Help me out of this pattern
September 19, 2011 8:21 AM Subscribe
I tried starting over. It failed. I am feeling hopeless. I have a small group of friends in my new city, but I don't want to wear them out by being negative or constantly in crisis. I've been in therapy off and on for 15 years and am not in it right now because I don't know if more of it is even what I need.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (15 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
When I look back over my life, I see two main patterns: being underemployed and attracting narcissists. I thought that if I moved to another city with a better economy and a more liberal, educated population with more artistic venues, I would be in a place where maybe these two things could change.
The first person I met here was someone I found online who had an interesting personal ad in the platonic section of Craigslist and was also a newcomer. Seven months and a lot of tears later, I ended this friendship/romantic relationship because this person did and said many hurtful and critical things to me and I found my self-esteem dropping. I couldn't allow this person to keep destroying it. I've had this dynamic with everyone I've ever been extremely close with. I attract people who are intelligent and charismatic who create intensity with me from the beginning and tell me I am the only one who understands them, and after they build me up, start picking me apart. I have ended every one of these relationships myself after trying to work things out with these people, and in every case they have thrown a fit and never apologized for hurting me. They have all fit the profile of narcissists.
I have some non-narcissist friends who do not create this sort of intensity with me. They're supportive and validating. However, they have lives of their own, being healthy people. Most of them live far away. I don't want to presume on them and ask too much support, even though I'm incredibly lonely right now. I live alone, and the ending of my relationship with my most recent narcissist has left a void in my life. I feel so needy. I know that will just turn off healthy people, whereas narcissists thrive on it and try to create an instant BFF experience. I just don't know how to be the fun and interesting new friend when I'm going through all this. At such times in my life, I isolate until I can't stand it anymore and then I am more vulnerable to a new narcissist friend or lover.
I also thought I would be able to find a better job, but instead I have found two menial low-paying jobs that I now feel trapped in. I was in an industry that died during the recession, and don't have the time or money to upgrade my skill set. I work about 60 hours a week. It's taking its toll on my health. Both jobs are stressful. I have trouble sleeping and have lost my appetite. I feel bad about myself not being able to find anything more professional. I don't have time to exercise to help with my obvious depression, let alone job-hunt for something better, or join meetups to make new friends. Unfortunately, in the early days of my friendship with this most recent narcissistic person, they insisted on meeting people I had met separately from them, and are now part of that budding social circle, and I feel like I have lost some of those other people due to the awkwardness of my friendship ending with the narcissist -- who seems really cool and interesting on the surface, and it would just make me look bad to trash them to these other people.
If you guys think I should return to therapy yet again, I will, but after 15 years I don't know why I am not already better. I've tried medication in the past, too, but the side effects have been awful. I take St. John's Wort now and it does help. I know that when I have time to exercise and sleep, it does wonders. I don't know how to find that time when I have to work 60 hours a week or more just to stay afloat.
FWIW, I'm female, 40+. And I'm ashamed that at this point, I am not further along in the two main arenas of life. I'm scared that it will be this way forever, and I'll just end up an eccentric, lonely person, a semi-charity case, who just dies of stress one day in her lonely little apartment. How can I regain the hope and optimism I had when I first moved here? How can I make healthier friends while I am depressed, lonely, and on the rebound from a narcissist who shook my faith in myself? How can I upgrade my skill set, exercise, and sleep when I work all the time just to make ends meet?