seprah.com
Apr 8

Escaping the crazy

Before coming to MBA school, I have been in two abusive relationships. The first was with a boyfriend when I was 18 and the second was with my first counterpart in the Peace Corps. They were both different patterns of abuse, but down at the most basic level, all abuse is about control. As anyone who has ever known me can attest, I have a deep-seated hatred of being controlled in any fashion.

So, I made a friend when I came to business school, and I was lonely and wanted a friend. Despite my misgivings, I got sucked into her orbit and was her friend for about 7 months. Then, early March, we got into a fight (as we seemed to do once every couple of months or so) and something in me changed. I was going through a low point and couldn’t deal with her anymore, so I cut her off. And the more I cut her off, the crazier she got. I had already dealt with her lying, her misrepresenting me and my other friends and her wild mood swings, but this was like all of Sybil’s 13 personalities all came out at once.

So, I did what I am accustomed to doing when faced with a troubling situation with another person, and consulted the emotional abuse checklist. She fits most of the criteria. Here is a sample that I could answer “yes” to:

– Is jealous of other friends, and will insult people you like.
– Wants control of clothing, opinions and decisions.
– You have feelings of dread and that you are walking on eggshells.
– Claims to have power you don’t and that if you misbehave, they will punish you.
– After abuse, will become increasingly affectionate, and express so much sorrow and self-hate that you end up comforting them.
– Lies about insignificant things.
– Makes contradictory demands.
– Does unrequested favors and then gets angry and hurt when you don’t reciprocate.
– Says negative things about a trait you like about yourself.
– Insists that all you have in the world is them.

That is actually a culled sample. I can answer more. The thing is, that there are very few resources for a toxic friendship, and the prevailing advice is just to cut off contact with that friend. A little hard to do when they will be in the same program as you for another year.

The thing that makes me really uneasy is that she has threatened me in the past, and she is getting crazier and crazier the more I have cut her out of my life. She had three conversations last week with a mutual friend about how I was cutting her out of a meeting with a professor after she told me I had to do a group assignment on my own. Nothing my friend could say could make a dent, because she kept going into circular logic.

I’m really at a loss, but it just proves again that if I listened to my gut in the first place, none of this would have happened.

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3 Comments

  1. Barmy Mama

    April 9, 2009

    Reply

    I just looked up the checklist you spoke of online and I’d say 99% of the things on that list applied to that first guy you were referencing.

    The shit thing is that I’m still fucked in the head over it and it’s been over 10 years. The people that I’ve told about it look at me like I’m nuts and I start to wonder if I’m imagining that he was abusive.

    And just when I thought I was over it, I went home to Arizona to visit my parents (about 2 years ago), saw a guy working at the bank that looked like him and had a full on panic attack. Turned out it wasn’t him and I felt utterly ashamed that I could still harbor that level of fear over some guy that I haven’t heard from in so long.

    I hope you figure out a way to deal with this ‘friend’. You’re stressed enough as it is, and that kind of crap just doesn’t help.

  2. Sepra

    April 10, 2009

    Reply

    Well, you know I don’t think you are crazy one bit and did not imagine anything.

    I’m so sorry that you are having panic attacks to this day, and I wish I had known what was really going on with you and him all those years ago, because I feel like I should have done something. I just didn’t know how to recognize the signs.

  3. Barmy Mama

    April 10, 2009

    Reply

    I don’t think any of us did. That kind of thing happens to OTHER people, you know? 🙂

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