I haven’t been on WP for a few weeks because I had something wonderful happen…… my boyfriend proposed to me on Wednesday 9th August and I’ve been in a bit of a bubble of happiness ever since and all things rings, engagement and wedding related have taken over my brain! I hope everyone is okay and will play catch-up with your posts as soon as I can.
In the meantime I wanted to write today about the struggles I am having despite this glorious news with (ex)work friend and with my younger sister (I’ll write about my sister in a separate post as this is long).
You know the background regarding ex work friend already but its been another couple of weeks so here is the latest: On the day I came into work following my engagement, lots of colleagues gathered around my desk lots of them screaming and hugging me with excitement (it was so lovely!), she walked over without me having seen her coming and said with a very neutral face “congratulations”. She then immediately turned around and walked off cue awkward silence from the people at my desk!
It was a mature thing to do in the circumstances I guess, but awkward nonetheless. That was our only communication since the day we fell out until Tuesday lunch time when I received an email from her. I’ll paste it in here only removing any names:
“Okay, I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re done and I’m okay with that, but I am quite curious to know what it is exactly that you’re pissed off with me about. I understood that you were pissed off because of the email I forwarded to [colleague] – I understand that and apologise. To be honest, I didn’t really read your email properly and it was a genuine mistake, which is why I didn’t understand what you meant when you emailed me saying “Why did you send that?” I literally had to check what I had sent to understand what you meant. Anyway, it was a genuine mistake and you know that I wouldn’t do something like that on purpose – not to you or anyone else for that matter. I would’ve thought that you knew that, being my ‘friend’.
Anyway, I knew you were pissed off with me by the fact that you’ve given me the cold shoulder, the silent treatment and have even taking to walking the long way round to go to the kitchen/loo/lift to avoid passing my desk. There has been no communication from you whatsoever (apart from the odd work-based contact). To top it all off, you’ve blocked me on Facebook but not only me but my daughter and [her best friend] as well (that hurt by the way – why [daughter] and [her friend] have been brought into whatever this is I don’t know, but it didn’t go down too well, as I’m sure you can imagine).
To be honest I thought it would all blow over because you’ve done this before (the silent treatment/cold shoulder act because I’ve said or done something to piss you off) but as the days – and weeks – have passed I’ve come to the conclusion that there may be more to this than an erroneously sent email because surely you can’t be that pissed off about an email to warrant this treatment? So I’ve waited for you to let me know, to no avail.
So, could you please show me the courtesy of telling me what it is I’ve supposed to have done (apart from the email)? I would have thought that our ‘friendship’ would at least have meant that you would’ve approached me and told me why you were so pissed off, and maybe even go so far as to give me the benefit of the doubt. Instead I’ve had nothing from you whatsoever – just avoidance.
You don’t get to treat me like this and think it’s okay. Because it’s not. I deserve better. At least have the balls to tell me why you’re behaving this way. I don’t want anything out of this – I just want to get things cleared up and to move on. If it means we’re done, then that’s fine – I’m okay with that (in fact I’d prefer it), but we can still be civil and grown up.”
I wasn’t expecting that email AT ALL and so it did throw me – the familiar body feelings came back instantly and with the same intensity as always. The feeling is like nerves, it makes my entire body tingle and my heart beat fast – its definitely fear. I hate that she can have that effect on me but I understand thanks to T that its got a lot of “mum stuff” in it – going against authority and not just doing what the other person wants immediately scares me. I try to have compassion with myself in these moments. I read her email several times and thought about my reply, I bashed a response out within minutes which was quite angry and defensive but I didn’t plan to send it. I then went out for a walk to get a sandwich and to try to calm myself down a bit.
Later I sent her email to T for her advice and when I spoke to T that night, she told me to take my time with a response. I was surprised that she thought I should respond at all but she said she felt not responding would give her more ammunition to make me out to be the BBITW (biggest bitch in the world)…. She gave me some pointers such as saying “I agree with you that”.. to a few things she said such as I agree with you that you deserve to hear my side of things…. I agree with you that our friendship has run its course and I agree with you that we should remain civil in work.
She told me to take my time and remember I had no urgency to send my response. This is something I’ve really come to notice, that when I get some sort of communication from someone, my mother, her, whoever I do feel like I HAVE to respond quickly. T asked me why and I said I wasn’t sure but with her it is the worry of what she will do if I do not respond quickly enough. T asked me “what is the worst that can happen” and I laughed and said that made me feel a bit pathetic – I know logically she can’t really “do” anything but that the feeling was in me. T said of course it was, that I have been against this stuff all of my life. She said she didn’t say that to try to underplay how I felt, but that she hoped it would help to ground me a little when I felt scared or nervous.
T advised me not to bother defending myself too much but to simply give my reason and then set my boundaries being that the friendship was over and that I would not respond to any further emails. She said to put that in because although it wouldn’t stop her from sending anything, it gave her notice that whatever she sends will be ignored. I liked this advice because I really do not want to have to send more replies – this one is hard enough!
Here is what I plan to send:
“Thanks for your email. I agree that you deserve to hear my side of things and so here it is:
My feelings are that when we became friends about 8 years ago I was a very different person. The dynamic of our friendship was in-keeping with who I was then – and I feel I have changed and grown and that I am no longer able to manage certain behaviours from you because of this. The main areas of contention for me are what I view as your possessiveness over me (particularly regarding lunch times), your guilt-tripping if I do not do what you want me to do and being made to feel as though I owe you something for having been a friend to me.
This has been something that has, over time, become more and more difficult to manage and tolerate and I think that because of this, it began to grow as a resentment and I began to feel obligated to do things that you wanted, despite my own feelings, due to how you would react/respond if I did not. It began to feel like emotional blackmail if I am honest, and that isn’t something I wish to deal with any longer.
I feel if I do not keep you happy I am “punished” either by you not speaking to me, sulking, making comments that I am rude or selfish or along those lines (sometimes disguised as “jokes”), leaving our chat conversations immediately, saying to other people that you would expect more from me “after all you have done for me” etc. It has grated on me for a very long time until I have now reached the point where I just cannot take it anymore, it has taken the joy out of our friendship.
I feel that those things are not okay in a friendship between two adults and this is another problem – I do not feel you treat me as your equal, but as a child – and a child that deserves to be told off or punished for what you view as “bad behaviour” even down to me looking at my mobile phone during my lunch hour. I think in hindsight, I used to allow all of this treatment because I knew no different and thought it was normal, but I no longer want to accept people making me feel bad – regardless of who they are.
I have no wish to become enthralled in tit-for-tat or exchanging cruel words. You have said your piece, and now I have said mine and so I am letting you know that I will not be responding to any other messages.
I agree with you that our friendship has run its course and I also agree with you that we should be civil and professional.”
T thinks that my reply is good in that it gives her the closure she has asked and that I take ownership by saying that it is ME that has changed – she said it is truthful but not cruel. I hope that is true because it feels nasty even though I am not saying anything that is not true – I try to remember that my feelings cannot be wrong, they just are.
I’ve decided to send it after work hours tonight, and from my personal email account to her personal email account to keep it away from work. I also hope that the weekend will give her time to digest what I say and try to prevent any instant (abusive) reaction in the workplace! T has also said that this will help me in future if things really get tricky with her and I end up having to get help from management at work – I can demonstrate that I’ve tried to keep this out of work as much as possible.
So… now I’ll have to wait and see how she responds. I am nervous I won’t lie. I worry she will respond very aggressively and I predict that she will be absolutely outraged at what I’ve said. She has a lot of information about me and knows my weak spots and I think she will say some very painful things. I imagine they will consist of how selfish I am, how I have changed – not for the better.. how I am cold and ruthless and various other things.
I told T that I am not very good at being able to separate my truth from an allegation and so people’s words do hurt me. She said that is because I’ve been hurt this way and said that growing up, I was always the scapegoat for people’s shit and that as a child I was unable to know what was and wasn’t true about me – that my mother projected stuff onto me and this stuff taps into that. Being selfish is always something I’ve found particularly painful and I am convinced that is what she will call me. She called me selfish and rude enough when we were friends!
I am trying to tell myself that setting boundaries and not doing 100% of what someone else wants DOES NOT make me selfish, but it is a fight still. I hope that one day I have the ability that so many other people seem to have of just letting these things roll off me.
T has also warned me that she may do a total 360 to what I expect and apologise and that I need to think about how I would deal with that. That totally threw me – I can’t imagine it, but it’s an easy way of getting me back on side isn’t it and an easy way of making me look bad because if I then don’t accept her apology, she can tell everyone that too…………. I just need to remember that it is possible to accept and thank someone for an apology without that meaning normal service has to resume.
I feel like I’m climbing a huge mountain and I’m right near the top but that the worst is yet to come.