Get Out Of Jail Free Card: Toxic Friendships/Relationships

I don’t know if anyone remembers me talking about my work friend a while ago, the lady who is in her mid-fifties that gets very angry and sulks if I don’t go to lunch with her? Well, earlier this week before things went to shit with T, she did it again. The story itself is pretty long and boring so I won’t bother to go into that, but she is currently doing her usual sulking and ignoring me thing which is seriously pathetic! Anyway, me and my boyfriend have just been out to lunch together and we were talking about it and it just made me realise a few things very clearly.

I am suddenly so aware of the amount of friendships and relationships I have had over the years with toxic people or people who are dysfunctional to me somehow. I realise that I attracted these people because it was a familiar dynamic to me. For example I was used to being put down and taken the piss out of by my mother and so I attracted a narcissist as a best friend for 8 years right up until she gave me the perfect get out of jail free card last August. One down.

I then started to realise that work friend is also unhealthy and I realised a while ago that she was also attracted to me for similar reasons. She isn’t out-rightly abusive like the other friend was.  She wouldn’t call me names or tell me I looked ugly BUT she does demand my constant attention and if I choose to do something other than see her, I do get punished. Emotional blackmail.

I found myself saying to my boyfriend today that I was secretly quite enjoying the fact she hasn’t spoken to me since the beginning of the week because I felt relaxed and able to do what I wanted to with my lunch hours at work without feeling guilty or without having to be the subject of her aggression when I walked past her desk (she has previously shouted things out to me as childish as “OH BYE THEN!!!” if I walked past her desk in front of other colleagues which is just pure cringe.

I told him that I was enjoying the silent treatment she was giving me this time and he asked “how long can she carry that on for though?” and I said I didn’t know but she is extremelly stubborn and has never apologised before. She usually blames it something that maks it impossble to argue with (usually that it was the anniversary of someone’s death) and so it gets swept under the rug. He then asked “how long can you carry that on for?” and I said I would quite like to carry it on indefinitely – if only that was possible.  I told him I had thought about how nice it would be if I were to get a new job and be free of her and also said that I’ve imagined what it would be like if she were to leave herself.  I have no doubt that I would feel so much happier every day at work (I know this makes me sound like a cow).

My boyfriend made a comment about how many people like this I have in my life and how he found it rather amazing and I explained that, actually, it isn’t a surprise at all – that was my normal and these two friends of mine were, at the time, exactly what I wanted and needed. People who kept me down, kept me in my place, kept my self-esteem non-existent and kept me dependant on their approval.  I was programmed this way! All things I was used to with my mother. I attracted two more women, both in their fifties (like my mother) who acted in very similarly abusive ways – one just more subtle than the other.

We chatted about this for a while and he made a jokey comment about “who was next” meaning who was next to get “cut” from my life. I think he was joking although I do wonder if there is a little bit of worry about it being him one day in the back of his head. It will never be him because he is so genuinely kind and loving to me. I’ve never felt love and acceptance like it in my entire life. Still, it must make you worry a little when your girlfriend is in therapy for years and you see her change and make adjustments to what she will and will not put up with – and when that includes actual people – it must be a bit scary, right?

scissors

The thing is that I am linked to the two that are left: bitchface (mother) and work friend in ways that make escape very difficult.

With bitchface there are all sorts of difficulties there, family ties, taboo and possibly (although I find this hard to even write at the moment), POSSIBLY a tiny bit of hope that hasn’t quite gone awayyet that she will suddenly get better (I know, I know..).

With work friend, I have to see her EVERY DAY. I have to walk past her desk constantly every day to get to the bathroom and to get to the kitchen – to leave the office – everything. We also have to communicate about actual work now and again but that is easy because we have email and so that helps.

The point I am trying to make is, I feel kinda stuck with this unhealthy “friendship” and as awful as I feel saying this, if I didn’t work with this woman, I would absolutely not consider her a friend. I would not meet up with her and I imagine the polite texts that would no doubt be exchanged if one of us left our current job, would pretty quickly stop… until we no longer spoke at all. I feel equally as mean saying that I live in hope that something like that happens to free me from it.

Now I imagine reading that you are probably thinking that I have a massive victim mentality but I don’t mean it like that, I don’t mean it as a “poor me, what can I do” just I feel I am limited in what to do about it without causing great difficulties and heaps of guilt and awkwardness at work. Does that make sense?

I’ve written previously about my weird fantasy that my mother would do something so awful that I could cut contact with her and walk away without guilt – without having to try to get my family or family friends to understand. I know this isn’t going to happen because the abuse my mum put me through is over now (well in that I am an adult and in therapy)  – that all the undeniably bad things she did have already happened and nobody did “see” that ….  but it doesn’t stop the get out of jail free card fantasy that I have about it.

I know it is so cowardly but I wish they were all as easy as removing my ex narc friend from my life. I say easy now but obviously it wasn’t easy at the time at all. I went through lots of grieving for the friendship and felt heaps of guilt and sadness and doubt – but now I see very clearly that it was a very big step for me in terms of healing and removing one of the abusive people from my life.

What makes it so hard with the two that are left is that you can’t talk sense into these people.  They do not think they are doing anything wrong – who am I to moan having put up with it for so long? There are no “you did X and it made me feel like Y” chats to have with them.  One I am trapped into seeing because of taboo and family and the other because I have to see and work with her every day.

So what happens next then?

I guess the only “escape” is to strengthen my personal boundaries (hate that word) and start to make it more clear what I will and will not accept.  I guess that in time, they have to accept that I have these new boundaries or perhaps I will lose my appeal – either way I guess I am a winner LOL. I’m just wishing there was an easier way out – I guess its my own feelings I am trying to hide from, wishing there was a way not to have to feel the fear, the guilt, the sadness and everything else – fast-tracking to the end. If only things were that simple eh?

With work friend, I’ve got better at sticking to my guns. When I tell her I am not having lunch with her and she gets angry or sulks, I’ve stopped responding to her – I used to apologise or defend myself and enter into conversations about it which I no longer do. I state what I am doing and that is it, BUT unfortunately it does still get to me and as much as I hate to admit it, I do still feel the fear. I feel intimidated and nervous when I will then see her or walk past her desk not knowing if I will be ignored or shouted at…… I know it is abusive and childish behaviour but it doesn’t stop me feeling that internal panic – fast beating heart etc.  It’s a proper body reaction. So with that in mind you can imagine what subconscious fear I have in going against bitchface!!!

I guess I just have to find a way to sit and feel the fear, the anger, the sadness, the guilt and not take the easy way out. I guess I need to get brave.

I put on a good front that I am brave and confident but I am not and she/they both know that. They both play on that. I am desperately trying to get stronger and healthier and they are both desperately clinging onto my legs trying to pull me back down.

keep you down

Sometimes when I realise the impact having a narcissistic mother has had on me it still shocks me.

I can only just allow myself to think and write these thoughts without fear of being punished or judged because I understand that I am not a bad person, I am allowed to think “nasty” or “bad” things because we all have these thoughts. I am no different and nobody is perfectly nice and good all of the time. Yet I still find myself saying “I feel bad but.”, “I know it sounds horrible but…” which I guess is still me saying “please don’t tell me I am bad for this.. but“……….

the saga continues…

brave

 

Related posts for background: Life without the narcissist friend, outgrowing roles, emotional blackmail 

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11 thoughts on “Get Out Of Jail Free Card: Toxic Friendships/Relationships

  1. I have been in similar situations to this and I felt so uneasy because of that fear. You sound like you know what you want and I can imagine you will stick with this and cut out the people or draw boundaries to limit the unhealthy side on how it affects you.
    It is hard, but yes, certainly make the boundaries known and continue with not reacting to the sulking etc.. then that way, she has nothing to respond back too and she will be the one who shows herself up. Sometimes you may find that person will fume even more because you have not responded, but still don’t respond, as in the end it will them who show their true colours. This happened to me once. They soon got bored, but it just shown them up even more of what they really was like.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have you? Sorry to hear you had to deal with that but it sounds as though you successfully got away?? If so, I’m happy for you!

      Yeah I do know what I want, for sure, it’s just hard to face and feel the fear and intimidation that I get from her. I don’t like that she can do it to me, but she can and that’s the harsh reality.

      I’m just starting to really realise how programmed I was into thinking things were normal. Into not having my own ideas or wishes or whatever and now I’m seeing the reaction from these people to that, there’s no denying it’s unhealthy!

      I’ll keep going with it, I just hope the fear eases up as that would help. I tell myself repeatedly “what can she do?” And there’s no logical response – so I know it’s just in my body, it’s a memory or it’s unconscious whatever. That makes it tough xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I know EXACTLY how all of this feels and I’ve been in very much the same situations and also the same thing about cutting people out and where will it end? I got out of it with my mother only because she firstly moved back to another country and then conveniently died, and with my father I did find a ‘bad enough’ thing to eventually cut contact. Ex-husband went the same way. I also had to cut out almost my entire circle of friends a few years ago because the hobby group we were all in together was like a giant manifestation of toxic narcissism and many of the people in the group (especially the ones in leadership positions) were either narcs or at least flying monkeys. So right now I have hardly any friends, no partner, no parents, and the family who are emotionally close all live in another country, which is not a good position to be in – you need at least a core group of healthy people (like your boyfriend) to rely on while you cut out all the horrible people and expand the group of healthier relationships. I think you are doing things the right way, keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow do you? We do seem to have had some similar experiences and feelings don’t we!

      I would LOVE if my mother moved countries – or if I could. That would be ideal lol! Sadly that’s not going to happen which is a shame….

      You understand the “bad enough” thing too then?! Not just me.

      Bloody hell, so you also found yourself in the same dysfunctional dynamic of having attracted not only partners but friends too – all because of parents. It’s so unfair isn’t it? I often get upset if I let myself dwell too much on what life would have been like with a different caregiver – how different I would have felt all my life. What job I might have done. What friends I might have had. Etc etc..

      The bit about leadership positions I 100% understand… half my family are flying monkeys too!!!

      Being without partner, parents and friends right now must feel extremely lonely at times BUT at least you aren’t being manipulated or emotionally abused. I know that’s easy for me to say, but hopefully you know what I mean? You are amazingly resilient doing all of that alone. I don’t think I could have done it without t and my boyfriend mainly because I would have caved in at the loneliness and also convinced myself “they can’t all be wrong” ….

      I would love to meet some new healthy friends but I don’t really know how to do that.

      Thank you and thank you for your comments. I take a lot from you and what you say. I’m always here for you to chat too if you need a friend x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. part of the reason I’m so stuck and lonely just now is that having realised that I’ve kept attracting the same sort of people and also been attracted into the same sort of really enmeshed and unhealthy groups for my entire life, I am now very wary of making new friends or joining new groups and I don’t quite know where to start so as not to repeat it all again. This group of bloggers is a godsend, because at least there are other people who understand.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yeah I totally understand that feeling. I’m not feeling that right now as in today. But I’ve felt that a lot! Realising you’ve been the target of any kind of abuse is sad and realising you’ve spent so much time and effort on people like that is just horrible.
        But I truly believe that you have learnt so much now, you have so much knowledge that you would see the red flags from miles away!

        I agree everyone on here that I regularly speak to are such a support for exactly that reason but yeah the fear is real I know xx

        Liked by 2 people

  3. There is a therapist who has a therapy programme on channel 5 who says that ‘the relationship you get in to is a direct mirror of how you feel about yourself’. Maybe you have looked for mother figures in these women and unfortunately got high maintenance women like your mother. I don’t know if they’re narcissistic but they’re clearly not good for you.
    I had a friend about the same age at work who listened to me for years and eventually got fed up of me. She trashed my personality over email and dumped me from a great height basically. My manager at the time suggested that she may have been getting kudos from her managers over the years for looking out for me. By then we worked on different processes. Said manager suggested it wasn’t benefiting her career to help me anymore. She is my T’s sister in law so I at least got an amazing therapist out of it. It’s a different story but still unhealthy!
    Maybe these women will be good to practise using boundaries on. When you’re feeling stronger in time it may then be easier to navigate them with your mother. The awareness is good because you are more able to spot these people! xx

    Like

  4. 1 – bitchface LOL – is this my fault from my comment the other day or did you call her that anyway?! 🤣

    2 – victim mentality – I don’t think you’re playing the victim at all. You’re being quite factual about the whole thing and even admitted you needed that dysfunctional relationship for your own reasons as much as she does (as much as any of us dysfunctional lot do 😁). You’re just realising that it is a dysfunctional friendship and you don’t want to be a part of it anymore and that’s OK.

    3 – I was going to talk about boundaries but you beat me with the latest post which changes my comment… Ill head over to the new post 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 1) Hahaha well I’ve often used the word bitchface but perhaps your comment slipped in my mind and my unconscious threw it up? Either way, I love it!!!

      2) Okay, good I am glad it came across that way, I was worried people may read it differently.

      3) haha excellent. xx

      Liked by 1 person

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