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Help Me Please, I'm Writing As A Desperate Friend . . .


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#1 Bais Yaakov Girl

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 07:27 PM

I don't know exactly where this belongs, but I need serious help. As my username implies, I'm a Bais Yaakov girl in a frum community. There's a lot of isolation in my small suburban community, and as a result a lot of girls tend to rebel. I'm only a freshman, and I'm already seeing a lot of issues among classmates of mine. Honestly though, I need specific help with a close friend of mine.
 
There's a certain girl in my class. I've known her for several years now. She is very smart and a kind person. She sees me as a confidante so I know a lot about her; she is the last of eleven children and her father is bipolar. Privately she told me that at times she "hates him"; she says that it was different when she was younger because she could forgive him, but now she holds a deep grudge in her heart against him. 
 
She's very pretty but also insecure with herself, so it shouldn't have surprised me, maybe, when she took up with boys, like all of her sisters did. For several months already she's been "hanging out" with boys in parks . . . at midnight. At first, she assured me, it was all platonic, but then it quickly changed into physical relationships. Her grades slipped, she became even more insecure with herself. She informed me that she desperately wants to stop - in her words, "I want to stop breaking the laws of shomer negiah, etc., but I don't want to stop hanging out with boys."
 
At first I was concerned because, besides the fact that she is breaking a huge mitzvah, she's also endangering her life. The park she goes to is in an extremely dangerous neighborhood; there are known to be murders and assaults, and she is a teenage girl with only the protection of a fifteen-year-old boy. After months of debate (and, admittedly, several tissue boxes worth of tears) I went to a teacher who I knew had helped other girls and might be able to help her. This teacher guessed immediately who the girl was, and I felt both relieved and unhappy with myself for breaking the confidence. Unfortunately, over a month later, this teacher has not brought it up at all. This girl is still meeting boys in parks at midnight.
 
Now, though, I'm even more worried for her. Her self esteem was never very high, and I sense her deep repulsion and unhappiness with herself. She says that sometimes she feels dirty and degraded, and she doesn't feel like she can change but she's hurting deeply.
 
This is the exact text of what I sent her when she commented that she feels disgusting:

 
"You were dealt a unique set of circumstances that might make you feel messed-up or insecure, but only you have the ability to make something of yourself over them. Sometimes you'll mess up and make mistakes, and sometimes you'll lose against temptation. And sometimes you'll triumph over it and there is no greater feeling. If you're working on yourself and you know who you are, then there is room for change and improvement. Right now if you're confused and insecure and hurt you can't completely change. It'll take effort and a lot of power but right now what you have to do is find yourself and then you can improve yourself. God made you beautiful and it'll always be a struggle but I know that behind all that beauty lies a brain and right now I think you're still searching for yourself. Right now I don't want you to beat yourself up or blame yourself, I want you to take a step back and ask yourself if you'll be ashamed of this in 10 years . . . and I think only you can decide what is right for you. Be yourself and be proud of it, but I want you to remember who you are and how you got there."

 

Her response was that I'd given her something to think about, but just days later she was back to self-loathing.

 

I thought maybe I could help her, or at least I hoped I could. Believe it or not, I've been stressed and losing sleep - and it's not as if I got a lot of sleep to begin with - over her. I just want advice. Please don't tell me to criticize her deeds - I don't thinks that's what she needs. It's a vicious cycle, and I wouldn't post this if I didn't honestly need advice.

 

What would you do? Please help!



#2 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 13 May 2013 - 08:04 PM

There are two issues here:

 

1) This girl's self-loathing

2) This girl's issue with boys.

 

The first one - the self-loathing - is the easier one to deal with. Teach her the letter from Rav Hutner that I have for years said is required reading for all teenagers in the world You can find most of it in English here (see my post of 11/23/11) but if you can do it in Loshon Hakodesh, it is a billions times better. The translation, correct though it may be, loses a tremendous amount of the impact that the original has. You can find it in פחד יצחק, מכתבים סימן קכח. 

 

Explain to her also that this particular Aveirah is the single hardest thing in the Torah to refrain from, and that the Gemora says that many people in Klall Yistoel are one way or another, one time or another, נכשל in it. Also, the reason we have so many Gedorim and Siyagim in this area - more than anywhere else in the Torah - is because staying far away is the only way to prevent yourself from being burnt. it is perfectly fine for her to know she did something wrong - which apparently she is already well aware - but she should know that her giving in to temptation was not at all an easy thing to prevent. Especially in her case where tremendous emotional needs contributed to the temptation as well.

 

Now, as far as the issue itself. First, as you probably know, it is never "just platonic."

 

Explain to her what is happening to her. See here. This 14 year old girl has no idea what she's gotten into. Both in terms of the level of loathing she has for herself as well as in terms of what exactly is happening to her. She thinks that it was "platonic." She thinks she should hate herself for the fact that it turns out it's not. She is seriously out of her depth here. You need to explain to her that these things are never platonic, that they permeate one's self through and through and that what is happening to her is both the most complex of emotional-psychological experiences and at the same time the simplest operation of nature. 

 

In other words, she's looking for a teddy bear but she's igniting a nuclear bomb. Please get her to understand what she's gotten into.

 

The questions is, what should you do now? The answer to that is, you should be there to hold her hand and give her Chizuk to help her through the grueling climb out of this rut that needs to take. See here. I once asked a prominent therapist who specializes in dealing with addictions  how therapy can treat addiction.

 

“Therapy is only words,” I said. “What is there in words that can undo addiction?”
 
His answer was remarkable. He said that the therapy does not impact on the addiction. That strength has to come from the client himself. The function of therapy is to “hold the hand” of the client during the agonizing experience of being locked in constant battle with himself. The therapy enhances his resolution and strength so he can make it through the pain.
 
That is your job with this girl now. Be her friend; give her chizuk and encouragement; give her advice when she is willing to listen; help her every step of the way because there's going to be many many steps. And show her how much her struggle inspires you and keep telling her that Hashem is rooting for her.
 
The rest is up to her. Don't forget - she is a בעלת בחירה and she has to make her own decisions. You can come in when she needs help carrying out her decision. But at the end of the day, you can't control her. You can just be a friend.
 
Don't underestimate that - being a friend is very powerful. But it is not a magic wand.


#3 achasshoalti

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 05:53 PM

see here for the lashon hakodesh version of the Rav Hutner Letter



#4 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 06:15 PM

Thank you.



#5 Bais Yaakov Girl

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Posted 02 November 2013 - 07:42 PM

It's around a year later, and things have gotten far worse than I'd expected.

 

This girl is now dating an 18-year-old boy (she just turned 15). She confides in me many of the details of her relationship, and the truth is that I'm not comfortable hearing them. All of the times I tried to comfort her and encourage her she felt better just for a few days and then went back to her usual ways.

 

She considers me one of her closest friends, but the truth is that honestly, hearing about her boyfriend makes me sort of jealous and also very worried. I'm wondering at this point what my responsibility towards her is. If I abandon her, she will most likely get worse, and I will feel horrible for it, but if I stay close friends with her I will be tortured and also tempted to go in her path.

 

Please give me advice.



#6 Morgenstern

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 01:17 AM

It's around a year later, and things have gotten far worse than I'd expected.

 

This girl is now dating an 18-year-old boy (she just turned 15). She confides in me many of the details of her relationship, and the truth is that I'm not comfortable hearing them. All of the times I tried to comfort her and encourage her she felt better just for a few days and then went back to her usual ways.

 

She considers me one of her closest friends, but the truth is that honestly, hearing about her boyfriend makes me sort of jealous and also very worried. I'm wondering at this point what my responsibility towards her is. If I abandon her, she will most likely get worse, and I will feel horrible for it, but if I stay close friends with her I will be tortured and also tempted to go in her path.

 

Please give me advice.

Well first you need to get over your jealousy. When you hear this girl talk about her relationship, the reason you become jealous is because you wish you were part of a romantic relationship with someone else which is the normal human disposition. You think there is something to be gained from it. You have to first know that its all just an illusion. Rabbi Avigdor Miller brings down that the only loving relationship that G-d desires Jews to have is that which is between a man and a woman who have been through kiddushin. This is whats G-d's ratzon is, and anything else is just a falsehood with nothing of eternal benefit.

So you must be conscious that your friend has been caught in this trap. Shes a teenager. She doesn't have the maturity to see the futility in her actions. You just have to be there for her when the illusion comes crashing down on her and to not judge her or make her feel bad.



#7 taon

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 10:39 PM

I dont know what you can say to help her at this point, just be there when she needs you and with Hashem's help she'll come out of it. With Hashem's help, not too painfully (I doubt 15-18 realtionsips tend to work out well). Your nisayon is your problem right now. It might help to stay a little further away, not to seperate from her, but give some more space. particularly when this comes up. perhaps show you are uncomfortable.  what really helps is to remind yourself what you really want to be and what your goals are.go to the Platonic Relationship section of the old site for chizuk and inspiration. spend more time around more girls who are careful in these areas, as well. I know the feeling in other areas, society pushes certain world views as positive so much, we feel weird and inadequate. we need to remember that it is all empty, and useless to go there. You know that in the long run, youre preparign yourself for a better and more meaningful relationship.



#8 Struggling teen

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Posted 27 November 2013 - 05:46 PM

Bais yaakov girl I def can't compare myself to her my situation is very different but I can tell u that being there for her like rly being there for her like if she needs a shoulder tocry on or etc just to love her feeel for her care for her etc I know that will feel likethe world to her bec I know if I felt that even one person cares for me loves me feels for me etc or there when I need a shoulder and I dnt just hav to go to my pillow it would be very good.

For yourself bec u don't wnt to get influenced when she talks abt boys or something that makes u feel uncomfortable try to tune out and don't engage in a conversation like that and she might ask u after a while what's the problem ur acting weird and u can say very nicely that this subject is not the best subject for you u dnt mind talking to her abt other things just this is. Problem

Good luck

#9 goddessofdance

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 06:10 PM

Obviously, every unique situation is extremely different, and many things change depending on the personality of any given person. However, with what you're describing, it sounds like your situation is similar to something I've been through, in terms of feeling tortured about not being able to do more. I've had actually two situations that were similar to this. In both cases, I felt responsible for the other person's happiness and felt the need to do whatever it takes to make them feel better. Even if they only felt better for a few minutes. The problem was, because I was trying to make them happy, I was giving so much of myself, that it was literally killing me. I was being used, manipulated, controlled...and mind you, not necessarily on purpose. I'm 100% sure that those people didn't want to hurt me! I know that they loved me, but because they were sick - something beyond what I could control - they acted in ways that were unhealthy without realizing it. So again, they are NOT bad people. They are simply sick. And sometimes we're strong enough to help them, and are equipped with the tools, and sometimes where not. And these times, I realized (with help from other people) that I needed to distance myself, and in one extreme case, cut off all contact with that person...because helping them was killing me. I couldn't have a life. I was being so tortured over trying to make them happier and realize what they were doing, I was being so tortured over trying to fix something that I couldn't fix. Because no matter how many minutes I could make them happy, the underlying problem would never go away if they didn't get help. So while they weren't getting any better, I was just getting worse.

 

For you, I'd say, you need to figure out if you're strong enough to handle this. Now, I'm not saying to abandon that person..cuz sometimes, all someone really needs is just to know that there's someone who cares about them and is willing to listen. But if you're getting hurt, while the situation is never getting better cuz she's not dealing with her problems, you have a lot to think about. I don't think you'll be happy with this, cuz I'm not giving you a concrete answer. But there is no concrete answer when you're dealing with human beings with emotions and feelings. Do you have someone older than you that you could talk to? Or maybe suggest to her to talk to someone older who can help her?