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