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Really fretting about going to my friend's 40th (long)

(16 Posts)
EmilyBronte Sun 13-Sep-09 08:45:05

Wasn't sure where to post this but thought I'd get the best advice here. I've also namechanged from the name I usually use although I've posted under this one before.

So, an old old friend turns 40 in a couple of weeks (we've been friends since we were 11). She's not one of my closest friends, but we've done a lot together over the years and she's been there at difficult times and I'm very fond of her. She doesn't have kids or a partner (only relevant in that the dynamic has changed since I had mine).

Anyway, she's going to have a lunchtime party so families with kids can come along, in her flat. This is great, but I used to live in that flat, at a time when my then partner and now DH had split up. It was initially a very difficult time for me - I was very depressed, suicidal at times. I pulled through with the support of incredible friends (this friend being one of them) and an amazing GP and started to be very happy there. When DH and I got back together (he asked me to marry him and I moved back in to our home), part of me felt really sad that I was leaving the flat and if I'm honest part of me still does when DH and I argue and I think did I do the right thing by going back to him.

So my anxiety is that I really want to go to this party, and owe it to my friend, but I am absolutely terrified of going back to the flat. I'm scared of all the emotions it'll dredge up for me - the dark times but also the questions. It's hard for me to explain as it was a very strange part of my life that in some ways is thankfully gone but also comes back to haunt me at times. I don't want to say this to my friend as she's very happy there and I don't want her to feel that this is an issue on her birthday, so I need a way to be strong about going.

Hope this doesn't sound very self-indulgent and pitying. I guess I'm asking for advice in physically facing a recent past that has complex memories for me.

purplepeony Sun 13-Sep-09 09:15:20

I understand what you are saying, but I think that the reality may not be nearly as bad as you imagine.

Maybe you need to focus on the outcome of the situation then- a happy marriage? if it's not happy, the you need to tackle that as a separate issue.

I think it is very common to have these types of feelings- i semi-lived with an ex boyfriend in a particualr part of London and for years I could hardly bear to visit that area after we split, as it evoked really powerful memories, both good and bad, even though the split was my choice - it happened to be where all the museums were- and going back with my now DH and my kids to that area was really painful.

I think you have really just to grit your teeth, get through the day and look on tis as a painful, but necessary part of your growth- you will survive!

groundhogs Sun 13-Sep-09 09:31:45

That flat was your haven from a tough period of time, which incidentally came to it's own natural end.

Focus on your friend, her warmth, her hospitality and then look at the change in your life since the time you were staying with her. Look at how far you've come, look at how much better everything is, and then think that without these people and this flat, no matter what it took to get you where you are today, you are well, you are happy and you are free of your past.

Pat yourself on the back and stand tall. You've come a long way, congratulate yourself!

silentcatastrophe Sun 13-Sep-09 09:43:41

I never thought a physical place would or could have such an emotional effect. It has done, and perhaps I am some way on the journey to make it a bit better. I don't know what to say that might make anything better, and it's certainly very uncomfortable to live with painful memories. You are living with those memories now and you are not in the flat. You may find that a lot has changed.

My husband and our family recently had a family thing which to be frank we were dreading. I planned quite a lot of things round it, which I was pretty certain we would enjoy, and we spent time with people we would enjoy being with, so that by the time the event came round, it was smaller and easier to cope with in our minds.

I was also dreading going back to the house that we built, that we now rent because we can't afford to live in it. I didn't want to go upstairs although I was allowed to. I did bite the bullet eventually and my fears were allayed, and our tenants were very kind. I think we build things up in our minds which are not part of the present, and are often more frightening in prospect than they are in reality.

It may help to have some other nice things around the party, so that the party itself just becomes part of the day. Don't worry - you are not being self-indulgent or self-pitying!

EmilyBronte Sun 13-Sep-09 10:13:19

Gosh, such thoughtful, sensible messages. Thank you all for sharing your own experiences.

Groundhogs - I'm going to print out your message and take it with me and read it at regular intervals and before I go into the flat! I feel stronger just reading it. Just to be clear - I lived in this flat on my own and my friend moved in when I moved back home so she wasn't an immediate observer of my collapse.

SC your experience is really interesting and I'm sorry you had to move out of your home that you clearly loved. Isn't it hard when places have such an effect - people say 'it's just a house', but psychologically it's so much more. You are so right though about building things up in our heads.

My life is so incredibly different from that time, and I will have two beautiful children with me to prove it!

LovelyDear Sun 13-Sep-09 10:18:31

i think you'll be surprised - expect to feel weird at first, but very quickly your present self will re-establish itself. Any chance of going there before the party?

EmilyBronte Sun 13-Sep-09 10:35:30

To be honest my friend has invited me for dinner there over the years but I've always made excuses and we've met in town instead. Having kids and moving away has meant we only meet up from time to time and she doesn't suggest the flat any more (until now). Realistically it would be too difficult for me to go there beforehand because of travel time involved.

It's awful - it's nothing to do with her, or what she's done, it's entirely my own issues but it's affecting my friendship I think. I wouldn't tell her any of this though - to be honest she probably knows to an extent given that I have never taken up her invitations!

Jux Sun 13-Sep-09 11:42:36

I think what you need to do to maintain this friendship is to build up more memories of this flat - unless she's planning on moving soon.

You could just 'park', as it were, and leave the emotional investment in that flat as it is, though you would have to miss the party and risk your friendship. On the other hand, you can 'ride', move on, adventure forward, by taking a deep breath and going there. Place more happy, but different, memories there along with the old ones.

warthog Sun 13-Sep-09 11:43:52

i think you should go. you may lay a few demons to rest and i'm absolutely certain that it won't be what you imagine. it will be different.

i have been in this situation, just last week in fact. it has dredged up good and bad memories, and enabled me to deal with a couple of things that up until now i just hadn't resolved.

look on it as a positive - that you'll be able to confront that time and resolve a few things. when you're there, try and focus on the here and now, and save up your feelings to think about on the way home, when everyone's quiet anyway. if that makes sense...

sounds like you've got a good friend there. don't let her down. she's really been there for you. go, and have a good time.

EmilyBronte Sun 13-Sep-09 17:04:37

I absolutely have no intention of not going - she is a good friend, and she has been there for me, and I like her so much (quite apart from the fact that we go back a crazily long way and are still friends). It's just the facing of the demons... I like the idea of building up good memories of the flat, and Jux you made me think that if I see all her stuff in it and it's so obviously hers it'll stop being 'mine' in my head.

Warthog - how are you feeling about your situation now?

warthog Sun 13-Sep-09 18:03:04

mixed feelings really. any thoughts i had about going back were completely over. i remembered the good times but also the bad. time had distorted quite a lot, and actually being there brings it all back in technicolour! i need to think about it some more really, but i'm so glad i went. i feel that is a chapter i can move on from now.

good luck. i hope it turns out to be a positive experience for you.

EmilyBronte Sun 13-Sep-09 20:48:18

Thank you, that is a huge help. I've been thinking over your messages all day and feel so much better about going - able to face it instead of feeling physically sick at the thought (of the flat, not my poor friend!)

EmilyBronte Sun 13-Sep-09 20:49:07

Sorry Warthogs, should have said I'm glad your experience was a positive one and you're able to move on. And thank you, everyone for such sound and grounding advice and care.

AnAuntieNotAMum Sun 13-Sep-09 21:54:19

Hi - I quite like this article about emotional memory management. Have a read and see if it makes sense.

EmilyBronte Sun 27-Sep-09 21:45:05

Hello everyone who so kindly posted here. I just wanted to let you know that the party was this weekend, that we went, and it was completely fine. Lovely, in fact! The flat didn't look like 'mine' any more, in fact, it looked different from the image I had in my head. I was there with my children, lots of people were lovely about them and me, my friend was exceedingly happy and delighted that we'd all come, and I drank so much Cava that I didn't see a bollard on the way home and fell over it and have a battered bruised knee to prove it!

Thank you all for your support and for helping me overcome my fear and enabling me to have a lovely, drunken weekend!

hambler Mon 28-Sep-09 00:53:49

I love a happy ending!

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