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Is my friend abusing me?

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  • #407804
    Caroline
    Participant

    Anita,

    I just told him all this, maybe I forgot some details but I think it went well.

    It felt scary but also relieving and empowering. I feel like it set me free a little bit. Thank you again for helping me. I was planning to talk to him next week but after reading your message today I decided to do it right away, to not be scared. Although I was scared, but after I read that you wrote it was not that bad, it gave me courage and I thank you for that.

    I think he understood, he was very quiet about it, though, so not sure what the outcome will be in the future and how he will act at work, etc. May be difficult. So it’s “to be continued” for sure. But it had to be done and I am really glad I did it.

    Today at the bakery some lady stepped up before me in a queue, although I was there first. I was standing in silence (like I would always do) but then I told her Sorry I was here first. And I started saying my order. I know it may seem silly but it is really difficult for me, to stand up for myself. I almost never do. Or should I say I really really never do. 🙁 When something like this happens I do not have normal pulse or no stress, as they say, to be able to scan the environment and plan better. No, I start to have panic attack and start being angry but I just stand there, do nothing and walk away.. Not sure if this is the typical freeze response.

    Do you have any helpful websites or youtube videos about freeze response? I really would like to read more how to overcome it.

    #407833
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Caroline:

    First, C o N g R a T u L a T i O n s   ! ! ! for standing up for yourself and being assertive twice: with the guy and at the bakery!!!!!!!!!! As you can see with all these exclamation marks, I am excited for you!!!

    I was scared… it gave me courage“- courage is about doing something that needs to be done even though you are scared of doing it.

    It felt scary but also relieving and empowering“- as you proceed to stand up for yourself again and again, the fear will still be there. It will take time for the empowering part to take hold, so that you are no longer scared (or no longer significantly scared).

    I think he understood, he was very quiet about it, though, so not sure what the outcome will be in the future and how he will act at work, etc. May be difficult. So it’s ‘to be continued’ for sure“- it is very important that you don’t think of your success in terms of how he reacts to you standing up for yourself, but instead, think of your success in terms of how you acted, standing up for yourself, and how you will continue to act, standing up for yourself.

    You wrote about him yesterday: “He usually intimidates and bullies me“. When you’ve been bullied and abused for a while (“Is my friend abusing me? is the title of your thread, and my answer was: yes!), and then you stand up for yourself, asserting yourself, a seasoned  bully is not likely to argue with you, but appear quiet and accepting. This way, you feel relieved, you think that maybe the problem is over, and you are less guarded. But then,  over time, he tries to wear you down by disrespecting your assertion: here and there and yet again, until you forget you ever stood up for yourself and you are back in the same bullied situation.

    This is why it is very important to be on guard in regard to the bully and to never give up on your assertion: be persistent! He is likely to disrespect your assertions over time, but don’t join his disrespect of you!

    I told her Sorry I was here first. And I started saying my order. I know it may seem silly“- it is far from being silly because every opportunity you have to stand up for yourself, to assert yourself, is as valuable an opportunity as any other. It takes practice and for you to have enough practice, you need to take advantage of as many opportunities that are available to you.

    When something like this happens I do not have normal pulse or no stress, as they say, to be able to scan the environment and plan better. No, I start to have panic attack and start being angry but I just stand there, do nothing and walk away.. Not sure if this is the typical freeze response“- it is part of the Flight, Fight and Freeze Response: your heart works harder sending more blood to your legs and arms, so to prepare you to run (flight) or fight, BUT you Freeze (you just stand there).

    The Freeze response (playing dead) in the wild happens when an animal is trapped by a predator and has no chance of success running or fighting (ex., the cougar is right there, and if the possum tries to run, the cougar will chase it and catch it; if the possum tries to fight, the cougar will win, but if the possum plays dead, the cougar may walk away because a cougar is stimulated by chasing a running prey). In your case, like in the bakery, you are not in a life and death danger, it only feels like you are in a life and death danger.

    The first thing to say to yourself, so to calm the panic, is: I am not in real life and death danger. Same with the guy.

    Do you have any helpful websites or youtube videos about freeze response? I really would like to read more how to overcome it“- I just found a blog in the tapping solution. com/ ..understanding freeze response, that explains Freeze well. It includes a title Freeing yourself from Freeze, which recommends tapping therapy. I have little experience with tapping, but I know that it helps, when anxious, to practice a … kind of acupressure on yourself: applying physical pressure with the thumb or tip of fingers of one hand on the back of the other hand (or on the forehead or sides of the head). For me, it shifts the focus from the abstract, anxious, thinking-brain to the concrete physical pressure. You can experiment with it.

    Thank you for expressing your appreciation and you are welcome!

    anita

    #407894
    Caroline
    Participant

    Anita,

    Thank you for being excited for me. And for reminding me that there is a possibility he might not respect my boundaries in the future after all. I though about it and I know it is possible that he will ridicule me saying for example “Can I talk for 15 seconds more or are you bored already?” I know it did not happen yet, but I have a strange feeling, knowing his being passive aggressive in the past, that probably it will be his response in a long run. I am trying to prepare for it. He can surprise me with something worse, though.

    I read the article on the blog, thank you for sharing, I also found some other websites and trying to find out more. I started experimenting with tapping method.

    I will be trying to be more brave with standing up for myself. Feels scary but also liberating.

    It has been overwhelmed at work lately. Since I thought my coworkers may think I am dishonest, I get anxiety every day and feel like a fraud. Today I had the opportunity to briefly explain we are not friends anymore. One of the coworker said something about us 3 (Me, the guy who works here and a girl ) changing department (work is good here but we are not entirely happy about it so sometimes we talk about opportunities to move) and he said that it will be the most difficult for me because my friend will go crazy when he hears I want to leave (last year one girl decided to leave and he acted very rude, did not congratulate her in front of management, said he is not happy, nothing to be happy about – generally he acted really bad. It happened twice – also with the other girl earlier in 2021. He was friends with her but they do not speak anymore because of it. He also repeatedly “threatened me” that I cannot leave either. I say this in ” ” because he says it like a joke but … it is not). So I replied to them that my relationship with him is not friendly anymore and I do not think he would act this way if I leave and that I told him already I will probably change jobs in 2022. I know I should say more but I got nervous.

    I still feel dishonest and do not like myself lately. Practicing long walks as well, sometimes it helps.

     

    #407899
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Caroline:

    You are welcome.  “I know it is possible that he will ridicule me saying for example ‘Can I talk for 15 seconds more or are you bored already?‘”- this would be a passive-aggressive comment where he accuses you of being easily bored and unkind to him, while it is he who is unkind to you by burdening you with his long monologues-which is abusive, by demanding that you continue to take his abuse, and by accusing and ridiculing you for not taking his abuse silently and submissively.

    If this is the kind of comments he has made to you in the past, then he’s been passive-aggressive with you, which is about being aggressive while appearing passive.

    I know it did not happen yet, but I have a strange feeling, knowing his being passive aggressive in the past, that probably it will be his response in a long run“- amazing: I wrote the above before I read this sentence (I read posts part by part, responding to one part before reading the next). So indeed, he has been passive-aggressive.

    I am trying to prepare for it. He can surprise me with something worse, though..”- what something worse can it be?

    It has been overwhelmed at work lately. Since I thought my coworkers may think I am dishonest. I get anxiety every day and feel like a fraud“- the guy we’ve been discussing is dishonest and a fraud, including when he misrepresented his “friendship” (with you) to the other colleagues.

    Today I had the opportunity to briefly explain we are not friends anymore“- well done!!!

    One of the coworker said something about us 3 (Me, the guy who works here and a girl ) changing department“-  if it means no longer working with the guy we’ve been discussing, changing department is a very good idea the sooner, the better!

    last year one girl decided to leave and he acted very rude…  He also repeatedly ‘threatened me’ that I cannot leave either. I say this in .. because he says it like a joke but … it is not“- he is passive-aggressive: aggressive with the appearance of passivity and humor. (The more I read about him, the more I dislike him).

    I still feel dishonest and do not like myself lately“- can you elaborate on this: what did you say or do that is dishonest? What is it that you don’t like about yourself lately?

    anita

    #407925
    Caroline
    Participant

    Anita,

    you asked “what something worse can it be?” regarding his behavior after I stated my boundaries to him. I think something more less what I wrote as an example but he can say it in front of other people. In work meeting etc.  I think I will respond logically saying this is work and he needs to tell me or explain something to me. Not sure what else can it be but I noticed he has been pretty aggressive and rude to people at work. I guess I need to learn to not freeze and to just respond right away. It will be difficult but I have to.

    We also have a meeting to know each other better, I think it will be a restaurant or something. I do not have a good feeling about this, but who knows. Maybe he will be respectful.

    “what did you say or do that is dishonest? What is it that you don’t like about yourself lately?” – I do not think it is something I did, It is the feeling that they think we are friends. I also explained today to one of the girls that we used to be friends and we grew apart, as she was saying things like “you should not let work ruin your friendship with him, you should just give yourself time and you’ll make up etc”. I think she understood. I do not want to explain myself anymore to them, further explaining would be too much, I think. But I feel like I will always be “his friend” in their eyes, as this was the case since the beginning (as I was saying he was exaggerating, omitting the fact we have not seen each other 5 years, almost bragging even).

    Not sure if I explain correctly. I do not want to appear connected to him that much, I feel like I was not my own person since I started this job, often some people asking me about him and our friendship. And now that I made some friends and people like me (some of them in my team but also in other teams – girls who left to other departments- do not like him. There is a manager who likes him and new girl who had a baby in 2020 and just got back to work- she is great friends with him). It sometimes feels like a marriage – you make friends and people like you for who you are but they always remember you are married to this one guy, not very pleasant one, so they never mention him around you. I think they do not talk bad about him because they still cannot get rid of the thinking of me as his friend after all those months.

    Maybe this is not true, It may be that I tell myself it looks like this while in reality it may not look that bad, since I explained. But that is the main reason I get this weird feeling lately. Feeling guilty, dishonest.

     

    #407934
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Caroline:

    he has been pretty aggressive and rude to people at work. I guess I need to learn to not freeze and to just respond right away. It will be difficult but I have to“- you can prepare for it by visualizing a scenario where he is aggressive and rude and you are responding in a way you’d like to respond.

    I asked you: “what did you say or do that is dishonest? What is it that you don’t like about yourself lately?“, and you answered: “I do not think it is something I did, It is the feeling that they think we are friends… I feel like I will always be ‘his friend’ in their eyes…  I do not want to appear connected to him that much…  they still cannot get rid of the thinking of me as his friend… that is the main reason I get this weird feeling lately. Feeling guilty, dishonest“-

    -did you feel growing up that you were stuck with a family you didn’t belong with..  and you were behaving like you belonged with your family, but you were faking it… and you felt guilty about faking it.. anything like that?

    anita

    #408031
    Caroline
    Participant

    Anita,

    Yes, I never felt I belong to my family. My mom’s family never liked me, my dad or my mom. We use to go there for holidays etc but grandparents or uncles never talked to us, was never interested in asking me anything. I was always bored there. They did not like my dad because they thought he was drunk. He did drink but I think it did not help in any way that they hated him, you know what I mean? They just rejected him and us, that’s all what they did. I think at some people my mom started being ashamed of me. Not sure why, I think I was a normal child, she had some issues of her own, was not feeling confident, pretty or loved so she naturally thought her child was inferior too. I often felt that, she was afraid I was going to look not pretty, someone would comment on my appearance (I had acne) and she immediately was downcast. My dad’s family was similar. They did not like my mom, they also thought my dad was a disappointment, never achieved anything, so everyone supported his sister and her family. They were a royalty in our family. But I don’t think my dad was ashamed of me. He did not care that much, he even stood up for me sometimes. Now I do not talk to his family ever, and I visit my mom’s family once in 5 months for birthday parties. I do not feel I belong to any of the families. Sorry for this story, I bet you did not expect that. Or did you? You guessed it perfectly.

    I have to admit there is a success, my ex-friend was very polite to me today in front of other people, he even asked me questions which I do not think it was necessary to ask. Seemed like he wanted to say something.

    I am happy about what I did. But I remember what you wrote – it can be deceiving, I doubt he changed his all personality in two weeks. He will probably return to his behavior and I need to be cautious. Either way, It won’t change my happiness about how I stood up for myself. I told one of the colleagues about that happened, how he came to my place and told me all this. Not sure if this was a good idea, but I hated the fact she still says it’s going to be fine between us, we will make up because we are such good friends. I wanted to say this is not the case here. Maybe it was not a good choice because we work together and I would not want to influence her thinking about him, but I did.

    Thank you for reading this, if you are. Have a good day 🙂

     

    #408033
    Caroline
    Participant

    Anita, you mentioned your mother had this pressure speech. Would you like to write more about this? How was it, did you meet people who took advantage of the behavior you were taught to growing up?  I noticed you did not develop this thought so maybe you do not want to talk about it, in this case – I’m Sorry and I will not be asking anymore.

    #408034
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Caroline:

    You are welcome and of course I am reading what you wrote, and thank you for wishing me a good day!

    I never felt I belong to my family. My mom’s family never liked me, my dad or my mom…  grandparents or uncles never talked to us… They just rejected.. us“- your grandparents and uncles on your mother’s side were pretty aggressive and rude, weren’t they?

    My dad’s family was similar. They did not like my mom, they also thought my dad was a disappointment, never achieved anything, so everyone supported his sister and her family. They were a royalty in our family“- your family on your father’s side were also pretty aggressive and rude, weren’t they? I assume that growing up, you wished that your father’s family treated you and your parents as royalty- that would have felt heavenly!

    Your work colleague has been aggressive and rude to you and to other work colleagues. You wrote about him earlier: “He usually intimidates and bullies me… he has been pretty aggressive and rude to people at work“. But when this aggressive and rude man makes an exception for you, and treats you nicely, or royally…  it feels heavenly, doesn’t it?

    In your post an hour ago, this is just what happened, he treated you nicely and it felt quite heavenly, like success feels:  “I have to admit there is a success, my ex-friend was very polite to me today in front of other people, he even asked me questions which I do not think it was necessary to ask“- I think that your work colleague reminds you of your aggressive and rude family members, and therefore, when he makes an exception to his usual behavior and is nice… it feels like it would have felt if your family members would have treated you this nicely, and you hope that from now on, he will always treat you well.

    “Seemed like he wanted to say something“- perhaps you wish he’d apologize for all the times he was rude, and tell you that you are worthy of being treated well, that he is proud of you… something you wished growing up that your rude family members would say, something you wished/ wish that your mother (who was/is ashamed of you) would say?

    I remember what you wrote – it can be deceiving, I doubt he changed his all personality in two weeks. He will probably return to his behavior and I need to be cautious“- notice: you doubt that he changed his personality in 2 weeks, but a part of you hope that he did.  Be cautious about projecting your childhood experience growing up into your current, adult-life situations. Our powerful cravings born in childhood, cravings to finally be appreciated and valued and  treated well: these cravings transfer into adulthood and can get us stuck in unhealthy situations. In your unhealthy work situation, as I understand it, you are stuck in a situation where you crave a rude man’s change of attitude and behavior: from aggressive and rude =>  appreciative and kind.

    It is about the impossible task of trying to resolve childhood conflicts by proxy, using other people in our adult lives as substitutes to the people who mistreated us when we were children.

    anita

    #408036
    Caroline
    Participant

    Anita, yes I think you are right. It looks so simple how to analyze this in a heartbeat. How do you do it, if I may ask?

    I meant to say  that this was a “success” that he learned his lesson, and all that I said to him made him no longer disrespect me. But I guess it is the same as you stated above. I felt happy that a rude person was nice to me, just as it was when I started working here – I saw right away he was being rude, using offensive language even at work to his coworkers and I was happy I was an exception, because we knew each other in the past, so he would not treat me like them.

    I know you wrote recently (I re-read your posts yesterday) that what I said to him, it should be all about what I do, not about his reaction to it. And when I say that I am taking a break, I do it regardless of his view on this.

    #408037
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Caroline:

    I meant to say  that this was a ‘success’ that he learned his lesson, and all that I said to him made him no longer disrespect me“- he is not a child (and you are not his mother or caretaker), so it is not likely that you can teach him important lessons resulting in successfully forming a kind personality. His rude personality was formed way before you met him, and you can’t change it.

    It is the fantasy of the child to.. fix the parents, to fix adult family members and make them change their behaviors. But just as you didn’t change your family members’ attitudes and behaviors, you will not change your work colleague’s attitudes and behaviors. The only change that is likely to happen is that he will wear you down as your hope repeatedly builds up and crumbles.

    It looks so simple how to analyze this in a heartbeat. How do you do it, if I may ask?“- communicating with thousands of members since May 2015, every day of the year, with the goal learning, makes for a valuable educational experience.

    anita

    #408038
    Caroline
    Participant

    Anita,

    I thought I was wiser first day when you replied, but now I know I was not seeing clearly yet.

    Thank you for helping me understand and for being so gracious.

    #408039
    Caroline
    Participant

    Thank you for being here, on this forum.

    #408042
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Caroline:

    You are very welcome and thank you for being so gracious yourself!  Anytime you want to post, please do and I will be glad to reply to you.

    anita

    #408047
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Caroline:

    I happened to look at the title of your thread, “Is my  friend    abusing  me?” You didn’t ask: is this person abusing me? You asked: is this friend abusing me, as if it is possible that a friend will abuse a friend. A friend makes mistakes, like any human, a friend disappoints from time to time…  but a friend does not abuse.

    In the first paragraph you referred to him as a friend four more times: “I have a male friend... This  friend…. We were friends after university, very close friends“.

    All along, what was behind that “friendship” is a desire born in childhood to turn hostile family into loving family. The word Family starts with the same letter as Friends, and it is supposed to mean something lovely, something safe and loving and wonderful… so we try to change them into wonderful and as adults we try to change other hostile people into wonderful. And we fail because … they are not wonderful.

    I hope that you turn your back to him and to the quest of changing abuse into love… love and friendship is where there is no abuse, not where there is abuse.

    anita

     

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