When People Disappoint. A Lament for the “Strong Ones.”

flickr, Ed Sprake

There are a lot of crappy people in the world.  There are a lot of good people in the world.  Sometimes, the good people have crappy behavior.  And, I suppose, for fairness sake, we should point out that sometimes crappy people do have good behavior.

I’m not interested in them, though.

Today, I want to talk with you about good people who sometimes disappoint you.

It hurts to be disappointed by people you care about.  (By the way, take it as a given that I understand that we all disappoint at times.  Sometimes, we can use that countering argument to prematurely silence ourselves.  In other words, because we know that we are completely capable of hurting others, we sometimes scoot right past our own hurt.  We try to skip right to forgiveness without first considering whether we want to address the disappointment.)

We stuff our feelings cause we can’t face our stuff.

So, today, we’re not going to minimize the crappy behavior of others because we err, too.

We’re just going to save that conversation for another day.  (In fact, I already wrote that piece.  If you want to see it, go here:  Sometimes People Suck.)

Today, I want to talk just about THEM.

Because I’m kinda sorta SICK of them!

Yep, I know it’s not very spiritual to admit this.

It is human, though.

And all too often, we women don’t allow ourselves our natural human reaction because we have been schooled to be “nice” and “tolerant” and not to make waves.

I keep forgetting that I make waves for a living.

Consider yourself warned.

Some years back, I dumped every one of my friends at the same time.  It was Thanksgiving.  In fact, it was my first Thanksgiving when I didn’t have my kids as a single mother.

I was really afraid of the pain.  So, I asked for help.

And, I didn’t get any.

Anyway, here’s what happened:  I knew the holiday was approaching and I let my bestest friends know I was afraid of being alone and sad over the weekend.  I asked them to check in with me over those days.  In other words, I didn’t expect my friends to GUESS what I needed.  I told them specifically.

Just like you’re “supposed” to do.

Dropped the kids off on Wednesday.  Thursday came and went.  I cried and cried and cried. Nobody called, so I called them.  And left messages.

Just like you’re “supposed” to do.

Friday came and went.  I cried and cried and cried. Nobody called.  So I called them. And left messages.

Just like you’re “supposed” to do.

Saturday came and went.  I cried and cried and cried. Nobody called.  So I called them.  And left messages.

Just like you’re “supposed” to do.

Sunday came and went. Nobody called. I didn’t cry. I was empty. I didn’t have anything left in me. The kids came home. (Thank you, Cheesus, as one of my boys used to say.)

And then, once all the hard stuff was behind me, my “friends” started calling me.

“How was your weekend?,” they cheerfully asked.

And then:

I let every last one of them go.

Yep.  One after the other, all these women I helped and loved and served over the years.

Over. Done.  What a relief!  My “friends” told me the truth about themselves. And I didn’t pretend not to see.

Since then, several of my friends and I have reconnected.  But it’s different now, because it needed to be.  I want to build my life on a a foundation of truth. Over time, the truth can shift. I try to live with my eyes (and my heart) wide open.

I don’t always succeed.  But, I try.

Among my people, I’m considered the “strong one.”  This is not a role that I want, but it is the person I’ve become.  And it’s not an easy one to put aside.

But I’ve tried.

I’ve had to work very hard to be open and vulnerable in my relationships, because if I don’t, I unconsciously revert to being the “women who doesn’t need anything . . . or, anyone.”

That’s why I was so very clear about asking my friends for help.

But here’s the thing – it’s no fun to be the “strong one” all the time.  One of the things I love about my husband most is that he is at least as strong as I am.  I’ve never had that before.

Ever!

And even the “strong” ones need a safe harbor.  Actually, it may be that we need it even more, since so many others rely on us.

At any rate, it’s really important to know whom you can count on and whom you can’t in life.  It’s really important not to pretend that the truth about your relationships is other than it is.

It’s better to be alone than to have denial about your support structure. (click to tweet)

And, it’s really important to do the hard work of truth-telling – at least to yourself.

Recently, it’s been time to do some more truth-telling, at least to myself.  So, I’m taking a few days to get quiet and let that happen.

If you are the “strong one” in your relationships, please take care.  If this piece has inflamed some sore spot in your beautiful heart, please pause before you take any action.

Heal yourself first.

That’s what I’m gonna do.

Love, Jen

P.S.  If you need support, ask for it here (in the comments.)  Then, offer support to someone else. By the way, asking for support is different than whining.  Asking for support is an act of strength.  Whining is an abdication of personal responsibility.  So, ask away.

Photo: flickr, Ed Sprake

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67 Responses to When People Disappoint. A Lament for the “Strong Ones.”

  1. Sue DeVito says:

    This is beautiful Jennifer. I don’t find it easy to ask for help. The best I have done lately is to realize that I needed a trip to my therapist because I was falling back into the pit of depression and I didn’t want to go there. It’s funny, but the most healing thing about it was admitting to myself that I needed help and seeking it. Once I made the appointment, I almost didn’t need it. But I kept it, because I remembered what you say about showing up for myself. I think she had a hard time understanding why I was there, but we used the time to strategize about ways to avoid falling into the pit.

    I have to admit that I don’t have anyone in my life right now that I can go to besides my therapist when it’s overwhelming. I’m trying to cultivate friends who are also strong, but it’s nice to hear you say that it’s ok to be alone too. I don’t need to feel guilty that I haven’t ‘succeeded’ at finding a couple of really strong friends to go to when I need help! Thank you for that.

    • Nat C says:

      If you would like the assistance of a long distance girlfriend, I am ready to help. Jennifer was at my side when I tried to heal from a tremendous loss. I would love to pass it on, if I can be of any help. If so, email me at itsjustnat@aol.com. (Please put you and Jennifer in the subject, so I don’t delete) Take good care. Nat

  2. Sue DeVito says:

    P.S. Is there anything I can do to help?

  3. Aoife says:

    this is very good stuff, calling a spade a spade!

  4. Jeanette says:

    You do a wonderful job of using personal experience to illustrate the bigger picture you want us see and the message we take away. You do it so well. Today, your post has that, along with current pain and I am sorry. I hope your quiet time away includes something akin to the respite and supportive hug you always offer, here. It has been invaluable to me.

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you, love. Will you please reach out to another commenter on our behalf? This way, we can all take turns giving and receiving!

  5. Anne Rodrigues says:

    Thank you, Jennifer, for another piece to show me that I am not alone and the feelings I have, others are experiencing too. Over the last three years, I have been looking after my Dad’s needs. He will be 90 this year and has lived alone since my mother died 14 years ago. In the last three years, I have been helping him do his grocery shopping, banking, taking him to Church, haircuts, etc. (Physically, he needs a walker and cannot get around so well.) He stopped driving for over a year now so has needed that type of help even more so. About six months ago, I finally asked my three siblings for help with Dad. I’m still waiting for help. I now have great resentment toward them that they are not helping out with our father. There is every excuse in the book as to why they cannot help. I’m now at a point where I find it even difficult to talk to them and don’t bother calling them anymore. So, I can really relate to your blog post. I don’t know how to heal myself because every time I’m helping my father I resent the fact that my siblings can do whatever they please on the weekends while I spend mine making sure he is taken where he needs to go and buying groceries for him. I have talked to my father that my brother and sisters need to participate more, even just to visit him, but he says that he will not force any of his children to help him and that it is up to them if they want to be there for him. So, how do I stop feeling so resentful?

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you, love. Will you please reach out to another commenter on our behalf? This way, we can all take turns giving and receiving!

    • Ann Marie says:

      Anne can I help in some way? Many states/cities/counties have organizations that can offer help to you so you can take care of your own needs during this time.
      Is you Dad a vet? If so, the VA may be able to offer some assistance at little or no cost to you.

      http://www.caregiver.com
      http://www.helpguide.org/elder/caring_for_caregivers.htm (skip to #4 on the list for some ideas)
      If you would like me to do research on your particular area where you live, please let me know. If you’re comfortable writing back on the page where you live, I’ll see what I can find in ways of assistance for you in your hometown.
      Ann Marie

    • Sue DeVito says:

      Hello Anne,
      I can relate to your situation. Many years ago when my father was dying of cancer my sister got very upset when I asked her to help out with getting him to appointments and such, although I had very small children at the time and hers were older. What made me even more upset was that her husband would not even come to visit my father when he was sick even though my father had helped him a great deal over the years, doing odd jobs in the house and helping to watch their kids when they were on vacation.
      At the time, I struggled mightily with resentment toward both my sister and my brother-in-law. All I can tell you is that in the long view, I have the satisfaction of the memories of that time spent with my dad. I know I did the right thing both for me and for him. You need to do what’s right for you. If your siblings won’t help and you need a break, get assistance. There is help out there. If your dad has money and can pay for it, this use of it may smoke your siblings out to do their part to save the money. If not, then there is public assistance available. Do what you can, but get someone to come in, and give yourself a break when you need it. Above all, don’t feel guilty! You are helping, and doing what is right.

    • Donna says:

      I live next to my childhood home. I have helped take care of my parents double lawn and driveway (pushmower and snowblower) and my own and work my full time job plus mandatory OT, when my dad has been sick with double pneumonia and obviously hiding the fact that he has mesothelioma as he takes care of my mom who was in and out nursing home for rehab.

      My sister lives out of state or she would help. My brother exhausts their bank account, moves in and out, they buy him cars he runs into the ground and has yet to ever mow/snowblow or shovel a walk or even do the dishes for them.

      I get the resentful part. I am an almost 50 yr old woman doing this stuff. My younger brother could help.

      I have heard the snowblower fire up next door and NOT wanted to get up to do my drive and see my dad walking over to do mine.

      Remember, everything you do, we do for love FOR THEM.

      I have gritted my teeth and cursed that *I* am the dependable one (although they never ask) and guess what? Those are the only souls on earth *I* can depend on, my own children do not come or call or even see their grandparents either.

      Some day, they will be gone and those days, moments and time they were all too busy to take time out for will be passed. And there were some funny beautiful moments in the times we had to consider “chore” days.

      I work in a field (911 and police dispatch) where people don’t get time with their loved ones, or get to say or show how much they loved them.

      Those that TRULY matter to me, know. And just because they are blood related, does not mean that they get to abuse me.

      Your dad will never impose on the others. My parents won’t either. Your siblings are trained already. Complaining to your dad does no good and I never do. I do what I do out of L-O-V-E.

      Screw your siblings.

      Take care of your dad.

      Take care of you.

      Decline their stuff. (and I am serious here)

      Your attitude will be salty and it will show. And you need to take care of you. Do something for YOU. Classes, meditate, whatever…lot’s of free stuff thru community. You will go nuts if you don’t.

      You gotta self love before you can love anyone else. And I bet you aren’t doing one nice or good thing for yourself right now, are you? Nah..too busy. Am I right? Treats!!! Do it!!

      My mentor medium told me, you love your relatives, you don’t have to like them.

      Pray for peace and that has to start with you. It does come eventually. (and you have to pray daily, because it never goes away….life is a work in progress!)

      ooxoxo

    • Patty says:

      Anne,
      Unfortunately it’s all too common for one child to handle the lions share of duties that goes into taking care of an aging parent. We can ask our siblings to do their part but we don’t have any control over the outcome. Obviously you are the “strong” one in this situation. I have a similar situation and I’m all too familiar with the resentment and burn-out that can arise with it all. If our siblings are unwilling to lend a hand and it gets to be too much then we need to seek support elsewhere. Your local area agency on aging can be a good start. There’s also caregiver support groups. I understand that there may be the element of your father’s protesting on outside help, but if he doesn’t want to “burden” your siblings then you need an alternative. Outside of that when I get overwhelmed by it and the feelings of resentment come to call I remind myself that this is my choice and that I have no control over anyone else’s behavior and in the end I know I’ll be grateful that I had done what I did to show my love and support of my parent when others may have chosen not to. I’ll be the one with the clear conscience and that is invaluable in my eyes.

      • Anne Rodrigues says:

        I want to say thank you so much to all that responded to my comment about my resentment toward my siblings and the fact that they are not helping look after our father. It is amazing to see complete strangers willing to help out a complete stranger. Thank you, Ann Marie, for those websites. And thank you to Jennifer for providing this LAT forum for all of us to share.

        I have carefully read your responses. I have suggested different organizations to my father that will help with care but he does not want anyone he doesn’t know coming into the house. He did finally agree to someone coming in to clean his house – that took months to finally get him to agree to do that. Everything all of you say makes sense. I do feel I have spent a lot of time with him, that I know when he passes, I will be so glad that I did. Because of the time I have spent, my father and I have talked about “life things” that I know we would not have talked about had we not spent this time together.

        I do realize that I have to do things for myself that I enjoy and am trying to fit more of that in. There has been the odd Church evening that I have asked my father to take a taxi just so I can get a break. I’m beginning to realize that if he won’t ask his other children for help, there is only so much I can do and sometimes I may not always be available to do them.

        The resentment is something I do have to work on. I know it is my choice to help look after my father but it is hard to put those resentful thoughts out of my mind. Maybe meditation would be a good start.

        Again, thank you for your help and I will carefully think about all that you have said.

        • Louise says:

          Hi Anne,

          Just one thing, shared with love and empathy. I cared for my dad for his last two years. He was a very private man and also resisted help. But, I got to the point where I didn’t have a choice – I had to hire outside help or I would not survive. And so I did. And I told him, “Dad, I have hired ___, who will be coming two mornings a week to care for you, take you shopping, and clean for you. I know having strangers around isn’t your thing, but I have no choice, and I know you don’t want me to get sick or lose my job while caring for you. So, dearest Dad, suck it up.” It took him about a week to adjust and then he started loving it. This saint of a woman was with us until the day he died and she was my lifeline. Sometimes we can’t ask for permission.

  6. Donna says:

    That is my life. I am facing a health crisis (scared shitless and alone, living next to my parents who will take care of me).

    I have noticed that on my facebook, I am funny and strong. I have a closet following, people will tell me I inspire and make people laugh. Yet, when I post anything about myself, (rarely) I never get any support. I do have an occasional pity part melt down. I had one last night, as I laid in bed in pain, couldn’t sleep, back was killing me. My ovary has moved over to the other side of my body and they don’t know why. I have had a hysterectomy and my sister has had uterine cancer.

    I am scared.

    My right ovary is on my left side now. I just wanted someone to hold me and tell me it would be ok. I asked for a divorce 4 yrs ago (amicable, we grew apart) and wasn’t it a kick in the pants that he found someone nice and is happy and I am single 4 years later?

    I needed this post today.

    I am battling work issues, life issues, even my own kids cannot relate to me, or even wish me better.

    And I am a nice freaking person!!

    I needed this post today and I am glad you came out of hiding today.

    I have cut friends out for that reason too. It is painful, but you have to realize what you are keeping them around for. It is almost freeing to let them go and at least see them for who they are.

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you, love. Will you please reach out to another commenter on our behalf? This way, we can all take turns giving and receiving!

    • Susan says:

      Donna, I have struggled with a health condition for many years, and I will be the first to tell you that it completely sucks in so many ways. It is a lonely and road to be on. Others have such a hard time understanding what they haven’t been through themselves, and feel powerless to help. Asking for specific help is crucial to survival, but then you sometimes find out who the jerks are.

      I am thankful that you have parents so nearby who are willing to help. Keep reaching out and showing your softer side and people will eventually get a clue and start being more supportive. I am also one who loves to make people laugh, so I often show my strong, funny (in denial) side to the world. It works well as a way to keep people from getting too close.

      I am sure you are a nice person and you deserve to have people who love and support you. ((((hugs))))

    • Colleen says:

      Donna: I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but that shouldn’t matter.

      Here’s a hug or two or three. If I could be near you, I would hold you and let you pour out all of your fears on my shoulder. Isn’t that what friends are for?

      Things are going to be OK, somehow, someway.

      Please let me know if there are other ways I can help.

      • charlotte says:

        Donna,

        I’m sending you ten fierce hugs, three forehead kisses, a healing massage and foot rub, plus my favorite prayer when I’m at the end of my rope and feel all is lost: Do not be afraid for you are deeply loved by God.

    • Theresa Fairbanks says:

      Donna
      I am so sorry for your pain and appreciate your writing. Hugs to you.

  7. Diane says:

    Good Morning Jen- The way you tell your story helps me feel my story…does that make sense? I know I have been let down by “friends” at times…and, I am sure I have let down my friends too. The tricky part for me is understanding what I need and what they are asking me to do. Texting, emailing and even calling eliminates 80% of the clues I need to understand what is going on in someone’s life….body language. I get when someone calls me and is crying, they are sad. When I see them cry…..whole different story for me.
    I have a love/hate relationship with Skype….The love part is I get to see you..or more specifically, I get to see me in you. Of course the hate part is, for business calls I need to brush my hair and probably change out of my PJs…just sayin’….
    Thanks so much for showing up and being “seen” today. You remind me I can have fear/anger/sadness and courage at the same time.

    Sending a wholehearted hug,

    Diane

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you, love. Will you please reach out to another commenter on our behalf? This way, we can all take turns giving and receiving!

  8. Ann Marie says:

    My computer screen pops open to that precious little face on the verge of tears and I feel like I’m looking into a mirror. That’s ME (except I had blonde hair)! That sweet little girl on the verge of tears having been let down AGAIN by the people that are supposed to love me NO MATTER WHAT. That is/was/will always be ME!
    I’m the strong one, too. All my friends think it. All my family thinks it too. Most of my lovers have thought it until they get through my tough crunchy exterior to the soft mushy inside that is my heart. I’d get eaten alive out in the world if I showed my vulnerability as often as I felt it.
    And like you Jennifer, I’m trying to show that side more often because I’ve developed the skills to protect myself when needed. I also know where I’m safe (or at least safer) in showing that side. I often resist mightily showing it. I can be beyond stubborn to avoid spilling my guts and showing how hurt I’ve been.
    I have two good friends (a man and a woman) who know and listen to my deep worries and concerns. And they support me to the best of their abilities. I find that being heard helps me so much. I also have a therapist who helps steer me through the land mines (some that I place myself) as best she can.
    Bravo to you Jen for dumping all your friends. That’s a courageous thing to do. One that I should have done a few times, but never had the guts becuase I’m far to nice for that. I’d like to show my softer side more often. To let the real me come out and know it’s okay and that I’ll be okay. I’ll be working on that one for a while.
    Hope you’re feeling better for having written this post. You are not alone.
    Love,
    Ann Marie

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you, love. Will you please reach out to another commenter on our behalf? This way, we can all take turns giving and receiving!

  9. Debbie says:

    It is hard being the strong one all the time. The one that others always look to or lean on. Especially when you really don’t have someone you can lean on when it is needed. In less than two weeks, I will be starting a period of three months when I will be alone. I plan on using this time to grieve for what was and learn to accept what is. Hopefully, I will come out the other side with less depression and more joy in my life to live with what now is. I pray for your healing and hope you find the support you need.

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you, love. Will you please reach out to another commenter on our behalf? This way, we can all take turns giving and receiving!

  10. Karen Boone says:

    I really appreciate the opportunity to read this today. I have been the “strong” one for so many that I have become crippled. People in my circle fail to realize that I am human just like them. They will rob you of your time, energy and finances and think nothing of it. Helping usually comes with a personal sacrifice or cost. When asked they believe a supreme being will drop whatever I need into existence. I am often left empty.
    I left a job seven years ago because I was worn out from working in a toxic environment. What I thought would be a brief time out has turned out to be a seven year absence from a professional career. In weighing the costs of leaving the job it made more since to leave to gain a new perspective on life. While I was deemed a state and local expert in my field among my peers, I was seen as a traitor or the outsider amongst co-workers.
    I would have never thought that I would get so caught up or trapped in family and friend obligations that it would take away my mental stability and ability to get back on my feet. Today I struggle with next steps. I am financially wiped out and have a chronic health condition. While I should be looking at employment I am really just trying to make through each day. I do have positive things going on.
    I have written a book that is ready to go the publisher. I have an invention that I have been working on. I recently become a licensed minister. I continue to have good standing with and among the professional community.
    But to wrap things up, setting boundaries with those closest continues to be very difficult as it seem that even when being very direct they tend to overstep. You can drop friends but I have not figured out just how to drop your family. Thanks

    • Jennifer says:

      Praying for you. Will you please reach out to another commenter on our behalf? This way, we can all take turns giving and receiving!

    • Karen,

      First, I want to congratulate you on the things you’ve accomplished–your book, invention and becoming a minister–in spite of the toxic people and family around you. You have much to be proud of. It shows your resilience to keep moving forward when mired in what sometimes feels like quicksand. You are so much stronger than you know.

      Second, I’d like to commend you for recognizing that being the strong one is exhausting and can be debilitating. I’ve always been the strong one in my family and professional circles, but I finally began to realize that all that meant that I got to rescue everyone, without being able to count on being rescued. So around age forty-five I declared “It’s my turn.” I put it on a post-it on the dashboard of my car so I was reminded daily. My kids (teenaged at that time) and others asked what it meant. I decided to show them rather than try to explain. I began a tradition of giving myself themed parties, travelling alone if I couldn’t find someone who wanted to go (and pay their own way,) and learning to enjoy my own company.

      Third, I urge you to say “no” to others and “yes” to yourself. That’s what I’ve had to do. I don’t mean I became a contrarian, but I stopped making decisions based on helping others or sparing feelings if it meant doing what I didn’t feel good about. In that process, I shocked my family and coworkers by not doing the expected. Better them shocked than me hurt.

      I learned a lot from my 40-yr old daughter (oldest of four) about setting boundaries when she stepped back to work on her own life, weight, relationships, etc. It all started when she announced she wasn’t going to celebrate her birthday in our usual manner. I’d fly up to her city and we’d go to a play and dinner and spend the weekend together.

      At first I was hurt, shocked, scared that she was suffering from depression, etc. I felt empty and at a loss as to what to do. After all, as the strong one and rescuer I was used to “doing something” to make things better. Most of all I missed our almost daily phone calls and trips together. I wanted to catch a plane and dash up to see if she was in trouble.

      Fortunately I have a few close friends who urged me not to overreact and pulled me back from the ledge. It was a while before I realized that she was being exactly what I wanted her to be: a self-assured, reliable, beautiful woman making her own choices in her own way. Most of all I realized that I was counting on her too much for social interaction and that she must have felt the need for space and air. She didn’t even have a boyfriend at that time. Now she does. She’s at her healthy weight, gluten-free, and went on her first international trip in the fall. She does what she wants in her life not out of obligation or pressure, but to feel empowered and fulfilled. Yippee!

      Fourth, I took myself out of the line of fire by staying away from toxic people and situations, especially family. Example, my siblings always found ways to embarrass me, I think because of my education and choice of lifestyle that they consider hoity-toity. So, I no longer feel obligated to invite them to my events or to attend their social events, especially the travesties they call repasts that take place after funerals. When I attended my brother’s funeral a few years ago, I only went to represent my mother who is deceased, and felt absolutely no requirement to socialize with the relatives afterwards. I went back to my “undisclosed” hotel to enjoy respite and solitude before returning to my home the next day. It might sound harsh but it was necessary for my sanity.

      Fifth, think about what I learned from Byron Katie, author of The Work. She said that when we are stressed or upset it’s because we haven’t accepted that what is, is. I have pondered this one concept over and over as my adult kids and grandkids make their life choices. I could make myself crazy by ruminating about what I could have done differently or wishing things were different. I could also make myself feel guilty for continuing to choose my own positive experiences as I watch them make some “not so positive” activities. But how would that help me or the universe?

      May these thoughts comfort and surround you with courage and the confidence to continue to move forward with your life, always keeping your own best interest uppermost.

  11. Pam says:

    I’d love for you to make this one Tweetable: I try to live with my eyes (and my heart) wide open.

    That’s exactly what I’m attempting to do, and it’s not easy when you’ve sucked it up and pretended everything is peachy your whole life. My new attitude is no games; no lies. I’m dating for the first time in years. Kind of. Visiting. Going out once or twice a week, and when he does something to hurt my feelings, I just say so. He’s still calling twice a day.

    It’s a bit soon after being widowed, but I was in a marriage for year where I tap danced as fast as I could to make sure my husband was happy. I never told him the truth about money. Or how I felt. When things broke down around the house, I called a plumber or electrician. He never saw the strings and lights I operated to make his life run so smoothly. I told myself it was because he had a bad heart, but in reality, he also had a bad temper. I told myself it made my life easier, but in reality it made my life harder. It made my life a lie.

    No more.

    And yes. I get being disappointed. I get walking away from friendships that don’t work. I agree we all need to hang tough and be supportive.

    • Susan says:

      Good for you, Pam, being honest with the man you’re dating about when he has hurt your feelings! And you see, the world hasn’t ended and he still calls. It’s just not worth it trying to make others happy while suffering inside. We need to decide what makes us happy and be happy in ourselves, and honest with others.

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you, love. If you haven’t already done so, would you please reach out to another commenter on our behalf? This way, we can all take turns giving and receiving!

  12. Theresa says:

    Glad you took time to get rid of this today, Jen. Thanks for sharing. You rock! I wish I lived closer to you!! :)

  13. Rose says:

    Again, you’ve taken the hit for all of us.
    Thank you… and I’m sorry.
    You’ve reminded me what it takes to be a friend.
    You’ve reminded me what it takes to be a human being who needs human beings.
    And, selfishly, I’m taking your painful experiences and using them to be a “better” person – one who isn’t afraid to listen to another in her most vulnerable time; and one who isn’t afraid to show her vulnerability.
    So I’m taking, taking, taking and hoping someone else will do the hard work of giving back ’cause a voice in my head tells me I’m not enough…
    But, I won’t listen to that voice anymore.
    You taught me that too.
    I hope you get exactly what you need today.
    Blessings -

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you, love. If you haven’t already done so, would you please reach out to another commenter on our behalf? This way, we can all take turns giving and receiving!

  14. Linda St Myers says:

    Boy are you all hitting the nail on the head…my struggle is my children not calling or coming to see me. My divorce was 10 years ago and this year seemed to be a struggle of the human side of being alone. If it were not my faith getting me through I would have crashed and burned harder. I am not one to reach out to others as you all have said ‘we are the strong ones’ but there are times we need others. I am a Life Purpose Coach but I sometimes wonder who coaches me besides God. I help others in their time of need (that is what God wants me to do) but I have needs to. I want my family to get to know the new me…I am not the same Mom that I was 10 years ago. I know my faith scares them. All I ask is a phone call to let me know they care. I have a 90 year old mother who lives about an hour and half from me but I call her every week just to check to make sure she doesn’t need something. Is a phone call so much to ask for…5 minutes of their time. My one daughters response when I try to talk to her is “you always make it about you”….well there is times it is. They can spend several weekends with my ex at the lake house but I can’t get one day of family time where I live. I don’t have the toys or beach he has. I just want a little of their time. When I ask they are always busy or have an excuse. I did not get phone calls Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years Day either and it hurts…they just don’t understand.
    Good to know I am not alone with these feelings.

    Thank you Jennifer for posting this today…I sure did need to read this. If you go to my wall on facebook there is a picture of me kneeling at the alter and my pastor praying over me. This is exactly what I was praying for Monday Evening.
    In Christ
    Linda

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you, love. You might want to ask yourself is there isn’t a bit more truth in what your daughter says.

      Also, If you haven’t already done so, would you please reach out to another commenter on our behalf? This way, we can all take turns giving and receiving!

    • Pam says:

      Linda, my son has said that I’m not the mom he had growing up. He said, during my fifteen year marriage, that I was the fun mom he remembered. To some extent, that was true. But I was also older. I’d grown as a human being. And he’s not my little boy anymore. If we were the same people we were ten, twenty years ago, it would mean we hadn’t evolved. People can either evolve with us or we move on. It’s life.

      Not easy to do with your children. But we don’t parent grown children the same as we did when they were little. I kind of think that after about age 12 or 13, we’re crowd control. Then after they leave home, it’s about feeling our way and learning to walk a fine line. We’re parents but not actively parenting. Our advice is often spurned, especially in the 20-something years. We’re not friends. We just have to find our roles, and it’s not the same for everyone or even with every child.

      Life’s just tough. I hope you find peace and comfort. Sounds like you have it pretty together, but it’s perfectly okay to ask for help. In fact, it’s a strength.

      Pam

    • Leah says:

      Adult children can be a whole different kind of difficult!

      As an adult child of extremely religious parents, I had to work through how to have a respectful, loving relationship with parents who were set in a belief structure I did not share. We all made compromises (yeah, some topics were off limits) without sacrificing our uniqueness.

      So, when I recently had the opportunity to reconnect with my wayward young adult daughter, I found a licensed, experienced therapist (the kind who believes in talking truth instead of masking with drugs) to help us. We’re still working towards a healthy adult relationship but we enjoy each other’s company and our lives are richer for making the effort.

      Hang in there – sometime it just takes time…

  15. vicki says:

    big hugs for everybody – hope that voicing your situation helps you all find clarity and some peace. and big hugs for you too, jen! thanks for opening this space up for us all. may your weekend bring you strength and courage. vicki :)

  16. Colleen says:

    Thanks Jennifer for this post. I gave up all of my “girlfriends” years ago. I was so tired of always being the one who gave and reached out and gave and did and not one time did anyone ever reciprocate. How can that be friendship? It has been a very solitary and lonely existence, but it’s better than feeling betrayed, disappointed and hurt. I’ve always wanted to have those kind of friends that you go on “girls weekends” with, guess it’s just not meant to be.

    I had to “divorce” my mother last year. It’s totally crazy when your own family betrays/disappoints you. But I am stronger and better without her in my life. I have peace now. Best decision I’ve made for me in 20 years.

    • charlotte says:

      Colleen,

      I hope you come to find peace in solitude. I’m currently on break from my mother and other family drama. It hurts to know I may never see her again and this marks probably the first time in my life, I’ve chosen my well-being over family ties.

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you, love. If you haven’t already done so, would you please reach out to another commenter on our behalf? This way, we can all take turns giving and receiving!

    • Pam says:

      It’s true there are mean girls at every age. I had a high school classmate say something extraordinarily hateful to me just Monday. It stung, but I let it roll off, because nobody kicks a dead dog.

      That said, there are also wonderful women who will have your back no matter what. And it doesn’t take a lot. Just a few really good friends who will be there for you. Losing my husband last June taught me who my friends are. And who isn’t. A lot of it surprised me. But better to know.

      I hope you’ll keep your heart open to supportive, caring women. My girlfriends have gotten me through some of the toughest times of my life.

      xoxoxoxo

  17. Emma says:

    I am let down all the time, and always by the people who should love and care for me no matter what happens and no matter what i do. I am incredibly tough and strong, it comes from a life of having to do so. Recently a devistataing thing happened in my life and the one person who i thought would always be there just turned away and left me to the wolves. That was devistating to me. But what it did do is make me more resilient and strong. But how sad for the other person….

    Today, my shield is up most of the time. Letting it down and trusting is a very difficult thing. Sometimes it happens, but that is not very often.

    Thank you for being the voice of reason for all of us. WE all need someone.

    Emma

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you, love. If you haven’t already done so, would you please reach out to another commenter on our behalf? This way, we can all take turns giving and receiving!

  18. Theresa Fairbanks says:

    Before I start I want to wish everyone a Happy and Blessed Day, full of sunshine and many loving smiles. I hope you can get a hug or some encouraging word here. I sure have! If there is anything I can do for anyone please don’t hesitate to ask!!! Many prayers to all.

    I two have been through this. I have reached out so many times to a long time friend. But only to be told from her “I am not chasing you” now what is that! Unexceptionable comment coming from a “Friend” who says they are a friend. I have been told by many many people that the friendship is not reciprocated, it has not been. I am the one who always calls, emails and txts, also to the point that I will jump in the car at any given time to give her just a hug, because she is having a bad day. So after years and years I have decided to just let it go. Move on to making new friends that actually care about me as much as I care for them. Hurting no more!! Feeling no more exhaustion worrying about weather I make her happy or not! It is what it is! Life is to short to treat someone special in your life as not so special!

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you, love. If you haven’t already done so, would you please reach out to another commenter on our behalf? This way, we can all take turns giving and receiving!

    • Marion says:

      Hi Theresa,
      Thank you for this post. This is what I am feeling at the moment, too, and apart from sending you love and encouragement, there is nothing we can do. People are the way they are, they live their own life with their own wishes and feelings, and we either need to accept that and still be their friends, or we stop it, before it hurts us too much. I am in the process of doing just that, but at the moment, this hurts even more…
      Yes, we are all in this together, somehow, maybe just on different sides…
      Love,
      Marion

  19. Marion says:

    Hi, thank you for this post, even though it hit me in the heart. I have a close friend (do I?) with whom I shared a lot over the last 5 years, and we helped each other when we needed it. We both were in deeeep sh… over the years, and we both helped each other out of it, cried a lot together, had loads of fun together.
    She has family, and I don’t have, as I am an immigrant (10 years yesterday, whoop whoop), so this Christmas she invited me for the first time to celebrate with her family. It was very tense for some reasons, and my friend told me 3 weeks ago that she was very disapointed with Christmas, with all of us, and that she now needs to be herself and concentrate on herself and take care of herself. I do understand all of it, that was what we always agreed on, if you are not happy with yourself and love yourself, you can’t do it for anybody else.
    Why am I then so hurt, disapointed, lonely? Why do I want to ring her, but don’t do it, because I am afraid of rejections? I need to take care of myself, too, I need to concentrate on myself, too and I need to love myself, too. I really enjoy spending time with her, but that’s gone, now… I don’t want to “wait” for her to call, but I can’t get my a… off to find some other “good” friends.
    It’s probably not really what you are all talking about here, but this post gave me the strength to voice my feelings for the first time, as I think I have no one to talk about it, because…. they all think I am the strong one…
    Thanks for reading.
    Much love to you all,
    Marion

  20. Tess says:

    Dearest Jennifer,

    WOW! You just wrote beautifully what I went through at a time when I walked away from so called friends that instead of giving me the help and support I badly needed, simply ignored my plea. I got tired of being strong too… and just like you, I found an amazing strength in my husband whose patience, dedication and hard work inspires me to rise up and be a better person each day.

    I just really want to say THANK YOU!!! For saying out loud what I couldn’t articulate back then (because I was too busy being pissed off and hurt?)

    Thank you for giving it a voice and validation.

    Giving you lots of hugs and love and blessings.

  21. Lyn Preston says:

    Thank you again for being vulnerable and creating this space for like minded women Jen.
    Despite living in Australia, I feel so connected to you, you beautiful soul.

  22. Sue says:

    Jen . . . I tend to miss things, so I don’t know what happened, but I’m so sorry you’re in pain. Do what you have to to take care of yourself, and when you’re ready, come back to us. You’ve got a very large community standing behind you and pullin’ for you.
    Huggies,
    Sue

  23. Marie says:

    Jen: What an insightful blog. For the strong ones that find it so hard to ask for help – the hardest part is actually doing the reaching out with the request. Then to have it ignored/denied hurts to the core. I learned who my true bestest friends were when I needed support/help. The others are gone from my life and I have no regrets about it because I learned we all come into each others life for a reason and then it’s time to move on. Does not mean the pain does not pop up now and then though.

    I wish you well in your taking days of quiet – what a concept. Relax and Renew.

  24. Ellen says:

    This post is so very timely for me, as well. After years of being in a terrible situation with my church, I finally left. I, of course, thought I had several friends there, but only one person has demonstrated true friendship. No one else has returned my efforts to communicate – no calls, no emails, no messages on facebook. Nothing. When hard times come, that’s when you find out who your true friends are. Just so sad that people who proclaim to believe in unconditional love and acceptance prove by their behavior that they don’t really believe at all.

  25. Christa Hyland says:

    Dearest Jennifer,

    Have I told you lately how much I love you and your writing? If not, forgive me, I think about it often. From a strong woman to a strong woman, you rock! Forgive and forget. Or don’t forgive and/or don’t forget. We are all doing the best we can. I appreciate your honest words, which always encourage me and often heal me. Thank you.

    Love you Babe,

    Christa

  26. Patty says:

    To Beautiful Jen and all of the “strong” beautiful women who are now or in the past have experienced the disappointment of not being supported in return for those that they have been there for, have given of their strength and not had it returned in their own hour of need, I’m sending Reiki to fill this space of support that Jen has created with the intention of our highest healing. Although it’s truly painful while we’re in the midst of it all, oftentimes this is the way the Universe clears space around us to allow something better to manifest that will serve our own greater good as well as serving others from our own unique gift in a more powerful way. That being said, we do indeed need to honor and express our own feelings around disappointment when we are let down by others. We matter!!!

  27. Vinnie says:

    Men feel that way too. :-) love your writing, I’m going to dive into more of it.

  28. Denine says:

    I need to read this post, like several times a day. I recently dropped a friendship that shouldn’t have been. I was wooed into being friends again w/this person based on some past fleeting affair – which in an of itself wasn’t any good, but we were kids (20-somethings) and we had some weird “bond” that kept us connected. Long story short, I’ve been putting up with this person’s issues, bs, and empty words for several years. Words aren’t actions and finally, after having been very sick and in the hospital, & then home recovering I never heard from the friend. All I got was an emailed photo of the person w/the new lover – asking me “Hope this will bring a smile to your face”. It didn’t, and I said as much. After a few more months of hoping this person would “get it” I dropped them from my life. I can’t say I feel any relief, if anything, I feel duped and unresolved. Ugh. What do I want and need? Closure. Forgiveness in myself. And relief.

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