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AIBU to be feeling so useless after meeting an old friend?

(10 Posts)
tigerdriverII Sat 20-May-17 23:12:10

So, nearly 40 years ago, as a late teen, I became really close friends with Tom. We spent a couple years chaotically charging around, not a couple but great friends, seeing bands, parties etc. The friendship dwindled naturally when I went off to University and then met my ExH, and although I saw Tom a handful of times, I never returned to live at home and we drifted apart.

About a year ago, in an idle moment, I found Tom on Facebook and we got in touch. He was delighted, telling me all about his sister ( who I knew of course too), his mum and that he was soooo busy. Could we Skype?

Now I loathe Skype, and we only live about an hour or so apart, so I said let's just meet up. It didn't happen: he was busy working, going abroad, whatever.

Time passed, and we chatted a bit more and finally agreed to meet up today. I'd seen a couple of snaps of Tom on Facebook, so I knew he was very thin and looked a bit fragile. He was never a big chap so thought nothing of it.

Well, we met today, and oh dear, things have really not worked out for him. He's been quite ill, which he hadn't mentioned - why should he - and the illness has ravaged his face. He was waiting for me at the restaurant he'd booked, and I think was looking to see my reaction: and I couldn't help it, I did do a double take.

It was great talking to him and in many ways the years just rolled back. But his life has not been happy: no serious relationship for maybe 20 years - he said he'd just reconciled himself to be celibate and didn't think about sex any more; he lost his job when he was ill and hasn't worked for five years; he lives in a tiny flat, borrows his mum's car, and I think gets by on hand outs from his comfortably off mum and well-heeled sister. After lunch (one course) he tried to persuade me not to have a cup of tea, and when the bill came he didn't have enough to pay his half - I didn't mind of course, but I could see he was embarrassed, as he did want to pay his way.

My life has had some big ups and downs but I work, am prosperous and in reasonable health. I have a lovely DH and a lovely DS.

I just feel so desperately sad to see my lovely, witty, loyal mate somehow shrunken and defeated. This isn't really an AIBU : but just wishing I didn't feel quite so useless.

messofajess Sat 20-May-17 23:20:00

Oh no, what a horribly icky feeling sad

He must have been so so embarrassed about the money situation. Is there any way you can help him at all? Not financially but any other way.

Is ill health the main reason for not having a relationship?

LostSight Sat 20-May-17 23:23:05

Catching up with old friends can be lovely, but occasionally, it's devastating. Sorry it was so tough. Life can be really shitty at times.

tigerdriverII Sat 20-May-17 23:52:48


I think he's probably always been quite ambivalent about relationships: it really suited him to hang out with me in a platonic friendship all those years ago. He had bad experiences with girlfriends later on : one of them, they were quite serious, cheated on him with his best friend (not me!), and another sounds as though she had a lot of MH issues which couldn't allow her to sustain the relationship.

All I can do is offer my friendship and a listening and reminiscing ear. I want to do that.

Pentapus Sun 21-May-17 00:10:46

No advice, but you sound like a lovely friend to have. smile
I hope things look up for Tom.

OctopusesGarden Sun 21-May-17 00:14:21

Sounds very sad op. Really resonated with me. I dreamt about an old friend last night and looked him up. Found a link to a page about his younger sister's death. Has really struck me and made me think how precious life is

Fluffypinkpyjamas Sun 21-May-17 00:30:49

That's so very sad OP but at least you are back in his life which may really be helpful for him. It must be very difficult for you both but I hope you can bring some positivity into his life. I wish him well.

KeepServingTheDrinks Sun 21-May-17 01:08:47

don't underestimate the power of a listening and reminiscing ear. Esp one that isn't judgemental. Bugger 'not judgemental' even better for them is an ear biased pro the speaker.

If you can GENUINELY offer that, then it's much more important and appreciated than you may realize.

LorLorr2 Sun 21-May-17 01:32:02

I have been in a similar position to his before. If I could think of any advice at all it would be to not look at and treat him with pity, but instead to have 'normal' conversations about current stuff or whatever you're both into. It would help close any gap between you and make him feel more like he belongs. I used to hate the pity looks because it reminded me how shit things were! If there's anything he can ever help you with, by the way, then do bring it up. Interestingly, your way of being 'useful' could actually be to help him feel useful. Then afterwards you have an excuse to give him some kind of repayment (e.g meal out/coffee/box of chocs) that doesn't feel like charity.

tigerdriverII Sun 21-May-17 07:44:29



Wise words. I really like the idea of what he could do for me.

Oh, I keep thinking about the facade he'd been putting up about his life, making out to me that he was running a successful business : complaining about his work-filled weekends even though he was the boss. It must have taken some courage to tell me what was actually happening. I had suspected that all wasn't quite as it seemed mainly because his line of work is one where you'd expect lots of online presence, LinkedIn etc, and there was absolutely none.

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