What Would Debbie Do?
I Can’t Stand it Anymore
My freshman year in college, I was roommates with a girl who eventually became my best friend. I love her, but hate that she lets her mother run her life. Her mom lives two hours away from our college yet still manages to control my friend’s every move – she calls her every morning at 7:00 a.m to make sure she’s awake (much to my dismay since we share a room), calls her 10 more times throughout the day, tells her what tests she needs to study for and when, forces her to go to every study session on campus, and gives her a curfew for when we go out. She’s even majoring in what her mother wants her to – a subject she isn’t very good at, so she eventually had to switch schools because her grades got so bad.
I’m torn between feeling bad for her, and getting angry because she won’t stand up for herself. As far as I can tell, the only thing her mother can hold over her head is the fact that she pays for college – she could stop paying for it at any time.
I’ve listened countless times when she got in fights with her and complained to me about how she wished her mom would stay out of her life, yet the cycle continues. I want to help her, but what more can I do than simply tell her to take out loans and claim her independence? I love my best friend but this is getting ridiculous, and I’m getting tired of hearing the same story every day. She’s 19 and gets treated like 5-year-old. Help!
I’m going to give you some advice that has taken me YEARS to learn.
While it seems crystal clear to you that your friend is being manipulated by her mother, you will never be able to help her change the trajectory of her life until she’s ready to take her life back, and begin living it the way she wants.
I am always the one to see injustice. And I’ve always believed that if I identified it, I could fix it. I was wrong. The old adage “you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink,” is so true. So be a good friend, listen when she needs you, give her advice if she asks, but remember it’s up to her to act. You cannot make her act, even when you know you’re right.
That’s what I would do…