Dear Wendy: “Should I Reach Out To The Friend I Dumped?”

I am somewhat of a loner, so I really value the few friendships that I do have. A year ago at this time, I had three good girlfriends: Kay, Sid and Jan. Kay and I are both single, Sid and Jan are both married. I have always known that Sid is a somewhat unstable person, but last winter she did something inexcusable. She took our friend Jan out for a night on the town, they both got drunk, and Sid offered her up to some military men on leave, telling them “her husband cheated on her, she needs to get laid” (not true, her husband was on a business trip). She willingly let a group of unknown, potentially violent men abduct Jan into their vehicle. Jan was seriously disoriented, frightened, and only got away by faking that she had to pee and running for it out the side their car. She got in touch with me the next day, telling me not to go out with Sid on my own ever. I completely sided with Jan, was disgusted by the danger that Sid put her in, and cut off contact her.

It’s been about seven months since then. Sid now lives several hours away and has not been in contact with any of us who live here. I have not forgiven her for what she did to my friend, but I want to reestablish contact with her. I know she was really messed up at the time, and I don’t want to have to cut her out of my life forever for one big mistake. I don’t come by friends easily and I’m not sure I want to lose this person forever. But I also don’t want to act like I’m condoning what she did to Jan, and I don’t want it to get back to Jan that I am in touch with Sid, because she is still shaken by the whole thing. Should I cut my losses and not count Sid as a friend anymore? — Disgusted Friend

Maybe you’ve left out important details of the story or perhaps I’m not quite following the tale, but something smells pretty fishy here. First of all, your friend Jan — the one who was “abducted” by a group of horny military men — is a grown woman, right? So, if both she and Sid were out on the town, why was Sid, the “somewhat unstable” friend in the group, responsible for Jan? I get that Jan was drunk, but you said Sid was, too, and shouldn’t a grown woman know to either: A) stay sober enough that she isn’t offered up to a group of men like a juicy cheeseburger, or B) stay away from a friend who would put her in danger if she was too drunk to take care of herself?

I guess that leads me to my next question: If you’re to believe Jan’s story, which it seems like you do without even bothering to hear Sid’s side, why would you want to be friends with a woman who is as careless and potentially deranged as Sid? You’ve already said she’s unstable, you’re disgusted by her behavior, you haven’t forgiven her for what she’s done. So … why reestablish contact seven months later? Are you really so lonely and desperate for friends that you want to reach out to someone you have so many issues with? And even if you’ve decided you’re willing to forgive Sid, what makes you think she’d forgive you? You cut her off! From what I’m gathering from your letter — and, again, maybe you’ve left out important details — you turned your back on her without letting her explain, which means you’re either a pretty bad friend yourself, or Sid truly is so unstable that the story Jan told you is believable. Either way, I don’t see much potential for a happy relationship between the two of you. Best to cut your losses and leave Sid alone.

My best friend’s dad is dying from cancer in his late 40s. The doctors finally stopped his chemo treatments after 15 months and gave him a couple weeks before he passes. The cancer hit fast and within a month of discovery, it had spread pretty drastically through his body so it feels almost unreal that this is all happening. I consider my best friend for the past 11 years like a brother to me and his dad has always been there for both us when we needed help. I feel completely terrible that when the cancer was first discovered, I kind of disappeared for the first couple months of chemo. I usually have a hopeful outlook on life but could not handle how hopeless the situation was getting. I have been there as much as I can since then and will continue to be until the end but I feel guilty that I abandoned my friend at the worst of times. I still feel like I owe my best friend an apology for my disappearing act but have waited because I feel it’s not as important as everything else going on. I’m still lost on it all and really have never dealt with an impending loss that’s this close in my life. Any advice what to do and how to handle things to come? What do I say to my best friend and his dad? — Lost In Grief

I’m so sorry your friend’s father, whom I’m sure you feel close to yourself, is slipping away. It’s never easy to imagine saying goodbye to someone we love and care about, especially someone so young. Don’t beat yourself up about “kind of disappearing” when you first heard the news. This is heavy stuff and if you’re back in the picture now, it certainly isn’t the end of the world that you got a little freaked out at first and needed your own space to process your feelings. The important thing is you’re there for your friend now and you still have time to tell his father how much he means to you. It doesn’t matter what words you say, as long as they’re from your heart. Tell this man who has always been there for you when you needed help how grateful you are to have known him, how much you’ve learned from him, and how much you’ll miss him when he’s gone. Tell him you love his son like a brother and you promise to always be a friend to him in the future. I imagine that’s what a father wants to hear when he’s about to leave this physical world — that the people he’s leaving behind will take care of each other and be there for one another and help keep his memory alive. So, tell him — and your friend — they can count on you. Being there in the end, as you are, will make up for disappearing a little bit in the beginning. And if you still feel like it doesn’t, you can apologize to your friend after he — and you — have both had some time to grieve the loss of his father.

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