When others accuse you of emotional abuse

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HS25362

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When others accuse you of emotional abuse
« on: June 09, 2019, 05:19:17 PM »
In my intro post, I talked about how after a close friendship with a roommate, she abruptly decided to move out and essentially go no contact with me. I feel better without her in my life, but I'm still feeling unsettled about her criticisms of me. I suppose I can't shake the fear that there is actually something very toxic and wrong about me. Here's how the fight that ended our relationship went down:

One night, as she was cooking for herself and I was lounging on the couch, she asked me how my day went. I answered honestly, ranting about something my advisor had done and some other frustrations at work. She didn't answer for a long time, so I continued talking, until she finally whirled around and said curtly, "I don't have the energy to listen to you complain right now." I felt embarrassed and ashamed, and immediately went back to scrolling on my phone quietly. I don't think it was my most mature response, and I certainly understand not having the emotional bandwidth to listen to someone vent about their day (I had felt the same way many times about her!) but I felt like a little kid who had been chastised for being naughty. My RM then told me I didn't have to just be silent, and I should ask her how her day went. I told her it seemed like she just wanted some space, which I understood, so I was just going to do my own thing.

She finished cooking, then went to her bedroom and slammed her door. I started my own cooking, at which point she returned to the kitchen and started berating me about how bad of a friend I am, how I never ask her how she's doing, all I care about is myself, etc. I tried to apologize, point out the other ways I had tried to show her that I care but perhaps failed, but she wouldn't let up. She said I had "never once asked" if she had been doing okay during the last few weeks, while she had been sick and dealing with an ill relative. At this point I got extremely triggered and lost my temper and yelled at her, "Are you doing okay?" I then told her she reminded me of my UBPD mother, which was a hurtful thing to say, but also how I genuinely felt.

A few days later, after I apologized for losing my temper, she told me she was moving out and leaving me to find someone to cover the last 5 months of rent for her room. She said she could no longer stand to live with someone who acted afraid of her. Furthermore, she said that the "one time she had actually tried to set a boundary" with me (i.e., telling me she didn't have the energy to listen to me), that I acted "extremely manipulative" in return. I believe she was trying to imply that I was giving her the silent treatment on purpose to anger her.

This was a few months ago, and I'm still unfortunately trying to deal with the fall-out of our roommate relationship. (For example, I found out recently that she had not been paying the water bill for six months, even though I was giving her money for it, and she refuses to pay our landlord or reimburse me the money I had already paid. When I asked her to please pay our landlord or reimburse me, she told me it was an absolutely ridiculous request.)

After being raised by an UBPD mother, I feel like I'm just now coming Out of the FOG from a similar relationship with a roommate. I'm happily moving into a one-bedroom apartment soon, but I still feel quite unsettled by the course of our friendship. The intensity of her actions makes me feel like I really must be some rotten person. When I've told people that she moved out, sometimes they reply, "What? Wasn't she one of your closest friends?" which unintentionally makes me feel worse - like what could I have possibly done to drive her to that behavior? I'm also unsettled by her accusations that I'm manipulative (this was not the only time) and that I don't know how to respect boundaries. I certainly have a lot to work on, particularly related to setting boundaries much sooner so that I *don't* lose my temper, but something about her criticisms (maybe it's the side effect of being raised by a PD mother) seem much more all-encompassing.

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Bloomie

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Re: When others accuse you of emotional abuse
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2019, 08:27:45 PM »
HS25362 - Hi there. I don't know if this will help, but an internal boundary (around my thinking) that I have learned to have for myself is that I do not take to heart things said to me in the heat of a disagreement. Period. If someone cares about me and wants to let me know there is something I am doing, or not doing, that is a problem for them then they can do it in a way that is respectful to both of us. If not, I can't consider their accusations seriously and certainly will not give them any of my precious headspace and time. 

Here's the thing I would look at with this relationship crumbling - for a roommate and good "friend" to move out over something like asking about their day and such makes it hard to believe it was just about that one evening. Is it possible your roommate was provoking and looking for a way out as they had somewhere else already lined up - they knew they had not paid the water bill and that was going to become apparent very soon.  Because between that and leaving you high and dry with the entire rent after agreeing to share those costs is a really untrustworthy thing to do and her refusal to take responsibility for her commitments is all a huge red flag to me.

Just food for thought.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2019, 08:29:30 PM by Bloomie »

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Poison Ivy

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Re: When others accuse you of emotional abuse
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2019, 10:46:54 PM »
I agree with Bloomie.  When I saw the part about your former roommate not paying the bills, I thought, "Oh, she was trying to provoke a disagreement to distract from cheating you out of the money."  She doesn't sound like a real friend at all.

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treesgrowslowly

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Re: When others accuse you of emotional abuse
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2019, 09:50:37 AM »
I agree with Bloomie. From experience I have learned that there are many people who do not express their frustrations and this always ends up damaging their friendship in the long run.

The intensity of her actions is about her, and how she deals with feeling stressed. She had many options in regards to how to treat you and my bet is that you will see thus happen again in her lofe if you keep in contsct enough to hear how she's doing. A year from now she will have confused someone else with her behaviours. I say this based on what you describe. Not taking responsibility for her financial obligations isn't about you its about her.

I am glad you are happily moving into a 1 bedroom. We can get caught up in some situation at some point that hurts like this and we need time afterwards so that we can do what you are doing, reflect.

People who criticize us for things we know we want to change in ourselves are often being covert narcissists. They target people who are self reflective because they know they can get to us.

 A more mature person is able to live without making you seem like the bad guy in their story of their life. Yes you have things you want to improve. That is a sign of your self awareness. Narcissists Will not be able to show respect for that and will take advantage of your ability to be self reflective.

You're not a bad guy but there are plenty of people out there who live by telling themselves that you are the villain in this chapter of their life story. You're not. You're human, you have bad days and good days.

You are not here to be cast in someone else's drama. They need to see their life as a drama with people in roles. Let them be. Leave them be.

She wasn't honest with you about the finances. This was going to damage your friendship and either she didn't care or didnt realize it. Either way, it was going to become an issue to sort out eventually since bills can't go unpaid forever. She may have gotten a notice in the mail right before she picked this fight with you. Not paying a shared Bill is one of many ways to damage a friendship with a roommate. That has nothing to do with you. She chose that.

You're gonna be ok without this roommate, and you already know that. :)


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Penny Lane

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Re: When others accuse you of emotional abuse
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2019, 07:37:29 PM »
Hi HS25362,
From what you've said I'm not seeing any evidence that there's something toxic and wrong about you.

It's impossible to tell over the internet exactly who was at fault for what in a scenario. Certainly it's possible you have some unhealthy habits (fleas) that came out in this scenario. It's also possible to have a situation where one person's issues intersect with another person's issues in a way where neither person was in the wrong but you ended up at odds anyway.

But I don't think that's what happened here. Your roommate is the one who acted objectively badly. She did not have your best interests at heart. I think the best proof of that is how she screwed you financially with the water bill, which is not the mark of a good friend. Not just screwed you but actually scammed money from you! And I agree with the others - I think it's highly likely that she provoked an argument to distract you from her own bad behavior.

I think you were onto something when you said she reminded you of your uBPD mother.

I think she told you that you are manipulative in order to hurt you and get you to do what she wants. Not because she believes it.

I think you are in a much better position to heal without her in your life.

Your insight that you need to set boundaries before you get mad - that is a great insight, and such a good goal to work toward. It seems like your former roommate didn't like it when you set boundaries.

If you've heard from others that you're manipulative (others who are not manipulative themselves, that is), then it might make sense to try to figure out if you picked up some manipulative behaviors from your mom, without realizing that's what you were doing. It really is the mark of a strong person to try to gain understanding of your weaknesses and work on them.

But to me, much more important would be to figure out why you were drawn to a toxic person like this roommate and how to spot and avoid them in the future, so you can seek out healthier relationships and friendships. That is a very hard skill to learn but it pays dividends throughout your life.

I hope your new one bedroom is beautiful. And someday you can look back on that apartment and you think "Wow, that was the place where I really kickstarted my healing process - I am so much happier and stronger after my time there."
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 07:59:55 PM by Penny Lane »