I am (nearly) 29 years old. I have worked in the same company since I was about 18. For about the last 7 or 8 years, I’ve had a friend at work, we will call her T. T is older than me, she’s about 53.
A bit of background for T. She is single and has been for about 25 years. She has two children, a boy and a girl, who are 30 and 28. She is very much a “motherly” character, you know, she was a scout leader, she is the one who brings all the goodies to work, she is the one with the plasters and sewing kit – the one who tells you off if you play on your phone in the canteen at lunch (more on that later…).
Now, when I met T, I was very young – about 20. This was before I had ever thought about needing counselling. I was in a relationship of about 5 years which was very on-off and not very good. I was dating a guy who liked a lot of independence and I was very insecure and clingy and “needy” and used to really need someone to talk to about every aspect of my dramatic life. I needed someone to tell me what to do and what to say and T was only too happy to be that crutch. She clearly liked feeling needed and so I offered her that. She offered me that motherly thing that I’ve been missing my whole life and so it was a friendship made in heaven… right?
Fast-forward 8 years to now and I am currently feeling very frustrated with T.
Over these years, an ongoing issue in our friendship has been that sometimes I like to do things in my lunch hour other than sit in the canteen with her (shocking, I know). I used to go to the gym a couple of days a week, some days I like to go to the shops, sit in the sun or lunch with my boyfriend. Problem is, when I tell her this, she acts out like a spoilt child. She sulks, she strops, she ignores me, she closes down our “chat” online, she will tell me I am selfish, she will say things like “oh fine, don’t worry about me!” – all various things but the same idea.
And I’ve just about had enough of it.
Sometimes at lunch, we sit in the canteen, we eat the crap food that they serve and we chat about our evenings/weekends, normal stuff. If my phone vibrates I might pick it up to see what the notification is and she will act out again – I get told how rude I am, how dare I – last week I told her that she isn’t my mother and that it really winds me up that she keeps going on about it. I told her in future I won’t come to lunch with her just in case I need to look at my phone. She says “playing on your phone at the dinner table is extremely rude” I told her, it isn’t a “dinner table” – it’s the canteen and told her that we aren’t eating, we are not having a special meal and that I am not her daughter!!! She disapproves of this immensely as you can imagine.
The thing is, I think I’ve let it build up and up and now it’s making me furious.
I spoke to T about this a few weeks ago and she told me that it is making me angry because I am starting to see how controlling and possessive it is. I’ve broken away from my mother who is controlling in all sorts of ways, I’ve ended an old friendship of 8 years with someone who used to bully me and mess with my head in all sorts of ways, and stopped that abuse and now I am really noticing that she is another person I’ve attracted in my life that constantly tells me what to do and makes me feel like a child.
Similarly to what i said yesterday, I am so fed up of being that child. I am an adult and I can do what I want. I can go where I like at lunch time and shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for that. I should be able to come and go as I like, play on my phone as and when I like – and they are just very tiny examples.
The thing is, I can’t totally blame her. She hasn’t changed really. She has been the same for this whole 8 years. It is me who has changed. I think all this therapy has opened my eyes to so many things, it has helped me to change and develop and become healthier and with that, sadly, comes the end of some less healthy things ….. I’ve changed and that means I’ve now outgrown the role that she wants to keep me in…
Yesterday I told her on a group chat that I had plans for lunch and she left the chat instantly. I messaged her separately and said have you got the ump with me and she replied to say that it wasn’t “all about me”.. we haven’t spoken since. However, a friend of both of ours has just messaged me to say that she is really down and has lots going on and that she juts needed a friend yesterday that’s all – well how was I to know??
So now what?
How do I deal with this? What do I say to her? Will she even be able to understand what I am saying? Will it just come across as me being really nasty? ….
I have just had enough of worrying constantly about upsetting her at the expense of myself. That feels like a selfish thing to say, but I know deep down, it isn’t.
Any advice people? I’d appreciate it!