Wednesday, 6 March 2013

What can you expect from your friends?

Well, maybe the title of this post is wrong because the question is if you are even entitled to expect anything from anyone. So it might be rather "what do I expect from my friends?"

I have a friend. A very good friend. I have known her since we were 14 and our friendship has never had any breaks or big conflicts. All those years we stayed in contact although we lived far away from each other and, by the time we met, neither had a driver's license nor a car and were still too young to travel alone by train. But we still managed to keep in touch all these years which I think is a big accomplishment back in a time where there was no Skype, no Facebook, no mobile phones, no Whatsapp, no possibility to text or e-mail. Just the plain old telephone or snail mail. And I guess this might show you how proud I am of this friendship and how much it means to me.

My friend has three kids, all of which are neurotypical. They visit regular schools and kindergartens and were never really sick apart from a cold here or there or maybe an ear infection. Things that all kids go through from time to time. We do not meet very often, although we live closer to each other now. But each of us has her commitments and so we keep up with regular phone calls and, as of late, Whatsapp messages since she has a new mobile phone now.

I know she accepts Sunny for who he is. I know she likes him. But I also know that she just does not get it, this special needs thing. She is so far from getting it. She cannot even imagine what it is like. And I have the strong feeling that she does not even want to try to get it. Even more so, I feel like she shields herself from it all deliberately. Like "if I do not see it, then it is not there" or "if I do not deal with bad things, they will not happen to me or my family". I feel that she is totally blinding out all the negative things we have experienced on our journey so far. She does not want to deal with it and does not want to burden herself with it. Of course, when something happens she asks how we are, but it is always on a rather cursory level.

Some years ago our doctors assumed that Sunny might have autism. I was shattered and devastated and she was the only person I opened my heart to and told about it. She did not have any words of comfort for me. All she did was to reply "I do not know what to say" on the phone. Over and over again. No "I am so sorry for you" or "is there anything I can do for you?" Nothing. I could tell she was shocked, yes, but that did not help me. I needed some comfort which she could not give me. And maybe she was shocked because she had just learned that bad things can happen to kids, too.

With our hospital stay last week there was a similar situation. I informed most of my friends via Whatsapp or text message that we were at the hospital and what had happened. They texted me back, all of them completely shocked, and some of them also called me. She also texted me back and told me how sorry she was for what happened. We texted back and forth and I know we were in her thoughts. When we had to return to the hospital for the MRI on Thursday I informed her afterwards that Sunny was okay. She then wanted to know if any doctor had already "remarked anything", which is a very vague question. I did not know what exactly she was referring to and told her that yes, of course, I had already talked to the doctors but that there had been a lot of examinations and that she needed to clarify her question, i.e. if she was referring to a particular examination. Because she already knew that all examinations were NAD. She answered that she was referring to the reason for the hemiparesis. To which I replied that the doctors did not know. She wanted to know if they told me "anything else" because I was asking what she was referring to and because she thought we were "only" there because of the hemiparesis or if anything else was wrong. To which I replied again that the doctors have no idea so far and that there was No Abnormalty Detected in any of the examinations, as I already mentioned several times. And that I wanted to know if she was referring to a special examination. Then, because her questions were so intangible, I added that the whole subject was too complex to be discussed in a Whatsapp conversation. To which she did not reply anymore. I haven't heard of her again since then altough I informed her on Friday that we had been discharged from the hospital. I know she read it but she did not react.

She could have simply given me a call and I could have answered her questions properly. Obviously, she is mad at me now. And I wonder why and if it would have been my "job" to call her after the MRI. I mean, I was in exceptional circumstances the whole week and I do not feel like it would have been my job to call her. If she were in hospital with one of her kids I would never expect her (or any of my other friends, for that matter) to call me in such a situation but I would always be the one to call her to show her that I care and that I understand what kind of stress she is going through right now. It just shows me again that she cannot imagine what we were going through last week.

And this is where my expectations come in again. What do I expect from my friends? I think we all expect our friends to act in a similar way we would act if the situation were just the other way round. But I know she shields herself from the bad things and I know she does not understand the situation I was in. And, therefore, she probably did not feel that it was her "job" to call me. She is one of my best friends and I just wish she would really try to get this. Our life.

I am so disappointed by her behaviour. Not becaue she did not call me but because she is mad for reasons I do not understand. But right now I just do not know how to react. I think it is highly immature to play the "who calls whom first" game but at the moment I just cannot call her because I am angry, sad, and frustrated and that would make a phone call challenging, at least from my side.

What adds up to the whole situation is that another friend of mine whom I just met last year really cared so much for us and texted frequently and also called me several times. She asked repeatedly if there was anything she could do for us and was almost disappointed when I said no. She by far exceeded my expectations, even more so if you think of the short time we are friends now. I was so grateful for her support. 


  1. Oh Joy. I feel your heartbreak. I have been astounded by the friends that 'get it', the ones that 'fake it' and the ones that just do not have a clue. And that includes some family members. My friend Tia, who I have known since I was 12, is by far my closest friend and the one that lives farthest away. What I enjoy about her support is that when she doesn't know what to say...she tells me that while she doesn't know what to say she WISHES she could help.

    I hope your newer friendships offer the support you need. But do not give up on your long-held friend. Maybe she just needs to know what you need. Because, sadly, some friendships need to come with an instruction manual.

    1. I love that Tia says she wishes she could help. This is so cute and it really shows that she is empathic!
      I will not give up on my old friend, but we both need time to get in contact again, I suppose.

  2. i totally agree that people w/out a birds eye view have a really hard time relating to those of us who deal w/ special needs as a way of life. i think even those of us who live the life have a hard time relating to all of the things we each go through. i know i do.

    I'm not defending her, but it's probably not your friends fault. she probably just doesn't know what to say. she's probably afraid she'll say the wrong thing and upset you. having a conversation w/ us must be like walking a tight rope. for me,I never really want to know the opinion of others, usually i just want to vent. that's my way to work out a problem. and I've come to believe we all have different amounts of compassion. sometimes, w/ my own family, i am dumb founded by the lack of caring and concern i see.

    it doesn't mean your friend doesn't care. maybe she's just having a hard time figuring out what kind of friend you need her to be. if she were my friend, I'd tell her what i need. maybe you want her to be your cheerleader in a crisis?
    something else to think about is what's going on in her life right now. casey was deployed, patty was not yet 2, jt not yet 1 and i felt abandoned by my brother-in-law and his wife. before i had kids, i had always been there for them and when i needed them i felt like they were MIA. turns out they were having marital problems and later divorced.

    long story short, give her another chance!

    1. Thanks for your long story, I will totally give her another chance! We are in contact again but on a very careful level. I think we need time.

  3. First off, I'm glad to hear you guys are out of the hospital and hopefully doing well back home (right??) Secondly, I'm really sorry about your mishap and hope that it can get cleared up. A friend with that much history would be a sorry thing to loose without a fight (a good fight, I mean!!) But I'm sorry for what you went through. I imaging the feeling is akin to betrayal, whether or not your friend felt that way.

    1. Thank you Alana, yes, we are doing well. I posted an update here:
      And yeah, you nailed it on the head, I felt betrayed. But I hope we will figure it out.


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