Toxic Friends-Kicking you when you're down

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by JMom, May 15, 2020.

  1. JMom

    JMom Active Member

    Hi all,

    I'm not sure if it is appropriate to share in this forum, but here goes. I apologize now for the length of this post.

    When my son was deep in his addiction (shortly prior to him becoming homeless), we had a "stand off" so to speak. He had plopped himself down in our front yard, in an effort to shame us into allowing him to come inside our home. This standoff lasted for four days. Yes, four days. After the second day I decided to leave town for a night because I couldn't be witness to his "bottom". (wasn't his bottom-just one of mine).

    Well I had a "friend" who knew where I went. The place I went had no phone reception, so when I went to town the next morning I had about 25 text messages and about 14 voicemails. Now this "friend" had offered me money to leave, get a hotel room and take a break. I declined, but left town. I thought my son would leave, but he didn't. A few of the nasty messages were from her about how could I leave him there and how irresponsible it was to let the neighbors have to deal with him. (Interestingly, she did not offer him refuge).

    One message was from the police and said they thought he was ready for rehab. I knew the officer that left the message. Upon my arriving home, son was in back yard. (Police asked him to move to avoid more calls of service to my house). He was indeed ready and I did take him.

    That same officer visited me a week later to tell me that my "friend" aired all of my dirty laundry to the police (She didn't know one of them was a police academy friend). She also said she didn't appreciate them coming to her house to talk about a "druggie". The officer just said "that person, whoever she is--is NOT your friend". That stuck with me (for 4 years).

    Fast forward to the past two years, I have made new friends and lost some along the way. She was a hang-er on. I very unsuccessfully tried to end the friendship several times. She gets a little stalker-ish.
    She found out I wrote a book and said she was mad because I didn't mention her and what a great friend she had been to me. I actually unpublished it to add her to the dedication. What the hell is wrong with me?

    Ok. so yes, my son is an addict-no secret there. Why do some people feel it necessary to kick us when we are down? That was the lowest point of my life to date. Well, I have distanced myself since January and finally told her two days ago that I re-evaluated our friendship and have decided to go forward without her. I didn't give any specifics and she (so far) has left me alone after the initial 5 frantic phone calls/texts/driving by my house.

    I do plan to un-publish, remove her name and put back online. She did chip in to the GoFund me I started to pay for his rehab. She did contribute in that way. Am I being petty to NOT want to give her any credit in light of the things she said? I know the officer isn't lying because she repeated the "friend's" words and knew stuff only that friend knew. That tiny book took me 3 years to write, it is raw, truthful and painful.

    I have traded a lot of my in person relationships for the ones that I treasure here. I know I don't get to see you all, but I feel a connected spirited friendship between us and have never experienced a kick from any of you. It was after I found this site that I saw TRUE friendship. You all have suffered with me, comforted me, celebrated with me and I am truly grateful to have the strength to not be a punching bag.

    This was the last bit of toxicity in my life that i needed to detach from. It is interesting to me that I use everything I have learned here in all facets of my life. Thank you all for listening and allowing me to get things off my chest from time to time-anonymously.

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  2. MissLulu

    MissLulu Active Member

    JMOM, boy was that officer right! That woman was not your friend and I'm so glad you can see that and are detaching yourself from that toxicity. I would absolutely take her out of the dedication. She sounds like a joy sucker (and two-faced as well!)

    I want to apologise now, because the rest of my answer is about me, not you. Your post just really rammed home to me how much I concern myself with what others think of me. You've made me think about how some of what I have done to 'protect' my Difficult Child was really to protect myself and my reputation. I'm trying so hard to let go of all that.

    Like you, I'm an author. These days it's my full time job. I'm published by one of the big publishing houses (but only in Australia). My latest book came out at the end of last month. One of my great fears in the lead up to the publication of this book was that my son would do something that would cause me embarrassment and that it would be in the papers etc. I'm definitely not famous but I do have a public profile here and prior to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown I was booked to go on a national publicity tour to promote the book. I was afraid that if he got arrested (for example) that the negative publicity could affect my career.

    But it's not just this that has concerned me. In the past I've really held back from being honest with my friends and family about my son. My brother knows a lot, and some of my close friends know a fair bit (but not everything) and that's because I fear people's judgement - not so much of him, but of me.

    I'm trying REALLY hard to let go of that. If people truly care about me then they will understand and support me. If not, then I don't need them in my life.

    And the career stuff? In the end, I can only control what I can control. I'm going to try not to worry about things that haven't happened yet. (I guess that's easier to say because the book has been out for a couple of weeks now!)

    Thank you for making me think about this stuff and for making me feel I'm not alone.

    I'm so glad you find comfort in this forum. I do too.
    Last edited: May 16, 2020
  3. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Jmom. This happened with us too. A number of times when my son squatted at a property I own in the backyard, smoking pot, living like an animal. The police were called a number of times. I filed a letter of trespass. I was near the point of filing a restraining order.

    This undid me. I felt terrorized. My bottom was when I went outside to the backyard. I had not realized he was plopped down on the grass. Another bottom was when he pushed himself into the back door. I dissociated. I won't tell you what I did.

    Nobody can know where we go with this suffering. I for one have learned to NEVER ever let myself go there again. The only thing that will guard against returning there, is BOUNDARIES. Firm, inviolable boundaries, and putting myself first, not my son. My son doesn't even get to be third. He is on his own. He needs to be first to himself. I can't do it. I don't know how I feel about all of the years I tried. But I have stopped. All of you bear witness to this.
    10 years ago this happened to me. My neighbors turned on me, gossiped about me, judged me. It was the worst of Hell. I wish I had not gone there. Why? There is a prison saying you may know. Piece of :censored2:. POS, if I am censored.

    Crisis, to oneself or to others or to all of us together, like is happening now with Coronavirus, brings out the truth. Circumstances had not yet brought out the reality of this woman. Now you know. End of story.

    You have not one thing to justify to this woman or about this woman.
    No. I would want her OUT of my book and OUT of my life. I would try as hard as I could to get her OUT of my mind. She does not deserve space there.

    Sometimes feelings alone are enough to make these determinations. Do we feel empowered or weakened> Do we feel clear or confused? Do we feel better or worse? We don't have to cognitively understand these things. Sometimes the brain learns last. And the gut and heart are far, far in front. You know the truth. You've felt it. Go by that!1
  4. Overwhelmed1

    Overwhelmed1 Active Member

    JMom, with all our situations on this site, I am sure most if not all have been treated by friends or even famy in the way you describe.

    One of my five sisters did the worse thing imaginable to me. I have not talked to her in 5 years and never will.
    I was there for her when her son went to prison, when her 4 grandkids were put in foster care, and while she was fighting deep depression.

    I had a close friend that I was there for when she was struggling through finding out about one of her daughter's life styles and the other daughter was doing drugs and having fatherless babies. Never once did I not help her when she asked. I asked for help one time and she told me she couldn't help me. I did not ask for money or anything material. I do not speak to her any more. She will text how am I doing every now and then and I respond, fine.
    No more and no less and I don't continue the conversation past that.

    I don't need people in my life like this and neither do you. You have the right to react the way you want. You aren't physically or mentally hurting anyone.

    I too have found what I need here. I come and express myself, use some of the advice and never feel judged.

    I have learned that people are not always what they seem to be. You find true friendship from those that are honest, there for you during your worst time and do not repeat what you confide to them.

    I'm sorry for what this person has done. I know it hurts to be treated this way.

    I read your book. Thank you for writing it and sharing your experience with others. It was well written.

    Peace and Love
  5. JMom

    JMom Active Member

    Thank you all, I certainly feel better for ending it. Miss LuLu can you share your title or will that give you away? OW, thank you. I know it's a simple book, but it's mine. LOL!
  6. MissLulu

    MissLulu Active Member

    JMom I would love to but I’m afraid of being recognised! Totally happy to share the titles via private message though! I’ve been meaning to buy your book for a while now. I love your posts and I’m sure your book is wonderful!
  7. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    There are some jobs such as author, law enforcement, some professions where their practitioners are either responsible to treat or understand problems, or to respond to and contain them; or they are seen by others as possessing superior knowledge and wisdom, and there is the perception by themselves or others that they should be able to do so.

    I think that the people who go into this work, feel that about themselves. That they SHOULD be able to produce and to rear children whose behavior does not EXPLODE all over the family and community. Of course, nobody can control life to this extent. But still we have the expectation of ourselves, that we should have been able to do better. There is shame.

    I know I have felt great shame. It took me the longest time to realize that the shame began well before the distress with my son. The shame is my own to bear, to resolve, to put to rest. The shame is a gift, I have come to learn.

    Greta Thunberg was on TV last night. I had only paid peripheral attention to her, until now. But I had heard that she had had psychological problems, so I read further.

    Prior to beginning her climate protest she had been a selective mute. She did NOT speak. She was diagnosed with Asperger's. She had been bullied in school and she had been depressed. There was a triggering event for her, when she responded to specific scientific findings about the climate (I don't remember this minute, what they were) when she began to speak. And in this way she found her voice and herself.

    And with that too her whole family changed. Her mother had been an opera singer, but both parents decided to follow Greta's lead. The mother curtailed all flying in airplanes, for example. And both parents began to center their own lives and the family as a whole on the needs and the vulnerabilities and the power of their two children. (Their other daughter has ADHD.)

    Which is to say, they unified around the idea of vulnerability. Which is a real paradox. Greta insisted upon rebelling against mistreatment. As if she was on strike, by not speaking, as long as she was excluded. And through identifying with the vulnerability of the planet, she was able to find her own power and voice. And give the vulnerable planet, a voice, too.

    But the thing is, even for Greta there was shame and fear, that had endured. The first time she was with a group of her peers, who in fact adored her, she retreated behind a pillar, to compose herself, finding the courage to be present. She was afraid. After a few minutes she found herself. That's us, too.

    I am trying to let this penetrate. How does this apply to myself, my son, my family? My son is nearly double Greta's age. Had I responded differently to his distress, could this all be different? Had I circled the wagons, instead of reacting with shame, could I have kept him inside the circle, and myself too?

    It's too late for all of that, because those questions give rise only to more pain. But I am trying to let this settle. The idea that the acceptance of distress and pain and difference and limitation, the feeling of it, and not the denial of it, or externalization of it, begins and mobilizes healing, for ourselves and for others too.

    If you think about it, that's the basis of this site. All of us, each of us, begin with confessions about the truth of what's going on. It is like this great purge or heave, almost beyond our control. When we get here, that's where we are. It's gotten so bad we have to expel it somehow, someplace. And with that public disclosure, we begin the healing process. And with that, too, we give others the opportunity to work through their own pain and healing, through integrating our own pain and recovery into their own process. We model to each other this same process, as Greta is doing for climate.

    What I am trying to say is that this is heroic and important work we do here. There is no room for shame here.
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  8. newstart

    newstart Active Member

    JMOM, I am so sorry for all your troubles and the very deep hurt that comes from betrayal from a friend you had trusted, I know how deep that goes and how awful that feels. It is so painful to know deep inside that your ex friend crossed the line of no return. It does not matter that she contributed to your son's rehab, she erased all the good by betraying you. I had to let go of a woman that I have known for 17 years and trusted with many things. She crossed the line of no return last summer. Since I know that she is capable of great destruction I am done with her. I know she feels horrible for what she did. I am someone that wants to be forgiven for my wrong doings and I forgive others but there are some people that cross the line so deep and so raw that it feels as if a demon is living within them. It is a grieving process, like a death when you know there is no going back. Hope you take her out of your book, it will feel justified. I feel sorry for people that harm others on purpose, their own crap comes back so hard and so fierce times 100.

    Sending you love and care.
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  9. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    It amazes me *in a bad way, how many of us have felt betrayed and been betrayed by people we believed were friends.
    I agree with this too.
    In my own life I am leaving the door open for myself, not them, to decide I am strong enough not to forgive, but to try again.

    I have closed the door tight so many times in my life, and I am tired of it. I don't believe that we can hope that people change and learn. That's not why I would open the door. In my own experience with friends, there has not been much learning. What's changed, is I've changed. My expectations have been vastly lowered. I don't expect anymore that longtime friends take into account how I feel, what they say and do what they do.

    I assume now that they don't care and that they don't care to change. I know this sounds cynical. It's not. I'm not cynical. But I am a realist.

    I believe that many people are self-absorbed and self-serving. I have encountered very few people in my life who are not like this. Maybe I select these people. I don't know.

    What I am doing now is deciding based upon my feelings. When I've had enough there's nothing that will get me back in the game. In one case, it's been about 14 years that I shut the door. (This is a friendship from when I was 9 years old.) I feel sad, but the reality is when this woman was a girl, she was mean and cruel to me too. In another case, the woman is self-absorbed and clueless (a doctor, no less). I have made the opposite decision. After 12 years I softened. But I don't expect her to be any different than she is.

    These are hard, hard things.
    Last edited: May 17, 2020
  10. newstart

    newstart Active Member

    I understand what you wrote Copa. The woman that betrayed me is also a Doctor. The week before she ruined our relationship she told me how much she loved me. She has tried to explain her ugly behavior towards me by saying she is an A personality type. She has also admitted feeling jealousy towards me. I am a bereaved mother, I have lost so much of my future with my son's death how the He** can anyone be jealous of a bereaved parent and to add insult to injury, I have a bipolar daughter. What on earth is there to be jealous of?
  11. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Give me a break!

    I did not realize that Type A personality involved the ability to be exempted from moral failure, bad behavior and its consequences.

    I am sorry, newstart. You deserve way better. Way more. You deserve care.

    What is there to be jealous of? Maybe integrity. Maybe strength. Maybe constancy. Maybe honesty. Maybe humanity.

    While you may feel broken, you are connected to your soul. Which is everything, in my view.
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  12. newstart

    newstart Active Member

    Copa, You made my day. Tears. Love you.
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  13. Overwhelmed1

    Overwhelmed1 Active Member

    For me the bottom line is trust. We all have good days and bad days. In friendships you disagree, discuss, laugh, cry and lean on each other.
    We make mistakes, apologize, forgive and continue down the road of friendship.
    But once the trust is broken, for me the friendship becomes much more distant or over. Depends on how bad the trust was damaged.
    That is a hard pill to swallow especially if it was a long friendship.
    I'm sorry this happens in life to such good people.
    My prayer is for comfort for you all today.

    Peace and Love
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  14. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I am wondering here if I am the guilty party. In two friendships I am thinking of, I am the one who backed off or left entirely. The friendship that feels irrevocably broken, I felt smothered. She demanded constant attention and would not observe a limit. But she felt entitled on her end to put in limits that benefited her. This felt too much like my family. And then there had always been cruelty and insensitivity on her part. I guess, at the end, (14 years ago), either I felt, enough is enough, or all of it caught up with me, and I could not take more.

    It's not that there was a betrayal to others. The fabric of the relationship did not inspire trust. And as a teen I was molested by her father, who had also molested his 4 daughters. For years I had been a latchkey kid, I had turned to this family as the only support I had. I was vulnerable. And then after 50 years, one day, I decided to no longer be vulnerable to this family anymore. In my case, there had always been danger, and a lack of trust. So. I agree OW.

    With this woman, I would have liked, one day to talk to her, but I fear it. I fear being blamed.

    In the other case, with the doctor, the one who is focused upon herself, I am remembering something here. In the first few months of this friendship, 40 years ago, this woman would make plans with me, say, to go out to dinner. And then if the man she was seeing wanted to go out with her she'd cancel with me. It hurt me. She had left her marriage, for another man. And because this other man himself was married (eventually they did marry), and living in Europe, she had ANOTHER boyfriend. With this woman, I maintain a friendship although there was a decade of no contact on my part.

    So. Again I am in agreement, OW. When I look at it in both cases their had been a web of mistrust, where what I had needed had never really been there.

    I don't like to look so closely at this because after all these are the relationships that have endured (or not) my whole life. If they're gone, what is there?

    Is the absence of trust in me, or is the incapacity in them, or both? To we pick these relationships in part because of the insufficiency?

    I am sad with Coronavirus. I don't like all of these chickens come home to roost. But I like my cats.
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  15. Blindsided

    Blindsided Face the Sun

    I totally agree.
  16. Blindsided

    Blindsided Face the Sun

    I am surprised there are so many authors here.

    I agree with all you said, J Mom. The skills I learned from reading but the implementation of boundaries came from the help in this group. I have come a long way, and I also use what I have success using what I have learned in all my relationships, which brings me to this "friend". (I had a meltdown on this topic a while ago and made it through, thanks to the support I recieved here.

    Realistically, did she contribute in some way to your book?Did she encourage you, help you work through the tough spots, the many things we experience as writers? I think honorable mention of someone who is not honorable would not be the right thing to do. It diminishes the worth of relationships that build us up. You owe her nothing. She chose to contribute. Trust, gratitude, and mutual support without fear of judgement are the cornerstones of a worthy friendship. That can't be bought or manipulated. It must be earned. I guess it's about the standard WE set for ourselves.

    I am so sorry you are going through this. Others seem to think they have answers. Trouble is they want to help by telling us what we need to do. That is not help. I have been approached by the person who hurt me to try to reconnect. Thing is, she said horrible things when I told her everything she thought we should do had already been done. (She is my children's deceased father's sister in law). I forgive her because she simply cannot understand, but I dont want her in my life. My son, best friend, and my husband all tell me she didnt want to help, she is just nosey. Lord knows I have enough to deal with, especially since my Difficult Child is now pregnant for the first time at 41. She immediately quit drinking and the adderall and xanax. For the first time in years we can talk on the phone. I know she is going to strughke
  17. Blindsided

    Blindsided Face the Sun

    Ok. This is my draft that hot published before a lot of editing and I cant find the edited piece. Well, you get to see my writing process. About half was edited out.

    Hopefully, it will show up. It is far more what I wanted to say. Long story short. JMom, you wrote the book. Give honorable mention only to those who deserve it. Surround yourself with those who support you and lift you up. Real friends make us feel good about ourselves. This is your accomplishment. Dont let someone else steal your joy.
  18. Beta

    Beta Active Member

    Good evening all. Sorry for my absence this last week or so. My husband and I are planning to move back to where his family is in the southeast. We have been scrambling to look at houses online, to try to find something in our price range so we can move back to where his parents/family are. Our real estate agent was running around, taking photos and videos for us, and then we were spending a lot of time looking at them, ruminating over whether one would work for us; how much work was involved in updates; etc. Finally found something, so that's progress.

    I read through the posts on friends who betray us. I too have experienced that. Five years ago, my husband made a couple of comments in a sermon one Sunday that angered a couple in our church. They went to work immediately, undermining, gossiping, backbiting, and organizing. Long story short, my husband finally just resigned because he didn't think it was healthy for the church to have disunity. There was a woman in the church who had befriended me. She and I would go "thrifting," garage saleing, and even prayed together. When all this happened in the church, she was nowhere to be found. She dropped me like a hot potato.
    JMom I think you did the right thing in exiting from that relationship. It sounds like she was very disloyal and toxic.
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  19. MissLulu

    MissLulu Active Member

    JMom, I hope this thread has brought you some comfort - knowing that we all go through this. Not that any of us wish misery on others, but it is nice to know that we are not alone in what we go through.

    A few years back I lost a lifelong friend when she stopped answering my calls. This wasn't about my son - back then he hadn't caused us significant drama. Those were the days...

    It's a long story, I don't really know what happened (because she she refused to talk to me) but I think it might have been an offhand remark that my husband made on Facebook, about tattoos of all things. Her husband has tattoos and I think she took offence at my husband's remarks (which were not aimed at her husband in any way but it seems she interpreted them as such.) She is my youngest son's Godmother and I was her bridesmaid. I've known her since the day she was born. (Our mothers were best friends.) She just took herself out of my life. I tried many ways to talk to her to find out what the issue was and fix it but in the end I had to accept her decision. We moved to the country around about the same time as the tattoo incident so the geographical distance probably didn't help.

    Anyway, a couple of years ago I wrote a book about a lifelong friendship that disintegrates. It was a fictional story but I channelled my feelings into it. It was very cathartic. JMom, I was thinking about this and I wondered if you'd thought about writing as an avenue to deal with your feelings about this friend? Just a thought...
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  20. MissLulu

    MissLulu Active Member

    Beta, I've been wondering how you were going. Pleased you have found a house. How are you feeling about the move?