Soooo, you old-time OS'ers may or may not remember that a while ago I had some friend stuff go down with the Total Drama Twins, which ended in the break-up of a 20+ year friendship.
Basically to make a very long, boring story short for those new to this - I was friends with a set of twins from our early childhood. Well, about five years ago, I opened my big mouth, stuck my foot in it and all hell broke loose. I attempted to apologize, but my apology went unaccepted, so I withdrew my further attempts at reconciliation and mourned the end of the relationship. Mind you, the disagreement only happened with one twin, but I recognized that the other twin would take her sister's side, and I really did not blame her for that. They're twins, after all.
Well, a year ago the twin I did not have the fight with contacted me and said she missed our friendship and could we possibly start over. I debated it for a while and even got advice from my sisters who knew the whole story. It seemed churlish and immature to turn down what appeared to be a genuine offer of friendship and reconciliation. So, Twin #2 and I have been on a pleasant speaking/emailing basis for a while now.
My own boundaries stop at her, though. When she brings up Twin #1, I nod politely and then quickly change the subject.
I can't do that this time. Twin #1 has cancer. Worse, she had a tumor removed from her ovary and apparently no one can tell what type of cancer it is. It has to be sent to a special lab or something. She is facing a total hysterectomy, chemo and gods know what else. I feel truly terrible for her. She isn't a bad person and doesn't deserve something like this.
However, my question is...how the hell do I handle this? I'm no longer her friend. I'm not even welcome in her life. I have offered my full support to Twin#2, without addressing Twin #1. But I'm not sure how long that may be viable. About the only thing in my favor is that I'm down here in the south while they are up north in my old hometown. It makes not going to the hospital to visit a bit more plausible.
What would you do?
MttM - that's a good question. I'd have to say in response - not particularly. I think for the duration of our actual friendship, she didn't actually really like me all that much. I think she wanted to...but for whatever reason, she also felt competitive I think.
DLBK - yes, the distance part IS making this easier.
I had a big falling out with a friend a number of years ago and I'm trying to put that situation through the filter of what you're going through.
It's true that twin #1 may be going through life-altering changes, etc. but there's no real way to tell if she'd be open to a token of friendship or compassion from you. In the case of my friend, years went by I made an overture to reach out and apologize for my part of the argument. It was not received well. His feelings were too raw and he was too wrapped up in it all to move past it. If I were sick and got a card from him, I think I would feel indifferent about it. I don't think it would help or that I would open my heart for him.
You've rekindled your relationship with twin #2. Be there for her. I think it's safe to mention and maybe even acknowledge how you're feeling about her sister, especially with the news of her illness. If there is an opening for you with #1, I'm guessing #2 will let you know.
I'm in Camp 2. (Followed your FB link to answer this question.) If you send her a note to let her know that you're thinking of her, it doesn't automatically commit you to whatever level of friendship she might try to reinstigate, right? If she does "explode with rainbows" at your communication, you can just gracefully say again "I just wanted to let you know that I heard what you are going through and I wanted to reach out and let you know I'm thinking about you and willing to send you a care package...(insert appropriate whatever)". You don't have to instantaneously be Rainbow Brite and join her posse--and it sounds like she wouldn't respond that way anyway.
If you aren't open to ANY communication with her, then don't open the channel. Even if that means you feel weird about knowing that she's going through this big life event and not contacting her...you know? Why turn on the "Open" sign if the door is still locked?
Either way, be there for #2 in whatever capacity you are comfortable with, and know that your decision is your own. It's okay.
You guys really do rock. Thanks. Such good perspectives and questions.
In the end, I decided the best person to ask about the situation was Twin#2 herself. She knows her sister best and would have a good grasp as to her attitude right now. I waited until the initial furor over the diagnosis was over, (she has ovarian cancer) and #2 seemed more calm and I think it was a good approach. She was very understanding about the weirdness of the situation, and has essentially agreed to be my gopher for good wishes. I'm keeping it very low-key, while still throwing all my support behind #2, so she can be there for her sister.
Start with some references to natural medicine and homeopathy. But that's me. Steering them that way may save them money time and life...And yes, support twin #2. You've been there for her, keep on at it.
But that's what I'd do...**shrugs**
Hey, I just stumbled over this thread again so here's an update!
Apparently my overtures to Twin #1 via Twin #2 were so well-received that I ended up visiting her last June with the Little Miss. I had sent her a card from both kiddos, and a note from me that was an indirect reference to an old inside joke. Apparently she remembered that! Later, I sent her a few items I thought might make her feel better - some lemon verbena essential oil, and a Beating Heart pillow. She has been in remission for a few months now and trying to get her life back in order.
Are we BFF's again? No. I don't think our relationship will ever recover to that stage. But we have fun bantering back and forth on FB, we play Words with Friends, wherein she totally kicks my ass, and in general have a pleasant time with our online friendship. I'm okay with that - it seems to be a level we're both comfortable with.
I'm still a little sad that one of the most important relationships of my life went the way it did, but you guys really gave me some good advice, and I was able to salvage a little part of it and keep it alive. So thanks, OS. You guys are made of awesome.
Thanks for the update! I'm glad it turned out so well. Not to threadjack, but I've been thinking a lot about long term friendships lately. It became clear recently that a dear friend of mine for over a decade was ending our friendship. It took me too long to figure it out, but when she ignored my birthday and didn't respond to a text at Christmas (or acknowledge a present), I got it. There was no fight or anything, I guess she just decided we weren't friends anymore.
I am impressed that you were generous enough to let this person back into your life, because my instinct is that if my friend ever tries to reappear I probably won't be up for it. I think her dumping me is hurting too much and I don't want to risk that hurt again.
Weeeeell, I don't know how much generosity was a part of it. It was simply that so much time had passed. Our friendship broke up about 6 years ago, so the initial resentment (on both sides) probably had time to die down. And, like some folks pointed out, a potentially terminal illness can really make you re-evaluate things.
Also, I feel secure in what I'm doing. There are no five hour phone conversations, or plans for vacations together, or anything like that. It's all very low-level. I guess an easier way to say it, is that I'm not feeling threatened, because I don't have a lot to lose. I'm not doing any of the reaching out - I'm letting them come to me.
I'm sorry this is happening to you. I think you are an amazing person, and I'm glad we are friends!
Aww, thanks. I am glad we're friends too. :) Time is probably a good thing. Maybe I'll feel differently in 6 years. Right now I'm hurt and feeling small and petty and thus not convinced a terminal disease would change my mind. :P
I'm with Mommy Monster on this. I reconnected with an old friend with whom I had had a falling out when her mom passed away. I went to the memorial, and if I had been rebuffed, I would have not tried again, but she was happy to see me. In a time of need, sometimes the little (or big) past hurts and you welcome all the support you can get, as long as it is genuine.
Mommy Monster said:
I guess I'm the lone voice of dissent (so far anyway). I think something life-altering like this may make #1 re-think things in her life. And while I agree it may not be the time to try and restart the friendship, I would think a simple card that says "I heard what is happening and just want you to know I'm sorry you're going through this and send you good wishes" wouldn't be inappropriate.
I do agree with the others about being clear with #2. Just let her know that you don't think #1 needs or even wants your active involvement, but you will be there for her (#2) to provide support.