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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Asking for Help

Six years ago, while I was pregnant with my third daughter, I was the bridesmaid in my friend C's wedding. We weave in and out of the other's life. Our similarities have managed to hold us together — we worked together for about a year and a half, our oldest daughters are the same age and our younger daughter's share the same name (She claims I stole her idea for that name. Whatever.).

Today, she told me she's getting a divorce. She and I haven't talked in months. She moved further away about three years ago and we sort of fell out of our friend rythym. We didn't see each other at our kids' school or run into each other at the grocery store any more.  I had no idea what she had been going through in her marriage for the last year and a half. After talking for nearly an hour, I felt guilty and sad. Regret over how I could have been there for her washed over me.

She had pneumonia last December — I had no idea. When she was hurting over her husband's insensitivity,  I wasn't there. She said she put on a brave face and didn't tell anyone about what she was going through until just recently. I've done the same thing.

Why do we resist asking for help or reaching out for someone to talk to when we're going through pain? Do we think we're better off not sharing with our friends when emotions are too raw? Are we afraid we'll be embarrassed about falling apart in front of others after the fact?

Do I recommit to the friendship and call her like crazy? Do I let her go her own way and call me if she needs me? I feel as though too much contact would just drain me, but not enough will make me feel guilty. Plus, I don't know if she knows what she needs when she's never been through this before. What's the answer?

4 comments:

  1. Pam--This is such a familiar phenomenon to me. Most of my friends drift in and out of my life, and when we reconnect, I often wonder why I stayed away so long. I wonder what the balance is in long term friendships. Email and Facebook are great in many ways. We can connect regularly with many people. However, such conveniences can also be the perfect tool for keeping people at a distance and never truly connecting. I think what you're experiencing is common among women our age. I think it's also exacerbated when we find out a friend who has been "under our radar" has been in crisis. I also know when I'm struggling with something, ironically, my first instinct is to retreat. I need to get some clarity on my situation before I can share with another. Then, when I finally do, I get even more clarity. The bottom line is that we are creatures meant to connect with others. Yet, I, for one, tend to avoid connection when I need it most. Hmm. Not sure if this helps, but it sure makes me think. Thanks for sharing this story :0)

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  2. On this topic, there's a terrific book titled The Price of Privilege. In it, the author writes (paraphrasing), that the one thing that bright, accomplished women are most loathe to be/do is to appear vulnerable or needy. Ironically, however, when we do so, oxytocin is released -- which actually helps us feel better.

    Whitney

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  3. I agree that sometimes when we need help the most, we are the least likely to reach out and get it. So truthfully, you don't need to feel bad that you didn't know about the unraveling of her life. Even if you were still close, it's quite possible that she wouldn't have let you know what was going on until it all really came tumbling down. I don't think you need to put forth a lot of extra effort to rekindle your friendship. Just some little small token like a hand-written note to let her know that you care and are available if she needs your help would probably be best. It certainly is a great reminder that relationships are important and we should put forth the effort to maintain them.

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  4. Pam --

    You can do it!

    Let's see another blog posting!

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