Emma the Ex Friend, Part 2 (I Won’t Play the Codependent or Rescuer Anymore – Some Life Lessons Learned)
January 27, 2022
All names have been changed below.
I have also omitted or changed identifying details as much as possible so as to keep people’s identities anonymous.
Point 1 (Intro)
This post will stand to correct some of the false comments made to or about me by the crackpot, who calls herself “Donna Hazel,” (🤡) that visited this blog about two months ago, who has no understanding of what transpired between myself and my ex friend “Emma” (not her real name) over a several year period
((Link): Re the Crackpot Part 1 and (Link): Re the Crackpot Part 2),
and also to correct some of what Emma told me – some of which I briefly covered in this previous post, (Link): “Emma Responds”
Emma did not want “emotional support” from me, though she framed it that way to me. As time went by, it became apparent to me that she was seeking pity and validation for her victim mentality.
“Emotional support” is not the same thing as pity. Enabling someone in their victimhood mentality is not healthy for that person.
I cannot save someone who does not want to be saved, nor is it my job to save someone else; each person has to take action to get help for himself or herself.
This lady approached me for friendship after she found my blog and my social media; I did not approach her.
This “Emma” person didn’t want a normal or healthy friendship, but rather, a relationship based on bonding over negativity, and further, one has to support her in her belief that she is a helpless victim in life. If you’re not willing to do that, she has no use for you.
The relationship I had with her felt transactional in nature at times – so long as I supported her self pity and agreed with her in some fashion that she’s a helpless victim and that life is always terrible…..
She was fine with things, and she found me useful – but once I began gently asking her to take more responsibility in her life, or ask her to consider if maybe doing so would help (something I did for myself, which helped me quite a bit), she quickly became angry and wanted me to defriend her on social media.
That is not normal behavior, nor the behavior of someone who wanted to have a normal friendship. She didn’t value me for me, but rather, what I had previously been doing for her – which was, feeling sorry for her. She was looking to have her negative and self pitying attitude validated by me – that was my value and my role.
Years ago, when I was still very codependent (because my mother raised me to be codependent), I had a boss at a full time job who was a bully, and this woman boss, Lilly (not her real name), used to make my work life hell.
For the first year to year and a half of Lilly’s workplace abuse of me, I did not defend myself from her abuse in any way.
I did not so much as even politely verbally hold Lilly the boss accountable for her abuse of me, because I was raised by my mother and the evangelical, Southern Baptist culture I was raised in, never to be assertive.
Speaking up and having boundaries was considered by my mother, and the faith I was raised in, to be inappropriate, unloving, unfeminine, and selfish.
I also had extreme anxiety about confrontations for years. I usually would not stand up to bullies because I was afraid of retaliation from them.
So I endured my supervisor’s workplace harassment for about a year, or a bit over a year, in silence. No push-back from me.
In the second year of the workplace abuse, when my anger finally out-weighed my fear of the boss, fear of confrontation, and whatever codependent brainwashing from my mother and the Christian faith, I began standing up to Lilly the abusive boss.
I was never mean-spirited, cruel, or unprofessional when confronting Lilly, but I did begin firmly yet politely pushing back and letting Lilly the abusive boss know I did not approve of her mistreatment of me.
Lilly did not like me finally standing up for myself, and she began depicting me as though I were the problematic one.
Lilly began acting as though I was in the wrong and she was the innocent victim – all because I merely finally began practicing normal, healthy boundaries with her, rather than sitting there quietly and enduring her bullying behavior towards me.
Once I began standing up to her, Lilly began speaking about me in front of others in the office as though I were a “trouble maker” who “has problems with authority figures.”
The truth is, I stopped being a doormat with Lilly – I had not become a “trouble maker” or a “problem employee” and so on, but she deceitfully began spinning my new-found boundaries and courage to confront her as me being a bad worker or a bad person.
I found myself in the same situation as that one a couple of months ago, when I did a blog post about how clinically depressed people can make decisions for themselves, and they can make choices.
I mentioned ex-friend “Emma” (not her real name) as one example of that situation in that post.
I was then torn apart by a visitor to this blog calling herself “Donna Hazel” (🤡) in the comments under that blog post (and in other replies that I did not allow to be published to this blog),
where Donna Hazel acted as though Emma is a poor, innocent, widdle lamb of a victim, and I was the villain and the “great big meanie” who was just being so heartless to Emma, and I was taking advantage of poor, poor, put-upon Emma.
Not only was that all untrue and a very weird mischaracterization of the post I had written, but the actual situation was flipped around.
(I will explain what I mean by that as this post progresses.)
Emma herself – even when she wrote me back in private after that blog post about her, after she read it, as well as reading Donna Hazel’s comment – had the audacity to play the victim with me in private yet again; but she wasn’t the victim.
But Emma really likes thinking of herself as a victim, and she likes it when others think of her as a helpless victim.
I wouldn’t even say that I was “the” victim or “a” victim, but Emma did get some things wrong in her dealings with me. I’ll explain more as this post goes along.
I do not plan on discussing either one of these people, Emma the ex-friend, or crackpot Donna Hazel (🤡), indefinitely on this blog.
However, either one or the other may pop up in passing if I do a future post discussing patterns I’ve seen in people I’ve known before, or if either woman talks about me, tries to leave me a comment on this blog, or contacts me in another way.
Other than that, I do not intend on discussing either Emma or this other person forever at this blog, and I don’t want to give either one any more mental space, either.
As I’ve mentioned numerous times in the past in various posts on this blog…
Because I do not share all details about myself, my background, my past, or all details and all the background of my several years long friendship with Emma on this blog, it is very unwise to draw all kinds of conclusions about me from a single post or two, or the one post where I mentioned Emma, where I used her as an example.
When you visit this blog, you’re seeing only one slice of the pie, not the entire pie, because I do not discuss every aspect of my past, my background, nor do I discuss every topic of interest of mine, I don’t reveal absolutely everything about myself, etc.
I use this blog basically to discuss only the same few topics repeatedly (e.g., declining marriage rates in the nation, how Christians treat single adults like garbage, dating trends, etc). Those are my main areas of focus.
Therefore, it is very sloppy and irresponsible to base assumptions of me, or of my friendship with this Emma person, based off the limited information I’ve to this stage not publicly discussed.
However, even before meeting Emma several years ago, I did write and publish posts on this blog mentioning some of the various problems I’ve had over the course of my life concerning (but not limited to)
- problems I’ve had with family members (including receiving either indifference from them, or verbal and emotional abuse),
- problems I’ve had with various friends,
- problems I had with my ex fiance, and my struggles with
- doubt concerning the Christian faith
I’ve mentioned in some previous posts in years past about how I had depression for many years, how friends and family and church people I met weren’t there for me to grant me emotional support after my mother died (but instead judged me, gave me platitudes, etc).
Emma found my Twitter account that is affiliated with this blog, and she found this blog, around the year 2014 or 2015.
I often use my Twitter account to link to posts I’ve written on this blog, with the blog’s title/heading and a link to the blog post in the Tweet.
Emma, my now ex-friend, saw many of the posts I wrote and published on this blog where I very openly and frankly discussed my problems – many of those problems that Emma saw me discuss on this blog around 2014 or 2015 and afterwards are the same as what is listed under Point 4 above.
As Emma read my blog posts after she found my Twitter account and blog around 2015, she ALREADY KNEW about my problems.
After visiting my Twitter account and this blog starting around 2014 or 2015, Emma ALREADY KNEW of my history with verbally abusive family members, my selfish and financially abusive ex fiance, how the church and extended family let me down in my years of grieving after my mother died, how God (if he exists) had not been answering my prayers, etc.
Emma saw all that content.
Before she even met me and talked to me, Emma read about my frustrations, anger, regrets, and disappointments in life, which is one reason she was attracted to me or to this blog to start with.
I did not seek out Emma and approach her – she found me; she approached me, not the other way around.
After Emma started following me on Twitter (and I began following her back), we tweeted and DM’d each other more often.
After I don’t recall exactly – maybe several months to about a year of this? – Emma started DMing me (sending me private text messages) on Twitter wanting to be closer friends with me.
Emma spent about a year to year and a half pursuing me, asking me if I would please friend her on Facebook.
And each time I told her no.
I told Emma I did not mean to offend her or hurt her feelings, but no, I did not want to reveal more of my personal data with her than she already knew.
I told Emma that I wanted to continue to stay Anonymous with her, for many reasons, one of which is, I explained to her (and which I’ve blogged about before, and she saw some of those blog posts herself),
I’ve had creepy people stalk me online (usually men),
I’ve made friends with women online, only for them to turn on me years later and stab me in the back,
even AFTER I had given those very same women emotional support when they’d contact me to cry or complain to me about their problems in life.
I told Emma that those women friends I had given emotional support to for years and had been loyal to over the years ended up ditching me in my times of distress, and I was burned by them (Emma had previously even read some of the blog posts I had written about those women at this blog).
Emma assured me at that time, in private DMs, that she would NEVER treat me badly and stab me in the back the way those other online friends had done that I had blogged about before meeting Emma, blog posts which Emma read.
As a matter of fact, Emma saw some of those very posts I had written about ex friends who treated me like trash, such as (Link): this one, like Ellen the Ex Friend of mine.
Emma swore up and down that I could trust her, that she would not burn me the way Ellen (and others) had done.
So after a year or more of her asking me, I finally gave in, relented, and friended Emma on Facebook.
… where, after several years of me giving her non-judgmental emotional support, Emma turned on me and burned me, just the way my ex friend Ellen did, only minus the extreme rage of Ellen, which Emma had promised years before she would never, ever do – but which she did.
In other words, I did not use Emma to get my emotional needs met, and then cruelly with-hold emotional support from her, while she was being my support for years.
No. That is not what happened.
Emma ALREADY KNEW about my problems before she ever contacted me directly, because she had READ ABOUT my struggles on this blog, because I wrote about some of them.
I did not seek Emma out to befriend her, just to use her as a sounding board or a free therapist.
She sought me out and wanted to know me better.
I spent several years granting Emma non-judgmental emotional support any time she texted, DM’d me, or used Facebook Messenger, to tell me about her problems.
If, for example, she told me she had knee surgery on a Monday, and she’d be in the hospital with her cell phone recovering from it for five days, I’d wait until Tuesday or Wednesday to text her and ask her how her surgery went.
Any time Emma told me she was more depressed than usual, I’d tell her I was sorry to hear that. I told her I hope she felt better.
This went on for a seven or eight year period.
I was not with-holding emotional support from her, but I was granting her emotional support for years on end.
Please bear in mind that as I compose this post in January 2022 that Emma is currently in her early 60s.
When I met Emma online, she was in her mid-50s or so. Emma is now in her 60s. 👵🏻
Emma is not a child, a teen, or an inexperienced- at- life 20-something.
Emma is approximately 11 to 13 years older than I am.
Emma is old enough to know better.
But in her most recent dealings with me, where Emma got cranky and took offense quickly at my polite, well-meaning suggestions on how she could possibly curtail the depression she claimed to have (this is what started her anger at me), she was behaving like a child throwing a tantrum, or like a bratty teen.
Though I was raised to be a conflict- avoidant codependent, I never- the- less remained very patient and calm with Emma as she was chewing me out in private over this dispute (that unfolded over several days starting in October 2021), and I was trying to work the conflict out with her – the way two adults can and should.
But Emma pitched a fit like a child would do, and told me to go ahead and cut her off – and she wasn’t being polite or nice about things, either.
She did not want to hash out our differences (as I was trying to do with her) but wanted to “take her ball and go home,” the way a five year old pitching a fit would do with a group of children friends playing ball in the street.
Emma did not waste any time in throwing a several year old friendship that SHE WANTED (that she approached me over, not vice versa) into the trash can as soon as I presented her with a different view point, began having healthy boundaries with her, and gently asked her to take on more personal responsibility for her situation.
Considering the fact that Emma was apparently deceiving me about having hand injury problems, where she said that she was supposedly unable to bake or use an oven…
(this occurred when I told her about 2 or 3 years ago that I used baking 🍞🎂🍪 as one means to counter-balance the clinical depression I used to suffer from,
when she told me yet again at that time that her depression had gotten bad)…
(read more about that issue here: (Link): Can She Bake or Not? (Emma The Ex Friend – How Honest Is She?)),
I now seriously do not know if any thing she ever confided in me about was true or false, or, if some of it was true, was any of it exaggerated, and at that, to cause me to pity her, to play on my sympathies?
Emma made all sorts of claims with me privately during the several years we were friends.
(I will only mention a few here below.)
Emma claimed to have (or kept suggesting she had) clinical depression.
She claimed to have a chronic physical health disorder.
Emma claimed that some of her family used to occasionally verbally abuse her when she was younger.
Emma claimed that one of her former live-in boyfriends was physically abusive towards her and often financially exploited her, but that she finally broke up with him and left him.
(In each case, at the time, I assumed all these claims were true, and I told her I was sorry she was hurt in childhood, or that her ex abused her, etc.)
However, it began dawning on me after her blowing up at me in October of 2021, combined with her continued denial of my medical diagnosis (more on that later), and here lately, over this “muffin baking” stuff (see the Muffin Baking Post here for more on that) that maybe Emma never had depression in the first place.
Maybe her family never verbally abused her, as she had claimed.
Maybe her hands were never injured or damaged in any way, as she had claimed.
Maybe her ex boyfriend never physically assaulted her, as she had claimed.
How am I to know how honest she was being with me about any of that or any thing else? Maybe some of it was made up or exaggerated.
This is the internet, where any one can claim any thing.
Tied in to point 9 above.
Looking back on things (well, at the time, I could see this when I first was getting to know her better privately), Emma has a huge, huge Victim Mentality.
Emma admitted to me early on that she does at times feel sorry for herself.
That became more and more obvious to me the longer I knew her.
Emma has a super negative outlook on herself, relationships, any set backs, and life in general.
And that non-stop, deep negativity Emma possesses is a huge turn-off for me, and it’s not good for my mental health to be around people with such pessimistic outlooks.
As I explained to Emma privately years ago, I was raised in a family where my father was very, very negative, he was a chronic complainer and he was non-validating, and my two older siblings take after my dad, and I told her I did not like being around that non-stop negativity.
So years ago, when Emma began one of her, “Pity me, I have life more difficult than any one else, God gets up every day and picks on me in particular, more so than anyone else,” spiels with me in private, I got really turned off by that,
and I told her something like this in response (privately):
“I don’t mean to hurt your feelings or offend you here, Emma, but to be rather direct…
“I will have to take a break from this and stop contacting you for awhile, to protect my mental health.
“You are acting far, far too cynical, negative, and self pitying right now, which reminds me of my negative family, and I’ve told you about my negative family before and how they are, and how that is not good for my mental health.
“Emma, I know life can be painful or frustrating at times, and to a point, it’s fine to acknowledge that and mull it over, but it’s going into really bad, unhealthy territory to take it to that extreme, where you think God is singling you out for suffering, and you just have it so much worse than everyone else.
“I don’t agree with holding on to that type of attitude, and certainly not for a prolonged period of time.
“While I am largely over depression now, being around someone who is being so negative can put me in a mental funk or trigger my anxiety, so I will need to take a break from you for a couple of weeks.”
So I did.
I stopped texting her for about two weeks at that point, and I tried to be as kind about it as I could when I told her I’d be backing off, as I did not want to hurt or offend her.
After I recently began researching Vulnerable Narcissism (also known as Covert Narcissism), I did notice that Emma has several of the hallmarks of the Vulnerable Narcissist (e.g., the “woe is me mentality,” “other people have life easier than me” mentality, “pity me, feel sorry for me” aura, etc).
See these posts on this blog for more on those issues:
If you want to know what Emma is like in private, take a look at those posts above. THAT is what I was dealing with for seven or eight years – someone with a huge case of Victim Syndrome with a sprinkling of Covert / Psychosomatic Narcissism Traits mixed in.
“But what about people in wheelchairs?,” you ask.
“Isn’t it cruel to expect people with depression to deal with depression, like asking a paralyzed person in a wheelchair to get up and run laps at a track?”
I’m so glad you asked (not really).
But here, see this post for a response to that:
(I didn’t go into all that detail in my prior posts about dealing with this Emma person – but I shouldn’t have to.)
Emma told me years ago that some European guy she was friends with, or flirting with over the internet, sent her a lot of money 💸💰 once, after she told him she didn’t have much money.
I think she told me she used the money he sent her to get dental 🦷 work done, if I remember correctly.
I don’t know how much, if any, of that “European guy sent her money which she used on dental work” story is true.
If Emma is a Covert, Psychosomatic Narcissist who uses sickness (real or imagined) to get sympathy and funds from people, maybe she was “playing” that guy. I don’t know.
Or, if she is dishonest, if she is a Covert Narcissist, maybe she was telling me that story about the European guy sending her money in passing, hoping to play on my sympathies, so that I’d start sending her funds, too.
Maybe Emma presents upfront as a fairly nice, sweet, trusting, yet bitter, negative, ‘angry at and disappointed by life, people, and God,’ empath to people who discuss openly on their blogs (as I did) about being down in the dumps and alienated from family
(i.e., I may first come across as a potential, juicy target to Covert Narcissists or scammers) all so that she can pull on your heart strings so that you will either validate her and her world view (keep giving her non-stop emotional support), or so that you will start wiring her money. 💸
I can tell you that as soon as I turned the spigot down on the “granting non-judgmental emotional support” (after having given her several years of validation and emotional support) to start giving her possible solutions to her supposed depression, is when she quickly – very, very quickly – began turning on me, which is a huge, huge red flag 🚩 that my hunch that she is somewhere on the Covert Narcissism spectrum may be spot on.
At the very least, that Emma so quickly turned on me when I dialed down the emotional support to instead start helping her find solutions reveals that she more than likely wasn’t friends with me to have a normal friendship.
A normal friend would not bail on you and dump you in an instant after SEVEN YEARS, over not fully endorsing or agreeing with your view on some matter or another like that. That is not normal behavior. It is a give-away.
Pertinent to this discussion:
Focusing on your problems can sap your joy and pleasure. Healing entails coming out of denial and feeling your pain, but it also includes developing healthy habits to increase positive feelings and the healing chemicals they release to combat hopelessness, anxiety, and depression.
… Sometimes, focusing on a problem becomes a problem in itself, while engaging in activities that inspire, relax, and fulfill you revives your enthusiasm and creativity and gives you a new attitude, perspective, and focus.
…Change happens when you do.
(page 171, Darlene Lancer, MFT, book: Codependency for Dummies)
If you more or less spend your days refusing to make any changes, use “depression” (or whatever else) as a rationale for why you supposedly cannot change this or that, and have a “negative nancy,” pessimistic mindset, you will remain “stuck” in whatever problem you have.
In particular, with depression, if you want to get better, or lessen depression at all, you will have to resist the urge to stay in pajamas all day, in bed, staring at a wall or at a screen 📺 , and, instead, try baking, going on a walk, meeting a non-depressed friend face- to- face for a cup of tea, taking continuing education courses at a local college – whatever change of pace that gets you from being isolated, sedentary, or staring at a screen all day.
I had asked Emma a few times in the last few years if she had tried things like calling or e-mailing local churches ⛪ to ask them if they’d have someone willing to drive her places, or drive her to their Bible studies, or if they’d have meetings in her place (so she could receive much-needed face-to-face interactions with non-depressed persons), but she’d never answer.
She’d never answer me on things like that … because no, she didn’t try that and did not want to.
If you want me to give you continued emotional support, you’re going to have to demonstrate that you are trying other things to make a break-through, which, after several years of me knowing her, Emma would not do.
From page 185:
Part of healing entails reaching out and establishing new ties and friends. … Conversation, sharing, being in touch with others who have active, involved lives provides involvement, encouragement, and a sense of belonging, especially when you don’t have or aren’t close with supportive, nearby family members. (author Darlene Lancer, MFT, book: Codependency for Dummies)
Emma also engaged in other tell-tale signs of Covert Narcissism.
Note: I am not saying she is a full blown Covert Narcissist, but she does exhibit several of their traits. (People can be on the Narcissism spectrum, or exhibit the characteristics, without being diagnosed as someone with NPD.)
In spite of the fact that going back years, Emma kept telling me in private there was “no way” I ever could’ve had clinical depression – though I explained to her several times I had been diagnosed by a psychiatrist with clinical depression at age 11 – 12, and that the diagnosis was verified by three more psychiatrists in three other states as I got into my 20s and 30s, she still kept maintaining this falsehood that I didn’t have depression or never did (even though, yes, I did, for over 35 years).
Emma would not apologize for that obnoxiousness or ever “own it.”
I told Emma pointedly a few times in our last discussion or two that her continually denying my medical diagnosis (of clinical depression) was not ethical or moral, and it’s certainly not something an actual friend would do to another friend.
But that is one sign of narcissism – the narcissist will play the victim, even though they are the aggressor, they will accuse YOU, the target, 🎯 of being the bad guy, and they gas-light and project on to you what they are doing.
They are adept at, and practitioners of, DARVO (Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender).
Even in her concluding private message to me on Facebook, Emma was still playing at these mind games.
Emma made it pretty clear in some of her last messages to me that she wanted me to un-Friend her on social media.
I reached out to her again, to reply to those last messages of hers to me, but while she saw those messages to her, where I kept trying to reason with her and reach some kind of compromise, she would not respond.
So, after three days, I defriended Emma. I gave her three days to respond, but she did not.
So, this is a person who had no intention of trying to work things out or patch things up.
And yet, after my back and forth comments with clown “Donna Hazel,” (which Emma saw), Emma sends me this private message (which I discussed a little bit (Link): here), where she actually tried to emotionally manipulate me, guilt trip me, gas-light me, and intimidate me, by…
Telling me that what I wrote about her on my blog – that I had “thought of her like that the whole time” supposedly “made her sad,” and she told me she had a small hope that we could “work things out,” and go back to being friends, until she saw my comments on this blog.
(No, she had no such hope or intention.
After all, when I tried patching things up with her on Facebook for a period of days, over about a two week period, she replied rudely, snapped at me several times, suggested I de-friend her on social media, and when I calmly wrote back still attempting to work things out, she saw those comments but didn’t reply for three days, and so I de-friended her.
That doesn’t strike me as someone who “had hope we could work things out.”)
I don’t even think my comments made her “sad.” I think that comment was intended to be a guilt trip, an emotional manipulation.
Emma issued veiled threats in that last, private Facebook message to me about suing me for libel – so bizarre! (and even though I’ve changed all names and identifying information in all these posts) – yet she ends the post by saying she “wished me well” or “only the best for you” or however she worded it.
You don’t threaten someone with a lawsuit (or imply you hope they get sued over their blog posts), and then sign off by telling them “but hope you have a great life.”
But that is precisely what she did to me.
It’s a very Covert Narcissistic type of move to make. It’s not normal behavior.
At the very least, that action is a crummy move and entirely inconsistent with conveying this message to you in a note, “I hope you have a great life! But I also hope you get sued over your blog writing some day, tee hee.”
I mean, what the? 😐
I called Emma on the phone ☎️ about four or five years ago.
It was either that phone call or in a text message she sent me, where she told me that another one of her friends (who may be an ex friend now?) had once told Emma that Emma is “self absorbed.”
At the time, I didn’t know what to make of that.
After having pondered it, though, I think I may know what the ex friend meant.
While Emma would usually respond to any texts I sent her where I talked about a problem I was having, and she’d offer emotional support
(which I often thanked her for – but she never once thanked me for all the years of emotional support I gave to her – more on that later),
she would generally not respond to most texts I sent her, unless those texts met certain stipulations.
Emma wanted to bond and commiserate with me over negativity and complaining and typically only showed interest in topics that were of interest to her personally and would usually (not always, but quite often) blow off any topics or hobbies I texted her about that she was not into herself.
So, Emma was seeking out friends online with whom she could bond over negativity and who would agree with her victim mentality (she wants people to agree with her that she’s a victim and there’s nothing she can do or change to fix her attitude or situation).
I, however, come from a family of Debbie Downers and Chronic Complainers, so I don’t want to be around non-stop complaining, which I told Emma several times in years past.
I never liked being around too much negativity, I never liked listening to other people complain constantly, and often, when my Dad would start on one of his Complaining Benders when I was growing up, I’d excuse myself and leave the room to go read a book or watch TV in another room to get away from the suffocating negativity.
I even explained much of this to Emma early on, too.
While I am fine with some amount of complaining, and I’ve used this blog as a place to vent myself on occasion, I am not a negative, pessimistic person 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
I don’t spend every moment of every day feeling or being angry or complaining. I don’t sit around thinking of myself as a victim, either.
I was raised in a family where my father and two siblings complained and were negative constantly, and I was never like that.
I do use this blog to express anger, but when I’m off this blog, I am not a negative person who complains all the time.
As far as Emma’s other ex friend saying she, Emma, is self absorbed (her words, not mine)…
I noticed that in much of our conversations over the years, Emma would only promptly respond to my texts or DMs if I was complaining about a family member of mine who was treating me poorly, or if I was sending her commentary or links to articles on subjects that she, Emma, found interesting or that get her riled up and animated.
Off and on during the times I was friends with Emma, I tried to have a “normal” friendship with her, but that did not work.
I did not want our friendship to be based ONLY, or primarily, on complaining and bitching about life, God, or gender complementarianism (neither Emma nor I agree with gender complementarianism).
So, from time to time, I’d text Emma with comments about non-negative subject matter, which she would usually ignore, like 99% of the time.
I’d sit there and think,
“Hmm, she doesn’t seem to want to know me as a person, or just be friends on the basis of normal friendship stuff, because she usually ignores most “normal,” fun, or happy stuff I send her
“- so I guess I should revert back to only bitching and griping to her, and talking about negative stuff with her?
“Because she replies to and shows an interest in that negative, complain-y stuff, but not much else I text her about.”
Emma loved horses and koala bears (let’s say – I am changing some details about her to keep her anonymous, recall).
She hated complementarianism (as do I).
So, on occasions I would text Emma with links to articles about horses or koalas (and she adores horses and koalas), she’d respond to those quickly, hit the ‘like’ button on those, and she’d go on a rip about complementarianism, any time I sent her a link about complementarianism.
Emma has a bad habit of (usually) only commenting on, reacting to, and replying to texts and photos (and responding quickly), if it is subject matter that she is personally interested in or that gets her riled up.
Which does come across as being very, very self absorbed.
In order to get Emma to comment on “non-Emma approved, preferred” content, I would have to specifically and repeatedly ask her in texts, as but one example,
“Hey, did you see the gardening comments I sent you above, where I told you I planted some more plants? What did you think? It’s been a few days, you’ve not commented on any of that…”
– otherwise, she’d not reply to it at all, because Emma did not care about my gardening hobby and some of my other interests.
This annoying habit of Emma’s got worse the longer I knew her.
Emma rarely responded at all, or quickly, to texts I sent her about MY hobbies that SHE is not interested in.
For example, I got into gardening a few years ago.
I had to re-pot some Aloe plants 3 or 4 times over the years.
(This is just one example, Emma did this frequently with other non-negative issues I tried talking to her about, like my new cake baking hobby and other things.)
I even sent Emma photos of some of those re-potted plants.
I was happy with the plants, I was proud that as a novice gardener, that the plants had thrived under my care.
I even texted Emma some photos of the re-potted plants.
I was hoping to spark a healthy, normal conversation about a neutral, happy, or enjoyable topic, such as gardening
– as a change from her usual preferred modus operandi, which was for me to send her a link to topics only SHE was interested in,
or to bond with her more over complaining how UNFAIR and horrible life is, and why so many Christians act like insensitive ass hats, and other such complaining.
But did she reply and comment on the plants? No.
(And this happened more than once – I repotted those plants about 3 times over 4, 5 years and texted her each time.)
Reminder: Emma is currently in her 60s, claims to be fairly house-bound, and she hasn’t worked a job in years – so it’s not like I am tearing into a busy person’s schedule.
Most of her time, day to day, is spent watching movies or shows on NetFlix or arguing mainly political stuff on Twitter, or complaining to people in private about how awful her life is.
Emma is not working a 9 to 5 job that leaves her too busy or tired to reply to texts at all, or to reply in a timely fashion.
Even after I texted Emma again a few days later (after I got no response) and asked her,
“Didn’t you see my texts about the Aloe plants? Didn’t you see the photos of the Aloe?” -she’d not reply to that or so much as hit the “like” button to indicate she’d seen any of it.
But the MOMENT you send her
- an article or photo of her favorite singer Reba McEntire, let’s say, or
- her favorite animal of a horse, 🏇
- or a link to one of her most-hated issues, complementarianism,
THEN boy howdy, you would more or less be assured that she would reply quickly to THAT content and reply to it pretty fast, maybe within seconds or minutes.
That behavior became even more pronounced when I sent her series of texts all at once.
If I got really chatty and sent her ten, 20, 30, some odd texts in a row, over various topics (each one usually short-ish or medium long)… for example…
- The top text message could be a link to a news story about horses (her favorite animal),
- the next six (with one being a Photo of said plant) could be about me discussing my Aloe plant and re-potting it,
- the next three could be about me seeing a cute chipmunk I saw while on a run that day (and the chipmunk was even juggling acorns),
- the next message could be a link to an essay by another writer refuting complementarian views,
- the next three could me discussing a skirt I was thinking about buying, what did she think, should I buy the red skirt or the blue one?,
- the last several could be about me watering the garden…
She’d reply or respond to message 1 (horse), ignore 2 (my Aloe plants), ignore 3 (me seeing a chipmunk), she’d reply with great interest and vigor to 4 (because she detests and loathes complementarianism), she’d ignore my 5’s (skirt I’m interested in), and she’d ignore point 6 (my gardening).
I wouldn’t say she was guilty of that behavior 100% of the time, but it was frequent, recurring, and more noticeable the longer I knew her.
She would generally only comment or respond to topics of interest TO HER.
If I sent her ten (even if they were very short) DMs or texts in a row, she’d typically ignore the first eight and only reply to the very last two.
Kind of early-ish in our online friendship, I did tell Emma that I’d have to step back from texting her.
I think this was before I began taking a new college class. I told her I’d be too busy with school work to text her, which is what happened.
After I did not contact her for two weeks, she started texting me asking me where I was, was I angry at her?, etc.
Even though I was in the middle of studies, I texted her quickly to tell her, no, I wasn’t angry at her, but I didn’t have much time to write her, because I was studying.
I had a ton of reading to do, and a lot of homework assignments at that time.
As our friendship wore on, though, when I had more time to text her, as I said, she got into a very bad habit of ignoring my texts for days on end (to tell me later she was binge-watching this or that show on Net Flix or whatever).
When she did reply, I’d say that about 98% – 99% of the time, unless a link or comment pertained to a topic SHE personally was interested in, Emma would not respond, not reply, and wouldn’t comment.
I’d have to ask her later, “Hey, didn’t you see my posts above about X and Y and Z? You only remarked on Q, but I had a question about X.”
That happened all the time.
🙁 This relationship at times felt rather transactional to me at times – not on my part – but due to some of Emma’s tendencies that I discussed above.
It felt at times as though Emma was only talking to me online, and acting on friendly terms with me, so long as I discussed topics SHE is interested in, and so long as I affirmed her negative world view and victimhood view of herself or her life.
The transactional nature of the relationship felt icky or yucky at times, and I was not comfortable with it.
Off and on during the time I knew Emma, I tried forging a more “normal” friendship with her – one NOT based primarily solely or only on being negative, or bonding over complaining, but when I tried sharing links or comments about non-negative issues, she seldom showed interested in those topics.
As I said, this relationship felt transactional at times, due to how Emma interacted with me.
Aging Router, Aching Hands Excuses
After I told her a time or two that my router was aging and going out more often (leaving me with unreliable internet service)…
I notice around that time Emma began claiming all the times she was avoiding answering my texts for days is that her place’s router was also bad, thus cutting off her internet connection.
At other times, Emma used her wonky, supposed injured hands as an excuse as to why she would ignore many of my messages (because she supposedly could not type back replies, though she said she once used Google transcribe, or whatever its name is, to send me a text… so why not use Google transcribe more often?)
Initially, my impression is that Emma was likely truthful about that, but as months went by, my gut feeling is that she simply was not interested in responding to my messages and was using the aging router, or supposed hurt hands, as excuses (or white lies) to not reply to me – unless I was to send her a link to one of HER favorite topics, of course, then she’d reply to me on those occasions.
The hands and router would work on those occasions.
⚠️ In the end scheme, Emma only wants friendship on her terms and at her convenience. ⚠️
Emma is not going to take much of an interest in YOUR life and YOUR hobbies or neutral or fun topics.
Emma is (generally speaking, it felt like about 98 – 99% of the time to me) not going to respond quickly or with enthusiasm (if at all), unless you are sharing content with her in DMs or Facebook Messenger that are about HER personal topics or hobbies of interest.
And god forbid after seven years of you granting her nothing but pure emotional support…
If you start to gently hold her accountable for her actions, choices in life, and ask her what is she doing to tackle the same set of problems she keeps complaining about, has she considered approaches X, Y, or Z to deal with this problem she’s had for at least seven years that she keeps approaching you with?,
because then she immediately dumps you, and she asks you to defriend her online.
That is more of wanting to have friendship on your terms and at your convenience.
Actual friends are willing to work through a disagreement with you to reach some kind of compromise.
They don’t ditch you within minutes after several years of friendship that THEY pursued YOU over.
When I phoned Emma a few years ago (one of the few times we spoke on the phone ☎️), I told her about a friend of mine (who I’ve written about in a few older posts like (Link): this one), whom I will call “Katie” (not her real name).
A few days or weeks before I called Emma about this, Katie and I had gotten into an argument about something else.
I explained to Emma that I dialed back emotional support and at times totally withdrew it from Katie, because Katie was a chronic complainer who would not make any effort to fix the things she was always complaining to me about.
(And I grew up in a family like this – with family members calling or e-mailing me repeatedly over the years to complain about jobs or relationship problems that annoyed them but that they’d do nothing to fix or change.)
Katie spent literally over a year (over twelve months in a row) complaining to me about how lonely and friendless she was because her military husband was out of country on a long-term tour of duty.
Katie said she didn’t have any female friends or any family to talk to.
I spent over a year giving Katie nothing but 100%, unvarnished, non-judgmental emotional support over the internet, but by the second year, when Katie kept complaining to me about this SAME situation, I realized that all my listening, validating, and emotional support had not helped her at all.
So, I changed strategy from giving Katie emotional support to tossing out some suggestions on how she could make friends at her age (Katie was in her mid- to- late 40s at that time).
Every single suggestion I gave to Katie, she would reject and have an excuse as to why she couldn’t take the suggestion and put it to work.
I gave Katie my phone number one day in private, and told her, she could phone me if she felt lonely, and that I would just listen or shoot the breeze with her and not judge or give advice.
She told me she’d think about it, but she never did phone me.
Well… within days to weeks of me giving her my phone number, and me trying to help her make friends (by giving her suggestions on how to make friends at her age), she began flouncing over to Facebook to make whiny sounding posts about how, “When I tell people I am lonely and friendless, I just want empathy! I don’t want suggestions or advice!”
On another day, just days after I offered her my phone number on another site, she was over on Facebook making this ridiculous claim:
“If I ever died alone in this big house by myself, nobody would find my dead body! I am so alone! I am so alone, I don’t even have anyone I can phone and talk to!”
I spent over a year trying to comfort and assist Katie, that huge, Self Pitying Clown.
Even after I offered her my phone number – which Katie did not avail herself of – she goes over to Facebook to complain she had nobody to phone.
She was obviously feeling sorry for herself and was wanting attention through pity.
And she got it. Katie’s other lady Facebook friends left her comments saying things like, “Oh, you poor dear you!”
It made me want to puke.
And I told Emma about all this. I told her how exhausting it was giving this Katie woman non-stop emotional support for years – not just for the time frame her husband was out of town, but Katie would often e-mail or text me about her other issues.
And, as I told Emma, I noticed after years that Katie never actually did any thing or took any steps to solve the things she complained to me about, whether it was being lonely and friendless or other things.
On top of that, Katie never thanked me for the years I was there for her, listened to her, consoled her, and tried to cheer her up.
I realized all of my good intentions, attention, and consoling amounted to nothing, it was a waste of my time, it wasn’t helping Katie, and Katie was taking it for granted.
So the moment I saw Katie blaring on Facebook that ‘nobody cares about me, I have nobody to call, nobody cares about me, poor me’ I decided then and there to lower, or cut out, my emotional support to her.
And Emma laughed over the phone after I told her this.
Emma agreed with me pulling back my emotional support from this hypocritical and emotional leech of a friend (Katie).
Katie who I spent years comforting, only to have her accuse ME of self pity years later when I went to her after my mother died (when I was in the grieving process) asking if I could speak to her about that.
So… Emma was another Katie, too.
Emma was another Ellen (who I blogged about here).
Emma was fine with me trying to hold Katie accountable for Katie’s happiness.
Emma did not object when I told her over the phone that I began dialing down emotional support to instead give Katie suggestions on how Katie could tackle Katie’s recurring complaints (about being friendless and lonely).
Emma was all fine and dandy with me removing, or lowering, the non-judgmental emotional support I gave Katie, when Katie turned out to be a chronic complainer who wants pity and attention but who wouldn’t make any effort to actually fix what was bothering her.
But the moment I did the same with Emma, as I had done with Katie, Emma got very perturbed, griped at me, insulted me and told me to go ahead and de-friend her on social media.
Emma is fine with me holding other people to one set of standards, but she wants me to make her exempt from those same standards.
Emma is fine with me with-drawing or lowering emotional support with other friends of mine who complain about the same problems for months to years, but she’s not okay with me doing that to her!
I suppose that Emma wants to be exempt because she is a unique, special snow-flake ❄️ … the rest of us can make changes for ourselves and make choices and move forward in life, but no, not her.
I could do it… Katie could do it… and maybe (Link): paralyzed people in wheel-chairs can do it, but not Emma!
Yes, I can do it – you can do it – but not Emma! 🙄
The double standards or blind spots some people have are amazing.
Yes, if I can do it, so can you!
Emma sarcastically spat that line at me in a private message (as did clown 🤡 Donna Hazel in the comments!) when I told Emma, ‘You know, I was once where you are, but there is hope – you can get out of, or lower your depression – maybe some of the techniques I used can help you as well.’
Emma hissed 🐍 at me, “‘If I can do it, so can you.'”
The more I think about it – the more I realize how awful Emma’s response was to me – her response was disgusting, and I think it goes to show she never really valued me as a friend or as an individual.
There was no need for her to get so sarcastic with me like that, and she was doing this in response to me sharing with her how I was able to get past depression.
The sarcasm and bitterness she spat at me (and this escalated quickly on her part) I think really reveals a lot, none of it good.
Emma knew the sort of family I was brought up in, because not only have I discussed it openly here on this blog on and off, but I went into a bit more detail with her privately.
My parents wanted me to be very passive.
My parents, and the religion they raised me in (evangelical, Southern Baptist Christianity), wanted me to be very passive.
I was raised to be codependent and complementarian (but then I repeat myself).
My mother was very codependent, my Dad usually ignored me, and when Dad did speak to me, it was to be hyper-critical and negative.
Dad never affirmed or validated me.
Both parents… oddly… gave me “de-motivational” speeches.
My Mom often sweetly discouraged me from trying new things, taking risks, while my Dad bluntly informed me (any time I shared a goal or dream of mine) that I was not smart enough, good enough, or ‘whatever’ enough, to accomplish whatever dream or goal.
Neither of my parents raised me to be an assertive go-getter.
In addition to having lived with clinical depression for over 35 years (and which I am largely over), I still contend with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
This anxiety disorder is a huge obstacle to me in living my life – it makes things ten times harder than it has to be.
Growing up, my parents often told me, or it was conveyed to me, that I should not run after Goal X (whatever “x” was), because, “What if you try X and you FAIL at it?”
I told Emma I flipped the script on that a few years ago, when I decided to go back to college.
My dad (and some of my other family) did not think I had what it takes to pursue this new degree. I was told I was all wrong for “X,” that I would fail at “X.”
Emma also knows that I get no emotional support from anybody. I’m not on good terms with my family, never have been – they are largely negative nancy type of people who always come to me to meet their emotional needs and console them when they are stressed out, but they refuse to do the same for me.
I have nobody to give me emotional support, affirmation, encouragement, or validation. So if I want to move ahead in life, I am on my own. Which Emma knows.
So… when my family was being discouraging to me years ago about going after this new college degree, rather than think in their terms of, “What if I try X but fail at it?,” to my new way of looking at it, “What if I try X but SUCCEED at it?”
And I texted Emma about that. I told her that thinking in terms of “what if I succeed at this goal rather than fail at it” helped me quite a bit.
Re-framing a previously negative outlook helped me lower my anxiety and self-doubt to run down this new course of study (which I later made all A’s in).
Emma was thrilled. She thought it was great how I flipped the script on my family’s negative mantra of, “Oh no, you shouldn’t try doing X, because what if you try X and fail?”
So, Emma is fine and dandy with me changing my outlook on myself to cheer myself on, to lessen my anxiety, but when I attempted to convey to her that this sort of trick (if you will) might be able to help lower her depression, she started yelling at me in text messages that I am “thick” (as in “stupid”) and that I am just giving her “pep talks” and “platitudes.”
How hypocritical is it that Emma is perfectly fine with me working on my own issues, striving to move forward (in spite of not having a spouse or family to cheer me on), and to change how I think about things but she won’t even CONSIDER trying this approach for herself?
I had clinical depression for over 30 years, and let me tell you, having depression does not suddenly render you incapable of considering options or looking at solutions.
The only type of person who would act that offended that quickly over that type of suggestion is either harboring a strong case of Victim Syndrome and/ or is somewhere on the Covert Narcissism spectrum (see point 10 for more on that) and isn’t actually interested in getting rid of their depression, despite what they say otherwise.
My own journey out of clinical depression was not a short, simple, or easy one.
Both Emma and tool Donna Hazel (🤡) both behaved as though my exit from depression was simple, fast, and easy peasy. It was not.
(By the way, Donna Hazel claimed to be some kind of mental health professional in some of her comments to me, which I doubt for several reasons.
One of which is, her conduct towards me was entirely unprofessional, and secondly, rather than celebrate my healing from depression, she mocked it and attacked me over it, both very curious actions from someone who claims to work in the mental health field and who claims to value compassion.
An actual mental health professional, if they bothered to leave a reply at a “nobody’s” blog (like mine), would’ve congratulated me on my healing from depression – not belittled me over it or mocked what tactics I used to get out of it.
I would also be very surprised to find out if “Donna Hazel” is over the age of 45. I could be wrong, but she comes across as a 20- or 30- something. I didn’t sense wisdom or life experience from her.)
Not only did my defeat (or severe lessening of) clinical depression take me YEARS of effort, but I had to work through it alone.
When I was younger, I had medical insurance that paid for mental health care, so I was able to pay for psychiatrist visits.
Prior to that (when I was a teen and in my early 20s), my parents paid for my psychiatric treatment.
In the years since, I cannot afford to see a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist.
As I may have remarked above, I’ve never married, so I do not have a husband for emotional support.
I don’t have any friends to lean on (though I am on friendly terms with two or three acquaintances) and my immediate family consists of verbal abusers who love to criticize me – not support me.
My extended family only wants a shallow, superficial relationship with me; none of them want to grant me meaningful, long lasting emotional support.
My mother died when I was in my late 30s, which was a huge blow to me. I was close to my Mom.
Nobody helped me through the grieving process, either. (My god, I could write a volume on that topic alone, but I’ll skip it.)
In the last several years, I’ve taken more responsibility for my own life. I’ve begun making changes.
Despite the fact I deal with an anxiety disorder, I force myself to do things and go places that trigger my anxiety.
I read a lot of free online articles and books by psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists that helped me make sense of my issues. I’ve watched many of their self-help videos on You Tube.
I’m mulled things over in my mind. I’ve reflected back on my life, what my parents taught me and what worked and what didn’t work.
I eventually had several epiphanies in the last few years and came to a few realizations.
Thanks to all this hard work, I made my way out of depression. I’ve made some progress.
And I’ve done this all alone, with no emotional support from friends and family, and only a smidge or dash of emotional support off and on from Emma via text messages (when she’d bother to actually write back).
But by and large, I did all this work ON MY OWN.
I didn’t have money to pay to see a therapist.
My extended and immediate family either like to basically ignore me or criticize me if I go to them seeking encouragement or empathy.
It took me a lot of hard work – all alone, over a period of several years – to work through and get over my depression, to still cope and find work arounds for my anxiety, and to move forward in life (e.g., returning to college to begin a new career, etc.).
I’m doing this all without a cheerleader in my life, no emotional support system.
➡️ So yeah, if I can do it, so can you. ⬅️
It’s absolutely aggravating to me to see any adult over the age of 30 – 35 sit around, play the victim, chronically feel sorry for themselves, continually complain about the same problem(s),
and then claim there is NOTHING they can do to change their problem and not so much as even change their attitude about their problem(s), (they won’t even consider or investigate possible solutions),
a problem(s) which they claim to have had for seven or more years!
I finally realized a few years ago that me feeling sorry for myself, praying and waiting on God or on family to help me or fix me, or complaining all the time about this or that problem, or sitting around in sorrow, regret, and anger was not going to actually DO ANYTHING to fix the concerns I had.
For that, I’d have to start being active in my life, take risks, and stop being passive.
All of which goes against my upbringing.
My parents raised me to be passive and to play things safe, so I have to fight against this strong pull, desire and tendency to just sit around and hope things magically fix themselves – and my anxiety disorder does not like any of that.
My anxiety disorder wants to lull me back into “just sit around and wait” mode.
And Emma knows all that. I explained it to her before. She also knew parts of this prior to even meeting me, since I openly discussed many of these issues on this blog going way back.
My walk out of clinical depression was not a piece of cake that was over instantly.
It took me years of hard work (by myself, as I could not financially afford to see a mental health professional) to escape, or deeply lessen, depression.
I didn’t just look at a cute, motivational “Hang In There!” cat 😺 poster one day on a wall and voila!, the depression instantly vanished.
If you want out of depression, or you want to achieve any goal in life, regardless of what it is, or what ever issue you’re facing, you will have to make a decision, a choice, to take steps to move ahead and to make changes, even if you don’t “feel” like doing so.
This is where self-discipline, determination, personal responsibility, a fighting spirit, taking charge of your life again, and self-encouragement comes in, and nobody else can do it for you, especially if you’re older, living single (no spouse, or an un-supportive spouse), and most of your family are dead (or they are abusive or un-interested in helping or encouraging you).
But some people get very, very comfortable living in Victim Land, because if you’re in Victim Land, you’re not held personally accountable for your life, your choices, or your actions.
You have to look inwards and stop looking outwards and stop blaming other people for your life or dashed hopes, if you want to make any progress or improvement.
Your locus of control must be internal, not external.
Which means, no more sitting around blaming God, other people, or your family or whatever other outside forces, if you hope to be happier or make improvements in your life.
If you’ve been hurt by someone or something, by all means, take time to process it and see a therapist, but make it a point to let it go at some stage, whatever it is, and move on.
And again, this is a CHOICE you must actively make – and having depression or being paralyzed in a wheelchair doesn’t make you incapable or exempt from this general rule of life – it’s applicable to every one.
Outside of people in on-going comas in hospital beds, I’m hard pressed to think of any adults for whom what I just typed is not applicable.
If you’re in a situation you are legitimately unable to change, see these former posts on this blog:
I had to work long and hard, on my own, to get rid of clinical depression. It was not easy.
I deeply resent anyone coming along and acting dismissive of the emotional pain I was in for over three decades (as though it were nothing, or Emma saying, “You never had depression in the first place”), and acting dismissive of the long, hard journey I had to take ON MY OWN to get rid of the depression.
I didn’t just snap my fingers and poof!, the depression vanished.
I didn’t just look at cute, Photoshopped, positive-thinking memes on Pinterest, and bye-bye depression.
It took more than that.
Among other things, part of me escaping depression involved me having to dig through and confront painful childhood memories and realizing hard truths about my parents, and accepting and grieving those truths…
And I had to do this, again, ALONE, by researching free psychology articles online, watching psychiatry and psychology videos (by professionals), and by ordering a handful of books about various topics by psychologists, as I could not financially afford to see a therapist or psychologist any longer.
My walk out of depression (or minimizing it a great deal) was not quick, simple, or easy.
I was capable of doing it, and yes, you are too, whoever you are.
I do not like anyone using having clinical depression, or any type of depression, or chronic, physical health problems, as an excuse to “wiggle” out of obligations and responsibilities, but some people do this, including my mother on occasion, my Aunt Trudy, and a few other people I’ve known.
Despite the fact I had clinical depression for over 35 years, I still forced myself to get up, shower, and hold jobs or take college courses.
Aside from that, I (even though I had depression) would temporarily “stuff” the empty, hollow feelings of depression down to do things like phone friends or family of mine who I knew were going through a tough time to lend them an ear.
Even though I was in much emotional pain, I’d stuff MY pain down long enough (sometimes for hours) to sit and listen to a hurting friend or family member cry about their divorce or dead husband, or whatever or whomever, over the phone or in person over a cup of coffee.
There were times, in spite of my depression or anxiety, I’d force myself to shower, dress up, and attend a friend’s wedding, a friend’s birthday party.
I didn’t use my depression or anxiety as excuses to weasel out of attending people’s social functions.
(I am also an introvert, so I really detest social functions.)
There were times in my life, in spite of my depression or anxiety, (and some of this was PRIOR to the internet, prior to “Facebook” etc) I’d force myself to shower, dress up, and drive to a store to buy a sympathy card or “thinking of you” card, or some small gift, to slap a postage stamp on it and “snail mail” it to a hurting friend in their time of sorrow.
Do you think I was in the mood to do any of that? I can assure you that no, I was not.
My depression and anxiety led me to wanting to stay in my pajamas all day and never get out of bed.
I had no desire to drive to a store to buy a “thinking of you” card, or to pick up a phone and let a hurting friend sob over the phone to me for hours about their dead husband. But I forced myself to be there for those people.
I did not allow my depression or anxiety to keep me from giving emotional support to other people in my life I knew were going through a tough time.
However, I’ve known people in my life, such as my Aunt Trudy, who claim to have depression, and she will say it is her depression that kept her from phoning ME during my years of grieving after my mother died as to why she didn’t support me then.
I cannot begin to describe how infuriating I find that.
She, yes, very well could’ve stuffed HER depression down for at least 60 minutes once every few months to phone me and let ME cry over the phone TO HER about my dead mother.
(Aunt Trudy used to phone 📞 my mother decades ago on a very regular basis to cry about her dead adult son, after he died from an auto accident.
And my Mom took every phone call from Aunt Trudy back then, for years, was patient and kind with her, in spite of the fact that my Mom had clinical depression herself and did not generally enjoy listening to others cry or complain to her for hours.
But my mother did so for Aunt Trudy any how because she knew Trudy was in grief and needed a shoulder to cry on.)
God knows I stuffed MY PAIN down many times, during the 35+ years I had depression, to make such phone calls to others so they could cry to me over hours about their dead loved one or their destroyed marriage, or help them in other ways.
You can be afflicted with depression and still do tangible good deeds for other hurting people around you.
So don’t hand me this line about, “No, I cannot do thus and so, because I have depression!”
Yes, you sure can.
You are choosing to use your depression as a crutch to avoid leaving the house, helping other people, or from meeting social obligations. It’s much easier and tempting to just roll over in bed and go back to sleep or binge-watch stuff on television, and blame it all on depression.
Even now, though I have a pretty bad case of Anxiety, I have been pushing myself the last few years to take more charge of my life, take risks, and make changes, and get out of my comfort zone.
I am doing this with no emotional support or encouragement from my family.
Some of my family members are actually telling me that my new goals are not obtainable by me, because they regularly tell me I am not “x” enough (smart enough, bold enough, whatever enough) to accomplish my new goals, and they tell me to drop these goals, to stop trying… but I keep on trying anyway.
I have not used my Anxiety disorder as an excuse to give up and stop trying (which Emma knows).
Furthermore, I’m doing all this in spite of having been programmed and conditioned to do the opposite by my parents from my childhood
(ie, the parents wanted me to be passive, to feel as though I am too inept to make choices for myself, they said I should play it safe in life and not try new things, they taught me that failing at something makes me a failure so I should avoid trying new things, etc),
and I have to fight caving in to that programming all the time.
Going out and doing new things, taking risks, and going to new places and meeting new people, and so on and so forth, which I’ve been doing the last few years, runs deeply against my nature and my anxiety disorder.
As A Man Thinketh, So Is He
As I told Emma in private, so long as she keeps sitting around telling herself, “I cannot do such and such (–because God is against me, I have depression, and reasons X, Q, R, and S–),”
she is engaging in a self fulfilling prophecy… if she believes she “cannot” do something, she is correct – she cannot.
She already believes she cannot, so she won’t even attempt to get up and make a change.
You have to believe you can do X, otherwise, you’ll never get off your ass and take any steps to work towards X, so, you remain on your ass, on a recliner, binge-watching Stranger Things and Downton Abby every day, while complaining to friends on social media that your life is miserable and not where you’d hope it to be.
I just finished reading a book by a licensed therapist (Darlene Lancer, MFT) about a week ago called “Codependency for Dummies” and much of it repeats the things I intuitively figured out on my own that had helped me manage my depression and anxiety, and that I had previously shared with Emma.
Take, for example, this comment by the book’s author (emphasis added):
… You can choose to be for yourself or against yourself. … Now you must plant seeds of positive self-talk.
It’s up to you to encourage yourself, even when you’re down or afraid.
A positive dialogue is also crucial to motivate you to take risks, make changes, and become more independent. You can do what you believe you can, and you can’t do what you don’t believe you can. (page 163)
I already wrote a long blog post about this weeks ago, so I don’t care to go into detail here, but:
I am an ex-codependent.
Here’s my post about that, which I strongly encourage you to read, as it will explain further regarding why I no longer was willing to keep giving my ex friend Emma continual, un-qualified emotional support
(she got angry at me for with-drawing, or toning down, the support after seven years of me having given her support):
Because I was a people pleasing, codependent, boundary-less, sweet, introverted (good listener), empath over most of my life, I kept attracting many hurting, wounded, toxic, or damaged people, and I gave every last one un-limited, non-judgmental emotional support, until I got into my late 40s.
Suffice it to say, I learned by hard won life experience into middle-age that I cannot save, fix, and rescue every hurting, angry, or toxic person I meet, and this was confirmed to me in material I read online and in books by psychiatrists, therapists, and psychologists.
I finally figured out by middle-age that it’s not my obligation, responsibility, or duty, or within my power, to rescue, fix, and to give un-limited, never-ending emotional support to the chronically angry, wounded, personality disordered, depressed, or toxic.
The on-going emotional support can morph into enabling (which keeps those toxic or hurting people stuck in their problems), so it doesn’t ultimately help them, and, in the process, after 35 years of me playing the sounding board and free therapist to every person to cross my path, I am running on empty.
I no longer have the energy, stamina, or the interest to sit around listening to the wounded, the pessimists, the clinically depressed, or the angry rant or cry about their failed marriages, stressful jobs, selfish wives, irresponsible boyfriends, dead grandmas, or depression every day or every month.
If you are wounded in life or recovering from recent trauma or a recent, painful event, beyond someone validating you when the pain is fresh and someone granting you legitimately-needed emotional support in those early stages, you need to work on you and not expect or look to others to fix you, rescue you, or make you happy.
(And don’t look to denial, over-eating, compulsive shopping, gambling, sex, a job, drugs, or alcohol to do the job, either.)
And this goes ten fold the longer your pain drags on and the years go by.
Only you can fix you, by whatever healthy path you choose to do it – by reading self help books or by seeing a therapist regularly, if you can afford to see one.
But re-living some painful ordeal repeatedly, ruminating on it, calling or texting a friend for 5, 10, or however many years after to keep sobbing or complaining to that person about whatever it is, will not help you in the long run, and you’re only depleting and exhausting your empathetic friend, who is listening to you complain and cry for years and years about the SAME PROBLEM REPEATEDLY.
I refer you again to this post I wrote for more on this topic:
It is unfair and unrealistic to expect a recovered codependent, such as myself, to drop the boundaries I’ve learned to develop in the last several years, all to deal with and continually prop up a woman (such as, but not limited to, Emma) who complained about a set of problems for several years that she has no intention of doing anything to actually solve herself.
I cannot rescue Emma or any one else. It’s not even my job or obligation to rescue her or others.
My saying, “You poor thing you, you’re such a victim of life, you poor dear,” can only go so far to help this person.
My mother, who was quite codependent over much of her life, would be deeply disappointed in me for now having boundaries with Emma and others in my life.
I love my Mom and miss her, but no thanks to that!
I’ve been much happier and well adjusted in life since I threw the codependency and Christian gender complementarianism (but then, I repeat myself) in the trash can of life.
The gas-lighting, manipulation, etc…
In my correspondence with Emma, especially in our disagreement in October 2021, she kept twisting things, mischaracterizing things, putting words in my mouth, gas-lighting me, and being dishonest about me.
She even insulted me a time or two, which was totally unnecessary.
Even though I pointedly told Emma at least three different times in our text exchanges that she is not to blame for having depression, she kept writing me back to say things like, “you are blaming me for having depression,” and variations of that theme.
This is in spite of the fact I went out of my way to clearly tell her that I don’t think anyone is “to blame” for having depression and that she is not to blame for having depression.
When you’re an adult, whether you have depression (or some other problem in life), you may not be “to blame” for whatever issue you’re facing, but it still remains, much to Emma’s chagrin and annoyance, that you are still RESPONSIBLE for your own healing.
Furthermore, whether or not you seek help (e.g., see a therapist) or take steps yourself (e.g., read self help literature), is a choice you are making.
💥 You, an adult, may not be to blame for having Problem X, but you are responsible for how you react to and handle Problem X. 💥
That is true for all of us, whether it’s Emma, myself, whomever else, and regardless of what the issue is at hand, whether it’s having clinical depression, or whatever.
At another point, Emma made some kind of remark to me in a text about how she guessed our relationship has been “one sided” the entire time, with her giving me emotional support, but me giving her none – which is totally false. See Point 2 above in this post.
The reality is that I spent six or seven years giving Emma emotional support.
And did Emma thank me even once for having given her several years of emotional support? No, she did not, not that I recall.
(If she had, I would’ve noticed, believe you me, since I am a former codependent.)
However, when I told Emma about some of my anxiety struggles and how I was dealing with them and making changes in my life, she would occasionally write me back with a kind word or two, and I made it a point to THANK 🥰 HER several times over the years for that.
I even told her several times over the years (to her delight) that she was acting more like a big sister to me in that regard than my own, actual big sister.
(Up until the last few years my sister has been unwilling to give me emotional support but instead likes to run me down, scream at me, etc, and yet she expects me to give HER emotional support.)
As a recovered codependent (see point 17 and the Intro above), I know how exhausting it can be to listen to others discuss their problems and give them emotional support.
In all my years of listening to others and consoling them, I never once had any person THANK ME for having done so.
Most people I listened to and consoled (co-workers, family, acquaintances, friends) usually acted as though I was obligated to play that role for them, or others just took it for granted.
Not me, though.
These days, if someone actually listens to me and gives me a kind word or two in response, I have made it a point to thank the person (including a woman from my Dad’s church who listened to me a few times a few years ago when I was in a rough spot).
So, I thanked Emma off and on for any emotional support she showed me over the years.
I gave Emma several years of emotional support, and she did not thank me for it.
At the end of the seven years, when I switched from giving Emma nothing but emotional support but also friendly suggestions of, “Hey, have you considered doing X, or Y to lessen your depression, maybe that will work?,” things escalated on her end quickly, she got grouchy with me, began insulting me, and snapped at me.
When I tried reasoning with Emma and sent her links to a few videos or articles I found helped me, she snapped at me some more.
When I did one of my posts on here about clinical depression, Emma saw it, contacted me on Facebook (though I had defriended her at that time, per her suggestion), and she engaged in some more gas-lighting, projection, and manipulation with me (some of which I already described earlier in this post).
I find it strange that while Emma can see how people on the far left are into “Victimhood Culture,” where they put themselves into identity groups and complain they have life so much worse than other groups (e.g., “transwomen” claim they have life so much more difficult than any one else), and that this is a turn-off to Emma…
Emma can see how destructive it is for members of these groups to sit around and engage in this left wing victim grievance culture – that she never- the- less engages in this very same thinking as in regards to herself.
Emma thinks of herself as a victim.
Well, this is what progressive transwomen do – they are always arguing with other leftists over who is the most oppressed in life, who is the “biggest victim” in life, who has “life the hardest.”
Leftist trans-persons, and some white feminists, and some black feminists, all get into these weird, off-putting debates over intersectionality, where they enter the Victim Olympics, where they compete with each other to reach the “who is most victimized in life” category.
Emma and I would occasionally discuss this subject in private, and how damaging it was for these leftists to sit around and think of themselves as perpetual victims in life, and how the transwomen vying for the intersectionality “biggest victim” award was causing harm to biological women.
Emma agreed that the leftist victim mentality was dangerous and awful, both for leftists, and for other people as well.
Emma and I even shared this editorial with each other:
(Link): The Rise of Victimhood Culture – on The Atlantic
By Conor Friedersdorf
A recent scholarly paper on “microaggressions” uses them to chart the ascendance of a new moral code in American life.
But Emma thinks of herself as a victim. She feels sorry for herself.
Emma even admitted to me early on in our friendship that yes, she does at times, fall into bouts of feeling sorry for herself.
How is it that Emma can see how harmful it is for people to constantly think of themselves as victims, how it holds them back and makes them feel even more depressed and hopeless, but she is unwilling or incapable of seeing how her viewing herself as a victim is holding her back and contributing to depression too?
Sorry to be repetitive, but as I explained earlier, I am a recovered codependent, which means I have to step back from the “problem solver” or “care taker” role for people who regularly text, e-mail, or phone me for “emotional support.”
I cannot afford to be sucked back into that position again (and it’s not good for my mental health). I previously explained that to Emma, but I guess she ignored it.
If you approach me to cry or complain about a problem you’re having, and I’ve been listening to you about this problem for months or years, I may offer you a few suggestions, like, “Hey, I’ve been where you are, and X and Z worked for me, perhaps it will work for you too,” and then I have to step back.
Beyond giving one or two suggestions that I found personally beneficial, I have to detach from you… but I also don’t want to field un-ending texts, e-mails, or calls from you where you continue to complain about the same problems that you have no intention to fix.
Other relevant material via Darlene Lancer, MFT, book: Codependency for Dummies– a lot of what you see below would also be useful for any one who is dealing with clinical depression and other types of problems:
… You discover that your actions create your happiness. (p 205)
Try new behavior.
…Instead of obsessing, take a positive action toward solving the problem, which may be as simple as getting more information.
… Do something physical. Take a walk, put on music, sing, dance, make a meal, play a sport or with a pet, or do anything that changes your mental state. Passive activities, like movies or television, may not engage you enough to shift you for very long. (p 207)
Cheering someone up occasionally or giving him or her more attention is not codependent.
A benefit of a good marriage [or friendship] is that spouses [or friends] nurture one another when one is troubled, but it’s support, not codependent caretaking, and it’s reciprocal.
In contrast, when you consistently try to change others’ moods or solve their problems, you’re becoming their caretaker based upon the erroneous belief that you can control what’s causing their pain.
You’re assuming responsibilities that are theirs, not yours. (p. 193)
Even if you stay at home, instead of feeling angry and sorry for yourself, use the time to enjoy a hobby, catch up on reading, or make a special meal. Take charge of your life rather than feel like a victim. (p. 209)
New Types of Friends
As to this last comment I am excerpting from the Lancer book, I found a few years ago, as I began healing from depression, getting rid of codependency, and gaining self esteem, that I no longer feel as comfortable associating with pessimists, depressed people, perpetually angry and negative people, or toxic people – all of whom I used to attract like moths to a flame:
Codependents tend to share their problems – the old saying applies, “Misery loves company.”
As you change, your friends change as well.
🔆 You may discover [as you recover from codependency] that you prefer to be with people who are more assertive and happier in their lives.
You may decide to leave old dysfunctional friends or limit your time with them.
(p 234, via Darlene Lancer, MFT, book: Codependency for Dummies)
I’d rather, these days, more often befriend and associate with people who are more mentally healthy, whole, and neutral or optimistic in outlook (note: I am not a fan of the toxically-, pollyanna -happy types, either – the overly optimistic can be toxic in their own way, just as are the overly pessimistic).
I used to use this blog to vent and rage about things, and I still occasionally do – but I am not always angry. I am not always negative. I don’t sit around thinking of myself as a victim.
I no longer want to attract and buddy around with chronic complainers, those with constantly sour attitudes, and negative nancies.
There are times I’d like to be able to laugh and joke with a friend, and NOT bond over griping and complaining.
This means if I have a friend, family member, or acquaintance in my life who is still exhibiting persistent negative, pessimistic behaviors or attitudes, I may have to limit my contact with that person.
✅ To Recap
✦ Emma found this blog and my Twitter account around 2014 or 2015.
Emma reached out to me and initiated contact.
I did not find Emma.
I did not seek out Emma.
I did not contact Emma first. Emma contacted me.
✦ Emma spent several months or longer persistently asking for me to friend her on Facebook and share more of my background with her.
I finally relented after having turned down her requests often.
✦ Emma assured me at that time that if I friend her on Facebook and revealed more of myself to her that she would not “burn me” the way some of my other friends had done, some of whom she read about here on my blog (but yes, she went on to act just like some of them, and she did burn me).
✦ I spent several years giving Emma emotional support.
✦ Emma’s age – she is currently in her 60s.
Emma is an adult.
Emma is not a child or clueless 20-something.
Emma is old enough to know better. She’s a bit over ten years my age.
✦ When I told Emma how I had to lower the amount of emotional support in years past to family or friends of mine who were stuck in clinical depression and/or in complaining about the same problems repeatedly, but they wouldn’t do a thing to solve those issues, Emma laughed and said she understood.
But Emma wasn’t accepting of me doing this (ie., lowering emotional support) to her when she was exhibiting the same characteristics as these other people I had told her about before.
✦ I explained to Emma in private (more than once) I am a recovered codependent, I come from a family of either chronic complainers or other codependents,
and so I have to limit contact with people who are continually negative, as it can damage my mental health if I do not,
and I also told her I no longer have the interest or stamina to keep giving non-stop, un-qualified emotional support to people after having done that for many other people 35+ years (she was warned of this a few times).
I told Emma that I have an on-going anxiety disorder that I have to self-manage.
I told Emma that what family I have left are unsupportive, and some are hyper critical and/or verbally abusive towards me.
✦ I told Emma more than once during our friendship that I was diagnosed by psychiatrists with clinical depression for over 35+ years, but she kept denying that I ever had depression (she began doing this early on in our friendship and continued to do it).
I told Emma it was tasteless, insensitive, and immoral for her to keep insisting to me that, “there’s no way you ever had depression,” and that she should apologize for that attitude / comment.
✦ Emma never took responsibility for that insensitive, obnoxious comment / claim, and she never has apologized for it.
✦ I gave Emma emotional support for about six or seven years.
✦ I now doubt Emma’s integrity.
She once told me about two, three years ago that she cannot use my method of combatting depression by baking, because her hands are too sore to use an oven to bake.
However, in December 2021, Emma was on Twitter asking for another woman to give her a baking recipe so she can try baking it herself (see (Link): this post for more about that).
If Emma was being dishonest with me about 2, 3 years ago about not being able to use ovens and bake due to supposedly having a hand injury, no telling what else she was deceitful about or exaggerating about with me.
✦ Emma told me in the early stages of our friendship that she does sometimes feel sorry for herself.
(And yes, she really does, and this is probably her biggest problem – not her supposed depression or her supposed physical health issues)
✦ Emma shows clear, clear signs of having a huge, honking case of
(Link): Victim Syndrome
and she checks off several traits of (Link): Covert Narcissism
(also see (Link): this other Covert Narcissism post)
– clinical depression, if she has it, is the least of her issues.
✦ Emma Wanted Friendship On Her Terms and at Her Convenience. (Part 1.)
Emma typically was not terribly interested in topics unless she had a personal interest in them.
If you wanted to discuss a topic with her that she was not into, or discuss fun or happy issues, she’d rarely respond to any of that.
In that regard, her ex friend she told me about, who once told her she was “self absorbed,” may have been on to something.
Emma primarily wanted to bond and commiserate over negativity and complaining about how unfair and terrible life is.
(How would you like to be “friends” with someone for years who generally ignores your texts or won’t respond to them unless they are negative and complain-y, or about a topic that she is personally interested in?)
✦ Emma Wanted Friendship On Her Terms and at Her Convenience. (Part 2.)
Emma will not tolerate any disagreement with her about depression.
(Imagine having a “friend” with whom you have to totally agree on an issue, or else they cut you out of their life.)
The moment you merely, gently share some suggestions with her of how X, Y, or Z helped you with depression
(this was after 6, 7, or 8 years of granting this person unqualified emotional support about this issue),
and perhaps these tactics could help her too, she quickly loses her temper, starts throwing insults around, and suggests you de-friend her on social media.
Emma is not willing to discuss a disagreement of that nature and work through it. (I tried, she was unwilling.)
That’s wanting a friendship on your terms.
You have to wholly, fully agree with Emma that she’s a totally helpless victim in life who cannot do a thing about her attitude or situation,
or else she will quickly jump to insults and yelling at you in these private comments,
with lots of profanity woven in, that you should just “go ahead and block me on here or whatever you need to do!”
✦ My journey out of clinical depression was not fast, easy, or simple,
and I had to do it by myself,
so I very much resent Emma (and “Donna Hazel”) dismissing my first hand experience of depression, that I lived with for over 35 years, as being nothing and no big deal, and Emma denying that I even had depression at all.
I didn’t just “breeze” out of clinical depression. I had to work hard to escape, and I had to do it alone.
✦ Emma can recognize how leftist “victimhood mentality” is bad for those who claim the victim label, and how it’s hurting American society, and yet, oddly, she cannot recognize how it’s harming herself for her to view herself as a victim
✦ I am a recovered codependent.
(My (Link): post about that topic)
I should not be “punished” or portrayed as the “bad guy” or as an insensitive mean guy for practicing healthy boundaries on people like Emma…
Especially if those people are constantly toxic, needy, depressed, or damaged.
They are beyond my help, emotional support won’t ultimately help them, and it’s not my duty to “fix” them, nor can I.
Emma has to fix herself.
I am responsible for fixing me. You are responsible for fixing yourself.
If Emma is having problems with on-going depression, she needs to see a qualified therapist or psychologist for that, and, if she cannot afford that, she needs to figure out something else
(as I had to do for myself, e.g., reading books or free online material by psychologists).
Relying on me (a non- mental- health- professional) for help with her depression for several years, as she did, is not a sustainable or wise solution for either one of us.
✦ Emma kept misrepresenting my views and kept “putting words in my mouth,” even in private, in our texts to each other, which is a form of lying. (See Point 18 above for examples.)
I asked her several times to stop doing that, but she would not, and she never apologized for having done so.
That is not how a reputable, true, honest, “friend” would treat another friend.
✦ I’ve been working on my own issues the last few years, taking more responsibility for myself, my life, my choices, including taking risks I’m uncomfortable taking, especially considering the anxiety disorder I have, to move my life forward in a positive manner – Emma and others need to do that for themselves.
So… to conclude.
This is a woman who reached out to me after she read my blog posts, she asked to friend me on more social media, and after several years of me giving her emotional support, she blew up at me merely for telling her, “Hey, I tried X when I had depression, maybe it could help you too,” and she lost her temper and told me to defriend her on social media.
I remained polite and calm with her, tried to reason with her even at that point, but she kept throwing a hissy fit, and she finally stopped replying, so I went ahead and, after three days, de-friended her on social media
(where she asked to friend me on years ago, the irony! I told her years ago I didn’t think we should friend each other, and just keep the relationship as it was – she should’ve listened, but nooooo. It did not end well.)
This is not someone who wants genuine friendship with me, or with most people in general.
Emma usually showed little to no interest in texts I sent her about things I found interesting… if my text was not about one of her favorite topics or something she is a fan of, she rarely would respond or comment on it.
This is someone who views herself as helpless to change anything about her life, situation, or attitude… because Emma thinks of herself as a victim.
Emma may blame any or all of that on depression or having a chronic health problem, but that’s not what’s going on.
She feels sorry for herself, wants me to feel sorry for her, wants any one reading this content about her to feel sorry for her. And when or if you do, you’re falling into exactly what she wants.
This is a person who promised if I friended her on Facebook, in e-mail, and where ever, that she would not betray me or stab me in the back, the way my other friends had done (that she read about on my blog),
but that is in fact what she went on to do – I was trying to avoid that possibility by turning down her constant “please friend me” requests years ago, but I eventually gave in to her.
This is just like the time I finally stood up to an abusive boss I had on one job, after having spent a year taking abuse off her.
When I finally began practicing healthy boundaries with this boss is when the boss began gas-lighting me, playing DARVO, and blame-shifting to make me look like the villain, the disruptive employee who had “‘problems with authority figures.”
The reality is, this bully boss did not like me finally standing up for myself and not remaining the doormat with her after a year of abuse. So, the tyrant boss began portraying me, her target, as the “bad” one.
This situation with the ex friend Emma and that doofus “Donna Hazel” is a repeat of that.
I was a good friend to Emma for years, I gave her several years of emotional support (which she never thanked me for),
but I saw in that time that she has a very bad “victim mentality,” and until she does something about that, no amount of me feeling sorry for her and tossing “emotional support” at her will ever help her.
And as an ex-codependent, I refuse, refuse, to play the long-suffering, care-taker role for perpetually unhappy people any more, where I spend years listening to them cry or complain about
(1) an un-solvable problem they need to learn to accept, make peace with and move on, or
(2) take steps to solve, depending on whatever type of problem they are facing.
That people pleasing, care taker role is a role I wasted 35+ years performing, and it damaged my life and my mental health.
I was there for Emma for a few years, I gave emotional support to Emma for years, but she blew up at me quickly and turned on me.
Emma never did own up to, or apologize for her continued denial about the fact I had depression for over 30+ years, and yet, she had the audacity to keep yelling at me about things I had not even said or done (see point 18 above for examples).
I’m not the bad guy here.
As I decided to move forward a few years ago, I realized I am tired of attracting negative people to me – ones like Emma (but she’s not the only one, I’ve had similar experiences with family and other friends in the past).
Sorry if Emma feels bad about her life, but it’s not up to me to fix it. Only she can do that – but she doesn’t want to.
And me sympathetically sitting by and listening to her complain about it for 5+ years won’t improve her ordeal or mental health in the long run.
I’m not interested in attracting, or remaining in frequent contact with, people who are forever pessimistic, toxic, and/or wounded.
-Whose preferred method of dealing with stress, anger, or disappointment in life is to forever blame every one around them,
complain a lot,
and not take any kind of action to improve their attitude or life,
who sit around in denial and claim,
“But I can’t! I can’t do anything to fix or change my outlook or life! I know every one else can make changes in their views and lives, but not me, I’m the exception!”
Emma is a grown adult in her 60s at this point.
She is not a helpless little baby 👶 🚼 🍼 who I victimized in some way.
I was a good friend to Emma for years, but when I began asking her a couple of months ago what she was trying to dampen her depression, when she told me that her depression was bad, and I asked, “have you looked at this or this technique, maybe that would help?,” she threw a temper tantrum and suggested I de-friend her.
Emma apparently trawls the internet seeking anyone, or hoping to come across anyone, who she feels is similar to her in view, who will validate her negative outlook on life.
Emma saw my posts on this blog, where I have, at times, openly discussed my disappointments and frustrations in life, and she must have felt I’d make a wonderful target or partner in crime.
Like I said, I’m not a villain in this story.
▶️ I attracted a “negative nancy” (Emma, in this case) to me via this blog with my openness of discussing some of the problems I’ve faced in life, and when Emma got fed up that once, after seven years, I’d not un-critically toss nothing but pure emotional support at her, she threw a tantrum and stormed off (while insulting me in the process and accusing me of things I did not say or do).
▶️ That’s not how a real friend would act, but someone with an agenda who just wants to use others to rubber-stamp her world view, to fulfill her needs of feeling she is “right” or “okay” to not act on her own behalf, but to remain or wallow in victim-hood and negativity.
I spent 35 – 40 years being extremely codependent, so, as a result, during the years I was an empathetic, caring, push-over and a good, attentive listener, I constantly attracted hurting, damaged, or toxic people who wanted my time, caring, encouragement, affection, sympathy, and attention.
And I gave my attention, encouragement, sympathy, time, and compassion away with no limits to all these people.
I began noticing, though, after many years, that all the people I kept giving emotional support to, often for the same 1 to 3 problems, over a course of months or years, never improved.
(And most of these people never wanted to give me emotional support or cared about my problems. That was another common theme.)
All my listening, affirming, emotional support, affection, caring, concern, and validation never permanently healed these troubled people or solved whatever problems they kept bringing to me.
It took me into middle-age to finally recognize these damaging dynamics, how bad and unfair it was for and to me, and put a stop to it and change how I interact with troubled or toxic people. I have no intention of going back.
▶️ ⚠️ Don’t any one ever, EVER, 😠🤬😡 come on to this blog, social media, another blog, or where ever else, ever again and declare that
- I was “mean” to Emma,
- not kind enough to her,
- that I took advantage of her in some way, or
- don’t you dare portray her as a helpless victim, or her as a victim of me
– the situation was quite the opposite, especially in light of some of the information I provided above. 😠🤬😡 ⚠️◀️
▶️⚠️ This Emma woman spent months reaching out TO ME, asking me to befriend her further, after seeing my posts on this very blog about how former friends of mine stabbed me in the back, and when I hesitated…
she reassured me that she’d never do that to me, that she wouldn’t burn me the way the others had, but she went ahead and did that to me…
…and did so in the midst of me trying to help her, when she came to me once more with the same problem, and after I had spent several YEARS giving her emotional support that she never thanked me for.
That boss who bullied me years ago on the job but tried to depict me as the “bad guy,” when I finally began putting up boundaries with her, wasn’t a victim or sweet, innocent, little baby. We have much the same situation here.
Do not pity this Emma person… she is not a little innocent, angelic baby 👼 – she’s not a kid, but a grown adult who committed infractions against me which she has never apologized or made amends for, while misrepresenting me in our private exchanges, too. ⚠️◀️
This woman was using me to get her emotional needs met – but often showed little interest in me outside of that, or outside of me agreeing with her negative perspective on life, or in sharing links to content with her that was of interest to her.
After years of telling her, “I’m sorry you’re depressed,” she dumped me in moments to a few days after I switched from, “Sorry you are depressed,” to, “Sorry you’re depressed, but have you considered trying X or Z? I know that X helped me when I had depression, and psychologists say that Z has helped a lot of other depressed people.”
~None of that was fair to me.
Updates / Additions.
In my research on Covert Narcissism, I found some of it sounds eerily like Emma’s behavior.
From one page, with excerpts of the portions that describe some of what I saw in this ex-friend.
Always under attack
What happens when you try to address issues with your narcissistic friend? Do they make it safe for you to express concerns? Do they encourage you to share your feelings?
Or do they see any attempt at fixing issues as an attack? Narcissists take advice as criticism and attack.
To tell a narcissist you want them to correct something is to attack them on a personal level. They are willing to criticize you at the drop of a hat, but they are unable and unwilling to accept even the most basic form of honesty from you.
Dealing with a narcissist is an exhausting experience. Hanging out with them isn’t fun — it’s emotionally and physically draining, as you spend all your time catering to their needs.
You do this by either running around and doing things for them, or by doing an exhausting amount of emotional heavy-lifting.
The covert narcissists will expect you to listen to all their problems and even fix their emotions for them. You become a sponge for their negativity, and that experience is exhausting enough to drive anyone to the edge.
With the covert narcissist, grandiosity isn’t the key to getting everything that they want. As a matter of fact, they have a much more subtle way of manipulating those around them.
Rather than overtly claiming their superiority, they use their victimhood to bend people to their will.
There’s always a sob story, or some drama, that requires the utmost in compassion and empathy. Friends become used to putting their own issues on the back-burner so that they can tend to the constant needs of their “victim” friend.
— end excerpts —
Portions of this page seem to fit this ex-friend:
by Darius Cikanavicius
…In this article we will explore the common behaviors and scenarios where narcissistic and otherwise toxic people (hereafter narcissists) play the victim and manipulate the narrative.
…Narcissists don’t have people like that [i.e., therapists or close, mentally healthy friends] in their life and are not really interested in actually resolving anything or being introspective.
Narcissists simply want to know that they are in the right. For that, they need other peoples false validation to regulate their shaky self-esteem. They need to find people who would agree with them.
And in order for others to agree with them, these other people either need to be terribly unhealthy and unable to recognize their toxic tendencies, or the narcissist needs to lie and present a different story than what is actually true.
— end excerpts —
I knew this Emma lady for several years, so I am and was pretty familiar with her situation.
She claims (or implied) she had depression for many years – and I had clinical depression for 35+ years myself… so I know what it’s like. I’ve been there.
“Emotional Support” or “empathy” is not enabling someone in their pain or dysfunction.
There comes a time when the hurting or wounded person needs to make a deliberate decision to move forward – which involves taking responsibility for their recovery, which may involve doing things like seeing a therapist.
But remaining inert – as in, for example, sitting at home day after day, isolating, watching television, etc – isn’t going to erase or dampen a person’s pain, trauma, or depression.
Even people who are in pain (physical and/or psychological), including persons with clinical depression, need to be held accountable. A hurting person has to take charge of her life to make progress – and staying in a self pitying, or victim mentality, is counter-productive to that.
This is applicable to Emma (the part I excerpted; some of the other points may apply too, hard to say):
April 8, 2022
By Becky Pemberton, The Sun
…But there may be more subtle signs that can give away the fact you are the narcissist.
… You use your own trauma as a tool to make others feel sorry for you
Ronia said that narcissists carefully choose to use their baggage in order to get their way with people.
This can be shown by those who constantly use a sob story to gain validation.
She said this can lead to narcissists not taking responsibility for themselves, and the professional added that they won’t change as they are “all talk, no action.”
She explained: “You may be relying on their love and kindness to take your pain away and solve your problem.”
— end excerpt —
Denial and Affirmation
The following web page deals with teens who claim to be transgender, but portions of the page are relevant to what I’ve discussed on this page:
If you regularly make your sense of inner peace, happiness, or self identity contingent on external factors (ie, “I can’t be happy unless X happens in my life”), if you constantly need external validation from others to cope, that is NOT GOOD for your mental health.
by Transgender Trend, March 2022
…All the people around Beth [the teen who believes she is “in the wrong body”] have now agreed with the explanation that she has found – that the reason that she feels so distressed is because she’s living in the wrong body.
No one has suggested that there might be another reason, or asked questions about how Beth came to this conclusion. She gets too upset about it to have a real discussion. Avoidance feels safer.
On a psychological level this consensus is really powerful for Beth. It reinforces her certainty that she has found the right answer. She cuts out from her life anyone who might say otherwise and surrounds herself with supporters. She’s now living in a world where everyone is behaving as if it’s Beth’s body, not her feelings, which is the problem. No other suggestion is allowed in.
… Agreeing with young people that they were born in the wrong body and organising their life around that belief is not a low risk thing to do.
It’s a serious psychological intervention based on denial and avoidance.
Believing their happiness is conditional on denying reality puts young people in a fragile state, dependent on the pretence of others for their psychological wellbeing.
Affirmation feels like such a relief, but it’s a seductive illusion. Holding options open and sitting with uncertainty has never felt more difficult, or more important.
Our young people need more from us. Supporting them doesn’t have to mean agreeing with them.
We owe them honesty, even if it’s painful to hear. We need to tell them that there are many reasons to feel distressed with your developing body, and just because an explanation feels right now, it might not do so for ever.
We need to show them that they can tolerate distress and that we’ll help them learn.
We need to tell them that we can’t avoid biological reality, no matter how hard we try, and one day they too will find this out. We need to do this now, or in the future too many of them will turn to us and ask, “Why didn’t you ever tell me I might be wrong?”
— end excerpts —
It may be difficult for someone with clinical depression and/or victim mentality and/or covert narcissism to hear (whether they have an ongoing accompanying physical health condition or not), but that person is still responsible for taking responsibility for his or her life, and looking for solutions (or acceptance, in the cases of things that really cannot be changed).
It’s actually rather cruel to keep pro-offering emotional support to the point it slides into enabling the person in her victimhood mindset, because so long as they stay in that mindset, they won’t try acceptance, or they won’t try anything, not take any new steps, to find new methods of healing.
MAKING EXCUSES FOR BEHAVIOR
Making excuses is one of the most common tropes of an enabler.
Imagine you walk in on your porn-addicted spouse masturbating on their computer.
You think, “he’s had a stressful day and just needs to relax.”
What may feel like showing empathy is just creating an excuse for the behavior. This reaction enables continued behavior every time they’ve had a stressful day.
You may hear a voice in your head reassuring you, “it’s not that bad” or “it could be worse.”
Don’t compare your situation to others living with an addiction. This could allow you choose to believe that you’re lucky and that your loved one’s behavior isn’t that bad.
By failing or refusing to recognize and acknowledge the problems, you’re encouraging them. Actions such as this can make it more difficult for your loved one to ask for help.
Showing empathy would be addressing the issue at hand and encouraging your loved one to take action towards recovery.
(Link – Forbes article): What Empathy is Not
by Tracy Brower
…#2 – Empathy Isn’t a Lack of Accountability
While they are committed to empathy, some managers worry that greater empathy will result in a lack of accountability for teams and organizations. They wonder: If leaders are gentle or understanding with employees, whether this will go too far—and result in a lack of performance, impeding company results.
But empathy and accountability aren’t opposites. In fact, they often occur together. When leaders demonstrate empathy, employees tend to be more engaged which is linked with contributing discretionary effort and greater performance.
In addition, people want to be held accountable. When leaders set clear expectations and count on employees to do great work, it sends the message an employee is valued. People have an instinct to matter—and they crave to contribute their talents and skills.
Being held accountable isn’t a negative, it’s a positive way leaders and teams communicate they appreciate all an employee offers to the group and the organization.
Great leaders understand what employees do uniquely well and create the conditions for them to bring their best, so they can contribute to organizational results. Empathy and accountability go hand-in-hand.
Portions of this 10. 22 minute video are relevant to my situation with Emma:
The very relevant part starts in this video around the 6.38/6.40 mark -it’s about 3/4th of the way into the video:
A lot of the content of the following video applies to Emma:
There’s a lot of Emma in this video:
(Link): How Covert Narcissists Manipulate – 13 minutes long
More applicable content:
(Link – 14 minute video on You Tube): How to Handle a Covert Narcissist With Strength
(Link – 25.16 minute video): How to Spot Covert Narcissist Personality Disorder
(Link – 9.49 minute video): Eleven Ways to Recognize a Covert Narcissist
(Link): 10 Signs Someone’s Always Playing the Victim (6.05 long video)
(Link): The “Victim” Narcissist | How to tell who is playing the victim (17 minute long video)
(Link): Being Empathetic Vs. Enabling – 14 minute video (also embedded below):
(Link): The line between empathy and justification – 12 minute video (also embedded below):
I saw some of Emma (and other people I’ve known over my life) in portions of this following video on the “Surviving Narcissism” channel – I would be the “friendly” one in this discussion,
and she displayed a low grade level of Covert Narcissism
(especially the parts of the video starting at 5.18 to 5.58, and I learned the lessons mentioned at the 10.38 part the hard way – no more rescuing, or getting sucked in by other people’s pity parties):
Applicable to Emma (and “Donna Hazel”)
-above all, the portion beginning around the 8.13 mark is THE most pertinent to Emma:
I see more of Emma in this (a little over 12 minutes long):
I had a platonic relationship with Emma – we weren’t dating (I’m straight) – but this woman’s description of her vulnerable narcissist ex-boyfriend’s “goodbye letter,” and how he acted towards her, is similar to what I went through with “Emma”
(the lady in the video seems nice, but IMO, after having watched her parts 1 – 3, she gave this guy WAY too much time and effort than I would have):
(Link – video, You Tube, 22 minutes long): Dating a Vulnerable Narcissist Storytime – Part 4 – Delusional Break-Up Letter Response
This post may be edited in the future to clarify things, add more commentary, fix typing mistakes, or add more links.
▶️ Barring any more drama, I don’t plan on blogging further about Emma or Donna Hazel, 🤡, unless it’s in passing in using either as an example in future posts
All names and identifying details have been changed in this post to keep anonymity intact
God bless you 🙏 if you’ve bothered to read most or all of this. 😂
Related Posts on this blog:
(Link): Emma Responds – My Comments