BPD "friend" creating havoc in social circle

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tesscaline

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BPD "friend" creating havoc in social circle
« on: May 21, 2016, 08:05:25 PM »
Hi everyone.

I'm having this issue with a "friend" (I'm using quotation marks because I'm not really sure that I can call them that at the moment) who is diagnosed with BPD.  I've read through the toolbox, and as great as all those things are, I'm still struggling with what to do.

6 months ago, I started going to a support group through NAMI, to get support for CPTSD (due to an uNPD mother).  This person, who I'll refer to as Sam (not even close to his real name), was very welcoming and quickly initiated a friendship with me -- which I very much needed at the time, as I had no local support system or real social group.  I did not know, at the time, that he has BPD.  If I had, I would have been a bit more wary. 

Since that time, I've made other friends in the group and we've all had outings together hiking or dinner, things like that.  Sam has been a part of this social group outside the support group.  He's also become a facilitator for the support group, so he leads group sessions and is there every week without fail. 

Over the past month or so, however, he's become increasingly aggressive (both passively and directly) towards me, and another person that I'm friends with in the group.  His BPD is very obviously not under control, and it seems as if he's seeking out things to get angry at us for, and then accusing us of "abandoning" him when we disengage from the situation.  Very standard "I hate you, don't leave me" behavior. 

Over the past several days, Sam has had a complete and utter meltdown, and made accusations that were clearly delusional and upsetting to everyone involved.  A friend within our social circle had a medical crisis, and many of us were jumping into action trying to help this friend and his wife and child, focusing on them (as one does, in a crisis).  But Sam made the whole thing about him, and blew a gasket complaining that we were leaving him out (we weren't), that we were talking and making plans behind his back (we weren't), that I specifically had purposefully found ways to help without involving him (I hadn't, and even if I had, so what?).  And then, of course, he goes crying to other people in the social circle about how "mean" we are, and how we're "mistreating" him, and making further accusations that are simply too cruel for me to repeat -- none of which is true.

Normally, I'd just go NC with someone who was behaving in this fashion.  It's highly triggering for me, not to mention that I view it as abusive.  But he's the facilitator for the support group that I go to, and there isn't another support group within 30 miles.  And he's enmeshed himself in this circle of friends in such a way that I can't really go on outings with them without having to see/interact with him. 

I've already taken steps to minimize my contact with him.  I've set him to restricted on my FB, set my chat so he can't chat with me, and unfollowed him, while leaving us "friends" for when/if his behavior improves. 

Beyond that, though, I'm unsure what to do.  Obviously I can't control Sam's behavior.  I feel like I'm being forced to choose between getting support for my own mental health, and having to deal with abusive behavior.  I feel like I'm being forced to choose between having a social support system, or not having one.  And I feel bad about the people who are getting caught in the middle of all this mess... I don't know what to tell them, or how to address things with them when they come to me after he's gone crying to them about all the things I or someone else has supposedly done to him.  It's actually tearing our social circle to shreds, all the things he's doing.

It's just really very distressing.  And I don't feel equipped to handle it.

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leapsand bounds

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Re: BPD "friend" creating havoc in social circle
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2016, 11:03:47 PM »
Enmeshment is the devil, and its all but impossible to unenmesh after the fact, without having to deal with the punishment that ensues. 

The problem (in my experience with a dBPD ex-friend) is that they feel deprived and distraught when you disentangle yourself.  Other people see their distress and find you uncaring or downright cruel if/when you refuse to "help".  It seems so simple that if Sam is so upset, and you are in a position to help, why would you not do it?  They are seeing one or two incidents and not understanding that you are in a cage.  In my case, I was distressed myself at her distress.  It took enormous will-power to refuse to do what she wanted and stick to my boundaries.  Outsiders lack of knowing the bigger picture just made it harder.  Big scenes ensued at times, and she was quite pitiful.  It was hard enough dealing with my own "how could I be so mean"? without a chorus from the outside.  Being a support group must amplify the difficulty here.

It's so much easier for people dealing with an actual two-year old.  It's obvious why you don't just give-in.  Two-year olds also don't have the social sophistication to manipulate others into seeing things from their point of view  (most of the time, anyway :)).

The problem of social isolation and depression can be part of why these friendships get established.  You are lonely and they offer friendship.  It can take years to understand what you are dealing with and why normal reasoning gets you absolutely nowhere.  So you end up walking away, and then getting sucked back in, and a cycle of madness ensues. 

The thing is, this kind of relationship creates isolation in itself.  If you have issues with codependence (and it seems you have much healthier boundaries than I did), you give more and more and you don't have the energy for other relationships, your self-esteem erodes, depression increases and your friend does a really great job of poisoning the well for you with their accusations when you try to make the relationship more healthy.  I reckon codependence can be a progressive condition like alcoholism.  It gets worse.

I'm really sorry for you having been put in this situation, but good on you for recognising it early and not getting on board the train to crazy-town.

This is really difficult.  You need this support.  Is it worth toughing it out?
Rather than trying to explain, just say something like - our friendship didn't work out for me, and I'm sorry he is hurt. And stick to your guns.  It will be pretty damn awful if he is facilitating the group and popular with others and sniping at and undermining you, but over time the numbers in the 'friendship didn't work out' group will probably grow.  By you sticking around, they could turn towards you rather than have to walk away themselves ( it's not a good idea to try and explain even to these people in a group situation - the less said the better, imo.)

Over time many will see that there is a problem with him,even if they never understand what it is.  Even many of the 'judgers' will become more sympathetic as they see problems arise with others.  Are you able to do medium chill with him and be friendly and open with others in the face of looking like a big meanie?  That would take chutzpah and courage which can be really hard to find when you are dealing with trauma and feeling vulnerable.  But it does sound like you have a really good head on your shoulders, from what you've written, I suspect you could pull this off.

It is good to model good boundaries in any situation.  Friendship is never compulsary and most people understand that some people don't get on, and accept that without too much of a problem as long as you don't try and gather armies or retaliate.

Again, my condolences.  This isn't fair and you shouldn't be in this postion.  Dealing with abuse where you were seeking support is too damn common.  I hope one day, more people will understand this dynamic.  Take care.

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xredshoesx

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Re: BPD "friend" creating havoc in social circle
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2016, 12:16:46 AM »
this is a very difficult situation because as he is the group leader, he is in a position of authority (sort of).  can you and/or the other group members ask for a different faciliator?

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clara

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Re: BPD "friend" creating havoc in social circle
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2016, 12:20:30 PM »
Again, this all goes back to control.  Sam needs to control you, he needs to control others--he even managed to become a "facilitator" and "leader" in order to more successfully do this.  He's lost his control of you so now feels the need to get others to turn against you, and some of them will/have.  But others will see what's going on and wonder about it.  They'll talk.  Maybe a few will continue to only see Sam's side of the story, but others will recognize that something is wrong, particularly if he's done what BPDs do and created a mountain out of a molehill.  If you feel you need this group for your own well- being, don't let his behavior continue to control what you do or not do because in the end it's not about him or what he wants, it's about you and what you want and need.  Keep calm and mostly silent and take the high ground, as hard as that may be.  The others will notice that, too.  You actually don't have to say a word--his actions are speaking loud enough, and all it takes is for people to finally start listening. 

Because this really isn't specific to you.  His behavior didn't start when you arrived (and notice how he quickly became your friend--another typical manifestation of this behavior type).  He's done this to others, and will continue to do it as long as he can (or until he recognizes his problem and decides to do something about it, not likely).  The best hope is that, once he poisons the well to the point where he can no longer drink from it, he'll move on. 

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Bloomie

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Re: BPD "friend" creating havoc in social circle
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2016, 01:14:43 PM »
Hi and welcome! I see you are fairly new here. How disappointing to have this behavior begin to tear apart of group of people that have been a great support and encouragement for each other.

I am wondering... is there some kind of organizational structure where you could speak with someone who is overseeing the group and address these issues or maybe see if you could have an additional group on another day and time that is facilitated by someone else?

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tesscaline

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Re: BPD "friend" creating havoc in social circle
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2016, 04:53:42 PM »
Wow.  Thank you all for such amazing feedback.

It's funny, after I made my initial post, his accusations jumped into the realm of completely outlandish, and the people he was making them to wound up coming to me and apologizing for his behavior.  So there's hope that there are at least several of us with solid heads on our shoulders that are seeing this for what it is -- him, and not me.  I've now blocked him on social media, as I refuse -- absolutely refuse -- to be connected to someone who would say such things about me to other people.  That's not what a friend does, in my book.  And, really, I've suffered enough abuse in my life.  I don't need any more of it. 

I'm not going to let him push me out of the support group with his behavior.  You're right, that's just letting him control me.  And if he were to engage in this behavior during the support group meetings, it'd lose him his position as a facilitator, and I don't think he wants that so it may keep him in check.  Also, in a group setting like that I think it will be much easier for me to maintain a "medium chill" with him -- having other people as buffers and distractions makes that simpler to accomplish.

There are people above him, and there is an organizational structure that I could go to.  I don't really want to do that, as of yet, as he could easily turn it around to make himself even more of a "victim".  I think I'm going to just have to give him enough rope to hang himself by keeping on going to the group and waiting to see if he misbehaves there.  If he does, then it would be appropriate (and I'd have witnesses, too) to go higher up the ladder.

The whole thing is really sad.  He's a great guy when he's not acting out.  But when he is acting out... He's monstrous :(

Thank you guys again for the support, validation, and advice.  I can't begin to say how much I appreciate it.