Help But Don’t Be The Counselor

Everyone goes through hard things in their life. Everyone has highs and lows. I won’t attempt to compare my peaks or valleys with the life journey of anyone else, but I had an ongoing experience that was very hard on me and took a lot of good friends to help me handle.

In High School I was very involved in extracurricular activities. I wanted to do and try everything and always tried to be a good friend, despite my struggles with making new friends. Running and bluegrass music were my thing, and I basically lived to compete and play.

Every year the bluegrass band would graduate some kids and get new ones. This sometimes caused tensions with the more outgoing and assertive members, who wanted to be in charge or take the more obvious leadership positions in the band. At one particular gig there was an outbreak of fighting among these kids and I was among the few who didn’t want to argue about what had happened. So while they had their moment a couple of us went and got a snack at the closest gas station. That was the first time we had really talked a lot since in class we were always using time to play and improve our music. Anyway, that was the day I made friends with a couple other girls. I will call them Samantha and Jessie. Once the band was done with their scuffle we played the rest of the day and just talked more and more.

I was friends with almost everyone in that band but Jessie especially liked to hang out with me and I was totally cool with that. It is always good to have more friends. It was an easy and fast bond since we enjoyed a lot of the same music and also both liked cross country (though I liked running it and she liked riding her horse in competitions) haha it was a good time. Jessie had a sister that was my age but I didn’t really talk to her that much, but sometimes I would drive over to their house and hang out and she would show me new music or her horses.

Everything was fine, and as we became close friends we took on the title of best friends, and always walked the halls together before school and during lunch. She confided in me her troubles, and I tried to help. She did the same for me sometimes. Nothing too serious seemed to happen in our lives though, because we were younger and hadn’t experienced much, besides her dealing with her parent’s divorcing when she was in middle school.

We were close friends for a year or so and always had the same friend groups, but after a while I would find myself just walking with her and not socializing with my other friends. It was more routine than anything, and she would tell me more and more and ask for help with things. Of course, I would help her and she would happily help me calm down when I had stressful days of school or running. After a while she kept telling me more and more deep things. The divorce in her family was so hard on her, and she had kind of stepped into the drug scene a little bit. After that, between middle and high school she said she had tried to commit suicide several times, getting her stomach pumped twice and trying to hang herself too. This was devastating to me and I tried to be there even more for her since she had been through so much. I wanted to help her see that life is so much better than the past, and that she could be happy.

We would be hanging out constantly. She just loved deep conversations. Pretty soon I would find myself looking for her at school all the time to make sure she had a friend. During lunch she didn’t really like being in groups of people so we walked outside a lot.

The summer between my Junior and senior year she went on a date with this guy who was my age and in our high school. At first she didn’t want to go but she ended up going. And I didn’t hear for her for a couple days. Later when I got ahold of her (via texting) she told me that it wasn’t a good date and that he had kissed her when she didn’t want to. I told her I was sorry and life moved on. A couple weeks later when I was on a family vacation to the City of Rocks, she texted me. She said that she hadn’t told me, but he had actually raped her. That she was terrified all the time that he would come back, and that the police didn’t believe her and she had no proof so they couldn’t arrest him. With a dying phone and huge burden of knowledge of this I turned to my dad and told him everything about what she said. He was alarmed but we couldn’t do anything about it until the next week. My dad is a teacher at the high school so we tried to get her to go to the councilors there. She refused to, because she had a bad experience with a counselor in middle school and she didn’t trust the ones who worked in the school district. She couldn’t even get a restraining order on the guy who did this to her. She was afraid all the time. Because I was trying to help so much I found myself under this constant pressure, and when I ended up in a class with this guy I found myself being so mad all the time and upset. Jessie and I would vent to each other to try to cope with everything.

Another year went by. Things never really cleared up from that experience for her, but I was always trying to help. I graduated. She still had two years. I remember how hard it was for me when my teammates who were older graduated, so I tried to comfort Jessie when I knew it would be harder to talk all the time when I went to college. She came to graduation, but was taking pictures with her sister and I had to find her afterward. Which was fine, but I wanted to spend some time with my family and other friends. The summer came, and I worked full time while training for college cross country. Most of the time we could only text each other, and so there was a lot of miscommunicating. Which usually was quickly resolved.

When I eventually moved to college (four hours away from home) I was so excited and nervous and ready to embrace meeting so many new people and working in a new program. I was ready for change and fun. Still, I would answer her texts to help her feel okay with her friend being so far away. It was alright until I tried to go do things without my phone. She would text me so many times, upset and scared I was hurt or lost somewhere. When I finally answered and told her I was okay and that she could calm down she would get angry and kind of turn on me. She said she was worried I was replacing her and that I would make tons of friends when I was away. Alarms kept going off in my head and we kept fighting these dumb arguments. I was supposed to make new friends and have fun. Why did she not want that too? I kept asking for advice all around from my parents and friends and finally a counselor at the college. With school and a higher level of competition for running on top of this deteriorating friendship I was just exhausted and negative all of the time. If I didn’t text her back within five to ten minutes after she texted me, Jessie would say that I didn’t care, and get all passive aggressive. Especially if I didn’t text her first thing in the morning before classes. I got stuck in a position I didn’t want to be in. She kept getting possessive. She always wanted to know who I was spending time with and what I was doing. And she was always dealing with something huge and wouldn’t take it to the counselors. Her family couldn’t afford therapy anymore. She started getting into the drug scene again, and I warned her that it was a bad idea. And this was all over the phone. I couldn’t get away from it, so I started to block her on different social media apps. The negativity and stress of her life was too much to handle for me. I blocked her phone number, and her accounts on twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I went home for Thanksgiving break, and didn’t take time to see her since we only had a couple of days, and I was put out with the whole situation. Exhausted all the time.

She started to post things about friendships ruining her life. Other friends of mine would see it on social media, and know immediately that she was talking about me. Me “breaking her trust” or how “friendships breaking up are harder than relationships breaking up”.

Later, she emailed me. I had forgotten to block that.I wanted to ignore it, but I was a little worried about her. So, while walking back from class one day I finally read it. She was asking me why I was doing this. Why I was hurting her. That over thanksgiving break, she had actually tried to gas herself out in the car in her garage because she was so heartbroken and couldn’t handle it anymore. That nobody was her friend anymore. And this broke me. I was devastated for her. If she had succeeded in killing herself, how and why on earth would she pin it on me? I begged her, over email, to go and get help. I had tried so many times to help her and she never wanted professional help, but she wouldn’t go. And I couldn’t handle it anymore. I wanted to live my life, and be done with being the impromptu counselor at 18 years old to Jessie when I could never actually help her. And I stopped replying to her.

Later, Christmas break came. I went home again, and things were starting to look up. I was getting really close with my teammates, and had gone on a couple dates with a guy I really liked. I was feeling really happy, but couldn’t stop thinking back to wondering how Jessie was doing. Had she hurt herself? Had she gotten help? Made new friends?

I went on a morning run with some of my old teammates, and ended up at the high school. I was terrified that Jessie would show up and see me, and I didn’t want her to see me without at least saying high. So instead of driving away really fast, I went to find her. She was in the parking lot with one of her friends, sitting in the car waiting to go in for class. I was shaking, and went and knocked on her window. She looked terrified too. She got out, and we talked for a couple minutes. She asked how I was, and I asked how she was. We both said good. and it was very short with no drama at all.

All the concern I had of her actually hurting herself was gone. She was making poor choices but nothing that came from something that I did. And it was a relief to know that we could just let that go, and let the drama and “friendship” pass us by. Even though we were so close a couple years before, it had transformed into something that I didn’t want in my life. Instead of hanging on to the friendship and getting battered every day, I could let it go and live life. And not have to handle the life of another girl who would not be a good enough friend to let anyone help her help herself.

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