I hope I make a pretty good friend and neighbour. Because I’ve gone through so much, and can easily put myself in other people’s shoes, I’ll offer a helping hand to someone in need if it’s at all humanly possible. I have often felt entirely alone in my struggles right from childhood and would have given my left arm for someone to help me. I know intimately what it feels like to have no-one to turn to and to think that no-one cares, consequently I’ll drop everything and go to someone in need. Even people I don’t like or who have shown me a complete lack of empathy in the past (I do draw the line at people who have hurt me in the past though – they can go swivel). On the whole, though, I treat others the way I’d like to be treated.
Because I expect so much of myself, however, I have high expectations of other people. And it’s caused me no end of disappointment. The majority of folk, in my experience, are shit at stepping up to the plate and their self-interest comes first, second and third.
My neighbours are, on the whole, lovely people and I get on well with them. When my Mum was in hospital the other week they said “we’re here if you need us, just ask”. So I took them at their word and asked if they’d look after my dog one day while I visited her. “Of course we will, just bring him round” they replied, which was such a relief because at the time my Mum was desperately ill and knowing Bertie was being well looked after was a huge weight off my mind. A week later my Mum was still in Hospital so I asked my neighbours if they’d have Bert again, just for the afternoon so that I could visit her. “I’m really sorry Jak, but it’s a nice day so we’re going for a drive up the lakes” came the reply. They are pensioners, who could go for a drive up the lakes any day of the sodding week, month or year. They could even have taken Bertie with them – he loves to be in the car and they could have stopped off for a nice walk with him. But no. My Mum was seriously ill in hospital, I was having the worst few weeks of my entire year, but their need for a jaunt came first.
I’ve lost count of the times in my life that people have offered help then backtracked. I remember having a relapse a couple of years ago and was really struggling to take Bertie out for his afternoon walk. Another neighbour rang and said “don’t worry about Bert, I’ll take him out for his afternoon walks this week” which was fabulous. Only she wanted to go at 5pm, when she knew fine well that Bertie goes for his walk at 2.30pm. This is so that he’s home, sorted out and fed by 4pm which is when I go to bed for my afternoon rest, every day being carefully managed around my energy limits and doubly so during a relapse. 5pm is my very worst part of the day, not to mention the fact that Bert would be totally desperate for a poop by then and it would be well past his dinner time. If that were me, and I were offering to do a really sick friend a favour I’d just say “what do you need?” then do it. I wouldn’t look at my schedule and wonder how I could fit their crisis in without it affecting my day in any way. Help, it seems, is conditional on your dire need not interfering with someone else’s leisure time.
Every now and again, though, someone surprises me and while my Mum was in hospital one person was really there for me. The lady I pay to walk Bertie in a morning said that she would have him any time, and she meant it. Despite having 3 jobs and 2 kids she had him for four whole days for me and didn’t bat an eyelid. I’m quite tearful at how much she helped me out, even though I’m sure it made her already hectic life harder.
It’s been said to me, many times, that I need to lower my expectations of other people but I’ve no intention of being a shit friend and neighbour just so that other people can feel less guilty about their own selfish behaviour. I don’t need to lower my standards, other people need to raise theirs.