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What do you think--through_the_fire
July 29, 2009
12:16 am
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through_the_fire
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Today I spent a fun day with my best friend. She was talking about something in her life-- the choices she's making in her romantic life-- and she said something like, "Would you hate me, if blah blah blah..." (no need to get into the specifics). It struck me the way she said it, so I asked her if I seem more judgmental than other people (I've heard from people that I'm approachable and not judgmental).

She said something like, she didn't know about other people--- X and X (other close friends of hers) had things going on in their lives, and weren't as in touch with her life, so they might not care or at least have the time to care.

I laughed and said-- so I don't have a life...

I was joking, but it struck me that although I love my best friend, and she loves me, that maybe as I've recently thought, I'm too co-dependently involved. I notice that coming up more with her dating now. I think I get too into wanting to advise, protect, or even analyze (and there's been some doozies with her recently).

I also got that as a co-dependent I can avoid my own life in being overly involved. It gives me this feeling of purpose.

With the free time I have now (teacher on summer break), I can observe the different ways I hide out from living my life. I mean we all (or most) do this to a certain extent.

It seems like a big job to pay attention to what has been neglected or avoided for so very long. just living. My life. And yes, I'm not separate...but co-dependent is not the answer.

I'm interested in what others think about this.

Fire

July 29, 2009
9:21 am
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Hey Through,

I think you're having some great thoughts.

I'm also a teacher (laid off now) and I think this profession is one that encourages codep. stuff. At least for me it does. There is so much that goes on that deals with others and it's such a busy job that we neglect ourselves during school. I'm including you here, if you don't mind, because you mention that now you're on break you have time to think about yourself.

Atalose pointed out to me on another thread that it's good to focus on things that only directly affect me. I noticed that I get involved with others' junk because it's easier than dealing with my own stuff. I give out my opinion without being asked and I want to learn how to let others find their own way.

July 29, 2009
9:41 am
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mistyrain
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I agree. Its easier to deal with other people's problems than trying to face my own.

July 29, 2009
9:42 am
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through_the_fire
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Laningirl,

That is really insightful and something for me to think about. You're right about the teaching. And I was burnt out on thinking about students. Hmmm. So why think about my friend's dating stuff? She's a big girl!

Fire

July 29, 2009
10:00 am
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through_the_fire
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Hi Mistyrain,

So you get it.

How to even begin? The habit of thinking of others is encouraged--- in religion, for women-- and it's not all bad, for certain. But-- it gets out of control!

Fire

July 29, 2009
10:19 am
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I get it too, fire. I do that a lot, often here.

I think that sensitive "people-person" types will use others problems to avoid dealing with the unknown, in their own lives. Other types might use hobbies, exercise. I knew someone who would clean whenever she had problems.

I have noticed that I will often talk to a person entirely about them and avoid talking about myself at all. If they ask me the same questions about my personal life that I am asking about theirs, I will dodge the question. That's a clue, that I'm avoiding something.

Sometimes drama takes over your life and there's nothing you can do about it. Stuff happens. But when that is resolved, sometimes you go looking for more drama to occupy your mind, instead of being creative and fulfilling your life with happy and satisfying stuff. At least I do.

I think I know what I'm avoiding now.

July 29, 2009
2:15 pm
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through_the_fire
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Hi Soofoo,

More to think about--- whew. Thank you so much! I noticed that I can have whole conversations with my best friend where we only talk about her. Now the thing is, I have something to do with this. She's a sensitive, compassionate person. But it's like I'm training other people to rely on me to be available for them. It's a form of control-- someone will need me supposedly, and I don't need to address my own stuff. A 2 for 1.

And your other point about drama. Geesh. I thought I wasn't into drama in my life as much. But the thing is, I borrow other people's!

This is really a lot to think about.

Do you feel like talking about what you know you're avoiding now, Soofoo?

And anyone reading this thread-- what might you be avoiding? I'm going to think about it.

Fire

July 29, 2009
4:25 pm
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Lanigirl
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You all are so awesome and have given me more to think about.

Through and Sofoo,

I completely allow most people to do all of the talking about themselves. I have a couple of friends that do so much of the talking I don't get to share anything of my own. I've started to question my relationships with them.

I also get that I don't have enough to fill my life so people are really comfortable with dumping their stuff on me because I have the time. What kind of friendship is that? It tells me that I don't count to them.

July 29, 2009
5:26 pm
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mistyrain
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I avoid thinking about how i am hurting myself by not eating,cutting ect. i need to try and only give help when wanted cause sometimes i feel rejected when i give help where not needed.

July 29, 2009
5:27 pm
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mistyrain
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soofoo,

i just read one of your posts and i will avoiod talking about my life in convos too. i feel like someone ight realize whats wrong in my life if i talk about me.

July 29, 2009
7:02 pm
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through_the_fire
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This is a good discussion== I really appreciate it.

I hear you, Lanigirl. It's hard to figure out-- what came first. Maybe people get the message from us to dump their feelings. Considering how lonely many of us are, people might welcome a chance to talk to someone willing to listen.

I think I'm going to experiment with sharing a bit more, or at least not being always ready to listen extensively. I'd like it to be more balanced for me.

Where did I get the idea-- besides it's good to hide out? that listening is my job? And even if I have free time (like you Lanigirl), why does that mean I need to be available to counsel or whatever? It's really me, I can see that--- and my own way of viewing myself.

Mistyrain, it sounds like you're hurting. Do you have anyone that you can talk to (besides here) about what yuo really feel? I send you hugs (((Mistyrain)))

Fire

July 29, 2009
9:06 pm
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i dont know where i got the idea that i should be availaibe 24/7 to be there too. I dont really have any one else to talk to besides here but thanks for asking Fire.

July 30, 2009
6:42 am
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autumn128
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Hi (((Fire)))

You have been posting to me for a long time. I've never felt that your posts are of a co-dependant nature in your responses. I think that you are a good friend who has genuine interest in the people that you care about.

Another thought that crossed my mind is a point that my girlfriend made to me one time. I think that this may ring true for you also. You and I both don't have children. My girlfriend once told me that I am her only close girlfriend that doesn't have kids. She said that in times of crisis, she tends to call me first because I am the person that can drop everything and come to help the quickest.

Autumn

July 30, 2009
7:44 am
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It No Longer Matters
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See, and as one who does have a child, I think we appreciate our childless friends more in that they can drop everything if we need them...I had one of those once, and I was one of those once.

Now I have to put the needs (not wants) of my child before everyone else.

Bitsy

July 30, 2009
9:44 am
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Lanigirl
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Hey All,

I really appreciate this discussion. It wasn't my intention to label anyone. It sounded to me like Fire is coming up with insights to her behavior.

I can appreciate that people with children turn to a childless person in a crisis because that's someone that has more time.

I have a couple of thoughts on this. It sounded like Fire's friend was doing all of the sharing, not just in times of crisis, but on a continual basis.

I know I may get flack for this from people with children but my goal is to open up a discussion. As a childless person, it doesn't always feel good to me that my friends with kids just assume that I will be the one to accommodate them.

My friends with kids have always assumed that their children are welcome in my home although I have mentioned that my home is not childproof and I'm not comfortable having small children there. I've been told that my dog is not automatically welcome in their home. The same goes with conversation = on their side, filled with children stuff but when I start to talk about my dog, they don't want to hear it or I've been told a dog just doesn't count.

It has worked out better for me to find friends without children and with dogs.

July 30, 2009
10:57 am
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through_the_fire
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Hi everyone,

Thanks Autumn....I'm glad I haven't been co-dependent in response to you.

None of my close friends have children. Isn't that amazing? And I'm in my late 40s, and my friends range from 30s-50s. Pretty unusual, huh?

Bitsy-- I get that for people with children, their kids are the focus. But I think too, that some parents use kids as their focus to such an extent, that it's a method of avoiding stuff. I know that raising kids is consuming, but I just remember my parents giving me much more unstructured kid time, then a lot of kids have now. Maybe working class kids like I was still don't have play dates and all these appointments. Anyway, I'm getting off topic sort of....

Lanigirl---your dog is a family member. I tell you, I wish you could meet my oldest friends who have animals, not kids. Ny husband jokes at how much animal talk there is. If anyone tried to tell them their animals didn't count--- whooweeeee! Fireworks! Have you gently asserted what is important to you with your friends? You sound like it has hurt you a bit.

I guess it's often hard for people to find balance in respecting other people's choices when they vary from their own.

Something I think Lanigirl wrote struck me on the over-listening a co-dep can do. Maybe we some times put ourselves down and our life as boring or whatever, thinking someone else's life and concerns are more interesting, valuable, etc. I think I told myself in listening to my friend's dating adventures--- I'm just a boring married lady... She doesn't view me that way, but it crept in.

I spent my formative years with a mom who never considered what my experience of anything was. I was trained to be her counselor and a constant listener to her tragic circumstances. Meanwhile, I had lost my dad-- and dad's can never be replaced. There's so much catching up to do with feeling things as they are for me, not through the prism of others.

Fire

July 30, 2009
1:29 pm
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Hepburn
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Wow, what an insightful thread!

It's hard to admit that I have done and felt ALL of these things. Especially the DRAMA.

And I wonder why I constantly get disappointed!! LOL

Just to touch on the kid thing. I have 2 (although they are older now). I had a best friend who didn't have kids. We had a discussion on this once. She resented the fact that people with smaller children felt that they were entitled to be treated "special". Just because she didn't have children, shouldn't mean she should always be second. And also because she didn't have kids, didn't mean her time wasn't as valuable as theirs. I know I could never call on her to do anything for me, she was always too busy.

Anyway, she gave me a different perspective that I hadn't realized.

July 31, 2009
10:12 am
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Lanigirl
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Whew, I love this discussion.

Through,

Thanks. I do consider my animals to be family members. You did point out something that I've been working on. I am starting to assert myself more and including my animals in my conversations with my friends.

Wow, I had similar sounding parents. My Dad died when I was 12 and my Mother is a narcissist (sp?). All conversation is a monologues and whatever you mention she turns around to something about herself. That is probably part of why I don't feel what I have to say is important.

Hepburn,

I spent a lot of life wrapping myself up in disappointment. I'm working on seeing people for who they are and accepting their truths. Still a work in progress.

As for being a parent, I haven't experienced it so I don't have the insight. But I do definitely appreciate what your friend had to say and that you listened to her.

I ended one friendship, in part, because my friend said that her friends needed to be invested in her children in order to keep the friendship. Another kept cancelling plans with me at the last minute to do something with her kids.

I understand that children are important but I wonder what happens when parents are no longer the center of their childrens' universe? What are parents modeling for their children when they don't maintain friendships, cancel plans, etc.?

July 31, 2009
1:36 pm
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through_the_fire
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Well, Lanigirl--- my dad died when I was 12, and my mom's picture is next to the definition of narcissist! It's so obvious where our training was formed, isn't it? We should form a club.

Another thing that occurs to me is --- how do I really feel about those who go on about themselves, while I counsel? Is there a condescending attitude on my part? I don't feel like there is, but considering my relationship with my mom, maybe I carry some of that into my other relationships. Things often are much more nuanced than we realize.

The other day on the phone with my mom, she, as usual, tried to switch something I said to her and her life. I imitated my husband's way of speaking to his narcissist mom. I said, "We weren't talking about you, we were talking about me." She backed right off, oddly enough. I think it's because I said it assertively, no-nonsense, with no gruffness-- nothing she could grab on to and feel "persecuted" by.

Meantime, I'm not available for my best friend's multiple phone calls. Instead, I talk to her once or twice a day. I don't feel pissed at her, and I think taking some space, will ensure that I don't feel pissed for no good reason.

One more thing--- my dad was a great model for me concerning what family is and can be. He would invite co-workers who lived alone to have dinner with us, tutor kids in the neighborhood whose first language wasn't English (like him-- his first language was French). He made sure the aunt who spent time in an institution and had weekend passes, was welcome at our home. She was very sweet and way too grateful. He made me realize that family could mean extending yourself to others. Not, by the way, saying these kids need the attention and investment of all of y'all. Please. How about examples of maintaining friendships and connections to others? At my dad's funeral the church was so packed, people were standing on the steps outside. That was a testament to what a loving person's life can mean to others--- and to their children!

Um....ok, I went into that for a bit. Guess I wanted to recall him and his ways.

Fire

July 31, 2009
6:44 pm
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through_the_fire
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I know I've written sooooo much already today....but this is helping me.

Today my mother, who I rarely speak to, told me she's involved in another internet romance. She travelled to see the last guy, gave him money, and never heard from him again. Here she is again.

So...sigh.... I said something about how she might want to think about if she just wants a phone friend, some one on the internet, rather than a guy she could date who's near by. I don't have any jusgment about what's good for her. She said something like-- yes, I need someone to wake me up. I didn't have any illusions that my saying what I did, would do that.

My husband after hearing about this, said, "Why advise her?" Nothing in his voice, but a gentle question.

That's it. "Why advise her?" Even if I don't intend to continue to advise her--- WHY ADVISE?

There's no need. She's a grown woman, a person I've been called on to advise since I was 6. Why, continue to do that-- ever? My husband is completely right.

Why advise?

Fire

July 31, 2009
7:52 pm
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Hey Through,

Write to your heart's content. I'm learning.

Good question about why you counsel. I think I've spent so much time observing others and investing in them that it's easy to turn my attention to them. For me, it also places me in a false place of power.

Good job limiting your phone calls with your friend. So ironic because I started to do the same thing.

It's wonderful you have great memories of your father and you keep them alive. That part I can't relate to but it sounds wonderful.

As for mothers, this year, with the help of a therapist, I'm limiting time spent with my mother. It really doesn't fulfill me in any way to visit with her and I don't miss her.

Your husband sounds like a sweetie. What's your answer? I use multiple coping techniques with my mother like saying I have to use the bathroom or asking questions (only for the sake of comedy).

I do agree that it's important to maintain connections to other people. For me, I have to work on healthy connections.

August 1, 2009
7:31 am
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(((Fire)))

When MM asked you why you advise your mom, I think that's a good point to bring up about co-dependant habits. I think it's common for me, like you, to feel as though you need to have an opinion or an answer for others.

Sometimes I tell myself, just let this person unload. People always arent' looking for answers. Sometimes they just need to get things out and know that someone is listening.

I've noticed that you have set up some healthy boundaries with your mom Fire.

As for your friend, I know what you mean about limiting your phone calls and your availability.

Autumn

August 1, 2009
9:47 am
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Hi Lanigirl,

Oh yes, I used to use all kinds of strategies with my mom to get off the phone. Rang my own door bell several times. But the thing is, don't you feel like your mom senses this, and just squeezes further? My mom is pretty paranoid, so she'd say, "The door bell again--- humph, that's funny."

Through observing y husband, whose nickname is MM on here, I have learned to say things like "I've got to go" and "I really don't want to hear about this" among others. I don't take her phone calls unless I want to, and I haven't seen her in years.

And regarding the latter--- I've been back to my home state, planned to go see her (without telling her I was coming-- because she gets weird and picks fights), and then decided after feeling all this anxiety, nope, not going to see her.

The way I figure it-- my mom's had so many years of being kooky and abusive, she's lucky I speak to her at all. I'm not, in spite of what people say, obligated to have any contact with her.

I just have to keep at it, and NOT counsel her or take any of her b.s. ever again.

What stuff does your mom do that makes you want to avoid her? I'm glad you're working with a therapist. And of course the boundaries with your mom will help you in all your relationships.

Fire

August 1, 2009
9:54 am
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through_the_fire
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Hi (((Autumn))),

How's it going?

I brought it up with MM later. I said I really appreciated his "Why advise?" He said he was trying to say it as gently as possible. Then he said my mom's always trying to get me to mother her. You know, it helps that he has such a eerily similiar mom!

I love that, Autumn......just let people talk--- no need to suggest or advise. You're absolutely right.

I feel better with the less phone calls with my best gf. Another friend asked me to read, offer critique of her two book chapters she's writing....since I'm on vacation. She realized that maybe I wouldn't want to, since I'm on vacation. Got that right! She's been acting funny since I said no. Don't feel one bit guilty...or do I? (dramatic music here)

Fire

August 1, 2009
9:22 pm
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Through,

Love dramatic music, so much to choose from. Good for you for saying no to reading your friend's book if you didn't want to. It's all about what you want. She may continue to act funny because how many times have you said no to her? She probably doesn't know how to react to no from you.

I see my Mom only in group situations, never alone anymore.

Years of mental and physical abuse from her truly formed me and I've spent years trying to change things.

I've learned not to share anything personal with her because in addition to turning everything around to her, she's extremely negative and critical about everything and everyone. For example, I called her and she was on a business trip with her husband in Las Vegas - rooms and meals paid for. She had to complain about it.

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