Wednesday, July 23, 2008

friends

Last night my friend came to talk to me. She had been acting a little funny and had said via email that she wanted to talk to me about something. I didn't have any idea what it was. I was a little nervous.

She told me that she was disappointed with me and that she feels like I haven't been a good friend lately. Right before I left on my vacation a friend of hers died, and she has been feeling down and I haven't asked about how she was doing.

I can't say she's wrong. Between the application and the vacation and getting the car fixed and coming back and starting the homestudy, I have been neglecting her. I hadn't thought about it much which is probably pretty selfish.

But I have communicated with her via email and I have asked if everything is okay. She didn't mention one word about being upset with me or needing some support or saying she was having a difficult time because of her friend's death. I am the type of person who believes in just telling people what I need. She is the type of person who wants other people to anticipate her needs.

This really frustrates me. How can you expect people to know what you need without telling them? I know this about her, but in my own madness and chaos I kind of forgot about her. I admit that. It's pretty crappy. But a small email saying that she was having a difficult time would have snapped me out of it. I just don't think that's too much to ask.

And the part that really bugs me is she started out talking about the 'pain olympics' and how my pain wins. To me, this situation has nothing to do with that. Yes, I am protective of myself and I fear pregnancy announcements. Yes, I am busy with all of this emotional crap and paperwork and I've been tending to keep to myself. But if she had told me she was hurting and sad over her friend's death, I wouldn't have said, "Oh yeah? I'm too busy being in pain myself that I can't comfort you right now." This pain olympics statement makes me feel like that is what she thinks. It's so not true.

Does this mean that is how she thinks? I'm not sure.

I'm going to try to be a better friend and remember to ask how she's doing. I'm going to try to remember that she's sensitive about how she is being asked how she's doing.

But I just can't seem to let this 'pain olympics' thing go. I think it's a bad idea to bring it up with her. I'm trying to make some plans to hang out with her, so we'll see how it goes and whether it comes up. I'm going to try like hell to not talk about it, but as I said, I'm definitely a 'put it all out there' kind of person.

8 comments:

Natalie said...

I had to learn this about my husband a long time ago - you just have to state what you need. Simple as that. and yeah, it can be kind of hard to learn. But I do think you're right in that it's not too much to ask, that she let you know when she needs you.

Mountain Girl said...

Does she ask you how you are doing? To have a friend, you have to be a friend....

My husband wants me to tell him what I need, but I think it's much more meaningful if he can figure it out on his own! :-)

I think your friend needs to cut you some slack on all that you are dealing with right now!

P.S. Thanks for visiting my blog.

luna said...

I can't tell if this person really understands your pain or thinks you may just use it as an excuse to not be there for her, or if she is just a bit self absorbed and can't see past her own needs?

I agree you should tell her that she should tell you what she needs, and that you can decide if you're in the right space to give it. first she needs to understand that you can't read her mind and that you haven't been able to deal with other crises because your own involves so much energy.

just be honest with her, tell her it's not about who's pain is worse but about what you can manage at any given time. good luck.

niobe said...

Of course, you're right about telling people what you need. But I admit, I'm a little like your friend.

g said...

i think a better approach from your friend would have been " hey i know your really busy but i could really use a friend right now" .... again that would involve her to actually tell u her needs.. i know for me i can relate to both sides.. sometimes i leave others alone when they are dealing with something (after seeing how they are first) cause Me personally i rather deal with things on my own and be left alone.. But not all people are like that. they want to be constantly asked all the time how they are etc... me i rather not.. and if i need to chat with someone i will call them and tell them.. So i think that she should have done that rather then acuse u of not being a good friend. you emailed her.. or "contacted her" in some way.. she didnt bite . I dont think you are a bad friend... JMO... :)

HOpe all goes well with your HS.. its such a huge relief when its over! The anticipation is the worst.. But its a piece of cake! you will do awesome! :)

Isn't it pretty to think so said...

friends are hard. i think we all have a tendency to get a little self-absorbed and if 2 people are going through a lot at the same time, it can be even more difficult.

Samantha said...

I think "putting it out there" might just be what you need for your relationship. It sounds like the two of you are both feeling a little misunderstood. Handling a lot of pain yourself doesn't mean you don't want to be there for her, and it certainly doesn't mean you'll be sitting there comparing your situation to hers and thinking, "I win!" But it may mean that you're distracted and turned more inward, despite wanting to be a good friend, and you might need an additional prompt or two.

B said...

I've had almost the same conversation with a friend. She said it a bit different "that there was no space" for her in the relationship.

We've had to do some real hard work in this friendship cause the circumstances of our life started so similarly and are now so different. (We were pregnant together, my baby died, I can't conceive again, she is pregnant with her second).

I actually talked to my counsellor about this one which was helpful and gave some perspective. I think we figured out what wasn't working between us. But even though it looks obvious in retrospect, and the solution quite simple, it took a lot of thought and conversation to get there. It actually took 2, 3 hour conversations to find a better way forward.

Sounds like you're in need of a second conversation. Try and listen well, and also say what you need. It's pretty hard being a friend at this time.