Friends avoid vi­o­lent pal, feel re­jected

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - ENTERTAINM­ENT - [email protected]­dick­in­ Twit­ter @ask­ingamy

Dear Amy: A few years ago, my part­ner and I, both artists, moved from Europe to the USA’s West Coast.

We al­ready had close con­nec­tions and friends in the States — a very nice cir­cle of open-minded spir­its. Other friends moved here from other big cities, and we quickly helped bring all the cir­cles to­gether through gath­er­ings and art shows.

A big fall­ing-out hap­pened with one of our clos­est long­time friends. It in­volved drugs, weapons and vi­o­lence (on his part). We de­cided to sever ties and changed the locks of our doors and phone num­bers. We felt threat­ened, and be­cause as aliens on U.S. soil, we can’t af­ford to be brought into any­thing il­le­gal, which would jeop­ar­dize our sta­tus.

Our other friends are aware of the sit­u­a­tion and in con­ver­sa­tion seem to un­der­stand us. We’ve never ini­ti­ated dis­cus­sions about this, nor gos­siped about our friend, but his is­sues are well known and hard to miss, so our friends do talk about it.

De­spite all that, our friends keep invit­ing him and us to the same gath­er­ings. We have been opt­ing to NOT at­tend gath­er­ings in or­der to avoid con­flict, but we now feel alien­ated from our friends. We even feel that our but­tons are be­ing pushed. Not at­tend­ing events sep­a­rates us from ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing a lot of friends we in­tro­duced to each other.

We have not been vo­cal about the reasons of our ab­sence be­cause we do not want to gos­sip, nor ask to ban any­one, es­pe­cially a trou­bled per­son, from at­tend­ing. How­ever, we do

NOT want our lives or le­gal sta­tus en­dan­gered.

How should we ad­dress this sit­u­a­tion, when we feel we are ex­clud­ing our­selves from cir­cles we helped bring to­gether? We miss our friends.

Dear Left Aside: One thing you should do is to host events, invit­ing these over­lap­ping cir­cles of peo­ple who mean so much to you, ex­clud­ing the per­son you need to avoid.

You don’t seem to have dis­closed the rea­son you can’t at­tend events where this other per­son is also in­vited — nor does any­one seem to have asked you. If you are asked, you should tell the truth, with­out fear of be­ing a gos­sip. You say oth­ers are aware of this man’s is­sues, but don’t seem pro­por­tion­ally con­cerned about vi­o­lence, drugs and il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity.

Ex­pand­ing your cir­cle might help all of you to make a so­cial tran­si­tion.

Dear Amy: My friend and I work and of­ten go to lunch to­gether. Her lunch break is noon to 1 p.m. Lately, she has got­ten into the habit of tex­ting me at around 11:15, ask­ing if I am avail­able for lunch at 12!

That is re­ally cut­ting it an­noy­ingly close for me! I need more no­tice so that I can plan my work. I don’t want to tell my friend what she should do but would rather use “I” sen­tences and let her know what MY needs are. How should I phrase my re­quest for her to give me more no­tice?

Dear D: You merely need to use your voice, cou­pled by your ac­tions, in or­der to re­train your friend to be more con­sid­er­ate of your time con­straints.

If she asks you to join her and it is not con­ve­nient for you, you should say, “I can’t make it to­day. Un­for­tu­nately, most days I need more than a few min­utes ad­vance no­tice.” And then ... you sim­ply de­cide not to turn your­self in­side out in or­der to meet her im­me­di­ate choices. And be­cause she is your friend who wants to spend time with you, she will ad­just.

Dear Amy: Re­spond­ing to the ques­tion posed by “Up­set Neigh­bor,” who wanted to re­port her neigh­bor for dis­abil­ity fraud, I worked for the So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion for 35 years.

As you re­sponded, Amy, this woman may have dis­abling con­di­tions other than her in­jured back. Also, So­cial Se­cu­rity dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits are earned; had she not worked and paid into the sys­tem, she would not be el­i­gi­ble to col­lect these ben­e­fits.

Sup­ple­men­tal Se­cu­rity In­come is need-based.

The So­cial Se­cu­rity web­site no doubt would ex­plain the dif­fer­ences in the two pro­grams more com­pre­hen­sively.

Dear Con­cerned: Thank you. But most im­por­tant, this neigh­bor did not know that the neigh­bor was col­lect­ing any­thing. As I urged her, be­fore re­port­ing fraud, she had bet­ter get her facts straight.

Copy­right 2019 by Amy Dick­in­son

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