This is another blog that I’ve sat on for awhile, as I’ve been a busybody throughout the Summer, and it came to a head in early September. So, now I’m ready to purge it and move on.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Yesterday was a rough day, but I very much enjoyed the snippets of farming life I could see from the road as I drove home.
It was particularly uplifting to notice what appeared to be a wedding or a Saturday Night yard party coming together in the fading of the light. I couldn’t find a picture which perfectly captured the mood I felt as I drove by, watching a duded up young man, in his best jeans and silver-buttoned vest, heading into the party. He captured my eye as he walked down the white fenced lane between paddocks, heading for the music and the welcoming lights, with the beautifully placed white linen tables under a white party tent festooned with hanging lights. It was in my view for just a moment, but the hopefulness and glory of the captured image lightened my heart. It truly does take a village, and I was seeing that unfold in a more hopeful manner for me as I drove off into the twilight at the end of a long, tiring day. Why was I so tired?
Because I’d spent the day being a busybody.
A friend of a friend reached out to me earlier in the week with a message that typically goes like this, “J, have you heard from C**** lately?”
Having dealt with some back and forth, and having called Adult Protective Services because this mutual friend is again behind on her rent and apparently unable to maintain a stable living environment, I did what I thought was best, possibly going over the line into busybody-hood, and laid out the particulars:
– The 7 years of continual decline
– The move to the boonies to survive financially
– The failure to make a financial deal and keep it up
– The emergency room visits from falls
– The complaints for lack of care / mental health resources
– The possibility of being kicked out due to late payments of rent
– The bug problem infesting the filth in her apartment
– The utilities being cut off
– The inability to follow through and get help
Mental health challenges truly are a community concern, as well as a privacy issue. Balancing those concerns for managing individual rights vs. helping someone see they are a danger to themselves and a risk for falling into homelessness adds an extra level of stress.
So, I called Adult Protective Services on Friday, and paid a surprise visit on Saturday. With a 2-1/2 hour drive each way, it’s a very long day.
My doc started me on Metformin (and I don’t know if that’s making me tireder or is just part of my own disease progression), but I got through the visit by eating and drinking constantly as I tried to both be supportive without being an enabler.
Clearly, I frustrated the heck out of my friend, as she kept looking for someone to be angry with, and I kept bringing her back to me – the busybody in front of her – versus who had “betrayed” her situation to me.
I left her with the promise to drive her around if she wished to come down to her old neighborhood to visit her friends (she would be using train tickets previously paid for by her brother-in-law but never used, I believe).
I also told her that I’d be back at the end of October if I hadn’t heard from her by Halloween.
Flash forward to the middle of September (at least 2 weeks since I’d been to see her). The phone was again disconnected, and I’d heard that her brother-in-law had passed away. Knowing that she may not know what was happening, and that there was no way to reach her without her cooperation, I left her a simple note on facebook (that tool of troublemakers everywhere, haha) that I was sorry to hear of her brother-in-law’s passing, offered my condolences to her and the larger family, and offered my services if she needed transportation.
What I got back was a message that I was to leave her and her family alone and butt out of her life.
Was I trying to provoke her in order to make my handling of her problem go away? No.
Was I trying to make her crazier? No.
Unfortunately, because I know boundaries, I have alerted the authorities that there is an elder in need of care services, and I must now let the wheels of aid grind along in the hope that they will find a way to help her, while also butting out myself until (if) she ever opens the door to me again.
I’ve done what I could before walking away because I truly do feel that Adult Protection *is* a community responsibility.
However, it doesn’t make me feel any better about abandoning a friend because she needs more help that I can give her, and she won’t accept help from the social services teams empowered (and funded) to provide such assistance.
This is now the second friend with mental health issues that is out of my life.
While I am sad, and struggling with the loss of friendship, I also can’t see where I could have done anything differently. Until you contact the powers-that-be to see what can or should be done, non-expert friends and family are working blindly and doing what they can to prop a friend up without being swallowed whole themselves.
So, my village got a bit smaller, and I’ve been in mourning that I didn’t know what else to do. I’m doing better, which is why I’m finally able to publish this blog, but I’m still uncertain about what more could have been done to avoid losing the 20+ years of friendship I’ve enjoyed with this woman.