Category Archives: Whinge

Socio…pathetic

Today, I found a resource where I found I could connect with other HSPs.

Today, I connected with people who described experiences in their lives that I could see reflected in my own life.

Today, I stopped feeling like I’m the only one.

At the age of 34, I am only just beginning to learn how to recognise the early signs of toxic and high-maintenance/low-return friendships. But I am far from gaining a much-needed immunity. Actually, with my increased level of self-understanding I have learned that my recurring [failed] friendship pattern in life seems to have been with Narcissists and Sociopaths.

What do I mean by a Narcissist?

People with narcissistic personality disorder often display snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes. For example, an individual with this disorder may complain about a clumsy waiter’s “rudeness” or “stupidity” or conclude a medical evaluation with a condescending evaluation of the physician. (source)

And what do I mean by Sociopath?

How to spot a Sociopath

  • Superficial charm and good intelligence
  • Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking
  • Absence of nervousness or neurotic manifestations
  • Unreliability
  • Untruthfulness and insincerity
  • Lack of remorse and shame
  • Inadequately motivated antisocial behavior
  • Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience
  • Pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love
  • General poverty in major affective reactions
  • Specific loss of insight
  • Unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations
  • Fantastic and uninviting behavior with alcohol and sometimes without
  • Suicide threats rarely carried out
  • Sex life impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated
  • Failure to follow any life plan

(source)

Now, before you brand me as a sensationalist drama queen and overly sensitive/taking my failures in friendships too personally (notice my immediate instinct for self-deprecating comments in order to excuse my sensitive personality) – here’s the article where my information comes from:

The Empathy TrapEmpathic People are Natural Targets for Sociopaths – Protect Yourself

…Have a read if you have time.

And so, to continue with my tradition of blogging about my failed friendships (both narcissists, as it turns out), I have one final memoir to type in order to complete the full trilogy. I promise, after this one, there will be no more. Partly because I will no longer blog about them; partly because I hope that it will never happen again. And it’s The Big One too. This was when I nearly became caught in the Empath-Sociopath-Apath triangle…

I have mentioned a significant friend in the past

I have a friend with whom I have a love/hate relationship with.  I love her, and I love to hate and complain about her. She’s fabulously thick skinned and tough though – one of her greatest personality traits is that she is unapologetic about herself. So, I can complain to her about what she’s done to annoy me. But she won’t apologise for it; She won’t get hurt by it. She takes it on the chin, explains herself, but ultimately we just agree to disagree. Rarely does she acquiesce to my point of view. It’s quite a unique friendship and one that I have definitely come to appreciate for it’s long-standing quality despite the aggravation I sometimes subject myself to as a result of her actions, lol.

Taking note of the parts I have highlighted, it seems so transparently clear now, but at the time I was utterly and completely taken in. Always the life and soul of every social event, I had always enjoyed her compelling company. She always made time to see me and she very much enjoyed our chats.

Often empaths are targeted by sociopaths because they pose the greatest threat. The empath is usually the first to detect that something is not right and express what s/he senses. As a consequence, the empath is both the sociopath’s number one foe and a source of attraction; the empath’s responses and actions provide excellent entertainment for sociopaths, who use and abuse people for sport. (source)

But the turning point came when she became a mother. As a HSP (empath), I saw and heard about the pathological corner-cutting approach to childcare and parental duties; I simply could not ignore it. When I became so deeply unsettled by the insight into her parenting style, I naturally began express my concern. Firstly to mutual friends. I was concerned that nobody seemed to know enough about the situation to be concerned, therefore a positive change would be unlikely. I started to seek support, find others who would help me to rehabilitate so-called friend. Teach her, educate her, support her to learn new methods. However, I slowly began to realise that I was forming a deplorable habit of constantly moaning to all and sundry about the same person, over and over again: Not a nice situation to put myself into –  nobody likes to spend time with a moaner and nobody likes to *be* a moaner. I was in very real danger of engaging the…

SOCIOPATH-EMPATH-APATH TRIAD

The usual set-up goes like this: the empath is forced to make a stand on seeing the sociopath say or do something underhand. The empath challenges the sociopath, who straight away throws others off the scent and shifts the blame on to the empath. The empath becomes an object of abuse when the apath corroborates the sociopath’s perspective.

The situation usually ends badly for the empath and sometimes also for the apath, if their conscience returns to haunt them or they later become an object of abuse themselves. But, frustratingly, the sociopath often goes scot free. (source)

Being blithely unaware that it could flip and turn against me, I waited and I waited for the opportunity for a confrontation with the friend in question. I prepared to finally confess that I knew of the lax, neglectful and sometimes dangerous tactics she utilised in her parenting style. I was ready to declare that I simply could not stand by and turn a blind eye anymore. I mentally lay waiting like a coiled spring.

But the day never came.

As it turned out, I had never been privy to her inner social circle. Despite the numerous personal conversations where my advice had been sought (and repeatedly unheeded), I had merely existed in her life for the sport and entertainment of my impassioned and sensitive reactions to whatever she decided to share with me that day. I was unimportant and expendable. She had already started the “discard phase” on our friendship.

Eventually I uncoiled. Slowly I calmed down. Finally I moved on.

Life has been much better since :)

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If you think you, or someone you know, might have an Antisocial Personality Disorder, or have a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, there are tests for that too…

Personality Disorder Test

Narcissistic Personality Quiz

High Maintenance; Low Return.

I have a friend with whom I have a love/hate relationship with.  I love her, and I love to hate and complain about her. She’s fabulously thick skinned and tough though – one of her greatest personality traits is that she is unapologetic about herself. So, I can complain to her about what she’s done to annoy me. But she won’t apologise for it; She won’t get hurt by it. She takes it on the chin, explains herself, but ultimately we just agree to disagree. Rarely does she acquiesce to my point of view. It’s quite a unique friendship and one that I have definitely come to appreciate for it’s long-standing quality despite the aggravation I sometimes subject myself to as a result of her actions, lol.

Now this cherished friend has many many friends. Hundreds. Not just on her Facebook, but literally hundreds in real life too. She knows them all to talk to on the phone or text. Most have met her immediate and closest family members. She’s gregarious and sociable. She’s friendly to a fault sometimes, if you ask me. I’ve told her this. She just concedes that it’s part of her nature – she sees good in each and every one of her several hundred friends. It’s quite an amazing ability actually.

I met a couple of her good friends recently at a celebration she arranged for herself, and a couple of her friends shocked me. Primarily for their astounding disregard for keeping the hostess-with-the-mostest happy and relaxed. There was foot-stomping, exclamations of boredom and someone even stormed out. It gave the evening a bit of a negative edge actually. By the next day when I got in touch with her to thank her for yet another great night out, I commended her for strength and integrity in friendships as I could not understand how she could tolerate or maintain friendships that were so high maintenance, with such low return. It was a harsh observation for me to make – but not the most harsh thing I have ever said to her. I can be blunt to a fault, but my friend can take it. That’s how awesome she is.

Anyway. Her subsequent response jolted me slightly as she made an observation about one of my own friends, outside of her social circle, who she’s always felt is “high maintenance, low return” (HMLR). I wasn’t sure how to react as I hadn’t felt that way in a while about the friend she was referring to. My gut reaction was actually to jump to the victim’s defense as actually, they’d been absolutely delightful of late. But having had time to think it through, turn it over and look at it objectively (along with present day actual contact and experience), she is absolutely right. I really do have a friendship of the high maintenance low return order. And I’m not sure why I do it.

If I’d comprehended this situation this time last year, I think I would take the majority of the responsibility for this rather unbalanced friendship on my own shoulders, believing that I’m only getting back what I’m putting in. Ergo, I’m not putting enough in, and actually I’m performing below par for this HMLR friendship.

However, since the death of the toxic friendship (which was the HMLR to set all records in its heyday) I’ve come to realise that I could really put myself out, I could bend over backwards and I could offer myself at the sacrificial altar, but sometimes, it just won’t be enough. Not that I don’t get anything from the friendship as there are obviously good times and brilliant memories, but certainly not enough in terms of quality or quantity to make it a logical relationship to keep. And yet I do.

I guess I’m starting to understand that sometimes it’s just not in a person’s nature to act in the same way as myself in a friendship. Sometimes it’s just the way they are and no matter how much you have loved them and connected with them, there’s really no need to take it personally when they make you feel as though you are not doing enough, giving enough and that you simply are not enough. In such cases they often behave like this indiscriminately, to all their friends, and not just to one person. It’s quite tiring to take (you don’t say).

So. How does one resolve a situation like this?

My head sees it as a very straightforward choice. Why should anybody have to bother with such a draining relationship with anyone?

My heart sees things differently. That the friendship has the redeeming quality of reminding of who I am based on who I was during an era that ended the day I became a parent. It serves as a great landmark for my life at a certain point. Also, I don’t think I have the strength or courage to end the relationship. So I let it run and I appreciate whatever little moments of return I am able to enjoy.

Perhaps the lesson I should be learning here is not how to accept my HMLR friendship, but how to accept someone I love and appreciate as a friend keeping a number of these HMLR friendships herself.

Or even more importantly that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

R.I.P Toxic Friendship

I met up with an old friend for an evening meal this week. We were “best friends” between the ages of 11 and 22. We did our homework together, we crushed on the same boys, we talked for hours on the phone about nothing, we’d complain about how unreasonable our mothers were. After college we went on to different universities – practically at opposite ends of the country (not quite, but you see what I’m saying…) during which I also spent a year abroad. We’d begun to grow apart.

Following graduation, I found myself dumped by my boyfriend of 4.5 years, jobless and living back at home with my parents. It was inevitable that my first bout of depression was about to hit – but I didn’t see it coming. That was when we had a big falling out as I was days from depression (which she admitted she prob would have seen the signs if she’d paid closer attention) and words that I’d said out of character to a 3rd person were miscontrued back to her.

Other than the odd email (which started after a very humble apology she sent after hearing I’d become engaged) and some distant Facebooking, we hadn’t spoken properly for 9 years until this week. For those 9 years where I didn’t speak to my former friend, I spent time moaning about it, obsessing over it, telling my new friends about her and constantly thinking I could have done something different to have changed the outcome.

Then one day last year, following a talk with a very good friend where I realised I have crap skills of forgiveness* (hubs enjoyed watching that penny drop!) and after looking at some of the great friendships I have around me now, I finally made the decision to let it go. And that was it. It stopped worrying me. Once the decision was made, I felt ready to meet up with her again as I was no longer scared of whatever consequences there would be.

A lot was covered during the meal we had together. We talked about old times, why we thought things went wrong, how we feel about our lives now, and so on. But there was a turning point about two thirds of the way through the meal. We went from catching up and reconnecting, to suddenly being very upset and defensive.

There were a few moments where I should have bitten my tongue instead of being outright honest with her. There were also moments when she spoke out of turn and criticised me for lack of tact – a fair point, but as it’s the one main trait that I have never managed to change despite years of agonising (coincidentally, also falling between the ages of 11 and 22), so I’ve have decided to embrace it and love it instead of getting upset over it.

The conclusion that came out of the whole evening was that truthfully we just cannot have a healthy friendship with each other. The problem is that in just being ourselves, honest without agenda, we were able to really hurt each other’s feelings – right to the core, in the heart. I honestly felt like my heart was being shredded at one point. We were both close to tears. Several times. My body language was open, pained and reaching out. Her’s was closed, pained and defensive. We couldn’t look at each other. We were both suddenly thrown back into our teenage years. Yet neither one of us had even the tiniest intention of hurting the other. It was intense.

So. I think that as far as friendships go, our’s classifies as toxic. Not saying we never had good times. We did. But I struggle to remember them. My memories of our friendship are that of heartache, tears and hours begging of her how I could better myself and be a better person. Her memories of our friendship are of laughter, jokes and a great talks. She recalls ‘a few spats’ whilst simultaneously professing that she has a terrible memory – and doesnt remember much at all. When we lost contact for 9 years, she said she missed my input and advice. But if the payoff for those good times is heartache, tears and pain, then it’s not a friendship I want to fight to maintain.

So as the evening drew to a close and we made moves to part ways, it just became clear that she misses our friendship – that I gave a lot to her. Unfortunately I never felt I received much in return. We hugged as we left – I remembered and mentioned to her, we never hugged. She told me how much she appreciated me – and I realised I never knew how much, because she never felt the need to tell me. We did know each other very well and for a very long time. But it was clear that it was never a friendship that was healthy. Even as I walked back to my car I felt drained from the contact with her. I felt like I was carrying baggage back home to my husband and kids.

Which is why I think I need to leave it behind – because it’s not just me dealing with the heartache anymore, it’ll be my hubs and my kids who will have the repercussions of Mummy/Wifey in emotional turmoil about how I need to change myself, when it’s BS. Where I am in life now, and who I have around me accept me for who I am, love me for who I am and make me a better person simply by proximity and inspiration – not by disagreement and heartache.

It’s sad, but I’m glad to be able to leave it behind tbh. It sounds like I haven’t forgiven her and I haven’t moved on. But compared to the last 9 years when I definitely was holding a grudge and unforgiving, I can say, hand on heart, it’s all water under the bridge now. It happened. It was part of my life. We’re both happy where we are now. Time to draw a line under it. The day I decided to let it go, I stopped thinking about it and that’s a huge deal given how much I used to think about it!!

So the meal was 3 evenings ago, and the effect of the closure that I gained from those intense 4 hours together has grown exponentially. Each day I’ve found myself feeling lighter, happier, less obsessed with my shortcomings. Each morning I’ve woken up with a new, fresher, more positive take on the experiences I’ve had in friendship. I’ve realised that I’ve been tarnishing all new friendships with prejudiced views formed as a result of my toxic friend. Some of which are just too ridiculous (e.g. Arians and I will inevitably not get on due to misunderstandings…!!) I’ve realised that all the times I struggle with my self image it’s because I’ve never allowed myself any limelight – because there never used to be enough to go around. I’ve realised that the little voice in my head that critcises myself has many similarities to her. But now that I’ve essentially shut the door on that friendship, the voice has lost it’s strength and weight. Who knows, one day I may find myself completely in control of it.

I wish I’d done this sooner.

*see my New Years Resolutions post!

The Storm Before the Calm

It’s been a helluva week.

My MIL has been in (and out and back in again) hospital for the past 2 weeks as a result of lumps in her chest, plus acute pain in the abdomen and lower back pain. It was suspected Lymphoma (cancer) and originally also Tuberculosis (TB). In her first week in hospital, the case for TB was dismissed. Lymphoma was the key suspect. We all braced ourselves for the worst. K and I started to take the Tu little ones in for visits in order to help bolster her mental strength during her more painful episodes and we all stayed strong.

The day after our third (and most positive) visit, MIL was discharged and allowed to go home to self administer her pain relief. Odd, we thought, but fair enough if she felt well enough. The only thing left to do was to await test results anyway.

2 days later she was back in hospital. The pain had become too much bear – to the point that she was vomitting and couldn’t hold down her painkillers. Her new Dr (at the A&E in BRI) diagnosed within 24 hours that she was infact suffering from extra pulmonary TB and that it had travelled to her lymph nodes, hence the lumps. One of these lymph lumps is apparently now compressing on a nerve ending causing her the acute pain. She has now begun the course of antibiotics to begin the journey of treating it.

Of course, now we *all* need to be tested for TB.

Not normally a worry, I know, as we’ve all had our top-up holiday vaccinations for TB, and both the little ones had their BCG jabs when they were tiny.

However. I’ve had a cough for the past month or more. Severe & chesty for 4 weeks. Now lingering and mildly chesty for the past week. The kids inevitably caught the cough from me roughly 2 weeks ago. On top of this they’ve also caught hand, foot and mouth disease (courtesy of the sand pit at the Little Man’s nursery). He’s been home from nursery all week and today began to show signs of cabin fever as he skipped his afternoon nap. Both of them are giving off pain-striken wails with each spoonful of food I feed them, although funnily enough there are no wails of pain when junk food is devoured… hmm…

So, I’ve arranged to get my chest xray (standard procedure for TB screening) before the weekend. My thinking is that if I can get myself found to be totally clear, then the chances of the kids having transmitted TB are even slimmer. Close to minute, I hope tbh.

In addition to this, K, who had my cough/cold last week, also lost a filling which laid bare a nerve. Immense pain for roughly 12 hours until he could get emergency root treatment to tide him over until the appointment for a root canal and crowning.

So, all in all, it’s not been a good run of luck in the health department recently. Thankfully, I have a weekend in the Lakes booked for my good childhood friend’s hen celebrations. I’ve requested my own bedroom for fear of contaminating everyone with TB – and might even end up with my own little cottage (probably with a black ‘X’ painted on the door)! And even though this week-in with the kids has actually been quite pleasant, I’m sure by this time tomorrow evening I will be desperate to zip off and have some time away!