It’s one of those rare Sunday’s, I am typing in peace, no snoring from the settee as Adam has actually decided to sleep in our bed. I really shouldn’t mock it has been several years since he chose to start sleeping on the settee just so I could get the undisturbed sleep that is essential. At first, he would sleep here until I appeared and then head off to the bedroom, but slowly that stopped, he just started to stay there snoring. Although we have never spoken about it, I am reasonably sure he lies there snoring as he is scared that something will happen if he isn’t here just in case. When we were all here talking the other day, Adam said something that surprised me, he said he had realised that outside of my children, he is the person who has been the longest constant in my life. It wasn’t something I had ever really thought about, but I ran it through my mind and agreed, no one has been with me for so long, we have been together now for 16 years, not even my family managed that. I have spent more years apart, starting when I was just 13 for me to even count them in the equation, clearly, Adam hadn’t either. My first marriage only lasted ten and half years and even what had been my closest friend, Tracy vanished the day after Adam and my wedding, only to reappear and then treat me like her plaything, happy to have around when she wanted and to ignore when something better was on offer. It was just a couple of years ago, but I was past the point of being treated like that and cut the ties voluntarily, so at first I agreed, yes Adam is the longest lasted constant, then someone mentioned Jake and I realised we were both wrong, Jake and I have been friends for 5 years longer and I am sure we always will be. I had never looked at my life that way, or even thought about how the majority of my friends had been just a fleeting moment, before life moved me on and they failed to come with me. It hasn’t been through lack of trying to bring them with me, it was far more a case that unless you mix in the same circles, those circles shatter and before you know it, you are on your own with new people called friends until they vanish as well.
One of the things that seems to be a universal cry from people who become either disabled or housebound is that their friends disappear, something I totally agreed with, but that conversation got me thinking, that maybe we have been too hard on them, that there is probably much more behind it other than our health. Strangely those who have been left to get on with their health always seem to make excuses for those who have vanished on the, saying things like they couldn’t cope with what they were seeing, or that because of the amount they now sleep, it is hard for others to find time to see them, after all, they still have to work and have a family. I don’t believe any of that any longer, I think there is more to it, what the majority of people miss as they grow up, work, marry and remain in the same area, so their friends remain constant as they are constantly around them, meeting up in the streets, the pubs and shops all the time, their expectation of friendship is life long, my life has been very different and yes this is one of my theories, so bare with me.
From birth to age 13 my life was constant, brought up with what I thought was a close family, educated in just one constant private school with the children of the people my parents knew socially. Everything was one big layered cake, my future being already there in place, just needing its icing of marriage with another layer and cake growing from there, but all within a set select group. When everything exploded and I landed up outside the family, every crumb of that cake vanished, I was totally on my own, living with strangers and attending a new school with new friends from places in the city I grew up in, that I didn’t even know. The posh background wanted nothing to do with me, I didn’t have the money, the right clothing or the social standing required. So I held tight to the new cake, well enough that when my home changed again, I was still safe, still accepted and still part of it all. It held me steady until I was 16 when I met and married a Royal Navy sailor, instantly I was at the other end of the country, new cake, new friends, new layers, but with no money for a phone and writing the odd letter meant that I lost everything from my home city, other than my Mother who wrote occasionally. 18 months later he became an officer and we moved back to Scotland, yet again everything was new, Navy life was going to always be a case of friends while we lived amongst each other, but once moved again the friendship ends. Every posting was a case of slotting your layer into the cake that existed in each new estate you moved onto and we moved twice more before our marriage ended. Now I struggle to name more than one or two of the people I called friends through those years, but that was normal.
So here is my conclusion, based on what I have learned from my life. Become housebound or even just ill, moves you out of your layer cake, you are no longer mixing with the other layers, you don’t see them daily at the shops, the office and as happens when you move a long distance, if you aren’t seen, you are soon forgotten, your layer is replaced by someone new. It’s not done out of nastiness or because they can’t cope with seeing what is happening to you, it happens because you aren’t there with them, the space you left has been filled by someone new and unless someone is retelling a story, even your name isn’t mentioned. Society runs on those who are there, those who can be seen and counted, if it is too difficult to make contact, as in we have to make an effort to do it, we don’t, we put it off to another time, another time that never comes. On the odd occasion that one of them appears out of the blue, there is a second situation that appears, despite not speaking for a year, you have nothing to say to each other, you aren’t in the know and nothing much happens when you are constantly at home. Long silences are one of the quickest ways to put people off making contact, they don’t know what to say, or what to talk about and neither do you, so easier not to make contact at all. We have all seen the lonely looking people, those who have been displaced by finance, health or whatever, but if you could find the last place that their layer fitted into, I bet you anything, those that once slotted around their’s would be horrified for 10 minutes, making a promise to contact them, but they never would. It is just the way humans are, no malice or hatred, just a case of moving on, out of sight, out of mind is the truest saying there is.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 10/08/12 – Life energy gonegone
I am struggling again, the past few days have just wiped me out and have supplied again the proof that I just can’t manage outside my routines. It isn’t that major things have landed on me or that I have been trying to push myself, it is just a chain of small things which have happened. with the result……
Once again you have hit the nail on the head. I have recently bumped into people I worked with, on separate occasions. We didn’t have anything to say and we didn’t suggest meeting up again. I would have been reluctant to do so because there has been too much water under the bridge in the meantime.
I think this must be a common situation for those of us living with a chronic illness(es). Some of my friends disappeared, others I had to leave in the past because they added stress to my life. I know it’s hard for the remaining friends to see me in pain or hear the pain in my voice when we’re on the phone. It’s also very hard for me to see them living the life I planned to have, the type of life I worked very hard to achieve. I’m happy for them; they deserve all the happiness in the world. I try not to have regrets (like staying too long in relationships that were going no where) because maybe I would’ve wound up with other challenges instead.