July 14, 2011

When Boundaries are Set by the Abuser

I was really struck today when my Sponsor set clear boundaries regarding being mistreated.  

It took me back to a few years ago, when I felt it was important to attend a function with my spouse that was in my former science profession. Another close family member did her best to try to tie me in emotional knots about this function, which was to be out of state. My son was pretty young at the time, and my family member told me and my spouse to call on her "if we needed help."  Well, it turned out my spouse's mom had unexpected health problems and it looked like she would not be able to stay with our son while we both attended the function.  I called my family member and she hemmed and hawed, and finally laid a trip on me, telling me what my job really was.  To stay home with my son. 

I had a friend at the time who had heard stories about my family member and it turned out she too felt that staying home with my son was my "proper" place. Also, my friend was busy reconciling with her father who had been rather distant to her, after her beloved mom had died. While I sincerely empathized with my friend...she was not able to do the same with me. She wanted me to reconcile with my problem parent but that was impossible! For I had tried and tried.  I had struggled for a long time with people not really believing or getting the nature of my parent's long term abuse of me.  When I shared the pain my parent had inflicted on me, by telling me she wanted to help me and then judging me instead, my friend told me, "I agree with [said parent]."  It was truly a slap in the face, and I think she knew it. 

Part of me wished to remain friends with this woman, for I love variety in my friends and I like being challenged to be a critical thinker. But the slight of her words to me was a form of betrayal. I found that this friend did not call me again.  I wrote her a Christmas card, never heard back. I wrote her a card around the yime of the next summer season, as I knew we would likely run into each other at a community pool. Again, no response. 

I let go and let God.  I knew she had found a suitable friend who she liked associating with better.  Someone who would sympathize totally with her mothers death and not disturb her with the things I needed to share. A more normal uncomplicated friend, probably. For, I did not know my parent was a person with a mental illness, yet.  

It took me a long time to realize that maybe I was better off without the friendship.  My HP is with me on that, for I have a wonderful and diverse group of friends today, who all very much "get" my relationship with my family member and don't try to tell me I should think differently about her. Nor do they ever tell me my family member is "right" about me or  compare me with them. They trust my stories to be accurate, and to the very best of my ability they are perfectly true. 

With that friend, who gave me that backhand of abuse,  it was I who attempted to rectify the situation with her in the weeks after her betrayal of my feelings...  I think it demonstrates how I forgive very easily. I think it also shows how I do my amends work back-a**ward sometimes. 

And perhaps it exposes a character weakness --a case of extreme people-pleasing..

1 comment:

  1. I lost a good friend who could not accept that my wife was alcoholic and that I needed to go to Al-Anon. Some people are meant to stick with us and others go their own way.


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