Counseling/Friends

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Question
Hi Bill,

I have a problem with a friend, and just can't take it anymore.  I am 32 years old, and am stuck living at my mother's house, which is far from ideal.  Since I have arthritis, and I can't get away, I need a means of coping.  My mom has a neighbor, whom I'll refer to as Summer (she is 59 years old).  I started spending a lot of time with Summer at the start of this year.  Although she does kind of seem like having my best friend from high school around again (we'll call her Stephanie), I really don't have any desire to contact Stephanie again, as she is a mother of 3, and I probably never cross her mind anyway.  Really, I don't have fun with people my age, so it makes no sense to me to try to open doors in that respect.  At first, Summer and I would simply talk as friends, and to show that I value our friendship, I gave her a birthday card, with a Starbuck's gift card, and I wrote a note, inviting her to come to my cousin's restaurant.  Resulting from a tragedy that Summer had to go through, we never made our plans.  I have been really respectful of boundaries.  On the third Thursday of each month, us "housewives" in our neighborhood (Summer is self employed) get together for lunch.  I am always the youngest one there, which is good, at least in my eyes.  Here is what happened there:  I sat down next to Summer (I think it seemed a little bit like she had a shadow), and the lady on her other side asked her to make plans, and she just agreed right in front of me.  I am very hurt by this, but can't tell her, even though I want to, because nobody forgives for anything these days.  What is a good approach to convey this to her?  She may dismiss it, but I can't spend everyday of my life having crying spells, and wishing my life were something different.  No relationship ever works out for me, which is why I'm single, and Summer is my only friend.  It would be different if I could live in the state I want to be in, but since I can't, I tend to expect perfection around here.  We do have a neighbor, who has been saying horrible things about me for a long time, and she is basically the devil in disguise... she comes across as the sweetest lady to the Average Jane.  She may have said something about me to somebody who knows Summer well, whom Summer just would not doubt.  I know I'll never be a really, really important part of Summer's life, however, she means a lot to me right now, and I wish she would try spending a half an hour with me, even if it just means going to the local yogurt bar.  I know I can't force her, however, I think I need to at least find out what the problem is, because I cry all day long everyday, and struggle to cover up my misery.  It makes it hard to go on, knowing that I'm going to wake up everyday to an unwanted living situation.

Answer
Hello,

Sine you really seem to value your friendship with your neighbor, I think it might be worthwhile to tell her how you feel about the whole thing. There is no way to know how she will react, but it will at least give you a chance to "clear the air" and express the issues you have with her. After all open positive and honest communication is important in any type of relationship.

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Bill Rehkamp, M.S., LMHC

Expertise

Hello! I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor located in Miami Florida that specializes in providing career guidance and counseling. I promise to listen to your concerns in a calm, positive, and non-judgmental way. I have over 12 years of counseling experience helping individual address career related issues such as: stress management, school achievement, family crisis, depression, anxiety, wellness, relationships issues, and substance abuse. Are you a student interested in working professionally in the mental health field? I can help you too! I provide career assessment, educational and career planning information to individuals who are considering changing or entering a new career. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Experience

I have worked professionally as a counselor in several non-profit and government agencies for the past 12 years. I first started working on a crisis suicide hotline in Miami, then for a non-profit shelter helping adolescents and families in distress. I have worked for an agency assisting people with disabilities to seek and obtain meaningful employment, and have experience in employee assistance.

Organizations
American Counseling Association (ACA), Professional Member.

Education/Credentials
I have a Master's degree in Counseling from Florida International University, National Board Certification in Rehabilitation Counseling, and State Licensure in Mental Health Counseling.

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