End current friendships? Distance myself as I develop new ones? Or?...

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C.

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Three years ago I had a husband (of 20 years), two local close friends (for 15 yrs), friends from the past with whom I spoke regularly on the telephone (of 35+ yrs), faith community friends (20+ yrs), work friends, marriage connection friends, biological family, and in-law family.  You get the idea.

Then my separation began and I went into full CPTSD mode.  Sometimes I would have 5 panic attacks alone in my home over the course of a couple of hours.  It was exhausting, painful and new.
   
Within about 2-3 months the whole of my support system withdrew, noone initiated contact with me.

Around that time I found 3 women with whom I connected during that time.  One provided a safe home for me free of charge for several weeks.  All of them initiate contact with me and remind me that they care about me.  But, as I’ve grown healthier I’ve noticed very unpleasant down-sides to our friendships and I know I’m repeating a lot of the “fawning” with two and “dissassociate” with another.  It’s b/c one asks too much of me, wants rides places, another in trying to “help” me has been critical of me and my relationships, and the third just makes me sad when I hear about her attitude of giving up on her 15 yr old daughter. 

With these three women I’ve learned to set boundaries without guilt and be more discerning about what topics we discuss,  but I don’t feel like I have a friend with whom I can be fully and wholeheartedly me, and who shares true reciprocity of support/conversation/activities.  In Walker’s book he mentions that as a possiblity.

So what do I do?  I removed myself from these friends for several months, but felt lonely.  They did continue to reach out towards me even when I didn’t respond much.  I’ve re-connected and sometimes I’ve felt less lonely, sometimes the same.  Perhaps it’s more me than them?  Or have I outgrown the friendship and sense a void of what I really need and want?

Have others had this experience?  What did you do or find worked for you?  I am a very social person so I tend to enjoy being around people, I’ve just become a lot more sensitive and aware of what’s appropriate.

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keepfighting

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Re: End current friendships? Distance myself as I develop new ones? Or?...
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2015, 12:07:01 PM »
Large parts of this post could have been written by me. I am sorry to read that your CPTSD has isolated you.  :hug:

I've been NC with my Narents for nearly 14 years now, my h and I left the cult we grew up in about 8 years ago and were subsequently 'shunned' by all members - even the ones which we considered close personal friends - and just before my 40th birthday I had none of my close female friends left (two Ns and one B). The way I was discarded by my 'best' female friend (17 years) was the reason I found out about female narcs and then narcs in general and then the narc family system --- and then, though a lot of my life experiences suddenly made more sense and I could see patterns instead of isolated instances, I needed time to process all that and wasn't up to trying to find new close friends (....I seem to attract Ns and some Bs and I didn't want to repeat the pattern of one-sided friendships).

Right now, I do not have any new close female friends. I do miss it but at the same time I think that I'd just fall for the next N (or B, but I seem to attract mostly Ns). So about 18 months ago I joined a gym for women in my area and I have formed a lot of 'casual' female friendships now, though no close one. It's nice enough for me at the moment, because I feel I am not strong enough to be the kind of open and vulnerable again that you have to be in order to become closer friends than 'casual'.

Maybe that's an option for you, too? Find a group with a common interest and form 'casual' friendships before you're up to forming closer ones again? - It's not as rewarding as a close friend but also not as frightening and for me, it is a good first step in the right direction....


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marycontrary

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Re: End current friendships? Distance myself as I develop new ones? Or?...
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2015, 12:22:55 PM »
Oh yes...you are going through these "iterations" of gradually stepping up the level of the quality of people you hang with.

I really like having friends. and have a lot of them...but I have to put boundaries down with most of them. I had this beautiful friend who was there when my ex became psychotic after a nervous breakdown. I love dher so much....then as I healed, I realized she was an extreme fawner too. She let men abuse her over and over, no matter what I said. She has some birth defects she has to care for, and she take horrible care of herself. Always money disaster. I just couldn't take it. She was affecting my mental health. I still adore her, but man, I had to stop hanging out and talking on the phone.

But...she was better than most of the other relationships I had, and I am deeply thankful to her. So I see that there are "steps" we go through as we are self parenting to determine "what the *" a healthy relationship looks like.

I am in the process of breaking up with my boyfriend. This by far the best relationship I have had in my life. I love him to bits. Sexy, honest, loyal, hardworking....but has a temper that blows up every 4 days.  We have talked many times about this...and how it triggers me REAL bad, and he just can't stop. We are still the best of friends, but I cannot handle him when he acts like a 3 year old. So I have to let him go.  I gave it 2.5 years...and we just could not move forward because of this issue.

It is weird. I have a good social life, but I am totally content with having quality alone time. I really do not care to be around people who screw up my life....the process of raising one's standards is a very interesting, graded process.

 Hope this helps!


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voicelessagony2

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Re: End current friendships? Distance myself as I develop new ones? Or?...
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2015, 03:31:42 PM »
C, it sounds like you and I are in very similar places in our journey.

I have either been dropped or am letting go (I honestly don't know who is letting go of who) of my best friend of 10 years, who is a full blown N. It's an unhealthy relationship, and I have no regrets about moving on.

I never kept in touch with anyone from childhood, and my pattern of bridge burning and blindly latching onto N's over the years has left me completely alone.

I'm not discouraged though. Now that I know about CPTSD and what it has done to me, I know I will learn how to choose healthy friends eventually, and will no longer be alone.

You are probably feeling the void where you have missed out on healthy friendships. I recommend paying attention to what motivates you to stay connected with these recent friends, and pay attention to how they make you feel after spending time with them. Are you energized or drained? Do you feel compassion toward them and yourself? Do you reach out to them to ease feelings of guilt or obligation?

Be patient with yourself, and have faith in yourself. You are a survivor, and your survival instincts are growing in strength.  :hug:

(Now, if only I could take my own advice... smh...)

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wingnut

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Re: End current friendships? Distance myself as I develop new ones? Or?...
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2015, 03:54:16 PM »

There are times like these when I need to look at my Outer Critic. I think that I can have unrealistic expectations at times, and need to remind myself that we all have faults. I must love people in addition to their flaws. Obviously, if you are in a toxic relationship, you need to evaluate the value and get out if that is right for you. However, I have learned over the years (and it was a tough journey) that often I kept people at bay out of fear of letting them be close. Now, I have grown to the point that I have some great friends for 10+ years who I now refer to as my FOC.

Ultimately, I think there are categories of friendships - those with whom you bare your soul and know you can trust them wholeheartedly (rare gems, which is who you are seeking), those you can enjoy doing things with and not fully expose your self (most people), and those who circle around the perimeter. The rare gems usually have to jump through hoops to earn my trust and bare their souls first, then I feel that if they trust ME that much, I can trust them in return. It's a tough set of requirements.

I have kind of envied people who can meet someone new and spew forth all of their inner stuff, unashamed and unafraid. 

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voicelessagony2

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Re: End current friendships? Distance myself as I develop new ones? Or?...
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2015, 10:02:20 PM »
wingnut,

I'm a spewer. It's not good. I find it super easy to drop pretense and at least begin to get close to people, but I have no discrimination. That has resulted in me surrounding myself with toxic people - other spewers, or predators. Healthy people tend to stay far, far away.

It's kinda horrifying to realize how obvious my problems have been, when I had convinced myself that I had it all under wraps.

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C.

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Re: End current friendships? Distance myself as I develop new ones? Or?...
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2015, 02:59:25 AM »
Thank you for all of your responses.  As I suspected I have people who are in the 2nd close category, but not #1.  I am this weird mix of baring too much too soon and being very discerning.  I think the too much came from wanting a closer relationship than was possible.  I also appreciated hearing about the understanding of how this is a process that happens in stages.  And that the outer critic can be too harsh with people.  The three new friends really do reach out and behave in nearly 100% kind ways now.  I've had to learn to set boundaries on what I could do and what I could discuss, but once set they've been relatively supportive.   

I wish that I enjoyed being alone more.  For most of my marriage I loved alone time.  Also in college.  Then the divorce hit and I really just seem to dread being alone.  I cope by keeping house, doing my cptsd recovery work, watching shows, but it is this weird void.  I don't really want to be with the people who I know, but I don't really want to  be alone.

I like the "joining" idea.  I think that will happen eventually.

Really me environment in some ways isn't ideal.  Too many memories of my married life.  Literally every square foot of this town was first covered by me as a mom and wife.  It's hard to not feel some level of triggering, even if mildly in the background.  I think I'm simply biding my time until my son can drive to school and I can "choose" my own town to live in that doesn't have baggage attached to it.  Maybe this is a mistake and I"m sitting in a waiting place, but I'm ok with this sacrifice since he's my "baby" and I know he'll be grown up and gone soon.  I watched it happen with my eldest daughter.

All that to say that I'm not sure there is a group close by to which I'd like to "join" yet.

Anyway thanks for the input and food for thought.  I find I like to read posts and let them "cook" for a day or so as I process the ideas.  Plenty of ingredients so far!

Re: End current friendships? Distance myself as I develop new ones? Or?...
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2015, 03:03:50 PM »
I'm a spewer. It's not good. I find it super easy to drop pretense and at least begin to get close to people, but I have no discrimination. That has resulted in me surrounding myself with toxic people - other spewers, or predators. Healthy people tend to stay far, far away. It's kinda horrifying to realize how obvious my problems have been, when I had convinced myself that I had it all under wraps.

Same here. Honestly. Either this is a coincidence, or it's because of CPTSD, or we're clones.

I'm kind of scared of finding friends now. My old attempts all proved short-lived, plus I tend to befriend the wrong people. It's like, nowadays, if I look at someone and feel "hey, this person could become my friend", I just freeze in shock, because in the past, this has repeatedly NOT ended well. I do NOT trust my instincts anymore. But I don't exactly have anything yet to replace them either.

And it's not an option to vet potential friends by handing out questionnaires, is it? Or having something like this institute where you can ask about someone's credit rating, only for toxic behaviour. ("Your new friend rates a solid twenty when it comes to anti-social tendencies... NOT a good investment, we feel"). Or a toxic-person-sniffing dog. Or a Geiger counter for narcissistic personality traits.

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wingnut

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Re: End current friendships? Distance myself as I develop new ones? Or?...
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2015, 04:07:25 PM »
I don't think being a spewer is necessarily a bad thing - you just happen to be more open.  Perhaps it's an extrovert.introvert thing. I'm an introvert and keep my words in my head most of the time. As an extrovert, you may find it helpful to focus upon with whom you share.

On a different note re: friends and sharing.
A very good friend of mine told me over a year ago that she was going to see a therapist due to some major work related stress, type A personality, work is causing her major physical issues, etc. So, in an effort to make her feel Ok about therapy, I told her, oh, shoot, I've been seeing a therapist off and on for most of my adult life. So, since then, I am hearing, "Are you OK, Are you doing OK, you seemed a little off on Christmas." Well, half the time I don't know what the * she's talking about! I had a GREAT time on Christmas! I think part of the problem is I quit drinking and people are used to be getting obnoxious, funny and entertaining while now, I insert my wit in a more subtle manner. At any rate, I feel like shouting "YES I AM FINE! I am NOT on the edge of a cliff teetering and ready to jump!" I didn't tell her WHY I go to therapy (thank God). My S.O. thinks I am being overly sensitive and that she is genuinely caring. I think there has been a marked shift in this "caring" since I mentioned the big T. And *this* is why I don't share a lot of the times...

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marycontrary

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Re: End current friendships? Distance myself as I develop new ones? Or?...
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2015, 04:20:16 PM »
I used to share. Now i do not share hardly anything. My close friends know I have PTSD, only because it is a warning when they go over the edge and violate my boundaries. You know, doing reckless stuff, oversharing when I don`t know them, getting sloppy drunk, bizarre modd shift, and things that freak me out on the inside. I used to just take it, but now I absolutely do not.

I have not told my boyfriend anything about my money. Not that I have a lot at all---it`s just none of his damn business. He know I am super responsible, frugal, conservative...never in trouble.

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C.

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Re: End current friendships? Distance myself as I develop new ones? Or?...
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2015, 07:46:34 PM »
After thinking and reading more it seems I was having the wrong "goal" in looking for an intimate friend(s).  Kind of like dating with marriage on the table at the beginning.  I am going to remember to be ok with friends on level 2 & 3.  I can be social and discerning.  I suspect that the healthy, more intimate friendship(s) will make themselves known over time with this approach.

Oddly I've been dreaming about having a s.o. Two different people and not people who I know now.  Each person was very kind, empathetic and accepting of me.  I think it's a sign to stay positive and mindful in the moment, hopeful for my future.

I must say this has been REALLY hard lately.  The realization that I've never had a healthy intimate relationship from birth to now is overwhelming, 48 years.  Like an elephant on my chest.  Weird how the realization causes so much pain.


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marycontrary

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Re: End current friendships? Distance myself as I develop new ones? Or?...
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2015, 08:40:10 PM »
Girlfriend, let me tell you, it is an existential crisis when you realize that the huge, overwhelming majority of relationships have been jacked up. Another fun one is when you realized how much of your time is-or was-spent dissociating.

I realized that i have to be good friends with myself first. I love spending time alone, doing my thing. I can go to concerts with myself, or my friends. I go on loooong walks by myself.

When I got run over by that car 8 weeks ago...I loved having time to myself. First few days. my friends came and brought pot for the agony (no pain pills in this country--advil was not cutting it). But here I was, with a big concussion and big bruising and big gashes, and I did what I could to keep the house clean and tend to my clients. I was not lonely.

But man, there were tons of parties over christmas! Birthday parties, this that...so I don´t just stay at home, you see.

What I have found....with relationship....using boundaries, the cream ALWAYS rises to the top. So it is a default thing that you only ascertain after really knowing a person. Serendipity. :hug:

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C.

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Re: End current friendships? Distance myself as I develop new ones? Or?...
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2015, 09:42:21 PM »
Si amiga! ; )  Great point and true.  I have already noticed this to some degree.  A couple of people who I thought would distance or be angry over boundaries responded positively.  And yep, I can think of those where setting boundaries meant they withdrew.

I've had times in my life where I truly felt love for myself and at peace with the world in a very positive way.  When alone time felt great.  In fact, since posting and working on these two posts a couple days ago I must say that today has been better than most.  Alone, but mostly content.

I like how Walker describes "running" as not necessarily spacial...it can be with thoughts or activities or anything that keeps us "moving"...I know I spent most of my time disassociating, fleeing or fawning.

I think my biggest aha here is to remember to focus on my own wellness and to be ok with less "intimate" socializing.  Great point about birthday parties, etc.  If I like being around people I can definitely do so in a way where I don't feel vulnerable.  In fact one of my tier 2 friends/ex-bf who was really there for me when I was at my lowest, very kindly started stressing about a year ago to me that I need to "cuidar tu corazon"...protect my heart...at the time it seemed like a sad option, but I think I'm starting to understand. 

Great metaphor, I love cream!