Do you have issues with your no-longer-best girlfriend? Is your coworker driving you crazy? Megan Carpentier is here to give you the life advice that you don’t want to hear, told in the way you absolutely need to hear it.
Over the past three years, my friend has gone from being a flaky person who occasionally dabbled in recreational drugs to a relatively incoherent unemployed shitshow whose health is suffering and whose personal life is a complete shambles. She moved in with roommates more tolerant of what she euphemistically calls her “lifestyle choices,” cycles through drug dealer boyfriends based on the access to drugs they give her and basically either stands me up or shows up late and broke when we make plans. Oh, and because she knows I disapprove of the near-constant drug use, she lies and pretends it’s not going on — despite the fact that it’s caused huge rifts in our relationship and is obviously hurting her. What can I do to get her to go back to just doing a little coke at parties?
Let’s rephrase your question just a little. What you’re asking, really, is this.
My friend has become addicted to drugs and is rapidly trying to explore her bottom. What can I do?
The answer, sadly, is “very little.” At the point at which she’s lying about her drug use despite the fact that it’s pretty clear she’s now far more than a casual user, she’s not willing to acknowledge the depth of her usage, let alone that it represents a problem. If she’s skinnier, it’s just a diet; if she’s shaky, it’s just because she didn’t eat today; if her skin is an off-color, she just needs to get a little sun. For every health problem you identify to her, she’ll just have a non-drug-related reason to explain it, and your concerns, away. If you keep pushing, she’ll call you a narc or a prude or whatever the kids today call it.
And, let’s not even get started on the drug-dealing companions: criticizing someone’s choice in sexual partners inevitably inspires defensiveness, so to suggest that she’s choosing them as part of her drug-seeking behavior will just inspire a double-whammy of defensiveness that won’t help either your friendship or her habit.
The thing about an addict’s bottom is that you can’t help someone see it before they get there and, no matter what we like to believe, it’s hard to get someone to see how crappy their life is becoming when they’re distracted by how awesome being on drugs feels to them — or, at least, how much less crappy they feel on drugs.
The best you can do is be there when she asks to see you, refuse to be in situations with her when she’s doing drugs, even socially, and try to make sure that when she needs help getting off drugs, you’ll be there to support her in getting clean. And, in the mean time, don’t help her finance her habit (her “lifestyle choices”) or gain access to drugs, and try not to take it personally when she blows you off. She’s got a new, bad best friend but until she recognizes that, getting her defensive or helping her continue to deny her addiction won’t help her get well or fix your friendship. And, good luck.
My boss is a complete slob — his work area is covered in food wrappers, unopened packages, papers, empty cups, his keyboard keys are bumpy with crud and it just generally looks like a filing cabinet and garbage truck exploded around his work area. It’s obviously gross, and pretty distracting — but it also functions as a black hole for anything I need to leave for him. Can I say something? He shooed off the cleaning lady weeks ago and told them not to mess with his stuff because it was all important, but I’m pretty sure a used sandwich wrapper isn’t.
So, you work with a hoarder. Fun!
Basically, the answer is no: you can go to HR (if there’s an HR department) if it’s really food-based and nasty enough to attract bugs and such; if there are client meetings that he’s supposed to have, you could anonymously tip his boss (if he has one). But if he’s sitting atop a mess of trash and calling it his Important Stuff, he’s got issues that need to be addressed by a mental health professional, not a subordinate.
In terms of leaving stuff for him to read, if you can’t scan it and email it — the best option, especially if you can use Outlook’s return receipt function — is to create some system by which he either had to acknowledge immediately that he got it or has to immediately sign it. So, for instance, if you had to drop a file off in his office, hand it to him directly, head straight back to your desk and email him about some detail that requires a response: “I forgot to tell you that Mike needs that in his office in two hours, did he mention it to you?” Phrasing it in terms of a question obligates a response, giving you something to point to in case he blames you for not bringing it. Or, if you need his signature, prep two copies: one for him to lose and forget about; and a second one you can run in with at the last minute and say, “Hey, Mike needed this an hour ago, I prepared another one because he can’t wait any longer, can you just sign it, please?” You’re probably not going to change him no matter what you say, so the best thing to do is to cover your ass, invest in a big bottle of Purel and hope the critters are as turned off by his workspace as you are.
If you have a problem with a friend, relative, coworker, or other person in your life, email Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a problem with your boyfriend, you should probably just try talking to him.