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Hi Tupp:

If you do speak to this friend... maybe consider releasing expectations around it. 

Even if you wanted to, you don't have the capacity to take on the struggles of strangers. 

It's OK to gently state a boundary.  Maybe fear of losing that relationship creates too much stress around the conversation.  Maybe giving up expectation, and letting it be, would be helpful.

If your friend can't stop talking about other people's problems, maybe it's a distraction she's unable to put down.  As good a friend as you are, she can't expect you to help her carry pain that belongs to strangers. 

 I wonder if she's aware she's doing it.   

If you bring her attention to it, she might be grateful.  Just know your intentions are good, and you would never wish her any harm.   Trust yourself.  Even if it's not OK... it's OK.

Voicelessness and Emotional Survival Message Board / Re: Embracing The Dark Side
« Last post by Hopalong on February 15, 2019, 09:10:28 PM »
Dear ((((((Tupp))))),

The only thing I know that feels right without fail is the use of "I" statements. It is so very hard not to slip into "you this" and "you that" and I found it took me ages of practice. (Still have to practice.) But, when gently confronting a friend, it's probably the best way to say what you need to without triggering defensiveness. (SOME people will decide to be defensive anyway, but somehow you feel balanced anyway, regardless of their response, if you can keep a strong hold on the "formula"....). What it does is give you full ownership of your own feelings and reactions, and them theirs.

I love making up dialogues for people (that never relate very directly to how any individual would talk, but the fantasy helps me "see" it...) so DO take this with 2 cups of salt, just indulging myself:

"I wanted to share something with you that's hard to explain, but it's important to me to try. Because you matter to me and I want to let you know something pretty personal.

I've realized that I feel XX [sad, drained, worn out, whatever] when you YY [talk a lot about other people's awful troubles that remind me of some really painful stuff of my own, talk about you but forget to ask about me and Son..., etc. [whatever it is]. Sometimes I find I'm shutting myself down. I start to feel sad and want to give up being friends. But I've never really told you how I feel, so how would you know? I'm not blaming you--I realized it's my job to speak up and explain it. You're not a mind reader so that's not your fault.

I'm wanting to build more balanced kinds of friendship, where we really take turns listening to each other. I haven't been very good about hitting Pause in the middle of a call and saying, "Hey, I'd like to talk for a few minutes about let me take a turn now." That's why I brought it up, to remind myself I need to be honest about what I need. Thanks for letting me get it out. Hope you'll work on it with me, since I need practice!"

There. Wrote a play for ya. Silly and nothing is a perfect fit for someone else.

All I'm getting at is, I'd love to see you find your voice in a natural way that doesn't say anything but--I'm sharing work I'm doing on myself, and here's what it is. No telling how many --or if any--of those friends will rise to the occasion, but the friend I was describing really surprised me. So maybe one of your more unhelpful friends will surprise you too. If anybody sulks or withdraws, well, that's how they show you whether they're able to meet you where you are. You don't have to close and lock a door...somebody might call you back months later, after that seed has sprouted. Takes time.

I hope so, because you deserve a lot of love and support in your life. It's just that we have to ask for what we want. Sometimes we'll get it and sometimes not. But we have to learn to ask, and let go of the outcome. If we don't get it the first time or with the first person, we can ask again of someone else.... And it's a good position ("I can speak comfortably about my own needs") to start in with new friends, too. They're out there for you, I know it.

I also wanted to ask when was the last time you had a complete physical? That fatigue is deep.

Big hugs,

Voicelessness and Emotional Survival Message Board / Re: Embracing The Dark Side
« Last post by Twoapenny on February 15, 2019, 05:02:33 AM »
Tupp, it's amazing and hopeful to read this account of you treating yourself like a person who is present and who has priority.

About that friend...I relate to that a lot. A few months back, I took that same risk. I have a friend of 30+ years who habitually free-associates about her woes for very long stretches, into my ears. I have always known that deep down she truly does love me. This is just her only way of feeling connected. But she has always interrupted me, switched the topic back to herself, and just luxuriated in my sincere, empathic listening. She is very isolated and doesn't have many friends, because most locals are interested in her because she's connected to a famous Hollywood family.

MOST of the time it's been okay with me, because I have other places to vent. But recently when I had some heavy stress and anxiety attacks, I couldn't feel good about hearing from her. She just could not listen. I came to realize that I used to do the same thing and drained some friends. I really did and one friendship didn't survive it. I was in the grip of overwhelming anxiety and talked like a fountain. I was desperate to talk and did the same thing she does with me. For that reason I can't judge her about it, but it was becoming a new source of anxiety whenever she'd call.

Anyway, I did finally tell her. I started with genuine underlying positives. How precious our friendship is to me, how much her continued presence and loyalty has meant to me for so long. But that I had one thing I needed to say that was difficult. I just told her what I was experiencing in brief--emotionally and behaviorally. That when I really need support myself and try to talk about it I feel rushed and frantic, because I know she is going to suddenly interrupt me and switch the subject back to herself, so I shut down. And that it makes me sad, that we don't "take turns."

I tried to make it mostly "I statements" rather than "you statements." She grew pretty quiet but she heard me. I reassured her--I am not abandoning you or our friendship but just needed to say that reciprocity, and the ability to take turns listening, is really important to me, so we can stay connected and keep enjoying our friendship for many years.

She took about a week to think about, and sent me a non-snarky email in the interim saying she was reflecting (I responded with more reassurance that we are solid--and we are, at a heart level).

And to my surprise, she's been waaaaaaay better about doing that. We just had a terrific evening and she took turns! She sometimes slips into the old "And then I..." right in the middle of my turn. But she's way better. And for me, she's worth it.

Hope it will go that way with those of your one-way-sharing friends whom you know are worth keeping in your life. Those that can't respond to a loving confrontation, I think, might slip away. But hopefully, someone who wants to stay connected will be able to hear you describe how you feel on the other end of the phone. It's not abusive or mean, it's just honest, and it can be said gently.


Thanks, Hops - I am scared of losing another friend.  Most of my friends and family have ducked out when I've made a request about how they spend time with me.  My older sister, in particular, more or less never came near me again after I asked her to come to arrange visiting rather than just turning up, and to meet up sometimes for a nice reason, rather than just because she was having a crap time and needed someone to talk to.  I pretty much never saw her again after that, and that hurt a lot.  The same goes for many other people in my life so I do dread having to say anything that might be negative to someone I care about.  It did strike me, though, that my friend is generally talking about the problems of other people, who I don't know.  So I may be able to phrase it in such a way that I can make it clear that I'm more than happy to listen and/or talk through problems of her own, but not to listen to the problems of people that I've never met.  I was thinking this morning that it would probably be good for me to explain how triggering it is for me to listen to her talking about her friends who are in abusive relationships.  Having lived through an abusive step-father and a mother who did nothing to stop him I find it very difficult to listen to accounts of abusive men and women defending them, so it might be worth me saying that - I think perhaps that would make it very clear I'm not rejecting her.  It's very difficult to know, it sort of ties in with something Skep said on one of the threads about how people 'hear' what she's saying differently to the way she intends it.  It does happen a lot and it can cause problems, so I'm anxious about doing anything.  But I will need to at some point so we'll see what happens.

I am still feeling very tired and run down.  I'm resting as often as I can but it's nowhere near enough so I'm still struggling.  I have managed to cut right down on caffeine and sugar so I do feel clearer headed and calmer - but I also feel more lonely, bored, depressed and hopeless without the artificial surges to distract me.  I'm not in a position where I can do much for myself just yet.  I'm still swamped with paperwork and still struggling to cope with son.  I do need to start getting out and meeting some new people but I dread it and just don't feel strong enough to cope yet.  So for the time being I'm staying at home and working through the to do lists.
Voicelessness and Emotional Survival Message Board / Re: Mindfulness
« Last post by lighter on February 13, 2019, 02:21:59 PM »
I'm really really hungry lately.  I mean, I used to get the afternoon/evening hungries, but now..... it's more often.  More extreme.

Last night I sat down with oldest dd and mentioned it in passing. 

DD's response....

"There's a pig in your head." 

I was intrigued, and asked her to go on.   

She said it was from our hunger gatherer days.... brains programed to reward us for maximizing grazing opportunities, which no longer serve bc food's everywhere now. 

I understood that before the pig comment, but the pig comment really drove the point home.... thinking of it as something OTHER than ME, driving me to eat things that aren't good for me, when I'm not hungry, makes it easier to skip the shame, and guilt, IME. 

Hops, I'm really enjoying how flat my sheets come off the drying rack.  Clothes too.  There's something special about not having to pull clean dry clothing out of crumpled balls, and try to fold them.

I was purchasing organic dish washing machine soap for a while, and made it halfway through the bottle before my glasses were so milky/cruddy I feared the machine was on the fritze.

I purchased the Cascade Actionpacs, with 16X the cleaning power, and glasses are crystal clear again.   

I've been flushing the toilet with brown water from the bathwater, which is also very satisfying.

The moss is amazing, and thick.  I'm looking forward to having more fun playing in it this Spring.   It's windy today.  And chilly. 

Oldest dd will spend the weekend with friends at their college.  That's a six hour drive to drop her, and a six hour drive to pick her up.  I'm looking forward to touring the campus, then splitting.   Youngest has a very full schedule, so will be busy at home.  Her newly formed band is playing PAINT IT BLACK at a club Saturday night, then I'm back in the car on Sunday.  I'll let you guys know how the gig goes; )



Voicelessness and Emotional Survival Message Board / Re: 2019 Farm Life
« Last post by sKePTiKal on February 13, 2019, 10:21:12 AM »
Oh, it's just something to talk about for me. He's definitely NOT in my head. And Holly has lots of other stuff going on right now - but she remembers to look in on him and she and I have talked a lot about "enabling" and how it's a real fine line between trying help, out of kindness - and enabling. How easy it is, to not know the difference ourselves, in our motives... and the effect on the other.

She has to figure it out for herself and is fully capable of extricating herself, setting boundaries, and preventing herself from getting in too deep. Her primary focus is her new Sweetie, Steve. She's been spending a LOT of time with him; he went to B'more with her and met Matt; and now, she's starting to get offers of work - one of which would take her to New Mexico long enough to shoot a movie. She's thinking about it... but no decision at this point. It would be a good resume builder.

Things are very slow here in the winter, except for cleaning up after weather. Each day is much like the one before it. Drives her to restlessness, and seeking any kind of external entertainment that is more fun, stimulating or interesting. She can enjoy solitude for awhile herself; recognizes the benefits. But it's not her normal pace of activity and has never been. She's very people oriented and genuinely cares about what's going on with them and enjoys them. They energize her.

Which is the opposite of me, pretty much. I do enjoy a lot of her friends - some of whom are more my age than hers. So, in the process of accomodating each other's natures - we're both intentionally bending a little, finding workarounds, and sometimes screwing it up. LOL. But this living together is a lot more successful than the first month looked like it was gonna be.

My mom-reflex is super-engrained however. She can get me to back off, with a sharp sarcastic comment... but it just doesn't stop, and I seem un-inclined to rein it in since I do really care about her. I have made some improvements though; I am trying. And she's right - she's over 40 and I don't need to say those silly reminder things Moms say automatically. She's kinda decided to just smile at me, wryly, and say: Yes, mom. LOL. That's working.

But that's kinda why we need separate houses. She doesn't need to be mom'd and I need to just have the space to deal with ME, and sort me out... without feeling old roles rise up... and start knocking off some more subliminal "can'ts" off my list. It's all good; we're just both over-analytical and have lots of time to think about things in a lot of detail.
Voicelessness and Emotional Survival Message Board / Re: 2019 Farm Life
« Last post by Hopalong on February 13, 2019, 01:12:37 AM »
Yeh, me too.

I fully don't understand her continuing rescue compulsion toward him. Hope she doesn't harm her growth too badly.

He was destructive to your serenity, exploitative of you both, and unfortunately, there's codependency going on.

I hope you can step back, not muse over his treatment, and not gather household items for him since he's no longer your charity. There are thrift stores in all communities.

Surely he will soon manipulate some other people into his needy web. Saddens me that through Holly, he's still taking up space in your head. I understand how it happens (remembering my codependent entanglement for two years with my severely alcoholic church friend) but....MY codependency would like to rescue YOU from the pattern.

Faceplant. Busted.

Voicelessness and Emotional Survival Message Board / Re: 2019 Farm Life
« Last post by lighter on February 12, 2019, 09:26:54 PM »

The feelings around Hol's "house guest" just keep getting more and more..... dark. 

He sounds like trouble, and nothing but trouble.  Not worth the time she puts in.  Not worth the risks of interacting with him, IME.

Forgive me if he's mentally ill, and requires drugs, but it's not Hol's problems to solve, even if she COULD solve it. 

I wish we didn't have to learn these lessons the hard way, but we usually do.

Voicelessness and Emotional Survival Message Board / Re: Winter Stuff
« Last post by lighter on February 12, 2019, 09:14:44 PM »
Ya, just relax, pull back, and ask your questions without making it a whole thing.  Maybe he'll give you more info than you want. 


In any case, put on music from a time you loved, pick out clothes that make you feel good, look at the restaurant menu ahead, and enjoy every sip of wine..... everything about it.

I hope there's a fireplace at the restaurant. 

I like places with fires. 

Ones with chess boards please me very much too.


I just want to thank all of you for your replies.....and I will write back soon....Bettyanne
Voicelessness and Emotional Survival Message Board / Re: 2019 Farm Life
« Last post by sKePTiKal on February 12, 2019, 10:28:22 AM »
Yes, there's going to be separation and visual privacy between houses. As far as comings/goings - my drive is the main access to the back 40. No real good way to create a new road.

Hol is still being a friend and supportive of house guest. Will not be bringing him out here again. IF he's released by hospital, it's most likely going to be to a residential situation until they get him stable. He's still having panic attacks, which bring on the suicidal ideation again - even after he's been past it for a week or so. The hospital only provides medication on an as-needed basis (IIRC) so it could be he actually needs a) a consistent dose to stabilize and b) longer term therapy/support before being functional enough to re-enter his life.

If he is released out into the world again, on his own... Hol is helping him locate jobs, apartment/living arrangements and we'll likely gather up some household essentials for him. I'm no longer directly involved and have no desire to be. But I keep up with the news, because Hol is involved and there is still a tingle in the back of my spidey senses about this guy and her wanting to be helpful that bugs me. She assures me that's just my own anxiety talking; and perhaps she's right.

But the man CAN be suave, charming, and persuasive; seen it in action. And maybe that's the trigger I have to be cautious. Smooth talkers... often turn into controling, manipulative Ns. Even when they're in victim mode; maybe especially then.
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