Enmeshment among friends.

  • 7 Replies
  • 1345 Views
*

Dutch Uncle

  • Member
  • 2108
  • Slowly freeing myself of a burden.
    • View Profile
Enmeshment among friends.
« on: August 28, 2015, 07:01:50 AM »
I'm a bit puzzled on my feelings and thoughts. So if anybody has a perspective on this, please shoot.

The situation:
I have a couple of great friends. Who also have friends. On the whole I regard them as acquaintances, some are nice, to others I'm indifferent.
Let's call them Friends of Choice (FrOC) and Friends in Law. (FrIL)
I recently (two months ago) had a fall out with two FrIL, a couple. Her I like, him not so much.
She had invited me over for diner, her BF was invited too (they live separate). All started out fine, but within half an hour I got into an argument with BF, basically over the idea "one should always take into account the intent of another person".
Since I have an uHPDmom, I've only just learned that I don't have to take into account her 'intent'. If her behavior bothers me, her intent does not have to be of concern to my response.
He called me selfish, egoistic.
I tried to defuse the situation, but he kept banging me up. Things got unpleasant.
I left! Ha! I had never done such a thing, but I thought of myself: "What a brilliant move, Uncle. Way to go!" Obviously I was also embarrassed to leave the hostess and her diner (well, actually I left right after diner was done, but I still left diner, as far as I'm concerned), but I quite literally didn't see another way out.

This is just the introduction. Bear with me ;)

This weekend there is a yearly get together with both FrOC and FrIL. This is a great event, and actually joining this event about 7 years ago has played a major part me in coming out of the FOG. (that I only realized later)
One month ago a dear FrOC told me that something should be done, the 'fight' appeared to spill over to this yearly get-together.
I was surprised, and a bit annoyed. Enmeshment… Yikes.
So after some deliberation with myself, I decided to phone them both, and apologize for 'letting it get out of hand', in which I undoubtedly also played a role (the 50% rule). I made sure to just apologize for my part and NOT bring up "but you did…blahblahblah." No fauxpologies from my side.
With her the call was 'easy', she apologized as well, things were smoothed out. We said we would meet at the get-together.
With him it was quite different. He accepted my apologies, downplayed them somewhat, but made clear he didn't want to see me for a while. Fine, his choice, his right. I didn't insist, didn't mention the get-together. That seemed as 'putting gasoline on the fire' to me. I would see how his remark would play out. There was still a month to go anyway.

Then a few weeks ago news reached me both would not attend the get-together. I got a bit anxious about the blame being passed on me, but I managed to calm me down. The others are too great people to shift blame in the first place, and of course not going is their decision, not mine. And I didn't call them names, BF did. I still don't know why he got in such a frenzy.

Then yesterday the GF called me. It was OK, we chit-chatted a bit, and then she told me I should not feel bad for them not coming this weekend. That was OK. I showed my appreciation. She went on a bit, and I told her I was not bothered anyway. That it was their choice anyway. Perhaps that is JADEing, but I somehow needed to tell her that she should not feel bothered about me possibly feeling bothered of them not coming. Or some such thought-process. Call went on for a while, all fine and dandy, and we wished each other a nice weekend.

Now here's the clue, the question.
At first I got a bit anxious anyway that possibly by saying (paraphrased) "oh, I'm not bothered at all by you(plural) not coming" might be misconstrued. But I managed to calm that down.
But now I think: was it actually a nice thing to do by her, calling me up two days before the event they have foregone? Why stir the pot? Why bring up I might feel bad about it? Now I 'had' to reassert my not-being-bothered, and mostly towards myself I had to reassert: "It's their call anyway". And so this call has to a certain degree only upped the ante.

Now, I'm convinced there is no malice from her side. We are cool with each other.
But how do I process all these thoughts and feelings?
And in a way: Am I being "selfish and egoistic" for 'brushing aside' their non-presence? By partying just fine with the other FrOC and FrIL like there is no difference? These people are an important part of my support-system (what a stupid word in this context. They are not a system at all, they are people.) and so there is something at stake here…

Enmeshment. I've just started to see and unravel the enmeshment with my FOO, and now it seems I have to deal with enmeshment in my FrOC.

 :stars:

I'm going to have a good time regardless, and so will everybody else, I'm a 100% sure of that.  :band:

*

Widdiful Falling

  • Member
  • 163
  • There are hills and valleys in life. Keep going.
    • View Profile
Re: Enmeshment among friends.
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2015, 09:03:50 AM »
I'm a bit puzzled on my feelings and thoughts. So if anybody has a perspective on this, please shoot.

The situation:
I have a couple of great friends. Who also have friends. On the whole I regard them as acquaintances, some are nice, to others I'm indifferent.
Let's call them Friends of Choice (FrOC) and Friends in Law. (FrIL)
I recently (two months ago) had a fall out with two FrIL, a couple. Her I like, him not so much.
She had invited me over for diner, her BF was invited too (they live separate). All started out fine, but within half an hour I got into an argument with BF, basically over the idea "one should always take into account the intent of another person".
Since I have an uHPDmom, I've only just learned that I don't have to take into account her 'intent'. If her behavior bothers me, her intent does not have to be of concern to my response.
He called me selfish, egoistic.
I tried to defuse the situation, but he kept banging me up. Things got unpleasant.
I left! Ha! I had never done such a thing, but I thought of myself: "What a brilliant move, Uncle. Way to go!" Obviously I was also embarrassed to leave the hostess and her diner (well, actually I left right after diner was done, but I still left diner, as far as I'm concerned), but I quite literally didn't see another way out.

Just to put my two cents in, I agree with you there. You don't always have to do anything. Eventually, you'll be dead, and you'll become part of the ground, and air, and universe, and then you won't even be you anymore, so how could you possibly take intent into account then? Some people just don't know how to look at the bigger picture. That's fine. It takes all sorts. But we can still  :doh:

Quote
This is just the introduction. Bear with me ;)

This weekend there is a yearly get together with both FrOC and FrIL. This is a great event, and actually joining this event about 7 years ago has played a major part me in coming out of the FOG. (that I only realized later)
One month ago a dear FrOC told me that something should be done, the 'fight' appeared to spill over to this yearly get-together.
I was surprised, and a bit annoyed. Enmeshment… Yikes.
So after some deliberation with myself, I decided to phone them both, and apologize for 'letting it get out of hand', in which I undoubtedly also played a role (the 50% rule). I made sure to just apologize for my part and NOT bring up "but you did…blahblahblah." No fauxpologies from my side.
With her the call was 'easy', she apologized as well, things were smoothed out. We said we would meet at the get-together.
With him it was quite different. He accepted my apologies, downplayed them somewhat, but made clear he didn't want to see me for a while. Fine, his choice, his right. I didn't insist, didn't mention the get-together. That seemed as 'putting gasoline on the fire' to me. I would see how his remark would play out. There was still a month to go anyway.

Hmm... I don't know if I would even bother apologizing, in retrospect. How did he downplay your apology? How out of hand did this conversation get, that he doesn't want to see you for a while? He seems off to me. It sounds like he could be the type of person who wants you to insist he be there, so he's doing a favor for you, and has something to hold over you. Did he apologize? From my end, it could be interpreted as, "Yes, you were wrong. I've won. Now let me provoke your anxiety, so I can get the validation I need to know that I am wanted in this friend group."

Of course, we're talking worst case scenario. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle.

Quote
Then a few weeks ago news reached me both would not attend the get-together. I got a bit anxious about the blame being passed on me, but I managed to calm me down. The others are too great people to shift blame in the first place, and of course not going is their decision, not mine. And I didn't call them names, BF did. I still don't know why he got in such a frenzy.

Wait just a second there. When were people calling each other names? How did this escalate?  :stars:

I'm glad the blame wasn't put on you. I would have been anxious, too.

Quote
Then yesterday the GF called me. It was OK, we chit-chatted a bit, and then she told me I should not feel bad for them not coming this weekend. That was OK. I showed my appreciation. She went on a bit, and I told her I was not bothered anyway. That it was their choice anyway. Perhaps that is JADEing, but I somehow needed to tell her that she should not feel bothered about me possibly feeling bothered of them not coming. Or some such thought-process. Call went on for a while, all fine and dandy, and we wished each other a nice weekend.

Now here's the clue, the question.
At first I got a bit anxious anyway that possibly by saying (paraphrased) "oh, I'm not bothered at all by you(plural) not coming" might be misconstrued. But I managed to calm that down.
But now I think: was it actually a nice thing to do by her, calling me up two days before the event they have foregone? Why stir the pot? Why bring up I might feel bad about it? Now I 'had' to reassert my not-being-bothered, and mostly towards myself I had to reassert: "It's their call anyway". And so this call has to a certain degree only upped the ante.

Now, I'm convinced there is no malice from her side. We are cool with each other.

But how do I process all these thoughts and feelings?
And in a way: Am I being "selfish and egoistic" for 'brushing aside' their non-presence? By partying just fine with the other FrOC and FrIL like there is no difference? These people are an important part of my support-system (what a stupid word in this context. They are not a system at all, they are people.) and so there is something at stake here…

You absolutely are not being selfish, because you are not responsible for the actions and feelings of others (this is one of my mantras, by the way  ;) ). You do not have to take care of your friends' mental states. There is already a difference at the party: they aren't there. So why do there have to be other differences? It doesn't follow, to me. You haven't brushed it aside, you've done everything in your power to make it right, and the guy's still being an * to you. What more can you possibly do, and retain your sanity and sense of self? Sometimes, people are dicks, they blow things out of proportion, and there's nothing you can do once they've decided to feel a certain way about it.

Quote
Enmeshment. I've just started to see and unravel the enmeshment with my FOO, and now it seems I have to deal with enmeshment in my FrOC.

Sorry about your life.  :hug: I wish you all the luck.


Quote
I'm going to have a good time regardless, and so will everybody else, I'm a 100% sure of that.  :band:

That sounds like the right attitude to take. You decided you'll have a good time, and you will. That guy you fought decided that he's going to be resentful, and hold a (rather stupid, IMO) grudge against you, and so he's going to be huffing and puffing about you for the rest of his (foreseeable) natural life. He could have made the decision you did, adopted a healthy attitude toward the whole thing, and had a good time with everyone. Unfortunately, he arranged his priorities so that not encountering you is more important than hanging out with his friends.

*

Dutch Uncle

  • Member
  • 2108
  • Slowly freeing myself of a burden.
    • View Profile
Re: Enmeshment among friends.
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2015, 09:50:02 AM »
Thanks so much for your long reply. I feel validated.

I'll address just a few of your questions, for clarity sake:

How did he downplay your apology?
By saying I didn't need to apologize for what I apologized for (the 'letting things get out of hand'). FWIW, I think the real issue is that he feels I have offended his girlfriend. So, in a way I hadn't made the 'right' apology. In his eyes. I think.
I agree with you that I didn't need to apologize, but I felt (and still feel) that it was the civilized and adult thing to do, now that others appeared to get dragged in on it.
And I didn't want to make a 'fauxpology' like "I'm sorry if I offended you" (I hate when that happens to me), so I carefully thought what I could apologize for. And I think that admitting that in any quarrel I do have a share when it gets out of hand, that was a sensible and fair thing to apologize for. To the GF I also apologized for walking out on her invitation. She accepted both apologies. And subsequently also apologized for it getting out of hand. (IMO she also tried to defuse the 'situation' that evening, so I found her apology quite elegant.) And so I accepted her apology for that as well.


Quote
Wait just a second there. When were people calling each other names? How did this escalate?

He called me selfish, egoistic. Especially the egoistic I took offense with, and I did my best to (calmly) explain I was not, but that my 'attitude' (in the cases I don't 'bother' with intent) is being self-assertive.
Yet he kept repeating I was selfish, egoistic, and got more angry with every answer/explanation I gave. (It probably already would have been better if he had changed his tune too: "Hmm, I'm not sure, it still feels a bit selfish to me". I would have been able to handle that.)
Oh, I just remembered: in the end he shouted "Proof to me you're not egoistic!"  :sadno:

I was by then literally "beyond words" (I had spend them all), even said so, and shortly after decided to leave.


Quote
You absolutely are not being selfish, because you are not responsible for the actions and feelings of others (this is one of my mantras, by the way  ;) ).
I'm only just learning this, and to a certain degree I think this is what the whole 'fight' with BF was about.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2015, 10:19:57 AM by Dutch Uncle »

*

arpy1

  • Member
  • 727
    • View Profile
Re: Enmeshment among friends.
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2015, 12:07:45 PM »
hi D/Uncle, poor you, :hug: relationships, eh? :stars:.  my perspective, for what it's wrth, is this:

i wonder if the GF was maybe a bit feeling she has to  be responsible for her BF's behaviour? and her call to you so close to the event was becos she was worried for u that his behaviour was screwing with your head?  in which case, it was a nice thing to do, meant that she cares. (shame if she does feel she has to fix the stuff he has done, tho, but that isn't your problem)

i don't see you have done anything wrong in the situation. and i don't see that you have to keep apologising, or beating urself up with worry  - you dealt in adult fashion with a conflict that arose. their attendance or not at this 'do' is their issue. you've dealt with yours.

the resultant storm of thoughts and feelings are a tough one. i guess maybe, try to have confidence that you did your best and no one can expect more? and try to go to the 'do' with a clear mind, not overthinking it all if poss.

anyway, i think you sound like a grown up person with very sweet nature and a gentle spirit - a lot of people would have gotten really arsey over it.
 hope you have a brilliant time :hug:




*

Dutch Uncle

  • Member
  • 2108
  • Slowly freeing myself of a burden.
    • View Profile
Re: Enmeshment among friends.
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2015, 12:21:03 PM »
Thanks arpy1.  :thumbup:

(it's worth quite a lot  ;) )

*

Dutch Uncle

  • Member
  • 2108
  • Slowly freeing myself of a burden.
    • View Profile
Re: Enmeshment among friends.
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2015, 05:13:39 PM »
So i went, and we all had a great time.

I had made a gift (see: http://outofthefog.net/C-PTSD/forum/index.php?topic=2263.0), as we all give each other presents (and spend one whole afternoon unpacking them. A bit like x-mas). Some bought, some made, some silly, some well thought out, some teasing… Many gifts are not name-labelled, and we have a sort of game (Trivial Pursuit-style) on picking gifts, or giving them (still wrapped of course) to others.

I got a "psychiatric novel" (presumably in a similar vein as "One flew over the cuckoo's 's nest), in a tease to my 'failed' SCID-II test no doubt  ;D .

We also have an 'evaluation' at the very end each year: what worked, what was missed, what would we like to do next year etc., and we all expressed our wish for the 'other two' to return next year.  :thumbup: (Me as well, obviously.)

They We are a great bunch. Yay to my support network  :thumbup: .

*

arpy1

  • Member
  • 727
    • View Profile
Re: Enmeshment among friends.
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2015, 05:43:02 PM »
really pleased for you DutchUncle. i so glad it all worked out.  :applause: :hug:

*

serkinglight

  • Member
  • 22
    • View Profile
Re: Enmeshment among friends.
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2015, 07:09:13 PM »
Congrats, Dutch Uncle. There's nothing like having good times with true and fun friends. ;D