I think I failed a friend

From lpd.: For several years now, I had a friend who struggled with a harsh domestic life and had no self control when something made them agitated. We tried to get them professional help, but it wasn’t plausible, given that both treatment was too expensive and the people around them are quite judgemental and might’ve mocked them for it. So, in the absence of professional, irl help. I tried to show them servers that claimed to be spaces of support and company, eventually leading to this server. Here, they found a friend who later invited them to a friend server, and it all seemed more than fine initially. However, my friend’s lack of self control would eventually lead to internal issues in the server, and they would not feel remorse for their actions against the people they didn’t personally like, regardless of if they’d actually done any wrong. I’m not a very emotional person, and I have barely any tact when presenting my thoughts, so I didn’t give them unconditional support, and would be harsh on them if they were to deflect blame or refuse to acknowledge their fault. Eventually, the person that invited my friend to the private server became closer to them, getting overtly defensive and hostile towards any criticism pointed at my friend. My friend values company and loyalty more than anything, so they saw this person’s tendency towards attacking any detractors (or even those who merely fought back against my friend’s general passive aggressive troublemaking) as them being a good friend who’d always be there. This got to the point I had to spend over half an hour trying to get their buddy off my back for criticizing my friend about issues they’d start out of nowhere. At one point, I just became terminally exhausted and cut all communication with them, and it’s been peaceful. But I feel I left them in a horrible situation, with someone who won’t let any thought of necessary change get through. I don’t know what to conclude, I just miss when I thought things could improve.

This isn’t all, though. I didn’t have the space for it in the first message, but I also want to make clear I’m not a saint nor pure good. When I say I’m not emotional, I mean I’ve put what I believe over my affection towards my friend. In moments where they were down in the dumps over things they brought upon themselves, or they overreacted to someone who did something to annoy or insult them, I would try to propose a path through which the issue could be at least partially resolved and they could learn from it, but not before chewing them out and disregarding their personal issues whenever they tried to use them to justify their actions. I think maybe if I had been slightly more lenient with them, they’d have listened better, but I cannot be sure. They always side with whoever talks more sweetly to them, so I feel that, in trying to get them to listen to me, I might’ve had to excuse their behavior or act in a way I don’t find correct so they’d see me in good light. I don’t believe I did a moral wrong, but I do believe I was stupid in thinking I could teach a child the same way I was taught and have it just work the same.

Live goes on, and so will I eventually, but it’s just kinda shite to know my first friend in this place only remembers me as a nagging, emotionless stone while they idolize someone so hostile against anyone who wants him to change.

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From mbarry.: You are sounding extremely harsh with yourself for actually trying to be a helper. Unconditional acceptance invites anyone into this space, but you are trying to offer active direction. So maybe you are learning more effective pathways to earn trust and demonstrate patience. We are all learning here. How to offer support without simply pandering is important, and encouragement that walks another into their own expression of healthy action is our greatest goal. Your style may be more blunt – some actually will respond great to that. Learning how to read the readiness of the person posting is surely a challenge. Please don’t beat yourself up – march onward and thanks for this humble post.

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From themanekineko: It’s extremely hard to see friends make decisions we wouldn’t make or that we see the potential to have negative results.
I don’t believe you have failed your friend, I think your friend made their own decisions, and I also think it’s not a bad thing that you didn’t change your approach or what you believe is right to try sway your friend.

As much as we want good for people we care about, we can’t control their decisions and we can’t compromise ourselves to win their favour.

Maybe your friend will be ready to hear your words and appreciate what you’ve said and shared with them, sometimes it takes people a little bit of time to figure it out for themselves.

From manni.xp: Lpd, I want to start by thanking you for being someone who cares this much about a friend.
Having gone through a similar situation, I can definitely relate to what you’re saying. It can hurt to watch someone close make decisions that hurt them.
Something that helped me was writing down the ways in which I did help, even if they no longer remember.

Hey lpd. Thank you so much for sharing all of this. It sounds that you tried what you can but your efforts weren’t met with the results you expected, as it turned out to be frustrating and creating this disconnection between your friend and you. It’s very honest and humble of you to acknowledge that you’re not perfect - and no one is, really. In this situation, you have been supportive and tried to provide a type of encouragement that you have personally known as being effective/helpful. It makes sense to rely on the tools and resources we have experienced firsthand, even though it may have not been what your friend expected. It’s always a tough line to find, when you’re trying to support someone you love, between supporting without enabling, but also caring without judging. It’s even more complex that the person in front of you has their own story, needs and expectations. Sometimes it just doesn’t work, or it’s not the right time for them. You have not met at the same level of understanding/communication since they have known this other friend, which is unfortunate. Through it all, your intentions were genuine but you ended up being seen as the “bad guy”, and when someone perceives you a certain way it’s really hard to help them change their perception - especially as long as they’re not willing to.

Overall it sounds that you were caring for them and showed up when they needed it. They may not have been receptive to it, but unfortunately what they do with the support you offer is their sole responsibility. At the end of the day, you can acknowledge that you were there and you tried, which is what you could do. Maybe at some point they will come back to you and have a more peaceful conversation that would help you both heal in your friendship. In the meantime, they may also need to explore things, eventually make mistakes, but at the very least get on that journey towards experimenting and learning. It’s tough when you’re on the other end of it and feel completely helpless though. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through all of this. You’re a good friend without a doubt.