I learn something new every day. Sometimes the lessons are positive, other times they wound, they foster distrust and skepticism that relationships in my future will likely be impacted by.
Interacting with others is always a trying experience for anyone who has had an abusive history. People who’ve experienced abuse seem to take different approaches to personal relationships, depending on the abuse they’ve known. Some folks become assertive to the point of being domineering, almost abusive themselves, they don’t want to ever feel vulnerable again, don’t want to be seen as weak, while others are so afraid of triggering the same responses they got in a past abusive relationship that they become cripplingly timid, not ever wanting to speak up, risk angering anyone. There are all sorts of variations in between these two seemingly extreme reactions.
I’ve been at both ends of that spectrum at different times in my life. After years of therapy I discovered my voice, who I am and how to temper my own reactions to others through empathy.
I recently had a friend, whom I felt incredibly comfortable with. We had a lot in common, were able to support one another regarding chronic illness, pain, disability, etc. I fully trusted her, opened up about a lot of things, it appeared as if this was mutual. Even though we were friends through Facebook and had never met, would never meet, we were very close, were there for one another when we were down, experiencing loss, feeling depressed or overwhelmed, shared our happiness and joys.
I really thought we were as close as someone could be, with miles physically separating them. I thought she knew me, knew how I felt and thought about things, above all, knew my past and knew that I would never do something to purposely hurt someone.
A couple days ago I posted something on Facebook, I prefaced it with why I thought it was important. This friend seriously misinterpreted it, completely misread it and in a very hostile comment asked what I was insinuating by posting it. She made accusations based on what she thought I did or did not know about the topic, she ended her comment by saying she was offended by the insinuation. She’d gone from asking what I was insinuating – though had she properly read the meme and my comment on it she’d have realized there was no insinuation, but for the one she’d created, – to telling me the insinuation was offensive. She threatened that if the insinuation was as she believed it was, it would end the friendship.
Though I had no obligation to do so, I explained in more detail what the meme represented and addressed, as I saw it. That her interpretation had nothing to do with my intent in posting. A couple of my friends commented, trying to explain to her, as well, that they did not interpret it in an offensive way, that if she knew me she should know I would not do what she’d accused me of doing. She immediately attacked them. Their back and forth with her went on after I’d turned off my tablet and gone to bed.
Other than explaining my intent, I did not want to engage further, until I’d taken some time to digest her comment. Initially, I found it terribly hurtful, hostile, grossly unfair and it stunned me, that someone I’d shared so much with would think something so horrible of me. I didn’t go back to the post until the following day, when I saw the comments of my friends, defending me and her vicious attacks on them. She even sent me a private message that contained a horrible attack on someone I think of as a niece, I’ve known for many years longer than she.
I tried making excuses for her, she’d misinterpreted it, misunderstood, that she’s had a lot going on lately and I was chalking it up to that, but she persisted. While telling my friends I’d explained it and it was done, but they had to stir it up, she continued to tell me she just couldn’t believe I’d post something so horrible, indicating she’d not accepted the explanation at all.
I suggested that if she left it and looked after a family member she’d posted was having problems, looked after herself, and came back to it another time, she’d realize it wasn’t at all what she thought it was. I told her that if she thought so little of me as to do what she’d accused me of, then we clearly didn’t know one another as well as I’d thought we did and perhaps it would be best if we ended the friendship.
She began posting passive aggressive memes on her Facebook page, kept coming back and claiming victim-hood, saying she was hurt I’d so easily throw her away, that I’d “cut her soul deeply,” accused me of using intimidation tactics, purposely causing her suffering. She went to a post from 2 years ago, where I’d thanked her for a Christmas gift she’d sent me and posted that I’d played her for a fool.
I had no choice but to stop her abuse. I had to unfriend her and eventually blocked her. The hypocrisy of her playing the victim was too much for me to cope with, too much like my former abuser, triggered my PTSD. There was absolutely NO concern or consideration on her part for how her words, her attacks, accusations and assumptions regarding myself or my friends had affected me, but when I stood up for myself, even making excuses for her, trying to be patient and understanding, she was the deeply wounded party.
The definition of a “Turner” that I’ve read is as follows: A turner is very similar to a narcissist. But the red flags are difficult for trusting people to decipher until it’s too late. Turners engage people pleasers and keep them in a perpetual state of people pleasing. If you finally disagree or question them they turn hostile and many times bolt.
An experience like this leaves one with a couple of difficult questions. 1) Can I ever trust anyone? and 2) Is it ever a good idea for someone with health issues to confide in and share with another individual with health issues?, as they are both compromised and dealing with many symptoms and stresses of their diagnoses.