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Unhappy Should I feel guilty? - June 16th 2017, 03:34 AM

This thread has been labeled as triggering, particularly on the subject of eating disorders, by the original poster or by a Moderator. The contents of this thread might therefore not be suitable for certain sensitive users. Please take this into consideration before continuing to read.

I'm in high school right now, it's my last year actually. And this is about a friend of mine, something I feel so very guilty about but I don't know if it's unnecessary guilt or if it's justified. Mostly, I just need to get this off my chest. I've known him since we were fourteen and back then, he used to try and talk with me but I felt genuinely scared because I had social anxiety and bad experiences with bullying, he was really extroverted and...just scary to me I suppose. I didn't know how to react to the kindness he was showing me because I'd never been treated that way before. So, I never talked to him. He used to be very talkative and bubbly, he was really sweet and actually seemed to have a lot of fun participating in class and with schoolwork. He was quite popular too. We didn't become closer until the following year, when we were fifteen. By that time, he'd gotten a little quiet and seemed more self-conscious. Even though he was underweight, he was be obsessed with exercise and how much fat he had. He talked about "giving up on life" here and there in a sort of semi-joking way and to be honest, I think I felt annoyed. I mean, I wasn't at first but after a few months, I started to distance myself. I feel like I didn't spend as much time with him as I should've because I didn't think he was serious...

I didn't step in when I should've. When we were both sixteen and after I'd distanced myself a bit, I started sitting with him at lunch again. And he and someone who once upon a time was his best friend were getting into a massive argument, I don't even remember what it was about because they argued so much back then. I know the other guy said something that really hurt his feelings though because when my friend responded, he was close to crying and his voice was breaking. The whole lunch table was dead silent. No one said a word, no one stopped the other guy from saying what he was going to say, no one comforted my friend. Including me. I was scared. I already mentioned my social anxiety, I didn't know what to say or who to talk to or if it was even my place to say anything. But I should've. I should've tried but I just let it go because it was easier than trying to fight.

It was at the start of this year, about three months or so after that incident, when we started talking again. He was in one of my classes. He sat alone and I felt bad so I sat next to him. And it took about five weeks before we started feeling comfortable with each other again, we've started sitting at the same lunch table too. I know he likes me and I like him too, he's still a really nice person. But it's not okay. Far from it. He's lost about half his friends. He's still very self-conscious and doesn't smile as much. I seriously worry about his health, if he lifts his shirt you can see his ribs and yet he still insists he has fat. He doesn't participate in class anymore and actually talks back to the teachers, misbehaves on occasion. I've noticed a lot of scars on his arms, cuts and burns presumably and he's very pessimistic. He doesn't talk about suicide as much but I get the feeling he thinks about it a lot more. And the guy who used to be his best friend, who'd been his friend since the 8th Grade, I saw him (my friend) smack this guy in the head. To be fair, it was in self-defense because he'd been hit first but this is just not the same person. And it makes me so sad that someone so innocent and with such a beautiful personality would have to suffer like this. It's like I'm watching him die right before my eyes. He's on medication and has a fairly strong support group but that doesn't mean it's all good.

I try to be there if he ever needs me but the thing is, I wasn't there. I saw what was happening all those years ago and I ignored it, I let it become what it is today. I feel like it's always going to be my fault, not wholly but I'll always have to take a small part of the responsibility. And yeah, I was only fourteen, fifteen, sixteen but I should have known better. I did know better. I'm here now but I can't erase what I've done. And I feel like that pain is always going to be there. Even now, when I try to be there and help out, I still accidentally mess up and it's like I'm only making it worse and worse. Sometimes, I just feel like giving up again because I've already screwed up so much and I feel like I can't make it better. And if (God forbid) he commits suicide, I'm always going to be partially responsible for that. I mean, aren't I? I can't even begin to describe the guilt I feel and I've cried quite a few times. Am I right to feel guilty? And if not, how am I supposed to snap out of it? I feel like such a terrible person.
   
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Re: Should I feel guilty? - June 16th 2017, 11:30 AM

Hi there, thank you for sharing this.

We've all done things that we regret, the important thing is more how we handle the situation moving forward.

I understand where your feelings of guilt are coming from, but you said that by the time you became close with him he already seemed more withdrawn and like something was going on. Therefore, it was never your fault. And while you could have been there for him more in the past, there's nothing you can do to change the past, so all you can do is do your best to be there for him now (which it sounds like you are already doing), in whatever capacity he needs you.

As far as dealing with the distress that this seems to be causing you, maybe you can talk to him. Say something about how you feel bad that you were not as supportive as you could have been in the past and that moving forward if he needs anything you will be here for him? (You don't have to phrase it that way, but something to that effect). Saying sorry doesn't change what has happened, but it goes a long way anyway. That way he will know that you care and maybe it can help to clear your own conscience.

Just the fact that you are writing this and feeling this way shows how much you care.
And try not to worry about messing up. All you can do is to do the best you can and that's all anyone can ask of you, okay?

Sending lots of happy thoughts to you and your friend as well, feel free to pm me if you ever want to talk!


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Re: Should I feel guilty? - June 16th 2017, 01:19 PM

It is easy to look back and think that we should have done things differently but as it has been said, the past cannot be erased. You can only change things moving forward. This is not your fault. You cannot control the people who pick on your friend, you can only control yourself. That also means that you can't control whether or not your friend harms himself.

The idea of talking to him about this is a good idea. Perhaps you can explain how guilty you feel and you can let him know that you'd like to do what you can to support him through this.

You said sometimes you feel like you still mess up when you're trying to support him. When in doubt, ask if there is anything in particular you can do to make his day a little easier. Your friend may know of specific things you could do to help him.


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Re: Should I feel guilty? - June 18th 2017, 12:00 PM

Hey there,
you were already given some great advice and I'm not going to repeat everythign thats been said, but I wanted to add, to keep in mind, your only human too. We all are.
And sometimes we mess up, because we didn't know better, because we just didn't think in that one moment or because things like anxiety held us back. It's only human.

That one instance wasn't on you. Sure you could have said something, but everyone else on the table could also have said something. That guy could have refraind from hurting your friend. Even your friend could have probably behaved differently. But noone did. Because your all just human and thats why things like this happen. Its noones fault. It's simply life.
Remember that. Everytime the guilt creeps up again tell yourself that you're only human. And it's ok to mess up and ok to feel guilty, but its not necessary.
If it helps maybe you could apologize.


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