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Bash1437

MAINTAINING FRIENDSHIPS

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I am finding myself really struggling with my friendships lately. All my closest friends are married with at least one child. My friends complain to me all the time about how their husbands don’t take out the trash or how they didn’t feed their children when it was time or how they don’t help clean the house etc.. and I just listen but I have no response for them. I really just don’t know wha to say. Here I am doing everything, I don’t have that significant other to help maintain everything.  I know I am jealous and I need to learn to not be jealous.  But sometimes I’m just so tired of hearing how my friends are so exhausted because of work and babies and maintaining their homes etc. I wish people would take a minute and imagine what it’s like living in someone else’s shoes, like mine. I really am not looking for this to be a ‘poor me’ situation but jeez. My friends vent constantly to me about this while I’m over here a mother to a 3 yr old, struggling to maintain two properties, one of them being my husband’s business that I’m in the process of winding down and selling. And everyone around me still works so I don’t have a whole lot of help. I do it all on my own. But one thing I will say is I never vent or complain about my life to them because I know no matter how I explain it they will never get it. This just makes me feel so alone all the time. And because of this matter I have distanced myself tremendously from these friends. I just don’t know what to do. Any suggestions? 

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Hey Ben1437, I feel your pain.  A few years ago I was taking a pottery course with a bunch of friends and they were all doing just what you described.  I turned to one of my friends and said "Really, are you really complaining to me about what your husband is or isn't doing?"  I said it loud enough to be heard by others.  I must admit they changed their tune.... for a few classes anyway.  People just don't get it!! They have no idea how fortunate they are.  

I too distanced myself from that sort of stuff as well.  I just didn't want to hear it anymore.  Best of luck to you 

Hugs

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We get it! I will say that YOU NEED TO SPEAK UP AND SAY SOMETHING, just like bh2 did!  My moment was when a neighbor called herself a football widow and her knowing I was really a widow! I sat there just starring at her while she just looked at me. I took a moment and thought about how to say it, then it all just came out, and I mean it all came out.

Everyone in that room left there realizing how ignorant those statements are, and how hurtful that was to me. She even admitted before she said it that she knew I was widowed and still chose to say it. I then asked her how she felt knowing her husband was coming home and mine wasn't?  Of coarse it all had me in tears , while she admitted she enjoyed the time alone from him , etc. Needless to say I was pissed.

People are unkind, and thoughtless. As my dh used to say when I would ask him why people would do the things they did,, he would say "its a me me  me world"!

BTW, it's not uncommon once we become widowed for our address books to change...

Again, we get it, but don't be afraid to speak up!

Edited by sudnlysngl
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I remember being so so so to the bone tired (my daughter was 6 when her dad died) - racing to get her to school, getting to work, racing to pick her up, take her to activities, shopping, cooking, cleaning up - and all the other stuff in between. And then repeat.  It was relentless.  I found that most of the time when I did have some time for friends, all I wanted to do was put on my pajamas, get in bed and read a book.  I habitually committed to things with friends and then bailed - either because I was too tired or feeling too grief stricken to socialize.  I found being the one young widow ("that poor woman") absolutely exhausting in social settings, especially family centered ones and I avoided them when I could.  Anyway, over time, I think a lot of people gave up on me, which turned out to be fine because I made some new friends and really solidified my relationships with three families who are still my closest friends.  They really stood by me then and in the six years since we've been through more deaths, cancer, graduations, weddings, so it sorted itself out in the end.  I also think as my daughter (and I) got older, our priorities and the way we spent our time began to change and that group of friends I had back then really no longer made much sense.  Sometimes I run into them now and wonder how I ever thought we had anything in common....anyway, I am rambling.  If I may make a suggestion, perhaps you can identify one friend and explain to her/him how and why this bothers you so much and maybe enlist them to try to communicate that to mutual friends?  I can think of situations where I should have tried to do something like that - like get someone to explain to the others why I bailed all the time and that it wasn't personal - but I never did.  Not convinced we'd still be friends today if I had but it might have led to a healthier understanding and less awkwardness now when I see them at the grocery store........Good luck!  

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I had to think this one over before responding. I have different friends through different interests. I found myself re-sorting  my friendships. For the most part, I’m still generally congenial and friendly with many but I seriously closed up my core group of trusted people who I’d confide or share more with. Each person previously was in a different friend buckets before. It’s made me happier and I feel good and safe with my core group. They kept me together on an adult and individual level I needed that I would never burden the kids with. I know I have but to ask when I need help and they know how to be where other people just miss the mark. So it’s okay to re-examine your friendships and decide what works for you. If people don’t understand or don’t even want to try to, then they probably aren’t worth it. 

 

 

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I don't think I would say anything about these comments - at least I know I didn't. Think about it - you are amongst a group of friends, and what do friends often do? Complain about their spouses, of course. I know men do it, and I imagine women do it as well. It's a common thing. I do understand it hurts, but they aren't singling you out or trying to hurt you on purpose. I feel like you could alienate people by telling them what they can and cannot say around you.

 

I remember about two weeks after my wife died I was talking with some people and one of them was describing a funeral viewing he had just been to. Part of the way through it he looks up at me and says 'Oh my God, I'm sorry'. I was like dude, I'm still the same person and I don't want to be treated differently - just talk around me like you normally do.

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I’ve  always been torn between two different reactions in this situation.

 

No,  I don’t want friends to feel as if they have to tiptoe around me. I don’t want friends to have to second guess everything they say. I don’t want to be hurt and sensitive and even though every second of my day was about my dead husband, I understood that my friends didn’t live the life I did. They had plans and a future and even though they may love me, they had no concept of what my life was.

 

But. . . .how clueless can you be? If you want to drop me from your life, OK. If you can’t deal with it, don’t drag it out.  Just move on.

 

I lost some people and gained some people.  Years ago, someone on YWBB said they saw friends (after being widowed) as calories.  Some nourished you, some just made you fat.  Let the empty calories go.

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I had the thoughts you had.  Sometimes I would say something and sometimes not. I figured they could give me a reprieve that first year, anyway.  I know they could not understand it and so I VENTED here a lot. I appreciated the "I get it" but still was chastised here by some.  Go figure.

 

I had a dear friend write me a letter and mail it. I came home for lunch and cried so much,  I couldn't go back to work. She basically stated she understood I lost my half, my mate in life and it mattered and it was big deal and she would be there for me anytime, any moment I needed her. She also wrote she didn't understand and HOPED not to for a long, long time.  Her genuineness touched my soul. She gave me a book her aunt had when her husband died. Not too applicable but she tried, ya know. 

Some people are going to be "alienated" because they can't handle it. We are proof it could happen to them, so they don't want to even try to understand. So avoid us.

And, like you all, I dropped friendships and gained new ones I likely never would have otherwise. Some folks reached out to me and I do that now.   It gets better in time, I promise. A little easier to tolerate, and then I know, deep down, they will have their time some day. I don't wish for them, but we all have some great loss eventually unless you go first. 

 

 

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In the early days after losing DH I had a few friends that would mention husband problems - I decided to move on from some of these "friendships" and not deal with their comments.  It almost seemed like a passive-aggressive thing to make themselves feel better - really, how clueless can some people be to complain like that in front of a widow?

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 Thank you all for your comments and advice. When I think about my friendships,  the ones who are in my closest social circle are really great people, and I will admit, if my husband was still alive and well, I may be right with them complaining about how my husband never wanted to take out the trash or something like that. I know it is not their fault that my husband is no longer here. Yes, I do wish people were more considerate.  But as hard as it is to hear my friends complaints I do not feel comfortable explaining my frustrations to the ones making me feel uncomfortable because it will then make them feel uncomfortable around me. I don’t know, this is an ongoing struggle. But I will say I am the same exact way about making plans. I’ll commit to plans with friends and then it gets closer to the day or time to hang out with them and I just cannot do it. So I’ll make up a story to get out of seeing them. It’s not them. It’s definitey me. And I need to learn how to live again and handle socia situations. But it’s just not easy. 

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You can do it gently. I remember saying to a couple of people, 'Um. maybe I'm not really the right person to vent about that to?' If they still don't get it, well, that's another story. Eight years out, I probably wouldn't bother unless someone really annoyed me. I never moaned about my husband though, and fortunately my friends and family don't really moan about their spouses and exes.

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When my husband died my kids were 12, 8 and 4 and at first all my friends were understanding and helpful but as time went by everything went back to normal....their normal.  I had to realize and understand that I was the changed one. Once I really understood that I was able to move on and even found new friends.

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