DEAR ABBY: My friend “Kate” has had a lot of trauma in her life, and she feels things very deeply. She has experienced assault, the suicide of a close friend, the death of several family members, discovered she can’t have children, and managed to escape an abusive relationship, all in the last five years or so.
Kate does all the things people are supposed to do when coping with grief and is doing very well. The problem is me. I find it hard to be around her because of all the drama. Intellectually, I understand none of this is Kate’s fault. She isn’t being attention-seeking or deliberately causing drama. But I find myself becoming impatient with her ongoing discussion of feelings. I’m not someone who feels deeply or is easily traumatized. Bad things happen, I get over it and move on. How can I learn to be the patient, caring friend she needs? – TRYING TO BE A BETTER FRIEND
DEAR TRYING: Quit being so hard on yourself. You are and have been a good friend. It’s important that you not allow Kate’s burdens to “sink” you. The two of you are very different people, and you should explain that to her as you have to me. If her trauma and drama become more than you can healthfully absorb, step back and tell her you will talk with her later, tomorrow or when it is convenient for you both, which will allow you time to come up for air.