Playing the Friendship Guilt Card

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by geekparent, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. geekparent

    geekparent New Member

    I'm not sure how to feel about the telephone conversation I just had.

    First a little background: a very good friend of mine, J, is in the hospital, and it's pretty serious. She's on the mend, but once she gets released her recuperation is going to take months upon months. J is a wonderful friend and I love her like a sister, and I'll gladly do what I can to help. J is married to B and they have a daughter, C who is the same age as my difficult child. Both children grew up together.

    I'm here on this forum which means that my difficult child has Issues, right? Managing those issues is often trial and error and a long road with one step forward and two steps back. Many days I end up wanting to bang my head against a wall. Many days I do bang my head against the wall.

    Today, J's sister calls me to tell me that when J comes home, she and B and are going to need a lot of help because J will be pretty much on bed/chair/couch rest. She tells me that my husband and I have to be proactive and step up to the plate and help out because we're such good friends. And she points out how two others in our group of friends have already been helping out but that J and B shouldn't have to rely on just two people.

    Don't get me wrong, I love J and B. They are like family to me, but am I wrong to be a little put off by J's sister's request? I haven't been around, not because I didn't want to be, but a) because until today I didn't know how bad of shape J has actually been in and b) difficult child has been on the down hill of that roller coaster ride that is having a child with a conduct disorder. I don't have the options that our other two friends have of simply popping over to make dinner or pick up groceries or do cleaning; I have doctor's appointments and counseling appointments and extra curriculars (for socialization) that difficult child needs to attend. I have a schedule that has to be held up for the sake of difficult child and veering too far off schedule or overstimulating her leads to very bad things.

    I was pretty much speechless and didn't give much in the way of a response, but how should I handle this? I'm not a selfish brat, and I do want to help out my friends, but not at the expense of my difficult child, my family or my sanity.

  2. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Tell her (if she calls again) that you'll talk to B about ways you can help (i.e. within the limits of difficult child's tolerance/schedule/etc, as they're your friends I'm sure they know the deal, you don't have to explain it to J's sister). Could be something as simple as letting C spend more time with difficult child, picking up some of their groceries while you're out getting your own, etc. Chances are B knows better how you can help than J's sister does.
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Wow. That was more than a bit bold of the sister. And more than a bit rude as well. I was put off instantly, and I'm not even involved. ugh

    My response would have been Where is the family and what are they doing to help? Because seriously? While friends often do help some in such situations when and where they are is your friends family that need to be stepping up to the plate.

    Why is this sister deciding that it is up to friends to help? That is actually sort of odd.........or is it just me? And believe me, I'm one of the most helpful people I know.......almost to a fault. When bff had MRSA and an enormous gaping unhealing infected wound in her abdomen with 2 young children to care for I was there every day to help out and to change her dressings and the like. No one in her family would have dared to say such a thing to her friends. I did it because I lived across the street, I had the spare time, and I had the training to do the dressing changes properly. No one asked me to do anything.

    Honestly, I would do what you'd normally would have done if this sister had not confronted you. YOUR family and priorities come first, then if you have some spare time and you want to help out......great, wonderful. That's how it works.

    Wow. I know you're really close to your friend and the family. But man that took some nerve on sis's part.

  4. geekparent

    geekparent New Member

    I should have mentioned in my first post that it's just J and her sister. Their parents are dead and sis and the rest of the family (distant cousins and the like) all live on the West Coast. Sis flew out for a few days (i didnt even know she was here) and went back last night.

    The same with B. Parents deceased, his only sister lives south of here.

    Guess leaving out those details is what I get for writing while livid.

    Glad to know that I'm not wrong to be offended by the assumption that I didnt care (at least that's what I came away with). Also when sis asked B if he'd heard from me or husband, he said that he hadnt since the weekend. I think sis was waiting for an explanation but I passively-aggressively refused to offer one. however, I think I will let B know that it was a rough week for difficult child. (Usually I call J and/or B and talk to them when we have bad days or weeks, but I didnt this time because of J's situation)
  5. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    It was bold, but when she said she didn't know it was as serious as it is, I figured the sis called just to be sure that she knew and also because it is, after all, her sister, and she'd like to be sure her sister would be cared for without running everyone around her into the ground. If that made any sense at all.
  6. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I'd be put off, too, but J's sister is probably consumed with worry and wanting to make sure her sister is cared for. Although, I would think she would try to make arrangements to be there more, but without knowing her situation, I can't speculate on that.

    I do think it was bold and out of line. But, I would take sister's fears/worries into consideration as well.
  7. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Well, with no family in the area I can see her concern........still in my opinion is a tad harsh to expect friends to just step in and take care of her. It sounded as if it was expected of you, not asked.......and there is a huge difference.

    It might help ease sis's fears if someone could look into seeing if perhaps a visiting nurse might not be paid for by insurance, someone who is paid/trained and would have a set schedule the rest of you helping out could work around.

    Since your schedule with difficult child is tough, you might want to make it clear to everyone that while you will help it has to be as your schedule allows.

  8. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I would assume that her call was generated by her fears for the future. The wording sounded wrong, of course, but since she and her sister are all alone she may be in panic mode knowing that she can't handle all the responsibility. I'd give her the benefit of a doubt.

    in my humble opinion it makes sense to call or meet with her and ask specifically what the care schedule will be. Then make a commitment that you feel certain you can matter how small. Picking up medications? Bringing meals on specific days? Whatever you can do with-o stressing out your family. I imagine that the sister is hoping for a huge amount of help but that is not reasonable. Knowing that one or two chores are being taken care of will allow her to make plans for the remainder.
    I'm sorry your friend is ill and know that you can be relied upon to ease a burden or two. Good luck. DDD
  9. Star*

    Star* call 911

    I think these are things that I'm usually not the most tactful with in our board family and lack social ambiguity - but in that pussyfooting stance that I lack and used to have (before therapy) and I can also be tactful I just like to really be sarcasticly funny - I know that I won't allow myself or my family to be a door mat of YES people and then sit at home and stew. I won't. I did for years until I couldn't deal with it, or it boiled over into a full blow explosion where I blew and then I looked like an (for lack of better descriptive word) - idiot - raving, ranting and then feelings did get hurt and you come off looking like the bad guy because, well after all; you NEVER DID say you WOULD NOT.

    So anymore at 46 no matter who it is (except maybe my Mom) I take a very direct approach and I'm not afraid to say exactly what I think. I've found in the last couple of years also that while in the back of my mind I may cringe when I say what I really feel - people respect me for it AND I'm not the one sitting up at night wondering why I didn't buy more alka-seltzer or wasting MY time complaining on the phone to someone about MY poor choices. My Mom is actually the absolute BEST at putting my choices RIGHT in front of my face when I don't face things I did. VERY ANNOYING and for the longest time - not helpful. NOW? Not annoying because I don't do things that put myself in those situations and I see that she was right -

    So what MY thoughts would be -are very similar to D3's advice. Do I think that this woman is scared or whatever? Well - yeah, but to start barking orders now? I dont' know if she's jockying for a position as lead boss so that there IS no question that SHE won't have HER schedule infringed upon or if she's just worried about her sister. I don't know her so can't make a judgement, but reminding her of her tone isn't going to help at this point. Setting her straight on YOUR schedule and what YOU are able to do once you ask her what her needs are WILL certainly SET YOURS and allow her to still be the boss, just with reliable workers. Also I would ask her to have a plan B in mind - as in - "NOW that that is set - IN CASE something happens on the days I have to do XX and XX for your sister - WHO can we get to do my chores? She's probably not thinking of a back up plan......Suggesting THAT? Can saves YEARS of heartache....everyone needs a backup buddy they can call in a pinch. THOSE favors CAN be counted and should be - You do this for me - I'll do that for you - You can even suggest some kind of token system on that count to keep the score open and even. Sounds petty - but believe me - you go past your own chores on a situation like this and people WILL get ugly no matter how much you love someone. Especially women. Guaranteed. maybe also suggest a meeting once a month with everyone - a pot luck dinner at their house to talk about how it's going and air grievances - ??? Amnesty day so to speak.

    I dunno. Just thinking out loud.
  10. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    I also find the sister's phone call offensive and out of line. No matter where they live, family should be rallying to help J and her husband - whether that is in the form of flying out to spend more
    time (FMLA?) with J, or arranging for private duty nurses, the first responsibility lies with family. Then, when they've exhausted their possibilities, letting good friends know how serious the
    situation is and accepting OFFERS of help with gratitude, is fine. Good friends do tend to do what they can, within the limits their own situations impose. For the sister to order you and your husband
    to 'be proactive' and get in there with significant help, not knowing what your personal situation is, is rude in the extreme. You don't have to feel guilty about ignoring this sister, in my humble opinion. You can
    talk directly with J's husband and find out the needs, and then OFFER what you are able to offer in the way of help, something that doesn't wreck your own, difficult home situation.

    Your own family's needs have to come first. When things are settled and in order at home, then you have the ability to reach out, to the extent that YOU feel able, to help others, whether J or
    anyone else. And the sister? I would consider blocking her phone number, or at least screening her calls. You aren't answerable to her.

    (Sorry for the rant; I was livid after reading this story, and I don't feel inclined to give sis the benefit of the doubt here. She may be fearful for J, but if she's that worried she has the option to do whatever is necessary to spend time with J herself. But she doesn't have the option of calling people up long-distance, people whom she doesn't even know well, and ordering them to 'step up'.)
  11. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    One does not call up a non-relative and demand they step up to the plate. Very rude. My response would be something like, "Of course I will help when I can but it sounds like she will need more intensive help then a few friends can commit to. Have you looked into some housekeeping services? How about asking her church (if she has one) if they have any sources to help (ours have volunteers to bring in meals or provide transportation)?"

    In other words let her know you want to help as much as possible but are not able to take over the bulk of the care even though you would like to. Pointing her in the direction of other help (even if they cost $$$) will be a way of saying, "I can not help enough in these areas, here are resources....". They may likely be the areas she is expecting you to handle.

    How about your friend's husband? He should be the one setting things up after his sister leaves.
  12. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    WOW. Just wow. I cannot imagine ever calling my sister in law's friends and saying, "You do it, I'm too far away."

    I've been known to take time off work, too. For no better reason than to help a friend or family member with something. But if they told me I hadto? Grrrrr.

    Do what you would've done, anyway. Don't let the sister get to you. J knows who cares about her - and that's that.
  13. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    If J's sister is so concerned about her care once J gets home from the hospital, maybe the sister can take some time out of her busy schedule and come and stay with J to help her out. No? Basically, this is what J's sister is asking of you and to put it to you the way that she did was rude. I understand that she is concerned for her sister, but she can't expect everyone else to drop everythin that they have going on in order to tend to J.

    I would tell her that if you can help you will (if you want to, that is) but that you have alot on your plate with family obligations of your own. Knowing that you daughter is a difficult child, I'm sure that J will understand.

  14. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    hi, gp.

    not sure if you are aware, but i'm pretty much in j's boat right now. i am laid up unable to use my left hand and right leg. i am limited to sitting where the leg can be elevated. it stinks.

    but that said, i wouldn't have been real happy if my family made a call like that. i have lots of friends who are helping us out, mostly right now by bringing in an evening meal. but i most certainly would not want any of them to jeopordize their own situations for mine. there is nothing wrong with cereal for supper...

    i think doing what you can for a friend in need is part of beig a friend. but part of that, also, is that its not a required do it because you want to help your friend and can...not because you are required. spouses take vows. not friends.

    I'd givde sis the benefit of the doubt. she had a bad day or something and didn't use good judgement.

    and from the point of view of the laid up, i can tell you having those evening meals brought in has been WONDERFUL. lots of them have been simple - chili or soup, but still, its a huge help. one friend spread the word that she was making a dinner schedule, and people just keep signing up to bring in a meal (people want to help but often don't know what to do) i had another friend jump in and help husband fill out ins forms - again, wonderful. and another friend popped in and took our laundry home and returned it washed and folded. she said she just washed it with her own, but its a huge task here that i'm not able to do and i really appreciated it.

    do what you can. i bet your friend won't be worried about what it is that you aren't doing....she'll be thankful for what you are.
  15. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    It could just be that the sister is feeling overwhelmed and stressed out and used poor judgment - but otherwise means well.

    It could also be that the sister has a huge sense of entitlement and just assumes that others will drop everything to help their family through this situation.

    I think you should decide what and how much to do on your own - and leave it at that.
  16. ctmom05

    ctmom05 Member

    As opposed to sorting thru the rights and lefts of the situation, I think what HaoZi said makes a great deal of sense .. .. .. "Tell her (if she calls again) that you'll talk to B about ways you can help."

    I'm not sure that explaining your situation to sis is going to have much of an impact, except to give her imagination and judgment wings to fly.