Letting go of friends

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kdke

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Letting go of friends
« on: May 17, 2018, 06:34:09 PM »
I know this is long, but I had to get it off my chest. Thanks for your patience~

I have two roommates. They're a married couple and we've all been through a lot since each of us deals with mental illness to some level.

Unfortunately, putting three people with mental illness and poor coping skills together for a year really amplifies some toxic behaviors and thought patterns. Some very precarious situations manifested between us and now we've decided to kind of go separate directions.

I think what really bothers me is that each of us has had to acknowledge some very poor choices we've made in the past year, and I've had to learn to let go of the treatment one of my roommates (we'll call her Emily). Emily began to bully me fervently after a while as we started to clash; it turned into a pattern where I was constantly apologizing and taking the blame, and she would treat me very poorly. All of this started to get worse, and Emily took a turn towards some pretty narcissistic behavior I didn't know was there: blaming me for her choices, only feeling sorry for herself but not really wanting to acknowledge my hurt, and also demanding I take responsibility for her and her partner's failure to communicate (effectively) by always being the one to initiate difficult conversations.

It was always my fault, and then Emily started to taunt. Now... all of this interaction was mostly happening through chat, and she was very enthusiastic about telling me exactly how she felt. It was all very toxic and hypocritical, such as taunting me about being in my room all the time... while she would be in her room typing, with no intention to confront me in person. Double standards left and right, and so I started seeking her out and end these squabbles in person. I eventually told her that if she has issues with me, she needs to tell me in person and I won't tolerate being attacked online anymore. Emily hasn't bothered me since.

She and her wife (Hannah) both have some narcissistic tendencies. Hannah's manifest as wanting to be fawned over, to be seen as awesome and wise and desired, and when those things are challenged or criticized, she falls apart and suddenly she's the scum of the earth. She has expressed having serious issues with just being like everyone else; she can't accept that maybe she isn't incredibly special and fated to do something great. The idea that she can never be loved by everyone really tortures her some days, and has lamented to me that the world would be a perfect place if she had the power to control everyone. Now... I don't believe she's narcissistic, as I've seen her be truly remorseful and empathetic. The narcissism she does have is very obviously a coping mechanism, as she has also suffered from some serious trauma growing up. It's a very, very poor coping skill, but it's only that. I don't belive she has NPD.

I don't believe Emily has NPD, either. I think the three of us have caught some of those narcissistic fleas and they just really jumped out in the past year. I've learned to coped in healthier ways and have gotten much better--I think Emily has gotten a little bit better (sorta), but Hannah hasn't made any progress. She still choose to escape into her narcissistic spells and seek out admirers and people to "counsel" as she says. She's very afraid to progress herself, and Emily still battles with accepting responsibility over her choices. I know this because what conversations that have happened on the subject play out the same for them as it has since last May when they moved in. Nothing has changed for them--they're still pretty much in the place.

As I've learned to cope with the past and progress with my mental health, I realize that they are persons I can no longer be close with. I completely understand the depression they deal with, the frustration towards trying to gain control over their mental illness, but they continue to not take a stronger hold of it. It always goes to the backburner, excuses keep being made, and I'm tired of having people in my life who demand certain things of others but can't be asked to do the same.

It's just also very hard... but yeah.

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Rainagain

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Re: Letting go of friends
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2018, 07:10:28 PM »
It all seems very fraught, I am glad for you that you seem to have outgrown this environment, onward and upward Cadie.

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kdke

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Re: Letting go of friends
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2018, 08:46:12 PM »
It all seems very fraught, I am glad for you that you seem to have outgrown this environment, onward and upward Cadie.

I guess for me, I sometimes hesitate to let go because I don't want them to feel abandoned as they have been many times before by others. At the same time, being close has proven to be detrimental for me within this dynamic because Emily and Hannah still struggle so much just trying to figure out who they are and make a healthier dynamic between each other as a couple. It hasn't been uncommon, that when they argue, I hear yelling, someone banging a fist or head on the wall, screaming, and I will wake up to be greeted with one of them having self-harm injuries. (Usually from scratching their own faces or necks. It's terrible.) I hope the best for them, but it's not an environment I want to participate in anymore, even indirectly as a roommate. Maybe even as a friend. It's tough.

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Rainagain

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Re: Letting go of friends
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2018, 10:05:25 PM »
I would say your first responsibility is to yourself, if you weren't around to provide an audience they might even change how they interact?

Just a thought.

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radical

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Re: Letting go of friends
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2018, 10:08:27 PM »
This is  a toxic situation for anyone to be in.  I know how hard it can be to extricate ourselves from this kind of ongoing pain.  I don't know if you have acquired trauma-bonding from being where you are.

It took a very big crisis for me to find that for me, being alone was better than enduring harmful relationships.  There need not be any judgement beyond the judgement that what is going on is not good for you.

You matter, your health matters.

edited to remove a quote that I somehow inserted by accident
« Last Edit: May 17, 2018, 10:10:04 PM by radical »

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ah

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Re: Letting go of friends
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2018, 06:04:19 PM »
Hi Cadie,

Sounds painful and exhausting, and unhealthy for all of you. I agree with you it's very possible all of you learned different ways to deal with stress that aren't too good and ended up playing them out without being able to see it and stop it.
In retrospect, maybe one day when each one of you looks back this may be a useful learning experience but I agree, it sounds really toxic to me too.

I think maybe in some situations like this one the really loving, friendly reaction may be to let them go until things cool down, till these patterns change between you and you can be friends without all this mess. Maybe some distance is crucial if there's any chance of you repairing the good parts of your friendship, if that's what you decide you want down the road.

I remember once reading a Zen book where it told a story about a guy with NC F, where the book said how it's important he write a letter to his F and stop being angry and how harmful it is to be angry  :blahblahblah: I'd agree if distancing yourself always meant you hated the other person, and if coming close always meant you loved them. But you can let someone go out of love, too. So I thought, it isn't necessarily out of anger. Sometimes it can be done because you care. Maybe it's about being able to look at a person and say "You're not your behavior" maybe means we refuse to put up with toxic behavior, while still caring about the person behind it.

Taking time off and getting some distance doesn't have to mean you're giving up on them. Maybe you can tell them that. It's self care and if they deserve compassion and to feel safe, then so do you.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2018, 06:06:44 PM by ah »

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Deep Blue

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Re: Letting go of friends
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2018, 06:09:55 PM »
Cadie,
It is true that misery loves company.  Kudos to you to extricate yourself from the situation. I echo what everyone else says.  Your health comes first.

Best wishes
Deep Blue

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kdke

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Re: Letting go of friends
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2018, 03:44:41 PM »
This is  a toxic situation for anyone to be in.  I know how hard it can be to extricate ourselves from this kind of ongoing pain.  I don't know if you have acquired trauma-bonding from being where you are.

It took a very big crisis for me to find that for me, being alone was better than enduring harmful relationships.  There need not be any judgement beyond the judgement that what is going on is not good for you.

You matter, your health matters.

edited to remove a quote that I somehow inserted by accident

I don't think I have developed trauma-bonding, but rather I look at who Emily and Hannah are as people and feel badly for walking away. Because in spite of behaviors that are distressing, I know they are good people. Just like me, they've experienced trauma, grew up in unhealthy households, and were taught ways of interacting that cause more issues. It's definitely a plight I understand, and so when I look at the past year and how we've all kind of fed off each other's poor choices, I know it's not a true reflection of who any of us are as people.

At the same time, it's the reality that they are on different paths that I'm not on; I know Emily struggles a lot with negative feedback loops and anger, as does Hannah in her own way. We've successfully developed boundaries and learned to compartmentalize certain issues we might have, but beyond that, self-images and how we've processed our living experience have progressed differently for each of us--to the point where we have to go different ways now and figure ourselves out.

Anyway, that's just me rambling lol. Thanks for reading what I've had to say~

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kdke

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Re: Letting go of friends
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2018, 03:58:27 PM »
Hi Cadie,

Sounds painful and exhausting, and unhealthy for all of you. I agree with you it's very possible all of you learned different ways to deal with stress that aren't too good and ended up playing them out without being able to see it and stop it.
In retrospect, maybe one day when each one of you looks back this may be a useful learning experience but I agree, it sounds really toxic to me too.

I think maybe in some situations like this one the really loving, friendly reaction may be to let them go until things cool down, till these patterns change between you and you can be friends without all this mess. Maybe some distance is crucial if there's any chance of you repairing the good parts of your friendship, if that's what you decide you want down the road.

I remember once reading a Zen book where it told a story about a guy with NC F, where the book said how it's important he write a letter to his F and stop being angry and how harmful it is to be angry  :blahblahblah: I'd agree if distancing yourself always meant you hated the other person, and if coming close always meant you loved them. But you can let someone go out of love, too. So I thought, it isn't necessarily out of anger. Sometimes it can be done because you care. Maybe it's about being able to look at a person and say "You're not your behavior" maybe means we refuse to put up with toxic behavior, while still caring about the person behind it.

Taking time off and getting some distance doesn't have to mean you're giving up on them. Maybe you can tell them that. It's self care and if they deserve compassion and to feel safe, then so do you.

From what I understand Emily more than likely doesn't want to be friends with me, which is fine. I'd be happy to just be a friendly acquaintance with her at this point. However, I've been dealing with some annoyance surrounding a discussion she and I had a few weeks ago, where she offered me a place to stay in the future if I ever needed it, as I've done for her and her wife. However, she did nothing to really hide the strain and hesitation in her voice, and my suspicion that she didn't really want me around was confirmed by Hannah. It made me resentful as I felt some part of the situation was Emily just trying to be "nice" or made a sacrifice with strings attached--setting herself up for some kind of martyrdom, and I don't want to participate in that.

I told Hannah the thought was nice, but I was more interested in going my own way from now on. I helped them from getting evicted and we all took chances to help each other survive; that chapter is done and I don't want a repeat, especially when Emily has shown to be a bit of a martyr in situations she alone created. She would sometimes snap at me for not doing certain chores, and saying things, "I work all day--it's the least you can do." Mind you... I go to class for seven hours and then work for another two; and before I started school, I was working a job where I would work on my weekends, lots of overtime, and did administrative work along with physical labor. I understand hard work, choosing to do more work than I should, and paying the price for that. I can't help but be a bit insulted when she says something like that to me, especially when she can barely be asked to feed her own cat or help clean the apartment, haha.

ANYWAY... lol. I know I'm venting. The situation has its frustrations and even in spite of all of those things... I still get what she struggles with. I struggle with the same things from time to time. However, I'm kind of done being a victim. I get frustrated and there is a part of me that wants to throw my hands up and be like, "Look at my sacrifices!" And while they feel that way, I still made a choice. It just didn't turn out the way I was hoping it would, so I'm really determined to learn and hold onto that mindset.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 04:01:18 PM by Cadie »