The feature photo is from Roger’s collection – Girraween National Park – 1980.

I had an appointment with Karen the psychologist the following week. I took a copy of the conversation with Jane along…

Karen was delighted I had this.  We dissected the messages so I could learn about what was really happening.   Here is a link to the message again if you want to learn more about toxic friendships/narcissism – or whatever you like to call it.

It starts with a semi friendly response – but with a hint that I should have been in contact.  I responded in a friendly way, stating what was going on and when I would be able to see her.  Karen said that is really where I should have stopped the conversation – but I did hold my ground well.

The next response from Jane is more aggressive – implying if she can see I’m on Facebook I must have plenty of free time.  My Facebook tab on my computer is always open – in fact I regularly have about 10 tabs open!!!

I was angry she was checking up on me – I said I find it disrespectful.  I added fuel to the fire.  There is a fine line knowing how to defend yourself and knowing when to ignore the comments.  Jane retaliated with how she had been at my ‘beck and call’ for years… all she had done for me.  I was always appreciative of her help, I would tell her that, give her gifts of appreciation etc… and I would also help her out – I would always be there to listen to her troubles.   She regularly used that in an argument – all she had done for me.   I used to go on the guilt trip.  This time I wasn’t having it.

She uses the phrase ‘I say it like it is’ – something she said regularly.  Karen pointed this out as an excuse for rudeness.

She implied how if I was a good friend I wouldn’t be ignoring her.  I didn’t understand that as I had seen her the previous week and had told my friends how busy I was.

The picking apart of my daily schedule was done to create holes in my statements and Karen explained where she was ‘projecting’.  – saying things like, ‘I like to win’, my remarks were ‘stupid’, I don’t want to understand and that most people ‘give up’ on me.

It was good to be able to go through it – because while I knew it was quite crazy, it rattled me.  I didn’t feel good about it – I hadn’t ‘won’.  Verbal abuse, whether verbal or written, is damaging.  It had taken my mind off the photo project and brought me into an unpleasant place.  It wasn’t the first time I had received abusive messages from her – and I had also coped with abuse in person.

I had another message to say she wanted to meet with me in person and go through what had happened so  ‘I’ could understand it because  we needed to clear up the issues.  I had said I would meet with her in the November.  The psychologist advised me not to meet with her – as there would just be more arguing, however  I stayed true to my word and let her  know when things were  back to ‘normal’ in November.

I received no response.  However, I was being continuously attacked indirectly via Facebook with posts talking about ‘true friends’.  By that time I wasn’t angry or worried.  I was sad.  We had had very good times and I grieved the loss of those – but on the whole, the relief was enormous.  I no longer had to walk on eggshells and I was no longer belittled.

I received a message a year later – it started “Well Heather, it must be a year since we have spoken and I don’t think you understood the problem.  I would love to see the horses.  Maybe there’s too much water under the bridge to salvage anything we had – it’s entirely up to you”.

I wanted to construct a non confrontational response. “Well, Jane, it’s unfortunate we were unable to reconcile our differences but I think our perspectives are just too different”. 

A message was returned quickly ” I see you’re showing your true colours -nothing has changed.”  ……. and nothing had changed…..

In the September of 2016, several things worked to resolve this issue – even though it was a sad resolution –   a combination of my confidence from the hoof project, seeing Karen and working on myself – and being surrounded by wonderful memories of old friends.  Had I not been so busy I may have wavered – or at least worried more about it.

I had learnt that no one needs to suffer that abuse.  It’s not a matter of looking for the positives.   Karen helped me to understand that there is no way I should ever tolerate abuse – the damage it does to our psyche is too much to bear.   I also learnt that I was as important as everyone else – and that good friends respect each other.

If you are struggling with someone in your life like this, please get some professional help.  Here is a link to an article on toxic friends.




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