Monday, 7 April 2014

All Ready for a Friend Who Didn't Show

Alternate title:  I Got Mad and Ate All The Cake and then Wrote a Long Post

I don't know how many women of my generation worry over their home being presentable for guests.  It seems to me that many of my friends don't and not caring almost became a mark of pride amongst my peers when our children were young.  A messy home was a sign that you had better things to do, you were paying attention to your children or you were out doing something fitnessy and healthy.  Perhaps it is good that these women were able to drop the idea that they could and should do it all.  Nonetheless I generally set the bar high for myself because I prefer to run face-first into a bar rather than hurdle it.  I prefer a clean and tidy home and definitely prefer that other people see that.  I expect myself to be able to do it all-cue the laugh track,  but in living with a chronic illness which features significant and profound fatigue, I fail to meet my own standards on a regular basis.

I do have help.  I have to or I would be drowning in dust.  A woman comes every two weeks to vacuum, clean the bathrooms and wash the kitchen floor.  She is here for two hours so does anything else she can fit into that time, such as a bit of dusting.  I am able to keep up with my own laundry, largely because I am fortunate enough to have my own machines and not have to go elsewhere or even leave my suite in order to do laundry.  I do most of my own shopping and cooking but sometimes need a bit of help on bad days and my wonderful mother steps in then.  She shops for me and makes food for me often.  I can keep on top of the dishes most of the time but sometimes get behind by a couple of days.  A few times a month I socialise a bit with a friend.  I keep myself amused with writing, reading and painting when I can. A dear friend plays scrabble online with me every day.  This is the life that still sometimes wears me out so much I find myself in bed for a few days at a time recovering.

So having a friend come by for a visit on Monday was a big deal, a very exciting thing in my life and even more so as I haven't seen her in several years and she has never seen my new home.  Yes, very exciting and also stressful, because she was to come one day before the  bi-weekly cleaning day and she came three days after I'd already had a social outing.  Three days which I spent mostly in bed recovering from that outing. She doesn't really know the extent of the illness I have and I will do everything I can to hide it from her.  That's what I do.  The very same me who would like people to understand how disabled I often am and how difficult it is just to do what I do, will bend over backwards and invite exhaustion intent on presenting myself as someone who is 'normal'.  (Imagine me using those annoying little air quotes there.)

If I let people see that I have struggled to feed myself for the past three days and in the efforts to do so the dirty dishes have piled up because I could not cope with them, the rug needs vacuuming and the bathroom needs cleaning and I haven't showered or dressed in four days and I can't make head nor tail, as the saying goes, out of the mail and paperwork that is piling up on my kitchen table because yes, this illness has a cognitive side too, if I let people see that maybe they would understand. Maybe it would make more sense to them that I am on a permanent, long term medical leave from work and that my life has been turned upside down by this illness to the point where it is a whole different life and I am a whole different person.

But as much as I do want some understanding I don't want pity.  I want to be seen as able not disabled.  I like it that friends find my home comfortable and cosy and unique and I don't want them to come over and see it in disarray.  If they are only going to see me once a month I want them to see me looking my best and not like some sort of ghost version of myself.   So I will make every possible effort to hide it.   I will rest as much as I can ahead of time and prepare carefully and slowly.  I will dress myself in something nice, probably with pink in it because that makes me look healthy. I will be exhausted but my friends will tell me I look great and perhaps even say that I don't look ill.  Isn't that what I want after all?

It's never that simple.  As soon as I am told that I look great I feel invalidated.   The voice in my head says that  "you look great" and "you don't look ill" really mean "I don't believe you"  or "there couldn't be anything wrong with you" or "maybe you are just making it all up."  I smile, of course, and say thanks in my cheeriest voice.  But inside I cringe and then I berate myself because I got what I worked so hard to get after all.  I looked normal.  I may even have looked good. But here's the kicker.  My friend didn't show up and she didn't call.  I was up early, I prepared and I waited and I fought off the need to go back to bed.  I didn't eat because preparing food would make a mess and then she would see the dirty dishes and mess I was too tired to clean up and I wanted it all clean.  And she didn't come and she didn't call and I got hungry.  So I ate all the slices of blueberry cake I had cut up and put on a plate.  Angry cake eating.  Sometimes it works.
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For this day I attempted to find an outfit that would feel as comfy as sweat pants, be true to my own style ( which sweat pants really aren't ) and involve a little bit of pink in order to perk up my complexion.  I tried out two variations and while neither is really successful, I didn't have that much energy to put into this challenge so here they are.  I ended up in the first one.  Good ol' granny sweater. Without boots this skirt makes me look quite stumpy with thick granny ankles to go with the granny sweater.  But I can't exactly wear boots indoors without it looking odd.  One has to make some sacrifices.  I would have sat on the sofa with my feet tucked up underneath me anyhow.  I nearly always sit cross legged unless I am having to impersonate a lady.

I liked the idea of this but the pink top is too short I think.  The proportions of the layering looked off.  I love this scarf but I thought I might look overdressed with it on indoors.

So much effort, I do hope Sophie appreciated it.  She looks appreciative, no?


26 comments:

  1. Well that's a bummer … fancy not even calling … there needs to be a really, really good excuse to not even call … I hope she has one.
    xx

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    1. I have another friend like this. I know this type of personality well. In her mind, "I'm free on Monday. I'd love to come and visit so I'll call you" means I may or I may not. In my mind it means I will. It's definite unless I die. OH well, when the cleaning lady comes today she will be quite surprised there are no lumps of cat fur on the carpet.
      xo

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  2. I'm so sorry that your friend didn't show up :( What kind of a friend would do that, damn it? I have these "so called friends" that don't show up or don't call, because they had something more interesting to do, don't know why I'm still friends with them.
    I know how this must feel, I usually clean the apartment at least a little bit, if someone is going to come over. My boyfriend couldn't care less though :D I think It's better to be like him and just leave the damn apartment alone, after all people are visiting to see you, not to look at the apartment :D
    I'm like you when it comes to letting my friends see me as "a weak person". I usually avoid seeing anyone if I don't feel okay, or strong or just plain depressed. Which is a stupid thing to do, because they're your friend right? They should love you no matter what kind of condition you are in.

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    1. It's a certain type of person who just does her social life differently, though I'm told by some that I'm simply making excuses for a rude person. It might be better to be like your boyfriend but how do you make yourself not care? That's a bit like trying to make yourself actually honestly believe in the Easter Bunny, in my opinion.
      xo

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  3. I hope your friend has a good excuse!

    where to begin... there is so much in this post. ok - system:
    1) clothes
    love the combi of pink and brown. thought the scarf is the ruffle of the blouse. in this case the top is not to short because of the big accent.
    your pretty normal ankles look not "big" because of the skirt, skirt would make look big ankles slim. but the combi of that leggings and shoe straps.... just for the record.
    2) clean house
    i dont like to do it. there´r much more interesting things to do - like reading your blog....
    but i´m in the camp of the presentable house. but i work on a healthy laziness lately. guests make dirt too and two big cleanings in a few days are simply to much. i got a small dishwasher, used dishes are not visible until the machine does the job - gorgeous!
    3) healthy or not
    once in my live i was too sick to clean the apartment. knee surgery, one leg was not usable at all and hurting like hell. hubby had a big project in the office (and was not the big cleaner back in that days) so guess how the home looked. my friend anna came with her half year old daughter to visit me. she saw, put the baby next to me and started to clean the apartment. that would be what i would do too when visiting a sick/disabled friend. one can talk wile mopping or dusting, between them is still time for coffee & cake.

    long post - longish comment :-)
    recover you well! xxxx

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    1. LOL-I love how you make sure to cover everything. Yes, you are quite right about the leggings and strappy shoes. I would not wear those out-they are at home comfort clothes. I have inherited a tendency for my ankles to swell too.
      I actually do have a dishwasher. The sad fact is that loading and unloading it is still a chore sometimes too much for me but I have been known to stick dirty dishes in with the clean ones when someone was coming over. Of course I then have to wash the whole load over again.
      xo

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  4. How spectacularly rude - that's definitely one to cross off the Xmas card list.
    What a shame she missed out on cake, your lovely home, your company and beautiful Sophie.
    I'm in the domestic slattern camp, I'm afraid. If a tidy home is something you hold important that's fine. I think visitors are so dazzled by my decor they don't notice a dusty surface or cobwebs festooning the chandeliers. Its often used for photo shoots so we must be doing something right.
    Liking the layering, especially the first outfit . Nothing wrong with a scarf indoors (or a hat, boots and a coat if you're struggling with the gas bill!) xxx

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    1. Spectacularly indeed! It's a clueless sort of of rudeness. I really doubt you are a domestic slattern and even I will put up with dust and cobwebs. I was talking about really untidy, like messes of stuff that should be put away, unmade beds, unfolded laundry and dirty dishes. Those things drive me crazy.
      Fortunately for me I can pay my electricity bill! Though now I am pondering saving money there and putting it towards stylish outerwear. ;-)
      xo

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  5. I'm sorry about that. Did your friend ever call? I can't imagine what you go through...but you explained it very well the fine line between understanding and pity.

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    1. No call. Life goes on. Thank you, for reading and commenting. I am on a mission to make this illness understood but I promise not to post about it too often. ;-)

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  6. Oh that's a shame, how disappointing for you. I hope your friend has been in touch since her no show. Sometimes I wonder if pretending/covering up is ever worth it; the effort that goes into maintaining a fiction could surely be utilised in some other direction. Still, I'm sorry you were angry and upset, on top of tired and hungry.
    On a happier note, yes, pink does suit you! The deeper pink top with the scarf is lovely. And Sophie is so like my cat Jess, I did a double take! xxx

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    1. No word yet. An explanation may or may not pop up on Facebook. Your question, probably rhetorical, is one I am always pondering but changing my basic nature is not done at the snap of fingers. What I am able to do, however, is let go of something in a fairly short time. I was over it all by the time I went to bed.
      Yes, I have noticed your cat, Jess, and how she and Sophie are quite alike. I have a very strong attraction to long haired tabbies and Sophie is my second cat like that. Like most cats she is her own unique sort of lovable pain in the ass.
      xo

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  7. Oh wow, how disappointing and hurtful, I'm so sorry, Shawna. Have you tried taking what I call the high road? That would entail calling her up and expressing concern over her not coming over. Perhaps she had an accident and was unable to call? If she was really in an accident, then you haven't dumped on her and given her an excuse to fault you. If she wasn't in an accident, then hopefully she'll feel shame and guilt commensurate with her extreme rudeness.

    Both outfits are lovely. I sure hope you enjoyed that pie. Xoxo

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    1. Thanks, Kelly. At this point in my life I know who are the small number of dependable and true friends, but still one does enjoy a slightly wider circle of people sometimes. I will be doing something similar to your suggestion via e-mail soon. She was only in town for a few days and should be home in Manitoba by now. I will e-mail and express my hope that nothing bad happened.
      xo

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  8. Hi Shawna, Sorry your friend let you down but glad you are over it now. I love the layering in the first photo, I think I would agree with you that the pink top is too short in the second photo. I have been experimenting with layering but I find it very difficult to get right xx

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    1. I really like layering but sometimes it is just too warm. By July and August it's not likely I will be layered at all and I kind of miss that. I think it's why I prefer Spring and early Autumn to mid summer. I think you should just trust your eye when you layer things. You might not know it's 'not right' but you will just sense that it doesn't please you.
      xo

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  9. I think that you have explained yourself quite well, and I can relate to a bit of this. However, I do find it very rude of your friend to not call/show up. I honestly hope that she is okay, and nothing terrible happened, but even a lousy little text would have been better than nothing.

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    1. Yes, that is exactly how I feel. And look how you expressed it with so few words and I had to write a novel!
      xo

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  10. Shawna, I am so sorry that your friend did not even call. I always try to come up with excuses for such behavior, but I too am very disappointed and angry when something like this happen. After all, you understand that maybe it is not really a friend... I like Vix's attitude - "their loss"! It was the greatest lesson for me in the past year or so - to learn to pick people who actually pay attention to real you and understand who you are and what you are all about, and what exactly it takes you to build in live what you are building... even if it's a clean apartment... but it's a loooong topic. :)

    I am all for being genuine. If the order and cleanness is so important for you, then I sure understand why you try to clean up even if you don't feel well. I am messy, and honestly, it does not matter to me so much. I did grow up with parents who prefer order and cleanness though, and still feel guilt over it, so when I have visitors, I too try to clean, but at the same time I tell them upfront that my house is a mess and will not be perfectly in order. People who really love and respect you for who you are get it. And if others don't, well, their loss. :)))

    I think pink is flattering on you, you are right about it. I love layers, and you look cozy and homey. You look like a good friend. :)

    Hugses!

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    1. Oh thank you for the hugses. I needed them! I am a very loyal and conscientious sort of person. I do make a very good friend for someone who values that. Not everyone approaches friendship that way.

      I do like my home clean and tidy, though I am not a minimalist so there is always a certain degree of clutter. I like it that way even when I am not expecting visitors because messy makes me stressed. It does get a bit messy though and is not clean up to the standard I would prefer, and because I am so tired all the time I have to live with that. Presenting visitors with the tidy version of my home is like presenting them with the version of me who had a shower and combed her hair. I just feel better that way. Very close friends are allowed to see the mess. ;-) I am one of those people who would clean up before the cleaning lady comes. In fact I always clean the toilet before she comes. That's all I can manage.
      Hugses for you too!

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  11. I agree with everything that has come before me - your friend was rude, you should take the high road, I like my house neat, but I'm not a fanatic, and your first outfit is the better one.

    About people not showing up, I notice that people are more flaky about social commitments since everyone (except me) is sending texts all the time. It's like they never commit because something new might come up, and then they can cancel by a simple text. My nieces do this all the time, but I don't think it's just younger people. I am surprised your friend never contacted you again, but she must have thought it was not a firm commitment.

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    1. Hi Val, thanks for weighing in. I agree that she must have thought it was not a firm commitment. I would beg to differ, but the main point is it is more of a careless, clueless sort of a behaviour and not a deliberately callous one. At least cancelling by a text lets the person know you aren't coming. I'd take that over no call at all. Well, I was raised to be clean, tidy and polite. My standards are high apparently, but mostly I just apply them to myself. Perhaps there are some people who think why the heck is she bothering to phone me and tell me she can't come over? LOL

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  12. First off, that friend isn't much of a friend. That is common courtesy to call if you can't make it. Why can't people be polite anymore?

    Secondly I totally understand where you are coming from when you say that things get behind because you are too ill and it bothers you. Nothing worse than feeling miserable but then add clutter, dirty dishes and a dirty floor and then just by looking around I feel worse. People don't realize how much an environment can affect a person's healing and mental health.

    On the bright side though your place is spic and span : )

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. Yes, that's what it is, it is my own comfort level and I need my home to be a certain degree of clean and tidy so that I am comfortable in it. For the most part I do it for myself, though there is definitely always the aspect of wanting it to look it's best for guests too. Anyhow, today is cleaning lady day so it's getting a proper work over as opposed to my spit polish.

      Thanks for dropping in! I hope Spring is making a show in your part of the country.
      xo

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  13. I am sorry that you were let down like that, Shawna .... but I have to ask you ... do you eat placid cakes too? Do angry ones taste better? ;-)

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    1. I do indeed. All cake is good cake!
      xo

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