Why’s it so hard to be an adult and a good friend?
When “they” finally get around to writing the how-to-be-an-adult guide book it must include a chapter on how to be a good friend because it’s fast becoming the first casualty of being a “grown-up”.
I’m not talking about how impossible it is to see anyone that a) you don’t live with or b) you don’t work with anymore or how challenging it can be to make friends when you move to a new place or suffer through a divorce or break-up; but what happens when you hit a certain age and so many of us decide that it’s OK to just stop caring about each other anymore.
In the last seven days several news stories have struck as terrible reminders of just how low we set the bar on what it means to be a good friend and the importance of duty of care, especially when drugs and alcohol are involved.
Former Stereophonics drummer, Stuart Cable died alone on the downstairs level of his house after his partner and friend left him “asleep” to go to bed.
Benjamin Walters’s friends watched television while he overdosed on the drug, Meow Meow, and lay dying on the floor in front of them.
Putting aside the various side-effects of drug and alcohol abuse for a second and you’re left with two examples of careless, mindless and to a large degree selfish and stupid behaviour that ultimately cost two people their lives.
Jemima Lewis of the Telegraph wrote an incredibly poignant piece about her own an experience of needless loss after attending a memorial lunch (also this week) for an old friend. He died following a prolonged period of alcohol and drug abuse, an addiction that she explained, almost everyone was aware but no one ever said anything about:
“At social occasions, his friends would continue to ply him with drink – not because they wanted him to die, but because it would have been intolerably rude not to offer. It would have been an insult, a slur on his manhood, to suggest he couldn’t handle his drink – even though, by two in the morning, when he was attempting to crowd-surf the dinner party, it was plain enough to everyone.
The atmosphere at the gathering in his honour was strange: a mixture of grief, guilt, concern for the anguished widow, and – growing louder with each bottle
of wine – convivial chit-chat. Finally, a glass was clinked, a chair scraped back, and the dead man’s friends got up one by one to remember him.
What followed was a sort of greatest hits collection of drunken mishaps, culminating in the sozzled hero attempting to flee the police, very slowly, in a stolen JCB. The mourners wept with laughter as they remembered his anarchic spirit, his fearless embrace of the dark side.
But still nobody could bring themselves to state the obvious: that what made him a good source of outrageous anecdotes also made him a difficult friend, a heart-breaking son and, ultimately, a dead husband.”
It’s practically impossible to know everything about the people that you choose to share your life with and obviously, when it comes to drug and alcohol use, personal responsibility is key; but it doesn’t take a genius to recognise dangerous and destructive behaviour in people you love, especially when you see them on a regular basis.
The truth is there is never any excuse for letting friends take a path in life that you know could cause them harm without at least checking in every now and then and making sure they are still alright.
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