Sunday, December 7, 2008

Clingy People

Do any of you have friends that are only friends when you are needy? I have someone like that. This person needs me to need her. When I am needing advice, needing to vent or needing support, she is right there. When I was needier, I would hear from her every single day by email, IM or phone. Not anymore though.

I'm not dealing with daily panic attacks or flashbacks. I'm not requiring three to four types of medication every day. I'm not dealing with medication changes daily. I'm not in therapy at the moment. I am still dealing with the abuse (suspect I always will be) but it's not horrible. I'm not a clingy mess at the moment.

I've not met this friend. We connected on an abuse online forum. She is still dealing with the abuse on a more daily basis. She is where I was almost two years ago. I am still wanting to communicate with her. If I can help her walk through the process, then that is wonderful. I have tried very hard to not offer platitudes or act superior in any way. I think I'm doing pretty well. For many weeks I thought the problem was me. That I was in someway acting not interested. That perhaps I was acting better than her because I had made it through. That I wasn't being supportive when she has a set-back. Finally, after much thought I realized that it wasn't that at all.

The real problem is I'm not needy. It's not that I don't need her - I do. I value her input in my life. I ask her opinion. However, my entire focus is not the abuse. My problems are not all abuse-related. I try to talk about mommy issues, going back to work, and other things. She doesn't seem interested, though.

I'm not sure whether to raise this issue or let it go. I know that some people are friends in your life for just a short time period. Some people come into your life for a specific purpose or event. I find it hard to let go though.

I suspect this person needs me to be in need. She needs me to be needy. She doesn't want me to heal. Maybe she fears that if I heal, I'll forget about her?

Has anyone else lost a friend through healing?


Ethereal Highway said...

It could be that she is embarrassed or ashamed that she is still a mess after so much time. Or it could be that she sees how well you are doing and fears that she might contaminate that with her issues should she try to engage with you. Or it could be that she has problems relating because the intensity of her troubles demands so much of her time and attention. Or it could be that I am projecting my crap all over a person I know nothing about.

lawyerchik said...

I think you caught part of it there at the end of this post: if you heal, you might forget about her or might not need her as much.

I lost a friend like that - it wasn't about healing, but she needed me to be less confident and less outgoing and less independent than she was because then she felt like she had power. Not "over" me - just power. Power to help someone else, even if she couldn't help herself. Maybe that is part of the dynamic between you and your friend?

It's good, though, that you are finding joy in your life and that you are not letting the past define you. Hopefully, your friend will get there, too, and then your friendship may bounce back (or not).

beauty said...

Yep, I lost my best friend of over 20 years (we even share a grandson in common) after I was diagnosed with DID. Not immediately afterwards, but after some time had gone by and I began to go through some healing and to become stronger.

This person is big-hearted, but there always seemed to be a catch to everything she did for me (which was a lot, but I never asked her to--she'd jump in before I could even think what to do in a crisis.)

When we first met I was a single mom to 5 kids, living on welfare. She had a well paying, stable job, one kid, and we got off on the wrong foot from the get-go, in my opinion at least. Seems she needed to be the rescuer and for that she needed someone to rescue.

She ended our relationship very abruptly two years ago, without really giving a reason. I'm still stunned when I think of it.

I think that she saw my DID as a form of entertainment for her. At first I saw the humor in it and we'd make jokes, etc. But once the pain set in and I didn't want to joke about it, she seemed to lose interest.

Tamara (TC) said...

I have had people in my life who were caretakers. It worked wonderfully when I needed to be taken care of and as I grew stronger, the friendship was not able to evolve to a new level. This is very sad and difficult to deal with but I had to say goodbye. It is not worth holding myself back so that someone else can feel good about taking care of me. I had to realize that true long lasting friendships are built on mutual trust, understanding and respect. Of course the respect was the hardest for me to get because my parents made a point of telling me I was not worthy of respect.

I now understand that it is okay for some friends to move along when the relationship is no longer mutually beneficial. This is not even a bad thing. We were there for each other when it was what we each needed. Now, we have each found new friends who are based on what we each need now. No need for guilt or hurt. It just is the way relationships evolve sometimes.

Hope that doesn't sound harsh. I don't mean it to be. I still have complete love for my friends caring for me when I desperately needed it. I also have total respect for their need to caretake being what makes them feel good about themselves. It is all okay.

Angel said...

Definitely. As we get healthier, we become more aware of unhealthy patterns and are less likely to allow it to continue unchecked, whether by confronting the issue or by avoiding the person.

I had an on-line friend that I met through an abuse forum. We corresponded for a long time on a very regular basis. Suddenly one day she began making demands for us to meet IRL. She had all kinds of different excuses/reasons for why we "HAD TO" meet in person. I got creeped out and refused, despite her threat that it would mean the end of our friendship. At that point, it felt like emotional blackmail and her behavior had become so strange that I wondered what was really going on anyway. When she ceased e-mailing me after that I missed her but didn't try to contact her again. Apparently I couldn't meet a strong need she suddenly had (the need to meet IRL), I wasn't going to violate my own boundaries, and that was that. That impasse was the end of our friendship. To me that didn't mean that the time we had spent with each other (in e-mail, chat or on forums) was a lie, it was where we were at the time. We both moved on and no longer had compatible needs so it was apparently time to move on.

We also tend to gravitate towards people who share our interests. It's a natural, immediate bond.

You may be spot-on about your friend needing you to need her. It could also be that she needs the emotional intensity and closeness/bond through your needing her. Those daily contacts may somehow meet her emotional needs. It is possible to be addicted to emotional drama. Healthy people aren't as interesting for people like that.

Maybe you could ask her if she is interested in discussing other aspects of life? That way, if she doesn't want to expand the friendship beyond abuse issues, you'll know and won't have to worry about hurt feelings.

Kim said...
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Kim said...

I'm going to throw in a possible different spin....
I definitely won't say that I'm only a friend when my friend Jennie is needy but I do rise to a different level when she is. I call her more often. I don't need her to need me but it allows me to share in a more intense connection with someone than I'm capable of creating on my own. As you well know, I'm BAD at reaching out for help or making myself vulnerable to someone else. Jennie is exactly the opposite. So it stirs me up when she reaches out to me in that way. I feel like it's an opportunity for me to help someone else through the things I've learned out of my traumas. I feel like it's the "silver lining" of all the garbage I've been through...when I can use it to help another person. And I feel like I can learn from her in a way, seeing how easily she reaches out for help.

But Jennie & I have been friends for 25 years and we have grown together over the years. We have a deep understanding of each other so it may not be the same as what you experience with this friend.

When I was younger, I was the "drama junkie" because I simply could not deal with my own drama. I needed other people to come to me with their problems so that I could solve someone elses. I wasn't ready to tackle my own.

I do think it's worth a gentle questioning/conversation about.

Grace said...

In my therapist life, I've seen how one person's growth and/or healing upsets the existing dynamic of family, friendships, and/or relationships. People grow apart or grow together. Tamara spoke of caretakers. Most people fall into one of two categories that can be dysfunctional: caretaker/controller, needy/demanding. A caretaker and a needy person can be a good relationship. But if one grows out of the role and becomes adult, independent, confident, it throws the other out of sync.

It becomes a choice of the one not in healing mode. Communication is always good. Of course it always hurts when the result is growing apart. Healing from abuse as an adult often leads to a new life, new friends, new relationships. It's not a bad thing. It's just an exhausting thing....

Speaking from survivor mode, it sucks but it happens. Recognizing the other person is not going to change and letting go is awful.