Forum Replies Created
March 29, 2021 at 9:34 pm #376815
Thank you TeaK and Anita,
Seeing what you both wrote reminds me of some Dr. Wayne Dyer lessons about “could, should and would”, and also “must”. I am telling myself I SHOULD have been able to fix it, they “MUST” see that they were wrong and come back to make peace. I know that is very unrealistic thinking, and unhealthy thinking. Also, as I mentioned, I don’t even truly want them to come back unless they significantly worked on themselves and addressed the issues going on within them. One is a narcissist and will likely never change, and the other, well, I don’t know what happened to my friend, but she is no longer recognizable as the person I knew for 24 years.
This actually helps so much. I realize I can be sad for the loss, and still look back and be thankful for the good times we had, but in both cases, the bad times were a pattern and lead to toxicity in my life. I know this is for the best. I also realize I have to protect that little girl within me that Anita mentioned. I’ve worked really hard to protect her, and even missing these people or thinking about them so often is doing a disservice to her. She deserves my attention, not them.March 29, 2021 at 7:55 am #376788
Thank you for responding. I’m trying to figure this out myself. I think because in my core beliefs I am a pacifist, I think the world needs peace, and everyone should learn to get along. It’s idealistic, but that’s what I’d like for the world. Seeing that it wasn’t possible for me to achieve this with two people that were dear to me is really difficult to accept. Still, my self preservation kicks in and I know it’s unwise to let either of them back in. They both had hurt me, my uncle more so, for years, with verbal and emotional abuse and manipulation, trying to turn me against my own mother. And basically disowning me when I tried for 8 years to be a peacekeeper in an awful family feud. I couldn’t get them to resolve their differences and finally had to step back for my own mental health. I was a new mom and it was consuming me. But now everything has settled, and it still hurts because I try to have a relationship with my aunt and cousins. Not speaking to him makes it awkward at times. I know I need to stay away but it just ultimately feels like a huge failure.
As for my friend, again, I feel feelings of failure. Here we are, two adult women now, and something as stupid as different politics got between us. Though I know it’s more than that. There was a line crossed of disrespect on her end, and now she’s the one icing me out. If I go back, I am pretty much accepting that kind of behaviour and I can’t. It’s not a matter of pride at all, but again, self preservation. I’ve grown up with abuse and it feels strange to me to not accept that behaviour. But I know it’s what I have to do. I just want the weight of the losses to come off of me. I’m not sure if/how/when they will.February 3, 2021 at 8:09 pm #374023
Thank you Anita!!
Happy 2021 to you as well! I feel so at peace with this now, it’s incredible. That simple mental scenario gave me such clarity. I do hope others read it and give it a try, it gave me the answers that I was searching for. I really appreciate you talking me through it as well. I don’t think I could have processed this fully without our conversation. It brought up a lot of stuff for me about my mom that I had to go through again in order to fully see the picture here. You’re a wonderful person for all the hep you give to people on this site.
NYC ArtistFebruary 3, 2021 at 7:25 am #373961
Hello all, and happy 2021! I hope everyone is feeling a sense of hope and renewal in this new year.
I wanted to post another update about this story of a broken relationship that has taken me months to process. I am still finding myself thinking about my ex friend often. Usually it’s with a lot of sadness that things ended up the way they did. Since I last wrote I noticed this friend has blocked me on all social media. It feels very petty and immature, as I have no hate for her and only want the best for her. Also, we have been friends for decades and I’m friends on social media with people I barely know. I guess I had thought we could at least stay friends online and know that the other is doing well. I haven’t had contact with my friend since the emails right after thanksgiving and have not done anything that would warrant being blocked altogether. So that was a bit upsetting as she seems to want to cut out any and all contact from me.
But something that gave me comfort and I wanted to share for anyone who may be struggling to let go of a bad relationship is this…I had an epiphany last night. I envisioned how I would feel if I had the opportunity to have this ex-friend over to my house for a weekend, or even for dinner. Would I be excited to spend time with her? Would I be comfortable having her near my husband and daughter, or would I be nervous, walking on eggshells, worried about her causing drama? The thought of having her visit gave me a huge pit in my stomach. I know my husband is not a fan, she has never made the effort to get to know my daughter who is almost 4 years old. And I considered this woman one of my “best friends”. She has not been a best friend, she has not even been a “good” friend. She has actually been a very bad friend for a very long time and has caused me more stress than joy. Once I came to this realization, that I would not even want her in my house, I was able to let go. I don’t hate her, I wish her well, but I don’t want to even keep up in a superficial way with her. I actually DO want her out of my life and away from my family because she doesn’t make me feel safe.
So for any one who is struggling to let go of a toxic person, ask yourself…would you be ok spending a whole weekend with them in your house? Does that thought make you excited or stressed? That gives you the answer if it’s worth working things out or not.December 4, 2020 at 7:55 pm #370514
I was cut out by my mother in many ways during childhood. As I mentioned she and my dad divorced when I was only 2. They got married young, and my mother had me at 21 years old. So she was only 23 and a divorced woman. She wanted to be a single woman with friends and go out and be a girl in her 20’s, which left me staying with my grandmother very often, or sleepovers at friends’ houses. Then when I was 6 she married my stepdad, but before that she had some really horrific boyfriends. I remember one jerk used to light matches in my face and terrify me! I don’t think she ever did anything to stop him. When she married my stepdad, he was a very insecure man, and constantly comparing her love for me and her love for him. He used to ask weird questions like who did she love more, and she would give mixed answers as to not offend either of us. I always felt like she was afraid of getting divorced again, plus he was abusive, so she went along with him….until she didn’t. And things got very very volatile when she would stand up to him. Then she went into a sort of hibernation. I remember for several years of my life, everyone was in their own room. She would hide in her bedroom reading, I would be in my room playing games or watching TV, and my stepfather would be in the living room. We lived very separate lives, which is why I probably didn’t feel like I could come forward about what was happening with my father.
I remember the day that my stepfather finally left. I came home from school and everything of his was gone and I felt such relief. I thought she and I would be ok and could just be together and move on. And then she didn’t leave her bedroom for a year. I don’t even exaggerate. She hid in her room and was depressed and I was 14 years old. Then a few months later she met a new man. He was also horrible. She forced me to move in with him even though I made it clear I didn’t want to go. Then when I was 16 my poor mother had a massive stroke while we were living with this man and his 3 sons. That was a traumatic night, I watched her look so out of it, and wasn’t sure if she would live. This man she was with wouldn’t let me come to the hospital with her, he made his eldest son stay awake and keep me home because we had finals the next day. She was in a hospital for months for rehabilitation after that, and I just had to live alone with this man and his sons and wait for her. My grandparents were sort of in the picture but a bit removed because they disapproved of our living situation.
When my mother left this man, I was about to go to college. Once I left I NEVER came back to live with my mom again. But since she and that third man broke up, she’s been trying to make up for all the times in my life she didn’t choose me. now she’s overly generous, and a bit codependent. She doesn’t really have any friends, no more dating, and she is disabled still from the stroke. I feel badly for her but also have worked so hard to create my own life and we have a pretty good relationship now after everything. It’s taken a very long time, but I feel like I’ve been able to see things from her perspective now that I’m a mother. It’s helped us grow closer.December 3, 2020 at 8:09 pm #370419
Wow that is a lot to think about. Thank you for taking the time to write all that you have. Looking at everything zoomed out in this way is actually very helpful to see patterns, and also expectations that I’ve put on myself, and on others. I’ve never thought about these struggles as a sort of struggle for power, but in a very real way, yes it is. I feel like I can even replace the word power with control. Wanting control of the situation because I often feel powerless. And I think we all have to realize at a certain point that we can’t control how others treat us. They have free will, they can decide if they want to “do the right thing” and treat others with respect, or not. Not every action gets reciprocated. Not everything is fair. I have to find a way to let go of wanting that piece of control, or justice, or just fair treatment, honestly. The only thing I can control is myself, and what I tolerate, and when I say enough is enough.
I spoke with my therapist today and she and I were discussing patterns in my relationship with my friend. It’s been dysfunctional for a number of years. And just as I have learned that the best thing for me is to never speak to my father again, and most likely never speak to my uncle again, there is a good chance I may have to cut out this friend as well. Maybe not forever, but as long as she is willing to treat me in this way. It’s traumatic in its own way, and I have thankfully gotten the strength to deal with those kinds of relationships and have experienced the freedom in breaking those ties. It is absolutely necessary sometimes.December 2, 2020 at 7:58 pm #370371
I was first put in the “fix it” role by my father. I used to see him on Sundays as he and my mom divorced when I was 2. He was by all accounts unstable, he used drugs, couldn’t hold a job, lost his license for drunk driving. He really wasn’t suitable to watch a child, and yet I was there every weekend. He abused me, and I didn’t come forward for years because he convinced me that I was the only good thing in his life and he would kill himself if he couldn’t see me. At home my mom was in an abusive relationship with my new stepdad and I felt like I had to protect her. I saw lots of physical abuse happen to her and many times tried to stop it. So I had the mental health of my parents on my shoulders from a young age. Each time things didn’t work out….with my dad, my mom and stepdad (they ultimately divorced too), then my uncle and some friendships, it’s like a very sick feeling comes up when I fail to make things work. I don’t know if everyone feels these situations so intensely but this last blow out with my friend has made so much stuff resurface.
I am trying to keep in mind that everyone whom this has happened with in the past is still alive. No one killed themselves or is left destroyed because I couldn’t fix something. That these relationships are much better as severed than still hanging on in a toxic way. And finally I am trying to free myself from feeling like it’s all on me to fix it. It’s just very hard to break these patterns.December 2, 2020 at 10:50 am #370356
Thank you so much for replying. Yes these definitions that you shared seem to really apply to my friend lately. She’s believing in some absurd things, and this isn’t the first time. She’s fallen into cult-like groups before and also has a tendency to be paranoid. example, after nearly every breakup she thinks the guy is stalking her. I don’t know if there is truth to any of it, but I find it very hard to believe that EVERY single ex boyfriend becomes so obsessed with her that they all end up stalking her. Also she seems to have problems in every workplace with other women, and ends up getting into HR battles with women whom she thinks have it out for her. So in a sense I am a bit alerted that now she has turned these conspiracy theories onto me. She’s saying minor things, like I purposely “liked” something on Twitter so that she would see it and get offended. That wasn’t the case at all. LOL. My husband did joke that I should stay away from her or she will get me on some kind of dangerous person list with these extreme people she seems to be in with. But I’m not all that worried because she lives out west and I’m on the east coast, so there’s thousands of miles of distance.
My biggest hangup I think is my ego, telling me I SHOULD be able to make this work, because I am so kind and compassionate, that I don’t want to think my long time friendship can fall victim to a simple difference of politics. I am taking it as a personal failure that I couldn’t make it work. I think that when I really think deeply about it, that’s the hardest part to let go of. Her as a person, we have nothing in common anymore, can’t see each other often because of distance, and this tension now just seems insurmountable. The things she said really just distubed me and as much as I want to a) snap back and say something nasty to stick up for myself, b) say we are better than this and “fix it” as was my role in my family all my life, I know that the ONLY viable choice right now is c) LET IT GO. It’s just hard because it confirms my failure to fix it.December 1, 2020 at 10:14 pm #370343
Just wanted to post an update. I feel like this friendship breakup has taught me so many life lessons. Some of them are conflicting in a way. I’m just feeling so extremely hurt and vulnerable. I ended up getting a Happy Thanksgiving text from this friend, and also a quasi-apology in an email the next day. I say quasi, because it started out as an apology then sort of went into a few more of her baseless accusations and by the end she was making passive aggressive jokes at me, trying to make light of it all. I was hopeful that maybe there was some remorse in there for what she had said. So I wrote back a long email that was very sincere and also explaining my side of things. I took 3 days to write this email to try my best to make sure it came across the right way, as compassionate, trying to make peace, but also not caving and letting her walk all over me. Well, the response was very volatile. She didn’t acknowledge my suggestion that we work things out and continue on in a more respectful away, and focus on the things that unite us rather than divide us. She told me I was gaslighting her, that my email was creepy and reminded her of a guy that “stalked” her, and basically poked even more fun of me.
I am mad at myself for opening up once more only to be rejected and made fun of. These kinds of rejections hit me so hard because it triggers those old feelings I’ve felt in my life so many times..of being ridiculed, of being rejected and abandoned. But even more so because this comes from someone who knows me well, and knows that I’m very sensitive and sincere. I feel like she took my sincerity and threw it in my face, after decades of friendship. I am so angry, and want to write nasty things back now, but it’s not my way. If I were a different person maybe I would tell her to F*** off. But I have this people pleaser way ingrained in me even when someone is so brutal that I just always want to be the olive branch, and try to fix it.
I’m finding myself rereading these emails multiple times a day and replaying this in my mind. I know I HAVE TO LET GO. I won’t contact her again even if she reaches out now. But it is just very hard for me to leave this mess as it is. I know my friend has some mental issues, and I’m not sure where she is at the moment with her mental state, but she seems to seriously have broken off from reality. It almost reminds me of a schizophrenic person who thinks there are conspiracies against them everywhere. My friend has become a bit like this, in accusing me of strange things that never happened, and even picking apart things I’ve said and twisting them into sounding some other kind of way. So I need to stay away, because her calling my emails to reconcile creepy just are a red flag shes’ in this “conspiracy” mentality that she sometimes gets into. I just have to wish her well and hope that she gets some help. In the meantime, I have to mourn this. It feels like a death in many ways.November 30, 2020 at 9:56 pm #370280
I always enjoy your posts. I want to answer your call to introduce oneself but want to keep it somewhat anonymous at the same time. I’m “NYC artist” because I am an artist from NYC, though I live in another state at the moment. I’m an only child, from divorced parents. I originally made an account here to deal with a very toxic family member (an uncle who was feuding with my mom and then with me). But this has been so helpful with other dilemmas and relationship issues as well. I much appreciate the insights you always give, Anita, and others here as well. It’s definitely a safe space here, and I appreciate it so much. <3November 11, 2020 at 3:08 pm #369075
I feel for you. I feel very similar to you. I’m always the friend who reaches out, who helps, who comforts, who is reliable, who is loyal. I am the family member who is the peacemaker, the caregiver, the one who tries to bring people together when everyone is absorbed in their own lives. I am a good neighbor, a community organizer, etc. Not to toot my own horn, but I feel that I put in so much effort with EVERYONE, and yet when I’m down, I don’t see those same people reaching out to check on me. It’s an incredibly disappointing and isolating feeling. Sometimes I just want to shout from the rooftops to everyone I know that they need to give a crap!!!
I recently learned in therapy 2 things that may help you too. The first is if you’re doing something kind with the expectation that you get something back, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. It’s a nice concept that the love you take is equal to the love you make, but it’s not always so. We must give freely without any expectation of returns, and let the act of giving bring us joy. The expectation is what leads to the suffering.
The second thing I learned is that it can be exhausting to always be “that person” for everyone else. When you give away too much of yourself, you sometimes have nothing left for you. Make sure you’re taking care of your own needs before you give everything else away. You say that you’re now heartbroken and financially ruined. I often give too much of myself, but I’m working to make sure now that my cup is always full before filling others’ cups. It’s not easy to change this habit, but it is an act of self love and preservation.
I hope this helps in some way. Sending good vibes to you, Tex.
November 11, 2020 at 2:59 pm #369073
- This reply was modified 6 months ago by nycartist.
Thanks as always for your reply. <3 I am so flabbergasted at how we ended up here, it’s so frustrating after putting in so much time and effort. But I will not contact her again. I do hope that she comes to her senses and realizes our friendship is worth something.
If she doesn’t I realize I can’t accept that kind of behavior though. You’re right, it’s abusive. I tried my best but that doesn’t mean I need to be a doormat.November 10, 2020 at 7:17 pm #368972
Just a different perspective… I’ve been with my husband for 16 years, married for 9 and we have always had separate bank accounts. We divided up expenses long ago and never fight about money. This works better for us because we have different spending habits (I am more social and would be resentful if I had to run every dinner with friends by my husband, it just never appealed to me). We have a joint account for things like trips and large expenses and if we need to collaborate on something, like a new roof, we talk about it and figure out what we each owe. Basically we are very transparent about money though we chose not to put it all into one account. I think the part that is odd in your story is the fact that you didn’t know about it. I can see how it would make you feel a bit hurt, but I wouldn’t liken it to infidelity. I’m not sure your wife’s family background but for me it was important for me to always have my own money as a feeling of independence, after watching my mom struggle after divorce. Not that I have any doubts in my marriage whatsoever, but you never know what life will throw at you. I think just talk to her and let her know how you feel. It sounds like she wasn’t active with the account so I wouldn’t perceive it as a betrayal.October 13, 2020 at 7:33 pm #367827
Yes, I think you are on to something, that imagery of a child warrior feels like you’ve put into words what I’ve always felt but never have been able to describe. I have no idea how to become an adult warrior, or how to get over the fear of losing people. I’ve lost so many people in my life, and often hold on to people whom I SHOULD let go. My husband, thank goodness, is such an amazing person, I often wonder how I was able to find someone who is so different than many of the people I grew up with. He’s decent, respectful, and loves me, and reliable. He’s helped me grow so much. But this issue of mine baffles him. He can’t understand why I refuse to let go of some friendships or even family relationships that are definitely toxic. Even going back to my awful uncle, I sometimes still ponder if I can live with this rift, even though all of my cells in my body scream that I should never speak to him again after his abuse. The idea that someone is going to think ill of me is almost unbearable. I’ve been so programmed to be a people pleaser and it’s quite literally sickening when I think of someone being “displeased” with me. I am learning in therapy not to go running back towards an abuser to “fix it”. But it’s still hard. And it’s still very hard to know how to navigate other “conflicts” (such as friendships that are growing apart, as I mentioned in my other post about friends and politics).
Much of this also may stem from my father. My parents divorced when I was 2 and I’d see him on the weekends. I was abused by him and he was very manipulative and convinced me not to say anything until I was a teenager. He convinced me that if he couldn’t see me he would die. (He’s still alive and I haven’t seen him since I was 13). That kind of intense manipulation along with things that were going on at home, I fear, have maybe wired my mind to not be able to stand up to people. Do you have any tips that you’ve learned on how to become an adult warrior?October 12, 2020 at 7:29 pm #367801
Wow Anita, you are uncanny in your interpretations. Yes, everything you’ve said is completely accurate. I have been through a lot in my childhood and young adulthood (I’ve never even talked about my father and stepfather but those were also very unhealthy relationships). My mom is both my rock and also someone who has exposed me to a LOT of pain. I’m thankful that now that my grandmother has passed, 2 years ago this month, and we have been freed of my disgusting uncle, and we have found a very peaceful and loving relationship between she and I. My mom is finally free, and it’s transformed her into the person I always wanted her to be. I can’t be mad at her for the past, I forgive her for everything because she deserved so much better from people in her life. She’s taken responsibility for the pain she’s caused me, and I feel like we can move forward. It’s nice to feel like I have something to contribute to my daughter’s family besides just myself. My mom has a way with children and my daughter really enjoys being with her. The man I married and his family are giving both my mom and I a second chance to feel like we belong and are part of a loving family. I’m so thankful for that.
What you said about me having trouble with conflicts and speaking my mind is so very true. I just was talking to my husband about that very thing. How any time there’s something I need to say no to with friends or anyone, I find it nearly impossible. I am so afraid of making someone angry. I’ve compromised myself in so many ways just to avoid conflict. It’s frustrating because I always saw myself as someone like a warrior (especially after all that I’ve overcome in my life) but in truth I’m so weak and timid because of this gnawing fear that I’ll have someone mad at me, or someone cut me out of their life and cast me aside. It’s something I’m struggling with very much and am actually in therapy to try to resolve.