wild, big, and spiky – I used it as a way to express myself.
There were many nights where we would go to the gay bar (partly because we knew I could get in!). Bridgette had introduced me to some of her friends hoping I would meet new people like me. Sadly, these guys did not take an immediate liking to me. They said sassy comments behind my back and were not welcoming in the least. It was hurtful at first but Bridgette stood by my side and told me to never change who I am.
As that year went on, life began to get rocky for Bridgette. Her iron solid confidence started to break and her love for drugs started to grow. I slowly saw my friend turn a dangerous corner into codependency and darkness. This was one of the first times I experienced someone so close to me go through such a downward spiral.
Bridgette disappeared for months on end. I had not heard from her until one day she showed up on my doorstep. There were scabs all over her face and her skinny frame appeared so frail. At that moment, I knew I really lost her.
As some of you may know, being a friend or giving advice to an addict is challenging. There is no rule book on how to love a drug user.
Today, I am so happy and grateful to share that Bridgette is getting professional treatment. I am so proud of her and admire her in a whole new way. I know we will be dancing in her living room again very soon.
Understanding how to deal with a friend’s addiction is flat out difficult. Here are some tips that I learned (and continue to learn) from the experience I had with my friend. I hope you find them helpful and that the person you love finds the strength to get better.
If you notice your friend going down the wrong road than speak up and say something (when they are sober). Tell him/her that you don’t like the way you are being treated or the position you are being placed in.
Don’t always agree to bail your friend out, go to the bar, go gambling, etc. You don’t want to feed into toxic behavior.
Love is the most powerful emotion (to me at least) but learning how to care for an addicted friend needs to be done with balance. You want to show your support but also know when to say “no.” Whether you are being asked for money, or always feeling obligated – learn the skill and assertiveness when you want to say “yes” or “no.”
Read about addiction and support groups. The more you know the better.
No matter what you do, please know you do not have the powers to change an addict. They have to want to change themselves.
#6.) Is An Intervention Needed?
These are some helpful websites to consider.
#7.) Don’t Be Manipulated
Addicts or people that suffer from a type of codependency can be the most tactful manipulators. Stay strong and don’t let them have their way when you know in your heart they are lying to you.
I found a lot of strength talking to God and finding some form of understanding with my friend’s situation. The man upstairs is the best listener.
Addiction is a disease. Don’t let your friend’s self destruction destroy you too. Take care of yourself and know it is OK to walk away.
It is easier said than done but focus on all the other happy parts of your life. Be around positive people, family and others that support your dreams and goals. Don’t lose touch with reality.
The Other Hubby