I’ve been thinking about friendship lately, and today, unfortunately, I have found myself ruminating on past hurts.
I moved to a new city a couple of years ago and immediately started up a business. I worked my ass off (oh how I wish that were a literal statement!) until my mental health crashed in June this year, and as regular readers will know, life has been somewhat constrained since then. All this means that I haven’t really had time to make many actual, real friends here. (Some, but not many.)
Today I have been thinking in particular of two people I feel really let me down when I was in hospital. I thought we had built a good, mutual friendship: we did lunch regularly, though not frequently; they put work my way; I was their confidant in times of need, and kept their secrets; I helped one of them find support when she started a new job.
So why, when I emailed to say I was in hospital, did they say they would not be coming to visit me? Not that they couldn’t make it this week; not that they would let me know when they could come; not any of the other myriad softer ways of letting me down. Would not. It’s such a damning refusal.
Ruminating like this isn’t healthy. I should either contact them and air this matter, or find a new way to think about it which doesn’t involve blaming me, or them. Failing that, I could picture putting these concerns into a box, locking it up, then imagine it in a place where I’ll trip across it later – preferably at a time when I am capable of a more healthy reaction.
But right now, it’s stinging. I cannot help but think that if I’d broken a leg, fallen down a cliff, even needed treatment for cancer, they would have come – or at least would have softened the blow of not coming. I cannot help but think it was the fact that I was in a psych ward which kept them away, and made it OK in their minds to discard me so completely.
Right: it’s time to get constructive. I am setting a timer on my mobile for ten minutes as I type this … done. In ten minutes’ time, I will put this matter from my mind for the rest of today, and when it comes nudging back, be disciplined in saying “thanks, but no thanks, mind! I’m not thinking about that, or feeling about that, right now”.
But, just as those ten minutes are counting down … what do I do now? Do I want these people to be my friends any more? Do I cut them off completely, or relegate them to ‘acquaintance’ status? Am I engaging in black and white thinking? Can I give them a call in a few weeks’ time and just not mention the matter at all, perhaps only commenting if they bring it up? Argh … now I can’t wait for these ten minutes to be up.
Bloody stigma. I hate you. Go away.