Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?

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Bloomie

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Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?
« on: May 27, 2020, 02:01:20 PM »
It has been a long time coming, but something about the space that shelter in place has created in my relationships has fully revealed how over it I am with a friendship I once would've said I cherished. And it is about time.

I am grieving how long I have hung on and working through my part in developing a friendship that has lasted for several decades that has been pushed to what I am very humbled to say has been my waaaayyyy too far out there limits.

This relationship is pitifully lacking in even a reasonable level of reciprocity and has I am no longer able to deny it has been founded and maintained on the premise that we somehow early on both must have tacitly agreed to - that she is the oh, so charming N Queen :dramaqueen: and I am the side kick, servant, a listening ear, and ever ready and willing hostess with the mostest.  :blink:

We were brought together through the commonalities of our circumstances and the friendship of our DH's. In the hustle and bustle of raising our families together, it was easy to miss, or more accurately excuse, how little listening and genuine interest was shown in others. How often hospitality was accepted and how very few times it was returned. How often unkind or unflattering comments someone else made about me were repeated to me. The many times she ‘forgot’ to pass on important info or details about larger girlfriend gatherings excluding me. How when in the midst of times of illness, surgery, terrible loss, she was in the woodwork and never offered a word of comfort or sympathy.

For years, I pushed past what I have come to realize are highly narcissistic and histrionic behaviors. The competition, jealousy, rivalry, look at me, look at me behaviors. The disapproval and put downs covertly communicated - through tone of voice or a disapproving look or shushing me…yep, shushing a grown woman.

I have realized that for a long time now I don’t feel good about myself after I have spent time with her and yet, I put up with it all and continued to maintain the relationship status quo. I am pretty disappointed in the standards I have held for myself in relationships about right now.  :sadno:

Our lives have become entwined to such a degree that I cannot untangle them without causing great harm to my most beloved of family members. So, I won't do that. But I have begun to match her efforts and level of engagement. I have no reason to believe she has even noticed I am not initiating contact and have not been for quite some time. During the last 6 months, I have heard from her a very few times via text to either borrow something or with a scheduling question. We are part of a larger family/friend group and so I do see her at those times, but otherwise, I have pulled back from any other contact.

I was just recently told that this friend is planning a big bday party for her eldest son in the next few months... at my home and after a day of using some membership privileges I have. To use these privileges would require me to make reservations and execute this plan and pay any additional costs. This is the first I have heard of all of this and the source is 100% reliable. I have not been asked or consulted. It is just assumed I would go along. And I have no one to blame but myself for the assumption that I am there to serve and she is there to receive.

Another thread on this board mentioned gracefully withdrawing from an entwined type friendship with an unhealthy person and that is what I am attempting. A graceful withdrawal from an unhealthy, out of balance relationship. A redrawing of the lines and boundaries around my life, home, time, resources, with this person and to do so without doing harm if at all possible to others or myself.

A conversation would not be productive. I have directly told her in the past that I find her lack of engagement for months on end then coming in hot and professing we are besties to be confusing and hurtful. Her response was something like: “you are always so strong I never realized. I will have to be more aware…” yes, because isn’t it easier to label a friend as superwoman who never has a need so that one can continue to justify neglecting to show common fellowship? Not a single thing changed. So talking it through is out.

It is the emotional piece and the shared relationships and years of history that make this complicated to sift through right now. I know how to say ‘no’ when all of the fabulous plans are craftily and strategically revealed to me. Because she always has a plan in how she will approach things to get what she wants and a common behavior is to create confusion around if I knew and already agreed to this by telling her child and others - shared family members and friends - this is already planned and going to happen is the first step to getting what she wants. Through creating obligation using deliberately confusing and roundabout communication.

Saying ‘no’ is not the hardest part. The hardest part is disappointment in myself to have invested so much in a faux friendship. To have been so vulnerable that I believed all of the choice words that drip from her lips like honey and perfectly cued vulnerable helpless act that works to distract from aggressive opportunistic behaviors. A younger version of myself who was still in the FOG was very vulnerable to the charm act of a person that displays histrionic and covertly N behaviors. Not so charming anymore.  :blush:

This coming OOTF thing…. it's hard.


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notrightinthehead

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Re: Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2020, 04:13:53 PM »
Well i am rooting for you! I have no advice but am curious how you will handle it. The way you describe her, I doubt you will manage to wriggle out of the birthday party without major drama in the whole friendship circle. Maybe most people know by now what you will be doing. Sending you a lot of strength - please keep us informed. I think there are a lot of us on here, who will benefit from your experience.
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LemonLime

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Re: Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2020, 11:51:35 AM »
Oh Bloomie.  What an eloquent account of your terrible experience with this woman.  And of your realization that this isn't a true friendship at all.

The pieces of the puzzle have all clicked into place for you now.  I can hear the anger and sadness and pain.  I'm so sorry.   And I hear the regret or shame or sadness or disappointment that it took you this long to figure it out.

I can relate so much to what you wrote, as now in my 50's I'm just figuring out my covertN sister's devious ways.   You describe so beautifully the manipulation that I always felt but couldn't pin down, til recently when she lost her sh**  and really let me see her true colors. And she refuses to apologize, so I guess our relationship is essentially over.   Our relationship is perhaps especially tricky because she is very capable of authentic caring and true generosity.  But that doesn't matter when there is a fatal flaw of hubris, and an overriding need to protect her fragile ego.   She's apparently willing to try selling me the lie that this is all my fault, or even partly my fault, in order to keep control of the narrative that she is simply a misunderstood warrior for justice.  It's a shame, but it is what it is.   She's the one who has forced me to choose between my mental health or a relationship with her.   I choose me.

Hearing your story makes me see just how much compassion we both can have for ourselves in our situations.   As you beautifully stated, the younger you was vulnerable to her charms.  You were willing to play the role she put you in, and that she cleverly kept you in.   It's true....we could have escaped and said "no" much earlier.  It pains me to realize that although I am a highly educated professional, I've been willing to play side-kick in more than one relationship in my life.  That I have been so captivated by self-possessed, confident people that I have lost myself completely.   But reading your story, I have nothing but compassion for you and admiration for your ability to see this now, and to write a compelling story that will help many others.   If we were naive, so be it.   We are trusting people who give others the benefit of the doubt.   And in my case in order to fully heal I must acknowledge what I gained by hanging with these folks....I wanted to baske in their glow and ride their coattails, I guess.  They made me feel special and chosen.  Not a crime, but certainly not the signs of the powerful strong woman I'd like to think I am.

This meltdown of my sis's is what brought me to this forum, and I'm forever grateful for the tools I've learned.   Once I learned what FOG is, so much became clear.  I remember the meltdown like it was yesterday, and see that just like from a script my sis hauled out every single tool at her disposal.   She was so angry with me, so first came the guilt/obligation  ("we came from so far away, why can't you just be nice?" and "Kat, you are ruining Mom and Dad's vacation by not going along with this") and the fear ("Dad doesn't have that long to live, so you should (essentially) do what I'm telling you to do").    And she just kept hauling out one manipulative tool after another, and she would look at me after each attempt, and when I did not react to it, she simply pulled out another.   Whether they made any sense or not.  She became so desperate-appearing as her techniques weren't working.....it really was something to behold.   It reminded me of someone pulling out clothes from a trunk, one at a time, trying each one on and when they didn't fit, tossing it aside and pulling out the next one to try on.   Such desperation to find something that "fits", something that can take back the control that she is used to wielding.   My non-reaction.....what in the world was she to do with THAT?

My point being that these folks are so predictable, and I'd just never seen that before.  They are just utterly predictable.  And they have a limited set of tools that they use over and over.  And now I like to label their tools......there's fear and obligation and guilt and flattery and obfuscation and triangulation and hyperbole and subtle criticisms and sowing seeds of doubt.   And deflection and distraction and gaslighting are favorites too.  And when all else fails...DARVO, the nuclear option.

I have learned that these people are not really mysterious.  Not anymore.  Feels like The Wizard of Oz.   There are plenty of them out there, and they're not always all bad, and they sure don't like being seen for what they are.

And this friend of yours won't like it either.  I know this will not be easy, and you might feel lonely in this undertaking.  And there will be people who think she's just so fabulous and you'll have to hear the adoration.  And of course you'll know that if you tried to explain the terrible situation to anyone, it would likely backfire on you.   Because people just can't understand until they have been thoroughly slimed by these folks.   And sometimes even then they don't get it (I'm a great example of that).

I'm living the reality of being "the one" who just won't take it anymore.   And I so feel for you now, Bloomie.   You know what you need to do, and I'm sending you all the strength and love possible to fortify you.   Yes, coming OOTF is hard.   So hard.








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Bloomie

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Re: Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2020, 11:43:18 AM »
Well i am rooting for you! I have no advice but am curious how you will handle it. The way you describe her, I doubt you will manage to wriggle out of the birthday party without major drama in the whole friendship circle. Maybe most people know by now what you will be doing. Sending you a lot of strength - please keep us informed. I think there are a lot of us on here, who will benefit from your experience.

Thank you notright! I could use someone rooting for me about right now. I feel as if finally giving myself permission to pull back has opened the floodgates and I am processing a lot of hard stuff related to this relationship. The worst case scenario could be much drama in our family/friend circle and I just don't want to face that if I am being honest, but know I must hold the line. I appreciate your support!

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Bloomie

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Re: Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2020, 12:17:45 PM »
Kat thank you for this... I realized how deep this all really is when I read your reply and wept. A lot of pain packed away and your compassion and insights opened the floodgates in a healing way and I am just so grateful and yet so sad that you are facing this kind of thing with your sister.

Oh Bloomie.  What an eloquent account of your terrible experience with this woman.  And of your realization that this isn't a true friendship at all.

The pieces of the puzzle have all clicked into place for you now.  I can hear the anger and sadness and pain.  I'm so sorry.   And I hear the regret or shame or sadness or disappointment that it took you this long to figure it out.

Yes, a lot of regret and that is okay and honest. It informs my choices going forward and underscores the need for change in this relationships and any others that mimic it in any way - if that makes sense?

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I can relate so much to what you wrote, as now in my 50's I'm just figuring out my covertN sister's devious ways.   You describe so beautifully the manipulation that I always felt but couldn't pin down, til recently when she lost her sh**  and really let me see her true colors. And she refuses to apologize, so I guess our relationship is essentially over.   Our relationship is perhaps especially tricky because she is very capable of authentic caring and true generosity.  But that doesn't matter when there is a fatal flaw of hubris, and an overriding need to protect her fragile ego.   She's apparently willing to try selling me the lie that this is all my fault, or even partly my fault, in order to keep control of the narrative that she is simply a misunderstood warrior for justice.  It's a shame, but it is what it is.   She's the one who has forced me to choose between my mental health or a relationship with her.   I choose me.

I am so sorry it has come to this with your sister. Being an adult child from a disordered home - or maybe this is just true of anyone (?) - I have a very, very, very hard time holding these two (bolded) truths at the same time with this friend or anyone really. You have said it so well. Your wording has helped me see it really is a choice and I choose my health.

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[Hearing your story makes me see just how much compassion we both can have for ourselves in our situations.   As you beautifully stated, the younger you was vulnerable to her charms.  You were willing to play the role she put you in, and that she cleverly kept you in.   It's true....we could have escaped and said "no" much earlier.  It pains me to realize that although I am a highly educated professional, I've been willing to play side-kick in more than one relationship in my life.  That I have been so captivated by self-possessed, confident people that I have lost myself completely.   But reading your story, I have nothing but compassion for you and admiration for your ability to see this now, and to write a compelling story that will help many others.   If we were naive, so be it.   We are trusting people who give others the benefit of the doubt.   And in my case in order to fully heal I must acknowledge what I gained by hanging with these folks....I wanted to baske in their glow and ride their coattails, I guess.  They made me feel special and chosen.  Not a crime, but certainly not the signs of the powerful strong woman I'd like to think I am.

Understanding my own tendencies and weaknesses is key in this as you share you have done. I have believed people. I have bought in more than once to the facade. I enjoy people and easily love them and welcome them in. (too easily in the past for sure) And how much more so is it true for you with a sister who has been born into the innermost circles of our lives? So hard! 

I have ignored the red flags flying and doubted my own discernment or voice of caution. It is not trusting myself to rightly see through when that voice of caution speaks and wrongly believing I was powerless or wrong to disengage from someone so strategically placed in my life by circumstances or family relationships.

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This meltdown of my sis's is what brought me to this forum, and I'm forever grateful for the tools I've learned.   Once I learned what FOG is, so much became clear.  I remember the meltdown like it was yesterday, and see that just like from a script my sis hauled out every single tool at her disposal.   She was so angry with me, so first came the guilt/obligation  ("we came from so far away, why can't you just be nice?" and "Kat, you are ruining Mom and Dad's vacation by not going along with this") and the fear ("Dad doesn't have that long to live, so you should (essentially) do what I'm telling you to do").    And she just kept hauling out one manipulative tool after another, and she would look at me after each attempt, and when I did not react to it, she simply pulled out another.   Whether they made any sense or not.  She became so desperate-appearing as her techniques weren't working.....it really was something to behold.   It reminded me of someone pulling out clothes from a trunk, one at a time, trying each one on and when they didn't fit, tossing it aside and pulling out the next one to try on.   Such desperation to find something that "fits", something that can take back the control that she is used to wielding.   My non-reaction.....what in the world was she to do with THAT?

My point being that these folks are so predictable, and I'd just never seen that before.  They are just utterly predictable.  And they have a limited set of tools that they use over and over.  And now I like to label their tools......there's fear and obligation and guilt and flattery and obfuscation and triangulation and hyperbole and subtle criticisms and sowing seeds of doubt.   And deflection and distraction and gaslighting are favorites too.  And when all else fails...DARVO, the nuclear option.

I have learned that these people are not really mysterious.  Not anymore.  Feels like The Wizard of Oz.   There are plenty of them out there, and they're not always all bad, and they sure don't like being seen for what they are.

Yes! There is a predictable pattern of self interest and grasping and an ego so defended it cannot seem to see the reality that we are on to them and their behaviors and attitudes and the tactics are revealed to us and are empowered to have steady limits and boundaries around our lives now.  In my possibly uHPD/N's friend's world, there is a kind of blinder effect that having been successful getting what she wants for so long she doesn't seem to realize I see right through her and I don't want to play anymore. I don't see her coming to any kind of realization that her act is old, tired and shopworn.

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And this friend of yours won't like it either.  I know this will not be easy, and you might feel lonely in this undertaking.  And there will be people who think she's just so fabulous and you'll have to hear the adoration.  And of course you'll know that if you tried to explain the terrible situation to anyone, it would likely backfire on you.   Because people just can't understand until they have been thoroughly slimed by these folks.   And sometimes even then they don't get it (I'm a great example of that).

I'm living the reality of being "the one" who just won't take it anymore.   And I so feel for you now, Bloomie.   You know what you need to do, and I'm sending you all the strength and love possible to fortify you.   Yes, coming OOTF is hard.   So hard.

No, she won't like it and I will keep my piece and live out my boundaries. Thank you for helping me and for your support and I will gratefully take that strength and add it to mine. This is really the last remaining (that I am concious of!  :upsidedown:) unhealthy relationships I need to grapple with. Though my heart is hurting it is good to face and work through. 
« Last Edit: May 29, 2020, 12:20:06 PM by Bloomie »

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Bloomie

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Re: Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2020, 12:37:14 PM »
Making my way back around looking at unhealthy bonding or what I think of as unhealthy soul ties with untrustworthy people. Reminding myself of the work of Patrick Carnes as I process all of this. He describes 5 common characteristics of relationships with what he terms 'trauma bonds'.

That terms feels off for this relationship, but what I continue to realize that helps me understand is out of my experiences of neglect and abuse as a child a tolerance for staying in unhealthy relationships grew. Relationships that were founded when I was still quite young that still remain - as in this friendship - have distinct similarities that at some point became intolerable for me and I have either stepped back from them completely where I am able or continue to tolerate toxic behaviors in order to preserve larger family/friend connections that are very important and sustaining to me.

Those characteristics Carnes describes are: (paraphrasing here from my notes on book/vids)

1. attracted to unhealthy people
2. there is a pattern of exploitation in the relationship which I make excuses for allowing me to overlook the damage that is being done (which rewires my brain chemistry and results in making right discernment in the relationship even more difficult)
3. there are secrets in the person's life and/or in the relationship - the message that I have been singled out or are part of a special group, inner circle, trusted friend - :no:
4. what keeps me stuck is Fear - the great chemist of the brain - I find myself trying to convince this person that they are behaving poorly - embedded in my culture is the notion that I must put myself at risk for connection with other people and stay in it and keep trying, forgiving, going toward, overlooking offenses (at least this is embedded in the Christian culture I grew up in)
5. I find myself preoccupied with the relationship
and a 6th from my own experiences and observations
6. there is a consistent pattern over time of dishonesty, gossip, favoritism, and divisive behaviors among groups

There has to be a better way than tolerating toxic in order to preserve other relationships. Right? I can cut those unhealthy soul ties. And then what does that relationship look like?

For me - living out my boundaries and preferences with firm kindness and putting the discomfort of this friend's toxic behaivors back on to her. This person is slippery... if you know someone who has dominate traits of histrionic/N combo you will get what I mean by that. In the blink of an eye she can shift and slip around and is not held to a standard of being honest. She lies a lot and confabulates - is confused, didn't know, doesn't understand, doesn't remember, never got the message.

I also realized that because the harm done by this friend's behaviors is personal and mostly impacts me I have borne the burden of it thinking I can hold up under it. That there is no real urgency or need to rock the boat like there has been in other unhealthy relationships. Nope. Not true! I need to as good care of myself as I do others. Trying to rewire my brain to rightly discern by making different choices and no longer overlooking and making excuses for her behaviors.

So, I am going to face the fear I have that going MC and gray rock, disengaging from the swirl that is communication, stepping away from close connection, redrawing the boundary lines with this friend will result in drama and more loss in my life.







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Adria

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Re: Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2020, 04:21:28 PM »
Bloomie,

Please don't be too hard on yourself.  I think we let go when a relationship doesn't serve us well anymore.  You most likely were getting something out of it that you still needed, and now you have hit another growth spurt and see things differently again.  We just keep evolving.

I had a friend for over thirty years, was in the same predicament.  It wasn't going well.  I felt like I was growing and she stayed stagnant the whole time and kept making unwise choices. I, like you, kept telling myself I could hold up, that maybe it would get better.  I would listen to her four hours on end always cheering her on to no avail.  My body was telling me to let go, but my heart and mind weren't ready.  Every time I hung up the phone from talking to her I would start bleeding like it was that time of the month, only it wasn't. I hung on so long with her that my body started a revolt.  After I noticed a pattern like this had evolved, I new it was time to call it quits. And when I did, all systems went back to normal.

I think one of the most difficult things in this life is to end a friendship, especially a long one that once seemed so right.  I think with everything you stated, it's just time now.  It wouldn't have been the right time any earlier because you weren't truly ready to see it for what it was and make the separation. The time has simply come as you dared to see things more clearly now.  I also think it is harder for us because we have experienced so much loss from our families and cannot bear yet another loss because in some ways it makes us feel at fault or inadequate somehow, even though that isn't necessarily the case.

I'm so sorry you have to go through yet one more loss. It can be bittersweet, but still sad and painful.  It sounds like you are doing the right thing, and when you draw the line, you will have earned another level of self respect, and you will come up higher and stronger.  Strength and courage never present themselves without leaving the status quo, but always bring us to higher ground.  I wish you the best always. Hugs, Adria.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2020, 04:28:14 PM by Adria »

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TriedTooHard

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Re: Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2020, 07:11:08 AM »
You are right:  for those of us who were raised in uPD environments, we were trained to put up with this type of behavior and we often times become entwined in these types of friendships long before we come Out of the FOG.  It can take a long time to remove ourselves when these friendships are so entangled with family and community activities.  Especially if we're in a culture of big families and community events where we see so many people supposedly enjoying the benefits of that.  And of course we're all too aware of how important it is for our mental health to have companionship and connection.  We just wanted that connection, and we wanted to focus on the best in others. 

But then the lock down happened and a lot of us were surprised with how we were able to get along without these types of friendships.  Yes, its been a stressful time for many external reasons.  But, I'm surprised to see that my mental health is no worse off for having been isolated from certain people.  We may have even thrived/improved during that time.  It seems absurd to admit that during these times when there is so much suffering and stress out there in the greater world.  But it certainly is an eye opener.

I think there is another thing at play here with your situation.  I think coming Out of the FOG with certain levels of narcissism has different time lines.  Early on when I first heard the terms "narcissism" and "personality disorder", there was not much written about the different types.  Back then, it was described to me that it was on a spectrum.  In my FOO, there are many people like your "friend", so for years, I just figured they must be low on the spectrum.  I made excuses for them.  But lately, I'm learning that there are many different studies of this type, or level, of narcissism.  I've seen/heard it referred to as "vulnerable", "covert", or "communal" narcissism.  I've been affected by many people like your friend, and they can be hard to spot, especially because they aren't shy and like you said, at times can be quite charming, without seeming like they're love bombing.  It helps me to think of them as "communal" narcissists.  I'm hoping that they, their quieter cousins, the "vulnerable" and "covert" narcissists, and then the others who go along with their antics, are our last frontier in coming Out of the FOG.

I certainly validate your difficulty in extricating yourself from this type of person.  I know it may not be possible to go NC, so there is the challenge of having to do gray rock and medium chill, which in an ideal world, we shouldn't have to do.  Why should we even bother in our personal or social lives?  I am hoping this period of social isolation (un-precedented in our lives), has shown us that we have the tools to do this! 

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Bloomie

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Re: Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2020, 12:33:45 PM »
Bloomie,

Please don't be too hard on yourself.  I think we let go when a relationship doesn't serve us well anymore.  You most likely were getting something out of it that you still needed, and now you have hit another growth spurt and see things differently again.  We just keep evolving.
Thank you for reminding me of this and for your kind support. I am encouraged by the thought that maybe I have hit another growth spurt!

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I had a friend for over thirty years, was in the same predicament.  It wasn't going well.  I felt like I was growing and she stayed stagnant the whole time and kept making unwise choices. I, like you, kept telling myself I could hold up, that maybe it would get better.  I would listen to her four hours on end always cheering her on to no avail.  My body was telling me to let go, but my heart and mind weren't ready.  Every time I hung up the phone from talking to her I would start bleeding like it was that time of the month, only it wasn't. I hung on so long with her that my body started a revolt.  After I noticed a pattern like this had evolved, I new it was time to call it quits. And when I did, all systems went back to normal.


I am so sorry that you experienced this. That sounds awful!! So telling that your systems returned to normal after calling it quits.

It has become so much easier to see the direct correlation between contact with toxic behaviors and drama-bound people and physical symptoms of distress in my own life which my heart and mind want to pack away. My body has been revolting as well. Big time. Confirmation of how unhealthy this relationship is for me and the lack of peace and safety in it.

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I think one of the most difficult things in this life is to end a friendship, especially a long one that once seemed so right.  I think with everything you stated, it's just time now.  It wouldn't have been the right time any earlier because you weren't truly ready to see it for what it was and make the separation. The time has simply come as you dared to see things more clearly now.  I also think it is harder for us because we have experienced so much loss from our families and cannot bear yet another loss because in some ways it makes us feel at fault or inadequate somehow, even though that isn't necessarily the case.

Yes to all of this. Every word! I read something this week elsewhere similar to what you are saying here that comforted me along with your words. This relationship and the support and love and openness that I offered this person is not wasted as I see it bear fruit and benefits in the relationships I have with her children and extended family. I have hung on far too long beyond when that good benefit outweighed the difficulty of some of her consistent traits and their toxic impact on me out of habit, genuine affection, and not wanting to disrupt an important group dynamic. It is time to step back. You are so right.

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I'm so sorry you have to go through yet one more loss. It can be bittersweet, but still sad and painful.  It sounds like you are doing the right thing, and when you draw the line, you will have earned another level of self respect, and you will come up higher and stronger.  Strength and courage never present themselves without leaving the status quo, but always bring us to higher ground.  I wish you the best always. Hugs, Adria.

Yep... it is one more loss and there have been so many. I am really sad and yet relieved as well.

I have added this beautiful quote of yours to my journal: "Strength and courage never present themselves without leaving the status quo, but always bring us to higher ground." Thank you so, so much! :hug:

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Bloomie

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Re: Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2020, 01:01:48 PM »
You are right:  for those of us who were raised in uPD environments, we were trained to put up with this type of behavior and we often times become entwined in these types of friendships long before we come Out of the FOG.  It can take a long time to remove ourselves when these friendships are so entangled with family and community activities.  Especially if we're in a culture of big families and community events where we see so many people supposedly enjoying the benefits of that.  And of course we're all too aware of how important it is for our mental health to have companionship and connection.  We just wanted that connection, and we wanted to focus on the best in others.

Wow! TriedTooHard you sum this up so well. Thanking for the validation! For so long with this relationship, there was just enough time and distance between contact and so much going on around those times we were together that I could handle it and like your forum name says I tried too hard in general in relationships making myself a target for opportunistic people. And there was so much parallel stuff going on with my FOO and in law family, during many years of this relationship, the priority wasn't sorting this one. Now it is. 

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But then the lock down happened and a lot of us were surprised with how we were able to get along without these types of friendships.  Yes, its been a stressful time for many external reasons.  But, I'm surprised to see that my mental health is no worse off for having been isolated from certain people.  We may have even thrived/improved during that time.  It seems absurd to admit that during these times when there is so much suffering and stress out there in the greater world.  But it certainly is an eye opener.

Yes! It has been during SIP that I have realized I no longer want a close connection with her. That every single interaction leaves me feeling badly about myself almost like a subtle kind of hum like a refrigerator makes that when it shuts off you realize... oh, that is so nice not to hear that 'noise' of subtle putdowns, push/pull behaviors, having to sort through confusing and possibly manipulative word salad conversations, the discombobulation of having this friend go into the woodwork for periods of time and then come back into my inner circle hot, and the doubt that arises in myself as I do want to see the best in everyone.

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I think there is another thing at play here with your situation.  I think coming Out of the FOG with certain levels of narcissism has different time lines.  Early on when I first heard the terms "narcissism" and "personality disorder", there was not much written about the different types.  Back then, it was described to me that it was on a spectrum.  In my FOO, there are many people like your "friend", so for years, I just figured they must be low on the spectrum.  I made excuses for them.  But lately, I'm learning that there are many different studies of this type, or level, of narcissism.  I've seen/heard it referred to as "vulnerable", "covert", or "communal" narcissism.  I've been affected by many people like your friend, and they can be hard to spot, especially because they aren't shy and like you said, at times can be quite charming, without seeming like they're love bombing.  It helps me to think of them as "communal" narcissists.  I'm hoping that they, their quieter cousins, the "vulnerable" and "covert" narcissists, and then the others who go along with their antics, are our last frontier in coming Out of the FOG.

I certainly validate your difficulty in extricating yourself from this type of person.  I know it may not be possible to go NC, so there is the challenge of having to do gray rock and medium chill, which in an ideal world, we shouldn't have to do.  Why should we even bother in our personal or social lives?  I am hoping this period of social isolation (un-precedented in our lives), has shown us that we have the tools to do this! 

This is fascinating for me. Thank you for sharing these insights! I will look further into understanding communal narcissist and am very interested to hear more of your thoughts if you would be able to share with me about coming OOTF at different timelines with what may be described as a more subtle or harder to spot HPD/NPD traits and behaviors.

Oh, please let this be the final frontier of coming OOTF in all of this!! I am holding onto that thought.

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Bloomie

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Re: Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2020, 01:40:06 PM »
So, an update as this situation in my OP has unfolded further and thankfully as I had thought it would which allowed me to be prepared.

A mutual friend mentioned in passing that they were looking forward to this friend's son's party at my home on a specific date in the future after having received a 'save the date' kind of message...  :blink: Um... no.

It seems this friend had let the larger group of family/friends, of course, her son and his wife who I love dearly, know about the party planned including a date in the future. Didn't contact me, mind you.

This is what I expected her to do. Work from the outside in. Create an atmosphere of obligation and confusion around what was said or agreed to between the two of us and create the risk of my 'no' causing offense or hurt in her adult child or larger family group.

I am realizing more and more this is a common pattern when there has been a discrepancy between what I actually said or agreed to in the past and what this friend disseminates to others or 'understands' which most often gets this friend what she wants with many people who surround her - let's just say this has really worked for her across the board. She easily portrays a situational vulnerability and instability even, which makes it very hard to endure 'hurting' or disappointing her.

I contacted her via written communication so I have a record of what was actually said and let her know I was confused about her planning something in my home I hadn't agreed to on dates I knew nothing about. I also let her know I was hurt that she had not been clear in her communication and sad that there was a risk to her child being hurt in some way and that she had put me in a really uncomfortable position.

Her response was to claim I had agreed as she understood it and it was a miscommunication, sweep, sweep, sweep goes the rug, off on, off on, goes the gaslighting - going into a lot of detail about what she said/I said which is the slipperiest of slopes with her as her forte is absolutely her crafty and creative tongue.  She could agree that not running the dates by me first was not okay and apologized for that. VM that ended in sobs and she would never hurt me and loves me so much followed several emotional messages to just forget the plans for her child she would figure something else out.

I thanked her for her messages and let her know I do not remember ever agreeing to her plans, but I hope whatever she does to celebrate her child is lovely - at the same time reminded her of something she already knows.. our family is facing some very hard things right now with a precious family member facing imminent danger daily and as our energies are going to actively supporting our family members through this I have given the situation and the 'misunderstanding' all I can give it at this time.

Radio silence since then. 

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Adria

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Re: Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?
« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2020, 05:53:10 PM »
Wow - Bloomie,

She sounds like a tricky one, very smooth indeed. A good weasel always uses the children, eh?

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I thanked her for her messages and let her know I do not remember ever agreeing to her plans, but I hope whatever she does to celebrate her child is lovely - at the same time reminded her of something she already knows.. our family is facing some very hard things right now with a precious family member facing imminent danger daily and as our energies are going to actively supporting our family members through this I have given the situation and the 'misunderstanding' all I can give it at this time.

Brilliant! You are also very smooth, and classy and eloquent as well. You handled her like a pro! :applause:  And, I think she knows she has been handled.  :bigwink:

I hope whatever hardships your family is facing right now subside quickly. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

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Call Me Cordelia

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Re: Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?
« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2020, 07:45:41 PM »
 :udawoman:

Wow, Bloomie! Boss level boundaries. That’s absolutely shocking behavior on her part. I too will keep you and your family situation in my prayers.

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Bloomie

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Re: Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2020, 11:46:27 AM »
Oh, thank you for the prayers and support! Means a lot!

In the past, I most likely would have been quick to reassure and bridge any gap of discomfort this has caused taking it on myself to be uncomfortable and this time we each get to sit with our own feelings and manage our own behaviors. Like the grown ups we are. :yes:


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LemonLime

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Re: Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2020, 01:58:17 PM »
Bloomie, you're my role model for Boundaries!   Wow!   :applause:

The radio silence.....it's familiar.   I have found that my PD-ish sister will love-bomb and then when I don't "fall for it" she gives me radio silence.

These folks are NOT happy when their strategies don't work.  Not at all.


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Bloomie

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Re: Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?
« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2020, 11:30:58 AM »
Bloomie, you're my role model for Boundaries!   Wow!   :applause:

The radio silence.....it's familiar.   I have found that my PD-ish sister will love-bomb and then when I don't "fall for it" she gives me radio silence.

These folks are NOT happy when their strategies don't work.  Not at all.


Honestly kat... if you knew how long it has taken me to set some healthy boundaries in this friendship I could be a cautionary tale of what not to do! But, thank you for your kindness and support!

With this friend, I think she has retreated and may take a victim like stance and/or may move on to someone else for this party. :meh:

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LifeInTheFog

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Re: Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?
« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2020, 06:19:24 PM »
Great job!!!! Just stay strong because they can be addictive. Glad to see someone else struggle with friends as to me that’s almost the worst thing - because we expect men to be jerks sometimes but never our bestie and it can be really hard to face.

Allow yourself all the time and grieving you need.

You are very smart not to confront, I just did the same thing - just withdrew gracefully. We still text here and there and it triggers me but I am just pleasant but distant.

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Bloomie

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Re: Is this Good Grief? And why did this take me so long?
« Reply #17 on: June 16, 2020, 07:44:28 PM »
Thank you for your kind support LifeInTheFog! It means a lot coming from others who get it.

An update... this friend did move on to someone else for this party. I will be seeing her in a larger group soon and will have my cool medium chill on. :yes: