Friendships turned upside down...

(40 Posts)
JustWonderingAbout Tue 22-Apr-14 18:59:14

I've been really unwell recently. Not been at the school gate since January and have been in hospital for major surgery. It's been a very frightening time. Though I'm very fortunate (tumour appears to have been taken out in its own capsule-like enclosure, despite being cancerous and in my spinal canal and sacrum), I was literally scared for my life and there was a very real risk of my not being able to walk again / to be going through chemo and radiotherapy. I'm currently being monitored closely, 17 weeks post diagnosis, 11 weeks post op.

Many life-long friends have not yet visited me - and I've a mind to avoid them. I was absolutely terrified and would've so appreciated their caring visits or calls. Now it feels ... too late. Mums I'd spent the last year and a half charging to on drop offs and pick ups, and who I'd mentioned my diagnosis and forthcoming operation, didn't get in touch. No flowers from the class. Nothing.
Yet, thankfully, some acquaintances have surprised me by coming to the hospital, sitting with me through physio (I had to learn to walk again) and bringing food over for me. I was so moved by their kindness and by the realisation that some people I'd seen every week but not thought of as close friends did more for me than my closest friends.

I'm finding it hard to know how to respond to my 'close friends' now. The ones who called me en route to the shopping centre to 'see how I am' and apologise for not having popped over. They still haven't but, now that the panic is over, they're wanting to come over. I'm not feeling like I want them over but feel bad. However much I understand that some people find 'scary stuff' hard to deal with, I needed them and ... it wasn't that scary (for them).

School drop off tomorrow. I'm finally, sort of able to do the school drop off but am dreading it as I don't know how to be around people I'm used to being friendly with. It all feels sour to me. Very. I don't want to smile and fake it - but neither do I want to say anything. How would you play it?

YouTheCat Tue 22-Apr-14 19:02:31

Sounds like a total nightmare!

Smile and nod at the feckless arses and make a huge fuss of the kind people.

SatansFurryJamHats Tue 22-Apr-14 19:04:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sexypantsformum Tue 22-Apr-14 19:05:41

they are NOT your friends.
say hello.
be polite.
but other than that screw them.

littlegreengloworm Tue 22-Apr-14 19:08:01

As the saying goes 'pass yourself'
Hold your head up high and be polite bu you know the are not true friends. It's such a pity though that they have been this selfish.
flowers

Roshbegosh Tue 22-Apr-14 19:09:01

To be fair to them, some people will think you want space and some quiet when very I'll rather than coping with visitors as that can be exhausting. Maybe they were being considerate but they got it wrong.

devoniandarling Tue 22-Apr-14 19:09:18

I am sorry for everything you have been through op. flowers

I have to agree that these people are not worth worrying about.

OldBagWantsNewBag Tue 22-Apr-14 19:09:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SoleSource Tue 22-Apr-14 19:09:49

Not very caring about you after all then are they? Maybe it is time to move on from them. I am sorry to hear you have been through a very tough time and you are still going through it.

Your real friends were the ones there for you. X

EvaBeaversProtege Tue 22-Apr-14 19:09:51

fuck you "I'm on the mend" will suffice for the fake friends.

My sister is recovering from surgery after cancer & has faced the same.

The weeks following her diagnosis she had a record breaking number of friend requests on Facebook hmm

Fathertedfan Tue 22-Apr-14 19:12:14

I expect you are still feeling very shaky after your illness. It sounds like you've had the most awful time and you're doing bloody well to be this side of it and on your feet again. People respond to illness in different ways and it's good that you had some nice people come to support you. If it were me and I'd been let down by these friends who didn't visit or contact you I'd put on a smiley, busy persona and fake my way through the next few weeks. There's nothing can be done to change their lack of response now, and these are people you still have to see around school. I'd consider them acquaintances rather than friends from now on if it were me. Do look after yourself.

FunnyFoot Tue 22-Apr-14 19:13:35

I wouldn't worry about these acquaintances OP.

Some people do not handle news like cancer well. They cannot face up to it as it then is to real or too close to home. Better that they just ignore it. Not my way of dealing with it and supporting a friend but I do know this is how some behave.

Those who were there for you deserve you time and energy. I am glad you are in recovery OP thanks

Chottie Tue 22-Apr-14 19:18:52

A huge hug to you and I hope tomorrow goes well.

I've recently been through a similar situation and have been amazed at how I just seemed to have left the planet for some people.

You've come through a life changing experience and have found some wonderful, caring friends. As PP said the rest are just acquaintances.....

AtrociousCircumstance Tue 22-Apr-14 19:19:29

Breezy and brief with the fake friends.

If you can't avoid further chat then drop in a comment about how kind and supportive some of your friends have been and how much it's touched you.

Sounds like you've been very brave flowers

Selks Tue 22-Apr-14 19:20:09

There's nothing like an adverse life event to sort the wheat from the chaff with friendships, is there?
Although nothing like your awful health difficulties which must have been so frightening and worrying for you, two years ago my house flooded in scary circumstances and I lost everything on the ground floor and had to move out for six months. It was extremely stressful and upsetting.

I really needed my friends after that, on an emotional and practical level. Some of my closest friends did not step up to the mark, some friends who I knew far less well were amazing with their level of support, it was startling and a total eye opener. Out of that I have forged a couple of new great friendships, lost one good friend and have taken my distance from another previously close friend.

I think the ball is in your court now with how you want to approach previously close friendships. It depends whether you think there might be anything salvageable or not. Perhaps you could consider telling them how you feel, and see what response you get. You may find that you get a contrite response and you may be able to talk it through, but it's up to you really.

Anyway, I don't know if my rambling post helps in any way, but I just wanted to say that I at least partly understand how you feel.
Life events can change our relationships for better and for worse, and can make us feel very distant from people who do not understand what we have gone through. I am sure you will find a way forwards with all this but it may take a little time, and on your terms perhaps.
As for the school gate, just go for it and hold your head high. You don't have to interact much if you don't want to.

Oh and I am so glad that the surgery was a success and your health is improving - I wish you continued good health.

tunnocksteacake Tue 22-Apr-14 19:41:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

On the Tamoxifen thread in general health, you find this is fairly common experience. Both having friends disappoint and of previous acquaintances (now firm friends) really stepping up and really helping out.

Don't take it personally, it seems to be human nature.

On school gate, just go, hold your head high. Let people come to you. Some won't know what to say and avoid you and others will be lovely and supportive. At least, that is my experience.

It is great that your health is improving. I also wish you continuing good health.

SpiderNugent Tue 22-Apr-14 19:55:44

my husband is my best friend, he is always there for me when times are really tough, he is the one person i can rely on

we dont need anyone else smile

mercibucket Tue 22-Apr-14 20:03:46

i wouldnt over-think it if you can. there are all different responses to this kind of thing and most people are not actively unkind. some cant cope, some are a bit shallow, some just dont know what to say. equally, some people are v good in a crisis, but less so in the day to day friendship.
you know where you stand with them wrt physical illness so nothing to expect there in future, but i wouldnt write them off unless they were actively horrible - unless you really want to of course! you might prefer a smaller group of 'true' friends.

JustWonderingAbout Tue 22-Apr-14 20:25:06

Thank you everyone. I was a bit worried about getting flamed for being so self-indulgent. I was rather wondering whether I'd be told not to assume my life took on such importance to the rest of the world - including those who know me well and/or those who I see and chat to every day. Clearly I don't. I'd like to think that I'd have contacted others out of concern and care if they'd suddenly been sucked from Life as We Know It into Scary Ville. But I do understand, if not appreciate, that many oriole will have presumed that I'd wanted space, privacy, etc. I'm wondering whether (I wonder a lot) I am unusual in respect of having been desperate for anyone who cared to knock, call or text to have eased my anxiety through 'handholding'. It was noticeably silent on all counts.
Anyway, thank you all who've responded fir not making me feel 'wrong' or self-indulgent to have been in need and to feel disappointed or angry about the many who have disappointed me.
Tunnock, sounds like you're in the thick of it now. I remember visits as you described. Passing their own time doing 'the right thing' while not realising that what I most needed was for them to ask how I was and share my anxiety instead of avoid it and pads the time. I needed so much not to be left alone in that terrifying place. But it's rare, IME, for others to either be able, experienced or insightful enough to be able to provide what was needed.
It was so lonely with those people. But I still appreciated them being there. My most wonderful contact was with my mum's friend. She calked. She'd had cancer. We chatted about things. We talked about how I was at my best and very worst moments - and his I wanted to hurl my pull boxes against the wall. I did so at one point.

One question: what do I do about old friends who have not yet bothered to visit but now want a family okay date now all is seemingly blowing over? And what about those who visited once in four months? It just doesn't feel enough. And those friends/ acquaintances who came to take me out (couldn't drive for months) and give me sanity.... Thank GD for them!

Musicaltheatremum Tue 22-Apr-14 20:31:53

In a crisis you find your true friends. I had a good friend who I saw frequently and she was really helpful to me the weekend my husband was dying, going to pick up medication for me and took me to the registrars to register the death. I saw her a few times afterwards but she has rarely contacted me since. Last time I popped into her to say hello quickly she did not seem too happy (she always used to welcome me if I popped in and were talking only if I hadn't seen her for ages not every week) 2 year anniversary and my daughters 21st and she hasn't been near.

Take a deep breath OP. you have been to hell and back and you start to re evaluate things and people in your life after such traumas. so make time for proper friends and forget the other ones.

I am please you have done well and I hope you get the all clear after all this

Musicaltheatremum Tue 22-Apr-14 20:34:10

tunnocks sorry to hear about your husband. Mine had a brain tumour too, it's a horrible illness.

Apologies to you OP for intruding on your thread with this.

motherofmonster Tue 22-Apr-14 20:37:11

i know you don't want to get into a argument with them but i must admit i would be tempted to say to the ones that now want to visit and have play dates "oh i'm ever do sorry but i don't have the time. I'm sure you understand as you seemed to not have had a spare moment over the past few months"

AndHarry Tue 22-Apr-14 20:38:28

I've also been through a cancer diagnosis and didn't really want a whole lot of people fussing over me. I just wanted to be left alone with my family and a quick text or call from friends was perfect.

One thing I did notice is that different friends and acquaintances are good at different things. Some are good at general sociability, some at child-centred friendships, some at organising, some at crisis-management and some for the fun times. They're all my friends but just like you and I differed in our needs and expectations, they differ in their strengths and weaknesses and shine in different areas.

There are some people who are fair weather friends and couldn't actually care less about the other person. There are also some people who thrive on other people's misfortune, getting every juicy gory detail and the feeling of importance that 'being there' gives them. Both types are selfish and all about what they can get from the 'friendship'. But there are far more people who genuinely do care and want to help and just get it wrong or are so worried about getting it wrong that they end up doing nothing, and caring people who might fade into the day-to-day background but come into their own in a crisis.

I wouldn't be too harsh on your friends. The fair weathers and ghouls will be fairly easy to spot in the next few months and can be weeded out when you're feeling up to it.

The other thing is that such a distressing time can leave you feeling very depressed, especially post-surgery. I definitely suffered from depression at right around the time that everything was 'fixed' and I 'should' have been over the moon that I was going to be ok.

I hope your recovery progresses well and you're feeling much better soon.

JustWonderingAbout Tue 22-Apr-14 20:40:48

It's not interrupting. It's identifying. Similar experiences in reevaluating relationships. Hurtful shifts in perception, letting go of things that meant so much to us but couldn't live up to expectations. I'm glad that you both (musical & tunnocks) have found each other to relate to, too. Whether it's relating through having the same illness personally or through a lov one having the same as someone else's, there's great comfort in that identification. It's a great help, IME.

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