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when others turn a cold shoulder during a critical time of need


findingbeauty
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I recently had a health crisis that shook my world and was terrifying. Many people did not show up for me when I really needed help desperately. Some I outright asked for help and got brushed off. I do not have family and they know it, or they are relatives and just wrote a fancy fb post, but no call or anything personal. Colleagues of 11 years were silent...eventually sent me a card (no visit, no flowers, no calls except boss called) - this was me in and out of ER and hospital, ambulance, but worst was all the time in critical shape at home when the er wouldn't take me...yet. I couldn't walk and needed assistance to survive. Fortunately my ex showed up in a big way and I made it through, but it was sad that it all (90%+) fell on him and he wound up missing quite a bit of work.

 

How do you interface with those who did not show care toward you in an important time of need? How do you resolve it/view it within yourself so it doesn't make you bitter. Part of me wants to show my anger and be "authentic" and part of me wants to keep it private and find a way within myself to cope, but I likely will be distant if I don't say something, or feel begrudging inside.

 

TIA,

 

Findingbeauty

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I don't know if I would visit someone I work with in the hospital. If they didn't directly ask me to I would assume they wouldn't want someone they worked with just stopping by when they are in pain.

 

Personally I wouldn't expect work colleagues to go out of their way when I was sick. It would be lovely if they did (or maybe terrible depending on the person)... but I don't think of those relationships as being "come to the hospital" type relationships.

 

I'm glad your ex was there for you. Who did you ask for help and how did the brush you off?

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What kind of "being there" did you want to have?

 

People honestly hear someone is in the hospital and don't know exactly what to do to help.

 

Nowadays, showing care on Facebook is like calling to some people in a way that's not too intrusive.

 

How did they know you needed assistance to survive?

 

Did you ever ask for specific help (ie, i can't drive for a week, would there be anyone who can pick up X for me). As far as personal care - like helping to the bathroom, etc, is too much to ask coworkers. Did your ex or you at any time contact a relative (you say you have no family but then you say you have relatives), check insurance for at home health care, etc?

 

Perhaps you need to strengthen your friendships and lower your expectations by not expecting them to read minds

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When someone I know is very sick, I often dont know what to say or do. It depends on how well I know them as to how I respond. Sometimes I'm afraid to call in case they are in a really bad way and my cal makes them feel even worse. Yet I feel bad if I dont call! A lot of us just dont know what to do.

 

I had a stillborn baby a long time ago and almost nobody said anything or did anything and in a case like that I truly believe they just didnt know how to react.

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I think you're expecting too much from your relatives and colleagues. Everybody has health problems of some kind and going to the hospital brings up a lot of bad memories. Also how close are you to these people? Being sick is not an opportunity to get gifts or attention. I was in the hospital last year and I didn't let anybody know because I didn't want them going out of their way to visit me. Where you don't have an immediate family, I can understand it was a lonely time for you, but you can't demand people pay attention to you. Your best bet is to just get better and stop being angry over what you perceived as a slight.

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My heart goes out to you, and I hope you'll feel better soon. I find it most helpful to decide my overall intention first, and then work backwards from that. I choose whether I want to talk myself into viewing my life and the people in it as good and feeling good about that, OR, I can talk myself into seeking wounds and feeling lousy about that.

 

So pick your intention.

 

I've liberated myself from the responsibility of imposing 'should' and 'would' on anyone else. I'm not the best arbitrer of 'shoulding' on people, and I accept that not everyone 'would' consider doing the things that I, myself, would do in any given situation.

 

I recognize that I am flawed, so I take comfort in a generosity of spirit that views others through a soft lens. We're all a bunch of frightened human animals struggling to do the best we know how at any given moment. When I can skip finding fault in the next person, I find it easier to forgive my own mistakes as I grow more capable of using better judgment.

 

I want to feel a part of humanity rather than apart from it. I find it easier on my own stomach lining to talk myself OUT of feeling lousy rather than drilling myself a deeper hole to climb out of. This means that whenever I'm disappointed in someone, I 'lean in' to being kinder toward them, because I recognize that their behavior is not a reflection on me. Behaving punitively toward people is more of a strain on ME than of any value to them--so when I operate through kindness, I never find myself regretting that decision.

 

Head high, and pick your focus carefully.

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You get to realise that only you can save you because we live in a world of double standards. Sad truth is in hospital some years back came close to dying and was alone that night. Also the people who you have respect love who never showed. Lesson learnt be your own champion be the person they can never be. Character is lacking unfortunately so let it go thank heavens you are better

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Well, I usually throw a "let me know if there is anything I can do to help" when people are in the hospital, and only show up if they are kinda close. I have had a couple of times where people needed help, or even only to go to the hospital to talk.

 

Hope that you are doing better now. In life there aren't many true friends, just a few of them. I will tell you a little story. I was very popular during high school and uni, and met tons of people. I had hundreds, if not thousands, of friends. I was friends with the cool bands and would meet so many people every week at shows. The few times I have needed friends to help me out, it is always the same close circle I have known for long - my true friends. Do not be disappointed, this is absolutely normal.

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First, I am glad you are doing better.

 

Unless co-workers become very close friends, they usually won't show up for you. I consider people at work, just work friends. You'll realize that once you quit your job, you most likely never hear from them again.

 

Relatives are another issue. I think family should be there for you but I know there are some people who have problems with family so that may cause them to not show up for you. I know when I had foot surgery, a couple friends and family came by, even my X husband, but some family who I thought would come see me or offer to help didn't. I still feel weird about that, but have never mentioned it to them. I decided now that I've been through that, I know who would be there for me when needed.

 

I agree with AIS, there aren't many true friends in life. I found now that I am older that having 1 or 2 good friends who are there for you is great.

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Your expectations strike me almost as cultural. Like where I'm originally from, sending flowers to someone who is in a hospital is just standard gesture. However, here in the states, it's much more mixed. Some people will, but for many it wouldn't even occur as the thing to do. Your coworkers did what is actually pretty standard type gesture here - send a get well card as a way to show they are thinking of you and wish you well. So maybe don't discount it just because it didn't meet your expectations and take it for what it stands for - they care.

 

Some of the other things you mention - calls, coming to the hospital to visit, coming over to help you at home - these are the things I'd only expect from a tiny handful of very very close dear friends and that's it. I wouldn't even expect it from family if we are more distant and not really that close in real life. Even with those particularly close friends, I would call them and be specific about what assistance I need from them. Otherwise people really don't know what to do and are terrible at reading between the lines.

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Your coworkers did what is actually pretty standard type gesture here - send a get well card as a way to show they are thinking of you and wish you well

 

Yes, and while this once involved a card passed between coworkers to sign, these days it often comes from the boss alone due to privacy issues. Many of your coworkers may not even be aware of why you were out or to what degree you were ill, because a boss passing that information along to your coworkers could walk your company into lawsuit territory.

 

Most firms today leave private communication up to the employee or the employees' family members rather than risk crossing lines of 'gossip' about the nature of a person's condition.

 

I'd avoid a trap of 'blaming' anyone who has come to recognize a clean and clear line between working with someone and being 'friendly' versus being socially intimate with coworkers. Degrees of trust are often build over years, because none of us can tell who will flake and turn hostile over some real or imagined slight if a relationships is formed beyond work hours.

 

Head high, and consider forming friendships outside of the scope of your job. You will thank yourself later, and you will keep your work relationships uncontaminated.

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Thank you for all the replies! I haven't used this site in so long, I forgot to return to check!

 

Unfortunately, the details are long and complex and I don't have the time to explain it all. What would help me the best is if readers would assume I was legitimately "neglected" by friends and family (I did specifically reach out and ask for help and I'm not referring to casual acquaintances and it wasn't as much about hospital visits as it was critical help I needed at home when in acute condition and could hardly walk). Regardless of situation, how do you process and interact with others once you have felt abandoned, neglected, and/or betrayed? As for work, I was comparing how they have treated others compared to me, so I wasn't just making up in my mind what I thought they should do for me, it was in comparison to things they do for others on special or important occasions. Hope that helps clarify some of it.

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I recently had a health crisis that shook my world and was terrifying. Many people did not show up for me when I really needed help desperately. Some I outright asked for help and got brushed off. I do not have family and they know it, or they are relatives and just wrote a fancy fb post, but no call or anything personal. Colleagues of 11 years were silent...eventually sent me a card (no visit, no flowers, no calls except boss called) - this was me in and out of ER and hospital, ambulance, but worst was all the time in critical shape at home when the er wouldn't take me...yet. I couldn't walk and needed assistance to survive. Fortunately my ex showed up in a big way and I made it through, but it was sad that it all (90%+) fell on him and he wound up missing quite a bit of work.

 

How do you interface with those who did not show care toward you in an important time of need? How do you resolve it/view it within yourself so it doesn't make you bitter. Part of me wants to show my anger and be "authentic" and part of me wants to keep it private and find a way within myself to cope, but I likely will be distant if I don't say something, or feel begrudging inside.

 

TIA,

 

Findingbeauty

 

So sorry this happened to you.

 

My advice would be to forgive them. It will free you from a prison of resentment and bitterness. You now know the truth of what they are and aren't capable of--almost like you know them better than they know themselves--and you can now treat with them accordingly.

 

Not everyone is good with riding to the rescue, even people that you think should be closest to you.

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Regardless of situation, how do you process and interact with others once you have felt abandoned, neglected, and/or betrayed?

 

I'd figure out my overall intention: do I want to punish people for disappointing me, creating and even larger gap between us? Or will I view everyone's lack of engagement as a message that prompts me to decide where I WANT to stand with each them. This will vary by person, so I'll speak in generalities about coworkers versus family, even while some family will fall into a choice of less investment, and some coworkers will fall into a choice of more investment.

 

First, I'd recognize that behaving punitively toward people is more of a strain on ME than of any value to either of us--so operating through kindness is my percentage play regardless of whether I'm investing more in someone or withdrawing my investment.

 

I'd go neutral with coworkers. I'd focus on doing my job well while enjoying pleasant acquaintanceships rather than attempting more intimate relationships with anyone there who has disappointed me. They've sent a message about their limits, so I'd respect those and keep business as professional and my demeanor just as kind as I would with strangers. I'd use the Internet to find new interests and eventually form new friendships outside of work based on those. I'd keep my workplace uncontaminated by my emotional struggles: work is NOT a therapeutic environment.

 

As for family members, I'd privately ask each their opinion on how we can build better bonds with one another. I'd explain that my illness has inspired my to embrace my future in more robust ways, and I'd like to make it up to anyone in the family who may have felt neglected or offended by me in any way. I would not open old wounds, but I'd welcome it if any family member raises something specific to me about themselves and their own perceptions about me. Regardless of how hurtful or 'wrong' I might believe them to be, I'd listen patiently, without interruption, and without defenses. I'd thank them for investing their energy into being frank with me, and I'd say that I've heard them. (PERIOD.) I'd ask for them to think of any ways that I can make this up to them going forward. I'd let them know that I'm open to doing so, and that this would mean the world to me.

 

I'd skip trying to 'correct' misperceptions of me, as that would not only shut that person down, but it would confirm any bad feelings anyone else in the family holds toward me that I could otherwise repair if I'd just quit 'correcting'. I'd ask myself, "Do I want to be 'right,' or do I want to move beyond that 'stuff' and have a closer family?"

 

When people don't behave in ways that I'd anticipate, it either means that I've misread them and do NOT have the intimacy between us that I had imagined, or, it means that we may have been intimate at one point, but I have since said or done something to disqualify myself. This clarifies my position: I can either live with neutrality between us and focus my energies elsewhere, or, I want more than neutrality with a given person, and so I owe them some version of an improvement--without confrontation--and to prove to them over t.i.m.e. that they mean more to me than they can imagine at the moment.

 

Nowhere in my strategy would I subscribe to the idea that any of these people owe me better treatment than they've offered. That doesn't mean that I'm not worthy of better treatment, it just means that holding such an expectation has harmed ME, and it won't buy me any better outcomes if I drag it into my dealings with these people in the future. I'd rather start at square one, decide who's worth my efforts and who is not, and then I'd offer up my best and most humbled Self, regardless of whether reciprocity is offered in return, or not.

 

We can only control ourselves--nobody else. Attempts to control others (or worse, to punish them,) will only fail and keep me miserable, while attempts to uplift my own perceptions and behaviors will serve me far into my future. So what is my intention with each of these individuals, and how clear am I about that?

 

Head high, and write more if it helps.

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I am a bit of a cynical person but I really would not expect much from anyone in that situation.

 

Unless it is like a spouse or parent there isn't much another person would/could do to help.

 

Expecting that help is why you are so bitter.

 

Why would you expect anything from a coworker? What family relation were you asking for help?

 

Why was there such a strong sense of expectation on everyone?

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So sorry this happened to you.

 

My advice would be to forgive them. It will free you from a prison of resentment and bitterness. You now know the truth of what they are and aren't capable of--almost like you know them better than they know themselves--and you can now treat with them accordingly.

 

Not everyone is good with riding to the rescue, even people that you think should be closest to you.

 

Thank you. I agree to some extent, but know that once I see them treat someone else with greater care and regard I will feel triggered again. I think I have a hard time being on middle grounds with others. If I'm friendly I'm open and have my guards down, and if I'm cautious I am somewhat distant and closed. I hate being in caution mode, it's a lot of work, but I can't seem to be in the middle with people. Hopefully I'll figure that out one day.

 

Btw, I'm having a hard time articulating this, so not sure if I expressed myself accurately! Doing my best ;)

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Wow, I was hanging on every word. You are really insightful on this topic. One additional thought is that I wonder if I am ineffective at eliciting help and support from others and perhaps there was something/some way/some approach I could have done differently. On the other hand, I think if people learn about a situation and want to help, they will just put themselves out there.

 

But I do like the idea of accepting what happened and starting at square one. I have a tendency to either be angry and show it (usually through distance) or to let everything fly and never hold anyone accountable, so I'm trying to stay out of those extremes.

 

I will let your message marinate and see what comes up in the days ahead. It does feel "right".

 

Thank you so much for your time and the insight you shared

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Thank you. I agree to some extent, but know that once I see them treat someone else with greater care and regard I will feel triggered again. I think I have a hard time being on middle grounds with others. If I'm friendly I'm open and have my guards down, and if I'm cautious I am somewhat distant and closed. I hate being in caution mode, it's a lot of work, but I can't seem to be in the middle with people. Hopefully I'll figure that out one day.

 

Btw, I'm having a hard time articulating this, so not sure if I expressed myself accurately! Doing my best ;)

 

Do you have many other friends who need home care?

 

A friend helping a casually sick person is a lot different than doing physical labor for someone for an extended period of time.

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I wonder if I am ineffective at eliciting help and support from others and perhaps there was something/some way/some approach I could have done differently.

 

Good thinking. Most of us need to learn this skill. For instance, did you ask the hospital for a referral to a case worker to arrange in-home help or any other services? If not, there's no time like the present. There may be support groups, mental health services, physical therapy or other means of support available to help you develop new skills going forward.

 

On the other hand, I think if people learn about a situation and want to help, they will just put themselves out there.

 

That would be a 'no', just the opposite. It's been the practice of earlier generations and other cultures to step up to adopt roles of brothers' keeper, but for the most part, people today err on the side of being unintrusive. If we want something specific, we need to ask--preferably as a negotiation of fair trade. I can offer you [something of value] in exchange for [what I want from you]. Often people will pass on the exchange and deliver what you want because you've identified it. Negotiation is even common in good marriages, "I'll make your favorite meatloaf for dinner tonight if you'll massage my shoulders now..."

 

But I do like the idea of accepting what happened and starting at square one. I have a tendency to either be angry and show it (usually through distance) or to let everything fly and never hold anyone accountable, so I'm trying to stay out of those extremes.

 

Great observation. Most spiritual cultures raise the goal of 'balance' as an ideal, and that's just practical psychology and smart caution. On a scale of 1 to 10, when we can keep our internal trust and intimacy meters to a neutral 5 and observe people over time, we allow them to either EARN more trust and intimacy or not. Jumping straight into insta-intimacy is a mistake, not only because it sets you up to feel betrayed whenever another's perceptions of your bond aren't shared, but it can actually push people away because premature intimacy feels unhealthy to them.

 

I will let your message marinate and see what comes up in the days ahead. It does feel "right".

 

Thank you so much for your time and the insight you shared

 

You're welcome. Learning where we stand with others and comparing that to where we WANT to stand is an uncomfortable skill, but it's still a skill. Consider each relationship individually, and decide how much investment you'll want to make to further cultivate each. Consider that you have not been 'betrayed,' you've been dis-illusioned. This positions you to a neutral place where you can work toward building intimacy with select people while continuing an acquaintanceship with others. I'd also consider ways to expand my scope of friendship outward into my community rather than my workplace.

 

Head high.

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