how do I take care of myself when my whole world no longer makes sense?
November 20, 2016 10:57 AM   Subscribe

Last night I had a couple of things happen with people I considered friends that are making me feel unhinged. This, in tandem with my despair over the election results and my apparent social isolation are leading me down the road to a depressive episode. My therapist is on vacation. Please help me figure out if I am overreacting and/or how to get some perspective and move forward.

This is very long. I am sorry. Please be gentle with me, I am in recovery from mental illness and still don’t really understand how to relate to people so maybe I just have been handling this all wrong and I’m an idiot.

I was hanging out at the neighborhood pub last night with a couple of newish friends who I met through a guy I’ve been having a long-running, awkward-in-many-places protracted flirtation with (see previous questions for details about “Freddy”). In the process, one of the new friends mentioned to me that it’s sort of generally known that Freddy is in love with his best (female) friend, who is in a long-term relationship with someone else and not interested in Freddy romantically. I will call the friend Sarah. Freddy and I have recently started hanging out more and more and he’s gotten increasingly touchy-feely and overtly flirty with me. I spent his birthday with him and some of his friends - including the aforementioned Sarah - and he had specifically sought me out that day, saying that he really wanted me to be with him on his birthday. I’d finally steeled up the nerve to ask him out for real, and was planning on doing so this week, until I was casually informed last night that Freddy has this unrequited love for Sarah.

It then occurred to me that Freddy’s escalation of contact and flirtation with me coincided directly with Sarah really taking a liking to me and wanting to hang out with me a lot. Sarah has basically adopted me. Ever since then, that’s when my friendship with Freddy started seeming less like a serious of frustratingly awkward fits and starts and more like the beginning of something that might have potential. This information from the friend has thrown me for a loop, and now I feel like Freddy is using me as some sort of proxy for Sarah, and the fact that Sarah and I have become close friends allows him to hang out with me and have an excuse to be around her. With this information I’ve started to notice aspects of the way he and Sarah interact that I previously thought was just platonic interaction between two long-time friends (my best friend is a guy and he and I have a long friendship and I was mapping my experience on to this) that now I think might be more complicated.

So that was a bummer, and made me start questioning whether I’ve been imagining this Freddy flirtation the whole time, and feel like a fool for thinking that I was in a place where I could ask him out. If this is some sort of bizarre love triangle I want no part in this.

The thing is, the person who dropped this bombshell on me is a guy who works in my industry. Sarah introduced me to him knowing that I’ve been having some career-related existential crisis lately thinking it would be good for me to pick his brain. This guy and I proceeded to get into a long “shop-talk” conversation, and he knows a lot of people in the industry in general. It seemed to be a great networking opportunity and I really enjoyed hearing his insight and how he’s managed to juggle family life with our notoriously demanding industry (which is something I worry about as I get older). It was a great conversation. I thought.

Then the night ended. Freddy showed up to say hi. Sarah decided to leave to go visit her boyfriend. Freddy left with her to walk her to her car. I continued to talk to the industry guy. Then I decided I was tired and going to go home. Industry guy had recommended a book to me and said he’d be happy to let me borrow it sometime, so I suggested we meet up for coffee sometime next week to continue the conversation and I’d borrow the book.

Then industry guy tried to get me to come home with him to get the book now. I said no (it was 2am), but thanks. I went home.

Then Industry guy started blowing up my phone with texts. I hadn’t given him my number, he got it from someone else in the pub. Really trying to convince me to come over. Saying that he found out through the grapevine where I lived and maybe he could drop by now with the book. Saying are you sure you don’t want to come over, I’m going to make a ribeye and maybe you have some vegetables or something we could grill with it (? at 2am?). I said no and he continued to text me. Then he called twice. I started to panic. I am a survivor of sexual assault and I was starting to feel triggered. He continued to text for the next two hours then finally gave up.

I have been alternately angry, upset, and numb since then. I feel like I’m being used by everybody around me - Freddy is using me to lurk around Sarah, and the Industry guy lulled me into thinking I was having a networking conversation and then tried to get into my pants in a terrifying way.

I got out of an eight year relationship in August and have been tentatively trying to figure out how dating works after spending my 20s not dating. While I have experienced street harassment almost constantly since I was 15, I haven’t ever really had this specific experience of having someone aggressively pursue me after what I thought was an innocuous conversation. I’m left wondering things like, why did he interpret my interest in his career trajectory as an invitation to try to bone me? Did I do something accidentally to encourage it? Should I have left the conversation earlier? Should I not have suggested a follow-up meeting to borrow the book? Am I sending signals I don’t mean to send because I don’t know how to interact with men anymore who aren’t my ex-boyfriend or my brother?

Basically I feel unhinged right now. I feel like my perception of reality is completely borked. I feel like a fool for not seeing what was going on with Freddy and Sarah, and I feel like a fool for not having known that Industry guy wasn’t actually interested in being my friend or a career connection but just wanted to get in my pants. This is a small town and everyone knows each other, so I feel like I can’t even talk to anyone about what happened and why I feel completely used by Freddy and violated by this Industry guy. I have struggled with feelings of isolation ever since I have moved to this town, and this year finally felt like I was actually making friends and having a social life outside the context of my former relationship. Now I feel like I don’t understand anyone’s motivations around me, and I can’t trust anyone to actually be authentic with me. I’m terrified that Industry guy knows where I live and that he may just show up randomly at some point. I’m supposed to hang out with Freddy tonight and I feel like it’s stupid and pointless to even do so because whatever I thought was happening with us probably isn’t.

I’ve also been extremely depressed after the election. I’m a woman of color, dependent on Obamacare for access to medication I need in order to keep mentally stable and I’m terrified of what a Trump presidency will do to my life. I was harassed last week by a Trump supporter while filling my car up with gas. I just generally feel unsafe and terrified all the time. Freddy has been a really good friend throughout all this and I felt safe around him. I felt safe around Sarah and their other friends. Now I feel like that has all been thrown out the window. I feel like I’m right back to square one when it comes to being friendless and adrift. The holidays are coming and the holidays are always terrible for me. Thanksgiving last year was a big drama bomb because my brother’s girlfriend hated me. She and I have come to a very tentative peace in recent months because they got engaged and I finally insisted that we call a truce, but I’m still scared about what Thanksgiving is going to be like. I’m scared about Christmas and New Years, which I typically always spent with my now ex-boyfriend and his family and now will be spending alone.

I have been in recovery all year from a really significant mental health crisis last year around Christmas and the anticipation of this time of year has been making me extremely anxious. I’m worried that I will fall into a huge depressive episode, and I now feel like I cannot trust the new social connections I have made this year with Freddy et al and I’m going to be isolated with no one to even talk to. My ability to regulate my emotions has been compromised since the election, I’m working with my psychiatrist to stay on top of things so that I don’t go off the deep end again, but right now I am legitimately fearful of my life between being harassed by racists and by Industry guy knowing where I live and feeling like I cannot trust my new friends who I previously felt safe around.

I also got propositioned blatantly by a drunk guy last week after the election, completely uninvited and unwanted, which triggered me immensely as well at the time. I am not used to this kind of thing happening to me (which I realize makes me lucky in some regards for not having experienced this before) because when I was with my ex-boyfriend random men left me alone.

I feel unsafe and I feel like I have no one I can turn to to help me. My brother is unavailable because he’s spending time with his girlfriend’s family and dealing with wedding planning. His mother (my step-mother) is having her own panic attacks about the election and isn’t really in a place to support me. My relationship with my father is very troubled and I can’t count on him for support at all. My best friends from school are scattered across the country in different time zones and aren’t always reachable. My default impulse is to call my ex-boyfriend but I know that is a bad, bad idea right now.

How can I move beyond this? How do I take care of myself and keep myself safe when I apparently only have myself as support? Why did I misinterpret what Industry guy was trying to do? Why didn’t I understand what was going on with Freddy and Sarah? Why is my life such that no matter what horrible things happen to me I never have anyone to lean on? How do I survive in a world that keeps on revealing itself to me as horrible and hostile to who I am, from Trump to my new friends to this Industry guy who has openly said he may just turn up on my doorstep at any time?

My therapist is on vacation. I am utterly alone and don’t know what to do. Please help me.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Industry guy was awful and I'm sorry that happened to you. I'm not sure anything he has to report about other people can be trusted. Respectfully, though, you are reporting feeling betrayed by Freddy (and Sarah?) for a version of what he did to you--they are both offering you friendship, and you feel that you deserve more from Freddy despite not being honest with him about your intentions in hanging out. If you are feeling alone and need support, why not ask your new friend Sarah? If you can't do that without feeling jealousy or betrayal, that's fine, but that's not on them.
posted by kelseyq at 11:14 AM on November 20, 2016 [10 favorites]

Also, don't have work/networking conversations with men in bars until closing time. I know this is unfair; I know men get to do this with each other; I know this doesn't excuse IG's behavior. It's still something you should avoid for self-preservation, especially in a small town where it appears gossip certainly gets around.
posted by kelseyq at 11:16 AM on November 20, 2016 [5 favorites]

Industry Guy is a creep and a jerk. He lied about his true intentions for being so helpful to you, and he's probably lying or exaggerating about Freddie's interest in Sarah, because IG knows you're interested in Freddy and that doesn't work for him.

It's not your fault for not seeing through IG. You're not a mind reader, and going through life without trusting people even a little bit is damaging and isolating. The flip side of that, of course, is that sometimes you get run into people like IG who take advantage of others' openness and friendliness.

I haven't read your Freddy question, but I suggest you just ask him what's going on and if he's interested in you. It's not "cool" but whatever. Acting cool usually adds needless anxiety.

As for Sarah, you have no indication at all that she's not been anything but a good friend to you. Don't chuck her friendship away because of some jackass in a bar.
posted by Stonkle at 11:19 AM on November 20, 2016 [16 favorites]

You have a lot on your plate right now, so let me break out this one chunk and address that:

"I’m left wondering things like, why did he interpret my interest in his career trajectory as an invitation to try to bone me? Did I do something accidentally to encourage it? Should I have left the conversation earlier? Should I not have suggested a follow-up meeting to borrow the book? Am I sending signals I don’t mean to send because I don’t know how to interact with men anymore who aren’t my ex-boyfriend or my brother?"

You did nothing wrong. Why did he interpret your interest in his career as a come-on? Because he's an entitled ass who would have interpreted anything you said as an invitation because that's what he wanted it to be. You saw right through his weak bullshit and handled it really well.
posted by atropos at 11:20 AM on November 20, 2016 [33 favorites]

Keep Sarah, have a talk with Freddy (or just drop him for being erratic), and maintain only a professional distance with IG (if anything). Arms length for the dudes until proven otherwise, you're putting yourself in the coal mines of emotional labor here.
posted by rhizome at 11:32 AM on November 20, 2016 [24 favorites]

This pub sounds like it doesn't have people in it that are particularly great for you. Can you spend some time figuring out a different social space where you can spend time with different people? I think cutting these cats out of your social life in a very benign and quiet way - slow fade on visiting the bar, say you're busy a lot, become actually busy with another group of people who are more on your team and who genuinely like and support you - will be really good for your soul. It will take a little time and that is always hard so be sure to take extra care of yourself as you work through the process.

I'm so sorry this happened to you.
posted by sockermom at 11:37 AM on November 20, 2016 [8 favorites]

It must really suck for you to have taken the risk of reaching out to Industry Guy, only to have him violate your boundaries and sense of safety by harassing you at night. This surely must have feel like a personal last straw for you on top of the all the struggles that you've gone through this year, and the election results definitely didn't help in that it makes all the entitled assholes in the world feel vindicated.

In the mean time, do you think it will be possible for you to arrange for a visit to one of your out of state friends during Christmas to help you escape your feelings of isolation and help you regain your sense of safety and groundedness? Or perhaps call one of the rape and sexual assault hotlines listed on the Mefi There Is Help page so that you have some additional ears to help you navigate through the situation?

I hope you won't feel alone this holidays, because you deserved to be loved and cared for... even though at this point you're feeling that nothing in the world is real or seems right to you.
posted by Tsukushi at 11:38 AM on November 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'm so sorry these things have been happening to you and around you. Clearly industry guy can't be trusted and is indeed a bit unhinged, and since industry guy is the one who told you that Freddy has unrequited love for Sarah, you can't trust that info either. He told you that with the idea that it would redirect your attention to him.

Since you're already planning to meet up with Freddy, you should keep those plans—and try to find a way to just ask him more about his friendship with Sarah. You're still getting to know both of them. Keep it light—at arm's length, as rhizome said. Don't assume ill intent on the basis of what industry guy told you, but just keep what he said in mind as one (potentially false) data point. Don't let it damage the chance to connect with Freddy on your own terms.

And yeah, I definitely would continue to avoid the industry guy—you met him once, it obviously didn't work out as a connection of any sort, and if he tries to come by your place, you can deal with things from there (escalate as needed), but hopefully just cutting off contact entirely will help.

Also, I'd say hang out with Sarah. She reached out to be your friend, and it sounds like she's nice and genuinely likes you. If it seems to be appropriate to where you are in your relationship with her, you should let her know her friend, industry guy, was not appropriate with you, so she's aware. If she doesn't respond well to this, that will also tell you something about your new friend. But don't tell her it as a test—and since it's a small town, expect that you might not get the answer you want. He might be a broken stair, as they say—someone everyone in the small town kind of knows has issues with treating women well or interacting properly after he drinks, but who people still allow to be in their lives because he has industry connections or because they're being polite or whatever. Everyone may step past the "broken stair" he represents because they know it's there, and they stop thinking about it.

Otherwise, my first thought, after reading through your entire question, is that it might be good for you to get a need a change of scenery and escape all the people in your life who want you to conform to their plans or their notion of a relationship.

Like Tsukushi said, yeah, regarding Christmas and New Year's, can you travel during that time at all? Would any of your best friends from school be up for hosting a fun visit during the holidays? If not, what about just going to a bigger city anyway and planning ahead to make connections through a MetaFilter meetup or two while you're there? Alternately, do you have the means and/or any interest in booking a solo trip to a warm, sunny place where you can just enjoy exploring?

If you can't get out of town, maybe doing the same things you'd do while traveling out of town, just in your own town, would be good—treating yourself to shopping (or even just thrift-store shopping, if you're on a budget), gallery visits, a long walk around a nature preserve, going to see a movie or two, finding a meetup group, etc. Also, maybe volunteering locally would feel good, if you're up for it—it would give you something concrete to do to influence the direction of things, as well as perhaps be a way to meet people who aren't focused on the bar scene or industry. On preview, this kind of matches up with what sockermom was suggesting.

Also, even if you can't travel now, maybe try reaching out to friends in other places you haven't spoken with for a while—give them a call, if you were previously on phone-call terms. It might help just to get outside of your own bubble and find out what they have going on, outside of social media.

Also, keep us posted here—don't turn it into a back-and-forth conversation, of course, since Ask MetaFilter isn't for that, but if you do hang out with Freddy, let us know how it goes.
posted by limeonaire at 11:40 AM on November 20, 2016 [9 favorites]

Sit down and take a few deep breaths. Listen to me: none of this is your fault. You have not handled any of this all wrong, nor are you an idiot.

First, I'd like to make some comments about your relationship with Freddy.

You sound to me like an empathic and kind person who, like all humans on this earth, wants to connect with others. There is nothing at all wrong with that. The trick is to offer your empathy and kindness to people who make you feel good not just some of the time, but all, or at least the great majority, of the time.

It is very difficult and scary to offer those things to someone whom you later come to realize or suspect may have been the wrong sort of person, someone who receives the empathy and kindness you freely give, yet reciprocates only in fits and starts. It is also so, so hard to break free of such a person, particularly when you feel lonely and isolated, because even a little bit of reciprocation feels so good and validating in the moments when it occurs. It's intermittent reinforcement.

With respect to Freddy, here is a timeline of interactions you have described:


[Talking with Freddy the first time] was basically like three hours of intense, soul-bearing conversation.

However, every time I have run into Freddy since then has been extremely awkward.

I messaged him again saying "Hey, just realized I never officially said I had fun the other night, but I did! If you ever want to hang out again, let me know." He never responded to that message.

Each week after class he has joined me at a local bar afterwards for a beer or two. Twice when we've done this we spent 3+ hours talking and closed the bar down.

[Freddy] bought me a beer and we watched the debate together, then he ditched me literally for 90 minutes without a word because friends of his showed up in the bar who I don't know.

I offered to buy him a beer since he had bought me one on the night of the debate and he got sort of weird and cagey about it.

A week later we had class again (two days ago). He seemed sort of weird and cagey. . . I was having difficulty with one of the pieces we're learning to perform in this class and . . . I said that I was confused by what we were doing with the piece. He snapped at me "WHAT ARE YOU CONFUSED ABOUT?" It was really mean and out of left field

I feel completely used by Freddy[.]


I don't know Freddy and I don't know you, but what I do know, based on your own words, is that Freddy is not consistently kind to you. This is not the behavior of someone who will be gentle with your feelings and with your heart.

Importantly, the reasons for that do not matter. It does not matter whether he's hung up on Sarah, or had a tough childhood, or is just a bit of an ass, because it is not your job to unlock Freddy. In your questions, you talk a lot about how Freddy is shy, reticent, how sometimes he "cracks open," how you are afraid to do one thing or another for fear of the way he will or will not respond to you. If I can tell you one thing I have learned in this life, it is that using your empathic and emotional skills to try and unlock a person always leads, always, to unhappiness.

You are not "a fundamentally broken person." Keep telling yourself that until you believe it. You just want to connect, and that is okay. Part of learning how to connect in a healthy way is learning how to step back when a person shows you they cannot or are unwilling to meet your reasonable and normal needs. Wanting a potential romantic partner to be consistently kind to you is a reasonable and normal need.

On to non-Freddy things. I'm sorry that Industry Guy was such a colossal ass. Cut him off. As far as Sarah is concerned, I think you ought to mention Industry Guy's behavior to her. It is not clear to me whether he and Sarah are close, or whether he's just a friendly acquaintance of hers; she may well be horrified to learn about his piggish and awful behavior. If she responds poorly, then you know you don't have a friend in Sarah. But I suspect that is not what will happen.

Gather your courage; you are strong. Remember everything you have lived through. Pursue life, even when things knock you down. And keep expanding your social circle. You can do it. Take up a new hobby. Meet more people, even though it's weird and difficult sometimes. Hell, move to a new city if you want to do that. Take care of yourself, and feel free to MeMail me anytime.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 12:02 PM on November 20, 2016 [43 favorites]

First of all, as issues completely distinct from everything else: I'm very sorry that Industry Guy turned out to be an aggressive asshole. That must have been very frightening for you. You didn't do anything wrong. This is, unfortunately, what so many men do. If there was a magic way to get them not to, believe me, you could make a fortune selling it, because the problem haunts all of us.

Also, I'm very sorry you were harassed by a Trump supporter. No wonder you feel fragile.



You desperately need to deescalate in your social life. To an outsider to the situation, your questions read like you are giving this pub situation and its various characters the emotional intensity and detailed focus more suitable for high school kids with their first crush. No grown person with a job and other responsibilities can sustain that, much less one who is already low on resources. Just stop going to this pub. Whatever might have been there for you with "Freddy," etc., the whole situation has now become an emotional clusterfuck and you need to extricate yourself from it. Stop putting your energy into it. Instead, do a lot more of whatever you are doing for self-care. Go see your doctor, if possible, and tell him/her that you are really struggling, because it sounds to me like your treatment is not necessarily having the full effect. The suggestion of getting away for the holidays, if you can afford it, is a very good one. Anything to put your life into that isn't this situation that, for whatever complicated reasons, has destabilized you to such a degree that you can't function in an adult manner around it. (This doesn't mean you're an unusually weak or damaged person. We all have these particular vulnerabilities and can fall into these endless loops.) It sounds like Sarah is a decent person, so if she continues to reach out, I wouldn't necessarily turn away from her, but only if you can do stuff together that has nothing to do with the rest of the situation.
posted by praemunire at 12:04 PM on November 20, 2016 [9 favorites]

No more Freddy.

This person is obviously not good for you. This is at least the third question you've asked about this guy. Previously I was optimistic and feeling like the thing to do was just to be direct, but, girl, honestly? I think it's time to move on at this point.

Freddy doesn't seem to have your best interests at heart.

The friends you have met through Freddy seem drama prone and not particularly kind.

This guy now has you in this headspace where on the one hand, he has made zero commitment or even basic gestures of kindness towards you, but you're wrapped up in all this garbage about some other woman Freddy is in love with and whether you should still ask him out and are you just a pawn in his game and birthday plans and everything else. You have more intense thoughts about this dude -- who isn't even nice to you! -- than I have about my fiance.

AND on top of all of that, the super cool people you're excited to "network" with, who you're meeting through Freddy, are dangerous assholes.

Let it go. Maybe Freddy would date you. Maybe he wouldn't. But either way, this isn't meant to be. It's time to walk away.

Also, you've hinted here and in other questions about this, I have to make mention of it. I have the sense that you've met Freddy because he teaches a performance oriented class of come kind. Is this a theatre thing? Comedy, maybe? Could be music? All of these things -- as much as I love them and have dedicated my life to them and have had luck making friends through them -- have a high likelihood of involving toxic social scenes, especially cults of personality surrounding one person, often a teacher or someone else who stands out as successful in the scene.

You mention that you are in a delicate place, emotionally. If I guessed correctly, now is NOT the time to throw yourself into a highly dramatic, cutthroat, and judgmental artistic scene. Especially if you're in part doing it because you want to make friends and maybe meet someone to date. I wouldn't in any way say that all social scenes that revolve around the performing arts are toxic and should be avoided (I'm a comedian and love my community), but there's a much higher likelihood of getting swept up in exactly the sort of drama you describe here with, for example, a local community theatre, than there is with a book club or knitting class or co-ed flag football or something. It might be time to find a new hobby.
posted by Sara C. at 12:53 PM on November 20, 2016 [22 favorites]

In future if someone keeps texting you turn off your phone and go to sleep. It does no good to stay awake reading the texts and stressing out. Then in the morning you can send one message that says "WTF?? I just woke up and saw all your messages. Don't ever contact me again". It's OK to say that, it's OK to have opinions about people and to act on those opinions through speech and actions. You do not have to deal with all of this inside your head.

I have a tendency to let stuff slide, mostly because I don't really care not because I'm afraid of the consequences but the results are the same. People take it as in invitation to not treat you with respect, show up drunk to dinner parties, flake on plans or do stuff like text me all night. In my case they are generally surprised when I firmly and immediately call them on it and I get some variation of "I didn't think you'd mind, you seemed really cool" which means basically "I am an asshole who pushes boundaries and I thought you'd let me." I now have a policy of calling people on stuff that makes me uncomfortable when it happens. Nicely but firmly. It's not really my nature (I'm perfectly fine with confrontation but again, I don't much care how other people live their lives) but god it makes life so much better. It weeds out the low quality people like these ones off the bat.

My house, My phone, My Rules.
posted by fshgrl at 1:02 PM on November 20, 2016 [18 favorites]

I would say:
1. None of this is your fault.
2. Keep a friendly distance from Freddy at this point. That probably applies to every male in this situation.
3. Your source for the Freddy information is Industry Guy, whose motivation is sex and cannot be trusted. I don't mean to question your conclusions, but consider that the Freddy/Sarah thing may be an exaggeration or a lie to separate you from Freddy for the purposes of conquest.
4. There are some guys who can be trusted to genuinely be your friend, as a single woman. As a guy, I'd say that percentage is pretty low. "Friendship" is often a pretext for sex, as was the case with Industry Guy. That's not your fault in any way, but I would approach those types of situations with skepticism.
posted by cnc at 3:33 PM on November 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

How do I take care of myself and keep myself safe when I apparently only have myself as support?

I want to focus on this. I am also recovering from a significant mental health crisis that happened over this summer. Today was the start of my new practice of Self-Care Sunday. Today, I truly focused on being kind to myself and doing little things to make myself feel special. I bought myself a present, I painted my nails, in general, I pampered myself. It's hard for me to be kind to myself, but it's something I need to do for my own well-being and it reminds me of my own self-worth. It is both not much and a heck of a lot. Be kind to yourself. That's the first step in taking care of yourself.
posted by Ruki at 4:19 PM on November 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

How do I take care of myself and keep myself safe when I apparently only have myself as support?

I think you can trust that you are a better judge of what is OK than any of these people as they all seem t be living weird, messed up lives. None of them sound normal but you do. So be happy you have yourself as support and not these weirdos who would not be as good at the job.
posted by fshgrl at 8:27 PM on November 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

fshgrl got your back. I was struck by your sense of helplessness in that comment she responded to... Before I add my thoughts I will say I nth everyone who says you sound like the normal person in your scenario... Somewhere in the process of therapy I came across the axiom "It's usually the healthiest family members who go into therapy, the really ill people don't".

I myself have an expression "..filling in the blanks" I sense that you are doing that with trying to figure out who's doing what to you in these relationships. One for sure is taking advantage of you. IG. He is bad news. Freddy sounds like he has issues that relate to his insecurity.... 'hang with me on my birthday", Angry reaction at your struggling with the learning process. So, it was flirtatious when you were getting to know him.... well know you know better. It hurts. Your past hurts, your anticipation of the holidays hurt, your memory of trauma at the last holidays hurt... And are scary and scary stuff has happened. Trump. Trump gas station ass. IG's harassing you. My therapist told me that the emotions I carry from past trauma get globalized. You said you are a survivor. Emotions don't know time and they do not go away in the way physical pain does. We have to be able to take care of ourselves - parent ourselves basically. So two things. As a survivor you will be welcomed at survivors groups. Perhaps there is one near where you are. Some are modeled on twelve step programs. They are places where you can speak without negative feedback. By that I mean dismissive uncaring responses. It might be helpful to you to call that mefi resource and ask how you can find such a safe space. And take Ruki's advice and add my ritual to the start of it, perhaps even to the start of every day. Sit down Indian style, feel your weight on the floor and the sky above you. Take your hands and draw a circle around yourself. Say to yourself as you do "This is my boundary and you cannot come in unless I let you in".. Take few gentle breaths and say to yourself "I love you. You are special to me. I love you just the way you are". You are your own parent now, you have to care for you. Let any emotions that come be OK. Repeat these things all day if you feel the need. Your going to be fine. In fact you are fine. Your already working on taking care of yourself by reaching out. And you've shown you have enough love of yourself to know those situations you describe are not giving you the love you need. You will find it.
posted by Jim_Jam at 9:00 PM on November 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

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