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My son is 19 years old. For the last six years, he had

My son is 19 years...
My son is 19 years old. For the last six years, he had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which disabled him so badly that he could not attend regular school and was bedridden most of the time. I was his sole caregiver.
In January of 2012, our doctor told us that this would likely be lifelong. This depressed both of us, so I decided to take a risk and take him on a holiday to Costa Rica. I worried that he would "crash" and become more depressed spending the entire two weeks in a hotel room, but to our surprise, he recuperated!!! He said that he felt normal! So, I took him to Costa Rica, eight months later, for a five month stint, to see if that would knock the illness right out of him (he had regressed back into the CFS immediately upon return to Canada). Well, it worked!! We have been home 3 months and he seems to be cured!!
Those six years of illness were an incredible hardship for both my son and I. We both lost many frienships and many people did not understand what we were enduring and the isolation that it created was severe.
Anyway, when we returned from Costa Rica, we went to visit our best friends. Lori and Murray had been my friends for 31 years. We were aunts and uncles to one another\s children and our wills provided that the children would go to one another upon death. We were like family.
During that visit, an argument occurred between Lori and I. She lamented for a few years now about worry that her eldest son might have a drinking problem; drinking while doing homework; drunk while riding his bicycle around town. His name is***** had told my son that he wanted to take my son out to get him drunk! I told her that I was worried. She lambasted me (it actually felt like bullying), totally disregarding my feelings and views. I told her that I did not want this to happen; that his father had a drinking problem and I did not want my son to follow suit AND he had just recuperated from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I was very concerned that getting drunk could compromise his immune system and send him hurtling back into CFS! She said some very mean things and totally disregarded my views. I ended the friendship.
In ending it, it was agreed that I could still have contact with her husband (also my good friend) and her sons, and that they could still see my son. Well, I have phoned the boys and they have not returned my call and I emailed my friend;s husband and he has not responded either.
I could use some words of wisdom here. I am feeling very hurt, betrayed, confused, etc.
Jan
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Answered in 18 minutes by:
6/29/2013
Dr. A. Rene
Dr. A. Rene, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 16
Experience: 10 years of clinical experience with expertise in trauma related disorders.
Verified

Jan,

It really sounds like you are in a tough spot with your friend, especially given the struggle you have had with your son's physical ailments in the past 6 years. It is very normal for parents to get very protective when it comes to their own children, and it can be hard to sit with difficult feedback from others, even if it is coming from a place of love and concern. It sounds like your friend may be struggling to accept the extent of her son's condition and is likely triggered by additional evidence that his behavior may beyond the scope of her control.

I imagine that with time and space, your friend and her family may be able to understand that your feedback about her son's choices came from a loving place. In the meantime, it may be important for you to refocus the energy you are investing in trying to understand what happened in this friendship into continuing to show up for you and your son.

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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

I don't understand your last paragraph. Could you explain more?

Also, my son was not ill for 1 1/2 years.....it was six years. During that time, my friend, Lori, would not return my phone calls for months at a time and we had a disagreement about that as well. I had been feeling very depressed and felt like I just wanted to die. I phoned her and asked if she could come and stay with me for a weekend (they live 3 hours away). She offered to look after my son while I did something for myself. When I told her that it was her I wanted and needed, she backed out. I am feeling very hurt.

I am feeling very abandoned. I don't feel that they would ever resume the friendship. Lori can dish out the criticism, it seems, to others, but cannot be confronted.

Jan,

I apologize about the time mix up... 6 years is a long time!

It sounds like your intuition is correct about your friend. She does not seem to be in a place to truly "show up" in a friendship in the way that you would like her too. It sounds like you were wise to end the friendship at this time, and you may be correct that she and her family may not resume the friendship. The question I would pose back to you is, why would you want to pursue a friendship with someone who has not been able to show up for you when you needed her most?

When I said to consider refocusing the energy you are investing in trying to understand what happened in this friendship into continuing to show up for you and your son... I meant that it would seem like self-abandonment to invest so much emotional energy into trying to understand the painful actions of someone who has not been supportive to you.... And it would likely be more self-loving to invest your energy into taking care of yourself and your son by minimizing your exposure to individuals who do not support you in surrounding you and your family with positive habits, energy, and healthy-choices.

I hope this makes sense and supports you in your efforts to find health and happiness in your life.
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Jan - I also wanted to share a link with you that I hope you will find useful. I am not sure if you are familiar with the work of Dr. Brene Brown, and I thought you may find this particular video enlightening when considering your struggles with your friend.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/brene-brown-advice-vulnerability_n_3392414.html

Sincerely,

Dr. Adena
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Thank you so much for your responses. I really appreciate the feedback.

Unfortunately, I guess this has been an enormous life lesson in friendships--choices of friends and possible ensuing letdowns in life.

Of course, you don't know everything about me or the friends I mentioned or the dynamics, but I suppose that I provided enough information for you to respond with helpful advice. These relationships always have a lot of dynamics that cannot possibly be described in short paragraphs.

I know from this that I need to look at empowering myself more, of feeling more self-love and confidence, and of seeing myself as an important person worthy of reciprocal loyalty and care within a friendship.

I was somewhat aware during the course of the argument, that I was touching upon a sensitive issue regarding my friends' son's drinking habits. I think what I come out of this realizing is that I have more courage than my friend, to look at what is real; and to be able to work on my own issues and my son's and my situation with my own power, abilities, and my own values and judgement intact. It does boil down to a mother's protectiveness--and I was aware that two mother grizzlies had met full on to protect their offspring. The difference between the two of us was that I was protecting my son's health and mental health, and she was protecting her own worries about where her son was having problems. Does that make sense?

Thanks again.

Jan

Jan - I am glad you found my responses helpful. It sounds like you have done a lot of work on yourself and are very self-aware. What you said made complete sense to me and in this life, self-love, self-confidence, and self-trust are the key to reciprocal friendships.

As you are my very first customer on this site, I would appreciate if you would take the time to rate me so that I can continue to support others like you.

Best wishes in your self-empowerment quest :)

Sincerely,
Dr. Adena V
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Thank you! Do you have any parting advice on developing my own self APPRECIATION or self-empowerment? Any books or any advice from your own soul?

It would be greatly appreciated.

Jan

ps Only one further question ( I swear). Was the video you sent re: Oprah's interview about shame and divulging who one is.....was that meant for me to determine who is a good friend who I can count on in rough times or was it meant for me to think about my friend who is perhaps feeling shame about her son's drinking? Or both?

thanks again

Jan

Jan -
I definitely have some books to recommend...
1) The Untethered Soul - Michael Singer
2) Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection - Brene Brown
3) When Things Fall Apart and The Places That Scare You - Pema Chodron

Also, developing a trusting relationship with your own professional counselor/therapist can be very beneficial in exploring your own patterns in relationships with others.

And to answer your last question, I sent the video as a support to you in determining who is a good friend and worthy of your time and energy :) Your time and energy is precious and it is important to determine who has earned the right to hear and be a part of your story!

Sincerely,

Dr Adena V
Dr. A. Rene
Dr. A. Rene, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 16
Experience: 10 years of clinical experience with expertise in trauma related disorders.
Verified
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Thanks so much!!

This has really hurt, but I also see it as an opportunity for growth. I appreciate all the suggestions and will look into your recommended readings.

Jan

Hi Jan,
I'm just following up with you to see how everything is going. Have you been able to check out any of the books I recommended? Hope you are doing okay and that the pain gets less with each passing day.
Sincerely,
Dr. Adena
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