How do others cope? I went out for a birthday lunch with my 'best' friend in march. Had wine. Moaned and cried about my pain, life, worries. All my deepest feelings laid bare...I know good birthday! I'm not usually one to moan and I've guarded my feelings about pain over the years and said very little. So, when I don't hear from her until Friday I'm a bit confused. She texts and asks me how I am. I text back that I'm sad and miserable. She texts back with surprise (!) and asks me what's wrong. Is it just me or does anyone else think REALLY!! Is that the sum total of 35 years of friendship. I've got a suitcase of stories like that. What has happened to human kindness and caring! Gah!

12 Replies

  • Afew friends understand - but only cos theyve visited my in hospital! Althhough my family dont seem to get itor are too wrapped up in their own ill health to give mine a look in. I dont look ill, so I have had "dont be rediculous youre only (12-39) wait til youre my age - THEN YOU'LL KNOW WHAT BEING ILL/HAVING PAINFUL JOINTS IS"

  • I am basing my opinion on the info supplied, my own experiences and have advised accordingly. There is no intension to upset you, just offer a different perspective to consider. Which you may reject if you want to.

    Maybe a birthday lunch was not the best time to open up and she's been a bit hurt by that. I know from experience you can't always choose when to do it, it just happens.

    Maybe she has her own problems that's she's not ready to share but feels obliged to. If she didn't know this about you, what don't you know about her?

    Maybe its shock. That if you've been best friends for so long, why is she hearing it now and not a long time ago. It seems to me that you have dropped this on her and expect her to run 100miles/hr with it.

    Maybe she wants to help, but doesn't know how. Afterall, you've given the impression that life is hunkydory, now she's found out its not.

    If I were your friend, I would be hurt.

    Acceptance of our new selves (with pain and all the baggage) is just as hard for others as it is for us. They go through all the same emotions of denial, anger, finally resting on acceptance.

    I think another meeting, apologise for monopolising and spoiling her birthday lunch. Then explain why you find it difficult to talk about it, why you want to talk now, why she is important to you, and how she can help if she wants to. Then take it from there. Give her some space to think things over.

    Even if you think she is in the wrong, acknowledging and understanding her feelings will go a long way. 35 yrs of friendship means a strong bond.

    You say you have many stories like this, then maybe its time to take a look at yourself, kindness and caring breeds kindness and caring (treat others as you would like to be treated).

  • I agree Zanna. I have found that family and friends just want you to be the same person you were before you had all the pain. The only thing I try to ensure is that they realise I am not able to do as much physically as I used to. They are growing used to me sitting chatting and accepting a plate of food, drink etc. Old days it would be me cooking cleaning and running around. Even the grandkids have adapted well. Don,t get me wrong, I am by no means unable to get up and move around. I just cannot do it all anymore. I try very hard to keep the pain business to myself. In the morning because I am up so early, my husband knows it is better to let me have a couple of hours on my own, reading etc untill I am more relaxed and then let the day begin!

    I must say 35years of friendship is a lot to risk, rather choose a day to have a heart to heart.Talk it out and put it behind you. Life is too short.Ann xx

  • Thanks both. I do appreciate your comments. I didn't really explain myself very well. I feel like I've tried to tread that fine line between telling people what's going on over the years and not being a bore. It was my birthday and over the last few years I feel as if I've done nothing but talk about my situation so she knows only too well. I did apologise for being a bore and monopolising the conversation that lunch but what seemed apparent to me was that she hadn't heard me at all. Of course you're right zanna what's going on in my head at 100 miles an hour may have left her on the starting block and indeed who can imagine a life of constant pain especially when they work hard and have a busy life. Still, I don't know if you've experienced this but at home with pain makes you very available for people when they need something but it doesn't always work the other way round so I suppose that's where I am coming from. We reap what we sow apparently and yes, clearly either the birds have made off with my bounty or I've done a rubbish job! ;(

  • Ooh boozy, my pain sorted my freinds out. When I stopped joining in, or cancelled at the last minute cos I didn't feel up to it, the invitations became less and less. I didn't mind as I'd rather have a few genuine friends whom I could rely on, than a load of social butterflies who need volume of friends to function. It hurt at the time how false these people were, that they were just using me for numbers. I really am better off out of it.

    The ones who stuck by me were the ones I thought Would run a mile. They are the ones who don't fuss, don't ask, but notice I'm sore and stiff and just happen to put the kettle on on their way to the loo. They are the ones that say what can I do to help or what would make this easier for you when planning a day out. And then do what you say, and don't impose their ideas on you.

    In return they take home a wee nick nack I've made or some baking. I go with them to dr appts if they need support, look after their animals when they are away, and am there to listen.

    As for your friend, either she's being a bit dense or there's something troubling her.

    My husband and kids ask me to do things all the time. We live in a large village but do our main shopping in the nearest town. They now say "when you go to town can you get" because "can you go to town today and get " didn't get much of a response from me.

    My other favourite response is "and you can't do that yourself because" used last night when my 16 year old daughter asked me to sew a button back on her school shirt at 10.30 pm. This button has been missing for a few weeks. Her response was "a real mother would do it". She thinks I'm not a real mother because I encourage independance and did so before my tauma.

    The "you should" people get shown the front door very quickly too. suddenly they are an expert with all the answers for a cure which medical science has failed to do during the last 11 years.

    I don't really talk about my pain or how it happened. I just say I have back pain. I tend to make requests for help, or explain why I have to do something in a certain way.

    People can be selfish and I'm sure its not intensional. Just makes a situation harder.

  • Exactly! I'm just expressing frustration I suppose! Probably dense sums up a few friends and where I live bizarrely no one ever seems to get pain never mind understand it! They are all freakishly healthy! As for the kids. I'm not a proper mum either! Lol. When I had to give up work my daughter told me off for being selfish! 'What if dad just decided to give up work!' She shouted. Oh dear...yes, having to accommodate other people's foibles and deal with the self can be a tall order sometimes. You are fortunate to have some true friends probably people who have known misfortune themselves. I think all my friends are a bit crap - never mind..Thanks for listening and HEARING! :)

  • Boozybird, I totally understand where you're coming from. I often feel that most of my friends are crap, as none of them ever ask if there's anything they can do to help (and note, I am housebound and can't sit or stand more than 3 mins) and also don't ask about what's going on with my back (I am seeing lots of doctors, physios, etc) and just talk about their stuff the whole time. I think I've tried over the past few years not to bore people with it too much, that now it's become this pattern where people just come and talk about their life and don't ask me about mine. But I would have thought a real friend would want to know and therefore ask?! It surprises me again and again when people don't. And in the rare times when I have let people know how much I am suffering and how depressed I am, they don't know how to deal with it, and often just change the subject! I really don't know what I think about friendship anymore, as it seems everyone is too busy with their own lives to really care about anyone else's. Maybe it's the culture we live in? But I'd like to think that if I had a friend in my situation, I'd make more of an effort to find out what they need, how I could help or at least call to chat every few days. Doesn't seem too much to ask. But then, even my family is not great either – all they do is offer stupid advice and not take my situation very seriously. Last week when I saw them (when I was in a rather fragile state), all they said was that I needed to change my anti-depressants. I am so fed up with people's inability to understand and I too seem to have only healthy friends and family! So of course they don't know what it's like to be stuck at home all day with pain for months/years on end when they are constantly busy. I'm not sure I have the answer, but it's nice to have people who understand what you're going through!

  • Thank god it's not just me! Thank you for being honest about this really important issue, in my life certainly. It's been really hard just stuck in slow mo watching people whizz by without a second thought for me! I've just got on with it and made allowances but for the last two months I've been incapacitated with a toe injury which sounds like nothing and is nothing compared to some people but overlaid on the usual back pain it's been really lonely and I've realised that only one person popped by, threw a few cheap mags at me and off she flew. Sum total of years of listening to all manner of crap and being present for others. Gah! Glad you understand. ;)

  • One needs to be careful out there. Choose the people you confide in carefully. People understand issues from there own experience. Has someone experience of pain, setbacks frustration and not being able to do things. They know from life experience what you are talking about.

    The best friend just has not had the relevant experience yet to understand you.

  • Yip, I think we are all in the same vote here.... It's not just friends we loose it's family too. They just don't understand why we can't do things like we were used too.

    Now that my condition is getting worse, the family don't call me and ask the simple question, how are you? It would be nice to get these calls.

    Even the neighbours judge me. I wish they could read the link I got,


  • Thank you all for the comments. Its a relief to know I'm not alone! ;)

  • I have few close friends, who have supported me through some tough times, both pain-related and otherwise. I hope I have been as kind to them in return. But the only people who really "get it" about the pain have pain themselves. So I don't talk about the pain much anymore because I'd rather not dwell on it when I'm supposed to be out enjoying myself, unless it's impossible to ignore. The flip-side is that people then get surprised and ask, "Is that still bothering you then?" So I do a quick 30-second thing about the difference between chronic pain & actute pain before the eyes glaze over. I think it's human nature to be like that.

    The thing that really bugs me are the friends who know full well that I have regular botox injections to manage my pain but they like to tell me I'm lucky to have botox on the NHS -yes, I know I am, but if I was truely lucky I wouldn't need them at all.

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