When is enough enough?


#1

When, as a good Catholic (or aspiring good Catholic;)) should you give up on someone?

I've posted here before and had some helpful answers and some that were less so: not because the advice was rubbish (often it was good advice and worth heeding) but because of the pedantic and compassionless way it was delivered.

I have a friend who, if circumstances were different, I would definitely consider husband material. He is without doubt one of the most considerate, kind, unselfish, down to earth and basically all round lovely human beings I have ever met. He is not a Catholic, but he is a Christian and does attend his family church.

Where I come from (might be different in the US, but somehow I doubt it!) it is rare indeed to find a man who can make it clear he finds you attractive and enjoys your company but never, ever puts any pressure on you to start a physical relationship. He knows exactly where I stand on dating married men (as in - I don't!) and he accepts that as far as I view the situation, he is still a married man, despite the fact he had a civil divorce over 20 years ago. Just to be clear - we have never held hands, kissed, slept together, had text sex etc.

It is rare to find such a genuine person and he really does make me want to become a better person too.

So.........no, I am NOT asking should I enter into a physical relationship with him! I already know that would be wrong and having it reiterated again and again like I am a naughty puppy is just painful. I do know that it is very likely, given the circumstances of his first marriage, that he would get an annulment - but that is his private business and anyway - he hasn't got one at this moment in time, so its still a big no! I am also not (as has been suggetsed) hoping he will wake up one morning 'see the light' and go and apply for one!

I can't put into words how much I value his company and his friendship and being truthful, I do find him very attractive - but I also have the willpower not to act on this. I never drink in his presence; never engineer a situation where we will be alone for long periods and always manage our contact so he never gets the wrong idea. He does know how I feel, as we've discussed it and he feels the same i.e. we'd like to be together, but accept that we can't - so we don't:thumbsup:

The real problem is, this friend is an alcoholic. Of course, this is another factor that would make a relationship a big no.

However, what does the Church say? I would do anything to help my friend. He has made a complete mess of his life through drink in many ways. I want to support him and work with him. I am not naive about alcoholism and I definitely don't need a lecture on its perils. I have seen a person dying of its effects and witnessed the effects this disease had on his family too.

My gut feeling is that I should continue to see this man and continue our friendship, because with God's help, I am strong enough to do so. I have my head screwed on; he respects this and we get through, despite some sticky moments. He is starting to really open up to me and is even considering getting professional help and if walked away now, I would feel I am failing him.

It is really hard sometimesm because I do love him (note I said 'love' and not 'lust after')
and the Church does teach us to live in hope and that nobody is beyond redemption.
Also, who ever managed to live a really good life without putting themselves out there and taking some risks?!

The hard-line approach is 'don't have non Catholic male friends that you find attractive as you are setting yourself up for a big fall and it will all end in tears!'

Or even 'what will other people think of the relationship?'

Of course, Jesus only ever hung around with the worthy, good and educated and socially acceptable....:rolleyes:hmmmm, I think not!

I do realise though, that technically I am putting myself in a situation where I am more at risk of sinning than if I stayed at home and read a book! I also realise that by risking seeing him, I am perhaps - maybe - helping him and me become better people and if I have faith, I have to believe there is hope that with prayers and perseverence he may one day overcome his demons. He is deeply ashamed of the person he sees himself as and I just wish I could make him see he is still worth loving.

So, finally :D the question is - when do I say 'enough is enough - I can't do any more'
I do hope one day to get married and to be honest, I can't see any other man understanding the relationship I have with this one! I can't really see myself 'moving on' as people so tritely say, because due to the problems in our path and the courage and respect it has taken on both sides to negotiate our way, this does feel more like proper love than any of the relationships I've had with 'respectable' partners.

A final plea - I hope I have conveyed that this is a very personal and painful subject for me. Genuine advice is gratefully accepted - but posts like "I would never have let it get to this in the first place" and not really helping anyone but the poster - who might feel a bit worthy for a few minutes!


#2

I understand that this will probably not go anywhere becos of various reasons.. i would suggest that you have him interact with good strong catholic men who will show him the right way..
guard your heart! although i know that women try to be strong but it is very difficult to not get hurt in this process...

we are caregivers by nature so it is very difficult to be pragmatic..


#3

[quote="Rose71, post:1, topic:188694"]
When, as a good Catholic (or aspiring good Catholic;)) should you give up on someone? WHEN THE RELATIONSHIP HAS STARTED TO REDUCE (OR LOOKS LIKE IT'S ABOUT TO REDUCE) YOUR -CATHOLIC- FAITH, AND YOUR (STRONG) RELATIONSHIP TO GOD IN THE TRINITY.

he is still a married man, despite the fact he had a civil divorce over 20 years ago. Just to be clear - I KNOW YOU DON'T WANT TO HEAR THIS, BUT THIS IS NOT GOOD.

The real problem is, this friend is an alcoholic. Of course, this is another factor that would make a relationship a big no. YOU ARE CORRECT. YOU NEVER WANT TO ENTER A RELATIONSHIP WITH SOMEONE WITH SUCH A PROBLEM.

However, what does the Church say? WELL, IT'S NOT A SIN TO ENTER A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM, BUT,........

He is ..........considering (ONLY 'CONSIDERING') getting professional help and if walked away now, I would feel I am failing him. IF YOU WALKED AWAY NOW -BECAUSE IT'S THE BEST THING FOR YOU, THEN, NO, YOU ARE NOT FAILING HIM.

It is really hard sometimesm because I do love him (note I said 'love' and not 'lust after')
and the Church does teach us to live in hope and that nobody is beyond redemption.
Also, who ever managed to live a really good life without putting themselves out there and taking some risks?! OF COURSE WE ARE CALLED TO HELP, TO LOVE, TO CARE; BUT BECAUSE OF YOUR 'EMOTIONAL' ATTACHMENT TO HIM, WELL, -TRUST ME AS THE THERAPIST I AM,- HE REALLY NEEDS 'PROFESSIONAL HELP.

The hard-line approach is 'don't have non Catholic male friends that you find attractive as you are setting yourself up for a big fall and it will all end in tears!' THERE IS TRUTH TO THIS.

Or even 'what will other people think of the relationship?' NEVER MIND OTHER PEOPLE, BUT WHAT DOES GOD THINK, WHAT DOES **GOD **WANT YOU TO DO?

Of course, Jesus only ever hung around with the worthy, good and educated and socially acceptable....:rolleyes:hmmmm, I think not! NONE OF US ARE JESUS, PSYCHOLOGICALLY SPEAKING.

I do realise though, that technically I am putting myself in a situation where I am more at risk of sinning -YOUR WORDS-

I have to believe there is hope that with prayers YES, **HOPE **IS A WONDERFUL THING, BUT HOPE ALONE DOESN'T SOLVE COMPLICATED PROBLEMS.

He is deeply ashamed of the person he sees himself as and I just wish I could make him see he is still worth loving. YOU CAN'T "MAKE" HIM. --AGAIN, HE NEEDS PROFESSIONAL HELP.

So, finally :D the question is - when do I say 'enough is enough - YOUR DESIRE TO HELP HIM IS ADMIRABLE, BUT GIVEN EVERYTHING YOU SAID, AND THE FACT THAT YOU ARE "ASKING" THIS QUESTION, IS IT NOT CLEAR TO YOU THAT YOU ARE NOT TOTALLY AT PEACE WITH THIS? YOU CAN BE HELPFUL FROM A -EMOTIONAL/PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTANCE-, BUT YOU YOURSELF SAID THAT THIS RELATIONSHIP IS RISKY.

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#4

I respectfully disagree. Marriage vows exchange not only the physically sexual exclusivity. A non-physical romantic relationship is off-limits too.


#5

Thanks everyone.


#6

there are several people in my life with whom i cannot have the kind of relationship i'd like because of addiction.

yours is doubly so because he's married.

do i give up on them?

no. i've made a lifelong committment to pray for them, offer reparation for them and Masses, too. my heart is crushed in heaps of pieces. i cry a lot in prayer.

do i continue to try and prove something to them-- prove they are loveable? no. that is God's job (He's doing it.) and their job to listen (I cannot make that happen no matter how hard i try.) enabling the addict by trying to prove his/her loveableness is a real distinct and dangerous possibilty. i don't do it.

in the course of this, i've learned a very painful (old Catholic writers call 'disinterested) prayer, "Lord, give him healing and conversion whether or not I ever know about it in this life-- whether or not I ever enjoy it in this life. let it be done, not because it would please him, not because it would please me but because it pleases **You **Lord."


#7

Hi Chevalier, my mistake for not being clearer. I was not referring to a “romantic” relationship. I meant a “friendship” relationship. That’s what I meant when I ended by saying: “helpful from an emotional/psychological distance”.


#8

[quote="Rose71, post:5, topic:188694"]
Thanks everyone.

[/quote]

My prayers are with you Rose. And I hope that you trust our good Lord enough to lift all this into His arms, and listen to what He is trying to say to you. "Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46.

God's many blessings upon you.


#9

I grew up in a divorced family. My father was an alcoholic. One things is absolute with people suffering with such additions, it is always best to keep your distance from them, not only for their sake but for your own sake and the folks you love as well. Getting in any kind of a relationship with a divorced person of the opposite sex is seriously wrong. Though the attraction may be strong it is not in either of your best interest. Pray for him, direct him towards therapy, but keep a safe but friendly distance from him. And please seek counseling on the matter for yourself from your pastor and hopefully a therapist faithful to the Church’s teaching. That will be your best bet for seeking advice.

On another note. The Spirit in me seems to be telling me that you are coming close to the near occassion of sin and should protect yourself as well as your friend by abstaining from your visitations. As difficult as that may sound I have a strong suspicion that you should follow my advice on this. I suspect that this is the real truth and why you’ve posted on this forum such a strong subjects seeking advice from strangers…maybe hoping for the okay. Maybe hoping for someone to convince your brain that your heart was wrong. Trust me, I’ve been in a situation before that I’m deeply ashamed of that fortunately I realized the depth of how wrong it was after I stopped being so angry at God. That was over 25 years ago now and I often forget about it but still feel compelled to do penance for my sinful behavior. Lord Jesus Christ Son of the Father, have mercy on me a sinner. The Lord blessed me with a wife 4 eyars later but even then I made bad choices believing I was right but discovering the mercy of God in Him showing me how I was wrong. My wife converted to Catholicisim with the rest of my family. I’m 48 now and even though the pain of our differences continue to hurt at times she still is my lovely wife worthy of someone much better than me. I gave up my faith to be with her. Now she gave up communion with her family’s faith to remain with me after I realized I was wrong for leaving the Catholic Church.

Sometimes we have to make difficult decisions in spite of how we feel inside. Its best to cut the chord to protect you both than to risk both of your salvation if you choose to make a mistake for a feeling. Sorry, but that’s the hard answer.

I’ll be praying for you along with the others I pray for this Lent.

Peace,


#10

Thanks again for all your kind words. To answer a few points raised, in no particular order:

What I was hoping for by way of a response from complete strangers (as opposed to mutual friends who know both of us) was along the lines of "ok, you have genuinely tried to do your very best by this man: but you are not a failure as a Catholic or a human being if you conclude you have done all you can now and need to walk away"
I understand the risks of becoming an enabler and I am sure this is not something I am doing. I am absolutely clear with him where he stands with me.
I would not describe anything about the relationship as 'romantic' because to me this implies some loved-up, head in the clouds detachment from reality. I can see very clearly that this person is both married in the eyes of the Church and, unkind as it sounds to say it, unable to function as a rational, independent human being.
Yes, I have admitted to myself that (when sober) I find him attractive and he does have qualities (when sober) that put most other men I have known to shame. I feel it is healthy to acknowledge to myself how I feel - and thus make myself more vigilant towards the risk of losing objectivity.
The flip side is that it angers me greatly to see anyone floundering in such a sorry state when I can see there is a good person inside there who does truly want to change. Above all, I am supposed to be his friend and a Christian. I want to be strong and of course I pray for him but I feel I ought to do more!
Why? Well, it was my growing friendship with him, followed by finding out he was married (he had told me he was single which in his eyes, he is) that lead me to examine what being a Catholic really meant to me. That is how I stumbled accross you guys! :)
I now have stronger faith and am better informed about the teachings of the Church on marriage.
I also spoke to AA and the lady I spoke to was great. She is an alcoholic herself (as she said there is no cure)but she explained she was close to killing herself with drink and had it not been for a good friend who told her straight what she was doing to herself and was there with her to help her pluck up the courage to face up to her problems, she would probably be dead.
She begged me to stick by my friend.
I feel as though I have been set on a course that I am struggling to cope with! I do not want to let my friend down: I do not want to slip up myself and drag him further down with me!
There is nobody I can talk to here. My priest is not interested and the friends who know us both all seem to have this expectation that because we get along so well and he actually listens to me, that I am 'the one' who can sort him out!
I feel sometimes I am carrying a huge burden and all I wanted was a few fellow RCs to share it with and because I have no idea who any of you are, it makes it easier.
What I really want to do now is arrange to meet him again, sit down and explain that I have done all I can to be a good friend. I have already told him why it can't go further and now the pressure of trying to be friends is becomming too much for me and for both our sakes, I have to walk away.
I know I will be in floods of tears saying this but I have to say it to his face.
I do feel I have failed him as a friend though :( I just hope God keeps an eye on him. Its like I got so far getting him to trust me and now I'm letting him down.
Thanks again for all your parayers and kind words.You have all been a great help and I will pray for you too :)


#11

[quote="Rose71, post:10, topic:188694"]

There is nobody I can talk to here. My priest is not interested and the friends who know us both all seem to have this expectation that because we get along so well and he actually listens to me, that I am 'the one' who can sort him out!

[/quote]

Rose dear, if there's one thing I can emphasize it's this: As difficult as it appears, -that "there is nobody that you can talk to", I have full trust that there IS someone to talk to somewhere somehow. God has not abandoned you, (or your friend). Continue to pray ferverently asking God to lead you (or that He bring someone to you) to *someone * that you can talk to, someone stong in our Catholic faith. From what I'm reading, you are rational, sincere in your "Christian' desire to help. I generally agree with all you've written, and will pray strongly for you, your friend, and your situation. Be assured that many people here will be there for you in prayer also, and together we can move mountains, -slowly, but powerfully, (with Him, and in Him).


#12

She begged me to stick by my friend.
…I feel sometimes I am carrying a huge burden and all I wanted was a few fellow RCs to share it with and because I have no idea who any of you are, it makes it easier.
What I really want to do now is arrange to meet him again, sit down and explain that I have done all I can to be a good friend. I have already told him why it can’t go further and now the pressure of trying to be friends is becomming too much for me and for both our sakes, I have to walk away.
I know I will be in floods of tears saying this but I have to say it to his face.
I do feel I have failed him as a friend though I just hope God keeps an eye on him. Its like I got so far getting him to trust me and now I’m letting him down.
Thanks again for all your parayers and kind words.You have all been a great help and I will pray for you too

rose, i’m a sober alcoholic in AA too. i fear the woman on the phone may have been misleading. if telling a loved one how alochol is killing them, i.e., interventions-- if they were so successful, then there wouldn’t be a drunk alcoholic left stumbling around. most of us have left wakes of brokenhearted loved ones begging us to ammend ourselves. most of us had friends who cared.

that was the profound, astonishing devastating selfishness of my alcoholism-- i didn’t stop drinking till it affected me more than i could take. i wasnt terribly interested in how bad my drinking was affecting my loved ones… and when i ***did ***feel guilty over letting you all down, the cure was to take another drink…

and when i was sober, i was a mensch. a real stand-up gal.

so, on it went.

anyway, rose, you’re not a failure. you say you hope God takes care of him. that’s the thing, isn’t it? are you going to keep praying for this guy forever? if so, you’re a better friend than he may ever know (in this life.)


#13

Hi Rose,

I can totally relate to wanting to post a big problem and people making inconsiderate remarks. So in that respect you have my heart felt sympathy for n0t having enough ears to listen.

However, I also know that it would not do you any favours to hide the truth. In between the lines of your posts, I sense there are deeper issues. And the BIG advantage of this man in your life is that he is the perfect excuse to not have to look at yourself.

1-) You say he is off limits because he is still married in the eyes of the Catholic church but you love him just the same. What a great way to avoid intimacy!!!!! Thanks to him, you do not have the inconvenience of a relathionship AND no need to try to meet the man for you

2-) It also appears you have a care taker issue. Deep down, do you not feel honoured that all your friends think you are the one who could turn him around? (The only woman who turn men around are in the movies. Everyday men make their own decisions)

3-) The more time you spend thinking of this man, the more distracted you are from your issues. Great way to hide!

You do NOT owe it to him to tell him face to face. You owe it to YOU to take care of yourself.

Gob Bless

CM


#14

This is indeed what you should do.

This man needs something that you cannot give him, and you will just wear yourself out trying. It will be painful, but give him up and don’t give in if he tries to get your attention back.

You are *not *failing him as a friend, because you are not where he can find what he needs. Pray for him, but stay away.


#15

:slight_smile: A quick update by way of thanks to all who posted advice.

I have now broken off contact with my friend. His problem had become so bad, the decision was almost made for me anyway and when it came to the end, it wasn’t as difficult as I had built it up to be! I hope I did it quickly and clearly, for his sake and of course I will always pray for him and remember that underneath all his problems, he has many good qualities.

So thank you everyone :thumbsup:for stopping by to help a stranger!


#16

[quote="Rose71, post:15, topic:188694"]
:) A quick update by way of thanks to all who posted advice.

I have now broken off contact with my friend. His problem had become so bad, the decision was almost made for me anyway and when it came to the end, it wasn't as difficult as I had built it up to be! I hope I did it quickly and clearly, for his sake and of course I will always pray for him and remember that underneath all his problems, he has many good qualities.

So thank you everyone :thumbsup:for stopping by to help a stranger!

[/quote]

Your a strong person. God Bless you. I'm sure this was tough.

For what's it worth, I'm proud of you.


#17

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