How can I help a friend understand?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Adl123, Jul 27, 2010.

  1. Adl123

    Adl123 New Member

    For the past 3 years I have been driving a disabled friend of mine to shopping. She started needing more and more, until, the last time, she needed to go to 8 different places over and above the two we needed to go to together.

    Shortly after that I had an almost total relapse and ended up in a life threatening situation with Angioedema. My Dr. told me (three times) that I had to stop driving her around and give my immune system some time to build up. My main job needs to be to rest. I'm not as young as I was (I'm 73), and I'm just too weak too do what I did when I was 50.

    So I explained things to her (She has long been aware of my condition, which is one of CFIDS/Fibro, Rheumatoid Arthritis, a chronic bone marrow infection , congestive heart failure and Diabetes). and I reduced my driving to taking her to two Dr. appointments a month, because she goes at the same time I do. That was today. I could not believe it when she asked me to take her somewhere after the treatment, even though I had stressed several times, the importance of going straight home. This is not only because of my limitations, but because of the nature of the physical therapy, which we both receive.

    What can I give her to help her understand that each action I perform takes a toll on me, and reduces the amount and quality of my later actions? Is there anything written? Really, I'm so frustrated. I cannot abandon her, because she is a friend of over 30 years, and is disabled. I find it very hard to just say "no", time after time. It's as if she doesn't believe me, or she just doesn't understand. I've been trying to "let go" and just do it, but I feel so (and I never thought I would put it this way) dis-respected. I feel used. Is it wrong for me to expect a little concern or consideration from a long-time friend?

    Does anyone have any ideas? (I've already given her the "spoons" paper).

    Thanks, Terry
  2. Tizz

    Tizz New Member


    I get it, about old friends that are as close as family. But even with family, we have to maintain our limits. Look at it this way - no limits, no energy left even to get up and go to the bathroom! lol

  3. Tizz

    Tizz New Member

    I wonder if maybe there's a "fibro personality type". I don't mean we're all the same, of course. But it does seem like a lot of us are kind of the opposite of the way many people in the "outside world" view us. It seems many of us do push ourselves. We "suck it up" and "bend over backwards" to fulfill what we see as our responsibilities. And then, of course, we pay the price...

    I'm not sure if this is because we are made to feel guilty by those who simply don't know - or don't believe - what we're going through, or if it's because we were that sort of people to start out with. You know, the kind who gave 200%, who always tried to juggle home and family responsibilities with work and other outside commitments and somehow make it all work. The kind of people who don't want to disappoint those we feel responsible to; we want to "keep our word".

    Sadly, I think many of us would find, if we thought it out, that the people we don't want to disappoint have disappointed US sometimes and don't seem to be that worried about it...

    Am I way off base here, or does what I'm thinking make sense to any of you?


    [This Message was Edited on 07/27/2010]
  4. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    to look at a couple books.

    The Book of "NO" by Susan Newman.

    When I Say "NO", I Feel Guilty by Manuel Smith.

    Forget about trying to get your friend to understand. She's already made it
    clear that she's not going to understand.

  5. Tizz

    Tizz New Member

    ... to give her friend some phone numbers where she can call for assistance. Many communities have resources like that available, and it's quite possible her friend has never checked into them because she had someone she always relied on to take her wherever she needed/wanted to go.

    Perhaps a firm "no" to doing more than what she'd promised (taking her friend along when she was going to the doc, herself) COMBINED with a list of phone numbers for organizations that might help out, could save a valued friendship.

    [This Message was Edited on 07/28/2010]
  6. Adl123

    Adl123 New Member

    Thank you, all. I can see,now. that I just have to be stronger. I've been letting her "hints" and complaints make me feel guilty. She acts as if I should pick her up every time I leave the house, and checks to see if I have done so. It has been hard saying "no", because she has already tried the door to door shuttle in our town, and finds it very exhausting, as it takes a minimum of 4 hours to go anywhere, and do anything. She is on SSI and has to buy things as cheaply as she can, that is why she wants to go to all those stores.

    I've often wondered why we have met and become friends. I thought, at first, that I needed to do all I could for her. Now, I see that I need to let her go, and I cannot, nor should I, destroy my health, (or over use my 16 year-old car), for her convenience. And I will admit, that I do get a trifle annoyed when she spends money on expensive hobbies, instead of saving to buy a car or a scooter.

    I can give her articles, but, as you say, Aussiewoman, some people are wrapped up in their own problems. She has many wonderful points, but now needs to let go of old habits and preferences, and move on, as do I. Maybe this will spur her on to face some old fears and take some steps towards independence. After all, I won't be around forever, and she will have the same things to face then, but she'll be older and it will be harder.

    I really appreciate your insight. Those of you on this board are so wonderful and generous with your ideas. I'm glad you are there.

    Thank you, and God bless you, all. Terry
  7. u&iraok

    u&iraok New Member

    I've noticed this. Also, more sensitive, too.
  8. msgirl67

    msgirl67 New Member

    Friends are always the hardest to let down. I have a similar issue with my good friend that doesn't work and seems to only have me as a friend. Don't get me wrong...I love her to death. She is a good friend and we have always tried to be there for one another. My friend is married, but her husband works overseas and is gone many months out of the year. She is going through some of her own issues, but when it comes down to it, she drinks to help her through many of them. She will call me when she is down in the dumps and whines for me to come over and comfort her and have a drink with her. I try to explain to her that I am not feeling well and even offer for her to come over to my house...she thinks that I am blowing her off and will call or text me several times after that making me feel very guilty for not being there for her in her time of need. I will let her know that I will try my best to come over and by then she will tell me to never mind...that she will just talk with me the next to make me feel even worse.

    I will talk with her the next day and she will be fine but tell me that she really needed me. I explain to her that I am here for her, but I also have a family and myself to look after and that I will do whatever I can for her...or that my body will allow me to do. She has to be reminded often that I don't have the energy...would love to run with her and be active...but not always feeling up to it. I also have to remind myself daily if I feel good today to not over do it bc I will always feel it 10x worse tomorrow.

    Take one day at a time and remember that you are the most important person....bc if you do not take care of yourself....who will?

    I know that this is probably not an answer to your question...but I know that encourgement can sometimes help. Enjoy your day and rest well!
  9. matieofleaves803

    matieofleaves803 New Member

    It seems to me that years ago, when they called it "yuppie flu", they were saying type A people got it.
    But then they were also saying a person would only be sick for 10 years! When it hadn't even been known about for any length of time.
  10. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    Hello, Terry. I was attracted to your message since I'm going through much of the same thing with my son who is living with me right now.

    To boil it down: We need to understand that our guilt, not our friend or family, is the real problem here. Face it, we feel guilty when we say no, so we push aside our needs in favor of theirs.

    Sooooo, we get 100% in the willingness category, but only about 5% in the self-worth category. We're good people, but maybe too good for our own good.

    After we've explained our limitations, we need to say: "Gee, I wish I could." - and keep driving home.

    Good luck to us. : )
  11. AuntTammie

    AuntTammie New Member

    made me think of the air masks on airplanes.....they always tell you to put your own on before helping anyone else bc if you can't function, you are not going to be any good for anyone else
  12. Marta608

    Marta608 Member


  13. judyc22

    judyc22 New Member

    It sounds like she is abandoning you due to her own needs. Remember, your pain is your own. No one else can see or feel it and you may even look great, so people think you are not sick. Also, because it comes and goes, it is very confusing to friends/family. It's confusing to us! That said, a friendship can become toxic....

    I like to see myself as a good friend. I've been sick with Fibro/CFS/etc. for 21 years and can't be the kind of friend I'd like to be any more. I had a friend of many years that I took to appointments. She had MS and was isolated by it. Her personality changed and she became very obsessive/compulsive and needy, wanting me to stay all afternoon when I'd made it very clear how exhausted I was after an appointment and lunch out. I felt so sorry for her I was hurting myself. Finally, after many attempts to get through to her, I made an appointment time with her to discuss how I could keep helping her without hurting myself. We talked about it for an hour and she agreed to a very defined schedule and understood that at any time I may have to cancel. As I was leaving she begged me to stay the rest of the afternoon as if nothing had been agreed upon! She couldn't control herself. She started calling me several times a day. It was emotionally exhausting. I couldn't sleep trying to figure out how to deal with it. I finally wrote her a letter ending the friendship completely. I had to be extremely firm as she continued to call for a while, and I let our machine pick up every time. I've never spoken with her again. I felt very badly and really liked her, but the reality of our illnesses made it impossible for us to remain friends. About a year later, I received a message from her about something I had been helping her with. I was very happy for her and wanted badly to pick up the phone and congratulate her and find out how she was doing, but I couldn't afford to get hooked back in. I've never spoken with her again. It was the best thing to do.

    It sounds like you have made every reasonable effort to let her know your limits. I recommend that you make one last attempt. Set limits for yourself, instead of her. Tell her you would like to continue to help her and be friends, but if she can't accept your limits, you will have to stop helping her - you have to be willing to give up the friendship.

    You sound like a wonderful caring friend who is trying hard to work this out. She is lucky to have you in her life. You have nothing to feel guilty are not being cruel. I don't believe giving her anything else to read about your condition will help. She can't see beyond her own needs. She's so wrapped up in her own needs of the moment, she is only frustrated by your needs. Are you dependent on her? Do you need her friendship? Do you need to be needed? If so, you'll have to come to grips with what you are getting from the relationship and whether it is worth the badgering. If it is worth it, then accept her as she is, tell her you are tired and are dropping her off and going home. Be consistant. Don't be wishy-washy. You are very ill and must rest!!!!! In 1989 the doctor who diagnosed me said I needed "aggressive rest therapy" and you do too. We all need to be reminded. We get enough flares of our symptoms already.

    Let us know what happens and if our advice is of any help. Judy

    [This Message was Edited on 08/04/2010]
  14. judyc22

    judyc22 New Member

    Thanks for reminding me about this, Marta. Sometimes that is all a friend needs to hear. I wish I could be there with you. I wish I could help you. I wish I could be a more helpful friend. I wish I could..... Judy
  15. Tizz

    Tizz New Member

    That was very, very well said.

  16. Adl123

    Adl123 New Member

    I think you are all right, here. I have listened to what you have suggested, and I have explained things to her, and then set about to let go. I'm sticking by my guns.

    I'm ignoring the little digs, and reminders that she hasn't been going anywhere, etc.... She is now actively trying to save for a car. Yea! Around here one can occasionally be picked up for around two thousand.

    I will admit that it still hurts a little that she tries to make me feel bad, as if I didn't already feel bad enough. These conditions aren't fun, as you well know. It is very scary that my body swells up to the point of being life threatening when I least expect it,(I even showed her my inhaler, antihystimine and epi-pens) yet she is willing to take that chance so she can pick up a package from the post office, when that package could just as easily be delivered to her. It's stuff like this. Anyway, I know this part is my problem. Thanks for letting me vent and for helping. Terry