For the past few years I have embarked on a strengthening journey to rid myself of negative associations. It has certainly been an eye opener for me. There have been joyous days and there have been days I have grieved. Every new step I take in the direction bringing me closer to healthier and respectful connections has it’s own story and I can’t tell them all here. Well, maybe I can, but it would take years.
One thing I want to share with you if you are also on this same path, is that along the way you are going to experience a lot of backlash. When a person in your life is accustomed to your behavior and suddenly it changes and you start to tell them “NO”, be prepared to walk away from the drama they will stir, but pay attention. There is a reason your spidey sense tingled and their backlash will tell you more about the kind of friend they have always been, than anything they ever said to your face. This is the time for you to take it in, catalog it and know what to look for the next time you make a new connection. Oh, it will hurt like the dickens! You can refer to this process as Growing Pains and know in your heart that you are getting taller and stronger.
What do I mean by backlash?
With today’s technological and virtual friendships, you can see and hear more about what happens when a former friend is angry than ever before. I have commonly referred to some of my disconnections as Narcissistic Smear Campaigns mainly because I realized that many of the people I had attracted to myself fit the mold quite nicely and carried out a smear campaign within minutes of figuring out that I would no longer allow myself to be abused by them.
Not everyone I have released is a narcissist though. Some were just folks that overstepped my boundaries.
When you ask someone not to do something that hurts or makes you uncomfortable and they continue with the same destructive behavior, it might be time to take a break from the friendship. It obviously isn’t working for you at the moment and rather than have it escalate, just walk away. Someday you might be able to revisit the friendship, or not. A true friend is someone that can be rediscovered, but not everyone is true.
Why should you pay attention to what a friend does after you walk away?
Believe it or not, paying attention will validate the reason you made boundaries in the first place. For instance, if you walk away from a relationship once it is clear the friend is going to continue with the same behavior, and they announce it to the world how much they disliked you anyway. Well, was that really someone you’d like to reconcile with once things cool down? I’m going to say it isn’t. What you are witnessing is something this person probably did to you all along, they just did it behind your back.
Pay attention to your mutual friends with this person too.
I can not tell you the number of times I have been approached by the concerned mutual friend after there has been a falling out. This is the friend that comes to you with news of how they never liked your friend either, but they like you. They want to hear all about what happened and how you feel about it. More times than I can count, every word I shared was taken right back to the other person as gossip and their only concern was being the friend that knows all the dirt.
If you get approached by someone like this, it’s up to you to decide how much you share with them. My advice is to not share anything at all. A grounded and respectable mutual friend won’t ever ask you for any information. They will wait for you to say something and if you never do, it never comes up. You will learn who you can trust enough to safely share your story with and it does help to have someone discreet that you can talk freely with and get it out. But until you are sure, the best person to share your story with is a loved one or a counselor.
How will you know if a mutual friend is genuine?
You won’t know and that why it’s best to reserve sharing anything. If you do feel compelled, share only positive information, like the hope that everyone will learn from the incident and express your wishes that they continue with their own relationship with the person in spite of what happened with the two of you. Not everyone is going to like everybody and they may have a special bond that has nothing to do with you. If you see evidence that there is something amiss with the mutual friend’s behavior, or suspect duplicity and evil intentions, the best advice I can give you is to allow some time to pass and then cut off all contact with that person too.
Anyone that likes to play both sides of the fence is up to no-good.
Rather than playing a part in whatever drama they’re creating, walk away. You have no idea what they’re saying and most of the time you can’t believe a word they share with you. Why not find other people to spend your time with? Let the person you just walked away from deal with the mutual friend and don’t participate. What none of them realize is that anyone that will put themselves out there in an effort to gather intel from you, will do it to them too eventually. This person is a whole new breed of depraved.
Since I have been cutting people out of my life that have caused me great anxiety I have been warned that eventually I would end up alone and with no friends at all.
I’m sure you’ll hear something similar too and my advice to you is to ignore it. Ignore it like you never even heard it because it’s total bullshit. The more you cut the negative out, the more that space gets filled in with positive. It’s not magic, it’s having healthy boundaries.
I spoke to one of my friends about the huge number of people I had recently let go. I asked her if I would eventually be alone, like someone had predicted and she gave me the best perspective I have ever heard. She told me that hanging onto a friend that abuses just for the sake of being liked is unhealthy. I was a hoarder of bad people if I continued doing this. By letting them go, I had made room for better friends. By paying attention to the backlash, I was learning what was acceptable and what wasn’t.
I’d rather be alone if it means the only friends I can make are bad ones. Who in their right mind would desire time spent in a high stress and anxiety ridden relationship with someone that doesn’t give a crap about you or who you are?
The other backlash I’ve heard is “No one likes her!”
This is a classic narcissistic proclamation once you’ve cast them out. This is a statement they make in order to round up their disciples. The narcissist doesn’t like you, so if anyone in their circle likes you, then there must be something wrong with them.
Whenever I break ties with someone that has abused me and I share what happened with anyone, I only talk about my story. I am not rounding up followers in an effort to discredit the person. I do not ask that my friends show support by casting the person out too. In extreme situations I will make the effort to remain friends with people, but limit my exposure to my former abuser, but I never ask them to discard anyone.
In social networking I can block people that cause me grief, but it’s still difficult to get completely away from them. In real life, it’s much easier to block them because they can’t gain access to you without you being fully aware this is what they’re doing. Online they can gain access much easier, and they seek that access, but it’s becoming more difficult for them to do this and get away with it for long with all of the new and improved privacy features being offered, as well as stricter laws regarding cyberstalking.
For instance, this is my new blog location. Anyone seeking me out using the old blog access will not find me, but some folks I would rather avoid are clever enough to have already discovered me here. I can see them. I see them every time they read a blog post. Am I distressed that they continue to watch me? Nope! I was upset about this awhile back, but now I just think it’s creepy and I feel sorry for them. I have no idea what they hope to learn, but hopefully they take something positive away from anything I write and perhaps one day they’ll make good friends of their own and leave me behind in their past.
Never be afraid to discard a friend that abuses you just because you’re afraid of the backlash, or that they will convince other people not to like you either. When a person decides not to like you based on what someone else has experienced, rather than developing their own relationship with you on their own, then that is probably not someone you could have been friends with anyway. Consider that the narcissist just did you a favor by weeding those fake friends out for you.
How about when people that you’ve cut off band together once they discover one another?
This was also a growing pain for me and you might experience it for yourself too. Allow me to give you some perspective there that was shared with me from another friend…
Be happy this has happened.
Why would you be happy that two former friends, people you cut off because they were toxic and unhealthy, have banded together in their mutual hatred of you?! How could you ever feel anything about this, but absolute terror and angst?! I’ll tell you exactly what my friend told me.
Be happy they discovered each other because now they’ll be so busy sharing their stories with each other they won’t have any time to continue to bother you. Eventually they might even consume each other because remember your reasons for walking away from them. Do you honestly think that they can be a better friend to someone that was a bad friend to you? It’s not humanly possible unless one, or both of them has a lobotomy.
Two people that have nothing healthier to do than to wallow in the mutual dislike of someone, are truly pathetic.
I will confess that I shared the outcome of something toxic that happened to me. I didn’t do it to wallow in my mutual dislike of the other person. I shared it to validate what my other friend has just experienced. I wanted her to know that while the narcissist may have convinced a lot of people that she had been right and just in her mistreatment of my friend, her true colors were finally leaking out and that my friend wasn’t the only person that had suffered from it. It was shared and then forgotten about because my friend was a shining example of how a healthy person reacts to a shared story of this nature. She expressed the hope that one day this toxic person would wake up and realize she needed to change her behavior. We didn’t wallow in the shared experience. We let it go.
When I make the decision to walk away from someone, I am not always right. I have made mistakes, plenty of them, but I am learning and do not expect the mistakes to end, or my methods to become perfect. I do expect to make a lot of apologies for being impulsive when I’m hurting and to be humbled by the person that refuses to forgive me for it. I expect that, therefore I am not surprised when I realize that I am just as capable of being wrong as I think I am of being wronged.
When you start weeding out the negative in your life, expect to have some growing pains and never become so high and mighty that you think you’re always right. Always be capable of looking at yourself with as much scrutiny as you look at everyone else and the ground will remain firmly under your own two feet.
That’s something another good friend shared with me recently…make sure that above all else, YOU are your own best friend because without you, you’ll never truly know what a real friend is.
- Living With a Narcissist (datingapersonalitydisorder.wordpress.com)
- You are PART of the Problem! (madelinescribes.wordpress.com)
- Friendship after Marriage : Wisdom and Growing Pains (pinchosalt.wordpress.com)
- Growing Pains (theperfectcocktail.wordpress.com)
- How to spot disorder: Is your ego being inflated? (forfreepsychology.wordpress.com)
- Growing pains (genevieverogan.wordpress.com)
- Friendship and lies (lookinginamirror.wordpress.com)
- Growing Pains (cheswayomphanza.wordpress.com)
- 7 Signs of a Healthy Relationship (livingtransparently.wordpress.com)