When I was helping to care for my mom with Alzheimer’s, I often distanced myself from my friends because I felt like they couldn’t possibly understand what I was going through.
They probably couldn’t because they had never been through it themselves, but I also never bothered trying to explain it to them.
Instead, I would expect my friends to just magically understand how I felt and then I would get mad at them for inevitably not understanding at all.
I would look for reasons to be mad at them and I resented them for the sheer fact that they weren’t going through what I was going through.
“I can’t believe she didn’t ask me about my mom at all last night.”
“I can’t believe she hasn’t texted me in a week to see how I’m doing.”
“It must be nice to still have a mom.”
“It must be nice to go away for the weekend without feeling guilty that you’re not spending time with your mom.”
These were all things I thought to myself.
I was bitter and resentful and I pushed away anyone who cared enough to still be my friend.
My mom having Alzheimer’s made me feel isolated and alone, but I also further isolated myself and chose to be alone.
I wanted to be alone because then at least I didn’t have to pretend to be okay and I didn’t have to try to explain how I felt to anyone. I wanted to be alone because it allowed me to continue feeling sorry for myself and telling myself that I was all alone.
I realize now that I put myself through a lot of unnecessary suffering because I refused to let anyone in. I refused to reach out for help. I refused to accept anyone’s support.
All because I felt like they would never understand.
And yet, I still expected them to understand and I would get mad at them when they didn’t.
I lost a lot of friends throughout my mom’s 10-year journey for one reason or another. I learned that people stop reaching out when you won’t let them in. I also learned that you can’t expect people to anticipate your needs when you’ve never bothered to express them.
Friends, this disease is very isolating, but it’s possible that you are further isolating yourself unnecessarily by not allowing others in.
You deserve to be loved.
You deserve to be supported.
You deserve to be cared about.
Don’t isolate yourself.
When they reach out, let them in—even if they don’t understand. It’s better to have a friend who doesn’t understand your situation, but still cares about you than it is to have no friends at all.
Alone is not the way.
* If this post resonated with you, I can help you find ways to cope with the isolation. Check out my new mentoring services for Alzheimer’s daughters.
** If you liked this post, you will love my new book “When Only Love Remains: Surviving My Mom’s Battle with Early Onset Alzheimer’s.” It’s available on all Amazon marketplaces.