What to do when someone in your friends group has a PD? (triggers maybe?)

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tesscaline

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So, a while ago I joined a support group.  All in all, it's been good.  I've made friends there -- good ones -- and have been building a support system through them.  But I've run into a bit of a snag.  One of them has BPD, and it seems like nothing I do/say around him is the right thing -- I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around him, and every time I don't... He winds up getting upset and throwing some sort of fit about how awful I am to him (I swear I'm not -- I'm one of those people who is overly quick to apologize, even if I'm not sure I've done something wrong).  This is, understandably, pretty triggering for me and it makes me not really want to be around him or be involved with him any more than I have to be.   

Unfortunately, he is, of course, at the center of the group who are all friendly with one another outside the group, and not interacting with him means not interacting with the other people I've come to care a great deal for (and who've come to care a great deal for me as well).  He's also, of course, in a facilitator position for the support group.  So the only way to get away from this cycle of behavior is to abandon my newly formed, and much needed, support system.  And I'm not willing to do that.  There's part of me that feels like doing that is "letting him win", and I don't want to do that.  And there's part of me that recognizes that there has got to be some other option, or way to deal with things, than giving up and disappearing when I need to have friends and a support group to go to. 

Confronting him isn't an option because none of what he's doing is rational, and thus can't be reasoned with.  Avoiding him isn't really an option either, unless I get petty about "if he's going on X outing, then I'm not".  So I'm not really sure what to do.  I feel kind of stuck.  None of the options I've been able to come up with seem like good ones.  But I can't really go on being triggered and walking on eggshells either.  I have to do something.

So, have any of you been in a similar situation?  How did you handle it?  Are there any resources anyone can point me to for help with this? 

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Dutch Uncle

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Over at OOTF there is a section called "Committed to Working On It". There you would find people who may know about the situation you find yourself in.

I suppose a lot of the other resources there could be of help as well. But in any case I think it's important you make sure you get not to stressed out or triggered by him. It is OK to end the conversation, walk out or whatever.
I also think that in the end these friends are also your friends, and he has no control over them, even if he tries. Your friendship with them is about you, not him.

Good luck and do not let you be poisoned by him.

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tesscaline

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DutchUncle -- thanks for the reminder about OOTF as a resource.  I completely forgot about the toolbox over there.

I'm not really committed to "working on it" with this person.  I'm just trying to figure out how to navigate this social circle without having to deal with the BPD (diagnosed and self admitted), or at the very least without ending up triggered by him.

Like... How do you go LC with someone that's enmeshed themselves amongst people who are just as much your friends as theirs?  How do you go LC with someone who's the leader of a group that you need to stay functional? And how do you do it with minimal impact on those friends, and that group? 

I know how to go LC and NC with people who aren't so enmeshed in my life, or who have little to no influence on my friendship circles and support systems.  But I don't know how to do that with people who are enmeshed, or do have influence over my friendship circles and support systems.

I get the whole "medium chill" tactic... And I'll be trying that from here on out.  But beyond that?  I'm kind of stumped.

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Dutch Uncle

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I'm not really committed to "working on it" with this person.  I'm just trying to figure out how to navigate this social circle without having to deal with the BPD (diagnosed and self admitted), or at the very least without ending up triggered by him.
Yeah, I understand. Still, perhaps there are some stories there that you could relate to. Or otherwise the "co-parenting" section? Again, it doesn't really fit your bill, but who knows what might be applicable. IIRC there is also a "friends" section.
I think these are all situations that have in common that it's not practically possible to avoid the BPD, and that exposure to their behavior is inevitable.

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I get the whole "medium chill" tactic... And I'll be trying that from here on out.  But beyond that?  I'm kind of stumped.
Good luck, and I hope it'll work out in some way.  :thumbup:
« Last Edit: May 20, 2016, 07:55:49 AM by Dutch Uncle »

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Flutterbye

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Hi tescliane
I'm glad you've found a supportive support group & friendships from that  :). That was my goal but participating in support groups only stressed & triggered me so I moved on to social groups. I ended up starting my own friendship group eventually, now am faced with the challenge of what to do with people I really don't feel comfy with & simply don't like. They want to keep participating but I assumed they wouldn't as we're clearly not compatible. As a chronic 'fawner' I feel walked all over by their (to me ) outrageous discourtesies & lack of respect.. it's all way too much like my childhood abusers, co-dependent abuse. But if I ask them to leave, I'll look petty. And then the nice, supportive people I have in the group can only really see me as petty?

It's a tough one. In my experience this kind of 1:1 conflict only gets worse, you can't talk it better, so I've always gone nc to save my sanity! someone who triggers me like this, I get very dissociated & the EF's can last for days or even week if I've spent a while 1:1 with them. At this point in my recovery I don't want to do that anymore as it feels cruel rather than progress.

Personally, I find it extremely difficult to make new friends or supports. (I'm very isolated but trying to do something about that by building my friendship group). So I'm very protective of that, I need all the support I can. But for you, if you're able to succeed in participating in support groups & even friendship outside group times from them, maybe your relational/social skills are way stronger than mine. Maybe you can afford to walk away & start afresh or maybe you can afford to stay in contact with this unsafe person amongst the group. Is it possible to avoid any alone 1:1 contact with them? do you have any allies in the group who share your concerns?

Be interested to hear how you go. good luck with it, I agree with Dutch Uncle, protecting yourself from poison is #1. Me I'm a nc girl but we all have to choose our own method.

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tesscaline

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Dutch Uncle --

Thanks.  Some of the stories over there helped.  But the toolbox has been even more helpful. 

Flutterbye --

I have a lot of the same struggles as you do, when it comes to making friends and dealing with groups.  I have a hard time opening up to people, and I constantly worry that I'm being intrusive if I contact people or ask if they want to hang out.  So it can really be difficult for me to form friendships. 

Today things sort of came to a head with this BPD friend, and he had a melt down in a group discussion and just sort of heaped verbal abuse upon me, even when I wasn't responding or participating.  I had to disengage, so I just backed away.  And then when other friends in the group tried to call him on it, he just got more abusive.  And when they tried to disengage, he accused them of abandoning him... So... At least other people are seeing his behavior now, and aren't okay with it.  Which is reassuring. 

I've decided that I'm just not going to interact with this person outside of situations that I cannot avoid seeing them in.  I'll keep going to my support group, but I'll avoid talking to them.  And I won't socialize with them outside of it, even if that means missing out on group trips. 

I don't deserve this abuse, and I know it.  I'm not going to stand for it.  If other people want to think I'm petty, then so be it.  But I don't think that will be the case, now that others have seen it for what it is.

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Dutch Uncle

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tesscaline

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As an update:

This person has now started a smear campaign of me and another friend to others in our social circle, openly trashing us behind our backs, and doing what we've come to call "passive aggressive meme bombing" on social media to get attention for his "plight" -- and other friends are now contacting us to try and figure out what's going on. 

I've reached out on the OotF forum for advice, but this whole thing is hugely triggering.  Managing the fear and anxiety from those triggers is becoming exhausting.  Especially since it's coming from multiple sources.  I'm having enough trouble managing my day-to-day life, and the triggers that just naturally come up... Trying to deal with this on top of all that is completely overwhelming. 

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Dutch Uncle

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As an update:

This person has now started a smear campaign of me and another friend to others in our social circle, openly trashing us behind our backs, and doing what we've come to call "passive aggressive meme bombing" on social media to get attention for his "plight" -- and other friends are now contacting us to try and figure out what's going on. 
:no:
But you are so right to call it for what it is: a smear campaign. Please keep that in mind. It's got nothing to do with you, but everything with him. You'll survive this. It might even strengthen a few friendships, while others may stick with BPD.

Take care. And remember you saw this coming. Which shows to me you are making progress in recovery.  :yes:
And you took proactive steps by seeking support here and on OOTF. And presumably with other friends in the group.  :thumbup:

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Flutterbye

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  Managing the fear and anxiety from those triggers is becoming exhausting.  Especially since it's coming from multiple sources.  I'm having enough trouble managing my day-to-day life, and the triggers that just naturally come up...
oh tesscaline!  :hug: so relate, been going thru the same stuff for the same reasons. so sorry you're going thru this. interpersonal relations are so intense & trigger for me, whenever I venture out trying to make new friends there is a lot of EF's and anxiety to manage. Online environments are good because it offers me at least a place to start meeting 3d friends but the added pressure of all the online social world on top of 3d social life can be immense.

things w my difficult person in my friendship group came to a head for me too. It was playing on my mind so much, the impulse to go nc in order to relieve my anxiety, dread and EF's was so strong it was keeping me up until 5am. I tried to take a break from it to get some objectivity but the anxiety didn't abate. It reached the point I had to do something. I'm choosing nc.

I agree w DU, it's progress..tho this was a tough situation you're instincts were right, this person is not safe & not friendship material, I've been making similar (albeit very painful) learnings & progress in my recovery and have found learning to trust my instincts a very important skill.

hope you feel better soon & get to spend some time with the supportive people you actually like.