Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In the inbox

I've received several emails from people in the past week in this vein:

Hi, Frida,
I know it's been a year since we've talked and I couldn't be bothered with even a hasty "good luck" when you said you couldn't make it because you were having surgery. I know I've ignored your occasional emails and phone calls until you stopped trying but (insert excuse here). However,
-now I have a question about work that only you can answer
-my husband/brother/friend has one of the same spine issues and now we understand or want your advice
Hope to hear from you soon.

Fair Weather Friend

Yes, one person actually said, "I know I never asked how the biopsy went but..." One person only contacts me when she wants something. Others I just think are busy. I finally called one person out on it and she said she doesn't really know how to deal with that much pain. Neither do I.

Some of my friends are busy, exhausted from work, have other big life issues to deal with. All of this is understandable. It really is. Those friends stick with me. Others do call and say hello and I know it can't be often. But someone just ignoring me until she needs my help again and most of the time not even bothering to reply to my response ("thanks for the help") is just rude.

I just don't get this. My husband pointed out once that he saw an acquaintance of ours, and that when she saw me she literally ran the other direction. Wahahaha, scary monster woman on wheels.

Anyway, I had made the decision to stop being used in this way and need to stick with it. That's difficult for me to do. Sticking up for myself is not something I was taught and it's painful to have to dig in, whether it's for disability accommodations or with friendships. I don't need or want to be rude to others, but setting boundaries is appropriate in this kind of situation and I've never regretted doing so.

Sorry to complain. I should be used to this. When I was young and had to be taught at home because of bodycasting and its aftermaths, my friends and their parents did the same. Their parents told my mom they didn't want their daughters to have to deal with that. I know this is how some people are and I know that I am sensitive. I am becoming less so, though. I no longer feel queasy or with my stomach in knots when I pull up to an area full of strangers and see heads swivel and faces look surprised, for example. Sometimes I just have to learn to settle in again with what is.

Note: Some of my friends are worriers and this isn't about you. This doesn't apply to friends who read the blog or any blogging friendships; we converse way more often than that.


D Phoenix said...

No contact except for asking advice: that's a variation on the Fair Weather Syndrome I have experienced in a slightly different way, namely, in casual conversational situations (parties etc.), I have people who will never ask me about how I'm doing but won't hesitate to ask me my opinion on an ailment they have and what they ought to do about it. Charming. Some people are just so egocentric, I guess they don't notice that they are actually disrespecting another person.

Reciprocity in friendships is so essential. Good for you for drawing the line. I know it's tough to be honest sometimes, but its good for the soul. Maybe the other person might even wake up a bit.

When my partner's mother became ill with Alzheimer's many of her mom's long time friends never came around to visit anymore. Or they would leave a casserole on the porch and run away! Such fear...

FridaWrites said...

Well, Donimo, I was thinking about replacing my carpet and wanted to see...

Did you get a scooter? I remember talking about it but not what happened next, and Lisa and I had been talking about them.

That's sad with your mom. People still need company. There's nothing wrong with talking about the past if someone's spending a lot of time there. I also find the same with people with developmental disabilities--people are afraid to initiate conversation because they don't know how the interaction's going to go.

D Phoenix said...

You would be entitled to some free advice from me! You've been a steady support.

I haven't purchased a scooter. really need to do something to improve my mobility because my legs are just getting worse with time and I am getting stuck at home more often than I care to admit. What I really want is an electric wheel attachment to go on my manual chair. I've seen them online, but they are expensive and have to be imported. But they look soooo cool. Maybe if I hook up with a local fabricator/inventor type. I gotta look cool, you see, it's hard to go from riding great big motorcycles to riding a scooter! I know, pride has its place and it might not be suited here.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Frida: that carpet comment was funny, mean, but funny. Yeah, well that's why I wore corsets, I knew they would look at me, or pretend not to, so I needed my armour. I guess we all find it in different ways.

But yes, it is annoying to be contacted by someone who ran away because their friend had an accident and can you make a list for them of wheelchair resources. Sad, frustrating but I do it anyway; welcome to the club. At least that person still had a friend to ask for them.

I am sorry you are being hurt this way, and it does hurt. It sucks. So much for friendship. I guess that is why they make people take those public vows about in SICKNESS and health and maybe I should have gotten a few friends to do that too. People are afraid and then go that weekend and jog for X cancer or X condition (probably yours) and feel good about themselves becuase they got a t-shirt AND made a difference. Who do they think gets these conditions?

yanub said...

I know this happens. I have so few friends and make them so slowly that I am somewhat insulated from the effect. But my daughter has told me about in-laws of hers actually running away from her while shouting "We've got to get together sometime!" To paraphrase her, "There's no need to run. I'm a mobility impaired gimp with seizures. Walking away works just as well."

The Goldfish said...

It is so disappointing to get this. As time goes on, I acquire fewer and fewer of the sort of friends who act like this, but even in recent years every relapse has heralded a little cull of those people who just won't leave their comfort zone for you.

I wrote a terrible poem about this a while back.

FridaWrites said...

Donimo, you may want to check Wheelchair Diffusion and United Spinal reviews--that's something I had considered instead of a scooter since I don't have much upper body strength but a scooter takes up so much room. The reviews of most of the products aren't great but hopefully there will be more options in the future. Not really replacing the carpet now--it needs it, but we'll just have to put a reflooring allowance in the house sale.

Elizabeth, yeah I still give people the practical advice needed. I definitely do that. But I can't really say it's a friendship and don't feel like one-sided conversations.

Yanub and Goldfish, what you say is both familiar ground. Kind of sad.