What to say when a friend seems to have run away from home

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What to say when a friend seems to have run away from home Empty What to say when a friend seems to have run away from home

Post by Prajnaparamita on Thu Feb 12, 2015 12:38 pm

Okay, I'm not even sure how to start this, but I have this friend, let's call them A (A used they/them pronouns, just fyi) who I think has finally ran away from home, but I'm not sure and I don't even know how to approach the topic.

A and I met at the college we used to attend, until I dropped out and A, well... Their parents decided that A's girlfriend was an unhealthy influence on A (i.e. girlfriend is trans, and gender dysphoria is totes an infectious disease that you can catch from prolonged exposure to trans/genderqueer people) and gave A and ultimatum two weeks before the start of school that they could either leave school and move across the country with the family or get kicked to the curb with no financial assistance (at age 20). A unwillingly moved to Minnesota with the family, who proceeded to do everything possible to cut off A from their old friends and control the life of their child.

Now I have to admit that while A and I have gone through periods of closeness and being valued confidants, there've also been moments of tension as well. A can get very SJW when in a bad mood, and no amount of PC-ness or sensitively will keep them from accusing you of all sorts of shit, which is understandable I guess when their life is pretty shitty a lot of the time and their family is emotionally abusive and intent on totally squashing their identity out of a mistaken, twisted form of love, but in the moment its often easier to get pissed than think about it from their point of view... Because of that, the two of us sometimes fight, because sometimes I don't want to be their emotional punching bag just because I suggested that while I don't know their situation after years of separation many formerly bigoted parents have come around in regards to their gay/trans children...

No, I know I'm just being cowardly. I know I need to reach out, regardless of my fears or exhaustion.

Also, while the two of us both struggle with mental health issues, we've learned to not talk about that because their approach is often to ask a lot of questions about how I'm feeling, which I often resent, because it just makes me feel the negative moods more, and a lot of the time the two of us just don't have enough emotional energy to help each other through our dark places. Instead our relationship often works as an escape valve, in which we'll swap extended jokes with our shared absurdist sense of humor (writing odes to curly fries, or erotica based on pretentious expensive wine reviews) and cute cat videos as a way to escape from the immediate shit of our lives.

I'm not good at reaching out. I'm really not. But I need to do this.

After things at home seemed to be spiraling downward (mother refused to let them bind, and had a lot of teary temper tantrums along the lines of "how could you so defile the body God gave you?!") and they were sinking into a very deep depression, I asked A if they ever considered leaving home, as there are many supportive people who would be willing to take them in, and they didn't sound safe at home. A said they could never leave, though they had come close to deciding to do so in the past, but they're dad is currently dying of Parkinson's, and they couldn't do that to him. Then at the end of January A told me that they were moving, into an apartment in the same building as the family, but would have a little more privacy and freedom. They texted me through the moving process and then on the 8th, the day after I thought they were supposed to move in, I got this:

Hey darling I'm getting the hell out of dodge
And by dodge I mean Minnesota
I'm safe and have a place to stay

(Note: they've never used the term "dodge" with me before, so I'm not sure what that means")

I texted them back saying I was glad to hear they were safe and working towards what's healthy for them and I was thinking of them and hoping for best and if they ever feel like talking I'm here. They texted back a thanks, and I mentioned an extended joke we have about secretly being elven nobility from a trashy paperback high fantasy novel (written by someone who read the dnd Player's Handbook while on shrooms and fancied himself the next Tolkien) who have been exiled into this world in human form because plot.

And I haven't heard from them since.

I asked a friend of mine, who is also close to A, if she knew what was going on, but she just said that things had suddenly changed with A and they had made her promise to not tell anyone what they had told her. Other than that I haven't told anyone, besides my parents who care about A deeply. My mom, who used to work at a battered womens shelter, asked me if A had made sure to take at least two forms of government issued ID, because its very hard to get those on your own, but I have no idea and I don't even know how/if I should ask. "Hello dear friend who I have not heard from in a bit, I just wanted to check in and make sure you followed proper procedure in regards to fleeing an abusive situation. Oh, you didn't remember that? Well, too late, guess you're screwed."

I know I need to reach out, I know I need to ask them how they're doing and how I can help. I know this is weighing on me and I've giving myself guilt trips and anxiety about what I need to do. I just don't know what to say. And selfishly I guess I'm afraid of them shutting me out, being unwilling to tell me anything because they haven't so far. But I know this is totally irrational, this isn't about me. Oh god I'm so bad with things like this, I never know what to say, how much its going to take...


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Post by Caffeinated on Thu Feb 12, 2015 12:54 pm

Wow, that's some complicated stuff. But I think that maybe a good way to deal with it is to do something simple. You could open the lines of communication with a text or email or message on whatever preferred platform, just saying something like "Hey, how's it going? I was thinking about you today. We haven't talked in a while." Something to let them know you're here, and you care, but not getting all into pressuring them about opening up to you about what's going on. That way they can respond when and how they choose, getting into things as much as they choose. Maybe they'll get in touch right away and want to go into things, or maybe they'll get in touch and keep things light, or maybe they won't be in touch for a while. But reaching out and opening a line of communication is a good thing to do for a friend.

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Post by Enail on Thu Feb 12, 2015 1:20 pm

Man, that sounds tough. A couple of things I'd suggest:

1. Your first priority is you. Your job is not to rescue them or to fix their situation. Your job is to be a friend in the ways that you are able to do without harming your own wellbeing. It's okay to decide X friend-thing is too stressful and Y friend-thing is a bad idea given how fraught our relationship is aroun that subject, I'll stick to doing Z, Q and D friend-things. Do not set yourself on fire to keep them warm.

2. Some people tend to become really bad at staying in touch when they're stressed, either because they find the act of getting in touch stressful or because they're introverts and stress dramatically increases their need for alone-time. Try not to read too much into it and worry too much if they don't get in touch as frequently as you'd expect or at all for a while.

3. Since your friendship tends to be the escape valve type, I don't think it would be a good idea to ask about the documents situation unless she decides to talk with you about what's going on or asks your advice about some of the practical things. Anyway, like you say, it's not going to do her much good to hear "you should have done this thing" when it's too late to do that thing - but maybe see if your mom has any advice on what to do if she doesn't have those documents, so that you can feel you've got something helpful to suggest if you do land up talking about things with her.

4. I think Caffeinated's suggestion is good. You could also try explicitly saying "if there's anything I can do to help, please let me know. Or, if you'd rather not talk about it, I'm happy to just send cat videos on command, don't feel pressured to talk about what's going on if you don't want to."

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