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Boundaries Gone Wrong

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Viewing 10 posts - 16 through 25 (of 25 total)
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  • #393974
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Mary

    I’ve vaguely been following this thread, but haven’t felt the need to add to it because it seems like Anita has been a great support.

    From reading your last message it seemed like initially you were both communicating maturely and sharing your hurt feelings with each other.

    My impression of where things went wrong is when the word toxic was used. It is a rather inflammatory thing to say and would provoke a negative response with a lot of people. Blame is being placed with this word and blame isn’t conducive to healthy communication.

    I don’t believe that was your necessarily your intent. You were communicating your honest feelings. Assertive communication is very difficult and well done on setting some boundaries.

    My take on the situation overall is that this individual is sensitive. If you care about her, I would simply recommend choosing your words carefully when discussing difficult feelings.

    Obviously, you took responsibility for your part in all of this. Clearly she is still upset and focused on the recent incident of you suggesting that her behaviour is toxic. You may want to apologise for using that phrase.

    #393975
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Mary:

    Good morning! I am reading your recent post part by part, responding to one before reading the next part.

    Amanda proceeded to tell me that I make her feel annoying, overwhelming… I don’t make her feel loved, supported, or encouraged. I make her feel like garbage” – wait, wait, wait… you make her feel all these things. Is it that whatever she feels is a result of being made to feel this way or that way by a person on the outside? No connection between what she feels and her prior life experience, her childhood, her thoughts? Is she a passive agent, a vacuum that is filled by feelings others give her?

    I told her I appreciate her honesty and that I’m sorry my boundaries created these feelings within her” – but it’s not your boundaries that created these feelings within her, at least not in isolation. Her prior life experience and her thoughts created these feelings within her much, much more than anything you said and did.

    I apologized that I created this problem because I made myself too available and accessible from the start of our friendship, so I take some of the blame for why she’s been feeling this way once I started creating space” – you are apologizing unnecessarily, agreeing with her that you are guilty of something that you are not guilty of. People are not supposed to be stuck in rigid roles. Just because you were very available to her before, does not mean that you are supposed to be very available to her forever more. It is not a realistic expectation because our lives are changing, so a lot has to keep changing. We need to adjust to changes instead of demanding of ourselves and of others to… remain rigidly same!

    Her response to that was “Ok, I’m toxic now. Cool. Cool. I wish you the best.” I didn’t respond to that, but a few hours later she sent another text stating she forgives me… ” – sincerely, Mary, I don’t care anymore what she says. She needs quality psychotherapy so to take responsibility for how she feels and to perceive herself as an active agent in her own life, not a passive agent.

    With all that said, the point of me reaching out to you again Anita is because her comments upset me. I feel guilty and feel like I was in the wrong. Was I actually toxic and perhaps gaslighting her too?” – I just read Helcat’s reply of 4 minutes ago and I agree (I thought something like this myself earlier) that “toxic” is an inflammatory word, an overused word, often used incorrectly, and therefore it should be avoided. But I still stand by what I wrote above, in this post. So, without using the overused word, I think that it is a bad idea for you to have any further communication with her because she needs serious therapy before she can have a healthy relationship with anyone, including with her husband and kids. It is very sad to think that she is probably blaming her own kids for how she feels!

    That you feel guilty is an indication that your own prior life experience, particularly in childhood, fostered a tendency to feel guilty whenever someone you care about is displeased with you. Amanda and you are like a match made in hell: she has a strong tendency to blame, and you have a strong tendency to accept blame.

    She claims (in the last message she sent) that she respected me and my boundaries and allowed me to be my true self” – she has no idea what boundaries are: she perceives herself to be a passive agent in her own life, one who passively receives feelings from another person, having no boundaries.

    I just need some guidance if I went about this all wrong and sabotaged this friendship…  Amanda really made me feel like I wasn’t being my best self. I’m curious to hear your thoughts” – I think that it is time to figure out when and how you took on the tendency to automatically feel guilty when others you care about are displeased with you.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by anita.
    #393977
    Mary
    Participant

    Helcat, thank you for the response. I can understand how and why using the word “toxic” triggered her. As you assumed, I wasn’t trying to place blame on her, especially since I mentioned I was just as toxic for her. I used that word because I always considered it to mean something negative or upsetting, which I think is how both of us made each other feel throughout the situation. I have apologized to her – not for using that word specifically, but for making her feel all these emotions. We both deleted each other off everything and I deleted her number. While I am sorry for making it seem like I placed the blame on her by using that word, I don’t want to engage in that conversation anymore now that the friendship ceases to exist. I let her have the last say yesterday and let it go at that. To open the door for additional communication is just allowing more things to be said between us that will make us hurt more, in my opinion anyways.

    Anita, thank you for the response as well. After I posted my last reply, my boyfriend brought up a similar point to yours – why should I apologize for how she reacts to something? That has more to do with her own journey than mine. I don’t know a whole lot about her past experiences and life journey before we crossed paths. I got bits and pieces of it over the last year, but not enough to see the connection. I think a huge flaw of mine is that I apologize for things I shouldn’t need to apologize for because I feel bad. Whether I’m directly involved in the situation or not, I always find myself saying sorry to someone who is feeling bad about something or someone. You’re right though, this habit stems from my childhood. I was always disappointing to my parents and went out of my way constantly to try and please them. I still find myself trying to please others too much in my adult life, especially at work. I appreciate your insight into my fault in this situation, especially with using the term “toxic” because maybe I did use it incorrectly or maybe it just should have been avoided. She seems to have a great relationship with her husband and kids, but I’m her only problem so I’m not sure how she acts with them or what life is really like behind closed doors. I do think she needs to keep working on herself. I think I have work to do on myself as well because I’m clearly bothered by a lot of things she said to me even before I called her toxic. I might not be able to control how she reacts to words or actions, but I can control how I do and my next step is to work on building better self-esteem so when things like this happen, I’m not sitting here questioning my worth and value as a human being. I also agree that I have a strong tendency to accept blame, which I think falls under my self-esteem issues.

    #393978
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Mary:

    I am glad that you deleted each other’s contact information, that “the friendship ceases to exist“, and that you do not plan on opening the door for additional communication with her!

    I always find myself saying sorry to someone who is feeling bad about something or someone. You’re right though, this habit stems from my childhood” – through more insight into your childhood and a new practice, you can form new habits, such as evaluating whether you are responsible for X and apologizing only if you are responsible.

    I was always disappointing to my parents” – if your experience in childhood is similar just a bit to mine, then better say: you didn’t really disappoint them- they felt disappointed and blamed you for making them feel this way. Similar to what Amanda did.

    And went out of my way constantly to try and please them” – same behavior as with Amanda.

    I still find myself trying to please others too much in my adult life, especially at work” – a childhood habitual behavior extended into adulthood.

    I appreciate your insight into my fault in this situation, especially with using the term “toxic” because maybe I did use it incorrectly or maybe it just should have been avoided” – because I used to feel intensely guilty, when I made mistakes due to carelessness/ inattentiveness, I felt so terrible that I wasn’t able to learn from my mistakes and improve my overall behavior. Fast forward to the present, I really do understand that everyone makes careless mistakes, that there is no way to live mistakes-free, and that the best any of us can do is to make fewer mistakes. When I realize that I made a mistake, I am calm enough to make a mental note to myself to not say this or do that, in similar circumstances in the future.

    She seems to have a great relationship with her husband and kids” – I don’t think that you observed her with her husband and kids in their home long-enough, if at all, did you?

    I’m her only problem” – if she focused on you as Her Problem (aka her scapegoat, The One to blame), then unless she finds another scape goat, she is likely to reach out to you sooner than later.

    Coming to think about it, if you feel very guilty about her in the future, you are likely to reach out to her. I hope it doesn’t happen.

    I’m not sure how she acts with them or what life is really like behind closed doors” – I didn’t read this sentence until this moment, as I continue to respond to one part of your post before reading the next.

    I also agree that I have a strong tendency to accept blame, which I think falls under my self-esteem issues” – if and when you feel like sharing more about this, you are welcome to do so.

    Congratulations for deleting her contact information and I hope that there will indeed be no more contact with her!

    anita

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by anita.
    #394088
    Mary
    Participant

    Thank you Anita! I think this was a great way to test how much I’ve grown. A year ago, I would have kept arguing with her and list out all the proof that goes against things she said to me or accused me of, but I was able to walk away calmly from the conversation without feeling like I needed to do that. That’s honestly a big step for me.

    My parents, especially my dad, have always been hard workers. They tried their best from a young age to raise my sisters and I to be independent and not have to rely on anyone to help us through life. My dad was the more strict parent and would come down hard on us anytime we didn’t do great in school or were experiencing social problems. His initial reaction/comment anytime I tried to talk to him about something that happened, he would always start with “what did you do/say to them to make them do that to you?” So I always felt like I was the reason for everything that goes wrong. I would feel guilty about all of it so I would apologize for things even beyond my control and that I know I wasn’t responsible for. My boyfriend didn’t sleep well or is having a bad work day? I would always tell him I’m sorry and he always responds “why are you sorry? It’s not your fault nor are you the reason it happened.” I guess I just never learned another way to express empathy without apologizing. I feel this stems back my my childhood events concerning my parents, but I’d like to learn from it and find better ways to build the self-esteem I never had.

    #394101
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Mary:

    You are welcome and congratulations for the big step that you achieved!!!

    “My dad… would come down hard on us anytime we didn’t do great in school or were experiencing social problems… he would always start with “what did you do/say to them to make them do that to you?” So, I always felt like I was the reason for everything that goes wrong” –

    – His repeated message to you was that when something goes wrong- you are at fault. His message became your core belief: when something goes wrong- I am at fault. This core belief led to another: there’s something wrong about who I am.

    “I’d like to learn from it and find better ways to build the self-esteem I never had” – every time something goes wrong, take a moment and ask yourself: is this my doing? Let’s take the example you gave: your boyfriend didn’t sleep well. Ask yourself: did I cause him to not sleep well (was I noisy when he was trying to sleep, did I start a conversation with him when he was trying to relax and prepare to sleep, etc.).

    If the answer is: no, then resist your compulsion to apologize. Every time the guilt returns, repeat to yourself: I didn’t cause this, I didn’t make it happen!

    anita

    #395218
    anita
    Participant

    How are you, Mary???

    anita

    #395591
    Mary
    Participant

    Hi Anita! I am doing well, especially since the last time we spoke. You have helped me gain clarity about my situation. I now have come to find peace regarding this issue I had, learned to accept that I did what was best for myself, and understood areas where I was wrong and could use some improvement should I find myself in that position again with someone. I truly appreciate your wisdom and perspective – I truly believe it helped me grow! Thank you so much. I hope all has been well with you too 🙂

    #395592
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Mary:

    I am well, thank you! It is very pleasant for me to read that you gained clarity about your situation and found peace in regard to the issue you brought up. Thank you for your kind words and you are welcome to post again anytime you want to, on any issue!

    anita

    #395758
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Mary:

    I read your new thread, but I don’t want yet to reply to you there, because I am hoping that other members will reply first (better chance of that happening when it shows that no one yet replied to your thread, although it’s been slow here!). I will reply in your new thread in a day or two.

    anita

Viewing 10 posts - 16 through 25 (of 25 total)

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