Friday, June 12, 2009

On friends....

I've written before about how, when DH started to act "weird", most, nearly all, of his friends drifted away. The only one he is still in touch with is Jim. And we are talking about a guy (DH) who used to make friends everywhere he went. He would start talking to some guy at the hardware store, and the next thing you knew, he was going to their house, or they were coming over. That's all gone.

But this post is about me. And what bipolar has done to my friendships. When this started, I had three close friends. I'm kind of an introvert, so I was fine with that. The first friend of mine, I've known since I was 11 years old. We've known each other through a lot. But when it comes to DH, she doesn't want to talk about it. She'll ask me how I'm doing. And I'll say something about what is going on in my life and, if it involves mental illness, she ALWAYS changes the subject. I feel like she wants to be my friend, but is afraid of the bipolar. And she has no idea how to support me, because she's never dealt with this before. I don't know how I would act if I was in her shoes. It's uncomfortable, to say the least. For both of us. Maybe we'll be back to being close friends when DH is more stable, or when his problems are not front and center in my life any more (i.e., if I "get used to" the situation and it becomes "normal").

My other good friend, I've known since DH and I got married. We have so much in common, so many shared interests and I really enjoyed her company. We could email each other literally for hours and hours! We both moved to our town at about the same time, and had similar upbringings. It was a lot of fun. So, maybe she "drifted away" too, you think? Nope. I blew this one. Big time. Because of bipolar and my own insecurities about it. When DH started to have problems, I, who had shared so many happy times with my friend, didn't know how to talk about it. I was embarrassed. I was nervous. And I didn't want to think that any "weird" stuff from DH was more than just a fluke. I'm sure my friend would have sympathized. I have no doubt. But the more time went on, and when she would tell me that she and her DH were going on a big vacation, and how excited she was, I just couldn't bring myself to tell her what was going on in my life. I was afraid of the stigma. I was afraid of being the one who didn't have the perfect marriage any more. And I didn't want her and her husband to look at us differently. Well, that happened anyhow, so in hindsight, all I did was make myself miserable.....I couldn't tell her that the reason I never sent her a Christmas card was because I was too busy dealing with working 2 jobs and taking care of DH....I couldn't tell her that the reason I never sent a card for her daughter's graduation was because I didn't have any money....and I couldn't invite her over any more, because this was the friend of mine who had always teased me that our house was so clean, people could eat off the floors....now, if she saw it, she might not even want to walk on those floors!!! Anyhow, there were a lot of things that I didn't think I could do. And now, I'm realizing, as the emails from her are less and less, that I did this to myself, although I didn't know it at the time. That is sad. I'll try to learn from it, for sure....but still sad....

My third friend, I'm still friends with her. She's the one whose husband passed away last year. I don't remember why I felt like I could confide in her and not my other friend, but that's the case. She tries to understand and she worries about my lack of funds. But she has never experienced anything like bipolar either, so sometimes it's hard to explain my thinking....and I don't want her to know details, because I'm still kind of scared as to what she would think, even though my heart knows better than that.

But you know, despite the fact that bipolar has helped me to grow away from my friends, there is a friend-related benefit, and that is all of you!! I had no idea that there were people with relatives with bipolar, people who actually have bipolar who can give me their point(s) of view, and friendly people who really just want to offer support, advice, or a cyber-hug....I had no idea. When I started this blog, it was all for me. It was a diary where I could express my feelings without hurting anyone. I never envisioned all the other benefits I would get out of it. So in that sense, I just wanted to say "thank you" to everyone who reads this blog, and, whether you comment or not, I appreciate you and treasure you all!


Karen said...

Friendships are so hard to sustain . I wrote on the subject a while ago, and when I analysed my own situation, I realised that some people are there just to help us through a particular period in our lives, some to help carry the burden, others to have good times with, and still others who just pop in now and again.
These realtionships ebb and flow and sometimes die altogether, and hopefully we learn from each one of them, and I know I have fond memories of each relationship. Just know that you are not alone in this struggle and one friend makes you really blessed. Rather have one relationship that is rock steady, than be surrounded by people who make you uncomfortable.
And yes, you have lots of cyber people out here who think of you and wish you well in your day to day life.

Elizabeth A. said...

Lose, gain, lose, gain. My friendships since I was diagnosed have been like my weight. All I know, is honesty is absolutely key for anyone to remotely understand the difficulties involved with mental illness. It may make them uncomfortable at first, but as soon as people realizing we're not suicidal maniacs 99% of the time, rather the other way around, I think it helps.

I've struggled big time over the past few years with all my personal relationships. It makes me furious sometimes knowing they know my illness and don't try to understand it. No, Carol, you are not alone.

LovingGrand said...

“We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere.”

Even in cyberspace I believe we can form friendships beyond cyber-buddies, wonderful true friendships can develop.

Relationship(s) start somewhere, somehow even if one has to give it a nudge, a chance, an opening... a fresh beginning. (wink-wink)


Story of our Life said...

Pick up a .99 cent card at the store. Write exactly what you did regarding your 2nd friend and send it to her!!



Miz Kizzle said...

Hi Carol! It never crossed my mind that you shouldn't have so many animals when you're in a tight financial situation. Your pets are your family and you don't give family up because you don't have as much money as you used to.
As long as you can care for your animals and they're not suffering or presenting a health hazard or going hungry, I say the more the merrier!
My best friend when I was growing up lived on a farm and they had lots of cats and dogs. Primarily, though, they had horses. My friend's parents got some flak from some of the other adults for letting their house go unpainted and being "horse poor." But I never thought that mattered.
As for the second friend you mentioned, I'm sure she'd be delighted to hear from you. She probably thinks she did or said something to offend you. It's really a matter of swallowing your pride and telling her why you let the friendship languish.
No one expects you to have a "perfect" marriage or a dazzlingly clean house. I had the same situation with a very dear friend who stopped wanting to do things with me. Eventually, she contacted me and told me that she had left her husband and quit her high-paying job. She didn't have money to go out for lunch and spend hours shopping like we used to and she was embarrassed to tell me.
We eventually re-connected and the friendship is getting back on track but it takes time to regain the closeness we once had.
I think you need all the support you can get. Online friendships are fine but they're no the same as sitting down together and having a cup of coffee, much as I'd like to do that!

Carol said...

Hi Miz Kizzle...I hope you know I didn't take it wrong, it just (on that day) occurred to me that there are probably people who wonder about that....how can I complain about not having any money if I've got all these animals? And if I didn't pay for all that cat and dog food, well, you know.... I probably wouldn't have to blog about DH's cig habit any more...LOL--no, it was something you said that made me think of it, but I never ever thought you were insinuating that maybe I should not have so many, etc....I guess I just felt like I should open up a little more about that, in case someone WAS thinking along those lines....and I'm sure there are a few...

Pann said...

Oh, honey... don't beat yourself up. Don't you think your friends would still understand?

Maybe you could send your friends a little note, an email, a card... just a note saying Hi, and I didn't forget you but life has been difficult lately.

Something to that effect.

Internet buddies are good to have, too, they are a different kind of friend, one that I never knew I would enjoy.

I love that I can be friends with someone from somewhere far away, but turns out that I have something in common. It's like being penpals, only better.

I just got caught up on what is going on with your mom. I am so sorry she's doing poorly. Alz is such a heart breaking condition. May she have some remission soon.