Wednesday, August 15, 2007

You've Got a Friend (or not)


Hey!  ::: waving ::: Is anyone out there?  Too quiet around here...

Earlier today, I read this on Donna's blog at This and that, and hockey!

<<<<<I don't mind showing strength and courage, but sometimes it's nice to just let it go and know the person you're talking to isn't going to run and hide because they don't want to hear it.   I know and understand that sometimes folks just can't deal with it for personal reasons, but friends should be friends at all times.  Not just in good ones.  I often wonder if they even realize their absence is taken so personal after a length of time.  How feelings change when that happens.  How the foundation of the relationship begins to crumble.  It's sad really.  I don't think I whine about things too much.......... do you?  Yet folks have made themselves so scarce like I might be catchy.  ::wiping tear::>>>>>

Oh no, Donna, you don't whine too much at all.

And, you are not the actual 'sick' person, that is actually your sister (send prayers and check out Donna's blog if you haven't).

As I was reading this, I was nodding my head in agreement.  I know many of my lupie/RA pals out there, will also.

There is a huge slice of America that has no idea how to relate to people with illness of any sort.  Chronic, acute, life threatening, or not, it doesn't seem to matter.  These people just leave you flat. 

It doesn't happen overnight, but the signs are there from the start.  The vague 'hmm's', the 'quick' subject change should your 'illness' issue come up.  Then, the phone calls start to come less and less.  Then, they just stop. 

You can run into them somewhere, and they act like nothing is wrong!  Like everything is just fine.  It isn't.  If you approach them about their 'distancing' from you, you will be told, that you are being silly, it's just that they are soooo 'busy'.

Do I sound like I know a thing or two about this? 

Yeah, I do. 

First, it was a friend, and it hurt, a lot.  She fought her own battle with cancer, just before I met her.  I expected that because of that she would be able to 'handle' my illness issues better.  It didn't work out that way.  Since our kids are good friends, the friendship has limped along, although we only see each other with the kids or spouses now.  Our separate friendship, just two women, two moms, dried up completely.

However, she didn't inflict the wound that hurts the most.  A cousin of mine (not Karol, and no one who read this blog), who lives only 2 towns away from me, with whom I was very close to during the the 5 years before being diagnosed, holds that distinction.  Although the relationship continued for a while after I was diagnosed, I did notice an immediate difference.

I didn't want to believe it though, so, I kept making excuses in my head.  Telling myself that I was imagining the 'tone of voice', and the 'sudden subject changes'.

The final break happened when she had a good excuses to use.  She went back to work part/time and suddenly, there was no time, not even on the days off, or the weekends, or anything.  However, she was continually busy with her 'friends' each weekend.  I thought Hubby and I were 'friends' with her and her hubby, too, but it became clear that I was mistaken.  Then, her hubby had a medical emergency, and my offers of assistance were rebuffed, after all, he wasn't 'really sick like a person like me.'  And, the phone calls completely ended, and then the emails, too.

But the worst insult happened this year.  Even though the relationship was 'none' at this point, we are related, and we received an invitation to my cousin's daughter's college graduation party.  It happened to be the same weekend as the Boy Scout Beach Jamboree, so we could not attend, and when I RSVP'd, I also told my cousin about the brain tumor.  At this time, everything was still up in the air, and very scary and uncertain for me. 

Would you believe that I never heard from her since then? 

Oh, I got a note from her daughter, thanking me the check for graduation, how she wished we all were there, and wishing me well.  Not a word from my cousin.  Not an email asking how is that brain tumor thing, or what did the neurologist say - nothing.

I won't lie, it hurts. 

It is also especially difficult because the kids don't understand it either, and are hurt and confused.

She makes my friend look like Dr. Phil.  And, to be fair, the friend I spoke about above, did call me, just to see how I was after the neurologist, and did offer to help out in any way she could.  Of course, since then our relationship is back in limbo, but at least she did that!  And, I am thankful.

Bottom line, any kind of chronic or life threatening illness will truly weed the posers out of your life.  There is definitely a clarity that you find, on the other side of this kind of hurt.   I don't need fair weather friends or relatives not willing or able to give me, what I give them. 

It is their loss.   I will survive.  I continue to go on, and I do so with a smile!

I do not have to waste my energy on them.  I don't have extra Spoons to waste on anyone, anyway.  Maybe they did me a favor in the long run. 

Bottom line, 'what it is, it is'. 

After this brain tumor curve hit, I find myself saying that a lot.  LOL

Donna, I am sorry that you are going through this also, but at least you have us J-lander's.  I know J-land has helped me.  And, you know that friends like Jim, will be there in your life, willing to give you their all.

Thanks for listening to my rambling tonight.  I sure hope someone is out there to comment!  It has been waaayyy too quiet!!!

be well,


julydarby said...

I can't sleep which almost NEVER happens to me... so I'm here. And I hear you. And I know the isolation... not from illness but from being someone who has been through a lot of "crisis" situations. People don't want to get dragged down by hearing how rough you have it. Sometimes they don't want to be reminded of it by seeing you. MY absolute best friend when my children were young... after my divorce things in her life were going really well but I was struggling. I was working so hard just to keep my head above water... she is an RN and she was starting to make good money and they moved into a really nice house when I was moving into my doublewide. I was never jealous of her... always so glad for everything that happened for her... but then one day she made the comment that she had what she had because she had worked harder... No... her husband didn't leave her and mine did. I worked just as hard - harder because I was doing it all alone. It cut right through me. I realized that our lives had grown too far apart. Again... when things got tough with Michael, people in my life bailed. Misery may love company but company does NOT love it. There are a lot of things that isolate us... and they shouldn't. You aren't contagious. You do more than most "well" people I know in the course of a day...
anyways... you're never alone...

tlgf1968 said...

BRAVA!  BRAVA!  i don't have enough digits or words to express my thoughts on this subject ... you've certainly done it justice! :))

cherry2sweet2eat said...

whew i finally made it to the end.

astoriasand said...

I read this and cannot believe people can be like this at all. I often do not show online but this is for a personal reason,which I have sometimes been told is a bad thing.But I could never be a person like you explain here.I have been cut up  with similar knives myself,like you say it's there loss.So be it!! There not worth the worry.You keep smiling and like you tell Donna yes J/Land does help and it has been good for me.I hope your health improves and I think you do marvelous to say what you have to cope with.Prayers still being said for you and all others around the world and in J/Land who are sick and need people to understand.I understand anyway.Thankyou for taking time out to visit my journal and comment.I love to come to yours.You keep well.Have as good a Thursday as you possibly can .Take Care God Bless Kath

eml625 said...

I dont get why people act like that. I'm trying to even think, have I done that to someone? Because intentionally I could never. I'm so sorry these people dropped out of your life, but you know, that says alot about them.
Big hugs from NY !

acoward15 said...

I've just been looking at your graphics in your "About Me" section. I'm sure that if ever I put on big girl panties nobody would ever let me get over it.

deshelestraci said...

I hate the pain of friendship gone bad.  And when you try so hard to make it work only to find yourself banging your head against a wall...  I've been there before but usually not for health reasons but for my choice in friends.   Long story, maybe I'll blog about it!
People are so shallow sometimes.  I get so frustrated that they don't want to find more in life.  Dig deeper, be a better person.
So sorry you have experienced this!

nightmaremom said...

ahhh yes you do know... and it does suck.  I've tried the excuses in my head.. in my heart..but nothing changes.  Yours seems to have a gradual dismisal.. some of mine were immediate.  How funny I am the first they call in reverse circumstances... and yet I do not say no I don't turn my back.  Poser is right...  and at least I know... but damn it hurts.
Thanks hon...
love ya

mleighin21st said...

Dearest Dawn,
   I understand this so completely.  Not only did friends fade from my husband's life, his own brother did, for all intents and purposes. Except for family holiday things, he was a no show.  I know that it was hard for brother to see my husband the way he was, he's one of those folks that don't know how to deal with someone else's illnesses.  The hurt doesn't go away easily.  The desertion even spreads to the caregiving spouse.  The excuses were that-I figured you'd be busy taking care of Michael.  Well, excuse me, but  I still want to have some sort of life, too.  I have learned to live my life doing things alone.   Sorry, got off track there.
   Dawn, you are one of the warmest, most  friendly women I have ever "met" in my life.  The only thing I can say is that, those that have turned their back or faded out are the losers here.  Typing here doesn't come close to  feeling a real hug{{{DAWN}}}.  If we lived closer, we'd be swilling pots of coffee together on a regular basis. :) I know that J'Land will never let you down.  The ladies and gentlemen that write here are the real deal when it comes to friendship and understanding.  I am SO glad to have found you all.
   I could go on for pages about this topic.  So, I'd best just say---BFN                        
                         Your friend,  Leigh


glensfork4 said...

I understand that....will all that is going on with Tony, yep. When my MIL was diagnosed with Lung Cancer her family would stop by on there way home, because those few minutes were all they "had", but had plenty of time to do what they wanted on weekends...OK...then the other day one of the nieces had the nerve to say how her & her mom "helped"...UM NO....(not trying to be mean) but the truth is the truth no matter how you look at it.


chat2missie said...

I think Family is the worst when it comes to handling chronic illnesses.  Between Brandon with Chiari and my Nicci with Anorexia, the family just doesn't understand.  Enjoy your day.

preciousone25 said...

I'm so sorry that you've had to deal with people like that.  One of my very closest friends survived breast cancer many, many years ago, before her and I were friends... and I really wish that I was there for her when she was going through the treatments..... but I truly think that she knows that, and I have been there for her for other 'lesser' illnesses.  I think some people just don't know how to act, what to say, or are just plain afraid to do the wrong thing.... who knows?!   Tracy Lawrence has a great song out right now on the country stations called "You find out who your friends are"  Have you heard it!??


luddie343 said...

Hey, NO one has that many spoons.  Dawn I think you really hit home with this, it's exactly the way people act esp around cancer-stricken folks.  HOW do they manage to think it's "contagious"??  And it's worse if your illness isn't visable, if you use a walker or cane, if they don't "see" your damaged and missing nerves, they can't grasp the concept of "disabled".  And pain is invisable (unless you're screaming in it).  You're pretty brave, Dawn, you dare to put in words what most are thinking.  That cousin of yours needs help, she's more ill than she knows.  On one side it's great that people don't "isolate" you or treat you differently, but on the other, when they act like nothing's happened, it's no favor tho they think that's what they're giving you.  Sorry but I agree - people w/live-threatening cancers are certainly different, in a very special, positive, brave way.  KUDOS!  xoxo CATHY  

mrsm711 said...

Im at a loss for words.  You have said it all and perfectly I might add.   ;)     Tracy

wildautumn1 said...

That is a shame - especially friends who are family too.  I come across this from time to time. It does hurt, but I have to say that the friends I do have are very supportive. Have a great day!

rdautumnsage said...

Sigh.....been down that road for a few years now. For reasons that I can never understand everyone and I mean everyone stopped coming around after I went deaf. As if I was too much work to communicate with or was diseased and contagious. Doc spent a lot of time angry at a lot of people. In the end I told him, people show their true colors when someone is disabled or ill. He had never realized the extent of me being ostracized until that happened. In the end I'm better off without people who have such little compassion and fealty. I already knew the score growing up hearing impaired. I learned the tally when I became deaf. I no longer buy the excuse they don't know how to handle it, the reality is you , me and everyone else who has to deal with an illness or disability are the ones who have to live with it they don't! It takes mere minutes to write an email or phone someone to let them know they care. For gosh sakes we aren't asking for an arm or leg here! Sorry....this subject gets me riled up. (Hugs) Indigo

pharmolo said...

People just don't know how to cope with serious illness, Dawn. Or, they're just fair-weather friends - even relatives can be like that.

ekgillen said...

I think a lot of people do not know how to interact with people in tough situations so they do nothing.  

I say "It is what it is!"  all time.  Loved seeing it in your entry!

erarein63 said...

Some people can't handle dealing with family/friend's illnesses because it reminds them too much of their own mortality, and they are not comfortable thinking about that to any degree.  I agree, that it is bad enough to have a friend disconnect, but when it's your own family it cuts deep to the heart.  So sorry!  De ;)

cacklinrosie101 said...

Oh, Dawn, I'd love to give you a huge hug right now.  I think people do this with chronic illness because deep down inside it scares the crap out of them because it could be them next.  Bless you.  I've been MIA for a while but not because I'm avoiding anyone.  I"ve just been hiding in my hole.   Things are fine now.  I'll be updating later.  If I'm not around, I haven't deserted you.  Love ya, Chris

klconard1 said...

I am trying to catch up on reading after a busy week dearheart.  (((((hugs))))))  Your description of the friend and the cousin will be familiar to many of us.  Yes it hurts --- and there are going to be those who make a deliberate choice to cut us out of their lives because they cannot deal with our illness.  I know it doesn't make good sense -- but some folks are just fairweather friends and when the tsunami hits they are nowhere to be found.  We can't change them and all we can do is let them be what they are and work on forgiving without being bitter about it.  And this is a constant challenge for me....... but my goal is to forgive and allow myself to heal.
loving you

madmanadhd said...

So many words of wisdom in your comment section.  So true that chronic illness scares the crap outa many... what to say and not say. What if it was me or my family? Interesting how we tend to internalize tings. But ... before I go any further... I really have been AWOL... BRAIN TUMOR? What the?... Dawn I mist something big here. I'm so sorry to hear about it and ecstatic to read it all turned out well (it did right, it DID turn out ok?) So all is well...

Bummer about your cousin, sometimes reli's can be such putzes... sure I've done my share of putziness.

Hope you know I'm thinking boutcha and your awesome fabily. Sending good vibes your way.

seraphoflove9001 said...

{{{Dawn}}} Boy can I relate to this. I am so sorry. I've been through this and am still going through this. The real freinds and the fake friends. In my life and on here, with my journal in J-Land as well. When I talk about my illnesses, it seems that I get more emails from people that tell me that my journal isn't "as uplifting" for them to read! Well, I'm sorry but, this IS MY life! So, when I'm told this by others, it really hurts that when I talk about my life and what is truly going on, they don't want to hear about it! And that's like a slap in my face when they've just commented on something totally different like a joke and then where did they go when I'm writing about my life?! That hurts. So I call them my "fake friends" When you really need a friend the one is there! Thank you so much for writing this.