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Anyone else felt abandoned by friends and not sure if or how to reconnect?

(18 Posts)
Flamingo1980 Sun 17-Jan-16 10:39:40

Has anyone else experienced this and if so, what did you do?
I had an awful year last year with a terminally ill parent, and the other one using me and emotional punchbag. Other stresses as well which I won't bore you with but it culminated in me having a bit of an emotional breakdown and turning into a semi recluse.
I was really hurt by a lot of my friends lack of support and because I was in such a dark place, I overreacted and pushed most of them away.
I now see that my response was wrong but I also think their lack of support was also wrong and it's made me question as to whether or not they can be good friends if they are so unwilling to be supportive when I was clearly in such dire need.
(I'm not normally in the slightest bit needy and have helped and supported them at the drop of a hat when they've needed it)
I'm starting to come out of the fog a bit now and I now don't know what to do as I've hardly spoken to anyone for months but neither have they made much contact either. They have implied they are sort of 'waiting' for me to get better so we can go back to where we were. They haven't abandoned me per se they they just didn't cope well with me being sad or needing help.
Do I reconnect, forgive and forget and just accept that they are fair weather friends and not to rely on them in the future? How do I do that? That just feels superficial and painful and difficult. Do I try to make new friends and forget my old ones? I'm about to move house and start a new job so this is possible.
I miss them and I miss what we had I don't want to never see them again but it just feels like such a broken mess I don't know where to start. Please be gentle with me as I'm still so fragile and just need stories from other people who have been through this to give me some hope or perspective.

JerryFerry Sun 17-Jan-16 11:10:06

Hey flamingo, that sounds torturous. I'm guessing that you have lost one parent now? Which is huge. No wonder you have been feeling lousy and no doubt still do to an extent.

Your friends haven't come through for you and that must really hurt. For me it would be a deal breaker. If they can't be there when we are at our lowest ebb, they are not true friends, I say.

However, you say you would like to reconnect so clearly you are more forgiving than me.

Could you text one suggesting meeting for a drink? How did you usually communicate? I'd keep it pretty short and breezy ... hey, it's been ages. Hope all's well with you. Fancy meeting up?

Little steps. Remember not to expect much. If you're still feeling fragile try to have a plan, a time limit, off limits conversation, that sort of thing. Because sometimes the things people don't say can be wounding.

Do your friends still have their parents? I'm guessing they do and simply don't know what to say so have said nothing.

Trouble is, you cannot revert to normal, you will have changed. So part of your plan could be to try to build new friendships with. Better quality people who are not afraid to talk about real shit. Maybe through voluntary work which tends to attract kind-hearted people or some sort of club. Sorry not sure what to suggest...I need to do the same.

Tiredandhadenough38 Sun 17-Jan-16 11:28:02

I have exactly the same thing (kind of) in my case an abusive bf they cut me off due to me taking a while to leave. I'm not with him now but they just don't include me even if I go to these get togethers it's awkward and they don't reply to my messages much. However will occasionally text if they have a favour to ask confused. I am just cutting them out not in a nasty way but they make me feel uncomfortable now and that's not real friendship.

Flamingo1980 Sun 17-Jan-16 21:47:44

Thanks Jerry what a lovely reply. My dad hasn't actually died yet, he's got a slow terminal illness.
Very good advice about the voluntary work I like that. My friends do have intact parents yes.
I might send an email, a text seems so clipped and informal...

Tired - It's rubbish isn't it?? And so painful.

Tiredandhadenough38 Sun 17-Jan-16 21:52:47

Yeah it's disappointing when you have supported them but then when it's your turn they all vanish confused.

I have found as I get older my friendships have whittled down to a total of 2 and a few acquaintances. But the 2 I have I trust implicitly and am 100% myself with. It's quality not quantity and they sound shit ;)

gandalf456 Sun 17-Jan-16 21:56:50

I had this when my dad died. I didn't really feel comfortable broaching the subject which spoke volumes. If I didn't feel close enough to say they'd upset me, we couldn't have been that great friends.

I do think there is an element of feeling uncomfortable around death and I include myself in this. Sometimes people are just waiting in the wings for you to talk so it's your call. I know it should not be really

springydaffs Sun 17-Jan-16 22:22:28

I've recently had this as I got hijacked by the gruesome chemo etc 'journey'. I was so surprised at the many who either drifted off or vanished (others unexpectedly stepped up though, which was a real blessing). Some are just so casual - 'sorry haven't been in touch, so busy' - 6 months in, while I had been to hell and back, and was still in hell. My response, at least internally was fuck right off.

I do think we find out who our friends are in a crisis - and it can be a painful revelation. I confronted the 'neglectful' people i cared about and I have had a mixed response, some very heartening. I wasnt aggressive but clear, if cold: 'I am disappointed to have not heard from you when I needed my friends most' - said f2f, not text or email. The ones I didn't care about as much I have not contacted at all and neither have they me - they're gone afaic. I find my friendship profile has dramatically changed but I know the friends I have are good friends now. It was a hard way to find out but I feel very blessed with the friends I have now.

Like you, the fog is beginning to clear a bit now it's all over and it may be I'll have the space to discuss what happened with some of the neglectfuls - if I stumble across them but not otherwise.

They weren't there for you when it mattered most and I think you have to take note of that. They don't have much fibre if they held back - and are still holding back. I'd find it hard to have much time for them tbh but I may want to talk it out with them first before making a decision. Working through conflicts can forge the greater friendships sometimes.

momtothree Sun 17-Jan-16 22:31:04

A dear friend lost her hubby and I have contacted her offered help and nights to chat baby sitting etc - however she is relying heavily on another friend or two - I suppose shut down to those closest to her. In a way keeping control of who she says what to in the darkest days. I'm fine with that and will be here when she comes round and feels ready.

I suppose it's a two way street. I have to respect her wishes but know how difficult she's finding her feet again Dealing with the kids grief etc.

I want to help - but she shuts me out - which is totally fine and I understand that completely -

N3wYear2016 Sun 17-Jan-16 22:35:39

If you are about to move house & job you could use this as an excuse to make contact with old friends with your good news
Perhaps you could say something like, sorry I have not been in touch for a while. But here is some good news...house, job

Letter, phone, email, social media, visit

See how many people reply

Then you will see how many people keep in touch

There are always opportunities to make new friends at new house/job although this may take some time....

springydaffs Sun 17-Jan-16 22:40:50

Other friends who have been through the 'cancer journey' are more forgiving eg about people who don't know what to do or say so stay away. Some cancer survivors (or otherwise) even have sympathy for friends who are so terrified of cancer they 'can't cope' and stay away - the stay-awayers may eg have had experience of cancer through a relative and can't face it again/we can't know what people have been through. At the moment I can't stretch that far - but I may be more tolerant in the future though I doubt it .

If all your friends, en masse, stayed away I can't see what could be a good enough reason to allow for that. They could have supported each other to step up as a group.

choceclair123 Sun 17-Jan-16 23:57:51

I've been through a very difficult time over the past two years and if it hadn't been for my husband and the need to look after my little girl I would have, without a doubt, had a total breakdown with everything that happened. I really thought I had some good friends who cared and I'd always been very supportive of them. I was very hurt and shocked to realise how many "friends" did not offer me any support. Even a friend I had had for over 20 years.

I don't bother with them anymore as I don't consider their actions to be those of caring, loving friends. I decided to create a new life and new friends. What's the point in having friends if they're not there when you really need them. Personally I didn't and won't bother with any of the "friends" who let me down when I needed them the most. Sometimes you just have to move on thanks

JerryFerry Mon 18-Jan-16 00:02:15

The way we handle death and dying culturally has a lot to answer for. There is an expectation that we will just get on with it when of course that is totally unrealistic.

If you can do an honest email inviting your friend/s to be in touch and if they respond in kind, there is a chance that the friendship will change for the better. If you can both be brave and honest, it can be a wonderful thing.

Atenco Mon 18-Jan-16 04:07:18

I didn't quite understand, OP, as you also said that you pushed them away. Maybe they felt that you didn't want them there.

I personally feel that I have let a few friends down when bad things happen. Sometimes I am just so busy trying to keep afloat myself as I am self-employed and have a family that totally depends on my income and my inferiority complex means I underestimate the impact my support could give to them. I am trying to change, but there are only so many hours in the day.

Flamingo1980 Tue 19-Jan-16 08:00:18

Thank you for your brilliant replies. All good ideas and relevant stories that made me realise this is universal. (Or maybe just British?!)
Atenco I pushed them away after a few months of them not doing anything and then a few feeble 'hope you're okay' texts. Not great but I was so hurt and annoyed by then.
I will send out a few olive branches I think. But just be more wary from now on, and lower my expectations. It's just so depressing.
Interestingly the one person who was the most kind and helpful is someone I hardly knew who was/is having the hardest time at the moment. In contrast to my 'close' friends who have it easy, and they were the ones who were the most useless.

gandalf456 Tue 19-Jan-16 20:09:33

That would make sense. When my dad died, I remember going round a friend's and listen to her witter on about how she wanted a coffee machine that would match her worktop. Another, whom I'd known since infant school, did not even send a card. No acknowledgement whatsoever. She wrote a note the Christmas before last suggesting meeting up, which I ignored. Another said nothing to me until she happened to see me six months later.

Duckdeamon Tue 19-Jan-16 20:16:05

What kind of "support" did you hope for? did you previously see a lot of them?

springydaffs Tue 19-Jan-16 21:32:22

Yes Atenco - a friend made a comment that people don't have the confidence to realise what a difference they could make. That made me think.

This friend stepped up magnificently, sending me regular cards and texts - she lives the other side of the country and was having health problems herself so couldn't visit, though she tried to find a way to visit throughout my ordeal (bless her!). I didn't need much, just to know that people cared - it doesn't take much to send a text. One of the neglectfuls I confronted said indignantly 'but I thought about you!' To which I said 'how did I know that?' Interestingly, another 'neglectful' said the same when I was going through my divorce - I gave the same reply. You have to laugh.

There were some people i barely knew and who didn't have the best social skills but they eg cooked for me, did my hoovering, a bit of gardening, shopping, lifts to and from appts etc. Neighbours, mostly, some of whom left little cards and presents (blub!). Tbh it was a challenge having people I didn't know very well right in my home, my life. But the people i would have sworn would tip up just didn't! I'll never forget those people who helped me and the friends who kept in regular touch.

gandalf456 Tue 19-Jan-16 22:02:45

For me, it would have been a card, letter - even just a mention 'I'm sorry. ..' I did get a few offers to have the children. I suppose you have to focus on the support you do get but there are many who surprise you. The fact that some you have known 20-30 years say not a word is very surprising and shakes you in ways you can't imagine

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