Sunday, October 24, 2010

I used to be friends with someone.  In fact, she was one of my best friends.  Eventually I decided that she was not worth the effort it took to continue being her friend and I let the friendship lapse while I was in France.  I was tired of listening to her complain about everything - how hard her life was, how she didn't have time for anything besides medical school, the fact that she never called.  Basically, after several years of self punishment trying to be friends with someone who will always put herself first to the point of not caring about the problems of others, I realized that no friendship is worth that kind of treatment.  This is someone who, while I was in the hospital getting chemotherapy when I was first diagnosed six years ago, complained to me about how hard it was for her to study for the MCATs and told me that I "had no idea what she was going through."  She was right, I didn't  I was far too busy fighting for my life to have time for anything as serious as the MCATs.  This is someone who couldn't be bothered to call me during the next several months while I was getting treatment because she was too busy with school work.  And even before I got sick, this is someone who made a big stink when I asked her to drive me to the pharmacy to pick up medication when I was so sick I could barely speak. 

I don't know how I put up with her for so long.  When I look back on our friendship it's a series of hurtful events that made me feel bad about myself.  I guess I'm just a glutton for punishment.  That and the fact that cutting her out of my friend group at that point would have created serious drama.  Or maybe I was constantly searching for her approval, for her to break down and do something that proved she was a good friend.  I honestly don't know.

Fast forward to this past spring, when a couple of friends came to visit me.  They had just seen this other girl and told her that I was sick again.  Her response?  She already knew.  She already knew, yet she had said nothing to me.  No phone call, no note, no message passed through these other friends.  Nothing.  No acknowledgment that we had ever been friends or that she had any kind of emotion regarding my situation.  Remember, this is someone who wants to be a doctor.  Can you imagine having a doctor who is either so emotionally constipated or so socially awkward that they can't pass along a message of "hope you get well soon?"  !?!?!?!

I really wish this didn't bother me, and that I wasn't still thinking about it and nursing these angry feelings.  It makes me angry, and it also really hurts.  Even though I don't want to be her friend anymore and haven't for years, it still hurts that she couldn't bring herself to say something to me.   Her inability to say anything makes me wonder if she ever cared about me at all.  She certainly didn't show it when we actually were friends,   I wish I weren't hanging onto these feelings.  It's bad for the spirit.  I can't help the way I feel, but I really wish I were over it already.

The more I think about it, the more I think back on her behavior over the years, I think she's one of those people who just can't deal with cancer.  She probably can't deal with mortality and illness.  That, and she's completely self involved.  And yet she's a doctor.  

A lot of cancer patients lose friends when they get sick because they just can't handle it.  The cancer makes them uncomfortable and scared because they have to confront their own mortality.  I am very lucky to have wonderful friends who have stuck by me through the ins and outs of this disease over the years.  I should try to concentrate on them, rather than on people I didn't even want to be friends with who ignored me when I got sick again.


Zhu said...

I read an article in a French magazine recently about a few women, how they coped with cancer, and how they dealt with friendships. All mentioned some "surprise", such as a best-friend not being there an on the other side unexpected people being supportive. Damn, I'm trying to find the article online on Marie Claire France and I can't find it, sorry :-(

I lost a lot of friends when I moved to Canada: some were jealous, some just didn't want to bother writing, some just resented me for what they thought was running away. It hurt at the time but I eventually figured it just wasn't friendship.

I hope you meet friends who deserve you.

Ann said...

There will always be those people. I had a friend who ditched me over cancer. I don't know what I'd do if we came face to face and the thought of her used to really bother me. I think writing about your feelings is a step in the right direction.

au soleil levant said...

Zhu - sounds like an interesting article. You're right, friends who can't be there for you no matter what aren't real friends. Thanks for being my friend :)

Ann - I know what you mean about being bothered by the idea of seeing that person again. As if we didn't already have enough crap to deal with, right? It definitely did help to write the stuff down. Thanks for the comment!

Amanda said...

*sigh* some people.... It is especially scary, like you say, that this person went into medicine. It's ultimately her loss, though, if she is too caught up in whatever and can't see what an amazing friend you are. I for one, very much value what an incredible person you are, so giving, so caring, so selfless, despite the very crappy things you have had to deal with.

Monique said...

I was going to say, better to have learned early on that this wasn't the kind of friendship you wanted in your life, and good for you for letting go when it was clearly a hurtful relationship!

I would imagine it makes those friends who are there for you (in person and online!!) all the more real and meaningful. Like Zhu, I too, have seen what even moving can do for a friend circle. You learn about who you really want in your life fast, and cut through all the crap.

I truly hope this doesn't continue to bother you much longer! It sounds like there are so many more people who care about you and warrant your thoughts :)

getyourselfconnected said...

That's a tough one, sorry to hear about that.

I imagine you have plenty of really great friends with whom none of that is an issue. Plus you make new friends too!

au soleil levant said...

Amanda - thank you, that's so nice of you to say. I appreciate your friendship too :)

Monique - you're right that I really know the value of my true friendships. Sorry you've lost friends since moving. Thanks for the comment.

GYSC - thanks, friend :)

Zhu said...

I'm always here :-) It's so funny come to think of it, we don't know each other in real life yet I grew very fond of you and hope the best for you in the future. Kind of like a big sister :-)

au soleil levant said...

Zhu - We've been following each other's blogs for quite a while now! And I always wanted a big sister, so that's perfect. The fondness is mutual.