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Offenders inside the family — 74 Comments

  1. Joyce and Phoenix, I chose to alter my perceptions to fit the facts as I moved from the recovery process into actual emotional healing. Having chosen that option, it’s my call on whom I will and won’t allow into my life. I don’t put up barriers out of fear or malice, anymore. My boundaries are pretty much in place and I just work on keeping them maintained and adjusted for my benefit.

    “For my benefit.” Those are three words that I NEVER used until I decided to seek healing. I had no idea that I even deserved “benefit!” LOL

    The people that I chose for friends, and the ones that I allowed into my circle are NOT the same types of people that I choose, today. I let everyone in and took up everyone’s cause as my own – a very typical and predictable behavior of codependents! But, I did those things. I would go to bat for other people before I would even stand up for myself, and that is how I was so thoroughly used and abused. Certainly, THEY are responsible for being predators and taking advantage of people, but I was quite messed up and I’m grateful that I’ve done some of this work that I have.

    “Faux friends!” LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Exactly, Joyce!!!!!

  2. Yea, Zen, I was a big time enabler/rescuer and my friends (faux friends) were the result of my desire to “help” people who had messed up their lives. It didn’t leave much room or time for people who were NOT messed up. I finally made a conscious decision that I would NOT take on “hopeless cases” again. I was so afraid of hurting someone’s feelings I would bend over backwards to “help” them even after they had spit in my face. Funny thing was Ii could SEE this behavior was a poor choice in other people, but not in myself.

    I guess it goes back to Jesus’ advice to get the LOG out of your own eye before you try to take the SPECK out of some one else’s eye. LOL I had great outsight but no INsight. Now, I work on INSIGHT and that actually frees me to accept what is, and who someone IS (not what they say about themselves, but what they SHOW by their behavior) not an easy task but necessary to MY peace.

    • Joyce, what a superb bit of advice to create our OWN sight, first, before we attempt to “help” someone else see……..it’s so true, on every level. And, taking the time and making the effort to extract that “log” in my eye were things that I didn’t believe that I was capable of doing, much less deserving of.

      “Acceptance” isn’t easy. It isn’t painless and it doesn’t come without a price. But, as you so aptly put it, you’re able to feel free to accept what IS without months and months of agonizing negotiations to bargain a better outcome! And, what a freedom that is!

      Doing what we must in order to maintain our own balance and calm comes first, and foremost. This was something that I learned only during recovery – I am worthy and deserving of balance, care, and concern. If I am better balanced, then I am better able to guide by example RATHER than push and shove someone towards their own healing path. Some people simply don’t want to recover – they have become comfortable in their own misery and it is “familiar” to them.

      I’m all for peace and balance, here! LOL

  3. You know, Zen, the advice in the Bible about how we should live our lives is really pretty good even from a “therapy” approach,…..the Proverbs which are a father’s advice to his son is a perfect example of things to do and things to avoid. Jesus’ teaching about behavior and how to live our lives is right on the nose, even up to “no contact” if someone “sins” against us and refuses to reform.

    It is filled with examples of evil people, psychopaths and others. The story of Joseph and his brothers who sold him into slavery, and how he had forgiven them years before, but when they turned up in Egypt when he was no longer a slave but second to the king, he did not identify himself to them until he had determined that they had CHANGED. It took me a long time to “get” that message, that forgiveness is simply bitterness toward someone who has wronged you, but that DOES NOT MEAN YOU WANT A RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM unless they have TRULY repented of what they did, seen the light so to speak, and CHANGED THEIR WAYS AS DEMONSTRATED BY THEIR ACTIONS.

    I finally “got” that message when I was in hiding from Hamilton and my daughter in law, and you know, that was one of the things that started me on my road to healing.

    When I was a kid and even as an adult, my hardcore enabling mother insisted I was going to hell if I didn’t have a relationship with my Uncle Monster and eat Christmas and other holiday meals with him, after he had held my grandmother three days at gun point, not letting the old woman eat or sleep for three days. Sure, he was an alcoholic and probably bi-polar as well, but he was also totally evil in the way he treated women. I would have vomited if I’d had to share Christmas dinner with him.

    And yet, though I wouldn’t associate with Uncle Monster, I continued for decades to enable Patrick even though he was a killer, until I finally realized he was NOT SORRY for what he had done at all and that he wanted me dead before my mother so he could inherit from a family trust, and if I had outlived my mother, he would get nothing. So you know, I am grateful for the scales falling from my eyes and that I can now accept Patrick for what he is, but let go of the bitterness (forgive) but NO CONTACT is the way to go with evil people, with people who do bad things and never “get it” or feel any remorse.

  4. Joyce, I hear you on not having or keeping a friendship with someone until they have proven they have changed. It reminds me of people I knew from school. One of them was a pretty hardcore chick back in the day. Tough as nails, smoked, likely drank and may have used at the time. She didn’t take any carp off anyone. Imagine running into her some 15 years later and she’s out in the neighborhood passing out fliers for church services. Yeah. Totally different person. She had found herself, found God and was spreading the word. Not. what. I. expected! Had anyone told either of us in Jr. High or High School, that we would meet up again under these circumstances? I know I would have thought them a fool.

    Zen- if you like the term Faux Friends, you probably also like the term Frienemies too. Pretty much along the same lines. It goes along with keeping our friends close and our enemies closer.

  5. Phoenix year, “frenimies” is also a very good way to put it. I think frenimies is when you know who they are, and faux friends is when you don’t recognize that they are faux. I used to love those TV ads where they sold GENUINE FAUX PEARLS. LOL That really is a good word, but not everyone really knows what FAUX is. I learned it from reading, but I pronounced it FAX until someone I knew corrected me. LOL

    And I think there is another catagory as well…the people who really want to be your “friend” but they just don’t know how because of their own issues. My ex BFF of 30 years is like that I think. She is in an abusive marriage with an overbearing know it all arse and she has so many self esteem issues and has come from an abusive back ground where people mistreat others at least verbally then “make up”—but you know, I finally got TIRED of that. For so long I pretended she had not hurt me with her snarky remarks and actions and let it pass. Then when Ii finally stood up to her with her remarks, she stopped for about 3 years, but when I got into it with her husband talking to me like someone’s yard dog that tore up the trash, she seemed to think that somehow it could all be glossed over.

    After I got home from her house I went to move the photos I had taken while I was there at her house off the camera, and I realized she had deleted most of them. She is a hoarder and her house (at the time she had two homes, a regular one in town and a vacation cabin at a ranch( and the only photo she left that I had made inside the cabin was a CLOSE UP of her cat, any photo that showed the clutter she had deleted. LOL

    Looking back on the relationship, I realized that she is so anxiety ridden, so afraid that people will know about her hoarding etc.and I feel sorry for her. But that doesn’t mean that however sorry for her I feel, that I want her in my life any more. Because of what I have learned in the past few years it helped me cope with her “loss” much more easily. I still remember the good times we had over the 30 years but I’m not terminally sad over the fact we won’t be doing them any more. There are just times when the price of a “friendship” isn’t worth the cost. Fortunately she lives in another state so I don’t run into her at the grocery store.

    Your school chum changing does happen and I’m glad for her. I look back at the kids I graduated with from HS (I went to the reunion) and keep up with them on FB and most of them have changed as well, the majority for the better. And you know, I was quite surprised really that some of the kids I remembered as real cases became doctors, lawyers, teachers, even an opera singer, but also good folks, many quite religious. Not bad for a bunch of red neck kids from a small school.

  6. Joyce- I think there are probably plenty of people in the category you mention. Not exactly faux friends, not quite frienimies, just f’ed up…. They want to be your friend, but don’t know how because of their own issues. Truth be told, they probably want friends around them, but don’t know how to let them in. People get too close and it hurts them, costs them and they get burned so it is easier to shut people out and shut down, then it is to open up and let anyone in.

    Issues like your previous BFF, yeah. It’s exhausting. It’s tiring and that shite gets old. I don’t care to keep up with the drama anymore. I don’t need it, I don’t want it and I certainly don’t play into it or “feed” it anymore. What happened when I left it at the feet of those who dished it out all the time?

    My world grew deafeningly quiet. It is now calm and peaceful. There is balance and harmony once again. It is soooOOOooo, sooooo different now and I really, Really, REALLY like it this way.

    So imagine having someone tell me not too long ago- “I want to be your Best Friend!” the second or third time we ever spoke…. This was after exchanging the normal pleasantries of “Hi. How are you today?” The typical question you ask any random person standing in front of you, the person behind the counter at any store, the service attendant where you drop something off, pick something up…. Yeah. He wants to be my best friend???

    Sorry Mr. Thinks He’s Wonderful. My best friends have about 10 years head start on you, if not more. I know where that one’s going before he ever said anything more. By chance & circumstance we had to deal with each other once or twice a week for a while after that. I often found myself amazed by his immaturity and thinking, “How old are you again?” ROFL!

    • Joyce, the statement that you heard, “I want to be your Best Friend,” is something that always raises my hackles in a great big hurry!!!!

      I never tell anyone that they’re my “best friend,” because that term is invalid to me, personally. Today, this person might be the “best” friend I need for that day while another friend might be the “best” person that I needed, last week. The very few close friends that I have are ALL “best” to me, so I don’t feel it’s appropriate for me to pick one and say, “Okay…….YOU are THE ONE!”

      Similarly, I cannot be anyone’s best friend, either. I have good days and challenging days and I’m am only now learning how to actually BE a friend and how to ACCEPT true and genuine friendship. There was once a time when I had no clue what a “good friend” was. I can’t say what I thought a “good friend” did, but I know that I didn’t know how to be a friend, so “freinemy” would have applied to me, 100%. And, I’m okay with that fact because I’m taking this change one day at a time.

      And, the most enlightening thing that I discovered about myself was my vulnerability to FLATTERY!!! Omigod, I was as much of a fool for flatter as I was for the pity-ploy, and I didn’t understand the difference between a true compliment and flattery. I also didn’t understand what the term, “glib,” meant. I finally have a handle on that, as well. So, when I start feeling that overwhelming love-bombing and feeling my feet hovering above the floor as the result of outrageous flattery, I have learned to stop the merry-go-round, RIGHT THEN. It’s actually comical, these days, to recognize flattery because it’s so outrageous, right? LOLOL!!!

      Oh, my……………..good discussion!!!

      • Oh…….I wanted to add a further comment about “best friends.” I think it is the rudest and coldest slap in the face to have been friends with someone for many years and to have that person tell me that their best friend is someone that they’ve only known for 18 months and is 25 years younger than they are. This actually happened with the former friend that was once a professor of mine. We had known one another for almost a decade and shared some very personal information and supported one another through a number of crises.

        Then, she moves to the center of a very large city and tried to make friends with people and found someone who (from HER descriptions) is a complete narcissist, if not a sociopath, because this young woman used people to her own ends, regardless of what those ends might be. The professor would complain and complain, and then say (quote), “And, I thought she was my Best Friend!!” Uh…………wow…………..so, that means that I never had a CHANCE to be a dear friend to you? Wow……….

        At any rate, I saw the proverbial writing on the wall with this gal and ended the association. I was very sad about it, but I worked through my disappointment and grief, and made room for more genuine souls to enter into my life. 😀

  7. Zen, the “I thought she was my best friend” I think is a reflection of the person’s desire to have a close friend (and especially in a new area) but also the person who they thought was a “BFF” was in fact a borderline or psychopath who LOVE BOMBED THEM and made them believe they had found an emotional soul mate…BELIEVE ME, I HAVE FALLEN FOR THE LOVE BOMB of more than one “faux friend” LOL

    You on the other hand did not put her on a high place and appear to worship her, stoke her ego, you were what WAS a friend, not a faux-friend. The faux-friends upon meeting us immediately start idolizing us, and make us feel really special, whereas the real friends take time to get close to us. So one of the things I have learned is that if I meet someone and they IMMEDIATELY try to be my BEST FRIEND I back away and 99 times out of 100 later things show that they are borderline or psychopathic and were simply love bombing me.

    At a large living history gathering where we didn’t know everyone personally, and a lot of times simply go by nick names, mine was “Ox Lady” since for years I had taken a pair of oxen to events, a young man came up to me, one I didn’t know except by sight and reached out and hugged me and said ” so YOU are the ox lady, I’ve wanted to get to know you for so long” (he had heard stories about me from other reenactors) and it was like a “love bomb” because he kept building up my ego, but it wasn’t a love bomb at all. He was simply interested in learning from me and since I no longer had the oxen at events he didn’t recognize me as “the ox lady” (the name remains even though the oxen are gone) We have since become good friends, so his “love bomb” wasn’t that at all.

    But as far as I can remember I can’t remember a love bomb that was NOT just that except for his.

    Learning to recognize a love bomb when we see it and back away a bit is an IMPORTANT part of healing and not allowing ourselves to be snookered by it in the future. Sure anyone loves to have others admire them, but we must not falll victim to the person who “admires” us and then abuses us.

  8. I don’t usually watch this kind of program, but last night there wasn’t much on the boob-tube and I was surfing channels and came upon a “news” program where they were interviewing inside prison. They interviewed hardened gang-bangers, one who had conned a female staff member into “being his woman” she got fired, but when he got out she ended up helping him commit a murder and he went back for life without parole and she got 12 years. Kind of like that woman who helped those guys escape….they interviewed young men who had never been in trouble before and did something stupid and ended up with a few years in prison, and how those “virgins” were preyed upon by the gang bangers for money, favors and sex….It was a sad story for sure.

    Having visited inside a medium security prison in Texas quite a few times, I could see these “same” convicts in my mind, easily recognizable by their tats and swagger. I could also relate to the “good kid” who did something stupid like driving off after he had hit someone with his car, and then of course, listening to Patrick telling me about how you survive inside prison, especially if you are a small white man not in a gang.

    Yep, prison is an awful place for sure, with some worse than others. The people in the super max prison for very violent, uncontrolable men was of course the worst. The NO violence rules there would mean you would get 6 months in a completely bare isolation cell (“the hole”) for a simple fist fight. One such man who was sentenced to 6 months and had an additional 50 days added to his incarceration time for a fight was pretty upset about his sentence kept saying “in the other prison you’d only get 14 days for a fist fight, 5 months is unreasonable!” Of course in his mind it was unreasonable.

    Of course he was at the super max prison because he had repeatedly fought other inmates in a prison with less stringent rules against violence.

    Patrick had been in “isolation” 19 times for breaking rules, including a “shank” (knife) and the cell phone, the first 15 years of his prison term, and as far as I know he hasn’t had any problems that would put him in isolation since his parole was first turned down, I think he is still breaking rules but avoiding getting caught. I have no belief that he has changed his ways, just become more crafty in covering his tracks because he knows as long as he is not a model prisoner he has NO hope of parole.

    It is indeed sad to the families of people in prison, whether they are gang bangers who are frequently in prison or young people who do something really stupid but do not have a criminal background. I used to worry continually about Patrick’s safety in prison, and he did get beaten up and injured quite a few times, but after decades of this stress and worry for me, I no longer spend my days and my energy worrying about him…if he does get out he won’t stay out long as he will be back for more robbery and violence very quickly.

  9. Zen & Joyce- the thing about friendships that really drove it home to me about what a TRUE FRIEND is, was the lyrics of a song.

    “I became a friend a friend would like to have.”

    I know what I would like to have in a friend. What I expect from them, how I hope they would be there for me, tell me when I’m screwing up, be my cheerleader or whatever…. If I expect these things from them, I should dam.ned well be able to deliver the same for them as well. If I’m “just not feelin’ the love”, if it’s not flowing both ways, then I need to step back and take a look at things.

  10. Phoenix, there came a time when I realized that people who would “apply” to be my BEST friend by offering to do favors for me when I had not asked for those “favors” were love bombing me. LOL It took me a long time to realize and internalize what a love bomb was and what it meant about the person. I finally “got it” and know it when I see it.

    REAL friends may do favors for you and you for them, but no one keeps “score” you just pitch in. A good friend of mine that I have known since 1995 went to the hospital for surgery that she had to stay over night. Her husband is not able to go with her so I went, stayed the night with her in the hospital as her private nurse, then drove her the 50 miles home, got her fixed up with a walker, etc. But we had a GREAT TIME, like a bunking party. LOL It was not an “inconvenience” for me at all, and she has gone to the hospital with me when I have had surgery to be my “private nurse” (she is an RN)

    Her husband is like a brother to me, and I knew them both before they got married. And their friendship means a great deal to me and we don’t “count” who did what for whom, we just DO what needs to be done. I know that I am special to them, and vice versa.

    BEING a friend is also an ART form. And treating others as you would like to be treated is the key, but when that is not returned, then it is time to back off and stay at a distance.

    Looking back in my life, I WAS A FRIEND to many, but not as many were friends to me! Yet I didn’t back off, but kept trying to “be nice” in the face of their abuses or uses or mooching because I WAS a friend to them, but they were FAUX friends to me for their own purposes.

  11. Joyce, sometimes it is tough letting go and letting others do things FOR us.

    Love bombing aside, there have been many times, many different people, offer to do things for me and I decline. My personality is such that I don’t mind doing things myself and sometimes I prefer it.

    If I do it, then I know it got done to my liking and I know it got DONE. PERIOD. Sometime it is just easier for me to do things than it is to show someone else how to and actually LET THEM do the task at hand. I’m also one to expect that if someone says, “I’ve got this” they will be able to do the job and do it right. If they come ask me for help, no big deal. But if they keep coming back for ‘help’ again and again and again…. Tells me something is up. My Spidey Senses go off and I start shutting them out.

    • Phoenix, you’re touching on a very important point about people who have survived various emotional traumas, and allowing others to help is one of those things that also requires practice and a knowledge base of “why” even asking for help is so painful for me. I NEVER accepted help from anyone because I believed that it reflected weakness.

      Today, I’m learning how to interpret a genuine effort of caring and mercy rather than deny all help or accept all help. It’s an ongoing practice, and I’m getting better at it.

      • Zen- It can be difficult enough for people to ask for help. Trauma issues aside, we don’t like to admit we can’t do something, carry the burden alone or what have you. Add in the trauma issues, besides having your trust violated and it just compounds the level of difficulty in asking for help.

        • I agree it is difficult to ask for or accept help—i wanted to believe i was “strong” and could handle anything life threw at me…like many teenagers, i was arrogant…until i finally saw that i could not control everything in life or change other’s thinking or behavior. then at that point i no longer trusted myself to keep myself safe and anxiety overcame me and i lived in TERROR. now, i can ask for help if i need it.

          The last time I was preparing the protest for Patrick’s parole I did ask some (I thought were) close friends to help me by writing letters of protest—only to be refused help. that broke my heart that people I had considered CLOSE friends were in reality not close friends at all. They became angry at me for even asking.

          I realize sometimes if we ask for help and someone CAN’T help that’s okay, and I can understand, but when we ask for help and someone not only won’t help but gets mad at you for asking, they were no really friends at all

          That may suprise and hurt us, but at least we know the painful truth

          • Phoenix, I have noticed that traumatized individuals tend to feel the need to appear “strong” and “tough” more than people who haven’t experienced traumas, particularly those who were raised in a dysfunctional home. The dynamics are thus:
            * child asks for help or expresses fear, sadness, or the need for comfort
            * parent/caretaker either ignores child’s needs, dismisses them, verbally, or viciously ridicules the child
            * child learns that their needs cannot or ***will not*** be met by parent(s) or caretaker(s)
            * child begins to develop ironclad exterior to avoid ridicule, dismissal, and shame for even HAVING needs
            * child views themselves as “unworthy” or “undeserving” of comfort, care, or concern

            For myself, it was all formulated in my childhood. As an adult, it was “cemented” as a “weakness” by the abusive individuals that I either chose, myself, or those that chose me to victimize.

            An emotionally healthy individual is understanding that they are “okay” and that it’s “okay” to ask for help. When I was in grade school, I was too ashamed to raise my hand to ask a question during math lessons. Seriously, I was terrified to ask for help because I had been programmed that help would NEVER be forthcoming.

            I realize that I’m a pretty messed up individual and that everyone isn’t as damaged as I was, and I am VERY grateful for that because, without intense therapy and hard personal work, I would likely have either died from shame or ended it all, myself, at some point.

            Today, I’m okay with asking for help and giving help to others, whenever I can. It’s a different world for me. 🙂

          • Joyce, you touched on something VERY important that I have been exploring for a while, now. There were times when I did ask for help and people refused (or, couldn’t) and I took it as a personal slight.

            The example that I find serendipitous is when my vehicle was going to be repossessed and I asked a very, VERY wealthy artist-colleague to borrow $600 to bring the payments up to date. He said, “I have to think about that,” and he never returned my call. Of course, I lost the vehicle, anyway, and I blamed that man for being stingy, for a while. He and his wife routinely dropped that amount of money on dinners at local fine restaurants, so I was very, very hurt and humiliated. UNTIL………….I settled down and realized that there would have been NO way for me to repay $600 to him, or to anyone else. After a bit of time, I came to understand that the person had actually done me a favor and that was NOT feeding my desperation and allowing me to learn my own limitations. Now, this man didn’t set out to “teach” me anything – he didn’t have an agenda, etc., but I absolutely learned from that experience.

            So, whether or not someone is “willing” to help, or “able” to help doesn’t matter to me, anymore. When people decline, it’s not my place to demand an explanation – isn’t that what I did my entire life? Provide explanations and defenses for my own choices and decisions? So…..whatever the reason might be, I work very hard to not take it personally.

            A very, very important point, Joyce, and thank you for touching on that.

  12. In my Scots-Irish culture you will be willing to DO a favor for just about anyone, but you only accept favors from blood relatives and CLOSE friends. Because you do not want to be obligated to or beholden to anyone you don’t 110% trust. So I pretty well go by that rule and don’t become obligated to people I hardly know… I am getting (as I get older) where I AM accepting favors or even asking for favors for things no longer easy for me to do.

    When my maternal unit kept OFFERING ME MONEY I refused, and I’ve said I would live in a cardboard box and eat out of a dumpster before I would take money from her and be obligated to her. She is like many people, if she does you a favor or gives you something there are always STRINGS of obligation attached.

    I took care of her and my step dad for a year and a half when he was dying and she was recovering from surgery. He showed his appreciation to me, and she just showed that she EXPECTED to drop everything in my life and dance to her tune, doing for her what she was ABLE to do for herself. NO consideration for my needs to take care of business now that she was recovered and my step father had passed away, I had put my life on hold for 18 months and my business went to the dogs during that tiime from my neglect. After she got okay I tried to show her I would still be there immediately in an EMERGENCY but if I had business to conduct and it was NOT an emergency, we might go to town for her groceries on a Tuesday instead of a Monday (her usual day) and it INFURIATED HER that I would put my needs ahead of her WANTS. I never took any money from her that I did not pay back with INTEREST my entire adult life. Yet she tells the community how I am after her money. I think she has told that so often that she actually believes it, because it makes her have a “reason” to hate me….and try to protect Poor Patrick from his abusive mother who wants him to stay in prison.

    But you know, it is OK to let someone assist you if you need help, or to just sit and listen to them if they need to talk, or vice versa. That’s what friendship is. Sometimes even strangers on a beach may listen to you or you to them.

  13. Joyce- I agree about the strangers on a beach thing. Sometimes that can blossom into a friendship better than some we already have. We just never know. I have met people in strange ways and some would never venture into anything like that, but it has led to some of the most incredible things. Looking back? I may have made different choices now. But then? Sure! Why not take the chance?

    Your maternal volunteer was infuriated that you made the plans and set the schedule because she had no control. I see this in a lot of situations. She said “JUMP!” and instead of asking “How high?” while in the air, as she expected…. You said “Not right now. Just a minute. Hold on. or I’ll get to it when I can.” How dare you take away her power. You stole her thunder, took the wind out of her sails and set her back on her heels. Oh the horrors!!!! You set a boundary and managed things she didn’t want you to. Good for you / Tough cr-ap for her.

    The part about being beholden to anyone, I get that. I try to live that. I try not to ask any favors of anyone. If I borrow something, I return it in better condition than when I took possession of it. I don’t mind helping people out when I can. Hand up not a hand out. I also don’t mind giving when I can afford it to people or groups, charities or what have you. I like helping people who certainly appreciate it. I don’t view them as a charity case if they are down on their luck, have hit hard times or need a little something to get them thru.

    Just last night I gave a friend of mine a gift. Something I had owned for the past 20+ years. A small table and chairs for outdoors on the patio. She wanted something like that, had space for it now and never thought she would be able to afford one. I had it, it was sitting around and I gave it to her. She mentioned getting one. I smiled. When she was done stating what she wanted, I asked her if she wanted mine. Told her let’s go get it right now, we got in the car and off we went.

    She was beside herself. Thrilled. Smiling and for once in a long time she smiled and looked genuinely HAPPY. It felt so good and so right for both of us. She needs new furniture. I have some in storage at the moment. She has first call on it. I know she can use it, will appreciate it and that is payment enough. Does she “Owe me” anything for either gift? Her smile and a hug are payment enough because she is a friend.

  14. I broke my right hand friday night so this will be short–you are so right it does make us happy when we can do something for someone. gine them a gift w/o strings, but when people DEMAND that we must jump to their command and neglect out own NEEDS we must learn to set boundaries. it was hard for me to do but i have learned to do so and it frees us of the anxiety and anger that is caused by such people

  15. zen, i agree with the VERY GOOD points you made above where i could not reply directly under them.

    yes when you do ask someone for ‘help” like to borrow money and they decline to loan you money THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO SAY NO. every right in the world. a parent has a RESPONSIBILITY To provide for a small child, to comfort them etc. but no adult is REQUIRED to ‘help’ another person, however, that said, if you look at the story in the Bible about the man robbed and left broken and bleeding in a ditch, the men who passed him by were supposedly ‘holy’ men who would have had compassion for their fellow man, and would you would think show some compassion for him. yet they walked on by…the Samaritan who DID stop to help the Jewish man who was injured man, was looked down on by the jews, treated badly by the jews, etc and you might think he would have said in his heart ‘well, good enough for the nasty jew’ but he had COMPASSION on the man and helped him, saved his life.

    i have loaned people money knowing i would never get it back…and i have loaned money expecting on getting it back…and I have said know to people I am sure who viewed me as ‘rich’ and able to loan/give them money and not even miss it and they thought I was mean I am sure.. It just depends on the circumstances whether i say yes or no.

    There are time when someone needs to learn how to get themselves out of the ditch, and times they need help. I was like you, brought up to think i must give everything i have to others, leaving myself to flounder while those i helped skip merrily off into the sunset leaving me in the ditch, unable to get up….after in some cases after i had literatly saved their lives. sure i hadn’t done the things i had done for them looking for ‘help’ in the future, but because i loved them….and was totally gob smacked when the saw me drowning and wouldn’t even throw me a rope because they might get their shoes wet if the rope splashed the water. then get mad at me for ASKING.

    The kind of folks who care so little about me i don’t pretend are my friends anymore . and looking back on the relationships, i can see that they were never my friends to start with and i was only fooling myself that they were. it had always been a 1-sided relationship.

    i have always been one to pay back any money i borrowed, and usually with interest. it was always a point of pride with me…maybe false pride even, but i always paddled my own canoe. worked, lived within my means. saved a little.

    FRIENDS do what they can to help their friends when the can do so. even if all they can offer is a listening ear…but Ns and Ps TAKE without feeling any need to help someone else. NO compassion, no altruism, no gratitude, just on to the next patsy.

    • Joyce, this journey has been quite amazing and learning how to manage my Self instead of managing other people has been one of the most challenging exercises, yet! LOLOLOLOL!!!!!

      Working in this studio that I’m in is a perfect example of this whole learning curve. It’s not about how I am going to get these people to “like” me, or “accept” me, anymore. And, I recognized this line of thinking sort of in the beginning, thank goodness!!! It’s more about ME adjusting my own behaviors to be more balanced and calm. I cannot micromanage the world. I can only manage myself. I can teach using facts, but I cannot change what someone else believes or thinks. SO…….it’s a whole new ballgame.

      And, this goes along with having an offender in the family. People JUDGE every member of a family by the choices, actions, and decisions of one member of that family. In every community or social group (including grade school), there is someone that even adults will say, “OH……..s/he’s a Wagner? Well, you know about THEM……..” And, if anyone’s last name IS “Wagner,” of course this is just a moniker, NOT a reference.

      The NON-offenders have quite a challenge to present a calm, balanced Self and say, “That person does not represent ME,” without coming across aggressive, defensive, offensive, or off the scale in any direction. By the time that people outside of the family are able to make comments, most non-offending family members have developed their own unhealthy coping mechanisms and it’s one heck of a challenge to address them without going off the deep end. I know this from personal experience with both exspaths, as well as others whom I had allowed into my boundaries that were very unhealthy for me.

      People that I want in my life are not looking for patsies, and I’m SO grateful that I’m on this path, finally. I don’t have to live in fear of BEING a patsy or participant, ever again. Am I still vulnerable? Of course, I am, and I will be for the rest of my life. But, I’m getting better at governing myself enough to sit back, listen, and observe every person for my own benefit, AND theirs.

  16. zen,life is all about LEARNING—about what is good and what is not so good,,,if we keep on repeating the same behaviors and not realizing and learning if those behaviors don’t lead to good results, we will never make progress,

    unfortunately many time the MYTHS we learn as children don;t help us learn from our mistakes and our poor decisions so we keep on repeating them.

    i think it was Socrates who said that “the unexamined life is not worth living” and i tend to agree with that…unfortunately some of the things our examination expose are painful to admit. the thought that my son was a monster with no remorse was too painful to admit so we dwell in denial about what has caused our unhappy results. therapy can help us see that we ain’t the queen of De-nial.

    • Joyce, I think that’s why people tend to remain static – avoiding change or doing the work to un-learn and learn new things. At least, I can say that it was true about myself. To admit that I couldn’t handle something or that I made mistakes was intolerable………I was SO wrought with shame that anything below perfection was unacceptable, so admitting that I even NEEDED help was an admission of failure.

      So, through intensive therapy with a counselor that truly “got it” about trauma, abuse, and shame, I am learning each day and the most incredible aspect of this recovery and healing process is that the pain of the past didn’t kill me. I truly and quite literally believed that revisiting any of my childhood and adult experiences would be so painful that it would either outright kill me or that my mind would simply give up and cease to function. And, neither of those things happened. The opposite result was what actually happened. No, it was not pleasant or “nice” to process those experiences and events, but the purge left space for very, very good stuff to come into play.

      When there’s an offender within the family, people seem to pretend that everything’s okay when it’s clearly not. I guess it’s the hope that things WILL be okay because the alternative (being the Truth) is just too painful for some people to bear.

    • Joyce, I’m SO hoping that you’ll heal up, soon. Just a very unpleasant injury, on every level.

      Change is a challenge, to be sure. I was never ready for changes because I was so deeply immersed in the pretense that everything was just fine. The pretense behavior had become so predominant in my life that I didn’t believe that Life could be anything BUT pretense. It was my DUTY and lot in Life to pretend that all was well and that I was strong, tough, and that I could “take anything.”

      When I finally jumped my rails after 5 weeks of lies and subversion, I was arrested on charges of domestic violence after I attacked the exspath in a fit of rage. That single event was what propelled me into change for myself. Prior to that, EVERYONE ELSE had the problems. Colleagues were selfish. Friends were too demanding. Bill collectors “had it in for me,” personally. EVERYONE else was a problem.

      After my arrest, I determined that something was way, way off-kilter and that I never, ever wanted to be “That Person,” again. The moment that I made that decision, I became committed to changing, no matter what it took. This does not mean that I looked forward to it or found the endeavor to be pleasant, by any stretch of the imagination. I had to learn how to find balance within myself where none had ever existed, before. And, I made the choice to process my past traumas and experiences when I truly believed that I would literally die from reliving the pain OF those traumas. Well……my worst case scenarios did not develop as I had anticipated (yet another hallmark of PTSD) and letting go of the past actually made it possible for me to live in the present with some measure of comfort.

      With this new-found balance, I’ve been able to wrestle down a few of my personal issues and I have accepted the fact that I’m not going to change myself all in one day, week, month, or year. It’s an ongoing challenge, and I’m taking each step, one-at-a-time. One-by-one, I’m making changes in the ways that I think and respond, and this includes harmful behaviors to myself and others.

      I don’t ever want to live in a state of denial, again. That was far more painful and damaging to me than anything else that I’d experienced throughout my entire life.

      Again, heal up soon, Joyce!

      • ZEN thank you, my hand is still in a cast but not hurting much anymore.

        I think your ‘AW-HA’ moment id a typical experience for many of us, and prompts US to change ourselves and quit trying to change someone else or even change the universe…..my ah ha moment was when i saw that patrick was PROUD of his crime of murder and how brutal it was….so i quit trying to change him. but it took FEAR for me to start changing myself. Yes that change is a long step-wise process that lasts a lifetime but as we progress along, it gets easier and life becomes PEACEFUL and that’s a good thing

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