Dear Annie: "Nicole" and I have been friends since the time she started at my school. She can be a good friend, but what she does outside of being a friend is questionable, and I think being around her is becoming toxic.
Nicole's ex-boyfriend, "Matt," told me that Nicole's mom is constantly drunk and passes out on the couch. Nicole and her mom have arguments that I think turn violent. Then, whenever her mom's boyfriend comes over, they go to the bar and come back drunk and argue loudly. Matt was there when it happened and couldn't take being in the house while they were arguing, so he left. Then Nicole complained on Facebook about it by claiming that Matt wasn't paying attention to her.
Her life isn't great, and she really doesn't have anyone to speak to about her problems at home. Her extended family members don't want to get involved with her or her mom, and they rarely talk to one another. They are a dysfunctional family.
Now Nicole has a new boyfriend, whom she constantly brags about on Facebook, and I'm sick of it. I don't want to be around someone who creates drama and constantly complains but doesn't want actual solutions. It's a waste of energy.
Nicole posts her problems on Facebook instead of just talking with a friend in private. I sometimes wish that others would realize this. I know they are trying to help by being positive, but they need to realize that she's just airing dirty laundry.
Lately, she has calmed down, but I know deep in my gut that she'll do this again. Any advice? -- Done With the Drama
Dear Done With the Drama: I understand you're exasperated by the whirlwind of drama that Nicole seems to spin around herself. In the eye of that tornado, however, is a troubled, lonely girl who is crying out for help. Let a school guidance counselor or administrator know about what's going on in Nicole's home life -- the drinking, arguing and violence. Do not hold back. Nicole needs the help of caring and responsible adults to get out of a dangerous situation.
If you don't want to be friends with her, that's fine (and you should definitely not go to her house, as it's unsafe). But try to keep a compassionate perspective. Beneath all that bravado is a broken heart.
Dear Annie: This is for "Janice in Texas," who noticed that the artificial flowers she sets on family graves go missing. It is possible that the cemetery caretakers remove them or that they are being stolen. I have seen that happen a lot.
I started doing something a few years ago that takes care of that issue. I buy fresh flowers at the grocery and cut the tops off the stems. Then I scatter the flower heads on the gravesite. Your visit has been established; the dead have been honored; and it is not likely that anyone will pick up your flowers to plunk on another grave. -- Works for Me
Dear Works for Me: This sounds like a lovely ritual to honor loved ones. Thank you for sharing.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.