Friendship and Letting Go

sleeveheart

Learning
So yesterday, a person who I thought I was going to be friends with for a good chunk of time sort of ended the friendship.

She's a person with a similar history like me and we bonded over shared interests. We met at a hobby we liked.

I could have figured out that this person wasn't ready for a friendship that I wanted (close, intimate, supportive), when she would decline when I would ask to hang out. I didn't reach out for months, until a mutual suggested that she did think of me as a friend. I reached out to vent about something I was going through (work related), and seemed to hit it off then.

When it came to doing something related to work or business, she was happy to tag along. But when it came to just getting to know each other as people, she didn't want it, despite our similar histories. I should have gotten a clue (still working on this inner critic).

Anyways, recently a family member passed away and I was feeling distraught. I have a dysfunctional family and I didn't want to go to the funeral alone, so I asked if she would come with me. She had a doctors appointment that she couldn't cancel. While I was disappointed, I managed to ask another friend. But it definitely, in my mind, put her down a peg for friendship. To me, her response also seemed cold, she didn't apologize or express that she wished she would have been there for me, or that she's there to support me in other ways. She just wrote a text that started with the corporate "Unfortunately". There was no "sorry" or "apology". I guess there was no apology to be had, since she had every right to decline.

She texted me asking how I was doing after the funeral, and I replied about my mixed feelings. She didn't respond to that text. Instead, she texted the next day asking how I'm feeling. In her last text, from her perspective, she was giving me time to process my feelings. I think this was a difference in doing relationship, which we're not similar on. (More on that later).

In her last text asking me how I'm doing, I replied that I'm doing okay, how are you. She said, "I am doing okay."

She didn't seem to notice that there was a conflict happening (at least inside of me), so I replied with a paragraph text explaining how I felt (my disappointment in her not showing up, how I felt like she was a coworker rather than a friend when she replied that she couldn't come, but ultimately how I found someone to come with me, her emotional unavailability that I felt from the beginning) That I wanted to perhaps keep our conversations to our interests as I don't feel safe talking about my emotions with her.

She got defensive, saying that she was blindsided by my response, and that I wasn't being honest because I didn't tell her I was feeling this all along. She went on to explain that she had a doctor's appointment she could not reschedule due to scheduling a month ago. She ended with the words "All the best" at the end in true fashion.

I can feel myself getting upset as I relay this issue. On one hand, I see that it may have blindsided her (inner critic who gets codependent, telling me I ALWAYS make these mistakes and expect too much from others) and on the other, I can see that maybe she wasn't the friend I needed her to be For Me and my assessment was correct. Her defensiveness stung, to be honest. What I wanted and expected was, through my sharing, for her to share how she truly felt (honestly, I'm really upset about your text. I think it's unfair to me. I had good reason to be not present, and at the same time, I'm sorry that I couldn't be there.). I think all I wanted to hear was an apology from her and for her to express her genuine support. (which I never got from my parents).

As I'm writing this, I can see that my codependence has lessened quite a bit. Yesterday, when this happened, I was able to prioritize self care rather than obsessing over mending this friendship, understanding that she isn't the friend I need her to be, and while grieved about it, I can be honest about it with my inner child.

There were also hints of emotional unavailability/avoidant relationship style, which were obvious at the beginning. Looking back, the possibility of a friendship was so promising I was willing to try. I think the possibility of friendship was also the neglected side of me always looking for support (especially because a family member died, which is no small event). Luckily, I was strengthened by the friend who came with me to the wake (turns out was a very good choice and was able to support me really well). And due to my self care, I was able to stay within my window of tolerance.

She also very much felt like my ex, who, was doing the job of texting me and asking how I was doing, going through the motions, but when it came time for emotional closeness, was not able to or comfortable with it. He too got defensive. He too was unable to give me what I needed. I am able to detect it faster now.

Ultimately, I came to realize that my needs in friendship and relationship are different from that friend. I like emotional depth and sharing. I like closeness and intimacy. I like deep connection. And that is perfectly okay. I am not too much. I can negotiate these terms and sometimes I won't get what I want, and that is okay too.

The biggest win for me here was that I didn't spend the next last two days in utter agony with my inner critic ripping me to shreds. I was able to stay within my window of tolerance and get what I set out to do done without too much dissociation or physical pain.

Just wanted to share. Thank you.
 
The biggest win for me here was that I didn't spend the next last two days in utter agony with my inner critic ripping me to shreds. I was able to stay within my window of tolerance and get what I set out to do done without too much dissociation or physical pain.

that is a great win! ! ! how 'bout we showcase that win, regardless of what else evolves here?

i am going through similar with several people right now. just before march 2020, my life had gone through cataclysmic changes which resulted in moving to a new area within an unexpected lifestyle i or the world around me barely recognizes. marginalization maximus. 3 years later i am struggling to break the double whammy isolation --ptsd plus global shutdown-- and it is not going well. where my ptsd psychoticks aren't triggered, the social anxiety is. social opportunities are opening up for me, but the anxiety remains crippling.

for now i'm just trying not to let myself fall into that utter agony with my inner critic ripping me --and every imperfect human who could be a potential friend-- to shreds. working out all the subtleties and confidence of friendships takes time. great friendships are made, not found. so i tell myself. . .
 
In her last text asking me how I'm doing, I replied that I'm doing okay, how are you. She said, "I am doing okay." She didn't seem to notice that there was a conflict happening (at least inside of me), so I replied with a paragraph text explaining how I felt

In this instance, DBT skills are important. Your friend cannot mind-read you. If you are not doing well, it is "your stuff" to tell them that. If you say you are doing well, your friend is within their right to take you at face value. I know for myself I go based on what people tell me. And I know if people want me to know something, they will tell me. I do not try to guess what people are thinking or feeling as I am frequently wrong.
 
It sounds like you have high expectations in a friendship, in addition to this woman being more on the level of an acquaintance. (Many people say that someone is a “friend” when they actually mean acquaintance. I learned this over the years….) It is a lot to ask a not so close friend to go to a funeral. I think you’ll find that you have to dial back your expectations because a lot of intensity too fast will scare many people away. Maybe she considered you to be a “work friend” which is a dumb concept anyway because nine times out of ten you lose all those friends when you leave the job. I think that calling her emotionally unavailable was giving in to your mind reading coupled with high friendship expectations. As an outsider I can see that she didn’t consider herself to be a close friend of yours, as the emotional support aspect is usually something given to closer friends and not as much to newer friends who are getting to know each other.
 
It sounds like you have high expectations in a friendship, in addition to this woman being more on the level of an acquaintance. (Many people say that someone is a “friend” when they actually mean acquaintance. I learned this over the years….) It is a lot to ask a not so close friend to go to a funeral. I think you’ll find that you have to dial back your expectations because a lot of intensity too fast will scare many people away. Maybe she considered you to be a “work friend” which is a dumb concept anyway because nine times out of ten you lose all those friends when you leave the job. I think that calling her emotionally unavailable was giving in to your mind reading coupled with high friendship expectations. As an outsider I can see that she didn’t consider herself to be a close friend of yours, as the emotional support aspect is usually something given to closer friends and not as much to newer friends who are getting to know each other.

Yes, and I did state this in the last text I sent to her, saying that maybe it’s better if we stayed talking about our interests in entrepreneurship, to adjust my expectations accordingly. She got defensive, and said she had good reasons for being unable to come.

Honestly, all I really wanted was for her to let me know that she wanted to be there and couldn’t and was sorry. That’s all. Maybe she wasn’t capable of doing so? I don’t know. I’m not so hurt by it anymore and focused on other things.
 
Asking someone to attend a funeral with you is a pretty loaded situation - funerals are intimate, highly emotional events. I would find it a strange thing for a casual friend to ask if me.
 
I agree with @arfie to take the win, that’s huge.

As an outsider this got my attention
all I really wanted was for her to let me know that she wanted to be there and couldn’t and was sorry.
It sounds like you had an ideal response lined up for her and when she didn’t supply it you felt angry. I have close, supportive friends that I’m emotionally intimate with. It took me a long time to figure out how to interact with people that way.

What surprises me the most is that you wanted her to *want* to be there. Why? When a friend offers to join, especially for something highly charged, the gift of intimacy is that they are choosing to. If they did it because they thought you wanted them to, that sets up a situation ripe for resentment and inauthenticity—the opposite of support and intimacy.

I think in recovery a crucial part is to learn that you will always be enough to support yourself and hold yourself, but friends make it better, if you’re willing to learn how to relate that way. (The dance of intimacy, of learning to be fully yourself but also let go of yourself, learning to ask, give, and receive without strings attached.)

It sounds like you are doing the hard work of figuring out who is a good friend for you—bravo! You are on your way toward more supportive and intimate friendships. Of course it’s rocky, learning relationships is one of the trickiest things, especially when PTSD is a factor. I’m proud of you for not harping on yourself and being gentle as you go through it.
 
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