Dear Ann Cannon • I am a married mother of two in my mid-30s. I have a friend (who has been my friend since middle school and one-time college roommate) who unfortunately is addicted to pain pills (and now opioids) after a couple of botched surgeries. I have tried to be a supportive friend, encouraging her to get help, etc., but the situation has spiraled out of control. I know my first priority is to my family, so I have decided to cut all ties with her. It was tearing me up emotionally (dealing with her late-night calls and rants), plus I feel she was a danger to my children.
The problem is her mother. The mother calls me constantly — telling me that I am part of the problem, because I won’t be her daughter’s friend. Her mother goes from being an enabler to being in denial. She tries to make me feel guilty. She has said my friend can’t get well without the support of her friends. She has said things like how bad I’ll feel when my friend ends up dead. I know I don’t have to take the calls, but short of that, do you think there’s any way I can help this mother see my position? If my friend was truly trying to get well, I’d like to be there for her, but she has bolted from rehab twice.
— Former BFF
Dear Former BFF • Unfortunately, this heartbreaking story is far too common. You’re all in a tough spot — your friend, your friend’s mother, you. Addiction is the worst kind of thief. It robs people of their relationships and their resources, their health and (maybe worst of all) their hope.
Honestly, as annoying and inappropriate as her behavior toward you has been, I almost feel the sorriest for the addict’s mother. It’s a terrible thing for a parent to watch a child of any age implode. That’s why she’s trying to guilt you into helping her daughter. At this point, she’s desperate. But you’re right. Her daughter is not your responsibility. You ask if there’s any way you can make the mother understand your position. Sadly, there probably isn’t. She’s looking for a miracle, and she’s praying you’re it.
I’m guessing you’ve already told her that you’re willing to help your friend when she shows a real desire to get clean and stay clean. If you haven’t, then tell her. If you have, tell her again. Then don’t take her calls unless you choose to.
Dear Ann Cannon • The neighbor’s dog barks all the time. She leaves it in a kennel all day and at night it keeps me awake with its yapping. I don’t know what to say because she is on the HOA board and has a lot of power around here.
— Sleepless in Salt Lake
Dear Sleepless • Oh gosh. Apparently, your neighbor experiences her dog’s nightly yapping as white noise — which is super convenient for her but not so much for you. As always, you have two choices. You can say something, or you can let it go. From your email, I get the impression that you’d like to talk to your neighbor but that you’re worried there may be negative repercussions for you because of her position within your community, right?
Because I don’t know your neighbor personally, I can’t predict how she’ll react. Will she be slightly embarrassed but grateful, the way you are when someone tells you there’s a bit of lettuce stuck on your teeth? Annoyed? Defensive? Even vindictive? You could check with people who’ve dealt with her to get a feel for her potential reaction.
I wouldn’t let the fact that she’s on the HOA board stop you. Yeah, she has some power. But realistically, how would that affect you? I’m pretty sure she can’t have you evicted because you expressed a concern about her noisy dog.
If you do decide to have a chat, be polite and respectful. Earn yourself some bonus points by making a fuss over her dog.