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Guilt: Friend's life is downhill, while mine goes up.

The Last GentThe Last Gent Registered User regular
edited December 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
Okay, I'm going to try really hard to not make this sound like whining,. It's bad feelings over a friend's bad luck versus my good luck, and also life in general.

I'll note she's female if that helps, but it's not a girl thread. We've been best friends since high school, she's my one person I can tell everything to, that kind of friend.

Now, recently, things have been going great for me. I'm in university, working two part time jobs that are pretty decent, and doing well in my courses. I live at home, and while I can't afford to move out, I've saved up enough to live comfortably in my own space with my family I actually like. And to top it off, I just recently started dating a girl, and things are going swimmingly, I must say. So yeah, life is good, right?

Thing is, hers hasn't been going so well. She's been single for about two years now, and while we talk about relationships not defining a person, I've seen it wear on her. She's been trying fiercely but hasn't met the right guy for her yet and has been in some horrible, damaging relationships before that. It led to a spat of alcoholism awhile back, but she got through it, and she's pretty clean now. Also, more importantly, she just found out that the company she's working for is drastically downsizing due to the economy, meaning she might not have a job in the new year. In addition, her father's job is at risk, too (at the same company), and they've both had hours cut. Also, her university, unlike mine, has been on strike for several months now, with no sign of resuming, so there's the added stress of her being at home during all of this, and the mental stress of wondering when it'll end, how courses will be made up, whether she's wasted her tuition, etc. This has made her extremely depressed, but she's a smart girl, so I'm not worried about her safety or anything.

Now, I've offered to help out in any way I can, though it's kind of a moot point, as she's one of those people that prefers independence above everything else. I'm aware there's not much I can do except be there and listen to her. I guess what I'm asking is how do I deal with my feelings over this?

I guess the best way to describe it, and here's where I hope it doesn't sound like whining, is, I kind of get distraught over the fact that things are going well for me, but not for her. I don't consider myself a bad person, I try to live life in a good way, but at the same time, I feel like I haven't earned what I have as much as she has earned it, but doesn't have it, and it bothers me.

And it's not just her, either. I know friends who have divorced parents, or even if the parents are together, they have serious issues, I know friends with money troubles, serious relationship troubles, trying not to flunk out of school, serious depression, things like that. I have none of these. I suppose I should be thankful, but I feel so guilty, and so sad for them sometimes, I'm not really sure how to deal with it in a way that won't seem spoiled. The fact is they're all good people, and I feel like they haven't been treated fairly by life, while I've been treated too fairly, and some of what I got should have gone to them.

A couple friends, it's gotten to the point where I feel like I can barely talk to them, as I actually don't want to bring up grades or relationships or my home life or money, depending on who it is. I still try and talk to them though. It's gotten more to the point where I just listen and don't say much.

So, residents of H/A, I'm not sure what my question is, probably something like, how do I cope with this feeling I have about my best friend, my other friends, there status, and my status, and about how life isn't fair to them?

I'm not trying to turn it into some kind of "abloo abloo life sucks" thing because it doesn't. Its the fact that the lives of people I care about suck in ways that were purely luck, and that I can't do much about, and I feel guilt over everything.

Edit: I'm not rich or anything. Just secure.

The Last Gent on


  • MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I feel like I haven't earned what I have as much as she has earned it, but doesn't have it, and it bothers me.

    If you feel you've been given great oportunities make the best of them, don't throw them away. Be there for your friend when she needs you, help out and encourage her. Life has highs and lows, but the lows don't last for ever... but poor choices can sure strech em out.

    MagicToaster on
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited December 2008
    If you aren't rubbing it in anyone's face, and are understanding that people don't have the money to go out and do crazy shit with you all the time, I really don't think you need to feel guilty. Don't brag and don't bitch with them. Just.. be cool, know you are lucky, and be happy and grateful for what you have.

    ceres on
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  • i n c u b u si n c u b u s Registered User
    edited December 2008
    As far as coping goes, you really need to continue being an awesome friend to her in these bad times. While you do feel bad for the girl theres little more you can do unless you won the Lotto and gave her half. But don't be entirely distressed and notice that you really are there for her if/when she ever needs it and thats more than anyone could ever ask for. A solid support system is much better than wealth anyday.

    i n c u b u s on
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  • CasualCasual Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Flap Flap Flap Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    As long as you aren't responsible for her crappy luck (and it sounds like a lot of a stretch to say you would be) you have nothing to feel guilty about. And you should'nt be anyway because it'll only make you act weird to her at a time when she could use a good friend. So quit the misplaced guilt, live your life and be there for her as she needs it.

    Casual on
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  • oncelingonceling Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I wanted to express my 2c on the comments you made about feeling like you have not earned what you have while your friend has to struggle. I think you have earned it. Sometimes small efforts pay off BIGTIME.

    This might seem harsh, but I personally believe that good decision making accounts for about 90% of the "luck" that people have. If you have consciously or sub-consciously made good decisions, quite often they will work out well for you. You don't need to feel guilty for that. Be thankful that you have a critical mind and pick appropriate paths for your life. Nobody should ever feel guilty for making smart decisions.

    I think most people are going to disagree with me from here on, but here's my opinion anyway. For example, getting fired. 10% of the time, I believe getting fired is bad luck. 90% of the time it was poor decision making. Either the company was not a good choice in the beginning, it should have been clear it was time to move on earlier, you've been doing a poor job or going back far enough - you don't have a decent education and employability to fall back on. Sorry, but we all make choices. If you choose to take sculpture school because it's what you love and can't make any money at it later, don't try to tell me that's bad luck, that was just poor decision making. If you're truly good at it, you would make money.

    Picking crappy boyfriends and alchoholism isn't bad luck, sorry. See what I mean here?

    Bad decisions compound on top of bad decisions. This is why people seem to have "everything" happen at once. I have a friend who was in a car accident (rear ended), pet died and girlfriend left him all in the same week. Bad luck? Actually, no.....

    1. He was screaming on his cell phone in his car and braked VERY suddenly because he wasn't paying attention to a red light. Rear ended. Bad luck? No, don't drive like a dickhead and you will have less accidents 90% of the time (remember, I allow 10% of bad luck).

    2. His pet died because he allows a cat outside (a decision I think is bad for starters) in an area populated by coyotes (crap decision #2).

    3. Girlfriend left him because he had no money to cover his deductible and was going to move out of their place and back with his parents to cover the cost, secondly he continued to let his other cats roam the neighbourhood with the coyotes while bitching and whining about having lost one of them already. Everyone should be able to cover their deductible in their rainy day fund, if you can't, don't drive like a Dbag. Secondly, learn from your mistakes.

    There's my 2c. I think you've earned your lucky streak through a series of well-founded decisions. I advise that you help your friends get their lives back on track by encouraging them to do the same, without (as others advise) rubbing it in their face.

    onceling on
  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Luck is shit like "get on the highway right when a tractor trailer overturns and you're stuck there for 4 hours."

    I don't think you've described anything that's necessarily attributable to luck -- just how things turn out.

    So don't feel guilty. Be happy that things are going well for yourself, and use that as a tool to help your friend out. Be there for her emotionally -- be a good friend. Let some of your "luck" rub off on her by keeping her involved in some good stuff. Perhaps she'll change universities, for example, or start looking for another job, by being around someone who's had better luck and can offer a fresh outlook on things.

    EggyToast on
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  • FeralFeral That's what I do. I drink, and I know things. Location: ByakkoyaRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Lots of people call this "survivor's guilt" and it's totally natural.

    Feral on
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  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    And remember, life is full of ups and downs. There will likely come a point where things AREN'T going so well for you, but may be better for her.

    I think there was a Seinfeld episode on this.

    Sentry on
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  • The Last GentThe Last Gent Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Thanks for all of this so far. And yeah, I'm already trying to be emotional support. And yes I don't brag about myself, if anything I go out of the way to avoid it.

    And yeah, I had nothing to do with all this stuff happening to her, it was pure luck/life turning out that way/whatever you want to call it.

    And see, I've been there for a lot of the process (I should clarify, we became friends the last year of high school so we're talking about four years here) and she doesn't seem to have made any bad decisions, except possibly in relationships. The school strike came out of the blue, and her job was pretty awesome, I think I would have jumped ship to it if there was an easy opening, it was the economy that killed it recently. She's a smart girl, and most of it feels like luck to me, hence the problem. As for me, I kind of feel like I coasted into a lot of the things I got, rather than trying to get them. Maybe that's untrue, it's just how I feel. Like one of you said, survivors guilt and all that.

    Thanks though, feel free to add more if anyone has anything insightful. I think this board here is the best thing on the internet.

    The Last Gent on
  • VThornheartVThornheart Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    She's run into a spot of bad luck, but if she's a good friend she won't make you feel bad for not being in the same crappy spot. "Misery loves company" is something that shouldn't apply to true friends. It sounds to me like you're doing as good as you can to handle her in the situation (aka not gloating over it to her). Beyond that, if you're not gloating and she ends up having a problem with it... well, that's her fault and not yours.

    Try your best not to feel guilty, as the situation is not your fault. There'll be a time when she's up as well, and you can both celebrate when that happens.

    VThornheart on
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  • GungHoGungHo Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Feral wrote: »
    Lots of people call this "survivor's guilt" and it's totally natural.
    And it's irrational, despite being natural.

    Be happy for yourself. Be there for your friend and be supportive, though be careful of pitying her or participating in pity parties. You cannot solve her problems for her or give her some of your luck... and you shouldn't let her downward path drag you down as well.

    Unless you had some sort of voodoo spell cast and your good fortune was traded for someone else's, it's not your fault, not your responsibility, and not within your power to fix. It's still ok to be her cheerleader, though.

    GungHo on
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