May 29, 2019 at 10:24 am #296255
Brandy, it’s good to know it gets better as the kids get older. Unfortunately, I still have a LONG time to go. My takeaways from this experience: my emotional resilience and self compassion needs A LOT of work.May 29, 2019 at 10:28 am #296257
Anita, given the current state of things I’m just trying to focus on moving on. I’ve been thinking about the questions you posed earlier and it’s good food for thought, and if given an opportunity, I’ll definitely be asking. Although my current plan is to phase out these women in the least awkward way possible. They aren’t bad people, but they also aren’t my people.May 29, 2019 at 10:51 am #296259anitaParticipant
“to phase out these women in the least awkward way possible” reads like a good enough plan to me.
anitaMay 30, 2019 at 9:29 am #296461
The primary reason why I set out to explore mindfulness and meditation years ago was because of the distress brought on by my participation in these parent circles. When my oldest child had reached kindergarten age I was excited to register him in school envisioning nothing but harmony, close friendships with other moms, and volunteering at the school. Boy was I wrong! Here’s how it works in my area: There’s a group of “powerful” parents who basically run the community. The PTA president and her husband run in the same crowd as the board members of little league baseball, president of the athletic booster club, leaders of the boy scouts/girl scouts, president of the district’s fundraising organization, classroom moms, bible study leaders, etc. Many of these people attain their positions by making sizable donations to the organizations they want to lead. And they are all “friends”. They are tailgating together to local college football games, having exclusive parties, seated together at the fundraising events, controlling every aspect of your child’s school events, etc. So anyone in this group is pretty much protected; their kids are assigned to the baseball teams they want to be on, to the classes with the best teachers, and they all have each others’ backs regardless of their bad behavior, and the rest of the parents in the community are their pawns. I know, it sounds crazy and I’d never believe it had I not lived it myself!
So one day you decide that you’re going to take back your power, that you’re not going to play the game anymore. And the very second you do that you are free!
BJune 3, 2019 at 10:54 am #297191
Brandy, our community is the same but on a much smaller scale. What a crappy experience. Same moms doing all the events and running the show. I’m not really drawn to those parents, which is probably why this whole thing has me so shook. It was more about getting to know the parents of my daughter’s friends. Who knew? I’m refocusing my energy and slowly (but surely) transitioning from distress/sadness to anger/resentment. My guess is that she’s punishing me and thinking that I’ll be sitting here waiting for her with open arms, but I don’t play games.
Do you have any suggestions on where to start on mindfulness and meditation? I’ve dabbled in meditation, but not much experience in mindfulness.
KJune 3, 2019 at 1:10 pm #297235
I completely understand how you feel. Yes, that’s what I was doing too, trying to become friends with the parents of my kids’ friends because I felt that if I wasn’t then my kids would be excluded from activities, birthday parties, play dates, etc. Also because these women were a big part of my social life and I liked being a part of their group. Early on, though, my instincts told me to be wary of some of them; I ignored this in order to keep the friendships going (moms need friendships too!) and because my kids loved their kids. It’s a no-win situation.
And then, of course, once one of them turns on you for a minor human mistake the games start, the gossiping and the pretending. They can look you straight in the eye and pretend with you, try to manipulate you. You know what I mean. And if you react to it they’ll continue behaving this way. So the key is to walk away, let it all go, and to not let it bother you.
But how do you do that? The first book I read on mindfulness was A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. My problem was that I was ruminating on the unfairness of my situation, felt paralyzed in that I couldn’t properly defend myself and that my kids would suffer as a result. Honestly, I also felt rejected and sad. So this book helped me to get my mind off it, get out of my head. The other thing I would recommend is to get back to meditating, 20 minutes twice a day, and give it at least 3 months before you judge if it’s helping or not. After practicing mindfulness/meditation for a short time I learned that I’m not the one with the problem, they are. I also learned that my kids are fine, that the situation was much worse for me than it was for them.
But I’ll never forget what happened, especially when I see it happening to other unsuspecting moms.
Maybe others here can recommend better ways to get started with mindfulness.
BJune 7, 2019 at 7:21 pm #297925
Brandy, I’m so sorry you had such a terrible go of it with those women. It sounds like your takeaway was huge and you’re a stronger person for the experience. (And I’m reaping the benefits!) The things we do for our kids.
It’s funny, today I randomly ran into the husband (he was a stay at home dad, so he’s my primary friend in the couple) of the 5th couple in the group of friends and the ONLY two who were supportive to me. And I closed the loop on what happened (I’m truly committed to not repeating this story again, but he was inquisitive). And he essentially confirmed that one of the women manipulated the situation to create the drama. Now I feel no sadness and resentment, only anger. Confirms that they are NOT my people.
Having imaginary conversation telling them off, which I won’t do because it will feed the drama.
I will check out A New Earth and I will start my regular meditation again. Thank you!June 8, 2019 at 9:07 am #297989
You are welcome and I’m glad the stay-at-home dad was able to confirm some things for you. Thanks for the kind words and yes for me it was one of those experiences that I wouldn’t un-do because it taught me how important it is to not get dragged down by negative thoughts, to observe them and let them go. It takes a lot of work at first but then gets easier.
I too had those imaginary conversations telling those women off, and although putting them in their place would have given me immeasurable satisfaction, it only would have made things worse. I think assertiveness is important but maybe not so much in this context. If certain women are not accepting your heartfelt apology and are now distancing themselves from you, that’s their choice (however warped it may be) and you need to accept it. Confronting them only makes you look desperate which you are not. Get up, dust yourself off, and get on with your life. Like you say, these are not your people.
BJune 9, 2019 at 10:56 am #298121
Brandy, your response came just in time. Yesterday I ran into one of the women at our kids piano recital. The one I had been friends with for 5 years and introduced to the group. The one who let my mistake drop then backed away from our friendship until she was given permission to text me- which she did unapologetically. She’s taken the hint about our friendship being at a stalemate, but it’s clear she thinks I’m upset w her bc she “told” and not bc of how she abandoned me when I needed her support.
It’s tempting to schedule coffee and give her my version, tell her why I’m actually upset with her. But it would fuel the drama.
Please reinforce for me why this would be a bad idea? I feel deeply, I invest in my friends wholeheartedly. It’s getting better, but seeing these women regularly is a constant struggle and setback.
KJune 9, 2019 at 12:39 pm #298137
Part of me thinks it’s important that this woman knows exactly why you’re upset with her but I’m not sure meeting for coffee is the way to go. You already know you can’t trust how accurately she’ll describe your conversation to the others, so why set yourself up? Also, there’s a chance you’ll say something you regret which may blow this thing up even bigger. Maybe I’d write her a letter telling her how I feel and while I’m writing it I’d be fully aware that it’ll be shared with others in the group. I would not come across as angry because that could fuel more anger in these women, and I wouldn’t try to make her or anyone else feel bad. I’d keep it very short and I’d chose my words wisely.
There’s a good chance, however, that after writing the letter I wouldn’t send it for several days, maybe a couple weeks, maybe even not at all because there’s another part of me that believes that sometimes these things get worse when we try to fix them. Sometimes they work themselves out on their own if we are patient and can handle the uncertainty of the future. I think that deep down this woman, your friend of five years whom you introduced and welcomed into your group, knows that you are hurt that she didn’t support you when you really needed her to. I mean, how could she not know this?
Albert Einstein once said “You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it” or something like that anyway which to me means it may be better to wait things out, become more mindful before deciding on the right action to take, if any needs to be taken at all.
Sorry, I wish I had a better answer for you. Take a deep breath and try to calm yourself as best you can. Keep posting here and I’ll answer and maybe some others will too. Hang in there. 🙂
BJune 20, 2019 at 4:45 pm #300055
Brandy, you always give me great food for thought. Meeting face-to-face would definitely result in saying things I regret. I’ve written a few emails that I will never send. They are mean, uncensored, raw and purely for myself.
Since I last posted there have been a few developments. We went out to dinner with the stay-at-home dad and his wife. It was eye opening. I hadn’t been planning to bring it up, but we got to chatting about it and they were disgusted and said that the woman who had manipulated the situation had done that to another set of their friends. They also mentioned that the woman I’d been friends with for 5 years played a larger role than just “organically” bringing it up. It reinforced my resolve to just move on and realize that telling them off or explaining my side of things is pointless. I don’t want to salvage the relationships or bring them to my “side.”
I’ve seen the manipulator at school a few times and she either 1. thinks we’re on good terms OR 2. is committed to being fake nice to keep the peace. I’m fine w either but will not be investing another hot second on her.
Tomorrow at a mutual friend’s bday party, I’ll be seeing the “wronged” friend and I’m feeling nervous. I haven’t seen her since she walked into the restaurant with the other ladies.
Any advice? Being fake nice for the sake of the group seems to be the easiest. (I haven’t shared the situation with anyone and I’m fairly certain she didn’t either.) It’s unclear to me where SHE thinks we stand. (She recently sent me an evite for an afternoon jewelry party.) Personally, I think she’s childish, weak and easily manipulated. How would you approach her? Keep it short and move on?
PS- I also introduced her into this group, but I’m definitely not including her in activities. Passively boxing her out. Petty?
-KJune 20, 2019 at 6:59 pm #300061
It’s interesting that your “wronged” friend invited you to the jewelry party. Maybe she’s starting to come around, to understand that she overreacted. What’s annoying is how badly she’s made you feel, even after your tearful apology. You made a mistake, felt terrible about it, and over-apologized for it. You tried to do the right thing but she’s been unforgiving. So I agree that she’s childish, weak, and easily manipulated… and also cruel.
So about tomorrow, if I were you I’d probably put all of the above aside and give her the benefit of the doubt. She’s going through a difficult time in her personal life and who really knows how much of the anger she’s directed at you is really about her sad marriage situation instead. You don’t deserve the cruel treatment you’re getting but her marriage is falling apart and she probably isn’t fully conscious of her behavior. So, no, I would not be fake-nice; I’d be real-nice instead. She’s probably just as nervous to see you as you are to see her so do your best to put her at ease. Give her a hug. Tell her it’s good to see her. Look her straight in the eye and smile.
And keep it short and move on.
Then when it’s time to leave the party you’ll walk away feeling good about yourself.
PS – No, I don’t see your not including her in your activities as petty because she’s the one who has distanced herself from you for the past 6 weeks. It is she who has been boxing you out with the exception of the recent evite to the jewelry party, right? When someone is giving me vibes that she doesn’t want to see me, I’m going to respect her wishes.June 21, 2019 at 7:07 am #300137
I can’t even begin to speculate on why she would invite me. Maybe for the same reason I’d consider inviting her to a large-ish party – to keep the peace? Based on who she invited, most aren’t good friends. (I think she struggles with making friendships. I did a lot of PR for her this past three years with people who knew her and found her unapproachable and standoffish.) She certainly hasn’t contacted me to even say any semblance of “we’re cool” in the past two months after my apology. In the past we would go out regularly for drinks, but instead I know she’s been contacting the other women in the comment section via social media (I’ve since unfollowed them all). Maybe she’s firmly placing me in the acquaintance pile, which is where I’m putting her as well.
The good that has come of this…I’m able to recognize my true friends. And I have so many. Near and far. I’m grateful. Ditching these women did not leave a hole on my dance card. It gave me valuable time to focus people who deserve my friendship. It takes effort to make time for people, and I’ve simply stopped making the effort with them. I’m coming around to viewing my mistake as just that- a mistake that did not have ill intentions. I’d never have treated a friend who apologized this way. And if it was unforgiveable, I would NEVER have dragged it out for months. (And gone on vacation with the person who wronged me!) I did not deserve that treatment.
Thank you for putting a compassionate face to her behavior. That’s probably the only approach that will work for me moving forward. To view her sad reality instead of the nasty person she’s morphed into in my head. It’s more natural for me to be genuinely kind and move on.
PS – I not-so-secretly hope she makes other plans for tonight and doesn’t come.July 16, 2019 at 11:19 am #303593
So the wronged friend didn’t come to the party. (Phew!) And I’ve made some serious strides in moving past this situation, but I still see these women everywhere and the fact that they are all hanging out together and throwing it in my face is just confirmation that they’re a bunch of jerks.
If they invited me, I wouldn’t go, but it really sucks to realize that they are moving on from me too. I wasn’t really forgiven and my apology/tears fell on deaf ears and was returned with cruelty. I’ve also realized that while these women are very “nice,” they aren’t kind.
I’ve been facilitating group outings with friends who were not so close with her but hung out bc of me. And it’s been seamless. No one asks about her or notices that she isn’t there.
Here’s the last bit…how do I stop caring that they are ostracizing me? There’s a dinner gathering in two weeks and I will not be going. SO I’m making the choice, but they were so mean. I wish they’d feel remorse.
What I REALLY wish that is that they’d get back from the universe what they’ve put into it. Childish mean girl games and toxicity.July 16, 2019 at 12:42 pm #303607anitaParticipant
“how do I stop caring that they are ostracizing me?”-
-it is never pleasant to be ostracized, no one likes to be ostracized, disliked, rejected… ignored. None of these things feel good. I don’t know if you can stop caring but maybe you can care less, when you think: someone is ostracizing somebody every hour, every day, everywhere. These very people ostracizing me are ostracized themselves (or have been and will be) by someone else.
We all have to live with this reality, in this reality, including myself, ignored by some, disliked by others.