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Friendship estrangement - am I right?

(68 Posts)
Notsooldat75 Sun 05-Jul-20 11:36:00

A close friend and neighbour has a husband recently diagnosed with Altzheimers. I have tried to support her, but being recently bereaved myself, I am a very slender Reed to lean on!
The husband is starting to show violent tendencies, and my friend has arrived on my doorstep in tears more than once.
My problem is that she totally and confrontationally dismisses any suggestions I make, such as involving the GP or any other professionals “far too busy”, her own family, “they all work full time” and “I don’t want to upset them”, and telling me I have no idea what I’m talking about, accompanied by much snorting and eye rolling. Along with “you just don’t understand, do you?”.
Then she goes off, feeling much better, leaving me angry, upset and totally useless!
I have now decided to step back from the friendship, and try to make her involve some professional help. I feel if I’m not available to be ‘dumped on’ she just might involve her family and even her doctor!
I feel much better, but a bit guilty! I think I should concentrate on me and my well-being after my own bereavement (during which she avoided me “giving me space” as she put it!

tanith Sun 05-Jul-20 11:47:58

I think you are perfectly right to step back, silly woman not to take your advice as things may escalate and then she will have problems. Look after yourself.

mumofmadboys Sun 05-Jul-20 11:50:55

Poor you! Sometimes we can't do right for doing wrong! I agree with you back off a little and if she tells you how awful it all is say platitudes such as 'Oh dear, how difficult for you ' and let her work out her own solutions. I am sorry for your recent bereavement.

Davida1968 Sun 05-Jul-20 11:53:24

Good advice here - I agree fully with the first two posters!

Chewbacca Sun 05-Jul-20 12:01:53

I think she's using you as a sounding board to vent her frustrations on and, much as that's understandable in the circumstances, it's very hurtful and upsetting for you. I also think that, for your own sake, stepping back is the right thing to do until she decides that the time is right to get some professional help.

EllanVannin Sun 05-Jul-20 12:09:37

I know the feeling although the neighbour herself wasn't nasty in any way but I used to get knocks at all hours about her H's Alzheimers. He'd go missing if he put something in the bin and I'd be the one looking for him, until I wrote many slips to put into his pockets with their address on in case he'd wandered too far.

He went first into a home 4 years ago this December but the wife didn't handle it well and problems started up again when she either fell or self-harmed as she was invariably bloodied somewhere, as was my front door at times when she knocked. This went on for a good 12 months until a placement was found for her in a residential home. All in all I had about 5 years of disturbances but made allowances for the wife's " behaviour " because of the difference in her H's mental health.

To say I had my hands full would be understated as I never knew the minute and never really relaxed as these things would happen in between carers visiting, which they did, 4 times a day.

Your friend is probably not aware of her own sudden behaviour because of the way her H has gone so I wouldn't take it personally. The poor woman will be at her wits end wondering what to do for the best, probably knowing that he'll have to go away for specialised care and leaving her to cope, or not.

Toadinthehole Sun 05-Jul-20 12:17:28

You’ve done exactly the right thing. Concentrate on yourself. I know she’s probably struggling, but making the person she needs help from feel bad isn’t going to help anyone. So sorry for your loss. Hope you feel better soon.

H1954 Sun 05-Jul-20 12:20:14

While is nice to share experiences of illnesses etc there has to be a line drawn when a third party is used as a sounding board when times get tough. It was cruel of your "friend" to expect you to have the answers and actually she was denying her OH the professional help that he clearly needed. Why shouldn't she lean on her family, surely they must known the the OH isn't well?
Don't blame yourself for distancing yourself from her and the problems she has been bringing to your door. You deserve better friends, some that will support you in equal measure and not criticise you for your opinion if they don't like it.

25Avalon Sun 05-Jul-20 12:20:40

My friend’s husband had Altzeimers. She kept him home for as long as she could. Twice he vanished and the police had to be called although she didn’t want “to bother” them at first despite being worried sick as he didn’t have a jacket on. She then had to stay in or make sure he was with someone24/7. He then turned violent and had to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act. He is now in a care home, well looked after, and she visits every day although not during lock down.

Your friend won’t feel much better for long. She needs help and so does he if he is showing signs of violence. I am surprised her family haven’t noticed although they do hide it well sometimes in company. Could you have a quiet word with your friend’s family?

silverlining48 Sun 05-Jul-20 12:57:15

I understand how difficult it is for you but have enormous sympathy for your friend, its a terrible situation, but she or someone in her family must seek help and advice. The Alzheimers society have many useful booklets on all aspects of the disease and coping with it and how to get help. They also have specialist day centres which can give the carer a much needed break.
You or she can ring them and ask for these to be sent in the post, they are all free and very helpful, and there is also a freeHelpline which she can ring to talk to someone. I dont have the number to hand but its easily found online. Google Alzheimers Society.

quizqueen Sun 05-Jul-20 13:00:15

Some straight talking is needed for your own sanity. Tell her you are 'giving her some space just as she did after your bereavement' and that, as you 'don't understand' there's really no point in her talking to you about her problems!! I don't know why people continue to take such inconsideration off people without telling it back like it is. People only behave in certain ways because they are allowed to by people pleasers!!.

jaylucy Sun 05-Jul-20 13:08:09

By all means step back but remember that she turned up on your doorstep in desperation.
I think that she just wants and needs someone that she can have a rant with and not give advice- she hasn't reached the point yet where she can admit that she needs help.
GPs and professionals are never "too busy" to help if asked. You might not get the person that you expected but there is someone there. I would be quite tempted to make a quiet phone call to members of her family - they are probably in complete ignorance of how their father is and how he behaves - saying "they work full time" is IMO a cop out and it is often pride that will stop her asking for help.
Make sure that she is in possession of the phone number of the Alzheimers Society that she can call at any time.

grandtanteJE65 Tue 07-Jul-20 09:46:49

You have nothing to be feeling guilty about.

You have made sensible and considerate suggestions, which your friend has turned down.

Next time she tells you how hard it is, say you appreciate that, but as she has chosen not to take your advice, there is really nothing else you can do or say to help her.

If you like, you can add that when or if she is ready to take your advice you will be happy to assist, but that you really cannot do with her coming just to let off steam.

You have enough on your plate, coping with a recent bereavement, for which you have my sympathy. You don't need this lady dumping her problems on you, then refusing to listen to the suggestions you make.

Naninka Tue 07-Jul-20 09:47:55

I do feel for your friend - really I do - but it sounds as though you are being used. What I have most issue with is the fact that she "gave you space". This friendship is hugely unequal and you need to step back, politely and firmly. No need to sever the ties; just find things to take you out of the 'availability range' and start having some fun! Good luck!

Havemercy Tue 07-Jul-20 09:49:15

I think you are right to step back from this - you need to look after your own mental health. A few years ago I was diagnosed with a blood cancer and it was a terrible time. However a good friend was constantly phoning me to talk about her marriage and it's impending breakdown. To preserve my own sanity I had to tell her (kindly I hope) that I could not provide this level of support at the present time. A suggestion that you give her the details of the Alzheimer's Society is a good one. Best wishes and look after yourself x

alltheglitterglue Tue 07-Jul-20 09:51:28

You must look after yourself as someone who has recently been bereaved.

Your ‘friend’ doesn’t want practical help, after all you have suggested that. No, it seems that your friend wants someone to sound off at. At the moment you are vulnerable so you can’t be anyone’s sounding board. It won’t help her and it might harm you.

You should do what you need to do to manage your own grief, keep your distance for the sake of your own mental health.

ReadyMeals Tue 07-Jul-20 09:52:17

Another alternative is to not make any suggestions but just make sympathetic noises until she's vented out, then gradually change the subject (if she'll let you) or bring the interaction to a close, excusing yourself as tactfully as possible. I mean you can think what you like, but just humour her and don't try to advice. Depends how expendable the friendship is. If you don't really mind losing her, then lose her. It's your right.

Coconut Tue 07-Jul-20 09:54:43

Don’t feel guilty, if this woman won’t do what needs to be done, then there is nothing that you can do about it. It sounds like she is taking her frustrations out on you to a degree, and you don’t need that when coping with your own loss. Take a step back and focus on your own needs, we are all allowed to look after ourselves.

Operalover Tue 07-Jul-20 09:57:04

It may be that she just needs you to listen and not give advice as she’s not yet ready to hear it.
It’s up to you whether you can stick with it or not. She will need a friend as the situation deteriorates.

GoldenAge Tue 07-Jul-20 10:08:21

Notsooldat75 - I'm a bereavement counsellor. The fact that you say you feel you should concentrate on yourself tells me that you have reached a place in your own bereavement where it's appropriate for you to do your own grief work. Bereavement counsellors need their own therapists/forms of self-care because it's hard holding on to the problems of clients and as it stands you're simply being the target board for your friend's anger at her own situation. It may sound harsh but you're not really at the right point in your own life to give your emotional energy to someone who rejects your offerings. I would make it plain to her that you want to process your own loss and that you can't do that while she's piling her losses on to you. Good luck.

kwest Tue 07-Jul-20 10:08:28

Your own instincts are telling you to protect your own fragile emotional health. You do not need confrontational people in your life just now.
She is dumping her stuff on you and leaving feeling much better. However you are feeling damaged and anxious by her behaviour.
When this has happened to me in the past , I have learned to gently and gradually disappear from the other person's life. Not making phone calls, not returning theirs for a couple of days. Being busy when they suggest going out.
Having someone just turn up on your doorstep must be quite difficult. A 'conversation' may be called for. ie," look, much as I empathise with your situation, you do need professional help. I am frankly struggling to cope with being involved in this situation while I am still mourning my husband. You need someone stronger than me to turn to. It is time for me to pull back now.
Alternatively put it in a note and post it to her.

Flakesdayout Tue 07-Jul-20 10:08:40

I think you are doing the right thing in stepping back. You can still be a friend and as other posters have said express your concern but say that as you are not an expert it may be better for her to see advice elsewhere. You do not need to be made to feel angry and upset and certainly not useless. Im sorry to hear about your bereavement and you do need to have time for yourself as it is a terribly hard time. Good luck xx

Lancslass1 Tue 07-Jul-20 10:12:00

Good for you.
You will feel so much better when you have stepped back.

Juicylucy Tue 07-Jul-20 10:16:03

Totally agree with you and other posters. Self care is needed here, stand back,don’t answer door and let her call her family for support. She’s being thoughtless and selfish towards you. Sorry to hear your bereaved of late.

Mo291 Tue 07-Jul-20 10:16:05

It’s highly likely that your neighbour does just want a sounding board and obviously your attempts at advice have not been well received. So I don’t think anyone would blame you at all for stepping back and protecting yourself, especially as you are still grieving. Other suggestions as above eg giving her the Alzheimer’s society contact details are also good / and if you remain worried about her safety you can also contact your local Social services yourself and make a concern known (Safeguarding concerns), - your confidentiality will be respected and she does not have to know you’ve done this.