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Still Learning I'm Allowed to Stick Up For Myself

Old 10-25-2012, 01:41 PM
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Still Learning I'm Allowed to Stick Up For Myself

It's been almost two years since I found this forum and shortly afterwards broke up with manipulative, verbally abusive XABF.
It's been almost a year since he died of colon cancer.

Since then I've been feeling that I was doing rather well with my recovery, but periodically I still receive these reminders that I've got a ways to go yet.

The latest reminder has been in the form of someone I believed to be a friend, from Al-Anon. She was a good friend, at least for awhile, but in the last few months I have felt that she has become jealous of the times I go out to do things that don't involve her.


I have a job, and it's a good one. Time-consuming, and the commute is about an hour, but I like my job. It's good to me, it pays well, and I like the people I work with. (And I've been winning over the people who haven't liked me so much, too, so it's even getting better lately!)

I have a boyfriend, and I am pretty sure I picked a good one this time. He's respectful of my boundaries and politely reinforces his own, he appreciates the little things I do for him and enjoys doing little things of his own for me, and he understands the values of sharing happiness and frustrations by just talking about it without any requirement of the person listening to take ownership of any of the other's feelings or action items. We are separate people, with separate lives, and yet we have a shared experience at the same time.

And then my intentions in my life at that point are to have some time to myself, and some time with friends, in a nice healthy balance that makes me happy.

The problem is, this "friend" hasn't been seeing things this way. In recent months she has started trying to push herself into my life. I'll mention I'm going to spend time with someone else I recently met, she'll make it be known that she wants to meet this person too. I'll say I have to run errands at Target and she'll announce that she had to run errands too at Kohl's but she'll "make a sacrifice" and accompany me to Target instead. I'll state that I filled out a questionnaire to potentially volunteer at the local women's shelter and she'll demand I tell her the information as soon as they return my call so that we can do it together.
She'll make comments about how we used to spend the entire day together but that she's settling for a partial day in the hope that we can go back to our full day schedule later, and no amount of arguing will get her to even acknowledge that the entire-day-together only happens if we see each other approximately once a month and if she insists on doing things every Saturday then it can't be the whole day. Attempts to talk to her about how I feel result in her interrupting me (Ever try to talk a locomotive into not running you over?), and any attempt to point out that she interrupted me yields an angry, "NO, I am the one talking."

This is not what the friendship used to be, but after several months of watching it degenerate it has become clear to me that this is what it is, and so I started to wonder if I should remain.

The last straw happened exactly one week ago. She has a habit of grabbing her car key and locking herself out of the house, since she won't keep the house key with her car key. (She claims it will break the car key if she keeps any other keys with it, and as a result they must remain separate at all times). Her next door neighbor will no longer permit her to climb in through their house, and her neighbor across the street is reaching the point where he won't loan her his ladder anymore, so she asked me to keep her house key and then if she locked herself out we could meet somewhere.
I pointed out that I work an hour away from where she lives, and her reply was, "That's too far for me to drive!" I mentioned that I had a busy life, and that keeping a copy of her car key was not a responsibility that should be mine, and she angrily told me, "I thought you'd help me out, because you're a good friend, but I guess you're not as good a friend as I thought, so if you don't want to help me, FINE!" and hung up.

An hour later she left me a voicemail, sweet as can be, "StarCat, just trying to talk to you, give me a call! Love you!" I didn't answer, and didn't call back. I needed some time to think.
The next day (Friday) I got a voicemail full of angry manipulation, just like XABF used to do, full of "I'm sorry, BUT" statements and guilt trips about how she'd die if she fell off the ladder. I did not answer, because it was not at the point where I could say what I meant without being mean.
Saturday I got another voicemail, stating that she should have realized she didn't do anything wrong, that clearly there was something going on with me, that she'd pray for me and please call her back when I was feeling better.

I felt that I owed her some sort of an answer, so Saturday night I drafted a nice letter to read to her the next day over her voicemail at a time when I knew she wouldn't be home. I told her that the key was only a small part of things, that I felt intimidated when she would insist on events and times she wanted us to spend together, that I had started feeling like she did not respect when I said "No" and that her hanging up on me on Thursday had reinforced that, and that I needed to take a time-out in our relationship to think things through because I was feeling rather overwhelmed, so please don't contact me for awhile.

Sunday after she got out of her event I got two voicemails around 2pm, one around 4pm, and then another two around 4:30pm. They were full of guilt tripping manipulation, and such statements as, "Everyone has their faults. You always act like you're smarter than me, but I let it go, because I figure that's just how you are!" In the span of those voicemails she basically called me shallow, petty, a snob, childish and all sorts of other insults wrapped up in nice words and sandwiched between phrases like "I consider you a good friend" and "Let's talk together like two adults."
Monday I got another one (I think it was one, it may have been several strung together), actually asking me why I felt the way I did. Stupidly, Monday night I sent her an email in answer, detailing some specific examples of situations where I did not feel my boundaries were respected. I also told her that I did not appreciate the repeat dialing on Sunday, due to my experiences with XABF, and that I hoped she'd respect that as I know she has been on the receiving end of the same behavior.
I should not have sent that email, but I actually thought it would change things, as her voicemail had sounded sincere. But I still fall for those tricks, I suppose.

Tuesday she called and left two more voicemails before I blocked both her numbers. She called me 6 more times after that, trying to leave another voicemail, and then sent me an email (full of excuses for the multiple phone calls) and 3 text messages (manipulative attempts at justification as well). I haven't listened to the voicemails, I was going to delete them without listening, but now I'm wondering if I should save them to show the police or something.
Wednesday was another email.
Today was another phone call (still blocked), and now I have another voicemail which I am suspecting is from her (it's the time of day she'd call). My phone didn't ring so it's possible to circumvent my blocking program. Unfortunately I can't get to it to check without going through the other two she left that I don't want to listen to but don't want to delete yet.

I didn't mean to put so much detail in, but maybe I did in case I need some record of it later.
The truth of the matter is that I was thinking that after I got some space maybe we could get to the root of the problem and rebuild our friendship, but if she can't respect my request for space and REFUSES to accept my request to stop repeat-dialing me (I believe the only reason she's not doing it right now is because she's starting to realize that my phone is automatically hanging up on her when she calls)... Well, that's not a friend, is it?
Once upon a time she was a good friend. Lately, though... Well, it's been going downhill, and I feel rather taken-for-granted. I also feel she is resentful of any time I spend with anyone else, especially since if I say no to her for something she really wants me to do with her she'll start digging in about "You going to your boyfriend's that day?" "You doing something with someone else?" "Why can't you come? Don't you like me anymore?"
No is no. It's nothing personal.

The part that puzzles me the most, though, is this is a woman who is very active in quite a few things. She doesn't work, so she does LOTS of things during the week. Why has she decided she needs to be so active in my life, not to mention so possessive of it? I'm not her only friend, either.

But I think that's one of those things I'm never really going to understand.
I just need to accept that she's not healthy for me anymore, especially since she's started in on the behaviors that XABF used to keep me feeling trapped in my relationship with him so long, and won't respect my requests to stop.
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Old 10-25-2012, 02:01 PM
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She sounds like a real pain in the ass, StarCat. It's reasonable that you have cut her off, given what you are saying. She sounds obsessive. BOUNDARIES are good
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Old 10-25-2012, 02:15 PM
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((StarCat)) - Sometimes relationships go sour, for whatever reason. Sounds to me like she is living her life through you. I've been on both sides of that equation and neither are good.

I agree with ((LTL)) - boundaries are a good thing. If she gets stalker-ish, call the cops.

Hugs and prayers,

Amy
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Old 10-25-2012, 03:17 PM
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Oh wow, StarCat. This one sounds a little psycho.

Remember, you do not have to be in any relationship that you don't want to. And you owe no one a reason why, either. Accept the things we cannot change. Change the things we can.

I feel for you - had to do the same with a friend that at first, I really liked. But over time, she started doing similar things that you describe here. It was weird.
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Old 10-25-2012, 04:54 PM
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Sounds like she became co-dependent. I think we all know how unhealthy that can be if one of the people is not mentally healthy. She clearly isn't and I think parting ways would be good not only for you but her as well. She might not be able to see that now but over time hopefully she will. Even if she doesn't, I know it sounds selfish but that is baggage she needs to deal with internally, not externally through you. Just my opinion.
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Old 10-25-2012, 06:36 PM
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I am struggling with a relationship with a friend in which some similar patterns have observed.

My therapist asked me an insightful question a few weeks ago. Do you even still care for (friend's name) anymore? She was implying was I holding onto the relationship from what was and not what is.

I have found that not being able to see reality about a relationship for me is not just in intimate ones.

This relationship (and I think today I decided to end it) is really helping me grow. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 10-26-2012, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by LifeRecovery View Post
My therapist asked me an insightful question a few weeks ago. Do you even still care for (friend's name) anymore? She was implying was I holding onto the relationship from what was and not what is.
I was starting to feel uneasy being around her. That part was a rather recent thing. She talks in her voicemails about how we had a good time on Saturday and how nothing was wrong, but thinking back I can remember a few specific points when I felt uncomfortable.

I asked her to go only because I felt obligated to spend time with her. (Red flag #1).
I had a gift card for the restaurant, and was going to say "we'll split whatever's left over," but when I mentioned that I had a gift card that would pay for most of it she started in with, "You're going to treat me? That's so nice of you!" and I felt guilty at that point "getting into a fight about $3." (Red flag #2).
I had decided before the dinner not to mention my boyfriend, because whenever we do she seems to fixate on how I spend too much time with him or something, is how it feels to me. (Red flag #3). She brought him up and started asking nosy questions about some court stuff he's involved in which I started to answer (because I always answer), until I realized what I was doing and stopped. "Why did you stop talking?" she asked. "That's his stuff, I don't want to worry about it right now." (Yay, me! Boundary setting!) She looked disappointed but seemed to understand that she wouldn't be able to push that one.

And that's just from Saturday. So you're right, it's a valid question.

I had been talking to my therapist about her, and he mentioned that I tend to hold on too long to relationships where I don't benefit from the relationship anymore.
And he's right, too, and that's not selfish. I'm remembering my grandmother having Alzheimer's right now, and how she didn't even know who I was, and I still enjoyed visiting her right up to the end. She wasn't conscious of contributing anything to our relationship, half the time she wasn't even conscious I was there, but even in spite of all that and the sadness of watching her slip away I was still always grateful after visiting her, like I had a sense of peace that everything would be okay. I wasn't uneasy, I didn't not want to go, it was Oma and I loved her she loved me even if she didn't remember that part anymore... and that was enough. (Although now I do cry if I smell that stale air latex nursing home smell, because I still miss her).

And here in my relationship with this friend I am spending time with her or calling her out of a sense of obligation.

That said, I still had hoped to salvage the relationship up until this past week. I was thinking that maybe if I stepped away, gave it some time, got some space and was better at setting boundaries, maybe things would be okay. But that was before this, before I learned that she was currently incapable of respecting my feelings, she only wanted to manipulate them.

I've been realizing though that I'd been shortchanging myself a lot. There are things I want to do that I wouldn't because she'd be upset if she wasn't invited but she can't afford them and I don't want to pay for her, too.
I was realizing this when contemplating an expensive dinner I was invited to attend (where I'd have to pay for my own ticket). I could afford to go (and pay for a guest), I wanted to go (to see an old friend and to hear the speaker), and I had been afraid to commit to going (because I didn't want to go through the cycle of accusation/justification that my conversations with this friend had turned into once she learned I wouldn't spend that Saturday with her).

I was talking to someone else in the program last night. She knows this person (not terribly well), and is very surprised she's acting like this. Her conclusion was that she's probably lonely, and has decided that it's my responsibility to make her feel better (which it isn't). It's probably the closest thing I'll ever get to an explanation, and it does sound logical... But her feelings are not my responsibility.


At any rate, I've got a pair of tickets to that expensive dinner I wanted to go to. (They came in the mail yesterday!) My boyfriend is planning on attending but there's a possibility he won't be able to attend (he'll know for sure Monday), in which case I think I know who I'll ask to use his ticket (although she doesn't know yet).

I'm also grateful to have my boyfriend in my life. He helps me realize what healthy boundaries are. At my Al-Anon meeting last night we're doing Step 4 work and the topic this week was "Responsibility." I talked about how I still take on responsibilities I know aren't mine, but the difference is the person I'm helping knows they're not my responsibility either and appreciates the help.
And sure enough my boyfriend calls me this morning like usual, and I start asking him questions about some legal stuff he's working on, and a half-hour later he calls back and says, "StarCat, I'm leaving work early today because you asked some really good questions and I don't know the answers so I need to find them. I'd love if you could leave early and help with this, BUT I do want you to know it's no pressure, not your responsibility, and you've already helped me out a ton just by asking those questions this morning so I already owe you. Anyway, no need to answer now, you can think about it, just let me know whatever you decide! And if you just want to stop by during your lunch break that's okay, I'll cook something nice since I'll be home."

I love that man. <3 (And yes, I left work early. Everything I've touched at work has turned into a mess due to computer glitches and the like, so I decided to listen to the Wisdom of the Universe and not stay there. *Grins*)
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Old 10-26-2012, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Impurrfect View Post
((StarCat)) - Sometimes relationships go sour, for whatever reason. Sounds to me like she is living her life through you. I've been on both sides of that equation and neither are good.

I agree with ((LTL)) - boundaries are a good thing. If she gets stalker-ish, call the cops.

Hugs and prayers,

Amy
Oooh, yeah, about that, I do hope it doesn't go that direction, but I have a "No Contact" letter drafted in case she does. If done properly (notarized, mailed with return receipt) it can help me prove in court that I asked her firmly to stop contacting me, and then if she continues past the receipt of the letter then I could press charges easier.
I searched the internet for something like that for a different reason, and while I haven't ever needed it for that other purpose, I'm so glad I held on to it!
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Old 10-26-2012, 07:48 AM
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I don't know why she acts this way - could be a lot of reasons (fear, loneliness, not having her own personal boundaries, etc.). But it seems to me she has taught you a valuable lesson, which reminds me of the video that is no longer on YouTube of Madea talking about how people are like trees. Some are leaves, they belong in your life only for a season. Some are like branches, they may bend and break occasionally, but they are trying to be strong. Some are roots; those are people who you know and have relationships with for a long time.

Every person who comes into our lives teaches us something, even if at the time we are not aware. This woman taught you to recognize your own internal voice telling you where your level of comfort is. My friend, the one who I mentioned above, taught me the same lesson. It was very helpful (in hindsight).

And so happy for you on the new BF. He sounds wonderful! ; )
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Old 10-26-2012, 09:31 AM
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I have been needy in my life at one time and latched onto someone who would be there 24/7 so that I had an emotional safety net. I was like you, not like your friend. This person got a lot of what they were asking for because of my own neediness, not theirs. The truth of the matter though was that both of us were needy.
Reading over everything you have written, I think this person is toxic to you. She is used to being the controlling person in this friendship. There may have been a time in which you were a bit needy, and leaned on her, and now she has lost that power as you make new friends, and it has made her severely insecure.
I might state something like--I have other friends but that doesn't mean I don't care about you, you are still my good friend too, but we are not joined at the hip. Then I would go about my business seeing her sometimes, but letting her know by my actions that she doesn't own me, and that she doesn't have power over the rest of your life.
She obviously is using middle-school maturity tactics to manipulate you. You can show her by example the more mature way to conduct a friendship. Her sense of loss will have to eventually be replaced by acceptance that you have others in your life and have expanded your friend base. She can accept this or not, but the load is all on her shoulders. You don't have to react to any of this drama she is creating, you can simply calmly respond. From that point on, it is her baggage, and she can accept her limited role in your life, or move along and find someone else who she can lean on to the extreme she desires. If she tries to make you miserable as you find your more independent sense of self, then you will have little choice but to cut her loose.
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:33 AM
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This is what you think it is, a codependent person latching on to you in the same way alcoholics do. Look at her as an alcoholic, apply the same rules of engagement, and you'll make the right decisions.

God bless her, but she's got a way to go in Alanon if she is manifesting her codependency upon you, or anybody else in Alanon, this strongly.

Take care,

Cyranoak
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Old 10-26-2012, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by StarCat View Post
I had been talking to my therapist about her, and he mentioned that I tend to hold on too long to relationships where I don't benefit from the relationship anymore.
And he's right, too, and that's not selfish. I'm remembering my grandmother having Alzheimer's right now, and how she didn't even know who I was, and I still enjoyed visiting her right up to the end. She wasn't conscious of contributing anything to our relationship, half the time she wasn't even conscious I was there, but even in spite of all that and the sadness of watching her slip away I was still always grateful after visiting her, like I had a sense of peace that everything would be okay. I wasn't uneasy, I didn't not want to go, it was Oma and I loved her she loved me even if she didn't remember that part anymore... and that was enough. (Although now I do cry if I smell that stale air latex nursing home smell, because I still miss her).

And here in my relationship with this friend I am spending time with her or calling her out of a sense of obligation.
I am fortunate in my life to have many long-term good friends who I find to have an pretty good balance in life around. I also have some great work/friend relationships.

But man the relationships that are "hard" that I feel I stay in for obligation (I had not even thought about that but that is part of it too) I stay in too long.

I have been working on it with my therapist and she challenged me to talk to some of my healthy friends about this pattern in my life in other relationships. She asked me (which she never does) to get advice from some of the people in my life who don't struggle in this way. Thank goodness we are all different.

Oh boy have I learned a lot. My patterns have been so noticable that two of my good girlfriends who were on a trip together (I could not go) had talked about it to each other just the weekend before. I had another friend remind me that I had been this way since high school (and before) etc.

It gave me a jumping off board though to have further discussions with them about this pattern that I do....and to catch myself earlier (which I read you are doing).

It also reinforces the blessings I do have, like my friends who I can be straight and real with (and them with me). When I compare those relationships to the one I am struggling with there are some glaring discrepancies....and it gives me perspective that this is not what I need from a relationship.

Again thanks for the topic.
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by MadeOfGlass View Post
I have been needy in my life at one time and latched onto someone who would be there 24/7 so that I had an emotional safety net.
I've done this before, many times. The most notable occasion was when I picked a long-distance unemployed internet "boyfriend" who was so desperate for some sort of relationship that he'd never leave me. He didn't have a job and spent all his time online so he was available whenever I wanted him to be. He also spent a lot of time telling me about how I was way out of his league, which soothed my highly insecure ego, at least for a time.

I thought it was the most brilliant thing ever.

NOT healthy. But that was something I had to learn for myself.

Originally Posted by Tuffgirl View Post
Every person who comes into our lives teaches us something, even if at the time we are not aware.
Thank you for reminding me of this. I always mention this when I talk about the good I learned from my experiences with XABF (because there really was a lot, and a surprisingly large percentage of it was actually a positive non-whiskey-induced experience, and I'm grateful).

I hadn't thought about it in this situation with my friend, though, and you're right. I'm learning to set healthier boundaries, and I'm learning that I can recognize when something isn't healthy. Doesn't mean I always act in the best way, but I'm acting in better ways and I can see that.

Originally Posted by Cyranoak View Post
This is what you think it is, a codependent person latching on to you in the same way alcoholics do. Look at her as an alcoholic, apply the same rules of engagement, and you'll make the right decisions.

God bless her, but she's got a way to go in Alanon if she is manifesting her codependency upon you, or anybody else in Alanon, this strongly.

Take care,

Cyranoak
Ahh, Cyranoak, always ready with an ice-cold bucket of reality in case anyone needs a wake-up call. Thank you. I was wondering if I was merely overreacting in feeling that way. I felt very much like XABF at the beginning of the height of his addiction was back from the grave for a second attempt.


I told someone from the program last night that right now I'm paranoid about getting too close to anyone friendship-wise right now, and maybe I need a bunch of casual friends who don't know where I live. (Heck, it worked with the boyfriend, we were dating two and a half months before I'd give him my zip code - or spend a holiday with him for that matter. Maybe I need to use that method with friendships for awhile!)



I'm feeling better - thank you everyone for your input, you have no idea how much simply the validation has helped. I still have three voicemails on my phone... She hasn't tried to contact me at all today so I'm thinking maybe now would be a good time to delete the first two (which I know are from her), and listen to the third one to figure out who left it (since I'm not 100% sure that one's from her) before deleting that one too (if it is her).

And I can't wait for that dinner next weekend! Tomorrow (er, technically today, oops!) I'm going out to get some shoes to go with the dress and necklace I bought. I have things I could wear, sure, but it's business suits and cocktail dresses, and I always wanted an excuse to get a REALLY NICE dress. Boyfriend has committed to going - depending on how court goes Monday he may have to ask for a favor, but he's decided that he'll make sure he can make it so I'm especially happy.
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Old 11-19-2012, 12:13 PM
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So it's been about three weeks since she's tried to contact me.

I got a card from her in the mail last week for my birthday. I'll confess I felt really triggered as soon as I got the card, before I even figured out who it was from. My brain told me it was from XABF's sister or mother (who haven't tried to contact me in a year), until I finally figured out that no, the return address was hers.
I had my boyfriend open it and read it first, then let me know if I wanted to read it. He said it was okay and handed it back to me, and there was a short message about how she hopes I'm doing okay working through whatever it is I'm working through and that she misses me. It was short and while I did catch a little sense of "I didn't do anything wrong, so this issue is on your end, stop taking it out on me" it wasn't as bad as she's been.
My blocker program also recorded that she tried to call the morning of my birthday, but when it blocked her she didn't call back.

She is a nice person, I don't dislike her or anything... I just can't take that behavior from anyone, it upsets me too much, and while a part of me wants to open up the friendship with her again since she's started acting like the person I thought she was again... Well, another part of me (plus my therapist, as well) is saying, "No good can come of this."


When I say "no" it's a personal affront against her, in her mind. When I set down a boundary I'm "shutting her out." And yet she wants to spend every waking moment with me, tries to insert herself into activities that I want to do by myself, and expects a dissertation when I tell her that I'd rather do this errand/class/volunteer experience/relax by myself.

And then of course there's her behavior after I put my foot down and said no more... I can't take the repeat dials with the long voicemails starting with "I'm sorry I'm calling you again so quickly but I got cut off and I'm not done talking..." I deleted the last two voicemails she sent me without listening to them. (The third was actually a friend from high school visiting my area over the weekend and would I like to meet up with her - but I was so shut down over the other two voicemail messages and so convinced that the third was from her as well that I didn't get the message I got up enough courage to deal with things until the weekend after.)

It's a shame.


Not really looking for advice or resolve, although you can certainly post your opinions. Mainly I just needed to put all this into writing so that I can "get it out there."
A part of me feels like I'm a terrible person for not calling her back, for walking away, but I need to remember that the relationship was unhealthy and getting worse and that's why I walked away in the first place.

I think if I rekindle it now, even if she's "better" now, a part of me is still always going to be waiting for the other shoe to drop and for her to go off the deep end because I had the audacity to only want to go to dinner with her because I want to do Christmas shopping and my laundry in the morning and would rather do it if she and her daughter aren't there.

I guess I just needed to put it in writing so I can come back and read it later.
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LifeRecovery (11-19-2012)
Old 11-19-2012, 02:16 PM
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Sometimes friends can fill in for significant others. Could have read that wrong but it sounded like you at one time spent a lot of time with each other. Then you became involved with someone - got other interests, and the amount of time you spent together wasn't the same.

Sounds like your relationship for her filled in a lot of blanks.

I have had it happen before. When my husband and I moved into together my bestie became a frenemy. Demanding and pissy when I couldn't be available (and didn't want to be) the way we were before. We stopped speaking for a year I had to - I got to where I cringed when she called.

Then a year or so later she called. WE caught up, she was in a better place and the relationship realigned itself to normal.

Sometimes even friendships need breaks. Sometimes permanent but you never know.
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StarCat (11-20-2012)
Old 11-20-2012, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by redatlanta View Post
Sometimes friends can fill in for significant others. Could have read that wrong but it sounded like you at one time spent a lot of time with each other. Then you became involved with someone - got other interests, and the amount of time you spent together wasn't the same.
Sort of. I think in her head it was like that.

The reality was that we spent more time together after I became serious with my boyfriend than we did when I wasn't.

Before I was serious in the relationship, we'd spend a full day together maybe once a month.
After I started spending Sundays with my boyfriend on a regular basis, we started doing something for a few hours most Saturdays. Same amount of time per month, more frequently, but smaller chunks of time.
She started wanting to spend EVERY Saturday ALL Saturday with me, and then saying that clearly I had no time for her because I was too busy with my boyfriend.

It wasn't that I was spending less time with her than before.
It was that I was spending less time with her than I was with my boyfriend.
I had started spending more time with him than I was in the early part of our friendship, but I hadn't accelerated the time I spent with her at the same rate, and so I guess she was jealous and wanting me to do the same with her.

Writing all that out helped me figure some things out, thanks!
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