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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Empathy can be painful

One of the things I value most in the world is the ability to be a good friend. I try very hard, within my limited set of resources, to be the best friend I can be. I do what I can, I try desperately hard to be supportive even when I'm frustrated as hell, and I work at it because I'm very introverted and, much of the time, would rather be off in some mountain cave than deal with anyone else. But I try hard because it is what I value so highly.

Women are often crappy friends. A lot of the time, women are set up to learn to be bad friends. We're taught to value looks over substance. We're taught that men are so integral to our value that we need to have one, even if it adversely affects our friendships. We're taught that friends can be disposable and striving for a friend higher up on the social ladder is acceptable behavior.

I hate that.

I've had friends in the distant past that have treated me like shit when they find a boyfriend. I've had friends that kept me as a friend because it made them seem prettier. I've had friends that were so shallow that the world revolved around them in planet Self Absorbtion.

I've also had great friends, friends that have stuck by me through thick and thin. Friendships that I value very highly despite differences that other people could not overlook. I do so because I believe in friendship. But I also know that friendship comes with pain as well as joy.

I have a friend with a tough life. Not that mine is an easy life, because it isn't. But my friend really has it hard. We often laugh about how we're both headed down the path to complete destruction because we have the worst freaking luck on the planet. If it's not one thing, it's another. We both have serious health issues. We both have a son with serious issues. We both have a daughter with attitude problems. We cling to each other sometimes, because we know we're always there for each other. Some days my life is shit, other days her life is worse. Sometimes we laugh about it because it's pretty funny living these cursed lives. Thankfully, we both have senses of humor.

But I worry for her. I fear for the future. I feel her pain acutely. I know that VERY BAD is coming. She know it too. It's inevitable, it's just what it is. Her future is going to change forever. She's going to have to deal with stuff she's never dealt with, she's going to have to step up to the plate day after day after day. Like I do. As the days pass, and her spouse gets sicker and sicker, it is almost unbearable to watch her persevere, to go on with her job, her life, her kids, her pastimes, knowing that she's soon going to be planning a funeral. Most days, I'm able to accept what is happening and be supportive. Some days my heart almost breaks for her because I'm just so sad that she has to suffer like this. And she feels the same for me. She writes on her blog about how my suffering is hard for her to bear. It seems wrong that two women who fell into a friendship should both have such crap in their lives. It seems unfair. It IS unfair. But we manage to live our separate hellish lives day after day after day.

I used to have a lot of women friends. I don't anymore. I have a few good friends, and I'm grateful for them. Many people drifted out of my life after we moved to CA. When we came back, I was so shellshocked by my declining health and my faltering finances that I didn't reach out like I should have. I just hid, which is my natural instinct. Now, at my age, making new friends is almost impossible. I don't even know where to begin to find new people in my life. I'm also not sure I can take on anyone else's problems anymore. I'm so overwhelmed with my own problems and my friend's problems that more would sink me.

But I'm lonely these days. I didn't even realize it until my car died and I got really stuck in the house. Because we live on such a huge freaking hill, I can't really walk anywhere. I can get down the hill just fine, but getting back up... nope. It's too steep and my heart couldn't take it, I don't think. I've tried a couple of times, and I've gotten about half way up before I feel like I'm going to collapse from a lack of breath.

So I sit at home, day after day after day and I'm sad and alone. I hate to feel like this. I believe in friendship. I know I'll find new friends. I've never had problems making friends. I just need to get out there so I can. Once I get a new car, hopefully next week, I can resolve this issue. I'm waiting for an opening for a parents group for kids with mental illness. Right up my alley. I'm going to do some more volunteer work once I have transportation. But today, I'm feeling sorry for myself, worrying about my kids, my friend, myself. I worry, and it hurts.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Robin said...

I wish I were close enough to come over and take you out for an afternoon sometimes.

You've probably already looked into this, but is there any kind of municipal transportation service for the handicapped in your area? With your medical issues I'm sure you'd meet whatever criteria.

25/10/07 11:48 AM  
Anonymous bethany actually said...

Life does suck sometimes, and friends really make it bearable. I hope you are able to get out soon. Take care, and know that you have people out here thinking of you and praying for you.

25/10/07 12:03 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

Robin, Boston does have handicapped transportation, called The Ride. I do qualify for it, and use it often. BUT... it costs $$, and it's horribly unreliable. Plus, every trip has to be booked before 4 pm the day before. No emergency, no spontaneous trips at all. Ever.

By unreliable, I mean that they schedule your trip for you. So if you have a doctor's appt at 10 am, they could pick you up as early as 8 am, and then retrieve you at 4 pm. You get to wait in the hospital lobby for hours and hours until they come for you. Plus, even better, every trip has to be at least an hour long, so if you just need to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy, it could take you 4 or 5 hours to do so.

And then there's the mix-ups where they forget to pick you up and you're stuck in some God-forsaken place with no way to get home.

So although I do use it in certain situations, it isn't convenient and I loathe having to rely on it.

25/10/07 12:41 PM  
Anonymous Rhea said...

My friends are often my lifeline, so I feel for you. But volunteer work, whether it be in a shelter or a political campaign or reading to kids, will help you meet new folks, for sure!

25/10/07 3:03 PM  
Blogger Major Bedhead said...

That parents group sounds like a good thing.

I often find myself getting lonely, too, but the internet, I swear, has been a total lifesaver for me. I can talk to people and not leave the house. Heck, I don't even have to get dressed if I don't want to.

I think you're perfectly entitled to feel sorry for yourself once in a while. You don't strike me as the "Woe is me" type on an every day basis, but the occasional wallow is completely justified. You have a shitload going on - sometimes I read your blog and wonder how you are able to handle all the stuff you have going on. You may have a screwy physical heart, but man, you have an impressive emotional one.

25/10/07 7:12 PM  
Blogger madamspud169 said...

Being stuck indoors day in, day out makes everything seem worse because the whole social thing & even just seeing new sights has gone.
I've been stuck indoors 24/7, 6 days a week for 2 years now & it can be totally soul destroying but it's only temporary you'll soon have your car & hopefully that will make things easier.

26/10/07 4:58 AM  
Blogger Daisy said...

I hear you. Worry can take over sometimes. I find it easy to hide, too. I do that each time I get a new job: hide, observe, wait until I feel safe before I start reaching out.

26/10/07 10:28 AM  
Blogger scribbler said...

Do you know what you are going to do about your car? I hope it can be fixed.

I know what it's like to be lonely--I have a child who is disabled, and I swear it is like a 17th century shunning, no one will have anything to do with us because of her.

26/10/07 6:31 PM  

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