I always hesitate about writing really personal posts online. It’s difficult to admit your weaknesses and vulnerabilities and I don’t want to be seen as whining or depressed because I’m neither. However, I always wanted this blog to be an honest account of my life and unless someone speaks about personal issues we’re all going to go through life thinking we’re the only ones to think and feel the way we do.
My life is extremely isolated. Neither my close, nor my extended family, have had much to do with me my whole life (none of my 3 brothers lived with us while growing up so I always felt like an only child), and this got even worse when I became sick. My Mum has been my best friend my whole life and there is very little I couldn’t discuss with her. Even at the age of 46 I speak to her every morning, visit her 5 times a week, and sometimes ring her in between. If I’m watching something good on the TV I ring and discuss it with her. If I buy something nice she’s the first person I tell. If something bad happens, she’s the person I discuss it with. She is, and always has been, my rock. And I’m very conscious of the fact that in the next couple of years, possibly sooner, she will no longer be here. The thought gives me an actual panic attack and I worry for my mental and emotional health when she’s no longer around and I am absolutely alone.
I only have two close friends. I rarely get to see my best friend as she lives hundreds of miles away so we speak on the phone for about 1 hour a week (although I haven’t currently spoken to her for nearly 3 weeks as she’s so busy). And whilst I’m eternally grateful she stood by me for all the years I was bedridden (she was the only one that did) I’m not sure I can feel grateful for the rest of my life. In fact I feel resentful that she can’t even manage an hour a week for me. Not that I’d ever say anything. When you love and care about someone you actively want to spend time with them. You want to share in each others lives. You don’t have to be reminded to ring them, or to slot them in to your busy schedule. You can’t force people to want to speak to you and I’m not about to try. Oprah and Gail speak every single morning, and every single evening before bed. Oprah is married and is one of the busiest women on the planet, yet Gail is just an integral part of her life and to not speak to her every day would be unthinkable. I don’t buy the “I’m busy” excuse for even a fraction of a second.
I see my other friend about once a month and might get the odd email in between meetings, and while I really do love spending time with my friend the level of contact is never going to be enough to fill the gap which is going to be left by my Mum. Got to be honest, I’ve had times where I’ve felt hurt that my friends don’t care just a teensy bit more about what’s going on in my life but then they’re both married and if you’ve never lived alone you can’t possibly have any concept of what it’s like to be this isolated. Plus I appreciate I am not their responsibility and they both have enough on their plates than to worry about me.
I’ve been virtually housebound for 20 years. Not only that, I live in a very rural area which is sparsely populated. I don’t go anywhere to meet new people or make new friends. And even if I did, it’s incredibly hard to meet people you really click with and who share your interests, values and sense of humour. No-one can ever replace my Mum, but I wish I knew how to cultivate a close friendship that will at least partially fill the gap when Mum is no longer here. I have no clue how to go about it, which sounds sad and desperate even to me! Healthy people often don’t understand that I can’t do things or go places with them, which sometimes comes across as me being stand-offish as I decline every invitation which is made to me. I think they also worry that, because I’m ill and single, I’ll be clingy and needy. Sick people tend to often just want an email friendship which they can pick up or put down when they’re not well, which I totally understand but then the friendship becomes about them and their needs all the time and not about me and my needs. And to be honest I’m fed up to the back teeth of fitting around everyone else’s schedules and catering to everyone else’s needs, while mine are endlessly ignored.
I don’t even begin to have an answer to my situation. Good friendships take years to build, and as my time with my Mum is limited I know it’s an urgent problem which needs to be addressed. If only I knew how.