I did a dumb thing ... I think?

Ffft. Early on after quitting drinking, I had to eject a person from my life whom I have been friends with for years, but is basically the type of person who will work so hard to “please” you that you feel suffocated. Add to that he was my employee, where he would constantly disrespect my decisions and challenge me on the job site, I just couldn’t take it anymore - it’s like as soon as I decided to quit drinking, he lost his balance and started acting out. After a couple of months of quiet, peaceful distance I had to be in contact regarding a design I did for his parent’s house. Yesterday he came over and the visit was surprisingly pleasant. I had offered to help him. inish some of the planting on the project and asked if he wouldn’t mind helping me with something (I had a huge pile of pavers that needed restacking). I decided that I wasn’t going to ask him for anything unless it was a fair trade deal - I let him do too many things for me over the course of our friendship and it was a big mistake. At any rate, I had ordered food and he went to pick it up and he left his cell phone on my coffee table. I’ve never snooped through a cell phone where I didnt find exactly what I thought I was going to find (I’d never looked through his before in the 5 years we’ve known each other, however). Call it a 6th sense … anyway, I scrolled through messenger and saw various folks I expected to find of his friends, then I saw 2 names who were my friends that he actually never met until my housewarming party last year. I clicked on the older woman’s name/convo - she and I have known each other since before I met him, is also a recovering alcoholic, and has been, while not constantly present, someone whom I share a respect and affinity for, who was also extremely supportive after my mother passed away. The gyst of their conversation was that they had run into each other at a bike show, soon after I fired him, and he had shared with her his lamenting about that situation and apparently that I was trying to get sober and was somehow raging, even though when I fired him we had a very calm and rational conversation about exactly why (my sanity, his happiness, etc.) and being crazy. I scanned the convo quickly because I knew I wasn’t going to be happy reading everything but the things he was saying about me were as if he’d been living in an alternate universe as me. And, the way he was playing it seemed like he was trying to get pity. My initial reaction was - is it normal for co-dependent people to use your sobriety process to elicit pity from others? Am I wrong for thinking there’s no way I could ever trust him again with my secrets? That’s the worst part for me - he has no sense of loyalty or personal boundaries (I know, hypocritical much?) at this point. I never ever discuss my friends’ personal pains and failures with others (unless it’s in therapy or.some.similar situation like this), and especially not others who also know them. I told him a long time ago that I hope he wasn’t being so helpful because he was hoping I’d date him, and then I woke up one morning after a black out next to him in bed. If you think that was bad, my drinking only got worse because I was so appalled at myself for that, and knew I just unleashed a huge mess on myself (a year of yo-yoing back and forth because I didn’t want to hurt him but couldnt stand the idea of having a sexual relationship ship with him). And now, I feel like he’s using my sobriety as a way to elicit pity. And sharing my deep personal secrets from my past that only he knows in the process while inserting all kinds of crazy details that are clearly fabrications of his unwell thought processes. I did it to myself by snooping, and I feel hurt, but I’m mostly questioning the value of ever having him in my life again. I really want to hear folks’ opinions on this.

One seeking answers should be prepared for recieving painful ones.

Everyone will disappoint us at sometime. The closer the person, the more the pain.

Inspite of his betrayal of your trust and his throwing away discretion for personal gain, you have confirmed that he is not someone that you want to have in your life.

Do a favor for both of you: let the friendship wither and die. If you run into him, be pleasant, but distant. Don’t confront him about what you found. Just leave it and move forward. He’s part of your old life. Your new one is full, with no room for spiritual vampires.


Thanks! I’m well-girded to endure painful truths. I appreciate brutal honesty to vagueness and beating around the bush. And, I’ve been mulling the same as you describe since I woke up this morning. I find I still need to touch base to be sure my mental/emotional responses to such things are healthy. I don’t trust myself yet.


I agree with @Yoda-Stevie. Walk away from this friendship. Too much hurt exists for this to be healthy.

I understand your feelings of hurt and betrayal at having your sobriety disclosed without your permission. I had a similar situation. A trusted friend of mine shared my story with another of our friends - a woman to whom I am not particularly close. Initially I felt betrayed and angry. Rather than let resentment build, I used that experience as a lesson about sharing my sobriety. I also learned that, while there are many things I appreciate about this particular friend, I gained an important lesson about her sense of judgement and boundaries.

It seems that you learned two important lessons today. 1. There is nothing healthy in continuing a relationship of any kind with this man. 2. If a relationship leaves you so uneasy that you choose to lower your standards of acceptable behavior, then it is best to walk away from that relationship with your heart and your dignity intact.


It is wise to seek the objective counsel of others, especially those with whom you don’t have so many emotional ties, or who cannot use the information you share to their own advantage.


I agree. And I sincerely appreciate the feedback I’m getting so far. After posting this, I started having huge anxiety as I know I need to see him again today so I canceled. I am realizing he is a huge trigger for me, which I thought would abate with time, but obviously not. And it’s creating serious introspection into what it is about our relationship is causing the anxiety. Some of it’s obvious and others I’m just starting to unpack as it relates to my emotional needs and health. O tend to have few friends, but with whom I am very close and he has been the closest friend in my recent past. That’s hard to lose but the friendship cultivated was, overall, toxic and I cant be responsible for his emotional health when I’m trying to fix mine. Pray for me today, my chest is as tight as a drum and I’m reeling, but I have to get on with my day.


Absolutely! I would love that.

You sound like an introvert. I am a natural introvert myself. I have a small pool of friends with whom the depth of the friendship goes beyond general respect and pleasantries. It is especially tough on the introvert, when a friendship is based on an emotional exchange with an extrovert. They can literally suck the energy right out of you, and they can do it faster than you can recharge.

Detach from this, and keep getting better at getting better.


I am very much an introvert!!

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I have spent a good portion of the last couple of days thinking this over. Yes, letting him go completely is the right way to go, but unfortunately, I dont think the wither and die strategy will work, since he has shown up out of the blue at my house on the past when I just stopped talking to him or responding to him. I used to tell him I needspace, but he never heard me then, and now I feel like I will need to make some sort of clear declaration where the line is clearly, painfully and irrevocably drawn for him to get it. I’ve had nothing but anxiety about trying to do it in person. I am not sure how to do this just the right way - he doesn’t have a healthy sense of personal boundaries and I have an instinct to go for his jugular, so to speak, just to make myself abundantly clear.

Yeah. Be clear, concise, firm. Don’t leave any wiggle room. Also, a neutral, public place is best.


I appreciate the feedback but I’m struggling to understand the value of this. I mean, it seems really passive aggressive and manipulative.

Being upset - as in, having an emotional response internally that I did not share, is not passive aggressive. Nor was this the straw that broke the camel’s back, rather, just a reminder of why I should have stuck to my guns the first time I tried to cut off ties with him. But in a moment of weakness, I asked him for help, and immediately regretted it. And not just because of what I found in his phone. It’s definitely caused a significant amount of I trospection on my part and has reaffirmed that he does not bring out the best in me and that if I’m going to stay sober, I cant have him in my life. The problem I’m having at the moment is how to say this in person- again - the last time was just after I quit drinking, and now the thought of doi g it, for some strange reason, is causing extreme anxiety which I normally dont suffer from. So therein lies my struggle, how to do it cleanly without causing myself, or him, additional distress more than the “ending of it” will naturally cause?

I’ve been reciting the serenity prayer all day, focusing on the courage part. If I can muster the courage and get over my newly-appearing anxiety, then I’ll get it done. What I don’t want to do is waste my emotional energy trying to use it as one last attempt to help him see some sort of light … he has his own path of recovery/therapy or whatever it is he needs and I can’t take any responsibility for it. I’ve already wasted too much on that over the last few years and I’m just tired.

Agreed. I am trying to do that. Talking it out helps a lot.

In the S-Anon world, snooping through phones or computers, reading journals, or otherwise invading the privacy of others to confirm the awful truth that is already “known” is called “pain shopping”. Just food for thought.


I can’t believe you looked in his phone. Yikes!!!

Prefacing most statements with “I can’t believe you did …” is pretty judgy. Everyone who shares stupid/embarassing/painful things here has plenty of stuff they’re lready ashamed of. We don’t do it to garner more shame, but to learn from our mistakes and move in an forward direction. I learned that it’s not worth looking, and if I am suddenly feeling the need to do something like that again, there must be a reason and instead of stooping to that level, it’s probably better to just walk away.


That makes perfect sense. I don’t think I really “knew” what I was looking for, to be honest, I just had a gut feeling, and yeah, all day yesterday I was asking my self “WTF are you doing, TRYING to bring drama?” I dont know where it’s coming from, I have been blissfully drama free since I quit drinking.

It’s coming from a need to excise that last bit of drama from your life, I think.

Your gut told you to look? Why? Because you know this person well enough to imagine him doing what he did, which you confirmed.

I don’t see this as any different than someone who suspects their SO is cheating, so they check the phone, and sure enough, they find what they were looking for.

From time to time, I misplace my glasses. I’ve never looked on the roof for them. Nope. I look at the obvious, and sure enough, I find what I am seeking.

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