to feel really sad about this situation(21 Posts)
Apologies for long back story, this is bothering me and I am not sure I am going to sleep much tonight because of it - I had breast cancer a few years ago, and had 18months of treatment that made me really ill and I had a few near death experiences due to the treatment, I am NED now, but continually being investigated for any recurrence - such is the wrecked state my body is in now. So I have not recovered well in that I have been left with intractable fatigue, amongst numerous other things, but I am glad to be alive. My (now) teenagers x3 have all been treated by CAMHS for anxiety issues and PTSD (from watching me become so ill so quickly on several occasions). My husband has also had time off work with MH issues because of my illness, but is much better now and is very supportive and would do anything for me or the kids. Cancer has taken it's toll on all of us, and I have a pretty high chance of recurrence.
I have a friendship group that I have been with for 20+years, and during the times when I have been so ill they have appreared to be supportive, but other times not. Eg one of them told me everyone will be 'SO pleased when I am back to normal' - I said 'err there is no back to normal now, that's gone'. I distanced myself from this person, and from some others who concurred with her. I have kept in touch with one who has been a very good friend (VGF), taking me out for coffees etc during my treatment, but she could never cope with me talking about how I feel, in any way, because I could see it upset her, so we have just talked about superficial stuff. Never have I offloaded anything onto any of these friends or told them what it's really like to have cancer, partially because if I go out with them it is nice to talk about something else, I am really sick of cancer - and I have not had it as bad as some people I know.
Today I realised that I had been completely excluded from a significant event that everyone else in the friendship group was invited to. I asked VGF (nicely) how this had happened and got no real explanation about it, she had not realised I had been excluded from it. I said I found it upsetting and that it sent a very clear message to me about what the others thought. She went on to send me a long message about how distressing she finds what has happened to me (ie the cancer and physical consequences - she knows nothing about my children and CAMHS, or my husband's MH), and how she finds how I have been treated by the other friends really upsetting for her and so we must never talk about it because it she will get really angry with them.
So I would like some mumsnet wisdom please - please be kind to me, I am not feeling brilliant about anything right now. AIBU to feel really sad that this means our friendship is over too, because unless I pretend that cancer never happened to me we can't have any kind of friendship based on honesty. I am trying to reform my previous people-pleasing habits, and I feel like life is too short for this shit, and I should just move on, but I can't help feeling really really sad, I have known VGF for 25yrs. Already my parents cannot talk about my cancer, and my brother has stopped speaking to me, as well quite a number of my neighbours who I thought were good friends (same thing happened there - got excluded from things, and then just got ghosted by 2 of them), has she just joined this group?
sorry, realised this is really long
Gosh I feel for you at the time when you would like comfort and support and your friends are making it all about them and how your illness affect them
Something posted about circle of support/grief thing the other day was a fantastic explanation of how situations like this should be
It’s sucks your friends have been so shit and can only give you my sympathy
Good grief, some people really do have to make everything about them, don't they ?
So sorry you've had such a rough time of things, OP. I hope the cancer fucks off and sends some better mates in its place.
Oh and don't worry about your kids, they know in their heart of hearts you're the glue holding them all together, they are terrified of the glue making everything else collapse
Sorry to hear about your ordeal OP. I would take her message to mean she doesn't want to talk about how your other friends are with you. Not the cancer itself. I would clarify with her and explain that you need to be able to talk about it with her because she has been such a good support to you etc.
Do you have counselling OP?
I would ask her to clarify what she means as it feels to you like she's asked you not to express a huge part of your life that you and your family had to adapt to and remember everyday. Hopefully that will make her realise that she's come across insensitive and she'll apologise.
And if she doesn't I'd tell her to piss off and join the rest of the selfish fuckers you've left behind.
Have you considered taking up a new hobby or a gentle exercise class or learn a new skill? It might be a good way to mix up your social life whilst also having fun that's about yourself.
Hope you and your family feel better soon
Thanks for your kind replies.
Fruit - she actually said in her message she doesn't want to talk about my cancer.
I have been offered counselling but have no idea what to talk about, and children have been on one of those perfect rotas where they subconsciously organise for at least one of them to occupy every waking moment of my and dhs life. And am trying to look like I have got my shit together at work which involves huge amount of energy, but we need the money, having cancer is expensive and I don't qualify for any benefits.
Stressy - thanks think I will try and do that should the opportunity arise. Have recently started 4 new groups of activities. Have been really pleasantly surprised at how not everyone says these things but just say they are sorry and hope things get better.
You and your family have been through alot recently. I would suggest putting your positive energy into yourself. Life is too short to worry about people who don't want to spend time with you. I would investigate doing some new things for yourself, even if these are only small things. My friend once said to me try something new and if you don't like it move onto something else. You may never find out why people are being different to you, don't try to second guess, move onto other people. This may not be in your nature to easily do. I hope everything works out OK
Well, I have been through the bc journey quite recently and, sadly, I found that old cliche to be true: you know who your friends are. That old chestnut about they find it too upsetting blah blah. My family were also shit.
Like you, my friendships have undergone a huge shapeshift: quite a few people I thought were dear friends for life are gone, a whole new raft of friends are in place bcs they stepped forward when I was ill. The rest can go fuck themselves ('scuse language).
VGF is not your friend. I bawled out my oldest friend bcs she did that disappearing act - admittedly she lives on the other side of the country and has her own family troubles but, hey, I've always been there for her, now it was my turn. We are pals again now but I was prepared to let that relationship go, as hard as it was.
Actually, what is harder is having crap people in your life. They've failed the litmus test: time to make some new friends. ime cancer gave me a glint in my eye aka No. More. Shit.
I find i have different groups of friemds that I turn to for different things. Some are great when I want fun and liveliness, some are good when I want to talk kids, and some are good when I want to discuss serious things. It sounds like your friend might be reliable for the lighthearted side of life, but you will need to develop new relationships to support you for the deep and meaningful conversations you want and need. I know there are wonderful people out there who know what you are going through and can commiserate and lift you through it. Are there any support groups you can try out to see if there is a good fit? Maybe online support discussion boards? It does take a village for all of us to get through life, and I hope you can build up your village to help you.
Hey. People are rubbish sometimes aren't they? What your friends have done and how they are behaving is not unusual. People get scared, they don't understand, this denial is a coping mechanism for them. My mother had cancer years ago and ended up loosing quite a few long term friend because of exactly what is happening with your friends. Don't they say you can count your true friends on one hand? I don't have adviçe because I can't even sort my own life most of the time, but you do mention how you are pleasantly surprised that some people say "I am sorry and I hope things get better". Those people sound more understanding. With regard to the counselling you dont need to know what to say. The counsellor will guide you.
They can't deal with it because you're not "back to normal"
Their non-personal experience means they can't relate to yours and if they have to stop and think about it, they will have to look their own mortality in the face.
It's easier for them to ignore it and by doing that, ignoring you is the easiest way for them to "protect" themselves from the reality you face every day.
You are far from alone in dealing with this appalling attitude. It happens to parents of disabled kids, it happens to recently bereaved people, it happens to people who are facing traumatic life events.
It's as though suddenly the group you've been so close to for so long and all shared each others' ups and downs has had a dynamic shift in their compassion factor and they suddenly see you as "contagious" or by facing your reality they have to admit it could be theirs and they cannot face that, so you have to go.
I'm so sorry you have found that people you thought you may be able to rely on are indeed so shallow but please don't ever think it's your fault, it is absolutely not. Find a support group for other people with a similar set of circumstances and I'm sure you'll not only make new friends, you'll also hear how their friends and family are behaving exactly like yours have done.
I feel so sad for you notquitewhatIhadplan
Be straight up with the closest friend, if she can't talk to you about it or listen to your concerns, reason with stuff, help you - then she is a bit of a well-weather friend. My best friend for years only turned out to be of those (for other reasons) and they are next to useless. If a person is adding to your happiness in life, helping you when times are tough and vice versa, then they are a keeper (you should not have to negotiate her discomfort, she should be defending yours in this scenario) then don't put any more faith in them. I know it sounds depressing, but it's simply wasted time and energy. There are good and proper friends yet to meet - out with the old and in with the new - time is a gift, don 't waste it on those who truly don't give a shit what happens you.
Yanbu at all, OP! People can be such cowards.
My experience is slightly different in that it is my DH with cancer but we have said similar over the last year. People you think you can rely on have been pathetic and others we barely know have gone above and beyond. To say it's been an eye opener is an understatement. I barely speak to PIL now because of just how APPALLING they have been around everything. They were here with us physically but have been entirely useless emotionally. FIL had DH dead and buried at first diagnosis and frets endlessly (and often unnecessarily). I don't want to hear it! MIL refuses to talk about any of it but is happy to criticize my parenting - as if I haven't had enough on my plate! Thank god for our brothers is all I can say and a select group of friends who have been outstanding.
In your position, I would seek out others in a similar position to you as they are the only ones who really understand. I am in touch with another Mumsnetter whose DH is also ill and sometimes feel she is tj only one who gets it!
Don't waste time on people who haven't taken the time to care for you. You are worth so much more.
I have not been in your shoes so I can't know how it feels. However, I have some issues with one of my children and they can be quite draining. I've chosen to be selective and only talk to some friends (the one I know can help and be supportive) about the issues.
I think you can pursue some new friendships and see which friends might be good for fun, or talking or whatever as someone else said.
personally I would not cut your oldest friend out because she cannot handle your illness, I would keep heron the back burner and I would respect the fact that for whatever selfish reason, she cannot handle this.
My sense of frustration and anger may also make me want to challenge the organiser of the 'significant event that everyone else in the friendship group was invited to' and would want to find out why I was not included. It really is not on and I would want to talk to that person and make them realise how hurt I was.
At the end of the day friends come and go, they are not always there for us and I would really focus my energy now only on things that bring you joy, or peace, or fulfillment. Friendships that do not do this would be cast aside or let to slide.
I hope things will be better soon. XXXX
Perhaps because you distanced yourself from your friends after one ill thought out comment they assumed you didn't want to be involved with them, so they stopped inviting you
Really feel for you. My mum found it hard that none of her friends ever asked how she was for fear of hearing something that upset them. Very selfish. I'm wondering if you have made any friends through treatment so you have support of others with lived experience? An aquaintace of mine made really good friends with another cancer survivor as they had common ground and could talk openly about things together.
NotQuite, this is a really sad situation to be in. I'm currently 7 years past treatment and it is an incredibly hard time. I dont think I could remain friends with someone who wanted to ignore that part of my life, its a big part of who I am now. Its important and necessary to be open and honest about it and how you are feeling. I had counselling after and it really helped so much. I found it great having a space where I could just talk and talk about Cancer and how shit it is to someone who had to listen to it, whether they wanted to or not. It felt freeing to get it all out without worrying about the other person. My (now) dh and parents were great but i didnt want to bring them down with it. I know it is tough to loose a longtime friend but ultimately now you need to surround yourself with real friendship and support, even if that makes a smaller circle.
Thanks everyone, its really helpful hearing these things, I really appreciate your thoughts. I will phone up this week and organise some counselling for me - I have decided it's my turn to look after me now.
Seems like you can't always meld the old with the new, and I need to gather myself together and enjoy all my new friends and new hobbies/ groups.
I had a gazillion whatsapp messages from my friend, I decided it was better for me not to reply, and have blocked her on there because they were doing my head in slightly. She still has all my other contact details tho so have not cut off all contact by any means. I am going to ask the person who arranged the event how/why I got excluded - won't be going again but need to say it's not on. You so find out who your true friends are.
for you all xxx
They are pathetic. I'm really sorry. What cowards they are. My husband is in remission from cancer. It is very eye opening seeing how people cope with it. Brave people ask you about it and can cope with what you're telling them. Cowards daren't ask. They just want to carry on their nice lives and pretend this bad stuff isn't happening. Maybe it's because they can't cope with thinking about you being poorly, or maybe it's because they can't even think about the big c at all. None of it helps you though. You deserve much, much better. I have found myself able to forgive people a couple of years down the line and our friendships are back but in a more superficial level. At the time we were very isolated. It's a scary place to be, especially with children. You just realise how different your path is to your old friends and there's nothing you can do about it. I think I'd just echo the bit about people in the same situation understanding the most. Best of luck with it. I hope things improve for you
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