Forum

The exasperating friend again!

OK, I know I’ve posted umpteen times about this person, and I’m sure some of the replies will be along the lines of: “WHY are you still bothering with this friendship?”, but I’ve known her since childhood.

As some of you will know, I lost my job in July, and haven’t worked since (but haven’t been particularly actively looking, either).

My friend KNEW I’d been given my notice back then. Not only has she not been in touch in the whole summer, to find out how I was taking it (she only works term-times, and did promise to write properly once she was off work for the Summer - but never did).

But now she e-mails, in September (almost two months after I lost the job), and begins: “I hope you’ve had a good Summer?”

She did exactly the same back when I told her of the impending redundancy, replying: “I hope you had a nice weekend?” (well, hardly, after news like that).

It makes me feel like I am defective, for somehow not having had “a good Summer”, when I was ill, unemployed, and it rained almost non-stop. What’s “good” about any of that? Am I just rubbish at counting my blessings? Or is this another damn fool question, when you know someone’s battling chronic illness, and has lost their job of 23 years?

Tina

Ah Tina, I think we have all got one of those sort of ‘friends’. At least she didn’t give you fake patronizing concern, that would have been harder to deal with when you know she doesn’t really want to know what your summer was like.

Cross her off your Christmas card list!

Suex

I guess that there are some people who you could slap their face with a wet kipper and they still wouldn’t get it. I guess we all have people who fill this role in our lives! Some folk are worth keeping in your life and some that it is best just to let them slide out of our lives. I have done this with a cousin who I used to have a lot of contact with. I guess there are people who are also so wrapped up in themselves, you could have had your legs cut of and they would still ask you if you wanted to go for a walk! They do exist Tina!!!

In the same breath there are people that are worthy of staying in your life because they are meant to be there - strange on lass. Take care

Willie

Hi Tina, I really think this ‘friend’ has got a problem with your MS. Maybe it frightens her (if it happened to you it could happen to her). Maybe she is so much in denial about what’s happened to you she is pretending it’s not happening.

Whatever her reasons, it is very insensitive and yes, another damn fool question.

I’ve had a bunch of friends drop me since I’ve had MS… and I think your friend is someone who would have dropped you… but as you say, you’ve known each other since childhood so she feels she can’t (just like you feel you can’t drop her).

Don’t really have any advice as I think in your situation I’d find it as difficult as you do. I mean I know it seems like you should just drop her but these things are never so cut and dried.

A hard one Tina. You could respond with “No actually, I had a bloody awful summer. I lost my job. I am ill. I’m struggling with MS symptoms. Do you honestly think I could have had a good summer???” And then leave the ball in her court?

I’m not saying I would have the courage to do that, so I don’t expect you will either.

Hope it’s not getting you down too much love… these things can be such a pain in the rear end!

Pat x

Hi Tina, oh chuffin ell, eh? This lass really does get your goat, doesn`t she?

You know, Id be tempted to say what PatB advises. That way your friend will either hush up and quietly disappear, or shell come to the realisation that yes, her friend could do with some genuine help.

luv Pollx

Hi Tina,

Some friends only want to know general issues, like how was your shopping trip, or did you buy those boots we were talking about, nothing too personal or anything to do with illness (like ms). Theyre casual friendships where they dont want to get too involved. It may mean taking on some responsibility and they dont want that. I expect she talks about her life a lot, some people love doing that and never notice whats happening around them. Yes it is selfish but so are people (not all).

Now if she was diagnosed with ms perhaps she would expect you to care, if she lost her job and routine - she would want you to give her support but Im afraid a one way deep friendship isnt going to happen with her, forget it.

Its a one way friendship, doesnt matter how long youve known her, she wont change, shes not strong enough nor does she care to ask you how you really do feel about things.

Treat her as she treats you, lightly and never delve into any of her life, she will either go away, or continue your friendship in such a light way. Shes not to be relied upon. I know it will probably hurt but some people are just like that. You will find the strongest truest friendships just happen when people care about us, feel our hurt and share problems.

Dont waste time wondering, she wont - ever. You know who cares about you and worries about how your coping. Look elsewhere or know already who is to be relied upon.

Life is hard sometimes and people dont make it any easier.

take care,

bren

x

Thanks everyone - good points all, and I’m sorry not to reply to each individually.

But Pat, I think you have probably got closest, when you say it’s a kind of denial. I don’t actually believe my friend IS selfish or wrapped up in herself. I think it’s more the other extreme: she’s so over-sensitive to anyone else’s misfortune that it’s easier just to ignore the subject, and pretend it didn’t happen. Hence we get inane and inappropriate chit-chat, like: “Did you have a nice Summer?”

I did feel really tempted, in my anger, to write back, as you suggest: “Well no, I’m ill and I lost my job, what kind of Summer do YOU think I had?”

But she’s “too sensitive” to cope with a mouthful from me about the idiocy of the question, too.

She probably hasn’t even thought about it. It’s just something she trots out automatically, like: “How are you today?”, when people just expect a: “Fine, thank you”, and aren’t actually inviting a detailed breakdown of your latest symptoms.

She’s very Polly-Anna-ish, and always has been.

When my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she was still telling me: “Oh, but you mustn’t worry: the doctors will fix him up as right as rain, won’t they?” This is NOT helpful, when you’re having to cope with the inevitability of losing a parent, and someone is trying to tell you you mustn’t worry, because it’s fixable! NO, some things aren’t.

Similarly, when I was being investigated for MS, and told my friend lesions had been found in my brain and spinal cord, she was still insisting it was “nothing”, and I needn’t worry.

I admit, I am a bit of a worrier, so sometimes that is sound advice. But on the other hand, there are serious situations in life, when it’s perfectly natural and normal to worry. Being told your father is dying, or that you have lesions in your brain, are cases in point. It’s ridiculous to try to reassure someone in either of those situations that their problem is “nothing”, and they’re worrying unnecessarily.

Tina

x

Your friend is as she is. You are not going to change her. Are you getting something out of this friendship, or is it still standing out of sheer force of habit? If you are getting something real out of the friendship, and you value it and your friend, I think you need to just put up with her and not let the annoying side of bother you. Or maybe you have unconsciously assigned to her the role of, ‘The friend whose role in my life is to enliven it by annoying me intensely and making me feel unsupported.’? That’s OK too, if that’s the deal, and you are content with it. But if you neither feel that she is a good friend to you, foibles nowithstanding, nor that you are getting something out of being annoyed by her, perhaps your Christmas card list needs a spring clean?

Alison

x

Hi Alison,

I think it’s force of habit, but a habit of more than forty years duration is hard to break, especially without deliberately hurting her feelings, so she’ll get the message. I no longer jump to respond to her e-mails as I once used to, and I’m intentionally cool about any suggestion of meeting - I don’t think we’ve met for a year or two. I suppose I hoped it would just lapse, without having to be any more pointed about it.

I suppose, deep down, I’m still disappointed that a friend of 40+ years just wasn’t much good in a crisis. I must admit, I did expect more, but I think she’s always been this feeble - it just didn’t show itself, because I didn’t have anything I needed her to be strong about.

If you don’t have any crises for the first 30-odd years, it doesn’t become obvious that actually, someone is very poor at dealing with them, and uses the “ostrich” method (“Let’s just ignore nasty things, and they all might go away…”) This isn’t something you can know until trouble actually hits. I honestly thought she’d be better, but she isn’t.

I guess the friendship only lasted the first 30 years, because it didn’t hit anything that was hard.

T.

x

Well Tina, are you just gonna wing it or say something? If it would cause you upset (and I suspect it might) to actually bring the problem out in the open, then perhaps saying nothing is your best choice eh?

If you do the latter, then its ok to air your views here. Were all here for each other afterall.

luv POllx

well kow it now how you feel and as a few folk have said sometimes they don’t even know it.

I had this last week and as my hubby said you should have taken control not them, but having a week to think about it did i gain anything from being in their company no i was bored ridged and shattered as they picked the post inaccessible place to have coffee. So wont be doing that again soon. Now met sister today and put in place what hubby said, sister actually arrrived 15 minutes early, said she realised i cant wait for her anymore and we had a lovely gab you need to be truthful with her, if she still is in denial and you want to keep the friendship going then it is going to cause you more work and you may then have to accept it.

On another note sometimes MS works in your favour my hubby has a friend who is incredibly rude tried fruitlessly to stop being in their company but hubby wanted to still keep in contact again went away with them last year to a totally useless place came back shattereds told hubby enough is enough, he is now going to keep contact via boys weekend and i dont have to see them again

take care

trish

Hi Tina,

Try not to let it upset you, remember ‘true friends’ care!! She does not seem to, and is to involved with herself. Do you really want a friend like that?

Janet

x

Hi Folks,

Excuse me for answering several posts in one again.

Poll - no, I shall probably not mention it, as you rightly guessed. Although without being quite so blunt about it, I may mention that in fact, my Summer was not very nice, given that on top of being ill, I lost my job as well. Hardly happy times, by anybody’s standards! Do you think if I actually spell it out (without being sarcastic) that I have not been having a lot of fun, she might realise it was a bit of a daft question?

Trish - I do remember reading your post, and feeling sad that you were ditching your friends, because they wanted coffee upstairs at a restaurant - unaware how difficult this would be for you. I do think, with an illness like MS, where our symptoms can sometimes be invisible, we need to communicate if there’s a problem. Your friends obviously thought you looked well, and were doing fine (which is a compliment, in its way), but the downside is that they could not be expected to guess the stairs would be a problem. So maybe you should have said, rather than go along with it, but then secretly seethe about their lack of consideration? My bet is they honestly had no idea you’d struggle with stairs, because there’s no outward sign of it.

And, although it’s not the same situation, I wonder if I’ve also failed to communicate to my friend what I need or expect. But she knows I’m ill (been ill for a while, and she knows it doesn’t go away), and she definitely knows I lost my job recently. So I find it simply bizarre that she asks: “Have you had a nice Summer?”.

Janet - the peculiar problem here is that my friend isn’t uncaring, although I agree the end result looks the same. If anything, I think she’s so over-sensitive, she just can’t cope if the brown-stuff happens, so ends up making staggeringly inappropriate comments, that show no acknowledgement of the problem. I suppose, in a way, it is a form of selfishness, because she cannot seem to overcome her own discomfort at dealing with “difficult” issues, to help a friend in need. I sometimes think she just wants to live in a world that’s pink and fluffy, and filled with hearts and flowers, and can’t cope with real life. I sometimes wonder how she gets on being a wife and mum, because families have all kinds of tough problems they have to cope with. How does she manage then? Perhaps they’ve just been really lucky, and haven’t had anything serious they’ve had to deal with yet?

Tina

x

I’m afraid I wouldn’t think twice of asking someone, no matter what their circumstances, if they had a nice summer. I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that cause someone wasn’t working and was ill that you were really down and not capable of having a nice time. So in a way I do see where you friend is coming from, plus it was probably just a throwaway thing to say that she wasn’t expecting to be analysed too much. However its not up to me, its up to you and if you don’t think she is a very good friend then either call her on it or walk away and leave her to it. Sorry you’re feeling down xx

I’m afraid I wouldn’t think twice of asking someone, no matter what their circumstances, if they had a nice summer. I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that cause someone wasn’t working and was ill that you were really down and not capable of having a nice time. So in a way I do see where you friend is coming from, plus it was probably just a throwaway thing to say that she wasn’t expecting to be analysed too much. However its not up to me, its up to you and if you don’t think she is a very good friend then either call her on it or walk away and leave her to it. Sorry you’re feeling down xx

Hi again, just to answer your question…mmm, probably she will be surprised to hear your change of tone (no, theres no need to be sarky) and not realise she has caused you all this upset. What shell say after that could surprise you.

luv Pollx