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Author Topic: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...  (Read 5430 times)

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Offline otherplaces

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Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« on: September 15, 2006, 12:22:55 AM »

AM community,

I guess I'm looking for a little advice here.  I'll try and make this as concise as possible.

My closest friends prior to having HIV are not my cloest friends anymore.  In fact I believe that about one month after my diagnosis they all pretty much abandoned me.  They returned phone calls sporadicly, wouldn't reply to emails I sent them and basically left me alone to deal with my diagnosis.  I'm loathe to go into all the details, but let's just say that I spent many upon many nights alone dealing with this with nobody but me.  And when I needed someone to hold me up I would call, but nobody would answer.

Thankfully AM was there to push me forward.

Now I'm unsure how to deal with these various people.  Most continue some form of contact with me.  They may call once a month or less.  Considering how often I spoke to them prior this is vastly diferent.  Just a phone call from them just reminds me of being so alone in the worst days of my life. 

I don't know what I should do with these people.  Cut off as much contact as possible?  Try and salvage the relationship?  Confront them?  I guess I've done all of this to varying degrees, but in the end all I can think is that I think very little of these people. 

Occaisonally I will call them and hang out just to have someone to hang out with...just because I'm bored.  But it's hallow.

To add some perspective...none of my closest friends prior to HIV had a clue that I had to start medication a month ago.  They've checked out, and I have to feel they either don't care or are too scared to deal.

Recently an old friend has been emailing me and calling me alot.  She bailed during the worst six months of my life?  What to do?  I can't bring myself to answer her calls.  I've written some small emails back to try and keep things nice, but I'm reluctant to try and "re-connect".  I don't want to be a big drama queen and tell her that she utterly failed me.  I just feel stuck.  I'm just not sure what they could do to redeem themselves even. 

I don't necessarily consider them horrible people, but I just don't think much of them.  They just seem so clueless, and is it my job to spell out the obvious to them?

Please...what are your thoughts? 

much thanks,

Offline poobear

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2006, 02:06:31 AM »
    I am so sorry you are going thru this with so called Friends.  I think that you need to evaluate and see how much these three people really mean to you.  If you could get back the friendship you had, would you be willing to forgive and go on?  Everybody deals with HIV different wether infected or affected.  Not trying to make excuses for them but could it be possible that they were afaraid to say or do the wrong thing so they just disappeared for a while?  Again not making excuses(playing the advocate) Anyway if you feel these people may be worth your wonderful friendship, I would suggest you talk to them and let them know how they made you feel and take it from there.  Pretty much I figure they are not really there now and if it doesn't work out you are not really losing much because they were not there when you needed them., and like always if it doesn't go good we will be here to catch you.  With much Love  Rachel

Offline Ann

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2006, 03:46:45 AM »
Hi Brian,

Pointing out to someone that they abandonded you during the worst six months of your life is NOT being "a big drama queeen", it's simply being honest and calling a spade a spade. The ones who respond to your honesty with heartfelt apologies might be ones worth salvaging a friendship with. Those who respond with more silence or lame excuses, well, why would you want them in your life anyway?

True friendships are based on honest communication. You'd be doing yourself a disservice to hold back on this one. That's my feelings on the matter anyway.

Whatever happens Brian, you've always got friends here.

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Offline DanielMark

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2006, 05:57:09 AM »
The ones who respond to your honesty with heartfelt apologies might be ones worth salvaging a friendship with. Those who respond with more silence or lame excuses, well, why would you want them in your life anyway?

Hi Brian,

I was going to say the same as Ann did. In my own life, my close friends didn't abandon me, but I abandoned all who I considered acquaintances. Why you might ask. Well, in the simplest of terms, my time became more valuable to me after diagnosis. I no longer wanted to waste it on socializing with people who I didnít feel close to.

Iím a pretty self-sufficient individual. Always been more of a loner. I donít feel the need for a large circle of friends, just a few very good ones.

If there are any of your friends who you feel might be able to actually bring something of value to a friendship now under your new circumstances, then by all means, check them out and see if thatís a possibility. If not, then let bygones be bygones. I wouldnít waste a minute on regrets about whatís gone before. Time is too precious for that.




Offline IzPoz

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2006, 06:36:31 AM »
Hi Brian,

I agree with what everyone has said already. 

After my husband was diagnosed, those closest to me were there for the news.  Then when I was diagnosed, they were still there.  Those friends are still here with me today.  However, it was some of the friends I told post diagnosis that I thought were good friends, that disappeared off the face of the Earth.

I believe it's just a matter of them being worried about how to "act" around you.  They are afraid because they don't know what to say, or how to react.  The one who is trying to get back in touch with you, be honest with her.  Let her know she let you down, but you are willing to forgive because you understand that it's a difficult situation.  It sounds to me that she's trying to find a way to let you know that she's ready to pick up where she left off.  Now it's up to you to be able to forgive her.

And Brian, don't waste too much energy and effort on those who are not ready to reciprocate.  But it sounds to me that you have at least one who is ready to reciprocate.
The reason angels can fly is that they take themselves so lightly. ~ Chesterton G. K.

Offline alive2

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2006, 02:21:50 PM »
i have seen some of the people i know as freinds do the same thing without even knowing if someone has hiv or not.they get all talking crazy shit they have no knowledge of,thats why i choose not to let any of my family or freinds know my sitution,for the same fear of the abandonment you refer to.i have been there to,the guy thats learning now is totaly different than i was 4 years ago.althou some of them so called frinds you are better off without,its the ones who appoligize and try to learn about your situation that are the ones making an effort to learn and be a part of your life,they are truly your freinds. sometimes people make mistakes which is ok its human,but what we learn from thos4e mistakes are what make us compassionate,they are the ones you want as freinds.they will be there thick and thin,i really appreciate knowing i have a couple freinds that wont leave my freindship on the door step when they come over my house,but still its ackward to just bring up the subject and disclose to some people.hope your well,take care

Offline blondbeauty

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2006, 05:54:34 PM »

Ignorance about HIV might be the reason for some friends to disappear. But sometimes, some friends only want to be there for the good times and not for difficult ones. Those are not real friends.
This not only happens with HIV. It also happens with cancer. It is very different the feeling for people with cancer that for people for HIV (people with HIV are supposed to deserve it for doing "pervert" things). But also people with cancer loose their friends and even their couples, just because they donīt know how to deal with those situations.
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Offline Lis

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2006, 06:03:18 PM »
i had a group of friends that i had known for over 20 years... we played in bands together, we wrote fanzines, we ate, drank, and made merry...

i think that the fact we are ill makes people pause.. they saw me go from bad ass punk chick, to messed up AIDS victim.. its hard for them.. they aren't sure where to file it in their brain..  dont stop being friends.. they are grieving about your life as much as you are...

poz 1986....

Offline otherplaces

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2006, 07:32:16 PM »

Thank you all for your thoughtful posts.

I've been thinking about this all day at work and I'm not sure I've arrived at many answers.  I mainly wonder if I can forgive.  I know I'll never forget the pain of this first year with HIV, and I doubt I can forget the lack of character these people have demonstrated.  I suppose I'm trying to figure out if it's worth confronting them.  I have to assume they feel this tenuous contact with me is okay.  And I guess I feel that it just is not.  They can either be a real friend or I'd really like them out of my life because I'm trying to move forward.  In fact I've already moved forward without them.  I've dealt with such hard difficult things without them......

I don't know.  I find this topic difficult to properly articulate my feelings.  I very much feel like I've moved on and they're not even my friends anymore.  I also wonder if I have been too forgiving in the past, allowed too many people to walk over me. 

Where do we even go from here?

I'm a person that values friends.  I'd do anything for my friends.  In that sense it is difficult for me to axe a friendship.

Just more thoughts running back and forth in my head.

Thank you all again.



Offline Terry

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2006, 08:48:15 PM »
As the frog said to the Prince, Iíd rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on velvet Cushing.

Having a false friend is having no friend at all!

Offline Life

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2006, 09:04:04 PM »
Brian, I think we all have fair weather friends..  Thats just what they are.  They lack the ability to understand what it is to be hiv +ve.  I would go a step further and take the +ve out of the equation and see it as you are moving on as they are moving on in their lives...  Friends come and go.  Some stay forever.  I would not close the doors on any of these people for inevitably, they will stumble someday and youll be there for them, or you wont.  Resentments are something you should shrug off now..  Your time is to valuable to hold them to close..

Just because we cant hug doesnt mean you dont have valued friends right here...


Offline otherplaces

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2006, 02:23:42 AM »

I'd like to thank you all again for your thoughts.  It has all been really helpful. 

I wrote this huge letter describing my life addressing noone imparticular.  I guess that I could send to anybody.  But I decided I don't have to justify anything to anyone.  It is just not necessary.

Below is the message I just sent to my friend:


I wrote a big long letter about my life, but I'm not going to send that, as I decided it is not necessary.

I appreciate you trying to re-initiate contact with me.  But I have to address the elephant in the room.

You and I both know that you dropped off the face of the earth during the worst months of my life.  I have in prior emails stated to you that my friends were leaving me out in the cold.  I received no response to this message.  One of many messages you never responded to.

"It's partially having a boyfriend and it's partially
just being really busy with work."

I'm sorry.  It's not a very good excuse.

I spent a good eight months in my own hell.  And I spent it almost entirely alone.  I am not happy about this, and to be honest I'm looking closely to see who I should continue friendships with.  You know I love you.  But at this point I have moved forward on my own volition.  I may have few of the friends I had prior to contracting HIV, but I am strong and I will go forward with more strength than you can imagine.  If you choose to join me as a friend is up to you. But I will not just let things slide.  I am done just letting people do as they please to me.

The rest is really entirely up to you.

with love,

Offline bear60

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2006, 07:56:16 AM »
Its interesting that you have this problem.  But as a gay man...are you talking about your heterosexual friends or what?  Just wondering.
In my case, most of my friends turned up HIV positive and a few, who were total denial queens, and ended up in the hospital with PCP, now have no contact with me cause I was a BIG "IN YOUR FACE WITH HIV" type queen who could not understand why they didnt even get tested. Now they dont speak to me.
I think its THEIR problem not yours.  So how much do you want to invest in a friendship with them??
Poz Bear Type in Philadelphia

Offline aztecan

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2006, 08:46:11 AM »
Hey Brian,

I have to agree with what the others have said. When I finally admitted my positive status (long, boring story) some of my fairweather friends vanished into the woodwork.

HIV has a way of separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. I don't have time to waste on unimportant people, even if I thought they were important at some point in my life.

I am sorry many of your "friends" have distanced themselves. If some can again become part of your life, great. If not, other people will be there for you.

The only difference is, you don't know them yet. As Eric pointed out, you also have us, even if it is a "cyber" friendship.

If living with this bug for 21-plus years has taught me anything, it is I don't have time to waste. Every day is precious and I cannot afford to spend it on shallow people or fairweather friends.



(Who liked the letter you wrote.)
"May your life preach more loudly than your lips."
~ William Ellery Channing (Unitarian Minister)

Offline Andy Velez

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2006, 09:02:11 AM »
Brian, is there anyone specifically among those "friends" whom you actually miss and would want to salvage a friendship if possible? If so, that's the one or those are the ones whom I would consider trying to contact. If you choose to do that you have to realize it maybe for naught, and that you're doing it simply because it's something you want to do to either revive a relationship or to stamp it done and finished. You have to do it knowning there is no way to know what the response(s) will be.

If you do decide to contact anyone among them, I recommend keeping it simple. No big shpeel. Just let the person know how you feel and that you'd valued the friendship. See what he/she has to say. If someone is making a genuine apology that's always clear when it's happening. Forgiving someone is one thing. Being a sap and ignoring what's right in your face is something else. And what good is any friendship if there isn't mutual trust and respect? 

Otherwise I would just say goodbye and good riddance and instead work on bringing other people into your life. You've had a tough lesson in who shows up for you and who doesn't.

When you deal with certain serious events in life it can be an op to separate the gems from the turds and you have certainly gotten a taste of that experience.

Keep us posted on what you decide and how it goes.

« Last Edit: September 16, 2006, 09:05:55 AM by Andy Velez »
Andy Velez

Offline keyite

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2006, 09:22:17 AM »
Hi Brian - I think that's an excellent letter. Honest, direct and very neutral considering what you have been subjected to. You have firmly placed the ball in your friend's court and I admire you for that - in many ways it would have been to much 'simpler' to just let the friendship slide.

Let us know how it works out.

Offline IzPoz

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2006, 09:50:44 AM »

Great letter and wonderful choice of words.  You have made your point, now it's up to your friend to decide if she will continue to make excuses or attempt an apology.

I am hoping for the best.
The reason angels can fly is that they take themselves so lightly. ~ Chesterton G. K.

Offline otherplaces

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2006, 11:47:47 PM »

Well, as of this evening...no response from her.  We will see.

Bear, these are straight friends.  But things aren't always so cut and dry...as I identify as straight (crossdressing and transexuals aside  :o ).  Nonetheless, it's not the first time I've been called gay, and I take no offense...I'm even kind of honored :)

Mark, thanks for your deep wisdom (as always).  I think I'm looking to make sure I'm not wasting my time with poor friends, and it's time to figure out where people really stand.

Andy, I think you make a very good point.  What makes this so difficult is that these aren't just average acquaintances.  I've known these people since college.  They're the longest friendships I've had in my life.  So, I don't particularly wish them to end...but in many ways they feel like they're already over.

Thank you all for your help. :)  We'll see where this goes.


Offline Blixer

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2006, 03:10:38 AM »
I'm coming in a little late on this one and lots of good suggestions have been offered.  This thread is particularly of interest to me becuase I can identify with what you are saying.  I didn't "announce" my status, but I did share it with a number of individuals I considered to be "close" friends.  For the most part, I felt many of them abandoned me during a very difficult time in my life.  It hurt at first, but I've moved on.  When they include me in their plans, I don't mind hanging with them if I don't have anything else going on.   Some I never hear from any more.  I don't hold that against them.  I'm sure it was partly a lack of understanding and partly because they just didn't know how to deal with it.   And you know, when I looked back at some things in my life, I found that I had done some similar things to people.  Not about HIV, but about other things, whether it be cancer or some other issue or disease. It wasn't that I didn't care, but I didn't know what they were going through, I didn't know what to do, and so I just backed off.  Seeing what happened with some of my "friends" has now made me a better friend to others I think.  And in the end, those who stood with me have become even closer friends.  They are the ones that I want to spend my time with.

Good luck as you sort through it all. 
Diagnosed 1/9/06
8/27/2007 CD4 598, 29%, VL 58 (72 wks)
11/19/2007 CD4 609, 30%, VL < 50 (84 wks)
2/11/2008 CD4 439, 27%, VL <50 (96 wks)
5/5/2008 CD4 535, 28%, VL <50 (108 wks)
10/20/2008 CD4 680, 28%, VL <50 (132 wks)
Changed to Atripla in 2012
1/14/2013 CD4 855, 35%, VL <40

Offline david25luvit

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2006, 07:37:20 AM »
Hey Brian...

              Like Blixer I'm coming in a bit late with my two cents worth but just thought I'd share my experience.
              Despite the vast amounts of information about HIV these days, the stigma, the fear of HIV is still very much
              alive.  It took me a while to realize that accepting my HIV status took time....so surely it would take time for
              my friends and family to accept it and learn to cope with their own fears.  I noticed the last five months of
              David's hospice period....most of our friends just stopped coming by to see us....After David made a comment
              about it one day, I took to calling and asking friends to stop by and see him...that it would cheer him up to see
              someone else besides myself (and his mother and sister on Sunday afternoon)   Some promised they would
              come by and others just told me out right that it was just too "depressing" for them to see David deteriorate..
              a fact that I had a hard time understanding but that's the way they felt and what could I say.

               Coping with my own illness now, most of my old friends have fallen by the waste side and perhaps that's for the
               best.  Living with HIV and all that comes with it is difficult enough without having to comfort and support well
               meaning so called friends knowing they would rather be anywhere but with you...  The ones who have stood by
               me and who have shown their genuine concern and love will always be cherished. 

               Some have a hard time accepting their own mortality...others are just shallow or indifferent but one thing is for
               sure...AIDS scares everyone.  And if you're not HIV positive, you can't even begin to understand just how
               truly horrifying it truly is.  My motto...Forgive and Forget.  If they really love you...they'll be there.  If not, they
               probably won't....in either case.  Life goes on...............
In Memory of
Raymond David McRae III
Nov. 25, 1972- Oct. 15, 2004
I miss him terribly..........

Offline Moffie65

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #20 on: September 17, 2006, 07:57:42 AM »

In life we meet people, some become friends, as in aquaintances, others will become fast friends for life. 

An aquaintance is someone we can hang with, share fun stories about work and our social life, while a friend will want to share your inner most feelings and emotions.  An aquaintance will not have the time to share your personal challenges as they are so very wrapped up in their own issues, and don't/can't relate to yours as they have not vested enough into the relationship to become real friends.  A friend will get up out of bed at three in the morning, answer your phone call for support, get dressed, travel 25 miles accross town and come to your home to do nothing more than give you a hug. 

In life, we sometimes confuse the true meaning of friendship, and socially it is often a blurred definition that keeps us active with any particular group of people.  In reality, if you get to the end of your life and you can count your true friends on more than one hand; then you are truly a rich man.  I have about three people in my life that have been lifelong friends, and currently I am working on a few more friendships that have come into my life from this forum.  Thankfully, I have been able to make and keep friends very easy in this life, but those that have stayed on as truly life long friends are always going to be few and far between.  Life long friendships are nurtured, and grown with care and honesty.  Anything less is no foundation for a true friendship.  Please remember; a true friendship is a two way street, and anything less is simply an aquaintance.

I hope this helps, but for the most part, I don't see most of these people sticking with you for the rest of your life, so in that context, I say move on, and if any of them feel like moving on with you, they will surely tell you.  Otherwise, please don't waste your precious time with people who are obviously not interested in your life and your challenges.

In Love and Support.
The Bible contains 6 admonishments to homosexuals,
and 362 to heterosexuals.
This doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals,
It's just that they need more supervision.
Lynn Lavne

Offline ProudMom

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Re: Dealing with old "friends" post diagnosis...
« Reply #21 on: October 02, 2006, 10:26:17 PM »
As the mother of a newly diagnosed HIV positive son I must say that this is a confusing time. I have gone through so many different ups and downs since learning of my son's HIV that some days I feel like I am going crazy.
I have tried to educate myself , but there is no educational material on how to deal with the fear of hurting the one you love. I am still looking for answers to the medical and hopefully this will help with the rest of it. The last thing that I want to do is hurt my son with my ignorance. Luckily we have the type of relationship where I can ask him questions and he keeps me updated with every doctors appointment.
I guess after all this rambling that I am trying to tell you to give your friends a second chance. If they are reaching out to you, reach back. I know that you had a hard time with your diagnosis, but they had a hard time too. Ignorance can make us all afraid. Maybe the ones that are reaching out now are those that are supposed to be in your life for the long haul even though you may find a few bumps in the road. Friends don't come with guarantees of perfect harmony 100% of the time. Nobody can have too many friends in their lives, so please give the old ones another chance.


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