Getting into EFs when spending time with a friend

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Oscen

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Getting into EFs when spending time with a friend
« on: August 01, 2021, 08:08:38 PM »
This post is more about my CPTSD affecting my social interactions than actually a PD friend.
I spent time recently with a friend and my boyfriend for about 6 hours, just the three of us.

I found the friend difficult to be around, as usual. She talks a lot, about the things she's interested in in great detail, shares her political opinions on everything, and is a bit of a do-gooder. She seems always trying to give me advice, but it's subtle. It's exhausting and I felt insecure and like I didn't measure up after hours of this. I assertively pushed back a little against her, making comments like "I'll think about it", "I'll do it if I want to", etc. But I also got defensive a couple of times and so my behaviour was a mixed bag. An improvement on the past, but still a way to go.

At home after, I felt very guilty for being on edge, for semi-snapping at her, and for judging her, and I couldn't get to sleep. I realised it was an EF & managed to talk myself around and put it in perspective - A friend who I'd spent half a day with started grating on my nerves. It happens. I don't deserve to feel awful about myself and doubt my capacity for friendship.

The mechanism is my codependence/lack of boundaries - I get exhausted by her constant talking and trying to respond appropriately, go into an emotional flashback, and my sense of self and inner narrative melts away, and I can't think of anything to say to take control or change the subject. After a while, I felt like she was embedded in my brain and I was judging myself according to what I think she'd think of me. Totally gross. But not her fault.

I think this used to happen to me all the time, particularly with dominant women, as my abusers were my invalidating mum and my bullying older sisters. Lockdown has helped me do a big reset and become more self-aware, but I need more than awareness - I need to be able to recognise and manage my EFs in the moment so I can remain calm, trust my judgment, and take assertive, appropriate action. I need a stronger sense of self so that little things don't bother me. We're not close so I don't want to have a heart-to-heart about my CPTSD; rather, I want to develop the self-management and social skills to enable me to spend time with people and steer the conversation more, keep things positive. I want to be generous to someone like her, who is well-meaning but insecure, however my own insecurity means I can't.

And I'm concerned because I'm in my 30s but I've never had close friendships. After learning what CPTSD & narcissistic abuse was 3-4 years ago, I've been slowly healing but my world is not getting any bigger yet, friendships or work-wise. I'm working through a lot of grief, so I'm making progress but it's taxing and mostly internal. My only close relationship is the one I've built with my partner over 12 years - it's good and it's changing me, changing how I think and feel about myself and the world, giving me an earned secure attachment, but it hasn't trickled into other relationships, like intimate friendships yet. I don't really trust people or myself around them yet, and when I'm making friends with people, I keep finding things like this that make me not like them. Am I just unrealistic? Please can people who've had similar types of socially induced flashbacks comment on how you're working on them. Thanks for your time
« Last Edit: August 01, 2021, 08:23:16 PM by Oscen »

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notrightinthehead

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Re: Getting into EFs when spending time with a friend
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2021, 10:41:14 AM »
I tend to collect know it alls and non-stop-talkers.  I don't know why or what I do but I have a lot of such people in my environment.  As such people tire me out,  I make an agreement with myself how long I am prepared to give them my energy before I meet up with them. The maximum time I can spend with non stop talkers is 90 minutes.  After that I start to feel really bad.  I have even set my timer and left when it rang. I prepare excuses because these people are not mean just exhausting, and I don't want to hurt them.  But I also don't want to hurt myself by enduring their company for longer than is good for me.  I don't want to change them either,  so I don't address the issue.  All I want to do is take good care of myself and respect my own needs.
In your case it seems that you have to solve your internal conflict first - are you or are you not allowed to take care of your own needs, even if they are in conflict with the needs of other people?  Once you have decided,  make a plan how you can protect yourself.
I can't hate my way into loving myself.

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Oscen

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Re: Getting into EFs when spending time with a friend
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2021, 01:47:49 PM »
Hi notrightinthehead,

90 minutes sounds about right to me for a one-to-one coffee date with a talker. I've learned that the hard way and set limits with certain friends.

I don't agree I'm saying I think I'm not allowed to take care of my own needs. I committed to being in a situation where I couldn't control every angle - that's a normal social life. I got through the day and instead chose to cancel attending the event the next day, which was the right choice for me and left me with enough energy for myself. Leaving early would have impacted my reliability and our relationship, which is fine once in a while, but I don't want to do that regularly. I'm not at a stage in my recovery where I need to avoid every trigger; rather, I'm working out how to deal with the EFs once I'm in them, with plans and strategies that sometimes aren't perfect. It's messy but necessary.

I can see that the EF I was in is shining through in what I wrote - perhaps you're responding to the sense of helplessness & hopelessness coming through. Classic EF. I'd calmed it considerably the night before, but wasn't aware I went back into it by writing about the situation and allowing myself to go under again. Now I know.