Am I OK to Do This? (Emotional ICU)

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DistanceNotDefense

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Am I OK to Do This? (Emotional ICU)
« on: March 30, 2021, 02:27:26 AM »
Someone who I work a business with, and who I'm incredibly close with as a friend also, just doesn't seem to be getting the changes going on in my life.

Don't get me wrong: they're a wonderful person, I'll always be close with them, what's good about them outshines their shadow self x100,000,000. Unfortunately the way they deal with stress and codependency can border on narcissistic (more just extremely emotionally immature and manipulative hen they're stressed, wanting some type of parental figure to make it all OK, but when they're "on" they're really "on" and a fantastic person). It's manageable and definitely doesn't call for severe coping like medium chill or grey rock, just a good long circular discussion they finally see the light on, in most things. And it's for the most part infrequent, except lately with this one issue.

I'm really hoping to just cut down on this specific issue and how much their self-created stress patterns drain me and take up my time and emotional labor, especially in this really hard stage of my life (going NC with all FOO, 8 months in) so I can just get better and stabilize, and continue with my therapy/building a FOC. They can easily feel overwhelmed and stressed (by work problems mostly of their own making), and then they tend to turn to me as the first person who can emotionally and work-wise "bail them out" and soothe them. They will make their work plate too big and then just add more to it anyway, they just really can't ration work and they're a severe workaholic.

When they're especially stressed they try and put their extra business problems on my plate when I'm trying to keep my plate small! There is more tension lately with all the "no's" I'm giving out to draw some boundaries for myself, and I realized they're pretty used to just running amok while I'm the sensible business partner (I've definitely enabled something for a while). But they really struggle to do the same sort of soothing and stress relief for me, even though they know every detail of what's going on with my family and how hard it's affected me. They're not emotionally developed to that degree and I'm working on accepting that, also working on not relying on them for personal needs and just enjoying all the other wonderful things this person has to offer.

Anyways, I listen to the "Beyond Bitchy" podcast about setting boundaries (HIGHLY recommend), and a recent episode talks about extreme self-care, a.k.a. "Emotional ICU" for when you're going through those REALLY hard transitions in life (loss, grief, tragedy, death of a loved one, getting a cancer diagnosis, etc.) I realized today really hard that I'm soooooo deep in a phase of my life that calls for that type of boundary setting: going into a survival mode for self-care, putting your basic needs first, saying "no" to a lot of things because you just don't have the energy, and you need to heal - and how if you don't do that, then healing takes longer when you're just trying to give and give and take care of everybody else, not yourself.

And this boundary setting is SO hard, and fills me with unbelievable guilt and confusion when I try to stick with it. So I guess I'm reaching out here for some support that what I'm doing is OK and seems reasonable!

I love this person and our business/friendship relationship is definitely here to stay, we've solved tons of other conflicts. I do a LOT for this work we share but admittedly, I'm a little lower capacity just with how much processing NC has taken a toll on me. I have fatigue, chronic monthly migraines (usually 4-5 in a row for a week), and recently been on antibiotics for an untreated allergy-caused ear infection that's gone on for a decade and tons of other health problems, pain, etc. I'm grieving heavily and workshopping my entire life, realizing how acutely trained into a caretaker I was for my FOO and don't want to be a caretaker no more... And nope, not for this person either.

This person brings up my lower working capacity too when they're stressed, and it makes me feel guilty. I reinforce the boundary, go through all the explaining of why, how I hope this is temporary, I need to take care of myself, the past couple years have been a LOT, it's my turn to be the one who is stressed and needs consideration/support. They eventually get it, but the cycle repeats again in a few weeks; they're stressed out about something, they fizzle over in the heat of the moment and try to lean on me, I say no I can't, they then act like their world is falling apart, the guilt-tripping comes in again; I explain why again, because of what I'm going through, they fully get it, everything is good again, until....lather, rinse, repeat.

OOTF'ers, I'm TIRED of explaining my reality to them. They see it and experience it on an almost daily basis themselves, they know what I'm dealing with. I'm tired of them putting more of their stuff (even though it's *our* work stuff, that's the kicker, but it's unnecessary additions to our work I feel) on my plate when they know I'm struggling, and it led to a really long conversation today that pretty much derailed my entire day and completely drained me of being able to tackle my own bottom line.

So, I'm now impelled to tell them, the next time they are stressed out about something work-related *of their own creation* (and sometimes it blurs into personal stuff that they don't know how to get their needs met on, they think I should help them on that too... ugh!) that "Hey, I will NOT talk with you about this anymore. I have explained until I'm blue in the face and you conveniently forget when you're stressed. You can also see precisely what I'm going through, you conveniently forget that too. I will not discuss it again this is a ton of emotional labor for me."

And just walk away. And never speak of it again. And if they continue to try and talk about it, suck me back in, just straight up ignore them. Which seems cruel, but that's really what I want to do.

Am I OK to do this?? I don't know what I'm afraid of, losing the friendship, the work, or both. But some part of me thinks I won't, it will just be really uncomfortable for a while, but I just don't know and abandonment fear sets in hard. It is still scary and I feel so out of place making this big push back for myself, but I'm at the end of my tether especially after all the horror of dealing with my PD/dysfunctional FOO, I'm realizing I'm so done with this ish.

Thank you so much in advance to anyone who reads this far  :blahblahblah:
« Last Edit: March 30, 2021, 02:33:43 AM by DistanceNotDefense »

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notrightinthehead

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Re: Am I OK to Do This? (Emotional ICU)
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2021, 04:44:22 AM »
That is perfectly ok. That is what setting a boundary is. The fear is also part of setting a boundary. You are changing the rules of interaction. You stop being a caretaker beyond your own energy level. Feel the fear and do it anyway!
I can't hate my way into loving myself.

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Bloomie

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Re: Am I OK to Do This? (Emotional ICU)
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2021, 12:56:01 PM »
DistancenotDefence - I would add to notright's observations and insights that medium chill or gray rock are not extreme responses imv and are quite useful when we are faced with draining conversations on repeat with anyone. A great tool to be able to emotionally detach with love by simply staying neutral with non answers like... hmmm... oh... sad to hear you are dealing with that... and then get back to work!

And my very wise T suggested something as a healthy internal boundary... say what you need to say one time - which it seems you have already done about the work load and your need to keep things simple right now - and then move on and live out your reality and guard your time accordingly. You've told your friend. Repeating yourself and getting into an emotional back and forth could be counter productive to you getting your work done and conserving your energy which seems to be your goal - and a worthy one.

A simple..."That is not workable for me." The. End.

In other words... keeping it businesslike and unemotional. This is what healthy people who are in partnership with those they like a lot and care about do. If being kindly direct and staying focused on the tasks at hand is uncomfortable for your partner, well that is not your responsibility to make better or accommodate or talk through until you are exhausted.

Each of us have to deal with our emotions and issues and get the jobs before us done.  You are on the right track and seeing what does and does not work for you. You've got this!  :yes:


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DistanceNotDefense

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Re: Am I OK to Do This? (Emotional ICU)
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2021, 12:23:51 AM »
Thank you Bloomie and notrightinthehead! Both your advice helped and made me feel stronger, I very much appreciate it. I've known this person for so long, and was starting to get in my head about drawing lines because I've never gone there with them, setting limits. These boundaries are so new to me and now I'm feeling like I have to apply them everywhere, not just with dysfunctional FOO, and it's like everything is getting a shake up (and a shakedown!)

I feel a little crestfallen sometimes, thinking how and why did I draw people like this into my life?!? Do I need to chuck them all? And have literally no one (except husband, shallow acquaintances)? And I bring myself to care about them so much, and still want them in my life despite these difficulties and their flaws. I get scared the whole work situation and relationship are just completely untenable, but then again we've put so much into this business (it's pretty successful thanks to both of us, she does work really hard, but it seems like going through a bit of their own personal crisis re: work life and identity)....and the friendship! Difficult mix I guess. And I really care about them, but for a long time this has felt like it's turned into pseudo-family rather than a close friend, and I realize it's because this has felt pretty strained for a very long time...(I suppose "work wife" is the best term). I do just hope it gets better, and they realize they can't place all their strains on me necessarily.

I had another instance of having to hold my boundaries today with work partner and it actually got pretty heated. I did not keep cool and got heated myself. We're a little too comfortable spilling our guts to each other (including anger) maybe and I think my own temper might be part of the problem, I can't be sure. But I was very much put on the defensive and I got riled up, she got very worked up too.

Anyway, I stuck with my boundaries. Similar situation. They wanted to do something frivolous with their time on the business's dime (after we had a looooong meeting yesterday laying out new plans for the near future, and it deviated from this), and they even asked my opinion about it, and I said it was a bad idea and I don't want them to do that. It would indirectly fall on my back. And I stuck with it.

Again they guilted me in response for taking some more time off for my self-care (mostly extreme fatigue and migraines) as if THAT was comparable and somehow frivolous too, and they felt the right to do this in response (ummm ok?) My grief and health problems are the same as an unnecessary/borderline fanciful business decision that would greatly alter our plans and blow our budget? She minimized my contributions in the heat of the moment as well, claiming she is always doing more (which is not true - a couple years ago she asked me to "step up" as partner and I did, only for them to entertain really strange business decisions since then and seem very distracted/uninspired at work in response. It honestly subtly felt like since then she was getting tired/bored of the work and wanting me to do more without owning up to that.)

They tried to draw me into feeling like I have to explain myself AGAIN, and I did not play it super cool but got very assertive (bordering on irate though, I admit) and said I would not explain again my health/personal issues that were VERY different and NOT a choice, and NOT FUN. I refused to talk about it and got on with my day.

And in response they escalated the situation!!! In a way I have never seen her escalate it before. It was ridiculous. It turned into a near-tantrum, in the heat of the moment said they would officially file paperwork and I could buy them out of the business (something I really can't do right now). Even walked off to mock-pretend calling to rent a new space separate from me. Instead of being guilt tripped I said fine, do it.

Turned out I called her bluff. And the next thing I know (and yes, this is during the work day, mind you) she's back and saying she needs to be taken to the hospital with a panic attack...? Her heart is pounding fast and she wants to physically destroy all her work from the last week??? And alluded to self harm?! I expressed concern and just told them to call a hotline even if she needs, if that's what they were really feeling. She said no, please drive me to the hospital, I'm too panicked to drive. I said I can't do that, I'm working....?! It got crazy! They've had mental health issues in the past (I've been there with them through it) and they can get dramatic, but this took it to a whole other level. It felt like a guilt trip intending for me to cave. In the past I wouldn't have seen through it and felt bad, this time I stuck to my guns even though it felt out of control. All this because they wanted to drive 2 hours round trip to get something free that would only make our business *look* nicer but not run better (In the future I am never mixing personal and business ever again....)

I didn't budge, it just all felt like manipulation, and I just suggested they to go for a walk and come back when they feel better. When they did she said more stuff, "you're pushing me away and it's working," "I feel like suddenly we're distant" etc. and the usual stuff, that they don't feel in control of things and feel "trapped" in the work and like the fun friendship parts are gone (which is funny the entire thing is run by her standards and vision, I remind her that often - it's like building oneself into a gilded cage I guess.)

She calmed down afterhours and apologized later, eating crow and admitting to feeling a lot of things right now that aren't my responsibility. And particularly apologized for the hospital/panic stuff (she was evidently not having a panic attack by the way, I don't know WHAT she was thinking and apparently she doesn't either). It's the way it always goes, fizzling over and then ultimately taking accountability. They're stable now. They did not go forward with their silly frivolous trip (leaving me to run things) and we got a lot done. We got through it...but....

...is this really how bad it gets and how shaken up someone gets with boundaries like these....? Wow! Has anyone set boundaries with a close friend or other person who reacts like this, and it eventually does get better???

I realize my part and how badly I have been enabling and going with the flow for it to have gotten like this. I hope she gets her head on straight instead of chucking all our hard work into the garbage can (also my husband is silent partner/invested too....), because if she does leave it screws up our business (and both our lives quite a bit financially, not just mine but also hers). On the plus side, I refused to let this drain me and I got a lot done, which is the only thing I care about.

But still... Wow! Geez. I've asked her many times "wtf is going on that you act like you want out of this so bad??? We have a really sweet deal going on here." (We do - we have a business and work life to be enviable of, to be perfectly honest, I feel grateful and privileged every day). And it's like when everything is calm, she doesn't know. I think she's experiencing a mid-life crisis but doesn't want to admit it, but it just can't be my problem, not right now. :stars:

Thank you to anyone who feels like listening or responding to my crazy life....

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notrightinthehead

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Re: Am I OK to Do This? (Emotional ICU)
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2021, 03:37:38 AM »
Sounds like you are doing the boundaries right. It might be an extinction burst, or several of them. If you continue to be kind and firm, stick to your boundaries, use the tools from the toolbox,  you might experience some more of these performances,  they might  even get worse.  If they don't have the desired result - you caving in and assuming your role as caretaker - they will eventually subside and your partner might look for another way to get her needs met.
I can't hate my way into loving myself.

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DistanceNotDefense

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Re: Am I OK to Do This? (Emotional ICU)
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2021, 12:18:36 PM »
Thank you notrightinthehead. What I'm hoping is she goes to therapy. Didn't have a good experience with it supposedly in the past but a couple times has said she might consider it again recently. After yesterday's craziness I told her flat out, I think you need it, the response was waaaay out of proportion. This behavior is too, too much, and to be honest, there's a lot more on the line for her financially/professionally if she leaves the partnership...I just hope it nudges her in a good direction

Thank you for saying I'm on to something. It can feel like I'm the one who is wrong because it feels like I'm driving everyone away! FOO and now this person.

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daughter

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Re: Am I OK to Do This? (Emotional ICU)
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2021, 09:10:53 PM »
I've posted separately about my former BFF who ghosted me when she retired, and more recently torched me in her email reply to my "hello" email after several months of mutual silence.  In her email, she told me I had "deeply hurt her" by "not caring enough" about her problems, so she needed "distance" hereon.  I'd been fired.  (Background story in post.)

Me, I'd been her long-serving steadfast friend, confidant, work-coach, shopper-guide, social coordinator, at her behest.  But I apparently became no longer sufficiently dutiful (Covid), so she aimed her unrelated problems' fury at me. 

Worse, I'm NC too, and this was quite triggering for me. It's like my malevolent npd-mom reincarnated, she attacking me because I've purportedly "not done enough lately " for her, when I've already done so much, with kindness and empathy. 

My email response, after I composed myself, was to note she'd done a great disservice to our long friendship, and that she needed to get herself into talk-therapy asap, to address her rage.

Friendship is a two-way street.  I'm not absorbing anyone's venom anymore, regardless of their personal circumstances.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2021, 09:42:09 PM by daughter »

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DistanceNotDefense

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Re: Am I OK to Do This? (Emotional ICU)
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2021, 11:54:23 AM »
Hi daughter - and thank you! I feel a lot of the same you are feeling. It is a bit like a slap right across the face - PD FOO treated me the same way when I put my own suffering and healing front and center, and now my friend - even though she is aware of every detail of my dealings with FOO and NC, it all goes out the window at a moment's notice when she's stressed about work. And what she's stressed about is nothing near as grave as what I'm facing (plus I'm dealing with all the same stresses on top of that, too...?) ....I'd actually say she's got life pretty good right now, and again, I think she's in some sort of crisis.

I suppose we have been a bit enmeshed, too, and I'm almost shocked that I took on her burdens this long and this considerably for her to act this way and feel this threatened by the change. It's way more dramatic than I realized.

Anyways, update since that blow-out: things are calm and pleasant between us again, so I can't complain. Though she has responded to one of our work rituals (one of the few times we work in the same area during the day, and it's very enjoyable) with saying "I think I'm going to work on this over here and this will be my station from now on!" and I can't tell if that is boundaries or a emotionally immature weird punishment.

When I asked her about it she said she's doing it to "give me space," for my sake, which wasn't what I explicitly asked for? Space is not what I need. I just ignore that she's doing that for now as it seems like an attention-getting mechanism, and maybe it will fizzle out if I pay it no mind. I don't need more space necessarily - I just asked her to grow the ?$#@ up and take things more seriously, and stop burdening me with the stress she creates for herself AND me in this partnership. This, I feel, is where her narcissism comes in: her looking at herself being the real source of the problem I guess for her is like looking straight into the sun, it hurts too much.

I also think I need to medium chill and grey rock with her. Things get to an emotional level too quickly. And she'll pick and choose things I say in the heat of the moment to justify her own "woundedness," even though she says way crazier stuff (case in point above). So I'm working on that. But we'll see how things go, I can only hope that's the worst of it for now.

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daughter

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Re: Am I OK to Do This? (Emotional ICU)
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2021, 12:11:40 AM »
There's 35 years of BFF, she even bought a weekend home 500' from mine; it's weird as heck, and triggering reminder every weekend. I knew our friendship was at risk, per my separate post.  But I didn't expect to be fired, and told I was a horrible person.  I feel like a used tissue.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2021, 12:13:49 AM by daughter »

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DistanceNotDefense

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Re: Am I OK to Do This? (Emotional ICU)
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2021, 12:45:58 PM »
Thank you daughter. Yeah, things seem to be smoother with work partner but also a little passive aggressive here and there. We had a similar disagreement about the use of our time again this week but thankfully it was not explosive. I medium chilled to success I think.

One thing that really gets to me is that if I check in/ask about how she is using her time and about her tasks (which DO effect my schedule), she gets extremely defensive at the snap of a finger, even to a simple question ("I feel like you're trying to manage me!!!") But then she turns right around and tries to manage MY time! And if I'm direct about it, like the other day I straight up asked "are you telling me what to do?" She threw a little mini fit and kind of stormed off saying "fine I'll just do it myself and then I won't be able to take off any time this evening!"  :roll:

She has a strong set of double standards. She did get moody and pout for a couple of days at the office, but came around; but geez why has it taken me this long to realize I've agreed to partner with someone who is emotionally still a child? At least I get to come home and get away from it all. For a while.

I medium chilled super hard and had sort of an epiphany, I need to medium chill with this person very often I think, maybe even all the time. It is kind of exhausting though and I wonder what will be the next thing to break in this situation, if there is something....

It's weird and sad because it is starting to feel like there is some distance growing, and like I am watching this person slowly dwindle and fall apart without anyone to enable her - and that will inevitably affect me. It's been slow coming with this person feeling less and less like friend or FOC like once before and just co-worker/exhausting liability now.

But again, we have such a GOOD set up going. And it's like her inability to screw her lid back on tight is completely sabotaging it, I really don't understand why she can't see how good we've got it - but instead turns it into a playground for her control and emotional issues acted out.

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daughter

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Re: Am I OK to Do This? (Emotional ICU)
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2021, 04:38:47 PM »
My former BFF has no children, and a disengaged DH who is low low-maintenance. I've concluded that FBFF's circumstances have kept her "childlike" in sense that she's center of her universe with few obligations beyond herself, and thus little empathy (or comprehension) of other women's complicated lives and multi-tasked priorities.  She had lots of "parenting advice" expectations to share, for instance, without any situational life-experience herself.  She also had little self-awareness of how her personal quirks (dressing age-inappropriately for office environment) and personal beliefs (Opus Dei super-influence) could exasperate me and irritate acquaintances. It all adds up.