Am I being a good friend or being taken advantage of?
August 15, 2014 5:25 PM Subscribe
I had to back out of a paying gig that a friend and I had agreed to work on together. I backed out because of health complications, but she was very upset, so I agreed to try and help get the project finished in any capacity that I was still able. It's now turning into a much bigger mess, and said friend is expecting more work from me. I want to help my friend, but I also feel like I'm being a sucker.
posted by LANA! to Human Relations (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The project means a lot to this friend. We agreed to work on it together many months ago. I had the same illness, but thought I had better control over the symptoms. This summer though, things got worse, so I had to tell her I couldn't do the work.
She has people counting on her, so I feel like an ass for putting her in that position. Because she was so upset by me backing out of the project, I told her I'd try to help out where I could. But now I feel like I'm roped into doing paying work for free. And I feel a lot like she's not being very understanding of the problems I'm dealing with. I understand she's in a tough spot, but so am I, and she's asking a lot of what little I have to give.
To complicate matters, several things went wrong with the project before I backed out, like delays on her end. While that didn't really impact my needing to back out, it did mean that some time was lost that would have helped find a replacement. I started working on the project in good faith, figuring I could power my way through the problems, but I two weeks in, I realized that I just could not.
I did have a sense things weren't going to go well, but I was seeing some new doctors in hope of getting some relief before my part had to start. In retrospect, I got to that point BECAUSE I didn't want to let her down. She also convinced me to do the work for less than I normally would because the client was a non-profit. So hiring someone to replace me under the clients budget is proving difficult. But another party was hired to do the work I was supposed to do, only that person did a half-assed job and didn't finish it, is asking to be paid for partially finishing the work, and so we're back to her asking for more help from me.
In the process of all this, I spoke to a mutual friend at how gutted I was about having to back out of the project and how I was trying my best to help with what I was able, but I just was feeling like more and more of it was piling back onto me. This friend told me she was feeling frustrated by what the first friend was doing before she even spoke to me, and when I called, she said it confirmed her feelings that the first friend was really not being very understanding. She said something similar happened with her and this friend friend years ago before I knew them both, and she felt guilted into doing things she didn't want to do, and was subsequently really angry about it.
Now, the more I think about it, the more I feel like I'm being guilted into agreeing to do more than I am able to do. I really have bigger things in my life to deal with. I do want to help, but I feel like every time I draw a line in the sand, I'm pushed to do more. I also am frankly upset that she isn't being very considerate of the physical pain I'm in or that much of my time is spent at doctors and in physical therapy. (There was a day where she was really upset that I didn't respond to some email right away, but I was at an appointment.) The mutual friend I spoke of above reminded me of a number of times I bent over backwards to help the first friend with other things in the past, (her suggestion being that is why I shouldn't feel bad about this.) I'm having very conflicting feelings over this.
But we're friends and friends help each other, right? Except this isn't the first time I've found myself working "for free" on someone else's project. So I don't know if I should draw a line in the sand and go back on what I said and say "I was wrong, I can not do this." or if I should be a good friend and help her out? Conversely, my hesitation could be over the fact that I have been taken advantage of in the past, and therefore am overreacting to a perceived slight that isn't there. Or that I might be subconsciously trying to make myself feel better for dropping the ball.
I'm not completely innocent either. I agreed to do it, knowing I had limitations (but thinking I could manage them). I wanted to do it because it sounded fun and seemed like an easy project to ease back into. I didn't consider the possibility that I might get worse when I agreed to do it.
I'm lost. I could use some advice from the hive mind.