How friends & humor saved the day

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It’s over, I realized last Friday morning with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

I couldn’t blame anyone else but myself.  I hadn’t listened to my intuition which had implored me to distance myself from an unhealthy situation.  

What happened was this: I developed an internet friendship with “X”.  Some people think that internet friendships are bogus, but in many cases they aren’t.   I genuinely cared about X, and as the months passed and our live Facebook chats grew more frequent, I grew closer to X.  I exposed my not-so-pretty side.  X wrote that I could vent to her as much as I wanted to, so I did.  In return X vented to me, and we sought support and advice from one another, sometimes on a daily basis for weeks at a time.  As we both lived with bipolar disorder, we commiserated with one another about what it was like to live with medication side effects, parenting challenges, mood swings, and much more.  

Last Friday morning my nasty cold was at its tail end, but my coughing fits had kept me up most of the previous night.  I was exhausted, and as anyone with bipolar disorder knows, I was concerned about my sleep loss affecting me in serious ways.  I planned to get my girls off to school and have a calm morning, but it turned out to be anything but that.  

I hopped online to check my Facebook newsfeed for a few minutes.  X messaged me asking me to participate in a small online project, but I refused due to my feeling unwell.  This is the seemingly insignificant exchange that triggered X.

What happened next caught me totally off-guard.  X messaged me back and accused me of slandering her when I had done nothing of the sort.  X proceeded to call me a “fake friend”.  The fact that her bizarre accusations were completely groundless, they came out of the blue, and full of a strange hostility disturbed me at my core.  I knew had I been a very, very good friend to X – I certainly had not been a “fake” one.  When I brought these realities up with X, my concerns were ignored.

 I realized I couldn’t be friends, either virtual or in real life, with someone who threatened my recovery in any way.  It sounds selfish, but it’s self-preservation, and of course what I allow to enter my life affects my children and husband as well.  Some may think that I could have worked things out with X, but I’m leaving  out many details that further illustrate that to be friends with X would result in further toxic accusations.   I would never feel safe again with someone who called me a liar and a fake for absolutely no good reason.  A line had been crossed.  I’d rather be friendless than have a”friend” like this.

 I ended the friendship right away.  I selected the “block” function.  It took just thirty seconds.

I knew the fallout would be ugly and it was.  I received an email from X stating that she hoped I’d “get the help I needed.” After that occurred, I blocked X’s email address. I felt totally unnerved, upset, and angry the rest of Friday. 

Today my feelings about X are less intense, but I know it’ll take a while for them to fade.  

While this type of situation would be much harder if X lived in my town, it still has been awful.  Like many things in life, Facebook can be a blessing and a curse.  There’s no Facebook algorithm informing us that we need to end toxic friendships.  For a second I thought about closing my account.  However, Facebook has been much more of a blessing than a curse in my life, and I couldn’t let the X situation be the reason for leaving social media.

Ironically what helped me feel better was internet-related.  

After blocking X on Facebook, I posted a very brief status message about my ending a friendship and my anguished state of mind.  I then promptly deleted it, hesitant to air my dirty laundry.  On a whim I re-posted it, and I’m so glad that I did.  I received wonderful private messages from friends who had been through similar situations.  Friends also left kind comments that lifted my spirits.  An internet pal sent encouragement via Twitter direct messages.  

I was surprised at how much this virtual support helped me move through my pain.

While Facebook was the gateway to my friendship with X, I couldn’t blame Facebook for what happened.  It was me…me who ignored obvious signs X had repeatedly given me over the past year that one day I’d be the object of X’s wrath.

Apart from my friends, it was humor that helped alleviate some of my sorrow, guilt, and anger.   On Friday afternoon my daughter watched an episode of “The Pioneer Woman”, a television show starring Ree Drummond.  Drummond was initially a famous blogger who has developed a Martha Stewart-esque multimedia empire.  Out of curiosity, I did a Google image search for photos of the star before she got famous.  I spotted a weird-looking image connected with a blog titled “The Marlboro Woman”.  

Drummond always refers to her husband Ladd as the “Marlboro Man”.  “The Marlboro Woman” blog featured a picture of Drummond superimposed over  Ladd’s headshot that I found hilarious.  I started laughing and clicked my way over to the blog.  The blog pokes fun at Drummond’s cooking styles and elaborate lifestyle, to say the least.  (If you’re a huge Ree Drummond fan, I don’t advise you visit “The Marlboro Woman” as it might rub you the wrong way!  But it might not…)

The rest of the afternoon I treated myself to reading “The Marlboro Woman” blog.  Each post receives up to 500 hundred + comments!  The Marlboro Woman and her co-blogger Vera’s replies to some of the comments are just as funny as the blog itself.  Reading “The Marlboro Woman” kept me from ruminating non-stop over the horrible events of the day.  I still felt bad, but it helped to focus on something funny.

I worry that X will be the one to slander me.  It’s entirely possible and so easy to do in a virtual world.  But I can’t control X – I can only control myself.  I’m thankful that I was able to extricate myself from a harmful situation….it’s better late than never, I guess.  I’ve learned a powerful lesson from this perturbing experience, and the next time my intuition presents me with a bright red flag, I won’t turn my head the other way.  I’ll pay attention and act on it.

pw                                             mmimgres

                     http://www.themarlborowoman.com

                                                                 

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32 thoughts on “How friends & humor saved the day

  1. Oh, Dyane, when a friend reacts this harshly, then you most certainly did the right thing. I consider you fortunate that you could block the contacts, and not worry about running into this person around the town. Unfortunately, I still have moments like this with my sister-in-law. I honestly never know how’s going to react to anything I say. On the one hand, I know that her own mental health makes it difficult for her to completely control her reactions; on the other hand, her competitive spirit is so fierce that it makes even the simplest statement become some sort of call-out. A couple of years ago, for instance, I commented on how the boys had started getting their teeth. Because her son, who is a month older, had not, suddenly he was behind, and she couldn’t bear to have a son who was behind, and started crying. It makes me worry how life will be for that little guy in a few years, when he’s not brilliant at everything she thinks he should do.

    1. While I re-read this post, it pained me to catch the typos, and I cringed over the lengthy paragraphs that could’ve been cut in half and gotten the same point across, but I forgive myself for these sins!

      Ah yes. The former internet buddy. This experience was a horror show in my head. Reflecting upon it reminds me I must trust my gut more often. Yesterday I had something minor-but-weird happen. A hacker got into my friend’s Facebook account and he/she/it (?) messaged me. I ignored the red flag that told me something wasn’t right about our exchange. Luckily I cut our chat short and I didn’t reveal personal info. I’m mad I didn’t trust myself, gosh darn it.

      By the way, I’m SO sorry about the situation with your sister-in-law. She’s lucky you tolerate her. This will sound harsh, but right now I couldn’t deal with someone like that. You’re a great role model for me! I’d want to cut her out of my life, which sometimes is easy to do, as you know. I know you can’t do that, right? You’re in such a tough bind. Her son, however, is in a tougher bind. How sad….

      Thanks again for reading some of my older posts. Your comments rock, and reading them gives me a valuable perspective about how I was doing when I wrote them, and the progress I’ve made (or lack thereof!) now. It’s very cool.

      1. NOOOO! Not lack thereof at all. I’ve even felt that in my own writing. This regular regimen of working through language, forming strings of thoughts we want others to understand–it has an effect. Any time I look at stuff I wrote for school I shudder from the paragraph and language, too. Believe you me–you are NOT alone! 🙂
        As for my sister-in-law…ugh. Yeah, cutting her out is not an option. Bo’s parents are both dead, the family dwindled to but a handful of relatives, and his brother. To me, the relationship he has with his brother is worth putting up with her, because those two NEED each other and I refuse to do something to separate them. Yeah, it’s hard, but it’s worth it. I think. 🙂

    1. Hi my friend! I love your comments so much! Please keep them coming when you can, although I know you are super-busy and so I’m grateful that you read my posts! You are truly amazing!

      Later on today when I relax, I’ll listen to one of your beautiful compositions. Sending love and light always to you and your family, dear Mihran!

    1. I thought I answered this comment, Dr. N! I meant to….

      I’m sure that you won’t lose your close friend; a seven year duration indicates to me that she has been steady, supportive, and all sorts of good qualities….it makes me happy to know that such a friendship can exist through the internet, and you certainly deserve it! 🙂

  2. X sounds just like my little sister – attacks out of NOWHERE and totally unmerited!! I’m glad you were able to detach from that toxicity so quickly. It’s gross and yuck. Those are clinical terms 🙂 Keep your chin up dearie! ❤

    1. Thank you honey!!!!!! The clinical terms I meant to include in the post are possible borderline personality disorder and narcissism – I don’t mean either of those lightly. I looked up their official definitions and the symptoms really match what I observed over months and months. I’m so sorry about your little sister’s behavior – that must be really hard to deal with and it’s not like you can “X” her out of your life (bad pun intended!)! :((( I will most definitely keep up my chin – all three of them! (Kidding!!!! But I do have a little waddle that I wouldn’t mind disappearing!) XOXOXO

      1. My little sister DEFINITELY has borderline . . . and I have X’d her out of my life. She is too toxic. She’s the type of person who thinks up the absolute worst and most hurtful thing she could possibly say, and then she says it. No filter. I don’t have room for that shit in my life.

  3. I guess at the end of the day, virtual friendships can prove difficult. We see what they want us to see. And we don’t pick on the social cues as easily as we do in person. But like all of life, some things come to an end and we just move on.

    1. So true, Glenn, so true. What bums me out is that X exposed the red flags early on & X drained me with a lot of bizarre behavior and negativity and I swept all that under the carpet. I was too freaked out to end everything without “just cause’ like a hammer coming down hard on my head, perhaps. Oh well. I truly did learn my lesson. I’m ready to move on!!!! And I’m grateful to have *healthy* virtual friendships with everyone who has commented here. Have a great day my friend! Cheers, Dy

    1. Thank you very much Laura! I’m relieved that I don’t have to deal with X’s drama and narcissism (I can never spell that word!) anymore. I’m still thinking about it too much, although it is still “early days”. Whenever something upsetting happens it always takes time for the pain/anger etc. to soften, right? In any case, I hope you have a great week & I appreciate your supportl! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Kitt!!! It feels good to know that I can reach out to you – and believe me, I almost did. I didn’t call anyone since I felt like I was bitten by a psychic vampire….I was utterly zapped of all energy! I learned my lesson, fingers & toes crossed. Hope you guys feel much better than you did last week!!!! XO

      1. Much better. My son went to school yesterday. Today I got my hair cut (every four to six weeks now to maintain the cut) and went to Nordstroms for new bras (boobs too big for Victoria’s Secrets bras) and bought myself new black pants at Old Navy. Ready for my interview at NAMI tomorrow for In Our Own Voice. I’m nervous!

      2. Breathe. New bras and cute black pants are so awesome and will help you “look the part”. You will do EXTREMELY WELL!!!!! Just be yourself! Don’t bring your dogs! I’ll be sending you lots of good juju!

      3. I will also wear a blouse over the new blouse. I bought the black pants at Old Navy to coordinate with the blouse (a Ross or TJ Maxx purchase). Usually, I do most of my shopping at Target.

  4. You need to focus on yourself and your family. To put it bluntly, who gives a shit what others think of you – especially X?! Your family and true friends will know the truth and that is all that matters.

    1. True dat, Vic! You hit the nail on the head. Thanks for your support as always.

      I’m glad my protective instinct kicked in and I was able to say goodbye. I’m also glad that X lives far, far away from me. If she lived in my town I’d file a restraining order. I don’t f*ck around when it comes to my family.

      1. I agree. I am a very laid back individual by all accounts but mess with my family?! Yea that would be the definition of all hell breaking lose!

  5. You are the only person that can make the call on whether or not someone is too toxic to be in your life. If they felt the need to snipe at you for not putting up with their abuse, that’s pretty darn good validation of instinct. Sucks to have to do it, but as you said — you have to take care of yourself and your health. It is not selfish to do this. <3<3

    1. Hi Raeyn – thank you very much for your comment. I stand by my decision to cut off the friendship, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I just wish I didn’t feel so…..so slimed! Yes, slimed. To be honest, I feel like someone pooped on me, energy-wise! Perhaps I should “sage” myself with incense or something! 😉 I’ll be relieved when it all doesn’t feel so fresh & raw in my head. I wasn’t sure about posting about what happened with X, but I’m glad I did because it has helped me to read your comment as well as the others. thanks again, and take care!!

  6. We really do need to trust our guts when it comes to relationships with others and be OK about ending toxic ones. I know its not easy and stressful but we certainly can’t be friends with everyone and that’s OK. You’ve always been been a kind and supportive online friend. You don’t deserve that! I’m glad you found humor to help calm to stressful emotions.

    1. Hey Cristi! Thank you for your thoughtful comment and for the sweet compliment. This morning I spoke with my Mom about what happened and she asked me why I didn’t end the friendship sooner. (A totally valid question!) I told her I couldn’t just suddenly say “buh bye” without a cause. This former friend wasn’t Satan – I had a built a bond with her despite all the bad stuff. I had gotten too enmeshed (codependent?) with X, so I felt I needed a concrete reason before making a break. And that’s exactly what I got. 😦

      I bought a book on female friendship that I plan to read. The author discusses how to “choose wisely” – I’d be interested in those chapters. The book is called “When Friendship Hurts – How to Deal with Friends of Betray, Abandon, or Wound You” by Dr. Jan Yager. Some other books that have piqued my interest are:

      “Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women”
      by Nina Gaby (Paperback) to be published March, 2015

      “Women are Scary: The Totally Awkward Adventure of Finding Mom Friends”
      by Melanie Dale (Kindle Edition) to be published March, 2015

      Once again, thanks for taking time to comment as I know you’re not out there lounging on a couch, eating bon bons! 😉

    1. You are SO sweet WiL! Your offer made my day! I’m doing better now; I’m still sad, but I knew each day the shock & sting of Friday’s events would lessen. It helps to know you are out there, willing to listen. If i need to take you up on your offer I know how to reach you! Once again, many thanks for your compassion and generosity!!!!

  7. I’m sorry. That sounds awful. As someone continually learning boundaries in friendships, I know how hard it is to find someone who understands much of what you’re going through only to have them use information against you. Recently I’ve been asked to contribute to different platforms, and while my ego loves that I’m being recognized and finally seen as a person who actually has a lot to say worth hearing, I’ve become queen of “let me think about it and get back to you” and “no.” I’m not stable enough. I don’t like this, but it’s true. I’m getting there, and I’m handling a lot, but I have every right to be selective and say no. I think you said it well — It’s not selfish; it’s self-preservation. Rest, and do what you need to do for YOU. Oh, and I’ll be checking out Marlboro Woman — that sounds hysterical!

    1. Thank you so much for this comment, Grief Happens. It inspires me to hear about how you’ve set boundaries with those asking something of you. I know you don’t like the fact that you’re not at the level of stability you’d prefer (believe me, I know!) but ***good for you*** for recognizing how you’re truly doing. I hope you enjoy the Marlboro Woman – the trick is to not take the site too seriously. I liked “The Pioneer Woman” show when I first started watching it, but there is a lot of viewer manipulation going on and it’s interesting to analyze it and poke fun at the enterprise.

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