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To End a Friendship or Not

Vickilg's picture
Vickilg
Posts: 281
Joined: Jan 2011

Good morning, everyone... Dealing with cancer is hard, the physical toll as well as the emotional toll it takes on us is extreme.

I try to stay as positive as possible about staying on this earth for a long time and fighting every step of the way to make that happen. My goal and focus is on my living.

I get enough reality checks from blood test, scans and doctors visits to know that this is a battle.

What do you do in the following situations?

1. I have a long-time good friend that says all the wrong things. No matter how positive I try to be she talks to me like I am already a death's door. I find myself depressed after I talk to her. I try to understand that she is doing her best but my husband wants me to cut off ties with her because she brings me down so much. I feel like I am attending my own funeral when talking to her.

2. Second, what about family members that do a check-in by text but never show up or even call - just a stupid text?

I have other friends that are a very strong support group and that is what I surround myself with but what do I do about these people? Ignore them, cut them off, or just deal with them. I don't want to close off the world but I need positive thoughts from them.

steved
Posts: 836
Joined: Apr 2004

I don't think there can be hard fixed rules around this type of thing. Personally I have learnt to stop responding emotionally to people's responses to my situation based on the fact that sometimes even I don't know how I want them to respond. I hate the overly worried responders, I hate the aloof responders, I hate the negative ones but also get irritated by the overly positive 'everything will be fine' ones. In truth it is really hard for people to know how you want them to respond unless you talk openly about it with them.

Ultimately most people now know I cope best if people just treat me as normally as possible but I do forgive those that respond differently. However, if people can't adapt how they treat you despite being open and honest withem about it then as in life without cancer that relationship is likely to die a natural death.

Steve

Lorikat's picture
Lorikat
Posts: 558
Joined: Jul 2011

Oh boy do I understand! I have limited or even deleted people from my life who bring me down! Heaven knows I can manage that well enough on my own. I have also talked to good friends and explained ow I feel... It has worked with some, not so much with others.... As for emails and texts, sometimes that is the only way people can deal. At least you know they ARE thinking about you.

I have a very good friend with whom I have limited face time because she is doom and gloom all the time. Still love her but cannot "prop her up" while going through this. Had not realized that a great deal of our friendship was me soothing her. Hummmmm. The things we learn. Right now, make yourself as comfortable as you can! Lorikat
.

John23
Posts: 1832
Joined: Jan 2007

I had to laugh about your #1 and #2 comments!

We're all the same, I guess. If a friend, etc, weighs in on
the seriousness of our cancer, we become irritated, wanting to
hear "positive thoughts".

If they seem to ignore the fact we have cancer in their effort
to support our own feelings that it's "beat-able", we become
irritated that they don't seem to understand the seriousness.

Can they win at this? I doubt it.

Personally, my mood changes with the wind; I don't think
anyone can know my feelings about my condition at any instant.

Be well; try to stay sane.

My best wishes,

John

Vickilg's picture
Vickilg
Posts: 281
Joined: Jan 2011

My turn to laugh. Thanks for making me feel silly. LOL But you are right, John. They are opposite situations. I didn't see that until you pointed it out. I guess the bottom line is that I just wish people would treat me like I am still alive but understand when I feel like crap. Deep sigh.

jen2012
Posts: 1196
Joined: Aug 2012

I would try to talk to her. Your husband is trying to protect you, but it would be sad to lose a long time good friend.

It's so awkward. I now know that I have absolutely said the wrong things when I was faced with others going through this.

Since my husband was diagnosed in August, I have cried more in front of people than I have my entire life. I hate that, and much prefer emails so I don't have to worry about breaking down. If people are too sympathetic then it's all over - I can't stop the tears. People just don't know how to act and like Steve said we probably don't really know how we want them to act all of the time. My husband doesn't like talking about it and wants people to treat him as they always have. He minimizes the whole thing by saying that cancer is not going to rule our lives and he doesn't want to give it anymore thought than he has to.

I lost 2 good friends (or so I thought) last year when the baby was born. They were moms of my 12 yr old son's friends. I busted my butt being a good friend (or more like a good taxi service) to them by helping with their kids and not asking anything in return. Once I had the baby and just couldn't do it anymore the friendships went away. It really hurts to know that I was used that way and that they don't care that our lives have been turned upside down. In the last year, we had a new baby (we are in our 40's), my mother-in-law died and my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Throw a pre-teen boy and a teen age girl into that mix - we are completely overwhelmed financially, physically and emotionally and are finding out that we really have little support. It's only been a couple of months and even the emails checking in have stopped from most friends. Family is not much better. The ones that do still check in - I think they just want to hear that all is good. When I mention anything difficult, it gets glossed over. I have one friend who is a therapist that has been a godsend. She listens and understands.

Geesh this was like therapy! Didn't mean to make it about me! But try to be understanding that people don't know how to be. If they aren't stressing you out or if it isn't too much work to stay friends, I'd try to forgive them and keep them around.

Come here for understanding - people here get it!

Lovekitties's picture
Lovekitties
Posts: 2934
Joined: Jan 2010

It is difficult to know what to say to someone with a cancer diagnosis. Particularly, as John points out, our needs are so changeable.

I would say though that if you haven't already, sit down with your good friend and try to help her understand what you need or don't need from her. Explain to her that you want her to treat you like anyone else she knows who is "sick", not like someone who is at death's door. Let her know what things she says or does that really bring you down.

As for the family members, be glad that you hear from them at all. While I find it curious myself, texting seems to be a very accepted means of communication. I have even asked my grandkids why they text instead of just calling, and they look at me like "get with it grandma"...lol.

It is a hard balance, even here, to be positive and upbeat with folks without seeming to be gratuitous. Just as it is hard to say the tough stuff without being gloom and doom. It is a fine line we all walk with communication.

Hugs,

Marie who loves kitties

abrub's picture
abrub
Posts: 1531
Joined: Mar 2010

I feel like my family (siblings) are only supportive when there is a problem. They visited me daily when I had my major cytorecution surgery, but when I was in the hospital in their neighborhood for a week having the incisional hernia repaired, I saw them the first day. Hey, it was only a hernia repair.

I've been going through a major series of events in this recent breast cancer diagnostic series, which has included needle biopsies and 2 surgeries, and from which I am not recovered. However, once the word "Benign" was spoken, then they want to know nothing of the significant post-op complications (including extra surgery) that I've undergone (and that still continue).

There are times when I feel like cutting off my family. It does get frustrating.

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4283
Joined: Jun 2009

Cancer is such an isolating disease…

At first, everyone is there showing their support or at least pretending that they are...they might even stick with you for the first battle...but then the second battle comes...and then the 3rd….

When you look back into the bandwagon, you find you are a one-man band...everybody seems to have gotten off at the last stops in the journey.

The problem is that our lives stop – while their lives go on. I think the truth is that they lose interest, which then ferments over time and turns to apathy. The simple fact of the matter is that you didn’t get well soon enough for them – in their “timeframe.”

So, they packed up and moved on – leaving you emotionally bankrupt and destitute…

What generally happens after this is that Hope decides to move on as a result…and with that vacancy sign turned on…Depression seizes the opportunity and quickly signs a lease and takes up residence in the vast emptiness left in the wake of the emotional jail break.

Already isolated within the padded cell of our minds, we can spin off into a cycle of loneliness that left unattended can manifest itself into Anger and Bitterness that over time threaten to destroy the very essence of our being.

We long for companionship – and find we have none…

The only key to our survival is the grey matter that fits snugly between our ears…we must get our mind right – to continue to fight.

Because, you begin to believe that nobody cares about you – and then if you’re not careful, you can begin not to care about yourself.

That’s what happened to me…

Nobody called…nobody texted…nobody came by…

So, you reach out to the board…but how long can those supportive comments sustain your everyday existence? For the rest of the day? Until nightfall?

You get the emotional ointment from here that you can rub into the affected areas where you hurt. While it’s never a panacea, it does equate to the difference of staying with it, versus shutting it all down and bailing out…

That’s why it’s a great lifeline when you need to feel connected and heard…

So, Vicki…this last fight nobody was there…day after day, sicker and sicker…Folfiri had killed me inside…I still posted and PM’d others who needed my help, even though I was really too sick to do so…and yet I had to.

The wife works the nightshift, so the days and nights were sooooo long…with pumps on me for six-weeks at a time during radiation, I was to sick too groom myself with any regularity…no energy to shower…my grooming habits died.

And then I stopped caring altogether…how I looked…how I smelled…what was the point I thought? I was isolated…nobody coming…and the wife gone all day…and I had just become too sick to care anymore…about anything…I could only stay up about 4 hours a day…and that was in short stints…most of the time just bedridden…sitting on the couch, I’d just fall asleep sitting straight up…the pain of being awake and living too much during these days.

It was the recipe for The Perfect Storm….a sudden convergence of Depression, Isolation, Hopelessness, and even Helplessness. As the winds of change tossed me around like a ship on the sea, I developed a newfound sense of Worthlessness that nearly took me underwater.

I was living on disability money at that time and we were hemorrhaging badly trying to hang on to the basics…just having gas money to drive myself to treatments were very tough. When I was flush, I’d have about five or six miles left over in my gas tank for that pay period.

The local Walmart was 1-mile each way from my home…so out of sheer desperation and a longing to feel connected to society in some fashion once more, I would take those times and drive up to the parking lot and turn my car off and roll the windows down and let the cool breeze in and listen to the radio or cd. I would sit and watch folks drive up and drive away….loading their cars up with their purchases….watch the cars drive down the road and imagine a time when that would matter once more.

And always my thoughts were about folks up here that I knew…and my own thoughts of was this worth it and will I make it back one more time…

Abandonment and Betrayal by friends and purported family members….I know them both too well.

My uncle used to say, “We just didn’t want to bother you…”

But then, The Lion roared…

And he said, “It’s not that you didn’t want to bother me – it’s that you didn’t want to be BOTHERED by me….now tell the truth…”

One of the ‘good’ friends of mine used to come into town all the time, without me knowing about it. I live less than one mile off the main highway…

He said, “I don’t even think I have 120 seconds for you…”

I get it, Vicki…

My other good friend, whom I’ve known for 35-years, came to visit me last year one day while he was in town…as we talked, he told me, “I’m sorry I have not been a better friend to you while you’ve been sick…”

I had waited so long for him to say it…I never insinuated or solicited, but I told him that I had been hurt by his silence…and that even a coward can email…”

Email and text can be the coward’s way out from having to feel “Too Emotionally Vested…”

So, I get it Vicki…

But, here’s the thing, at least with my best friend…I finally “told him” what I was feeling…I took all the guesswork and speculation out…and by leading him, he found a way back to me and we have kept our friendship…he lives in Chicago and has a very nasty, ill spirited honey that I can’t stand….she has cost us more of our friendship than cancer.

As for your friend, who is so negative…I would talk to her open and honestly…I can send over The Lion:)

If she is indeed going to be negative, then that is not a healthy relationship for you…at least while you are sick.

I know with my buddy, we rarely talk cancer much…I’ve told him about the book, my audition for Dr. Phil….but I also showed him Big Billy singing Johnny Cash and we shared a lot of hucks and shucks over that.

I tell him what he needs to know…but I’ve found, at least with him, that just talking about the past or other things that we like is what it’s about for that relationship…I miss the man…I miss my friend…and I told him (via text, lol) all of this.

Other people will come and go out of your life…I’ve seen it happen here too with many of my friends who have moved on…some friendships will be temporary and some may last a lifetime…

I’ll take any relationship that is not forced or contrived…if it’s sincere and genuine, then I’m your huckleberry.

I guess, what I’m trying to say is when the negative energy gets too much, you have to cut it loose, no matter the relationship or the years that have been invested…

And BTW, all my relatives copped out by going through my wife to get the info and status on me…that way they get the gossip without having to get involved with me. That always hurt me and I’d tell ‘em so…but it changed nothing.

But, the remnants of my family are emotionally vacant.

Recently, my uncle told me that God was holding my book deal dream “Hostage” because of an estrangement with my mentally ill mother…

I’ve once more shut the door on them…not hateful…but just not forthcoming and wanting to share with them anymore after this recent episode.

I think it finally comes down to this, Vicki…those that really weren’t there for you in your life before…are never really going to be there for you with your cancer…at least, not in the way that you want them to be…or the way that you need them to be.

Until I came here, I was never blessed with many friends…but I told my good friend back when I was trying to be a wise man (lol) that true friendship and being a true friend…is the ability to pick things up right where you left them…just like it was yesterday…

That is friendship in its truest form – and one that I hold sacred each and everyday. Only recently, have I begun to understand the enormous responsibility and magnitude that trying to be a friend to someone in need can be.

I guess you can see now – why I can’t get a book deal:)

LOL!

The world still ain’t ready for me yet - but, I’m glad you are:)

Your friend,
-Craig

here4lfe
Posts: 294
Joined: Jan 2010

1. Depressing friend - out
2. Texting family - respond accordingly
3. Building a strong support group - priceless!

Best

ketziah35
Posts: 1147
Joined: Jun 2010

The friend thing, I got rid of friends like that.

The texting thing well my relatives did that because my mom was sleeping a lot and they didn't want to bother her. They asked through texts if they can stop by, but they said they tried to give mom space.

danker
Posts: 736
Joined: Apr 2012

My idea of a friend, is when you call and say you need $1000.00 as soon as possible they wire back $3000.00. So=called friends I don't need. They are only aquaintinces
at best. We can pick our friends, we inherit our family-what are we to do???

tachilders's picture
tachilders
Posts: 315
Joined: Jun 2012

You have enough to deal with w/out this "friend", in my opinion. True friends are the people that don't even wait for you to ask, they just know what you need help with and do it. Best of luck with your situation.

Tedd

bigman4christ's picture
bigman4christ
Posts: 87
Joined: Oct 2012

Hey Vicki, i know how hard it is to realize you or your friend has changed and the two of you just might not be a good fit anymore. Being negative and down person is hard enough to be around when we are feeling 100% but having to deal with that when your not feeling well already is just that more difficult. I will tell you that i had a friend since middle school and even after we both graduated we stayed in touch and still hung out, but slowly our views and attitudes changed and we were no longer compatable friends. That was a friendship that was hard to break off but in the end is was better to seperate and go our own ways. I will still think about the fun times that had together but i dont have to worry and upset my self about what is going to happen when we see each other next time. It sounds like you need to talk with your friend and explain that your cancer is something that is very personal to you and explain how your negativity si bringing you down so much. And maybe ask if she could be a little more open to the sensitivity of how you are feeling that day. You can also try changing the subject to see if that works. But i think the best thing to do is to be open and honest with her. She should respect your feelings and if she does not maybe she is not the friend for you afterall.

Chelsea71
Posts: 1170
Joined: Sep 2012

I understand what you're saying. One of the hardest things about my husbands illness is the fact that we worked together. It's been difficult for me to see someone else doing his job. You would not believe the ridiculous and hurtful comments and questions I'm faced with (from co-workers) on a regular daily basis. People talk about him in the past tense as though he is dead. They will speculate as to what will happen to him because some people are interested in getting his job on a permanent basis etc. Some people will inquire as to how he is doing and then break down crying. I have to console them. To be honest it doesn't really matter what people say or how they say it. The truth is that any mention of him at all ticks me off. But I've also noticed that when people stop asking this too irritates me. It would be nice if my work was a place I could go to escape but that is not the case. God, I must sound like a real whiner. I realize this is a minor problem, but it feels good to vent. This is actually the only place I feel comfortable discussing the situation. I wish I would have found this forum right after Steve was diagnosed. It is a tremendous relief to have found a group of people who understand.

Chelsea

k44454445's picture
k44454445
Posts: 494
Joined: Jul 2012

i would talk to the doom & gloom friend. she may not be aware of how she is saying things. about the texting: it has become so main stream that most people do not think it is offensive to others. they feel that texting is as good as a phone call. now i prefer texting because i can read it then respond when i want. also some days i do not want to talk on the phone which i let everyone know in the beginning. so my friends & family mostly text so they do not catch me at a bad time & bother me. maybe i am weird but texting works best for me. i consider it a form of communication where people do care but are considerate about bothering me. they know i may not respond for a couple of days. now most of my family does call every day & text & sometimes i feel that is an overload. if i do not feel good i just tell them i am not talking! they & my friends understand. everyone calls or texts first to ask if they can come visit. if i do not feel good i just say no, another day but not today. but i usually see family members several times a week. and when i feel good i will pick up a phone to call friends who have text. they have told me they feel special when i call them & and they always say they did not call because they did not want to bother me. and i tell them thank you for being considerate! good luck with your situations!
hugs
judy

Momof2plusteentwins's picture
Momof2plusteentwins
Posts: 446
Joined: May 2012

It sounds like no matter what you say to that friend she is just negative. Some people look at the glass as half full and some look at the glass as half empty. We all need to get rid of the empty people. We have enough to deal with without negativity from friends.
Sandy :)

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