When I was in primary school, my two best friends turned on me. There was no or explanation. It started with tricks, little nasty things you could almost pass off as an accident. And I did, it’s what I wanted to believe at the time, but it spilled into the open. They’d trip me up, push me over, mock me. There was no end to it at all! Kids in our class looked on with pity. It’s a feeling I did not like, but I felt helpless, unable to make sense of the situation, or worse, do anything about it. I felt bad when my mum found out, but somehow, she put a stop to it. Maybe she spoke with their parents? In any case, this learned a great deal about friendship from the early age and how fragile and uneven it can be.

When I talk about friends who disappeared me during cancer, I notice how people listen. They go quiet, entranced almost. But that’s not so surprising, is it? Friendship is sacred and any kind of inquest is considered taboo. And yet, is there anyone out there who was not let down? Who did not feel hard done by, betrayed or cast aside? We should be able to talk about it – open and honest, without feeling weird or awkward in any way. Just like an argument with your spouse, the goal is never to apportion the blame, but figure out the best way forward. Here are some practical ideas to help you get the support you want from people around you and avoid any confusion or misunderstanding that your friends might have when you’re in trouble.

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