**Sorry in advance for a very long post!
About a year and a half ago, my mom, my best friend in the entire world, was diagnosed with colon cancer. We have been fighting it since then with chemo, surgeries, long long hospitalizations, etc. It's been hell but my mom's strength, endurance, and spirit inspire me every day, and we're taking it one moment at a time.
For 16 years I've had these two "soulmate" kind of best friends. They're sisters, and we have been inseparable for as long as I can remember. We're all in college now, but I am taking a leave of absence while my mom's in the hospital (I am an only child to a single mother, so it's just us two), as we've both had to put our lives on hold. They are far away at different colleges in different states, leading very privileged lives every 21 year old dreams about, full of opportunity.
The first friend doesn't call or text or anything, not for months. Now, I know friendship is always a two-way street, but I can't help but feel like, because she is living the high life in NY and taking advantage of every awesome opportunity presented to her while I am the sole caregiver of mom/house/pets/life....the ball is kinda in her court. She doesn't ever ask me anymore how my mom or I am doing.
The second friend is the one with whom I am especially close. I used to believe we had this incredibly special and strong connection and were there for each other 10000%. But this has proven to be totally incorrect. She has been very absent--I'll try to call/message/text her and she'll blow me off for another friend. She chooses to spent two weeks with her boyfriend of 1.5 months instead of her best friend of 16 years who she knows is totally alone in town with no other friends, and who has asked repeatedly for her presence. I confronted her about this and told her how she was making me feel, I explicitly asked her to be there for me, and told her how much I need her. She responded by telling me my expectations were unreasonable, she will not be able to be there for me the way I need her (even when she's home), and then proceeded to give me a paragraphs-long lecture on how I should spend less time at the hospital with my mom and more time going to make other friends and basically, get a life.
Please tell me, am I crazy?? Am I being unrealistic thinking that she should be there for me with all the love and support she has? I would go to the ends of the earth for her, and she tells me clear as day that she won't be the support I need. I'm not asking her to drop out of school and sit on my lap, just to be there, ya know? Be available. Be supportive. I tell her how desperately I need a friend right now, and she essentially says, you are asking way too much of me, I have bigger priorities, go help yourself.
I am just dumbfounded, confused, shocked, angry, hurt. I am in disbelief. This is a person I believed with all my heart would ALWAYS be there for me, no questions asked, and especially at this time in my life when I absolutely need her most. But she's not. And whenever I confront her again, she gets so defensive and angry and turns it around so I inevitably end up feeling guilty for needing her, guilty and ashamed for asking for her support.
I never imagined I could feel so let down by one person. It's clearly impossible for me to tell this story in an unbiased manner, but I'm looking for some objective opinions--am I the one who's crazy and unreasonable??? Is it too much to say, sometimes I need to be your first priority?
Whew, sorry that took so long. Thank you so much reading it all if you did--it feels so good just to say it all!
Last edited by choosingjoy; 05-10-2012 at 10:33 PM.
The following user gives a hug of support to choosingjoy:
It is a horrible thing to find such feet of clay in people who are so close to us. The fact that she gets angry and defensive makes me think she KNOWS she is letting you down. The hard fact is that this sort of situation is something that a lot of people do run away from. It is hard to feel sympathy for them, but it is usually caused by deep fear that they will not be able to handle it. I know that I (and you no doubt) do not ask for anything to be "handled", just their support and a hug now and again. I am sorry that you are left alone by your friends. Is there anyone who can be there for you? I know that most hospitals have really great support systems for cancer sufferers and their families, and I have friends who really really found it a literal lifesaver. There is nothing you can do about your friends, you have seen what an outright appeal has (not) accomplished. There are always folk on here you can write to who will not let you down. Keep posting. Sera.
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Thank you so much, Sera--this is my first time posting in a forum like this and getting a response means so much, especially one as kind as yours. It really made me feel a lot better, and less crazy. I agree that she knows, on some level, that she is doing something not quite right. But she's always been stubborn, and she (subconsciously, I'm sure) ends up making me the one who says sorry.
Actually, my biggest source of support here is their mom, who has been with us every step of the way. And now that I've seen what kind and helpful people post on these forums, I will be sure to stay active. Thank you again for your insight--it really helps me straighten things out in my head and think about how to deal with them.
The following user gives a hug of support to choosingjoy:
I have a daughter your age and we are very very close, just like you and your mom are. I admire the way you are dedicated to helping your mom.
Unfortunately, although we can choose how to act when a friend is in strong need for support, we cannot make our friends be there for us if they are too wrapped up in their own selves.
The frustration of trying to get them to meet our needs when they are self-absorbed is like going into a hardware store and trying to get a sandwich.
The hardware store just doesn't have them available.
I hope that you will be able to find a caregivers group or support from a church group that has people who are going through the stresses that you are and can relate to the challenges you and your mom are coping with on a daily basis.Check at the hospital and call some churches and ask!
Hugs!!! There ARE people who truly care and will support you- you need to go FIND THEM!
I am 24/7 sole caregiver to my husband who had a massive stroke. I can give you some advice, if you can understand it. I'm 61, and I've known people who had a lot of problems thru-out my life. I thought they could use a little cheering, and so would try to be a relief to them, and a bright spot in their miserable day. Unfortunately, it didn't work that way. They weren't looking for a reprieve for them to feel better. They only wanted to make me feel as bad as they did, and by the time I left, they were in a much more worked up state (from having going over all their problems repeatedly) than when I got there. It was a lose/lose situation for both of us.
Now, if I get 10 minutes to talk to a friend on the phone, I use that to my advantage and try to get some pleasure and feel a little normal. If I were to dwell on my problems during that small time of reprieve, there would be no reprieve, because my problems would take that time, also. We all really need those moments of normalcy to keep us sane. Don't use friend time to dig into all the problems you face all day and drag them down with you. Use that time in a way that will give you some relief - an excape from the daily grind.
I am so sorry that you have found us for such a reason. First, I am sorry about your mother. It's hard to have your one parent suffering. second, I appologise for your friends.
It is sometimes hard for people to see you think you can trust "turn" on you. some people are frightened by the thought of it happening to them and seeing you suffer is more than they can bear.
they also can feel smothered by the intense need that you are exhibiting to them. People are frightened by what is more than they feel they can accept.
Unfortunately it's harder when you are young to accept this.
I have gone through this being an only and losing my father to an abdominal aortic aneurysm followed by my mother to Alzheimers. It is lonely....
try to forgive your friends-they truly didn't mean to shun you.
Continue to post-there is always someone here to listen...
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The Following User Says Thank You to ibake&pray For This Useful Post:
One thing you learn in life -- Is that if you take you're hand out of a bucket of water --it does not leave a Hole---and that goes for life and friends also!! So, over my life I have learned to put you Trust in a higher power. You will experience all sorts of things from broken relations to a broken heart.
I have been on this board for awhile keep it up there are posters that will touch you in ways you can't imagine!!
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I'm so sorry about your mother, that's such a hard thing to deal with and then to be abandoned by your friends. However, there are so many wonderful people who post on this forum, it's like a God-send, and by the way, never forget the power or prayer during the hard times, you will become stronger for it... We never know what will happen in this life, but I've been learning, it's all about the journey, not the end result. You will meet other people worth their weight in gold along the way as long as you keep an open mind, I wish you and your mom the absolute best!
I, too, am so very sorry for the situation you are in. You are a loving daughter without a doubt and a beautiful woman. Life has forced you into growing up pretty quickly here dealing with such an ill parent.
Sweetpea, I think that this is where part of the problem stems from... you have been forced into a very grown-up role and your friends have not. I don't think at all that they don't care about you. I think they just lack the maturity to understand the soul wrencing spot you are in. I don't think they have the skills yet to know how to deal with the situation and are, as ibake&pray wrote, a bit frightened of dealing with it all. Many grown-ups actually back away from situations such as yours because they do not feel capable of dealing with it.
Many years ago, when my children were youngsters, all the moms would gather at the schoolyard at the end of the day waiting for the kids and chatting with one another. A day came when, with horrific consequences, one little boy was hit by a car and lost his life. All the moms, including his own, witnessed it. Can you imagine? As the family dealt with the funeral and grief, everyone talked about how horrible it was. In a week or so, the mom began to try and get the family back on track. She appeared once again in the schoolyard to wait for her remaining two children. What happened was pretty shocking. All these moms, who really did care, sidled away from her wherever she stood. All these grown-ups were afraid of being close to their friend. They just didn't know how to handle it, what to say, what to do.
I believe your friends are like all these moms were. They truly cared, but just couldn't handle facing the pain and the hurt, of the grieving mom. For your friends, it is easier for them to stay detached. And yes, there is some selfishness on their part. Absolutely. They are maintaining the selfishness of youth. I, too, would be hurt and bewildered.
You do need to be able to share your situation with others. People who uinderstand the need to connect in a situation like this. I think a great place to start would be the social worker at the hospital that Mom has connected with in her illness. The social worker will be able to hook you up with a support group of other caregivers. Please do this for yourself.
Deepest good wishes for your Mom's recovery and for your emotional welfare. Take care of you as you take care of Mom.