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Healthy Friendships, Healthy Boundaries

This is today’s status for one of my friends on Facebook: Let go of those who bring you down and surround yourself with those who bring out the best in you, and want the best for you” It’s particularly apt for me at the moment, as the subject of what constitutes a healthy relationship has once again become something that is close to my heart.

Last week, once again, I found myself re-evaluating the value of my friendships following a series of eye-opening realizations. Not just with one person, with a handful of people covering contrasting situations and differing levels of severity. Funny, don’t you think, how sometimes the universe seems to conspire to make absolutely sure we get the point? It seems I have had to have the lesson spelled out to me in many ways, via more than one person, and on various levels — just to make certain I understand. Does that make me a particularly dumb student of life? Well, perhaps on the one hand yes it does. On the other hand, though, perhaps it’s due to something else. Perhaps my determination to find the best in people stems from something far less straightforward”¦ I have a funny feeling that most of you here at Lovefraud will identify with what I’m about to share with you.

Being An Enabler

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been what I would call one of life’s enablers — a giver, carer, supporter and fighter for the rights of other people. I have been one of those people who will stick her neck out to protect others. I will stand up for rights, and fight against injustice. I still do it to a large extent. That, I believe, is part of what makes me successful in my chosen profession as a leadership and team development coach.

At work I am known as being someone who says it as it is and will stand up to the bully. I also encourage others to do the same, be it in their professional or personal life. I am the person who helps others identify their core values, to facilitate their discovery of what really makes them tick, to guide them in clarifying their focus for what is important to them. Not what’s important to other people — their family, their boss, their colleagues, their friends — no, what’s important to them as a human soul. For most people it can feel weird to become the centre of their own attention. For many, they have previously measured their success or failure, their likes or dislikes, their progress or regression through other people or situations.

I am grateful for my skills, and feel privileged to enjoy a career in the field of human development. I am lucky enough to work with people, often on a deeply personal level. It is a position of trust that I value extremely highly — I know I am lucky to do the work I do, and I am constantly enriched by the progress that people make through coaching and development. It’s incredibly rewarding!

So, being an ”˜enabler’ therefore is a good thing”¦. Isn’t it? Well, yes it is”¦. And there can also be a downside, as all of us who have experienced any kind of abusive relationship will testify.

Boundary Blindspots

This is what has hit home to me once again this week. This is where I have discovered another aspect to my own blind spots. Since becoming free from my sociopathic husband, I have been much more mindful about the friendships I keep. Some have gone by the wayside. Others have strengthened. New ones have started, and old forgotten ones have returned. It’s been — and continues to be — an extremely cathartic and enjoyable process. And, to be honest, I thought I was doing pretty darned well!

It would appear not. It would appear that I’d once again slipped in to the trap of bending over backwards in too many ”˜friendships’ that really didn’t warrant that level of attention. It appears now, that in my general sense of happiness and well being, that I had let some less than healthy aspects of some relationships thrive and take space right in front of my eyes. I’d been caring for cuckoos in the nest — blindly feeding and nurturing them to the detriment of other healthy friendships, including the one with myself.

It was my friend, Beatrix, who gave me some incredibly wise advice last summer. I’d been struggling against a backlash of unpleasant emails from somebody who I expected to know better. I felt shocked and exasperated and found myself wailing at my dear friend “But I don’t understand! I thought we’d moved past all this! We have had a really good relationship over recent times!” She looked at me at this point, and put her head to one side, a wry smile on her face “You know what, Mel?” she said “It’s amazing how many great relationships anyone can have when they bend over backwards to make them so”¦” She was right of course. My natural fall-back position of carer and giver meant that I had been the one putting the vast majority of effort and flexibility in to that particular relationship. I could continue doing that (and feel like a doormat in the process) or I could gently but firmly stand my ground, letting the relationship transform in the process. I chose to stand my ground, and kept that particular person at a healthy arms length.

It was Beatrix, again, who has put me on the straight and narrow today — thank you my friend. When I shared the stories of what I’d experienced over the past few days, she simply shrugged. “All of those people have behaved in exactly the way they normally do” she said “you already knew what to expect from them — so what’s the point in being upset? You’re the one who’s being unreasonable because you’re expecting them to do something different — that’s just plain crazy. Just because you’ve changed and grown, doesn’t mean they have!”

Once again she was right, of course. With each of the examples I gave her, she reminded me gently that I’d already decided some months ago to keep my distance in each case. And as my life and experiences have continued to be more joyful and rewarding, I have become more tolerant and understanding of others. And yes, as a result, perhaps I forgot some of my boundaries.

Unconsciously I had once again been putting myself out — bending, flexing, staying open, being tolerant — and in the process allowing myself to put up with situations which, while in some cases were not actually harmful to me, in all cases were certainly less than supportive.

No wonder I had been feeling angry! No wonder I’d been confused! Whilst the circumstances of last week can hardly be called ”˜abusive’ they have certainly pushed the old buttons from when I have been in an abusive relationship. Betrayal, abandonment, isolation, shame — all of those insidious emotions started to re-surface. Not enough, it has to be said, to overwhelm — certainly sufficient to knock me a little off balance, and to start the “What am I doing wrong? How is this happening again?” questions poking and picking at the scars that had long since healed.

Standing My Ground

In all fairness, the behaviours of those specific people last week were probably not worthy of a prison sentence — perhaps just a caution, or a sharp rap on the knuckles. But because of what I have been through, as for so many of us here, I will no longer tolerate anything that is not supportive to me. The glaringly obvious fact that I had been blind enough to anticipate supportive behaviour from people who have shown me their true colours on countless occasions in the past, left me feeling shameful and angry. You may remember that I’m writing my first book, and that has involved going over a huge amount of old ground. So yes, I was feeling angry at my past. Yes, I was feeling angry at the way so many people who were meant to care for me, even in my childhood, have treated me badly. So yes, it’s fair to say that my emotional responses have been perhaps a little more intense than usual.

But they are no less valid — no matter the strength, or the underlying reasons.

I am standing my ground. Fairly, squarely, and with my head held high. Friendships, to me, are about a healthy symbiotic relationship. Where two people meet honestly, to share ideas, to grow, to laugh, to help each other, and to enjoy each other’s company. As the blinkers continued to fall from my eyes last week, one particular person asked whether I would remain friends with them. I responded honestly and as gently as I could. I said that in view of what I had realised, I would never turn them away if they asked for help — but that I didn’t think I would continue to be a friend. Not, at least, in the way that I value and measure my friendships.

If the only way to maintain a friendship is if I continue to bend, flex, stay quiet, support and understand the other person — while ignoring the emotional bruises I am getting in the process — well, then that’s not, in my world, a healthy relationship. It doesn’t make the other person an enemy — but if I continue being a friend on those levels, then I am being an enemy to myself. I am giving myself the message that I’m not worthy of having people around me who love me for who I am. I am telling myself, just as I was told as a child and later on by my husband, that I’m not good enough. That I’ll never measure up to much, and that nobody could possibly love me.

Well you know what? That just isn’t true. So, my friends, although I might have re-built my boundaries this week and created more distance between us, you have all helped me tremendously — thank you. It’s said that people come in to our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Well, as time continues, my lifetime friends are becoming more and more valuable to me — and top of the list is my relationship with myself.

Thank you for reading, I hope this has been useful! With love and blessings

 


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35 Comments on "Healthy Friendships, Healthy Boundaries"

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Excellent Article. Recently I wrote down some things about myself. Number 1 was I will stand up to bullies and for those being bullied. I did that a few times recently. There has to be some balance though. Even a post I did recently about a potential boyfriend who didn’t want to talk on the phone…..maybe that was a boundary that he was setting. I realize that now. I just don’t want him for a boyfriend. He is probably not really available…..but I digress.

Number 2 on my list was “I realize my limitations.” I think this is so true. We can go through life or even a week in time standing up for the underdog, but we have to get back to ourselves. Where do we fit it? For me, it is time to spend some quiet time again asking myself what it is that I want, and who am I, not who someone wants me to be.

TTS

QUOTE MEL” If the only way to maintain a friendship is if I continue to bend, flex, stay quiet, support and understand the other person ”“ while ignoring the emotional bruises I am getting in the process ”“ well, then that’s not, in my world, a healthy relationship. It doesn’t make the other person an enemy ”“ but if I continue being a friend on those levels, then I am being an enemy to myself. I am giving myself the message that I’m not worthy of having people around me who love me for who I am. I am telling myself, just as I was told as a child and later on by my husband, that I’m not good enough. That I’ll never measure up to much, and that nobody could possibly love me.”

Mel, this article is so relevant to a lesson I learned last January when I “opted out” of a 30 year long “best friendship” when I realized that I had been the one bending over backwards for many of those years, enduring things that were hurtful and “pretending they didn’t happen.”

My friend wasn’t a psychopath, she wasn’t criminal, she was in fact, in many ways, a “good person” but she was prone to periodically “strike out” verbally without warning or provocation that I could see coming. During an extended visit to her house I realized what she was doing, and why—her husband who had traveled for work for years had recently retired, and I only now realized how abusive he was to her. In her pain and depression from the marriage, she would strike out at me. I would try to pacify her because her striking out at me was painful. I enabled, pacified and hurt. During the visit when I actually became better acquainted with her husband than I had ever been, and saw just what kind of an abusive heavy drinker he was, I realized that the relationship with her could no longer go on with me. I could no longer take the lashing out.

I also realized she is a profoundly unhappy woman who with the change in her circumstances of her husband retiring had become even more unhappy and dysfunctional.

I don’t hate her, what she did in her own unhappiness was painful to me, and I can no longer allow that to go on. I can forgive her (get the bitterness and pain out of my own heart) while realizing that our relationship is no longer viable and has become more dysfunctional. I can now walk away without a great deal of pain or regret and even remember some of the good times when she WAS THERE for me during my son’s arrest and conviction, during my husband’s death and my step-father’s death.

Not all friendships last a life time. We change. They change. Circumstances change. Moving on in life, separating from a friendship that has never been healthy but has become more unhealthy is part of our own growth in life, I think.

I think that we can keep the “good parts” and let go of the “painful” ones and GET THE LESSON that goes with the experience. I call it GROWTH. It is LIFE.

Mel
I have this theory that God gives us lessons and if we refuse to listen, he REALLY BONKS us on the head.

Intuition was my positive takeaway gift from childhood abuse. I learned to be so sensitive to anticipating behaviors (originally done to avoid being the object of incest and physical abuse) that others thought me psychic in my prediction of what was to come.

Then I got arrogant. I imagined my empathy was so developed that I knew what others felt. Ironically THAT attitude made me extremely NOT empathetic nor intuitive. THAT attitude blinded me. I had become an emotionally sick enabler with weak boundries. THAT lead me into a relationship with an spath where the consequence was that I have been damaged beyond recovery. God was whacking me with the Oxy skillet so hard and still I didn’t learn. I jumped into an abyss of self contempt and self hatred and unforgiveness and anger and rage and depression.

But God doesn’t give up. Somehow I heard the little lessons. I stumbled on a biz seminar teaching appropriate response skills for selling my product, it wasn’t even a psychology or self help book, it was A SALES book. I finally got it – That empathy isn’t just imagining how someone feels. It’s not telling someone else how I think they feel b/c that may not be HOW THEY FEEL and to say such a thing is SO intrusive on their personal boundry/space. For ex: “I heard your dad died. Wow. How are you doing? I’m here if you need a hand with anything. I can imagine if that happened to me, I’d be in a fog at first, so even if time has passed, if you need someone to talk to, you can call me.” VS my past comment (cringe b/c I actually thought myself supportive and empathetic since I imagined her feelings.), “Wow, your dad died. I bet you’re so relieved the bastard got his reward after all.” (her dad was an abuser.)

The first ex shows empathy with using a simple formula.
1) state the event. 2) ask them how/what they are doing. 3) do NOT tell someone how they feel. Instead tell them how I IMAGINE I’d feel in that situation and 4) make a personal gesture.

The second ex steamrolls a person b/c I TOLD THEM what they feel. Look How arrogant I was!

Thank you for your post Mel. The timing and topic was perfect for me. I had a HUGE boundry blindspot made worse b/c I was so sure I was RIGHT. You validated my recent lesson learned and I have determined to develop or re-connect with my more gentle empathetic perspective.

I have to chuckle because you did it again, Mel. Your article is exactly what I was dealing with in therapy today.

I just had a birthday party and I was a bit hurt that some of my “closest” friends didn’t attend. These are my college girls and only 1 out of the 6 came. They all had their reasons and I honestly didn’t spend long feeling sorry for myself, but these same girls have also not attended other significant milestones in my life. Why was I expecting any different this time around? I don’t think any one of them are “bad” people. Quite the opposite. But I do bend over backwards to ensure that I am a great friend to them. I am an enabler. I get it now and I am learning to set my boundaries a little stonger than I had before.

I have always had issues with trying to find and maintain healthy friendships. I know now that I contibute to that friction. My expectations play a major role in my own unhappiness. What I may do for others in a friendship may not be what others can or will do for me. That doesn’t make them bad. It is just their perspective on friendship.

Because of my past and not being given the love and support I needed growing up, I turned to friendships to fill a void that was deep within the depths of my soul. It isn’t fair or even possible to expect friends to occupy that space.

I have been able to respond better to the dissapointment I get from them failing to meet my expectations. There is nothing black and white about these relationships. They are all shades of gray and I have to be willing to accept the bad with the good from them. This does not mean that I have to take any kind of abuse from them, but I can certainly accept that they are not perfect…and neither am I.

Mel- wonderful article!!! You can articulate things so well. I have always struggled with boundaries/judgements and am now discovering they are good, healthy and necessary for real relationships to exist. Friends, real friends will and should be there for you as much as you are there for them. If not it is a one sided relationship, and those people will continue unless they are confronted or in some cases depending on the circumstances should be cut loose.
I had a situation tonight with an old friend, someone who was once very dear to me called me wanting to go out tonight. However after careful thought several weeks backs I realized she was toxic to me. She wanted to go get some drinks on the local strip. I explained jr. Was still sick and I didn’t want to go out. She had less interest in jr. But was looking for a drinking buddy. Not something that’s cool for me. She tried to convince me it would only be for a few hours and we could be home by 9:00 and jr. Would love to get out. Come on!! Jr has a bedtime and I’m not strolling him around. When I told her to go and have fun she said she wasn’t going to go- no fun going out alone! Hmm it dawned on me then I was her last choice… As I’m sure she asked others prior to me. I think she was waiting for me to invite her over but I wasn’t biting!! I am not a prude by any means but my home is not a drinking hole you can come to for free wine and to get drunk! Lol I love wine but don’t keep it in my home. I don’t drink anymore (why I’m dealing with everything..I need a clear head) And certainly not alone with or around jr. Period! That’s not to say I wouldn’t have a glass of wine or margarita to catch up with an old friend.. As long as it’s for the right reasons… Not self medication or a way to cope… Or get messed up!
Sisterhood- I think it is ok to have expectations of your friends… As long as they are realistic….I hope you still enjoyed your party.
Boundaries are hard and something I am trying to learn… Or rather re-learn.

Ox- I remember that story…very sad. I’m sorry!

Coping-My expectation in this situation was for them to make me the priority in their lives. I’m not sure if that was fair of me. If the roles were reversed, I would have made them first priority because I have the belief that is what friends do for each other. Especially when it is a milestone birthday.

But, perhaps, what they chose to do had more importance to them in their lives. I can’t really say it was selfish of them, but it just hurt because I invest more in our friendship than they do. That has always been my problem. I invest way more than the other person in most cases of my friendships.

My therapist tells me not to look at that as a negative aspect of myself, but it is hard not to. I just seem to set myself up for disappointment every time.

I think this was what had me so floored by my ex-spath. I invested my whole being into that relationship but I was merely a stepping stone for him.

I am still learning how to have healthy boundaries, but situations like my birthday bring up the old wound. Tough one.

…I did really enjoy my birthday, though! Thanks!

Mel,
Beautifully articulated, thank you.
It really struck a chord when you wrote:
“…to start the “What am I doing wrong? How is this happening again?” questions…”

I went in for hypnotherapy last spring and as I regressed under hypnosis, I remembered how I felt as a child, unable to get love from my mother. The words, “What am I doing wrong?” came up.

We can bend over backwards all of our lives but that won’t make disordered or selfish people actually love us. In fact, it does the opposite because we are rewarding their lack of love, by bending over backwards even more. Sad.

Thanks for another great article Mel!

This will sound weird, I think, but I’m starting to make friends with fellow enablers, to use your word. What I’m finding is that I actually have a hard time being a TAKER which I think is an important part of knowing your value and establishing boundaries. I’ve always been the giver, but when someone ever tried to give back, I’d back off. I’d drain my own savings account for a good friend in need (which I did for the damn spath), but if someone tried to give me 20 bucks I’d probably protest and never end up taking it.

However, the experience with the spath brought me to a point, for the first time in my life, where I have NOTHING left for handouts. Nothing. I cannot give to other people, because I barely have anything salvaged for myself. I was lucky enough to stumble upon some other givers here in Germany, and I had to swallow my pride and accept people treating me….imagine this….the way I treated people. I have had to deal with my own conscience that keeps telling me that I owe them, that I need to pay them back immediately with expressions of kindness and mutual appreciation (I didn’t get any financial help, but I got old dishes, a free couch, etc). But if I had given these things to people, I know that I’d never EVER want the person to feel a sense of obligation to repay me, dime for dime.

What a weird realization.

Yet I’m getting past it, establishing those boundaries, and learning that having people in my life who will meet me halfway means I need to be able to take as often as I give. Otherwise, I’m basically weeding out all the givers of the world and leaving myself only with a room full of codependent takers!!!! And then I wonder why I had problems with spaths….duh!

That golden rule: Treat others how you want to be treated…

Should add this ending: ….and only let others treat you how you would treat them.

In conclusion, I am REALLY enjoying the discovery of healthy friendships! Oh, so THIS is what it feels like when people CARE! How lovely 🙂

Mel,

Ditto, ditto, ditto….what everyone else is saying. Timely and articulate essay. Such an important topic when we want to see what role our own beliefs and behavior have played in our relationships.

And insightful responses.

Skylar’s post here, and on another thread, really strikes a chord with me, and what she is saying gets said so many different ways on LF. And it goes something like:

1. No contact
2. Don’t feed the monsters
3. Gray rock
4. Don’t respond
5. Don’t get caught up in the drama
6. Potted plant
7. Don’t reward their shitty behavior with more attention, yearning, and pleading

(Skylar, I really appreciated how you applied this understanding to your analysis of the Wallstreet protests. Don’t add to the drama, change your behavior and drive the f****** out of business. Place the responsibility where it belongs. But change our approach to affecting a solution).

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. For the personality disordered only the most stringent one’s will do. For the merely, and periodically insensitive or self-absorbed, maybe just a break in contact or a heart-to-heart will do.

We can apply this so many places. I won’t buy anything Martha Stewart. I think she is a rotten apple. I don’t go to certain restaurants in my town because I have knowledge of abusive owners. And I won’t support people who do not treat me with consideration, or respond and change to input when they transgress.

But before this last go-round with a spath, I would break my back for other people and be SO angry and hurt when they did not reciprocate. I blamed, blamed, blamed…..I had my own wash, rinse, repeat cycle. Kinda like I was in a mini-spath cycle of my own. I projected my neurotic ‘goodness’ onto others, and then blamed them when they failed to live up to my projections.

Waking up meant for me that I had to find my true goodness, not the shell of goodness ‘armor’ that I built around myself as defense against a crap mother/childhood/abuse.

I understand, Mel, the shame. It helps me to remember it is a process, this awakening to ourselves. At some points we just don’t know stuff, and at others’ we forget, sliding back into old patterns. And weeding out our ‘contact list’ can be kinda painful.

I had to let go some old friends that I was sad to see go, even though I knew it was truly right that the relationship be transformed (and informed) by my new found self.

I remember hearing older folks (and now I am getting to be one of them, at 50) saying it was harder to make friends as they got older. I wonder now if that isn’t because as we awaken and begin to be our own bestfriends we just don’t let every Tom, Dick, and Harry into our circle. The pool of people who will ‘work’ for us may be smaller, due to our discretion.

I would rather have one honest and true friend than a whole boat load of iffy sorts.

Slim

Panther,

Your point is SO well taken. Being able to receive is key isn’t it? If we are just outputs, and don’t have any way to intake, we really won’t change the end of the equation much.

OMG when we are fixated on giving we DO set ourselves up as selfish-people magnets!

Repeat to self: I let people love me.

Slim

Yes, Slimone, but so much easier said than done, don’t you think?

At least seeing it for what it is is the first step….now to just apply our knowledge and turn this situation around for the better. I have to actually fight with myself when a situation arises in which a person is trying to show me the kind of kindness that I would show them. I have to consciously tell myself to let them give.

I’ve been successful with a couple of new friendships lately, and I’m even starting to get past feeling guilty for accepting their kindness.

This is making me wonder what the HECK was really wrong with me in the first place (time to dig). Also, it means that there is a lot more love waiting for me down the line if I can sort out who the codependents are and learn how to interact with people who will meet me halfway instead. It feels REALLY good to be met halfway! Very validating as a human being.

Remember: It is more blessed to give than to recieve.
Who are we to deny this blessedness to others? It’s kind of selfish to reserve the blessedness for our-selves, only!

It feels good and empowering to be able to help someone. Other folks deserve to have that feeling, too.

Yes, Kim, you are so right.

Hi Panther,
glad to see you back and getting on your feet.

Kim,
good point, I should stop being so selfish!

Slimone,
The idea that someone else needs to change, because we are already perfect, is the cause of so much unhappiness. There is a syndrome that might be going into the DSM V: Embitterment Syndrome. It generally is used to describe someone who is having a hard time with the changes in society and blames immigrants or government policies. Often times they become the crazed bombers or shooters.

Even though it’s true that there are spaths making our lives miserable, at home and on the global stage, the answer, I believe is to stop participating in the drama, stop enabling them, stop cooperating in their schemes.

But first we have to recognize the red flags.

Yeah, Sky, I had no internet for almost a week (or was it more than a week?) Too long in any case!

Glad to be back.

Speaking of boundaries-N mother texted me AGAIN tonite-DELETE!

Mel, your writing is inspiring. Bless your heart for what you contribute to this site.

Kim makes a good point about giving.

I’d like to expand on that with my opinion. Just my opinion. Your mileage may vary!

Yes, we should be givers because that is a good thing. I think most of us here are naturally nurturing and giving and that is part of what got us here. But only part. We shouldn’t throw out the good parts of us, just learn when to use them! I don’t think we should over-react to past abuse by refusing to give or by expecting every relationship to be balanced.

I think that *recognizing* our boundaries is important and *recognizing* when we are doing too much giving is important. I think we run into trouble when we are expecting balance in a relationship and we don’t get it. We run into trouble when we are expecting sometimes to receive and it never happens.

If I expect to have balanced relationship with a spouse or best friend and I’m not getting it, something is wrong.

I DON’T expect balance when I’m dealing with a small child or a student or voluntarily dealing with someone in need of charity or help. In those cases, what I need to do is set the boundaries appropriately. Yes, I am giving more than they are, but *I* get to decide how much, not them. That is key, that I get to decide and that they are not entitled to endless help and support that exceeds my emotional or financial comfort levels.

When dealing with a romantic partner or best friend, I want a relationship that is balanced. It doesn’t have to be balanced every minute. It’s ok for the relationship to have ups and downs and for the other person to SOMETIMES take more than he/she gives. If I were married and my spouse became disabled, I would not walk out because of the imbalance. If my friend were going through a personal crisis, I would be supportive (to the best of my ability at the time) and not end the friendship. I WOULD end it if my friend were endlessly needy but was never there for me when I had needs.

I think one mistake that many of us have made is being the eternal giver, but then feeling guilty when we had a need, or being disappointed at the lack of reciprocity. When we found out that the relationships that we had poured so much love and work into and which we thought were balanced had nothing to offer us when we had a need, it was a cruel disappointment. Some of us had been so “trained” by the spath that we felt too guilty or undeserving to even ask for support. Or we knew in advance that it would do no good to ask because we would not get any support and in fact would be made to feel worse.

So, to make a long story short, I think the point is not that we should stop giving or expect perfect balance. The point is that we should learn to recognize it and that WE should set the boundaries where they are comfortable for us. The other person is not entitled to decide where our boundaries are.

Thank you very much for posting this article. I came at just the right time for me. I have been re-evaluating so many relationships of late after being repeatedly hurt by peoples behaviour. I kept thinking to myself “It must be me. I must be doing something wrong”. I seem to be getting hurt more often by people who treat relationships like contests. People who are so insecure themselves that they use the age old tool of bringing someone else down to make themselves feel better. After my marraige to the spath, I no longer have the inner strength for these people. I have no confidence in myself anymore, so I see this kind of behaviour akin to beating someone when their down. Friends should support each other. That’s it. Not judge, not critique, not compete, not manipulate, not make each other feel bad. Just support. If you can’t trust your friends to be kind to your spirit, then who can you trust. My answer now is myself. I will no longer have people in my life who’s aim it is (in any way) to make me feel bad. I loved the comment “Let go of those who bring you down and surround yourself with those who bring out the best in you, and want the best for you”.
.

Dear Shakey,

I haven’t seen any posts from you before (excuse me if I missed them) but welcome to LF.

You are very right to let go of the people who want to bring you down, not support you. Unfortunately that may be MANY OF YOUR “SO CALLED FRIENDS” and even family. But I would rather have one real honest to gosh friend than 1,000 “fren-imies.”

Mel

Great article. I am a born “giver” too. I suspect that’s a trait of many of us here on LF.

I am not myself if I’m not in the giving mode – but I found a way to give where I won’t get damaged in the process. I started volunteering with the elderly in my community. My “elder” needs me, she isn’t abusive, I make a difference in her life, and I’m not going home bawling afterwords.

SK

I was made a giver cause I am the youngest of seven. I was always out numbered. I learned to deal with differences. I can get my toes stomped on, but after awhile it hurts too much and I stomp back.

The real reason why I posted a comment to this post is I gotta point out how being abused can make a person selfish.

I have been abused by men and I am so stuck in my woes that I can’t engage with others in their situations. Just when I think I am passing GO I get tripped up by my past abuser because they are NOT done with me yet. It tailspins me every time.

I suppose this is something that abusers go through. Except they look to make someone pay for the wrongs of their childhood. They look to fence-in the bitch as a captive audience. And, he knows she is a bitch cause she is stupid for trusting him.

Really this is what the more honest assholes say! And they don’t realize they give themselves away when they say this, cause most people don’t catch it. So no one is available to point it out. Most people are focusing and frowning on the woman who was duped.

They don’t realize that they have been duped. They don’t know they are duped worse cause they are watching from the vantage seats. Yet, they missed the foul play.

Jeannie,
I get most of what you are saying.
There are many men out there who hate women. I’m not sure exactly why but I have some theories and spaths are involved in most of them.

These men are not spaths, they just act like spaths TOWARD WOMEN. They are ignorant and don’t understand that spaths have programmed them to think that way. (both men and women spaths, hate women). They can be made to understand that spaths are manipulating their hatred, but that doesn’t change their hatred. It’s too deep-seated, in childhood.

We can’t change anyone except ourselves, Jeannie. Focus on that. It will take lots of time, so start now.

Skylar;

I disagree a bit and think that the number of “toxic” individuals, be they sociopath, narcissist, borderline, histrionic, bipolar, substance abuser, … represents a fairly significant percentage of the population. It is compound by the current economic situation leaving many more unemployed or underemployed and depressed.

There is some manipulation via media. I am particularly concerned about violent television such as UFC and others showing gambling. This programming is a real danger to society and I am speechless at the lack of response from religious leaders to such.

BBE,
I understand what you are saying and I agree, the toxic people (cluster B’s or whatever you want to call it) are EVERYWHERE! It’s scary.

What I’m referring to is a different thing and it’s misogyny.

Men who hate women seem to be more prevelent than I ever imagined. Many of them are my friends!!! It’s a mind blowing revelation to realize that these people, many of whom I’ve known for decades, (including my father), hold women in disdain. It’s true that they put some women on a pedestal and they do interact quite warmly with me and with many other women. But I’ve caught on that they are holding back a particular attitude. The way I found out, is by watching them talk about their ex’s. They went into the slander mode. I realized then that these men feel entitled to ensnare women in their webs just to toy with them. One or two of them wanted to do it to me, but since I refrained, we are still on warm and “friendly” terms.

It was very confusing to me until Kim Frederick posted this:
http://abusesanctuary.blogspot.com/2005/10/loving-to-survive-sexual-terror-mens.html

Now I kind of get it and it explains “the old boys club”. They are not spaths, I don’t think, but they are malignant narcissists.

Boundaries have really become a super important issue. I have in the last few months really stood my ground and dug my heels in regarding those lines that we need to draw. I have distinct ones drawn about what is going to be acceptable behavior in people that I have close to me.

I was on facebook this morning and saw a perfect example of lack of boundaries. Does anyone watch The Real Housewives of Orange County? I did before I got rid of cable because it was my mindless entertainment. I get status updates from some of the wives on my FB and now I think I am going to get rid of them. One of the longterm main housewives Vicky, took pictures of her 21 yr old daughter while sleeping in a hospital bed and posted them on facebook. This 21 yr old just had her thyroid removed for cancer and she is a nurse-like me. She just started her nursing career. On the program it was shown that there were many times where this girl was angry and frustrated with her mom for not having boundaries and it caused problems for her. This woman I realized, is as N as my neighbor next door and a lot like her.

I really really hate how the N’s in our lives cross boundaries and then tell us that it’s only that they care about us so much that they are doing “X” to us and crossing over those lines. My N mother has used those tactics for years and it enflames me-telling her siblings my private business-all in the name of loving me and getting “prayer” for me. I am about to clear out my FB friend list and make it only people that I know and care about. That was the reason that I started on it to begin with-to communicate with friends who live far away. That poor girl is going to get out that bed and kill her mother when she finds out that picture is on FB for the world to see-her mother is a narcissistic public figure and people all over the world are seeing that picture. It also amazes me to read some of the comments on the pic too. A lot of people reacted like me and thought that it was totally inappropriate, but others defended her for doing it. WOW!

BBE and Skylar,

Some of the “disdain for women” is CULTURAL. Many cultures, in the Middle East especially, do not value women much if any above cattle or camels….the man is EXPECTED to use women and have “temporary wives” (prostitutes) any time they want one, women are subservient and property. My own Scots-Irish culture held the woman as a second class citizen, and only in 1919 did we (women) get the vote. It is much later than that, in the 1970s when women finally got equality with their husbands in property ownership and credit scores. Even now there is the corporate “glass ceiling” keeping women’s salaries below men and their ability to rise within the corporate structure is not “equal” for sure.

Of course the narcissistic men and psychopathic men USE THIS CULTURAL BIAS as an excuse for how they treat women and ENCOURAGE their sons to assume that attitude as well, so it cultural and genetic and environmental.

My ex-N did definitely hate women, and it became apparent in the end days of our relationship. He enjoyed getting sex from them, but that is all that they were useful for in his life-that and providing a nice superficial outside exterior reputation.

I guess being gay I am not really exposed to misogyny but I do get glimpses of it. Of course, Wall Street is known for such.

Sadly, with all the gains women have made, the simple fact is that in major corporations, women are underrepresented throughout the management chain. The same is true for minorities.

Oxy,
It’s very strange to see the way the N-men react when I tell them my story. They don’t seem shocked or offended by what my spath did to me. It’s like: so? And I realized that it’s because they would do the same if they could. BUT, they are only relating to the attack on me as a woman. As soon as I explain the extent of my exspath’s murderous bent, AND how he has killed MEN with the SAME “bonding” game that he was trying to kill me with, they say, “fetch me my gun.” or something to that effect. Suddenly it’s personal.

When I tell them that the spath is bisexual, they show disgust. When I tell them how he cons millionaires, they seem impressed. When I tell them about how talented he is, flying helicopters, playing guitar, welding, designing with CAD, they are impressed. When I explain that he only does all these things as a cover to bring in his targets, they get confused.

Why am I not surprised?

Mel; thank you so much for sharing. You put a voice to so many things that I have had to deal with, that I allowed myself to be an active member of. I have taken on a new mantra, and it is called “ME”!

I have been a reader of this blog for a few years now. It helps me so very much. I never knew what a psych-sociopath until I overheard a co-worker, who was a Psychologist, telling a story of a psychopath. What was scary about what he was talking about, the behaviors that were so much a description of a person I knew and loved dearly. It was my mother and her sick siblings. It became a quest for me to find out all I could about this disorder. It was only then in my search to find out about what this meant, described my mother and her chennanigans to a tee. Mere words could not explain the flooding of hurt and pain that rose to the forefront of this recognition. So many years lost because of this plain dysfunction that I thoguht was normal. They made me to feel that something was wrong with me all mylife. A few year of intensive psycho-therapy, and a move thousands of miles away didn’t cure it. I married twice, the very same kind of men that my mother was……..and here I am now, at peace with the knowledge that I at least, I found out and have done everything I can to get myself help. I am rattling on now, but I had to at least give a comment of thanks………that I am not alone in my quest to be all that I can be healthily!!! THANK YOU LOVEFRAUD BLOGGERS !!!

I forgot to add, that same Psychologist had a book written by Dr. Hare. I can’t remember the eexact title now, but I know it was meant for me at that very time to know the who and what I had been dealing with all my life. I was 38 years old then, I am 46 now, and I have made great strides….in my life, improvements that I canbe quite proud of. NO LONGER WILL I ACCEPT BEING A VICTIM!!! If I spend the rest of my life alone, THAT WILL NEVER BE AN OPTION AGAIN!!! Thanks for listening. God bless!

Dear MyGodIsGood,

I’m glad you are here and glad that you are healing! It does take time and work, and pain to recognize that the people we love are EVIL.

Thanks for sharing your story. Each story of success, each person who turns their lives around gives hope to others! God bless.

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