Have you ever had an annoying presence in your life that likes to ride your coattails?
Have you ever had a shadow following you that isn’t quiet and innocuous but rather loud and self-validating? At the expense of your self-esteem?
So I had that shadow for the better part of my life. Was it annoying? Yes. Two-faced? You bet! Self-involved? Totally.
It’s hard to get rid of people who are always with us. We grow up with them and start to identify with them. We internalize their struggles and problems. We find excuses for their behavior. We facilitate them in their atrocious behavior. We also enable their entitlement.
If you spoke with a psychologist, self-involved people have generally overwhelming or underwhelming narcissistic traits. They have self-serving agendas. Their friendships work around the premise of how they would work for them. They cannot think for their purported friends. They’re not capable of that. Narcissists lack empathy. When narcissists get into deep relationships they try to fulfill their duties to their partner or friend by a close analysis of their partner’s or friend’s response to the narcissist’s actions. These responses help narcissists perfect a socially acceptable behavior until this behavior starts to get in the way of their entitlement. Then they start to abuse, torture, gaslight and demean their victims.
But if narcissism was curable it wouldn’t have claimed as many strong personalities as it has over the years.
The narcissist in my life wasn’t curable either. The amount of validation she needed was exhausting for one friend to provide. It started out as sympathy for her that led to her running all over our friendship. It quickly evolved into a codependent relationship. Soon the relationship was about her making more friends while I remained the most dependable one. I was usually left in the dust. I was never a priority. I had strict subliminally sent messages about how my making more friends would be a breach of our relationship. It was a convenient arrangement for a self-centered person like her and an introvert like me.
But as with all toxic and one-sided relationships, emancipation happened. It started with her leaving me for someone else. I had to make other friends forcibly. I didn’t want to. Frankly, I was ripped of finding any good girlfriends by her and I doubted my judgement a lot.
I made new friends. True friends. Friends who saw me as an equal and someone that should be respected.
I had a huge perspective shift. From being constantly afraid of waterworks and blame games and hurt feelings I changed into a genuinely hilarious and fun person. I saw friendship for the first time as a fulfilling and cheerful experience. I wasn’t treading on eggshells anymore. I could be honest and upfront. I could crack jokes with them. I could tell my new friends if a certain plan wasn’t particularly my favorite. I wasn’t afraid to affect their feelings in a way that would result in a puddle of tears. Can you sense how refreshing that was for me?
Friendships happen throughout our lives. Now that I’m older I don’t crave human company like I did when I was younger. I was never a happy extrovert but I was also not a loner. I was always very adaptable to whatever setting was expected of me. What I did crave was a relationship of mutual respect and love with my friends. I didn’t realize then but the way I depended on my friend for approval also could’ve determined the way I would choose to depend on my significant other later in life had I not consciously broken the cycle. It was important to do that for growth and a rebirth, of sorts.
Sometimes even with my insistence at being an introvert I come across a woman or many women who inspire me and want me to become a part of their lives. But I’ve become careful about never shortchanging myself so the other person can feel better about themselves. I have also identified a pattern and a tendency with myself. I have a tendency to put up with emotional abuse in the name of emotional connection. I have decided to not give in to trauma bonding or abuse bonding. I share my life and my love with people who are at an equal footing with me or can hold their own. I’ve developed an aversion to people who think they’re better or worse than me. Because people who think they’re better than me are always keeping me at my toes in a quest to prove myself worthy of their friendship. And people who think they’re worse than me are always keeping me busy with the job of proving to them that they’re worthy of my friendship.
And friendship isn’t a relationship of convenience or hierarchy. Friendship is a courtship where we both should make each other feel wanted while also maintaining our worth to ourselves.
But coming back to my friend who tailed my ass like my shadow and invariably always bit my ass too! I blocked her. From all my social media accounts and my life, I blocked her.
I’ll be looking forward to it
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Interesting analysis of friendship. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences. I have my own understanding of this concept, which I will share some other time.
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