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So true!

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mp327
Posts: 2939
Joined: Jan 2010

I found this article so very interesting.  It says exactly what I've thought so many times and reminds me of why I continue to come to this support site, where people truly understand.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erika-lade/cancer-friendship_b_3539970.html

jcruz
Posts: 230
Joined: Jan 2013

Absolutely right on.  The essay and many of the comments really reflect my experience.  Thanks for posting this.

eihtak
Posts: 849
Joined: Oct 2011

This is so perfect. I posted to my fb page but witha thank you to those who continue to support me. (hope no one was offended) It is so important to have this place to come to though and share with people who can truely understand. Thanks for posting!!

mxperry220
Posts: 360
Joined: Mar 2011

This article is so true.  It is exactly how I have felt for the last almost five years.  Thanks for sharing it with us martha.  Have a great weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mike

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

Thanks for posting this article, Martha. The author hit the nail on the head. As I go forward with tests, specialists, and appointments, this time I am more realistic about what to expect from the people in my life. I am the eldest child in a big Irish family. My mother, now departed, used to chide us when we bickered, and tell us that someday we would realize what a gift we were to each other. Well, she sure was right about that one! My brothers and sisters and their spouses all took over when I was being treated with the cancers.
Friends that I thought cared, just couldn't deal with seeing me sick as I battled one cancer and then another. I was deeply disappointed in so many people. Recently, a woman who I used to call my best friend remarked how well I looked throughout my treatment. I thought for a minute and responded with the truth. I reminded her that she had never once seen me during my treatment. Not once. She lives 40 minutes away. Not a card, not a phone call, not an offer of help. Silence followed. It was the truth.

Cancer has not only taught me what matters, it taught me who matters. Family matters. Caring people matter. Thingsmdon't matter, and neither do the people who define themselves by things and status. Seems there were too many of the wrong people in my life. I have cleaned house, simplified things.

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RoseC
Posts: 503
Joined: Jun 2011

Martha, thanks for posting this article. Thing is, I don't really agree with it's sentiment.

We should never expect more from people than they're able to give - and friends are people. Some can deal with it (our diagnosis, treatment, side effects, the thought we might die, etc), some cannot.

Not being able to deal with something does not equal being a bad friend. Don't give up on friends who can't deal with it. If anything, try to understand where they're coming from. They're scared of cancer. It doesn't mean they don't care for us and it doesn't mean they're bad friends. They're scared of what we are going through and that it might happen to them some day.

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

You are very kind and you have an interesting perspective. As I told my daughter, life is short, spend your time with people who can think about others. I simply don't have time for self centered people. Staying away from a sick friend because they are afraid it is contagious is beyond my comprehension. I do pray for people like that, but I don't have time for them.

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mp327
Posts: 2939
Joined: Jan 2010

I have to agree with Marynb.  I no longer care to call people friends who can't deal with my reality because it "might happen to them."  Life is life--bad things happen to all of us and if we can't be there for each other, then we have nothing in the way of a friendship.  I live next door to a couple who I call dear friends.  He happens to be a physician and has a heart of gold.  He has helped me navigate through this nightmare and has been my angel through treatment (and still is!).  Now, this is going to sound unkind, but it's the truth.  His wife is a totally different type of person.  Once she learned of my cancer, she completely shut down.  During treatment, she did not once call me to see how I was, if I needed anything or just to talk.  I have done many things for her over the years, such as met her kids at the school bus stop and took them to my house if she was not home yet, mowed her yard for her when she was sick, taken care of the dogs when they are out of town, etc.  I was very hurt that she just simply ignored me at a time when I just needed a little kindness.  A year or so after I completed treatment, she helped organize a pancake breakfast to raise money to help a young man in our neighborhood who has cancer and you would have thought she had just saved the world.  I attended, but couldnl't help thinking, where was all that compassion and support when I, who lives only a few yards from her, was suffering?  These are things I've tried to understand many times over.  I am just very thankful that her husband is the doctor, not her.  I believe he would walk to the end of the earth for me if it was what I needed from him. 

Okay, that was VERY cathartic!  Smile 

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mp327
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Joined: Jan 2010

I guess my attitude also comes from the fact that I have an 88-year old mother who has dementia and lives over 600 miles away from me.  She has been in an assisted living facility for almost 2 years now and her 3 grandsons rarely visit her, even through 2 of them live just within a few miles of her.  My brother (their father) has jumped my case many times for not coming up to see her more often (even though I've already been there twice this year and will be going back up late next week), even though his own sons won't go to see her "because it's just too difficult for them to see her that way."  These are grown-ups we're talking about, two of them married.  Yes, reality sucks sometimes, but it is what it is.

eihtak
Posts: 849
Joined: Oct 2011

What I took from the article was not so much a judgement on my friends (most of mine were and still are supportive), but more an explanation to society that if you don't see the effects of cancer that doesn't mean its all gone. "Whether you see it in my body or not, cancer will always be part of my life." I never literally expected anyone to shave their head for me, but I'd sure like people to understand that 2yrs after treatment in order for me to look the way they perceive me (padded bra to cover scars where my breast used to be, appropriate shirt to cover colostomy bag, other related health issues)......no, my cancer so to speak is not really gone. I manage just fine, but just the other day got one of those comments "so its all gone now, you're good, thats great"........I just smiled and said, "yeah, it LOOKS that way."

pializ
Posts: 270
Joined: Nov 2012

I am now almost 6 months past treatment. However, I am in limbo land regarding was it effective. They are still trying to establish why the second lymph node has not responded to treatment.  Is it a lymh node , is in an ovary, or is it something else?  People ask if I have to have any more treatment. 

. It is very complicated to explain.  Someone I spoke to just yesterday when I explained where I was at asked if I was depressed. Well, no. But I am worried and doubt anyone else would be less worried. I think it's fair to say it is appropriate given the circumstances People are often ignorant, in the true sense of the word, just what having a diagnosis of cancer means, let alone the consequences ofvtreatment.. As for relationships, I have weeded out some due to their lack of support.  Have 3 sisters. I live in Wales. I have 2 sisters to live locally. 1 I have not seen since I told her of my diagnosis. My third sister lives in Australia and came over recently to offer support, plus reguar phone calls. I am stil sad about my estranged sister, but I am growing used to her being absent. I know I would never have abandoned her. We are not all the same. Now I put my limited energy into relationships that are more equal.Apart of course, to help my friend who has been diagnosed with MND & even then, with her lightwriter & texts she asks ME how I am. Liz

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RoseC
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Hi Marynb - I respect your opinion, along with all others. And I oftentimes don't express myself correctly. Just wanted to clarify - I didn't mean self-centered people or people who are afraid cancer is contagious. I was talking more about people who are unable to deal with it either emotionally or physically. I had an uncle (who has since passed away) - very nice man, very compassionate, very caring - who when his aunt was aged and in a nursing home, could not cope with seeing her. It really disturbed him to see her like that. He wasn't being self-centered, he was protecting himself. We all do that (to some degree) - letting go of friends because they don't react as we think they should is, in my mind, a form of self-protection. I don't mean that it's wrong, just that there are many reasons why people do or don't do something, and it's not always clear either to us or even to them what those motivations are. Truly self-centered people? Yeah, not in my vocabulary either (although I once was one - still am somewhat, although not as bad - I hope).

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

I am a very understanding person, but I really don't get people who are not able to be there for other people. It is just not acceptable to me. I guess it is a continuum. This is an interesting topic. What makes one person able to run into a burning building while others freeze in fear? What made some people run towards the bombings in Boston to help out, while others ran to safety? What makes some able to lend a hand to hold or a shoulder to cry on, when others sit and fret about how even witnessing tragedy effects them so that they do nothing? I have no idea what is was in my upbringing that made inaction unacceptable to me. My religion, my culture, being from a big family? I do understand what you are saying. Some people have weaknesses that don't allow them to be there for others. I don't accept those people into my life anymore. Everyone can do something! A card, dinner, phone call, clean a floor, pick up the mail, walk the dog.......something!

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mp327
Posts: 2939
Joined: Jan 2010

I have to agree with you.  Even the smallest of gestures, even the indirect ones, can sometimes be all the lift someone needs to get through their rough day.  I think for people to turn their backs on someone in need just because they're afraid it's going to happen to them is a sign of real weakness.  I did not expect any of my friends to come hold my hand while I sat on the toilet and screamed in pain, but getting just one phone call a day from someone made it possible for me to get through those bad times.  I have a neighbor who I don't know all that well, but my husband and I ran into her husband the day after I had my port put in.  Since I was all taped up, he immediately knew I was sick and probably even knew what I had just had done, as his wife is a breast cancer survivor.  Right after I began my treatment, his wife came over with a beautiful basket full of hard candy, gingerale, soup mix, bananas, assorted teas, etc.  I was overwhelmed by her kindness and will never forget it.  Since she was a cancer survivor and had been through chemo, she knew the things that would be of help to me. 

I earlier mentioned my 3 nephews who rarely go visit my mother, who has dementia.  I really fault my brother for this for not raising them to have a kinder heart.  But he is pretty much the same way, so I shouldn't be surprised.  What surprises me though, is that when we were both young, one of our grandfathers was very sick and nearly every weekend our parents went to visit him.  It made him so happy and I loved visiting, even though I knew he was really sick.  After he died, our grandmother on the other side of the family had to go to a nursing home because of dementia (or back then known as "hardening of the arteries).  I had spent many hours sitting with her when she still lived at home so that my grandfather could have a break now and then.  When she finally went into the nursing home, again my parents took us to see her every weekend.  Perhaps my brother just cannot deal with the harsh realities of life or something, I just don't know.  However, the reality is this kind of stuff happens in all families, it can happen to our friends, and it can happen to us!  IMO, denial prepares us for nothing that might lie ahead.

Maybe having cancer has given me more strength than I could ever have imagined.

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Lorikat
Posts: 558
Joined: Jul 2011

This article came at a good time for me.  A friend that I used to run around with( drive to little towns to rummage in junk shops etc and try out new restaurants) stopped being my friend and at first she said nothing. Then she told her husband who told my husband, you know how it goes, that I wasnt "Dependable" when we made plans half he time I had an "excuse" not to go!  As if I had any bowel control!  I was too much trouble I guess.....  Type 4 friend for sure....

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

Lorikat, trouble is a sieve through which only real friends pass. It is true that this particular cancer leads to more social isolation because of the bathroom issues! Not sure what can be done about that.

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Lorikat
Posts: 558
Joined: Jul 2011

If you figure out the answer, let the whole world know!

 

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sandysp
Posts: 800
Joined: May 2011

I loved this article but was sad to see how young she is. She certainly is grown up. More than me, I think and I am a senior citizen almost.

This whole thing (being a cancer survivor) has shaken my world to the core because I always wanted to be a friend to someone else but I really had not let many people be a friend to me. Having to talk about my illness when I needed to talk about it was very hard. Some really nice people came to see me from my church during treatment and slowly I am accepting them as my friends. Maybe because I thought they were so much better than me for whatever reason. I still find it awkward. My "best friend" at church completely went underground through the whole thing. We went to lunch together while I was still recovering and she talked about herself and her naturopathic doctor, colonics, etc the whole time. Once I went to speak of how I was not able to even visualize doing colonics at that point she curtly said "this isn't about YOU!" I could be way off track but, at the time, it seemed like she was jealous of the attention I had received from people at church who really prayed and brought food and visited me.

During these first two years or however much time when we can have extremely good days and bad days is hard to explain and we shouldn't need to. People close to me know that I have struggled a lot with illness since my treatments ended. (Pertussis and now this hearing loss and vertigo problem and asthma, asthma, asthma!). Anyway, I am happy at Sloan Kettering and I believe it is because everyone there has or is affected by cancer. It doesn't even seem sad there, it seems natural. The same thing with this board. I am amazed the responses on here from all of y'all to things that even feel crazy to me when I write them, but you all understand. We give each other understanding and that is a wonderful gift. I think it is hard to find in most of the world out there. But who knows. I have spent much of my time involved with books and music and family rather than people. My dogs are where it's at! But how good a friend am I when I would rather be with my dogs than people in sickness or health?

My relationship with my husband has changed so much. At first he stayed in such denial it was like he was in some sort of alternate universe, but slowly he is not just driving me but really trying to be there and offer heartfelt support for the ups and downs. He used to take everything personally and I finally stopped apologizing all the time. I worked on my issues and the good news is:

We Had Sex! No Pain Either! Whoooo Hooooooo! Almost two years post treatment and this was the first successful attempt. Neither of us at one point believed it would ever happen again.  Ha, ha! That helps everything!

I have scans on Saturday. They are doing my head again as well as my pelvis. Wish me luck!

I definitely want to be a better friend.

Love,

Sandy

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RoseC
Posts: 503
Joined: Jun 2011

Sandy, you are amazing. Every time I read one of your posts I'm in awe. Thank you so much for sharing your feelings. I feel some of the same things (like not letting many others be friends and wanting to be a better friend). I wish you all the luck in the world on your upcoming scans.

PLUS - dogs ROCK!

pializ
Posts: 270
Joined: Nov 2012

You have an amazing attitude. Don't ever change. Liz

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mp327
Posts: 2939
Joined: Jan 2010

Woohoo for Woopee!  Okay, I just had to say that. 

I believe cancer changes a lot of relationships.  Unlike you and your husband, I find that my husband has become more distant.  I'm not sure why, perhaps he is fearful of losing me.  I don't know.  He's a quiet person (kind of the opposite of me!) and never says much.  I worry that if something would happen to me, he would become very isolated.  I sometimes kid him about becoming a recluse like Howard Hughes if I were to die (minus all that money, of course)--LOL!  I have told several of our male friends that they cannot let that happen!

As for understanding what we go through as cancer survivors, I truly think it's impossible unless someone has been through it or seen someone they are very close to go through it.  I don't know if people turn away because they feel awkward for not understanding or what, but I would love it if someone would have just asked me what it was like going through treatment.  Having someone attempt to understand would make me feel better, if that makes sense.

One of my friends went through a nasty divorce a few months after my treatment ended and had the nerve to compare what they were going through to what I had been through.  Uh, not even close, IMO.  They remind of the friend you mentioned--self-absorbed!   

You mentioned your dogs--animals are the greatest comfort.  I am a cat person, myself--I have two.  They can be much more all about themselves than dogs, but when it was crunch time and I was feeling my lowest, they were both there for me.  I would take an afternoon nap and wake up to find one on each side of me snuggled up to me as close as they could get.  They know when we are not feeling well, don't ask us a bunch of silly questions, and for the comfort they give us ask for nothing in return. 

And I must say, I think you are a WONDERFUL friend!  Hugs to you, dear Sandy! 

pializ
Posts: 270
Joined: Nov 2012

Wish there was a 'like' button on here lol

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

Funny you had a friend who compared cancer to divorce. I had an absolutley horrible, gut wrenching, hideous divorce. I do have to say that going through cancer treatments....twice....paled in comparison. Really. I know it is hard to imagine anything worse than cancer....but for me too, divorce was far, far worse. Not kidding.

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mp327
Posts: 2939
Joined: Jan 2010

I'm sorry to hear that.  I guess it's just hard for me to understand, considering cancer is life-threatening and divorce is most likely not.  As I could have predicted, my friend has recovered pretty well. 

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

Yes, cancer is life threatening, but divorce, for me, was much, much more emotionally painful, especially as a Mom. Maybe for me, watching my child suffer and see her childhood shattered by adultery and abandonment was just the worst psychic pain. That will last her lifetime. Facing cancer twice was not even close to what we went through. Really. I know divorce is now very commonplace and viewed as something you recover from nicely, but it is a death of a family and children really suffer for a long time. In a way, the view that it is an everday event makes it feel more painful. I really think that there is not enough community support for children of divorce and the parent trying to raise them alone. I can only say that for me, I have survived two cancers, but I would never survive 2 divorces!!!!! No....

One thing I have learned is that into every life, a little rain must fall. Let's just say I have had a monsoon lately! LOL. At any rate, I remain hopeful that better days are ahead!

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mp327
Posts: 2939
Joined: Jan 2010

That is my hope for you too!

jcruz
Posts: 230
Joined: Jan 2013

I'm so sorry your divorce was so awful.  I've had friends go through really bad ones too.  I got divorced when my 28 year old daughter was still in preschool.  It was not a walk in the park but also not hideous.  I'll take that divorce 10 times over having cancer.  At least I know the divorce can't kill me and I'm not so sure yet about the cancer.

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sephie
Posts: 526
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i love every one of you even tho we have never met in person..... i need all of you.... i am here for all of you, if you need me....yes, friendship varies in hard times.... i have had some come out of the wood work to help..... others are a disappointment .... but  maybe i expect too much..... no one but all of us understand.... there are 2 girls in my area with this cancer who do understand.... there was one guy with whom i spoke every day but his metastisized and he is gone now.... and martha, i have my cat in the photo who loves me.... lost my lab 2 years ago....great article..... thx     sephie

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mp327
Posts: 2939
Joined: Jan 2010

I am so sorry for the loss of your friend.  I am glad that you have a couple of gals near you who can totally understand this disease and all that goes along with it.  I have been so fortunate to have met in person 9 others, 8 women and one man, who are anal cancer survivors.  Our conversations would be a real turn-off to someone from outside the circle, but we all feel free to talk about all of the unmentionable stuff!  I have also talked to several others on the phone (including our dear Angela!) and it's almost like we have known each other for years.  It's a bond like no other.

Your kitty is beautiful!  My two are domestic short hairs--a yellow male ( my "Morris" cat) and a torti female.  They fight a lot, but no one has lost a limb--yet--LOL!  They are my fur babies!   

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RoseC
Posts: 503
Joined: Jun 2011

Sephie, I'm sorry for the loss of your friend too. You're very important to all of us. And to your kitty. So sorry about your lab. I'll bet he was a great pet. They all are.

qv62
Posts: 279
Joined: Nov 2012

thanks for sharing this article, I remember being so hurt not hearing from some of the girls I worked with after one of my surgeries which I spent a week in the hospital and was out of work for almost 3 months and was unable to sit for six weeks (only allowed to stand or lay on my side) I spent many days agonizing over how they didn't even call to see how I was when I would call, offer to shop, send over a dinner etc... if it was any one of them, only to find out when one finally called she said "I'm sorry I didn't call sooner but Ms. X said we shouldn't call and bother you"  Sometimes people don't think for themselves it's a shame, on another note I was only home about 2 weeks after that surgery and it was Christmas Day, not being able to get in a car at this point and go to anyone elses house we invited my mother, she did not offer to bring anything and I was in no condition to cook, I called for catered food (first time ever on a holiday) and ate standing up at my kitchen counter while my family ate off paper plates at the kitchen table, didn't seem to phase my mother at all, now that was hurtful, and to put it in perspective my mother was fully capable and about 68 at the time, she just doesn't get it but I still feel that pain 

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

Gosh, I am sorry that your Mom wasn't there for you. It is so hard to understand that. I just don't get it. I am from a family where we trip over each other trying to help out. I heard that my brothers and sisters actually fought with each other over who was driving me on any given day...LOL. I am so lucky! My Mom and Dad were already passed on when I got sick. I am grateful they never had to see me suffer.

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lp1964
Posts: 852
Joined: Jun 2013

Yesterday something has changed in me. I just finished a long nasty divorce. We lost everything we made with 20 years of hard work, but I'm ok with that, because I started a new life and despite of my cancer I'm very happy.

During and after the divorce my ex has alienated my 15 year old daughter from me with lies and accusations and it got really bad where she didn't want to see me at all and I was thinking about getting out of her life too so she has less conflict. But I kept fighting for her and got partial custody. Things slowly started getting better, but recently it just got too much for me chasing after my daughter's time. She shows no affection for me, offers no support, everything I try to suggest to guide her she rejects. This summer she was supposed to spend more time with me, but because of my illness I missed my June week and her mother won't let me make up for it. I asked my daughter to help me, bit she made no effort and stayed very cold towards me. I realize that she is a teenager and this may pass, but I just ran out of steam.

Not too long ago I was ok to fight for her and make an effort to be part of her life, but now I'm tired. I have a lot of people giving me support here on this forum, my doctors, nurses, wife, siblings. Yesterday I realized that I cannot deal with people who don't try to help or cant handle my illness including my daughter. When I feel like each time I have to fight for her to be with me and this really brings me down emotionally and now physically Which I cannot afford any more. 

I plan to tell her this and now I'm ready to let her go if that's how it has to be.

Any thoughts?

Laz

mxperry220
Posts: 360
Joined: Mar 2011

If I read your blog correctly you have remarried.  Your daughter may be having issues with this.  I know I had much resentment toward my dad when he remarried even though I was an adult when my parents divorced.  My dad was unfaitful to my mom for the 32 years they were married and the women he married he had on and off relationship with her during the time my mom and he were married and I was still living at home .  One bit of advice my dad gave me, which by the way was some of the best advice he ever gave me, was to not keep holding onto the hatred toward him.  As he explained, it was only hurting me and not good for my physical and emotional well being.  When he told me this I did not think too much about it at the time. Several months later I thought about what he said and realized he was correct.  Once I let it go it was like a 1,000 pound weight had beeen lifted off me. My dad passed away in 2009 and we had mended our relationship.

Mike 

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lp1964
Posts: 852
Joined: Jun 2013

That's exactly what I told my daughter too.

My ex filed for divorce over 6 years ago, because we simply grew apart, whatever that means. my daughter was 9 at the time. For the following 4 years I never introduced any of my girlfriends to her, I kept everything separate. 2 years ago when I met my current wife I knew this was meaningful and I introduced them. Unfortunately our divorce got nasty and was dragged out. My ex used this time to fabricate the worst possible lies about me that my daughter still believes no matter how much love I showed her and how much I tried to prove that I'm still her loving father that I always was. It's just recently that I remarried, because my illness brought us closer together.

This has been going on for years now and my ex is not afraid to do or say anything about me to our daughter. She doesn't care how much she is screwing up her mind.

I'll have a serious talk with her and see what happens. I have no energy left to chase something I cant have.

Laz

Marynb
Posts: 1134
Joined: Aug 2012

She is a kid and change like this is very hard for a kid! Just be patient and give her time! Don't expect much for years! Someone once told me that they come back to you when their frontal lobes are fully developed......at around 22! Just keep letting her know you love her.......she wil come back. Don't expect too much. She is jealous of the new wife and needs steady and long term reassurance from you.

pializ
Posts: 270
Joined: Nov 2012

Just keep the door open for her. Don't get caught up in justifying yourself, just tell her you love her & will always be there for her no matter what. If seeing each other brings out the worst, just use technology eg texting. She will grow past this stage eventually. Doesn't sound like the ex is a candidate for co parenting. Do what you are able given the current situation.

Best wishes

Liz

 

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