Wolf on the phone apologising for being unfeeling and unsupportive and then asking for advice re an unsupportive pig

I was laughing with a friend recently about feeling emotionally jacked by somebody. Many moons ago, she’d shared a painful experience with her mother, only be to met with derision and a lack of support. Feeling ashamed and as if her feelings and experience didn’t matter, she felt momentarily validated when her mother appeared to express belated or ‘backdated’ empathy a number of years later, until the whole thing got turned around to her mother only appearing to be empathetic because she wanted my friend’s support and empathy. “She jacked me! TWICE!”

Faux empathy is when a person gives the appearance of being empathetic - so thoughtful, caring, considerate etc – but is doing it in a surface way to extract something from you. If you’ve ever had what appeared to be empathy only for that person to say or do something not long after that left you with your head spinning in confusion, you’ve experienced faux empathy.

One better (or even two, three, four or whatever) ‘empathisers’ will take what you’re going through and raise you a ‘I’ve been through it too… and it was much worse…’. They can be emotional and even situational hijackers as you end up forgetting your own feelings and perspective and comforting them. You may even feel guilty or belittle your own experience to inflate theirs.

In its most innocent form, the one better empathiser isn’t intending to hijack but they forget to circle back to you because they’re getting and giving empathy to themselves. They may catch themselves and apologise or feel embarrassed afterwards. In its dodgier form, the ‘one better’ empathiser does what they do because they have to reassert this grandiose notion that nobody’s feelings or experiences are as important as their own. For a few moments you’re a victim and they’re not so they have to snatch back the limelight.

I’ve come across so many people who are still affected by their experiences of abuse, bullying, rape, harassment, and loss because their experiences were compounded by insensitive and sometimes downright awful comments and actions of people from whom they’d expected some level of support and understanding. Backdated empathy can be a good thing depending on the context.

With backdated empathy, the person is letting you know that they didn’t recognise your feelings and position back then but they are doing so now. They might explain why they said or did what they did and express remorse and regret. It can pave the way to deeper discussions and mending relationships. Even if you don’t need their support (or validation) any longer, what they express can give you a renewed sense of peace and closure.

Where backdated empathy gets pretty dicey (and like a double smack in the face) is when it happens because they’re now experiencing similar (or just going through a very difficult time) and they want your empathy (and possibly sympathy) and they’re even ‘one-bettering’ you too. You always know when this has happened because in spite of any initial feelings of validation,  you feel used and possibly worse than you did before. It’s likely that they won’t want mention of the previous incident and will get defensive if you do.

With my own experiences of this version of backdated empathy, I’ve come to recognise that the people knew that it would be difficult to broach the subject and get support without acknowledging what I had been through and without half-heartedly acknowledging that at the time, they had suggested that it was my fault or that they hadn’t been particularly supportive.

It can feel good in these situations to empathise with them even if they’re not the most empathetic of creatures because it feels mutually beneficial. You may inadvertently gain insights into your own experience or just feel unburdened. It might not matter if you never discuss it with him/her again because top line, on some level they acknowledged that they did you wrong.

It may simply be you being able to acknowledge that this is who they are, their behaviour wasn’t about you, and you ultimately being able to empathise enough with them to recognise their own position now and in the past. They can’t fix or change the past but you don’t need them to because you’re OK with you.

On the flipside, it will hurt if you don’t get the validation you hoped for, or you may feel cheated and it reopens the old wound. You may feel invalidated, misunderstood or unsupported all over again. You may have expected reciprocal empathy and it turns out, they’re not really interested in understanding your perspective or position or that they’re just limited. It may be that you thought that they might own up to other instances of the same treatment but instead they deny or compound them. It could just be that you saw this is a gateway to a changed person and a relationship and are disappointed, or it could be that this all hinges on what amounts to them admitting, ‘You were right and I was wrong’.

When you’re faced with somebody who struggles to empathise with you and possibly makes a bad situation even worse, it’s extremely frustrating especially because they may still expect you to agree with their perspective and to gain your empathy and support when needed. It also feels as if, Hold up! So if I’m gonna get any empathy and support from you, something bad has got to happen to you?

Now granted it can help us to empathise and understand other people’s perspectives if we have had experience of something ourselves but personal experience of something is not a prerequisite of empathy and open-mindedness.

Bearing in mind that my daughters (4 and 6) have been learning about empathy at school (and of course at home) and will continue to do so in the on-the-job training journey that is life, learning to recognise the feelings and perspectives of others by attempting to put yourself in their shoes or at the very least listening, is not something that has to wait until adulthood or until you’ve gone through all manner of drama. For instance, we don’t need to have gone through a specific type of loss to recognise how painful loss can be. When I hear stories of how unempathetic people can be about heartbreak, a divorce, the loss of a pet or the bereavement of a loved one, I want to shout, ‘IT’S A LOSS!’

It’s important to note that empathy and support situations with people who have been far from empathetic and supportive with you can bring up conflicting emotions and thoughts. You’re not under a court order to do for them what they weren’t able to do for you but that doesn’t mean that (in the appropriate circumstances) that you can’t be empathetic and supportive if you want to. The danger is really only there if there’s an underlying agenda of I Do This and You Will Do That. Be empathetic and supportive (this is different to being over-empathetic and busting your boundaries by the way) because it’s who you are and what you want to do because then it doesn’t cost anything other than your time and kindness.

But do learn to recognise who is and isn’t supportive in your life. Some people can’t give what they don’t have or what they’re ill-equipped to do. It is easy to fall into the trap of, ‘People should _____’ or ‘If it were me ______’ and then continue to expect different from them but you’re only setting you up for pain. I know who the drainers (you know those people who you literally feel yourself going ‘flat’) and hijackers in my world are and I protect myself. This is better than me pressing reset and expecting change. It’s also important to note that when you have your own back, you are far more adept at recognising crumbs of anything because it will be less than what you’re doing for you.

Your thoughts?

Natalie Lue is the founder and writer of Baggage Reclaim and author of the books Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship and more. Learn more about her here and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter – @baggagereclaim .

Natalie (NML) – who has written posts on Baggage Reclaim by Natalie Lue.


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70 Responses to Faux empathy and backdated empathy: When it feels like you’ve been ‘jacked’

  1. Peanut says:

    My grandmother does the whole faux empathy thing, my ex was an expert at it, and I’ve had a boss who was pro at this. I used to look at her and think, “Does nobody see this but me? Oh, well, whatevs.”

    I’m a one better empathizer. I notice I do this thing with BR people where I go on a tangent of my troubles. Sometimes it’s helpful, sometimes not. The one upping isn’t helpful, but the relating can be if done wisely.

    My father is a drainer. It’s the “ME” show whenever he comes around. I run. And for good reason.

    Other than myself, BR, books, and school mates/professor I don’t have anyone supportive. No family or friends. It sucks. I wish I had this really solid, supportive bond with my family. I don’t. I don’t even like them (with the exception of my g rents and dog and maybe an aunt) and they don’t like me. Weird; family isn’t an automatic precursor to like.

  2. JustHer says:

    I am the one who sometimes starts bringing her own experience in, thinking it would help others, but then I realise that I just need to lend a listening ear and not bring up my own problems.

    It is so hard when you are looking for someone to lean on to, to just listen and support someone else, but I am trying so hard to change that.

    I hope that I am useful to the people I have helped, but I have also had many experiences where the person only comes to me when they need help and then disappears when I need it. It seems to be a case of: I don’t need you to talk to anymore, please disappear and don’t bother me with your problems. I just don’t understand it!

  3. Tina says:

    Awesome article, and timely since I’ve just experienced this phenomema with a new female friend who I’m pretty sure is a narcissist pretending to be an empathizer. Every week is a new drama with my cell being hijacked with her texts.Got kicked in the teeth the other night when I reached out for support from her after being rejected by a new man she happened to introduced me to. Her response was,”I feel bad. I’m sorry.Wanna hear something good that happened to me today”? Ummm yeah I guess. Thanks for the crumbs, Faux Empathizer. I’ll be letting that new friendship slip slide away. I have enough narcs in my life to throw me crumbs, including my mother.

  4. Tina says:

    Justher – don’t beat yourself up for needing to lean on friends for emotional support. That’s what friends do for one another. It’s only a problem when you’re not reciprocating ever and always making it about “you”.

    • JustHer says:

      I am learning to now, and realising that others need help too and as bad as my situation is, I need to look beyond it.

  5. Agoria Paige says:

    THIS!!!! As always, you are right on time with your posts. I’m experiencing this problem exactly with a friend of mine. And I have exactly those conflicting feelings about it. I went through a very difficult time in my life several years ago, and I remember trying to talk to this friend who at the time was my closest friend about it, and she flat out told me to just get over it. Why can’t you just get over it? I don’t understand. I was hospitalized at one point and she made the remark that it wasn’t a big deal because she knew I was fine anyway.

    Well several years later she’s going through the same things, and it’s extremely frustrating for me to listen to her and be there for her knowing that when it was me, I didn’t have a friend to lean on because she wasn’t there. And it’s also frustrating that after brushing off the severe issues that I had gone through at the time, when she encounters something along the smaller scale of that spectrum, she freaks out and says she doesn’t know how to handle it before telling me how I don’t understand what it’s like to go through something like that. A part of me wants to leave her deserted by the side of the road to walk through it on her own, just like I had to. But our relationship as friends is so much better now, and she has been there for me since then, and I feel dreadful feeling that way. And I get the same backdated empathy at the beginning of every conversation. It triggers my old issues, and I find myself praying for patience grace and mercy every time she calls, because one of my main thoughts is: “Not so easy, is it? Oh yeah? And where were you when it was me? If I can get through this without you to lean on, why can’t you do it too? Just get over it, isn’t that what you told me?”

    You’ve nailed it with this one. I’m still not sure what to do but it helps to hear from someone else that I’m not completely crazy.

    • otter2 says:

      I remember my sister telling me that I had to give her a break because “(her) sister had cancer and it was very difficult to deal with.” Ummm…I was the sister with cancer.

      I started laughing — I’ve always enjoyed the absurd — and pointed out that…I was the sister with cancer. To her credit she apologized and started laughing.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      I think it’s so easy to feel, “Well, now it’s payback time”. But it doesn’t say much for you as a person or make you feel any better. You were right, Agoria, to resist the temptation to “pay back”.

      In my case, what I’ve recently been aware of and try not to do is when my friend is telling me about her problems, not to turn it around and make the convo about me. I have a close friend who has a 13 yr old daugther who is bi-polar with autistic traits. My friend is an older woman like me and my heart goes out to her because I would never want to have to deal with what she faces on a daily basis. So when she starts talking, after I have shown the interest, I listen because my problems are minor compared to hers. And even if they weren’t, the point is I’ve asked about HER so I should be listening to what she has to say. She is in financial distress because she cannot even take a job since the school frequently calls with issues that involve her daughter and she has to go there. It’s sad. Two nights ago I was picking her and her daughter up to go to church, when her daughter blurted out upon getting into my car, “We don’t have any lights (electricity). Don’t tell Mommy I told you.”

      The other thing I try to remember is to ask about how my friends are doing first instead of launching into a detailed story about me. I’ve gotten much, much better at that, and have noticed my friendships are far more satisfying. After all, a friendship should be MUTUALLY experienced and beneficial to both parties, not one-sided.

      • Agoria Paige says:

        Thank you. I always feel grateful after the fact that I was able to be there for her instead of raking her through the coals like an immature kid. The urge and the temptation is there, yes, but we’ve both done stupid things in our youths and it’s not fair for me to throw something like this in her face, especially not at a time like this. I find myself one-upping sometimes too because of it, and I have to take a step back and get perspective on the situation.

        And thank you for your story as well, as it’s a great example of what it means to be a true friend.

  6. Antsy says:

    I’ve had faux empathy inflicted on me many a time.

    One time, my brother called me because he had been punched in the stomach by a girl at college. FYI, my brother is a super nice docile guy and I knew the girl was a b*tch. He didn’t deserve it, I’m certain. However, he asked me, “How do you deal with people who hate you? I mean, you have experience at this.” LOL. Of course, I was empathetic, told him she was a jerk who hates everyone & to step back a few feet when he encounters her again. Then I thought, where the hell was he when I was being bullied at school. We were twins and he never stuck up for me but only added fuel to the fire.

    Most of the time, it’s my sister with the faux empathy. I don’t willingly choose friends who are faux empathetic. If I do, then they aren’t friends for long.

    Here’s one. The old saw is that I’m the crazy one in my family because I had a horrible temper (Looking back, it was reasonable & a reaction to my family’s terrible behavior). Any problem, no matter how legitimate I had is due to my being incredibly weird, etc, not because problems happen to everyone. Actually, I’m very straitlaced and the story of my life is a snore.

    One day, my sister called me to ask me if I ever started panicking in a store. She was really worried and scared. She said she thought I might understand because you know, I’m umm well, you know (crazy . . .gotcha).

    My temptation was to scream, “You’re insane! You need to go to a looney bin!” and hang up. Why? Well, because my sister has actually done that to me.

    But instead, I was empathetic and suggested avoiding stores during busy periods and seeking therapy if that doesn’t help.

    So, if my sister ever calls asking for empathy I will ask her, “Do you want me to give you an answer YOU would give or I would give?”

    • Maeve says:

      I’ve read that in every dysfunctional family there’s one lucid one who sees the reality of the dysfunction, and they’re ostracized for it. Sounds like you. I play that role in my family too.

      To respond to the topic in general–I’ve known whom to go to for real empathy, so I haven’t faced major disappointment in that sense. I just need to remember to keep the need to minimum so they don’t think I’m a mess.

      But in general, I’ve sensed people see a listener in me and often it translates into anything personal I divulge is unimportant compared to what they have to say. On the other hand, I think get some oddball benefit in “being unknown.” So I don’t know if it’s me, or those I choose to be friends with.

      I’ve also had an unhealthy tendency (now mostly in the past) to over-empathize and get angry or upset on someone else’s behalf. This would end up with them unloading on me, where I’d carry the emotions and they could move past it. Bad, bad, bad…lol!

      These days, I’m acutely aware of how much give and take there is in each relationship, and interact accordingly.

  7. Shay says:

    I’m the one upper unfortunately at times. I’ll listen though and let them speak in all manners of ways but I do one up.

    My mother doesn’t do empathy at all. In fact neither does her mother, now I know where she gets it from. My mothers husband raped me for years and when I finally said something at 19 instead of her wanted time frame of say 13 it all became my fault because I should have said something sooner. Well I’m saying it now so what’s the difference? According to her it would have been easier cause she would not have been married and instead of seeing that I was 9-11 at the time and got scared into saying something why would I?

    So basically it comes down to not wanting to take shame cause the man you married isn’t who you thought he is. And after all of that she’s still married to that idiot, 7 years after being told the truth. Her mother said she’s staying cause he helps her. If my grandmother wasn’t old I would have gave her a slapping. Nonsense.

  8. Shay says:

    Oh and to add she wants empathy from me cause her husband doesn’t help financially, cheats on her, hits her, accuses her of cheating and the whole ac behaviour. Really why am I going to feel sorry or put myself in your shoes when all she thought about was herself? Nope I’m not getting fucked over by her. That’s what she chose and she has to live with it.

    • Lea says:

      OMG Shay, speechless – that is not a mother :(

    • Elgie R. says:

      Shay, I have read that it is very common for women to side with the man who is raping the children…very dysfunctional.

      That type of dysfunction is hard to understand. It does affect the ability to bond.

      I’ve never told my mother that it was her father who tried to rape me. Much later in life I uncovered evidence which makes me think he did it to her as well. Yet she kept sending both me and my sister over to Grandpa’s every weekend.

      I am very suspicious of men…especially of those who are eager to babysit young children.

  9. Moving on says:

    I initiated two possible friendships last year with women. Both women (especially the first) simply talked too much. The first was lovely in many ways: responsible, honest, interesting….but she talked and talked and talked. I felt drained and frustrated and let the friendship go. The second was also a genuinely nice person, but we didn’t have as much in common, and she talked a lot too.

    I’m at a point in my life where I’m much more selective with friends I guess.

    Sometimes I’ve had to resist bringing in my own experiences and just listen. Being listened to is such a gift and I’d like to give it. I also need attention and want to be listened to. Reciprocity over time is my goal. Every encounter doesn’t have to be even….but over time it should feel comfortable.

  10. Yeah… “All my exes stalked me” … please feel sorry for me until I accuse you of the same… Gee, who’s the common denominator here? What possible reason could we ALL have for wanting our stuff back or answers for the abuse?

  11. Peanut says:

    Her,

    I know. When you’re lonely it’s hard not to make things about you when given the chance, because, well, you’re lonely.

    Sometimes people in my life pile it on when given an ear only to disappoint when I need a hand.

    And sometimes I’m so lonely I listen anyway just to hear another human’s voice.

    • JustHer says:

      Peanut,
      I get exactly what you mean.

      It’s the loneliness and the feeling that **I** want someone to listen to me too and if people only talk about their problems to me, then I want a say in why I am depressed too.

      But it is subconsciously done and people often get bored listening to my problems, so I have learnt to hide them and am starting to become quite the agony aunt.

      But honey, I also know that we all need human company and the best way of beating the loneliness bug is to get into a friendship which is built on give-and-take. You really do need both.

  12. Elgie R. says:

    It was a faux-empathizer that led me to BR, in a roundabout way. A female coworker who at first seemed to be a budding deep friendship, but who in actuality has textbook NPD. We had spent several outside-the-office times together….shopping,eating,partying….I thought we were bonding though I noted it was a “ME” show with her. She refers to herself in 3rd person. The end came when she raged at me over a minor incident – I asked her if she would consider not popping her gum at work…our offices are next to each other and it is annoying. The rage she unleashed still stuns me today. She stormed out of work that day..I caught her in the parking lot the next day and had to corner her to talk it out…bottom line I told her it was certainly her choice on whether she stopped popping her gum. After the talk she said she felt better and she was all smiles when she left that Friday. I smiled on the outside but inside I was very unsettled. I thought about her scorching anger all weekend….she seemed EAGER to be angry with me. Anyway in doing weeks of research on my feelings, I came across NPD, and codependency, and ultimately, this BR site.

    As the quote goes…some friends are for a reason, some for a season, and some for a lifetime. I chalk this faux-empathizer up to a REASON. It led me to question so many things about myself…..it led me here.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Elgie,

      I’m curious to know, what was the “reason” you considered her a friend. Popping gum at work, is rude , inconsiderate and inappropriate as it can easily interrupt the concentration of a nearby employee. You had ever right to ask her to knock it off. Did she comply?

      • Elgie R. says:

        Hi, Tink.

        For some reason I always seem to want a “best friend” …in actuality I haven’t had one since 2nd grade…I just let myself be used by the current best friend candidate!

        My brief friendship with NarcissisticPersonalityDisorder coworker occurred in January through May 2012. I have few (no) buddies at work though I’ve been there for 8 years, she was a new hire, we shared some work habits and life habits, and it was nice to have someone seek me out for lunch or just to chat. However, my Spidey senses said ‘keep her at arms length’ . I now know she is a very negative soul and I do not want her to inhabit any bit of my space any more. As I learned about NPD, one trait is they appear to be very friendly and open at first.

        Yes she still pops gum. Matter of fact, NPD coworker has launched a “reign of terror”. She pops gum, has loud speakerphone conference calls and personal calls, plays the radio, holds loud conversations just outside my door, crunches potato chips. She also ‘shuns’ me….does not speak when passing in the corridors.

        I’ve had to develop my own coping mechanisms. I never make eye contact. I have foam earplugs (luv them!) and a soundtrack of rainfall that I sometimes listen too.

        So I ignore her……she continues to reach into her bag of irritating tricks. There are other coworkers in the same corridor, and I did take some glee hearing someone tell her “We knew you were out last week because it was so quiet.” She said nothing to that. One coworker refers to her as “Chatty Cathy”.

        This woman is 45 years old.

        I feel like I dodged a bullet when I let go of her. I think she possesses the type of jealousy and rage that would do physical harm to a friend if she felt “betrayed”..and the problem is, she feels betrayed very easily. In the brief time I knew her, she recounted several current situations with her friends/family where she wasn’t speaking to someone because of some perceived transgression or wrong they’d done to her.

        Getting back to BR, I do know that sometimes I reached for AC because he seemed to be the only bright spot.

        • Tinkerbell says:

          Elgie,

          I’m so sorry for you. But you are really coping well with this irritating individual. I’ve experienced similarly what you’re describing. Years ago, the family living over me were very noisy. They had small children and had no consideration for someone living under them. When I complained, it got much worse to the point of vindictiveness such as encouraging the little boy to jump from the toilet seat to the floor, banging on the walls and floor and even throwing chicken bones down from their landing to my front door. It was really bad. Anyway, my point is that some people are just mean. When you point out that they are being inconsiderate they want to deliberately get worse. Hang in there. You’re a bigger person than she could ever be.

  13. dbear says:

    Once again Natalie, a very good article. It’s good to hear about some of these tactics from another’s perspective. I have been guilty of the one better move on several occasions and this really reminds me that I need to practice better empathizing. I am grateful of the reminder of what a good listener should be.

  14. Lea says:

    I remember experiencing this with a woman a few years back to the point where my mouth actually dropped open in disbelief. My friend’s cat had been taken by the neigbhour and dumped in the bush. We were devastated, spent weeks trying to find him but never did. I told this woman ‘friend’ about it, and she actually laughed – saying if someone stole her cat they’d want to watch out, haha.
    So fast forward a few weeks and HER cat goes missing. She hijacks all conversations with me and anyone else with her outrage about it. Not one single mention of what I’d told her about my friend’s cat. Ranting and raving continues, and then miraculously her cat was handed in at the local vet. I was happy for the cat, but she never once said to me ‘wow I know how you felt now’.
    Not a mention of it at all, had completely forgotten my experience, and yet wanted all sorts of sympathy and outrage from me when it happened to her. Her total inability to feel empathy was so appalling it was almost fascinating.

  15. noquay says:

    Peanut
    I am in much the same place; I do have friends, but they’re also colleagues so I am very careful of what I say. I must admit when my family was alive, there was little faux empathy because they were so emotionally limited. Alcoholism does that to ya. I learned about these kinds of non empathy when I walked away from the AC. A woman in the whom I thought was a friend was the only safe person I could talk to. She blamed me, said men are d@#$s and you just have to deal with it, then said I had no right to feel hurt and I need to stop feeling bad. Boy, shades of my f@#$%&* up family. Exit toxic friend. Later figured out she is bipolar and had alienated most of us more progressive women in the community. I too need to be a better listener. I try to be and also to assure others that often their hurts, while theirs, are not unique, that they’re not alone. A commenter in a previous post put it well. When folks who try and be good folks are subject to extreme bad behavior, one is taken totally aback not because one is naive, but that such kinds of behavior are unthinkable. Some of us older chix were taught in essence, that we are nothing, that a woman must constantly self sacrifice and to do otherwise is selfish.

  16. At Peace says:

    Wonderful post Nat!!

    One if my pet peeves is the lack if empathy that many people have today. I have ended many so-called friendships/relationships with people who were self-absorbed, lacked empathy, and were faux empathizers. Everything was all about them, them, them, and THEM! It’s emotionally draining to say the least. I think that I am a good listener because I find that most people will talk about themselves, their lives, and their personal situations to me in great detail. In many cases, when I start to talk about myself (a conversation should be reciprocal) they act disinterested and change the subject. When people do actually listen to what I have to say, they tell me that Inam a very interesting person and have lived a very interesting life.

    @Shay: I am SO sorry to read that you were raped repeatedly by your mom’s husband. I am stunned at her reaction too. If I were your mom and you told me that happened to you (no matter how many years later), I would be on death row right now because would have ripped that guy to pieces for laying a hand on you.

    ((HUGS))

  17. KLBS says:

    Great Article Nat.. well timed and put into perspective. Thanks again.. I needed this and the comments today specifically.

  18. Rosie says:

    I don’t know if this fits but, when I was young and tried to talk to my mom about something troubling me, my mom would try to empathize by mentioning a similar experience she had but then she would get sidetracked by forgetting about me & going on & on about her experience & it became all about her but it wasn’t intentional. I grew up to do the same thing, was quite self-absorbed but didn’t realize until someone brought it to my attention by saying, “Hey! We’re supposed to be talking about me now!”

  19. Peanut says:

    Noquay,

    I had a cringe at the response from your former “friend.” I’ve been that person. I had a friend in an unavailable relationship and secretly thought it was all her fault and that she provoked his unavailable behavior by being “needy.”

    I know my true feelings surfaced when she came to me for support. No, she wasn’t perfect, but man women deserve to have better support from each other.

    As an adult child of an alcoholic, you really see how empathy gets lost in the mix. And now I find it really hard to make and keep friends.

    I also find myself thinking “If I can love me and be my own best friend, why even bother with friendships?” But I am seeing how social contact is really a basic human need. I’m caving from all this isolation. It feels awful, yet making friends seems painstakingly tedious and oftentimes disappointing as they seem to just sputter into nowhere.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Peanut,

      And, did you know sex is a basic human need according to Maslow’s Hierarchy? No wonder I feel so screwed!! Hahahaha. I’m revealing where my head is at.

      Hey, Rev. Are you out there? We can always use a little humor. Right?

  20. Joyful says:

    I can totally identify with this to a T. Hats of for a well written illustration. This helps me to confirm what I knew deep inside. thank you!

  21. JustHer says:

    Feeling like the biggest idiot on the planet right now. After advising people about how important it is to not make contact and move on – I just logged on to the ex AC’s fb after 6 months. He has called me a b*tch to many of his friends, saying he was never even close to falling in love with me and has f*cked several girls since we broke up.

    So much for no new pain.

    I am the biggest idiot on the planet.

    • clarity says:

      Oh Justher,

      You poor thing!

      Though I have to admit that the way you wrote it made me laugh!

      The thing is, I broke up with Mr NPD a month back and I keep going to check FB but because I deleted my account it takes too much effort to rejoin and then search him (as we are also no longer friends on fb).
      But after reading your post I am so not doing any of that business!

      Hellz no!

      Thank you!

      • JustHer says:

        Hey clarity.

        Honey, stay far far away! I have the bug now and can barely keep myself from contacting and stalking him again and again.

        It’s a recipe for disaster. Wish I could rewind the last few days!

    • Peanut says:

      Her,

      NO! NO! You are not an idiot. You are normal. I promise. WE all do that. Even Nat fell off the wagon. IT HAPPENS.

      NO one can do anything seamlessly. Even Mozart, with all his talent, had intense struggles at his art.

      YOU are just fine, I promise.

      And I am so, so, so sorry about what you saw on you ex’s page.

      I know you know this but: YOU ARE SO MUCH BETTER WITHOUT HIM. YOU DESERVE MORE.

      YOU don’t want someone like that I promise. I’ve been there. I know it’s hell.

      Take this as a conformation that the only thing this guy has to offer is shite.

      Do something nice for yourself, and no matter how difficult, say nice things to you.

      Take care, you will get through this and hugs xx.

      • JustHer says:

        Peanut, <3

        I just felt so stupid afterwards that I engaged again. It hurt so much more than I thought it would and yet I know he would come back to me if I asked.

        I have since been hitting myself over the head about contacting him because he replied saying "It was a pleasant surprise" and he is looking forward to hearing back from me. I have written an email draft but keep changing it because you cannot take stuff back from cyberspace.

        It feels impossible that I will get through it, but I do hope so. I want to get better and I want to be happy again.

        Loneliness and depression are one of the worst feelings in the world, when you feel so alone and unwanted. Someone said that I would rather hurt than feel nothing at all, and it may be worth considering…

        And I am so flattered to be compared to Mozart ;)

    • Elgie R. says:

      JustHer, your narcissist is “outing” himself and displaying his Achilles heel. Working with my textbook NPD coworker has been a real education. I’ve learned that narcissists tend to do the behavior to others that they most hate to have someone do to them. So….in your case, your narcissist would hate to be “flamed” on FB, that is why he chose to flame you on FB….figuring it would hurt you deeply because it would certainly hurt him deeply. For him, not so much an emotional hurt as an “ego” hurt. Narcissists must appear untouchably perfect, so being “flamed” would mean someone found him to be less than perfect.

      While researching NPD, I learned that narcissists cannot live without their narcissistic supply. They absolutely detest being ignored. It’s like “How can I ignore you if you aren’t paying any attention to me?”

      And don’t think ignoring them will make them go away, either. They revel in any attention – even negative attention. So when you ignore them, they’ll keep picking and prodding at you…they are determined to find a way to get your attention. It’s called the “Monkey Dance”.

      You’ll satisfy his ego if you give an angry response. It will KILL him though if you ignore him or make light of his flaming. I don’t FB, but if I did maybe I’d say something like “Saw the ex’s page. BORING. ”

      • JustHer says:

        Elgie,

        I’m trying to think of a light way of replying and steering everything away from romance/anger/emotion in general.

        I want him to grow up and become the person I want, but it is unlikely it will ever happen.

        I am seriously considering deactivating my fb – if I didn’t use it to stay in touch with so many people!

        • Allison says:

          Just,

          What do you hope to get from replying?

          Why is it that we feel we need to teach people to be better! For your own sanity, accept that this is who he is, and work on understanding why you are still putting energy into someone who treated you poorly.

          The only person you can change is you. Please focus on this!

          • JustHer says:

            Allison,

            You’re right. I hoped that I would get a feeling of indifference from replying.

            That “meh” feeling, but the best thing may be to just carry on and ignore the bastard!

            I’m working against set-back after set-back on the path of changing myself, every time things get a little better, it falls apart, so it will take time!

            • Elgie R. says:

              Not sure where to post this –

              Want to add evidence to prove how right BR is about PA behavior. I have a 20 year acquaintanceship with a PA single EUM. We dated for 4-months in 1993, until I bowed out. But he has been a revolving-door FWB in these last 20 years, until I said “no more sex” in March 2011.

              It wasn’t until 2010 that I found out about PA behavior and realized that he is PA.

              Well, we are still no-sex…but he shows his displeasure about that in subtle ways. Like…”forgetting” to tell me he has half-price tickets to see one of my favorite bands. He plays in a band and I go see them when he is local. He never sees me in the audience, even if there are only 30 people in the room. The show before last, it was so empty that he came by my table, sat with his back to me and talked to people at the next table. I actually sat there alone and phone texted him that I was leaving…that was the only way to get him to speak to me. He picks up the text message, looks up at me waving goodbye. Then, during the next week he sends cryptic emails that eventually lets me know he has half-price tickets to see my favorite band….so I end up taking a special trip to his job to get a ticket. I ask, ‘Did you have these at the show’…he says “Yeah, but the woman holding the tickets left before I got a chance to mention it.” See what he did there….mentions another woman. Forget the fact that I’d been there for about 2 hours before leaving.

              Well, went to see his band Saturday…and I don’t know if BR is paying off in self-esteem or what, but my old a$$ got male attention all night from one guy who was good company. So now my PA friend has texted me with “Just making sure you are safe” at 3AM on Sunday, called my home v-mail Sunday afternoon, and just sent me a work e-mail saying “Know you’re grown but can you please text me when you make it home from shows…just want to be sure you are safe”. He did not do this before, because usually I am just sitting alone, no male attention, while he cavorts to other tables. In today’s e-mail he does mention “I saw you were talking to a gentleman and you looked like you were having a good time talking to him”……so suddenly I am visible, where usually I get “Oh, I didn’t see you.”

              I remember at one of his shows, I won one of the raffles, had to go up front to claim the prize, and still he said “I did not see you.”

              Seems he only sees me if it appears that an interesting man sees me too!

              Oh, regarding the gentleman I was talking to, no bells and whistles but it was still nice. And NC must be healing me, because for the first time in a while, I did not feel sad about not meeting someone who makes me swoon like I do over AC. Did not fall in love, but also did not wish for AC.

  22. Revolution says:

    The comedian Brian Regan had a whole special about “one-uppers” entitled “I Walked On the Moon.” Basically, his whole premise for that joke was that astronauts who walked on the moon could always trump those “one-upper” conversational sabotagers with their tales of being on lunar rovers and shit. It was hilarious.

    I, right now, am dealing with one of those jealous “one-uppers”, though it’s totally ineffectual. In fact, it makes me think, “If you come to the schoolyard, you better be prepared to fuckin’ PLAY.” Now that I’m unemployed of my own volition (and folks, it went rocky the first week, but now I’m finally settling into it, the unemployed life) people who are still employed find it ripe to rip into me cart-blanche, as if I’m Paris Fucking Hilton, or someone else who hasn’t worked a day in her life. And that I’m crazy to have voluntarily left my place of employment and that, sight unseen and my story unheard, I’m somewhat of a pansy who couldn’t cut the mustard at work and I shouldn’t expect anything more than dignity-tearing, self-esteem crushing, adrenal-obliterating work where I’m doing two full time jobs for barely the rate of one full time job. Ummm….it doesn’t make me Kim Fucking Kardashian for standing up for myself. And oh….by the way…I’ve worked since I was 15, full-time since I was 18 (plus night odd jobs and school, not to mention volunteer work–all simultaneously) and I’m now nearly 36. So STEP, fools.

    Ironically, I’m getting some passive aggressive subtle digs from a woman a little older than me who (at least this woman, in particular)hasn’t worked more than part time most of her life.

    So……WHAT THE FUCK??????

    I’m done being emotionally (or otherwise) jacked by anyone. I think I’ve payed my motherfuckin’ dues, bitches.

  23. Cathy says:

    Wow, this post doesn’t just speak to me, it sings… Early this year I suffered through a very emotionally traumatic event and received no empathy or support whatsoever from my husband. At the time, I was so messed-up in the head that I thought no one could possibly understand or deal with me — not that he’d emotionally abandoned me. I am now in a much better mental place (with the help of counseling) and understand what was happening. My husband and I have talked it out and I am now receiving backdated empathy (not faux or one-better, he’s never been like that) and apologies. However, I’m now feeling so hurt and abandoned and ANGRY for not getting it when I desperately needed it that I’m not sure if I can forgive him. I love him, but I don’t know if backdated empathy is enough.

  24. espresso says:

    Cathy…I really understand how you feel. A lack of empathy was one of the worst things about my ex husband. I don’t know what exactly happened to you but if I was very distressed about something (work or another event) he would make a POINT of telling me that he “didn’t feel the same way” so couldn’t really relate. I might be on the floor with grief and he would say stuff like that. And
    then he would say he was just being honest. I now see that this was part of him being passive aggressive. I realized that when I was down and needed empathy and support and understanding he wasn’t there and made it worse becauseI ended up having a big fight when I expressed my disappointment…something I didn’t need at the time. Because I don’t turn to him anymore for that it is a big relief.
    I think it reflects a lack of character and unwillingness to grow and passive aggressiveness.
    He was always the type to always want to play victim. So if he asked you how you are feeling and you say, “I am really overwhelmed and tired right now,” he will reply by saying…”I am too”
    And that would be the end of it.

  25. Messed Up Girl says:

    This post really spoke to me as well as it made me think about my (now non-relationship) with my sister and how she was totally like that. I remember when I was going through my divorce and was at rock bottom and how much she relished the whole thing, telling me what a mess I looked, how I would have to ‘pull myself together’ and just to top it all off, stealing my sleeping tablets which at that time were all that were keeping me sane!! I’ve now reached the conclusion that you can choose your friends but not your family. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a great best friend who has really helped me through some tough times, she has been brutally honest with me when it’s required, but not to be cruel, just to make me open my eyes. I’m ashamed to say I’ve needed her again in the last couple of days as I broke and made contact with the MM/AC I had a fling with a few months ago. 6 weeks of NC and I couldn’t stop myself texting him last night. He did reply saying he wants to still be friends and not have things be so awkward at work when we have to see each other but I have been ill about this since last night. Why can’t I just leave it alone and accept that he is not interested? My stomach problems that had really started to get better have flared up badly since last night to the point that I’m now back to acid reflux/nausea/stomach churning hell. Even my body is telling me to leave it the hell alone!! Thank goodness for the support on this site and from my friend who is always there to listen, don’t know what I would do without it. The support, advice and kindness that can be given by people who don’t know each other at all restores my faith a little in humanity.

  26. Tinkerbell says:

    Messed up,

    I’m a tough love poster like your best friend. Are you a masochist who loves drama, hurt and pain? I ask you this because this is what I’ve been all my life and I’m getting over it. I spent some time with an MM and, let me tell you, it’s a no-win situation. You’re dead in the water from out the gate. Please stop doing this to yourself. You deserve better. He will never love you and respect you as you should want. If you did eventually get him because he left his wife, the odds of which is nearly zero percent, you could never trust him. He’d turn right around and cheat on you. But, what I’m saying here is as old as the hills. YOU KNOW THIS. You broke NC. Get back on the horse and ride to victory and become emotionally unburdened from the sordid mess. You’ll so much better. Did you not feel a little “lighter” as NC time passed? Anything difficult to achieve takes time, focus and dedication to the task. YOU CAN DO IT!!!

  27. Messed Up Girl says:

    Hey Tinkerbell,

    Thanks for your reply, in answer to your question, I would never have thought of myself as a masochist or a drama queen, but my actions in these last few months have made me question what kind of person I really am.

    To involve myself with this MM/creep in the first place was insane, then to be discarded like a bit of garbage when he got what he wanted was even worse, but the real issue has been my inability to let go, and the need to keep contacting him, just not being able to put it out of my head. That’s the scary thing. I really was feeling better in the few weeks of NC, but the NEED I had a few days ago to contact him was unbelievable. I know he is not interested in any way, he just doesn’t have the balls to tell me to f*ck off. There has been no further contact at all and there won’t be, it’s back on the horse for me. Even through the weekend the only time I’ve had stomach problems is when I’m thinking about him, if that doesn’t tell me something then I don’t know what will. I know it sounds terrible but I can only wish badness on him now, I wish for the day when I’m back on my feet and he contacts me again because she’s left his sorry, impotent, lying ass and I finally get to tell him to P*SS RIGHT OFF!!! Unhealthy I know, but better than mooching over him in my opinion…I am determined this time to let this go, whether it’s through more counselling, keeping myself busy or just venting whenever necessary, I am going to do it!!

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Messed Up,

      THAT’S the spirit. You were feeling like “Who the hell is he to reject you when he wasn’t good enough for you in the first place.” Being rejected is difficult no matter who it’s from or what the circumstance. You can an YOU WILL get over it because he did you a favor. Good luck. Do not weaken ever again because involvement with an MM is futile and you deserve better.

  28. Tabitha says:

    I am trying to use all my BR education but could use a little support from my comrades.
    I work in adult education and often teach adults who have not been in a classroom since their schooldays. their memories/associations with education may be negative with a lot of negative self talk. So, I always try to inject some humour and fun into my classes and ensure that everyone feels welcome and included.
    In a current class I have a student who is also a qualified teacher. She has spent her weekend emailing me with a critique of my teaching style, telling me she “feels sorry for me” and that my style is better suited to a primary/junior school, and how much time she is prepared to spend on certain activities.
    I tell you I was so tempted to tell her all about herself and where to stick her faux empathy and advice. I was really upset, doubting myself, feeling horribly undermined and worthless.
    Then I realised, I get GREAT feedback from my other students. They use words like “inspirational” and one lady is fitting my classes around her cancer treatment, she is that keen to attend.
    This bitch is not going to get under my skin. I have to separate her issues, which I think include a Superiority Complex and an overwhelming need to interfere and control, from my feelings. As Nat is always telling us, we have to keep our boundaries and know when it is not about us.
    I am a little afraid that if I continue to teach her, I will end up showing my hostility or having a big argument with her in class. I have emailed my boss and he is usually very supportive but I thought I would get it off my chest a little by laying it out here.

    • Revolution says:

      Tabitha,

      First, I caught your shout-out in (this? the last?) post, so thanks for that. :)

      Second, let me tell you a lil’ story. C’mere, darlin’. Get your blankie and snuggle up close. :)

      My (and loads of peoples’) favorite Zumba instructor, who has since become a friend of mine, has one of the most sunny, warm, fun dispositions and the most exciting, challenging, but FUN classes in our gym. She teaches at other gyms as well, and I know for a fact that people wait in line out the door for her classes, because she and her style of instruction is so popular.

      Well, one day not long ago, she was visibly upset because someone complained about her class not being hip-hop enough (which is ironic because a) it’s ZUMBA, which is a COMBO of Hip-hop, Latin, etc. dance and b) I actually find her classes are PREDOMINANTLY hip-hop). I looked at her and said what we all say to each other (and what I’m going to say to you) because we know it’s true: “You can’t please everybody. And besides, ALL of the feedback I’ve heard on your classes is that people LOVE them!”

      So there you have it. That’s what I think about this woman in your class and her faux-empathy. I also think you are spot on about there being some jealousy too. Especially with the “I feel sorry for you” comment. Yeesh. Chin up, love. ;)

    • Mymble says:

      Tabitha
      I work as a lawyer in a large organisation. I do some employment tribunal work. My experience is that there are some people – not an insignificant number – who seem to exhibit strange behaviour, complain constantly about colleagues and management, will not accept being managed, write enormous letters and emails of complaint etc etc. My advice would be to thank her briefly for her feedback and otherwise ignore, because if you snap, no matter the provocation, she will complain to your employer, professional body, any relevant ombudsman and even bring a court action against you/your employer. I would handle her with very great care, because even though there is clearly some personality disorder at work, she has the power to make you miserable, and you do not want to go there. It seems to me that this kind of thing has become more prevalent’in our society of late.

      • Mymble says:

        I should say that I felt the fact of get critiquing and sending unsolicited “advice” (insults dressed as empathy, more like) re your teaching methods and style is thoroughly strange and inappropriate. No matter that she happens to be a teacher, YOU are HER teacher. It rings very loud fire alarm bells in my ears.

      • Tabitha says:

        Thanks so much Rev and Mumble.I really did appreciate both your comments and I do feel better now. It was such a shock to have another woman attack me like that, although now I have had time to re read it I see she has referenced the fact she is coming to the end of her career and she is aware that I am interviewing for a promotion next week. Maybe there is a little jealousy. Either way, you are right, you cannot please everyone, to think otherwise would doom one to failure. I know I work really hard to ensure my students have a positive learning experience and although I still have a lot to learn, I am not crap and I didn’t deserve the pasting she gave me.
        I will hold my head high and ignore her.
        Thanks again to both of you and as always to Natalie for giving me the tools I need.

  29. Cathy says:

    Thanks for your reply, Espresso. After a couple of months my husband asked me not to talk about what had happened anymore because it was stressing HIM out. Then asked me not to talk about my feelings because it was stressing him out, then to stop acting so sad all the time, all the way down to complaining when I said I was tired from having nightmares! And at the time, I just listened and tried to do what he said. I felt like my emotions were totally out of control and like I was probably making his life hell and like he had every right to complain. I now know I was being much too hard on myself.

    Now he is expressing regret and remorse for his behavior and selfishness, and swears he’ll do better next time, but I don’t know if I believe him and I’m not sure I want to stick around to find out. It’s a hell of a thing when you feel like friends you mainly talk to by text message and Facebook have your back more than the man you married does.

  30. DiggingDeeper says:

    Oh my gooooooooooodnesss, that illustration rocks!

    Nice, vvv’-ery nice Natalie!

  31. espresso says:

    Cathy…I think your last line said it all. Your husband is shutting you out because he finds empathy “stressful and difficult.” That is very cruel when you have suffered a very traumatic event. And note to him…even though HE may think recovering from trauma is neatly packaged up and has a time limit, there is no set time when people “recover” – it is often cyclical and can be triggered easily. You are doing what you can to cover and he needs to be there for you. Period. And having to take HIM on when you are already in a bad space is not something you should have to do. He sounds like he is likes to be the victim, is insensitive and selfish. Breaking this kind of trust by not being empathic is a big thing in a relationship. My husband didn’t do empathy and so I felt very alone when a deeply upsetting emotional event happened to me. I might as well have BEEN totally alone.

  32. Reversal says:

    Gosh Tabitha, it seems your student is unaware that she isn’t your only student… it isn’t one on one tutoring.

  33. Mike says:

    Great article.

    I have a friend who I considered I was very close to and for a while it did feel this way. I felt loved and acknowledged and when there was issues in our lives we’d come together and talk about it – supportive.

    Recently, I’ve noticed that all those times where we were being “supportive” was only when he was going through things in his life. He needed validation, advice and a shoulder to lean on. Just looking back, I may have complained 3 times about things and each time I came to him for empathy, all I got was his version of ‘tough love’ after a few minutes of me trying to understand why he was being insensitive he just chalked it up to ‘being very honest’ and that I was ‘too sensitive’.

    One situation comes to mind. A very good friend of mine had a mental breakdown and was admitted to the hospital. I called my friend because I was upset. He giggled throughout the entire conversation and said, ‘it was funny’ because he doesn’t know anyone who’s ever been to the ‘looney bin’

    It’s all very confusing because there are times where he is the nicest person in the world and appears to be very supportive, but then there are the times where he’s just plain mean and nasty and I begin to feel bad about myself or start to question my own decisions. I’m not going to have a conversation with him about his behaviour because it would just be futile. I have acknowledged who he is and know that he’s not the one I go to for anything serious going on in my life. It’s not worth my aggravation or energy.

  34. noquay says:

    Tabitha
    Speaking as a professor myself, what that woman did truly sucks. Everyone’s teaching style differs and as long as everyone else is able to get what they need out of your way of teaching, you’re doing fine. It’s about her. Usually the best solution is to refund her money if she paid for the class and encourage her to withdraw.

  35. teachable says:

    I’m sorry to hear yr unemployed Rev. I know how that feels, esp when u’ve worked so hard all yr life. Hang in there ‘sis’. If you walked away from a job b.c u weren’t being treated properly in some way (just trying to read b.tween the lines. sorry, out of the loop here) hopefully, you’ve just created space for one where you will be. That’s brave! Teach. x

    • Revolution says:

      Thanks Teach! Yeah, the new boss was an asshole, to put it in a nutshell. But beyond that, I had outgrown that job about 4 years ago. So I basically just took my money and ran. Should be fine financially for another 8 months. Taking time to rest my adrenals and actually have a life (what the fuck? You mean there are people who actually do things other than WORK during the day *squints into the sunlight*). Should be riding that wave for another month, possibly more if I have the balls to wait before pounding the pavement. Shit, it’s nice to not be working. I may need to find an 87-year old rich man with an oxygen tank. Hey, don’t judge. ;)

      Hope you’re doing well, my fiercely independent big sis. I always jump to read your comment when I see your name. Hang in there, babe.

  36. teachable says:

    Justher

    Although it was deeply hurtful to see those things written abt u on yr ex’s fb page & u do need to refrain from looking again to protect yrself from further harm, think of it this way:

    Every single female friend of yr ex’s friend list will see what he wrote abt u (even if he didn’t name u specifically, which I HOPE to goodness he didn’t), & those with BRAINS in their heads will ALL know this guy is a CREEP. The FIRST thing which women look at in assessing guy’s decency is how he speaks of / behaves re his ex’s. That guy writes awful things abt them on his fb page! Hence, he just LOST any chance of a r.ship w any DECENT girls in his friends list. Oh well. Lonely life OR stress & drama in store for him now. Karma! It’s a.bitch hey!

    ;)

  37. teachable says:

    Shay

    Yr ‘Mother’ (she is not a Mother in the sense of failing to meet the functional capacity of the role, which is to PROTECT & SUPPORT you as her daughter), is grandiosely self obsessed. Her primary ‘reason’ for wishing you’d disclosed the rapes sooner ought to have been so she could PROTECT YOU & STOP THEM OCCURRING. Yes, it would have also been convenient to know to prevent her marrying a man molesting her child, but that is a secondary consideration. She knows NOW & hasn’t left him. Why not?

    There are so many things to be explored in yr story & I’m not sure BR is the right place to unpack them all as you probably need support IRL (if u don’t have this yet?) & not just anonymous internet support. In any event, here are some suggestions to consider. You don’t have to reply to them here. Just think them over, take what you want & leave the rest.

    1. The rapes by yr step father are extremely serious unlawful criminal assaults. You have a RIGHT to report them to the police. You MAY be entitled to victims of crime compensation. This man OUGHT to be in jail for what he did to you. Laws in different countries & states vary (of course), however, it is.absolutely worth going to see a PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER & telling them what happened to you. Ask them, is there any help you can get either in the criminal or civil systems of law?

    2. Even if you are not eligible for financial victims of crime compensation (you may be eligible for free counselling, payment for things to help you recover from the crime ie course fees to educate yrself if yr schooling was interrupted), this man needs to be STOPPED from doing this to anyone else. You may not be his only victim. One way of stopping him is to report him to the police. Don’t worry if there were no ‘eyewitnesses’ to the rapes other than yourself & him. The police will handle that. At worst, it will remain on police record that these allegations have.been made against him. This may help police if he does the same thing to another child.

    3. IF he is charged & found guilty of these offences against you, & he owns PROPERTY OR ANY OTHER SIZABLE ASSETS, you may wish to persue a civil case for damages. The lawyer will tell you more about this. Many personal injury lawyers operate on a no win no fee basis but charge for disbursements. Disbursements are sundry costs for psych reports etc to run yr case. Make sure you get an in writing estimate of these costs.before deciding if you will proceed or not.

    4. Yr Mother is HIGHLY TOXIC. Apart from this geberalised statement, I cannot presume to know or guess even what her problem or diagnoses may be from the scant information provided. I have worked in the DV sector though. There, I sometimes dealt with women who preferenced violent r.ships w men who were abusive to their children over the safety of their children. (& usually, these children were step children of the violent partner). This is straight up child abuse & neglect. In these cases, if a mother continued to do this & did not change her behaviour (with the professional suppirts we would offer ie safe housing, free counselling etc), in my country, failure to protect a child from cumulative harm by exposure to DV is grounds for removal of the children by child protection services. If you were living in a home with DV occurring as a child, & yr mother did not leave that.man thereby continuing to expose YOU to WITNESSING DV, here we would have ultimately removed you frm yr mothers care, for failure to protect you. SO, yr Mother does NOT have yr best interests at heart. She IS an unfit Mother. Get counselling around this. Her response to yr disclosure of child rape by her husband is not uncommon but it IS VERY HARMFUL to YOU. I suggest staying AWAY from her whilst you sort all this out (if indeed u decide to).

    5. There are places u can contact for free counselling sexual assault etc. Some places have anonymous telephone counselling also. Try googling this in yr area. THIS is probably the best place to START in dealing with ALL of this.

    6. You are not alone. Always know this & that help is available, often from who have had similar experiences.

    7. You deserve to HEAL Shay. What happened to you not only w yr step father but ALSO yr Mother, was/is VERY wrong. You are NOT to blame. Give them back the shame for THEIR actions or lack thereof. Now is the time for YOU to be free.

    Big hugs. Teach. xxx

  38. teachable says:

    Good for you Rev. You deserve better than working for an ahole. Jobs, I now realise, are a bit like r.ships. If we stay in crappy ones, we never create space for a healthy one to come along. U’ve made a brave & courageous move! You go girl! Fingers crossed for you when you start looking for something else. PS Try for an 87 yo with a single twin! ;)

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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