Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

How can I handle this?

Asked by Dutchess_III (43576points) February 21st, 2017

Someone I love very much calls every day and more than half the time it’s to simply vent to me about things I can’t do anything about. It’s some pretty serious and frustrating stuff too. For example, she finally started receiving $200 a month in child support and the state promptly stopped assisting her with her child care, to the tune of about $400 a month.
Her car has some serious issues she doesn’t have the money to fix.
She needs new tires that she can’t afford.
She works so, so hard, 6 days a week, sometimes 7 and she can’t get ahead.
And in the end she begins to cry and it just rips my heart out.

I don’t know how to handle this. I feel so helpless and sad.

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18 Answers

Zaku's avatar

Do you know any great counselors?

MrGrimm888's avatar

That’s just how some relationships are. My grandmother cries almost every time she calls.

It probably helps your friend to vent ,as you say.

Sounds like she needs a different job,and a little luck.

Dutchess_III's avatar

She’s a fork lift driver and she’s making pretty good money, but it just gets sucked out by bills and things. Single mother.

@Zaku She was in counseling at one point. I’ll remember to ask her again.

cinnamonk's avatar

Can you babysit every now and then?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Sure. And I do.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The thing is, she is SO strong. So damn brave. I wish I had a million dollars just to give to her.

cinnamonk's avatar

Maybe offer to take the kid(s) this weekend so she can have a break?

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s not that. The kids’ dad takes them every other weekend, and sometimes during the week. It’s an overwhelming issue of money.

MrGrimm888's avatar

She could abandon her children in a McDonald’s parking lot….

jca's avatar

Invite her over for dinner once in a while.

Dutchess_III's avatar

This isn’t about her kids. She’s not complaining about the kids.

cinnamonk's avatar

Of course not.

I like @jca‘s idea. Maybe you can invite her out, or come over to her house and make dinner with her/for her.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I guess what I’m asking is does it help to just listen and commiserate? It makes me feel so very miserable and helpless, but is it helping her to have someone to unload on? I’ve given her money in the past, when I could, but these issues are way out side of my financial ability. She was excited because she only had 5 months to go to pay her car off, but today she learned it needs about $5,000 in repairs.
Her oldest son’s father is going to take her entire tax return to pay back child support because money she was giving them every month for the last 7 years didn’t count because it didn’t go through the support system. Even the receipts don’t matter. That was ALL the relief she had to look forward to.
...I feel so bad for her. It’s just one thing after another.

Am I helping her by listening? Am I listening the right way?

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: I know nobody’s complaining about the kids. I mean invite her over to give her a pleasant experience.

MrGrimm888's avatar

With all due respect. That’s all.females seem to want from these types of conversations. They don’t usually want advice,just a shoulder to cry on.

If you like the person, it’s natural to want to try and help. But most females that have ever “vented” to me seemed to want just that. A source to vent to….

Most females seem to need drama. Many aren’t capable of just being content with life.

She may need lots of attention. You give her that fix by your reactions to her strife. In a way,yes,you’re helping her.

Dutchess_III's avatar

As long as it’s helping I’ll keep doing it. This girl is not the drama-for-drama’s-sake kind of person. She has real problems that are really overwhelming, and I just hurt for her. She’s fighting and working so hard. Besides, there is no possible advice I can give her anyway. I just hope I’m doing it right. I just listen.

LornaLove's avatar

It’s a tricky one. I love this question because I’ve been in this boat before, but with family.

I can perhaps share what a good, and now late friend of mine used to do as she was the local ‘agony aunt’ for many close female friends. Maybe that will help?

She would listen and empathize about a certain topic. Let’s say it was about the car. Then she would help the person to find alternative ways of dealing with life without the car, but allow the person to come up with the suggestions themselves.

After that, the car was then off topic. She made it clear that the person had already solved that problem and was not going to discuss it again.

If it was an errant boyfriend, my friend would listen and then do the same thing. If the caller called again to complain about their boyfriend that topic was out of bounds.

My friend, Elaine, had counselor training but more than that the had a good heart, but firm boundaries. She understood where she began and another ended. She didn’t sympathize but empathized, there is a difference. She didn’t allow her feelings to go into a downward spiral simply because someone else was down.

She also was selective when she would answer the phone. Meaning if her own energy was low, she would just allow it to go to voicemail.

She’d also tell the person midway that ‘They have had their turn to chat, now it is her turn’. Teaching them that there were TWO people in the conversation. I really respected Elaine, I love her for her kindness, but boy oh boy you certainly understood her boundaries, which she would place in a kindly way. I hope this helps?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Update. She found a mechanic who is willing to do the work as cheaply as possible. He’s going to try and use all salvaged parts. He’ll also take payments. He also offered to do the labor for free if she’d have sex with him. WTF. She politely declined, said she’d pay for the labor.

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