. The good news is that I've grown a backbone and I'm now willing to tell my mentally ill friend "no" about coming to visit right now. The bad news is that I've been waffling for so long, and at such a cost to his mental health, that things have gotten more complicated. I want to know: am I morally obligated to let him come at this point, and if not, what kind of excuse/explanaton can I use to let him down easy? (Really long.)
(This won't make much sense unless you've read the previous question.)
So. In the couple of months since my first question, I've continued to string my friend along, even as I've slowly convinced myself that I can handle telling him "no" and the massive fallout that follows. But as it got late in the semester, I realized that I could pull off making him wait until after finals, and not have to deal with the resulting disaster during the school year, which would wreck my grades. It's very questionable whether this was an OK thing to do, but more on that later. My work with term papers will be done in a few days, and I've given him a hard deadline by which I'll let him know: midnight on Wednesday.
The line I've been giving him the whole time is "it looks like a go, but there's definitely stuff that could come up, so call it an 80% chance." If I said any lower than 80%, he'd worry about it even more and it'd be tougher to keep putting him off. If I said much higher, he'd be even less mentally prepared if it didn't happen.
My explanation for the 20% is that my separated parents are trying to sell their house (where I live with my dad) and there are some nibbles from buyers--all true--and that if anyone says "yes" we might have to start preparing to move almost immediately (which is really pretty unlikely). This excuse has gotten harder and harder to sustain, since at this point his visit would be just 2-3 weeks away, and it's hard to claim that a deal could close that soon.
His mental health has declined even further since my first post, and the issue of this trip has become an obsession; the central thing in his life. In the last few days he's reached a crescendo of anxiety/depression/dissociation that he says is "the worst he's ever felt in his life" (which includes several in-patient stays at mental hospitals). He tells me that if I say no, all of the stress that he's had to swallow from his family since our last visit would come down on him all at once. He now talks as if his suicide is essentially certain if I say "no." He says he's already collected the necessary items (based on the many threats and one attempt he's made over the years, he could mean pills, a noose, etc.). This is hardly the first time he's made threats this clear and specific over the years, but it's one of the most worrying. He sometimes talks about it in a creepily peaceful way. The other day he told me that I'm responsible for his present state of mind, because not knowing is the worst place to be. I said, "What, would hearing 'no' be any better than not knowing?" He responded, "Yeah, because then I could just go." ("Go" meaning... yeah.)
I realize that I need to help push him into getting a therapist, improving his psych drug regime, etc. (me and his only other fairly close friend tend to work on that in waves), but it's pretty clear how I should handle that. Right now I'm just trying to figure out what's happening in the next three days.
One good thing is that it now seems a little easier to get his family involved, namely his mom. She's still a flake who tries to control his life by forcing New Age remedies on him, making fun of his career plans, etc., but she seems to be more or less on his side lately. He lives at home, so she would at least be able to keep an eye on him, etc. He's very private, so she doesn't know the state he's in. My current plan is to call her tomorrow or Tuesday so she can be prepared, and break the news to him on Wednesday.
So, here are my two questions:
One, have I made such a mess of this that I have to let him come now? "You break it, you buy it" and all. I can tell myself that if I let him come, in the long run I'm just encouraging him to be dependent and manipulative and rely on other people to make him happy, etc.--all the reasons that were clear when I first posted--but at this point that seems too easy. I've set him up for so much pain, do I really have the right to pull the trigger?
Two, if I turn him down, what can I tell him by way of explanation? Of course, if I told him the flat-out truth (that I've been basically lying to him for months), he'd be extremely hurt and it would increase the risk to his life. Even if I play it pretty straight and just say that I no longer want him to come because I'm busy with my personal life, etc., it would be a jarring change from my previous stance and he'd be enraged at my pulling out on him this late in the game when he cares so much about it, based on something that I could have known the whole time.
So I suspect that the logical and morally correct choice here may be to come up with some sort of excuse. But I'm kind of drawing a blank. I can't actually tell him we're moving, because he'd eventually figure out that I'm still at the same house. It has to be something that would unequivocally keep me occupied for the length of winter break. Even with the move thing, he keeps saying "I'll help you move!" My mom has an ailing father, but pretending that he's in trouble feels really seedy. But I guess it's worth considering something really dramatic like that. I'm thinking of saying that I found out some of the credits I transferred in to my college don't count toward my major and I need to take a couple of intensive winter session courses to graduate on time. But even that wouldn't be enough to dissuade him on its own; he says things like, "Keep me in the closet if you have to, it'd be better than here." What can I do?
As before, you can send any private messages to ThankYouAskMe@gmail.com
Thanks in advance for your awesome thoughts and advice.