Your friends just don’t understand

As a result, you feel dismissed, ignored, unsupported. How could they do this to you when you need them the most?

Let’s say your child is struggling with substance use disorder and every time you bring up the subject it dies like embers in a fire in a thunderstorm. It could be after you’ve lost someone to suicide or lost a child to any cause of death, everyone seems to disappear. It could be you are simply having a very difficult time and no one has noticed or reached out despite your current state of mind which is very uncharacteristic of you.

When you are in this state of mind, you are more sensitive to the reactions or the lack of reaction from those you love.

Typically, a reaction like any of the above is tied to fear, confusion, or simply not knowing.

Sometimes when things get tough and challenging, friends disappear or refuse to talk about the subject you need to discuss. And in this case, they are missing an opportunity to connect on a deeper level with another human being.

Keep in mind, however, that if you are really struggling, you may not realize how much you are leaning on a loved one and if it persists for a long time, that friend might perceive that the relationship is lopsided and the helplessness they feel after being with you is more than they can manage. Are you engaging them in other conversation over time? Or is it all about your issue?

When we feel unsupported, we sometimes get angry or sad, or both. What are you expecting from them? Do they know how you feel? Are you leaning on them too much out of your own fear or stubbornness of getting more support?

Your friends might not understand if they’ve not been through whatever it is you are going through. No one who hasn’t been there can. So where can you find others who are going through this, too? Are you finding support with a therapist or group?

Step back, take a deep breath and understand that you have different sets of friends who fit different roles in your life. And if you don’t have the kind of support you need, seek it out for your own mental health and well-being. Holding grudges won’t help you move forward but will keep your heart riveted in bitterness. And is that where you want to be?

It’s OK to feel angry but if you look at, or list just the facts, and subtract all the emotion, you are less likely to fill in the gaps of information you don’t really know with your own assumed scenarios. Only when you can do that is it easier to see that most aren’t acting as they are to be intentionally dismissive of you. They are simply at a loss regarding what to do or not at a place when they can process your struggles as well as their own.

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked mental health speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational mental health keynotes, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, anxiety, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

2 thoughts on “Your friends just don’t understand”

  1. This is spot on. After having discovered the magic of 12 Step recovery, it became clear to me that not only was it useless but also undesirable to attempt to seek support from anyone not grounded in a recovery program or a similar experience.

    Also, recovery/spirtual wisdom has definitely weeded some prople out. It clarified my innate need for deeper connection. I get that people don’t naturally know how to handle what frightens and confuses them, And also…I do not want to be in non-optional relations with those who throw up the wall. I refuse to shave off or hide big parts of my story and who I am to maintain(feign) “connection”. The irony of what I just said is not lost on me. Thanks for sharing. There really is nothing so comforting as a me too, OR even a I don’t get it but I am here and will do my best, even when it feels dark and scary. It takes courage to be emotioanlly naked. I am deeply into the courage and humility it takes to just show up and hold space.


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