Welcome to Ask Poppy! I’m Poppy, your go-to girl for all of life’s woes. And when I say ALL, I MEAN IT. I’m not an expert on anything except maybe for being me, which makes me totally qualified to do this.
A friend whom I haven’t talked to in a long while just messaged me asking for my help because his boyfriend broke up with him and he feels really lost. Honestly, I don’t know what to respond to him so I didn’t reply at all.
You see, Poppy, I was close with him and his boyfriend. We would always go out together and I didn’t mind being their third wheel because they were so much fun to be with. But like in any other friendship, we drifted apart. They spent time with other people and so did I.
We had a problem in the middle of all of this though because during the time we were not talking, he apparently used my name in a web of lies. I had people reach out to me to clear and confirm details. But I let that all slide and forgave him, even if he didn’t say sorry.
Now the thing is, what do I tell him now that he’s reaching out and asking for help? Quite frankly (and this is the selfish side of me, obviously), he is not my responsibility. What do I do?
We all play our roles in life, and we are expected to play these roles because that’s how people perceive us. My cat expects me to feed him wet food even though I can only afford dry food. My mom expects me to attend these stupid family gatherings because I’m the only one left here in the country to represent her because they’re living the American dream. You expected me to answer this last week, but I got caught up with life and work and the anxiety that comes with it.
So, in a way, you’re like your friend. You messaged me and I did not know how to respond, so I did not reply at all. It’s the circle of life. And it moves us all.
I don’t think that you’re being selfish just because you can’t deal with his sh*t. I constantly battle with this conundrum on a weekly basis. Like, why the f**k would I give YOU PEOPLE advice when I can’t even handle my own sh*t? I mean, this is such a universal feeling. We’re often faced with problems that exist not because of our own doing. I get that sh*t at work. When news outlets ask, “Why aren’t millennials buying diamonds?” Uh, maybe because we’re poor as a result of the previous generations f*cking up?
When Suicide Squad came out, a disgruntled ex-Warner Brothers employee wrote an open letter which was then published by Pajiba. “You and your studio are the biggest lesson about life one can learn,” the letter read. “The top screws up and the bottom suffers. Peter Jackson phones it in and a marketing supervisor has to figure out a plan B for house payments.” Like these guys inside the studio system, they’re just doing their jobs, but they have to be the ones who suffer when the big ones f*ck up.
Sure, you can hanash all you want and worry about these things that you don’t really give a shit about, but at the end of the day it’s still a problem, and it still exists. What we can only do is to give it our best shot and hope for the best.
It’s almost a year now since Preen.ph offered me to do this column. Back then, I felt like I just needed to be funny and get you people through your problems. Over time, I realized that it was medyo more than that. That words can really affect people. Jose Rizal started a revolution with his writing. I’m no Rizal, but I do feel like even if one person’s life (not necessarily yours, Lena, or the people who send in their letters) got a little bit better through these columns, all the tossing and turning while I’m burdened by your problems will be worth it. Again, because it is expected of me to do my job (even though I’m not really perfect at doing it).
Your friend is expecting you to help him because heartbreaks are always messy. It’s weird whenever I see two exes being all chummy and nice, because who the f*ck are you kidding, guys? Almost a year ago, when I started this column, I wrote about empathy and how I felt that having empathy makes us a lot more human. It should be the gold standard of being considered a human being. You have eyes, ears, two hands, a brain, and you are capable of being emphatic towards others.
No matter how big of a dick your friend was to you, he’s still your friend. He needs you now that his heart has been broken into a million tiny pieces. I mean, you’ve said it yourself, this is not an ordinary friendship. You third-wheeled for quite some time, you knew these two people during the height of their romance, you know them. Period. I don’t even know you and you don’t know me, but here we are: you wrote me this letter, and it is expected of me to give you my sincere reply.
It is selfish of you to think that he’s not your responsibility. It’s pretty similar to all these government fanatics who feels that it’s okay for the people in power to trample down on the smaller ones just because they don’t care. They don’t need to deal with these alleged drug peddlers and criminals, so yeah, just feed them to the crocodiles. But then these people who are ending up dead, they’ve got stories. Their lives have worth. Doing drugs or selling drugs doesn’t make them terrible human beings. Some of them are just trying to make a living for their families, some are trying to live through the pain, and some are just trying to live. Sure, these deaths aren’t your responsibility, the hell do you care right? But I think not trying to do anything about the injustices all around us makes us all selfish. And that’s just sad, man.
So here’s what you should do, Lena: empathize. He may have treated you poorly throughout the time that you two have drifted apart, but somewhere inside that sad shell of a person is your friend. He needs you right now. Are you that really busy to ignore his pleas? He’s lost, so guide him back. He’s sad because he got his heart broken, so be with him, pick up the pieces, and try to make him whole again. It doesn’t matter what you say, really. You have to listen. You have to understand. You don’t need to ask me what you’re gonna have to say because that needs to come out of your heart. You’ll know what to say if you listen. It’s how we communicate.
Sure, he hurt you before, Lena. That was sh*tty of him to get you all tangled up in his web of lies. But we’re not all perfect. You know, because we’re human. Sorry, if I’m going to blame you, Lena. I just feel that it’s your fault that he thinks you guys are okay. He hurt you and you let it slide. And now that he’s hurt, he thinks that you guys are okay. And you’re probably the only one that he can talk to, so talk. But don’t talk about him being a dick. Talk about his heartbreak and allow him to let it all out. The focus here is all on him, not on you and the effects of their lies.
So set your bitterness aside and work on making him feel better. I know you still care about your friend. And if he’s feeling lost, don’t go all Blair Witch and lead him deeper into the woods just for sh*ts and giggles. Take him out of the nightmare that he’s living in right now and show him some warmth and comfort. You’re not out for revenge, you’re being a friend. Focus on that first.
Once you’re done with the hand-holding and he’s doing fine; once you’ve established your friendship again, that’s when you bring out the big guns. That’s when you solve the underlying problems that exist between you two. BUT FIRST, be a friend. Do what is expected of you. Empathize before you terrorize.
It always works. I know this because I practiced it at work this week. And now, I’m getting a raise and a team.
Got a question for Poppy? From love and relationships to weird questions you dare not ask even your psychologist, Poppy is ready to answer them all. Send in your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or post your question over Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #AskPoppy, and you just might get the answer you are looking for.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.