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Only person I want help from cannot be here for me

Kirua
Community Member

I have a bad habit of venting without leaving much room for advice. I want to share how I feel and what I am going through, but don't really expect help -- though I always enjoy hearing others perspectives and advice if they do have any, or even just sympathetic or empathetic comments.

Sometimes I think it is impossible for me to have friends. While I do have severe social anxiety, I don't find it that hard to make friends. But maintaining friendships is a huge task for me. I can go through days, weeks, or even months of ignoring my friends. Basically, I am genuinely a terrible friend a lot of the time. My therapist recently brought up autism and I'm starting to think this is related to that.

My ex is also autistic and says they haven't been speaking to most of their friends for weeks, including me. I was going through a really bad time with my mental health; so bad my mother is spending hundreds to fly here to clean my place and take care of me. I'm most likely going to try getting admitted into a mental hospital. I went back on antidepressants. I wasn't eating at all. I skipped all my classes and gave up on university. I have been ignoring most friends since January. The only person I spoke to about this, aside from my therapist, was my ex. I was really clear (in fact, my therapist brought up autism because of how direct I was in my messages to my ex) about how I felt and what I was going through, and what I wanted them to do to help (see them 1 day that month because I was very isolated). They replied immediately to these messages and originally they gave days they were free to see me. They said we'll meet up this week and it'll be really fun, we'll go to the museum, etc. But they would always end up being busy on the day. And they never texted to check up on me, despite knowing the horrible state I was in. I know they're going through their own issues right now and I have been very vocal about being there for them, but they have never once come to me for help. And I'm realising that the things I offer (e.g. helping them clean, bringing them food, listening, giving advice, going over assignments, calling, hugs, etc.) are all things I want them to do for me. But they do not help me, nor do they allow me to help them. I have felt so abandoned by them for almost our entire relationship. I keep wanting them to be someone they will never be and it's painful. I want to be closer -- not romantically, but as friends.

9 Replies 9

Sophie_M
Moderator
Moderator

Dear Kirua,

Welcome to the forums and thank you for being a member of this open, kind and helpful community. We know that it can be incredibly difficult to share our story so we want to say thank you for posting today. We imagine that it has taken a lot of courage to write your experience, we hope that this has been a helpful experience. It can feel lonely and isolating at times when we are unable to make those social connections easily and I hear you were feeling somewhat neglected by your partner at times. 

It’s good to hear that you are able to identify what it is you are needing in terms of support and able to articulate that directly.  Thank you for showing such courage in posting and sharing that experience - you never know who will read this post and feel less alone on their own journey. We are here 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or via our webchat. 

Our team who answer the phones are ready to have a supportive and non-judgemental chat whenever you need it. In terms of your relationship, we know that relationships can be really difficult to deal with at times so we hope that there is something useful here for you.  For specialist support we can also recommend Relationships Australia or 1800 RESPECT if you would like some other perspectives too.

Thank you again for joining us here and for starting this conversation.

Please feel free to come back and update us on how you are feeling, if you are comfortable.

Kind regards,  

Sophie M

smallwolf
Community Champion
Community Champion

hello and welcome.

in your post you mentioned it is easy for you (my interpretation) to make friend but keeping them is harder. Also the one person you want help from is your ex? At least that was my understanding.

If this person was your support previously it would be natural to go to them. At least I would.

I don't know what conversation you have had with your ex about what you are after. There are times when I speak with my therapist it becomes a situation in which I have to have to chat with my wife. This generally means we are on serious matter here.

One other thing that I found helpful was to reach other to other people in my contacts for help as well. Put it this way.... you have had the courage to write here to a group of strangers about what you are going through. To show vulnerability in a space like this takes courage and strength. I can certainly understand if this felt like a step too far also. And you have to be a little picky about who you contact as well.

Or maybe, just talking (in written form) here about what you are feeling was helpful for you? You did make a reference re difficult to leave room for advice.

If you want to keep chatting we are here. At least I am.

james1
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hey Kirua,

Welcome to our forums! I understand you are feeling really lonely and isolated right now, and feel really abandoned by your ex. It sounds like the behavioural patterns that they are showing now by not turning up, were present during your relationship as well. That sounds like it would be very difficult to feel loved and appreciated, and I'm really sorry to hear you are being made to feel this way right now.

Both Sophie_M and smallwolf have made some suggestions about talking to others which I just want to echo. I absolutely get it that this person is the only one that you really want support from. In my own experience, I even found that the less someone was available, the more I wanted their attention and support. It's quite painful.

I understand you don't make friends easily and see yourself as a bad friend. Most of my friends are people I see once every few months, and some maybe once a year or two years. I really dread having to make new friends every time I lose one, but I've had periods in the past where I really felt I had nobody. What helped me through those was periods was reconnecting with old friends and getting a bit of a rhythm in terms of just knowing that we'd be able to chat every so often, even if it was months in between.

So I don't think there's any problem with how you like to make friends, or even having very few friends. I'm the same. But it's still really important to make sure you have people you can reach out to if you need to, and better still to have a few options for the times when your closest friends get busy with life or their own issues. Happy to chat more about that or anything you like here.

James

Kirua
Community Member

Thank you very much for your reply! Yes, your interpretations are mostly correct. I'm not great at making friends, but it's not something I agonize over, whereas maintaining them is a real issue for me. It's difficult to say this person was previously my support because they weren't actually a good partner when we were together. However, it's true they are the main person I want support from right now, even though I know there are friends and family who would want to help more.

I called them my ex in this post, but we are friends. Or at least the plan was to remain friends when we broke up, but I don't feel very close to them. I don't have any romantic feelings for them and it wasn't out of place for me to contact them for support; that is, I wasn't trying to reconnect with my ex out of nowhere. I asked to hang out and gave a list of suggestions of things we could do, without trying to apply any pressure (though I inevitably did by highlighting how desperately bad my mental health was).

My ex was clearly unable to be there for me, even though they somewhat tried and I think they wanted to be, but they did contact my brother and only other friend in this state about my unhealthy thoughts because they were worried (I moved interstate for university, which is kind of why I am isolated). Thanks to that, while I didn't receive the support I wanted for my ex, my friend has been helpful. We have started going out to restaurants once a week and I do think getting out has helped with my mental state. I hadn't thought she or anyone would be able to help. I hadn't contacted anyone aside from my ex because I thought I would feel guilty bothering others when they wouldn't be able to do anything useful even if they wanted to help. But I'm happy that I've been proved somewhat wrong. And the antidepressants started helping. 🙂

Talking here is helpful! I like getting my thoughts out, and reading through the replies has been very helpful for me. Even if there weren't any replies, it's good writing everything down. Helps me sort through what's upsetting me instead of silently drowning in the negativity. I really appreciate that you took the time to reply and offered to keep chatting.

Kirua
Community Member

Hi James,

Thank you for the reply and for welcoming me to the forums! I really appreciate your advice and insight. I connected with a lot of the things you said. 🙂

I somewhat lost myself while I was writing the original post – my point was going to be how I feel abandoned by my ex, yes, but the way they treat me is how I also treat many of the people I'm supposed to care for. Because I feel I can understand my ex, or at least have acted similarly for my own reasons, it's hard to get upset even when I feel really hurt. Instead, I just feel terrible because I'm reflecting even more on how poorly I have treated my friends when they needed me and how bad it must have felt for them.

Yeah, they were a bad partner and they are unsurprisingly a bad friend as well. It's hard not to take it personally, but at the same time I don't want to blame and punish them for being a poor friend when it could be due to burnout, poor mental health, stress, etc. However, it's also hard for me to be understanding when they never respond to my messages offering support or asking how they are doing. I make it clear that I don't mind when/if they respond and that they may need space sometimes, which is fine, too. But then I worry that what they really want is for me to stop texting them because they don't know how to say they don't like me.

I really relate to your comment about wanting support even more from someone who is unavailable. I have been thinking that was the issue. They've never been very supportive, but I think I am clinging to the idea that they might be one day, or that they will lean on me. I wish I could change into someone likeable for them. But I think the more I actually try to get their attention, the more pressure I'm applying, and the more they will distance themselves due to stress. I'm sabotaging myself.

I'm definitely a bad friend a lot of the time, but I don't know how to fix it. Ideally, I would find a small circle of friends who understand I'm not always available and that I don't dislike them when I suddenly ghost for a while. But I understand why that behaviour hurts a lot of people – I'm being hurt by it right now. I wish I could be a friend who could confidently say I can always be there for someone; I'm scared of how unreliable I am both to my friends and with regard to my own goals and self-care.

esires.

james1
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hey Kirua,

I understand. Perhaps you are being too hard on yourself. It is difficult to be there for others when you are not 100% either, and it sounds like you've never been fully supported yourself. And just as I'd suggest that you may find it helpful to have multiple supports, your other friends may also have had others they could reach out to. But I understand it still feels really bad to think that we could've done better.

What you've said about finding it hard to be understanding towards your friend when they don't reciprocate is something that makes a lot of sense to me. I've also found myself in unbalanced friendships and relationships, and it is a really bad feeling because of that conflict you've described. While everyone has their own tolerance level, I think this imbalance can't last for too long because it can create a lot of resentment.

It sounds like you kind of have an idea of where you'd like to go and what kind of friendships you would like to cultivate. But from what I understand, you don't really know how to do so without hurting others? Is this something you've thought about or tried to work on in the past?

James

Kirua
Community Member

Hi James,

I appreciate you noticing that I haven't had much support in my life, even though I hadn't really been thinking of it until you mentioned it. I think it's a little unfair to my friends and family for me to say I haven't had any support. There are people who have helped me or would want me to reach out. Nonetheless, it's true I haven't had a big support system before. I was taken out of school at 9 years old and never made my own friends. I've always considered myself unlikeable and my friendship/presence feels like a burden for others.

Unfortunately, I know some of my friends didn't have other supports. I'm good at making myself appear available and offering supportive words at first, but my ghosting can be extremely sudden and hard to explain. The frightening thing is how little I cared even when they were suicidal and depressed, including my first boyfriend after I broke up with him. I knew I was bad, but the realisation hits harder now that my recent ex treated me in a similar way when I expressed a serious intent to end my life (I'm fine now!!). Even though they knew I had both the means and intent not to survive the month (again fine now!!), they did not come to see me, check up on me, or contact the police/ambulance/hotline. While they eventually messaged my friend and brother, they didn't inform them of any urgency, so they weren't aware of my actual intent to end my life that week. It's not as though I had ever threatened to end my life before. I was clearly serious, but I didn't feel as though I was taken seriously. They could not even meet my "final wishes" of receiving a hug / hanging out (though I have since been informed that it is very odd to expect someone to come say goodbye to you). They didn't seem stressed, but I worry they were just more upset by my words than they showed, and instead of helping they withdrew because they felt helpless.

Even now, I often have to remind or force myself to reply to people because I know it will upset them if I don't. I don't actually care whether we ever speak again even if I like them — friendships aren't that important to me and sometimes they are just exhausting. My ex is an exception at the moment. I always wanna talk to them. It makes me sad that I'm not an exception for them, and I hate being treated the way I treat others.

I agree. It is creating resentment. I want to take a step back because of that. Sorry, I got sidetracked and don't have space to answer your questions.

james1
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hey Kirua,

I'm really sorry I haven't been able to get back to you in the last week. It just got really busy for me and I spent a lot of the weekend out or basically trying to take time out for myself.

I'm glad you didn't end your life before, because then we would never have had the chance to chat! It's so tough to feel and be ignored like that, even when you express just how dire things are. I had a very similar experience with my mum and I don't think our relationship has fully recovered yet from that.

I understand a lot of what you are saying in terms of friendships being exhausting and also having someone that is your main focus. I find I am often quite similar, and so I keep my friendship circle really small to basically avoid burnout from over-socialising. Even for my closest friends, I don't necessarily know what they are doing and when we catch up, we might not even end up properly catching up because it'll be kept quite short. And while I'm glad my friends understand that about me, sometimes I do feel like I'm missing out a bit on having a better connection with people. But I don't value that as much as having my own space, so I just keep going as I do now.

From your original post, it sounds like you are looking less for advice and more just perspectives. I suppose I'm a bit curious to hear from you in terms of maybe what kind of perspectives you thought you might hear, or if there's anything you are thinking about doing differently. Your last post sounds like there's quite a lot you have to say but haven't, so I also don't want to take up too much of your space and instead just hear what you came to us to talk about.

I hope that makes sense!

James

Kirua
Community Member

Hi James,

 

No need to apologise – I'm glad you took some time away for yourself! ‌‌😊

 

I'm not sure what the solution is regarding friendships. I've always informed people of my poor texting habits, but people can find it hard to understand once they become a victim of it. I guess if there were just long breaks between texting it would be fine, but I'll ignore messages that expect a response. It's unfair to my friends that they cannot rely on me to be there whenever they reach out; that we only talk when I want to. For many it's hurtful knowing a friend doesn't wanna talk, not just for a day or so, but even months. I don't know a solution because I've found myself doing what my ex often did for me: promising to talk more and making plans, then disappearing and not following through. I don't wanna give people false hope anymore by offering solutions that are impossible for me. Best I can think of doing is making understanding friends, putting a status/bio letting people know when I'm texting less, and doing a better job of dropping in to let people know I'll reply later instead of ghosting them entirely. This behaviour of mine is bad for jobs and university as well, though, not just friendships.

 

I'm not sure what perspectives I thought I would hear, but I think it's helpful in any case. Even if it's something I already know, it's validating to have those thoughts repeated. And if someone has a perspective that adds to or changes my own, I find that good for developing my understanding of the issue. I'm not as upset about my ex anymore. I have reflected a lot and reached a calmer understanding of events –  and, more importantly, I have accepted that there will just be things I will likely never understand. My problems may return when there is less distance between us since we'll share a class next sem. But now I know my mental health is better when we don't speak, so I'll be able to set boundaries. The ideal used to be that we would become good friends. I have accepted this is unrealistic. I don't hate them, but my ex has let me down too many times for me to trust them again right now.