Last of the freeze-fawn-derived relationships: MOVING ON!

Teawitheggs

Not Active
[Long! Questions at the end if you want to skip the backstory but feel inclined to respond.]

Three yrs ago, I moved far away and went no-contact with a bunch of remnant relationships that were initiated and maintained by my abusive pd x-spouse (with several Co morbid psychiatric disorders). After standing up for myself against unfairness with this last person- the only one I initiated and who was not friends with the x- she has written me cruel and untrue messages for 8 days, attacking me from every angle (except anything I’ve actually done or said, as in nothing valid- only mean things she could say to almost anyone since they’re fairly random hurtful insults).

We met in a safehouse when I escaped from the DV abuser 5 yrs ago. I’ve been her support and am now realizing all the ways I way over-helped and how one-sided this was. She was/is in a situation you’d see as a plot in a scary story. I was too, in but in the past 5 yrs, I’ve been progressing and changing and growing into a stronger and more capable person. I’ve been steadily building my life from nothing and it feels miraculous even though I’m also working very hard for these miracles.

I had to build from TBI and multiple strokes and seizures that debilitated me. I learned how to walk and talk again, but I also completely lost my identity in the last TBI. It’s been very challenging. She’s been with me through all of that. And in spite of me being disabled and debilitated, she did nothing to assist me while I even took care of her while she stayed in my home for weeks, gave her money and gifts and loads of time and effort and care. I even did her legal administrative tasks! But I stood up for myself for the first time with her when she accused me of not remembering she was talking or caring when I turned my attention to my children and animals when an incident was occurring (dog attacked cat). I asked her to please continue with what she was telling me and she said I’d ruined it and “all the air is out of it now” [shes not a native English-speaker; she meant that she feels deflated]. I said I’m sorry she felt that way from being interrupted but to please continue because of course I care and want to know; I love her. She eventually told me the rest after sulking for a bit. I was in full-on fawn-mode :(

Later I told her that it’s okay to feel deflated but that I’m not responsible for her feeling that way and I’m not willing to apologize for that or accept responsibility for it. This initiated her present and ongoing rage.

In her messages, she informed me that she’s been watching me change “drastically and extremely” in the yrs we’ve known each other and “it’s scary.” Also other complaints, but she did tell me that she will no longer withhold her concerns about me “so as to not enable [me] any further.”

This is exactly what each of the narcissists in my life said when I finally recognized that I was supply and disengaged. They don’t like it when you are a person and grow, and especially one that was so easy to manipulate and possess as when super vulnerable. Getting stronger and more able is unacceptable to them.

After the last TBI, it was like a feeding frenzy around me. People from whom I’d distanced came back into my life and took control of my daily activities and even my finances and assets. I was capable of doing this and was never deemed unfit nor was there any power of attorney or representative assigned. But I wasn’t able to defend myself against the onslaught of family relations and friends who swooped in to take a piece.

I managed to protect my settlement money from them but only barely; my lawyer helped me keep their hands off. This was the time when I met this “friend” too, but she didn’t have any of the aggressive tactics I’d learned to be cautious of, so I didnt suspect her or notice. I always thought I was giving out of generosity (and truly I was and don’t regret kindness even if it was misgiven). I didn’t see the subtle way she manipulated me into giving to her. Her rage messages have been illuminating this!

I’m not beating myself for not having seen before; it’s enough that I see now. But my critic really wants to shame me for this mistaken loyalty. I did this for my parents too until two yrs ago when I went no contact for the second time.

Anyway this is a hopeful and positive turn of events for me and my children. It is upsetting and we’re working through it. But I feel so proud of myself for breaking the habit of taking responsibility for others’ feelings, and also for defending my reasonable and rational behaviour without shame. I’ve learned so much from Pete Walker most recently about this, though my slow learning process began in 2008 when I discovered nonviolent communication, Byron Katie (imo, good for general reframing but terrible for people with adverse childhood experiences and Cptsd!), Daniel Amen, Eckart Tolle, etc, etc...- lots of these people (took what worked, left the rest).

And I feel so much lighter, and relieved. I didn’t realize how heavy that load was. My friend who has been observing this friendship slowly implode (I knew too in the last yr, though I didn’t know it was like this!) said enough with all my helping people who aren’t helping themselves; it’s time for me to heal now, and to focus on my family’s healing. No more takers and deadbeats. He gifted me with Pete Walker’s “The Tao of Fully Feeling” today. I can’t wait to read it!

A real friend wants you to grow and heal and live your best life; they don’t want to hold you back, and they don’t complain when you’re getting better than before. They cheer you on. Reciprocity in friendship is so beautiful; I’m so glad I stumbled upon it and found it preferable.

I’m afraid of doing this again. I’m not sure how to see flags I don’t see, or that I haven’t seen in the past. She was the risk I took in friendship because I’m generally uncomfortable with women. Will I know? I want to have healthy relationships in my life, and right now, I have several, including my children and my brother and his family, and one close friend. I counted her in that before. How do you navigate new relationships with a history of toxic relating? Do you have rules or checklists? I know my tendency to over-help and enter enabling codependency nonconsviously. Does it get better bit by bit through increasing awareness? I don’t want to do this again.
 

ladee

MyPTSD Pro
I ended a toxic relationship/friendship almost two years ago with a friend of over 35 yrs. The healthier I became the more hateful she became. And even tho I was aware of it, I still hung on. Not because I don't have other friends, because I do.

Habit? Didn't want the hassle? Out of sight out of mind? Who knows, but when I was going thru an exceptionally stressful time, some of the things she said just did it for me.

There had been a few times I had tried to address this with her and it turned ugly very quickly. I was dumbfounded at some of the things she said. So I just bided my time. And when the time was right for me, I went no contact.

I think the few things I look at when meeting someone new and deciding if I want to invest or not, is how much of a mirror are they of me. The good and the bad. I am compassionate, are they? I'm a straight talker, are they?
Are conversations one-sided? Every single time?

Do they have a balance with fun and bitching and complaining? One of the great things about good friends is we do get to bitch and moan. But if that's all they do, it's a great big NOPE. Doesn't mean I would avoid them, but would not seek them out, or if meeting them somewhere I make sure to make a quick exit. No apologies, I have to go now.

Do they listen? And it's important to have things in common. So we have a common ground.

And yes it changes because you change. How you see things right now you will not see them the same next year. Do these people grow or stay the same? If it's something that isn't hurtful then let them be who they are. Workaround it if you care for them and enjoy their company.

People are going to get upset when we can no longer be manipulated or gaslighted. So not all endings will be smooth or understood.

You will learn as you go what you need and what you can give to a relationship. You will learn to set boundaries from the start if necessary. Give yourself a chance. And if you like them, give them a chance. It's better to have a few cherished relationships than simply having people in your life and you get to decide and chose.
 

Teawitheggs

Not Active
Thank you for this @ladee. 35 yrs is such a long time... wow. This was an intense 5 yrs but 35 yrs is a lot of shared life.

I think my extreme attunement abilities from silent but dangerous parents make it challenging to notice the danger in unspoken, increasing and changing rules that others have imposed on me.

I asked my close friend about this and he said that anyone with rules is a no-go for him; boundaries yes and essential, but boundaries should be personal and not made into rules for others.

He said the same as Friday (in another thread), that boundaries belong to us alone and we are 100% responsible for and in control of them. And we don’t have to tell them to anyone or explain them. We just live them.

So I’ve surmised that rules are toxic unless both people agree to them for a shared purpose. Or of course if it’s for the safety and well-being of a person who needs care and guidance this way such as a young child or person with specific cognitive disability. I’ve never made rules for friends, and boundaries have been pretty absent from me. Not good for health in relationships, so I’m working on that.

But I think after seeing this descent into madness, one-sided imposed rules is for me one of the no-go’s, in addition to what you shared- I’m making a mental list, so thank you!
 
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