Crumbs From The Table

The problem with facing your own mortality is surviving.

Surviving means you realise how much you didn’t mean to the people around you.

Leukaemia didn’t just shed my hair or my weight. In the months and years after getting out of hospital, I shed many friends. It sorted out who cared for me and who indifferently didn’t mind if I was dead or alive.

And since I knew first hand how short life was, I didn’t put up with shit anymore. I didn’t accept crumbs from the table.

::::::

The perfect friend is an illusion.

Friends will let you down.

Friends are busy with their own lives.

Friends have different values, needs, and expectations.

Friends move on.

They will only love you in the way they know how. Their way.

Expecting love the way you want it may disappoint.

Take what they are able to give.

Demand nothing.

Open you arms to the nourishing drops.

But guard your heart like a watchman.

And learn the gentle art of walking away graciously.

::::::

I had a very close friend who saw me go through cancer first hand. In the months after I got out of hospital I barely heard from her. Those months turned into painful years of letting me down. One event after another.

It hit me then like never before. I’d nearly lost my life. Instead of valuing my life more, she in fact valued my life less.

Crumbs.

::::::

I still shed friends. I’m getting sharper.

Sometimes I wonder if I should wear a sign on my head that says ‘Handle With Care’.

But why should I need to? Shouldn’t we treat everyone with care?

Maybe we all need reminding.

I’ve talked about being kind before.

But how about we do more than that.

How about we really give a damn about each other?

::::::

I’ve got a birthday party jinx. Even parties for my kids. They become platforms where my worst fears are played out. Typically, I invite a large group of people and only a handful show up. Recurring theme.

My brittle self-esteem has cracked way too many times. My inner voice says ‘no more’.

Being the nomad that I am, I found myself a few weeks ago turning 40 and with hardly any deep lasting friendships around me.  Still, I thought long and hard about celebrating my birthday – a milestone birthday – and despite my inner voice saying ‘no’, I decided to take the risk once again and say ‘yes’. Yes, to a party to celebrate me.

I wish I had listened to my inner voice.

Admittedly, I don’t have huge number of friends here. And I didn’t give a great deal of notice to people. But the week before my birthday I had a list of 12 people who had responded to say they were coming to my birthday lunch and I was okay with that. I was starting to feel okay about it after all.

Then, half an hour beforehand, the text messages of cancellations came rolling in.

One after another. I have to accept the explanations. But the attrition rate was typical of previous parties. Why had I done this? I know I shouldn’t count it as rejection, but it felt like it nevertheless.

Four friends turned up to my 40th birthday lunch.

We had a great time.

But I don’t think I’ll be doing that again.

I realised that it’s not anybody’s fault. I’ve moved around too much. I care too much.

But I’ve never felt so close to wanting to run away. From everything.

This place is not my home.

::::::

If I have any more years left I want to live them out with people that love me. Deeply. People who really give a damn.

There’s a plan. A fine plan. I’m working on getting back home.

In the meantime, be kind to each other.

Don’t offer crumbs.

Give a damn about your friends.

Give a damn about that thing that’s annoying them, that joke that made them laugh, that dream that electrifies them, and that sadness that drags their feet.

If you want rich and fulfilling friendships, give a damn.

If you want to live a life with no regrets, give a damn.

If you want to feel alive, give a damn.

Give a damn about your friends.

Friendships can be hard and tiring and tricky, but give a damn anyway.

Comments

  1. says

    This makes me so sad. Particularly this line “Surviving means you realise how much you didn’t mean to the people around you.” I think the sense of being let down by people you love will be familiar, in some part, to everyone who reads this post. As is, certainly with me, that awful sense of feeling unwanted and foolish when you reach out to friends and they don’t reach back. That, and the reality of moving so far and so frequently only to discover that your friends have moved on, too.

    But that line at the top broke my heart. Because it means so much more. It means the indifference of supposed friends robbed you of the glorious celebration that should be yours when you think of what surviving means. I pray the day will come when surviving will mean the births of your children; the love of your husband, sisters and parents; and real friendships old and new. And the pursuit of your dreams. In the meantime, I promise to give a damn.
    Naomi Bulger recently posted..Around the world in 80 pagesMy Profile

    • Deb says

      Oh Naomi. You have managed to make me cry. Thank you for giving a damn. (And I hope you realise that you were not in my thoughts AT ALL when I wrote this!). I didn’t write this with any attempt to make people care about me – I truly hoped that my story would inspire people to give a damn about each other.

      Thank you for the thoughtfulness behind your comment. You are so eloquent and warm and empathic. I so love that about you. Much much love. xxx

  2. says

    I hear you, my friend. We have age and experience on our side telling us (as you greatly worded it) to become “sharper” with the worthwhile friendships. You are so much, much more deserving than crumbs. That’s for absolute certain. If it’s any consolation, I wouldn’t have cancelled on you. Not in a million years. xxx
    Grace recently posted..When Life Is Even Shorter…My Profile

    • Deb says

      Grace, thank you. (Another reason to move to your town?!). But seriously I knew you would understand this. (Funnily enough, I wrote this post a few weeks ago and wasn’t brave enough to post it until now… your last post reminded me that mine was still in my draft box). You are a treasure. xx

  3. says

    Deb. I wish I were at your 40th birthday lunch, with the four troopers and you.

    Just yesterday I made the decision to cancel my 40th birthday party. I *know* it’s the right decision, I’m so relieved about it. It gives me more time and energy to do cool things anyway. I am shedding friends, too. Left right and centre – I can’t blog about it. It’s fascinating – we are all born alone, and we die alone, man.

    F*ck that friend choosing the bully over you. I have my two sisters and that’s it … do not want to let anyone in anymore.

    Love to you XXX

    • Deb says

      Hearing you and so many levels. More power to you with ditching the birthday party. Listen to your inner voice. This doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be celebrated though – you know you do.

      I hear you. Guard yourself. And love to you. x

      • Deb says

        And Alana, I just tried commenting on your blog, but I’m having commenting issues. I hope it got through. Check your spam folder – that’s where my comments seem to be going these days! Hope you find some inspiration to write one day soon! x

  4. says

    Deep beautiful stuff Deb. I feel sad, reading your story. I don’t understand it. What I do understand is the importance of investing in friendship. I’m a bit like Eden in that my 3 sisters are my best friends. I treasure that. As for others, I’m trying to invest in my real friendships more and letting go of the other stuff. Beautiful post. You have a beautiful spirit. x
    Kelly recently posted..A Little Boy and His TrainMy Profile

    • Deb says

      I understood what you meant, Kelly. I have 2 sisters too and we are very close. They live in another city, so I’m hoping to move back to where they live soon. Thank you for reading my post. I really love your blog. x

  5. says

    I feel so sad that your friends have let you down so badly Deb and that you feel it so acutely in that they value your life less because you are still here. Wow.
    I totally get the disappointment that comes with friendships. My partner and I have lost a lot of friends in the fallout over our separation and then reconciliation. At the end of the day, most people are totally oblivious to what’s going on around them.
    Thanks for this post Deb. I will try to make sure that I am not one of those people. xx
    Lee recently posted..February photo a day challenge – Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

    • Deb says

      Thanks for your comment, Lee. I think you hit the nail on the head there – a lot of people are oblivious to what’s going on around them and how they affects others. x

  6. Veronica @ Mixed Gems says

    It’s taken me a while to come back to this post. It struck me the first time and again, as I re-read it. Your first two lines hooked me and took me deep into your story.

    I know I don’t know you well, nor have yet had the pleasure to meet you, but my life has been made the richer for reading your words. You’ve made a difference to me, and obviously to others, based on these comments.

    But I do understand the disappointment with friendships. Most of mine are not what they were. Moving around has not helped. It’s hard to keep up the same level of intimacy from spending almost every day with someone at school or living with them to now living day-to-day physically apart.

    I’m a pretty loyal person and I find it hard to let go of friendships. I don’t have any poisonous ones but I do have some that are nothing like the way they used to be. With my longest standing childhood friend going back 30 years, I find I put in way more effort, even in simple things like remembering her birthday and all her children, and she never remembers any of mine. It saddens me greatly. Yet I still give a damn and accept things as they are.
    And your words about not accepting crumbs were like a pinprick in my heart about those.

    I’m sorry you’ve had so much disappointment with people, but if it helps you surround yourself with those that really matter and who give a damn about you, then that will make you all the richer for it. xoxo
    Veronica @ Mixed Gems recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – Being PregnantMy Profile

    • Deb says

      Thank you Veronica for your thoughtful comment. I found it very encouraging – so I sincerely thank you.

      I remember your post a few months back about friendships and I could relate to your feelings so well. Your loyalty is to be admired. It’s a quality I seek in friends.

      Now speaking of meeting in real life, are you going to DPCON? I should probably tweet you this just in case you don’t get this message. I would love to meet you! x

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