Becoming the Catalyst

8 years ago I knew someone who felt like the first person to actually get me when I first met her. She was also the oldest of a large family, recently married (we got married the same year…she got married 4 months before I did), and was further into a faith deconstruction process. I looked up to her as someone who had more knowledge than me and was that life buoy in the middle of the violent storm I was in.

I missed a lot of red flags with her. I missed them because I was so desperate for someone, anyone, to get it and understand where I was at. I was drowning and she helped pull me out. But I soon learned that she resented me for that, and through her own trauma, began lashing out at me. She blamed me for her triggers and made me take responsibility for her toxic actions and treatment of me. “You made me do it” was a phrase she used to throw in my face. “You are too much, you ask for too much. I can’t be the kind of friend you want” was another phrase.

Still despite her lashing out at me, I was the friend who never left her side when she went through a nasty divorce. I was the one who drove her places because she didn’t have a car and no one else was available. I brought her groceries, made her food, made sure I did everything I could. And all of that only made her resent and hate me more. I had SEEN her. I had seen her vulnerability, her rawness, her very essence, and I was no longer a safe person for her. And what happened when she felt I wasn’t safe or worth any kindness or respect? She burned me down, and left me so shattered I had no idea what to do or if I was even a worthy person. She consistently made fun of me for not being able to “make up my mind” about things. Or changing my opinions, or simply just not knowing the knowledge that she so proudly held.

The deeper darker side of this friendship that ripped open was that she treated me one way and was a completely opposite person when she was with anyone else. It was extremely two faced and she worked hard to build up a massive amount of respect for herself. So through her lashing out at me and gaslighting and making me doubt my sanity, she had backed me into a corner I couldn’t get out of. I couldn’t go to anyone because anyone I knew who knew her believed the second face, her public face. I was the “unknown” person and there were only 1 or 2 people who actually believed me when I tried to explain what she was doing to me.

I didn’t even have the right words for what happened until years later. I remember sitting in therapy – I started going to therapy shortly after things went south with this “friend” – and crying that I didn’t understand what I had done wrong. Even to this day, 2 years after the last time I spoke to her, new revelations have come to mind of what she truly did to me. And that’s only because I am in another situation with someone who has been doing the exact same things to me. I don’t know why I allowed this to happen again…maybe it was because I loved this person and was showing up 110% for our friendship? Maybe because I am loyal and not willing to give up a friendship unless/until this happens and I am yet again the punching bag.

Here’s the thing; I have to come to terms with how much of a catalyst I am to other people. Through my own work, through the no holds barred approach I have when it comes to dealing with my own darkness, my very being challenges and brings up other’s shadows. And I have lost multiple friends because I was “too much” for them….i.e. the shadows that were coming up were too much for them to handle and so they blamed me.

It is devastating to be told, in not so many words, that I am too much. That my very self is too painful, too dark, too much. I hate it. I hate the fact that those who can hold space for all of me and do so with gentleness and grace are so few. I can count the number of people who don’t shy away from my story, my essence, my very soul on less than one hand. And like a fellow survivor once told me, I also expect those people to fall away and am just waiting for that point when they can’t hold me anymore. I am used to being self-sufficient, taking care of myself, holding my own space for the darkness that dominates my very being. I am used to having to revert to a space like this to write, because it’s easy for the reader/listener to ignore or scan read and not truly hold what it is that I carry. But when I find people who seem okay holding my darkness and sitting with me, it’s a beautiful thing and I am so grateful for it. And when those same people suddenly create their own narrative and decide that I actually am not safe, I am too much, they cannot give me what I want (code for: “you’re too much”), it is enough to shatter my heart and make me doubt my own sanity and doubt anything we may have had. Was that even a real friendship? Were they simply just stringing me along the entire time? Why is my vulnerability with them now being thrown back in my face? Why are their words so bulls-eye on my own deep wounds causing massive pain and anguish?

I have yet again been backed into a corner and I have no one to turn to who knows this person. Not only that, the very person I would talk to to ask for their advice and if I was missing something has chosen to remove themselves from the situation. So here I am, for the third excruciating time, no good way out, I lose in every direction I try to turn, and I am facing the possibility of losing not only one friendship but multiple friendships. My hands are tied. I have done everything physically possible to repair this massive rift between me and this person. And it has apparently not meant a single thing. Even IF we were able to at the very least resolve, the damage they have done to me is irreparable. I will never be able to trust them again enough to be vulnerable or open about myself with them. They have lost that with me, and I have no intention of setting myself for round two of this soul thrashing, heart breaking situation.

I did a connection breaking spell the other day. I shattered and severed the rest of my energetic connection to this person. I have felt nothing but finally relief and peace after I completed the spell. My heart has been really heavy and I have wanted to lash out in anger and grief, but I haven’t and I won’t. I won’t cause anymore pain in this already dark and painful situation. As I watched the circle split and the candles die during the connection breaking spell, I felt sorrow but also a strong sense of I am not putting myself through this again. I will not allow someone to walk all over me and use me as their punching bag for their own triggers and trauma responses. Never again will I give someone enough tools to be able to do that to me. And how will I remain soft and willing to build new relationships? I have no idea. I do know that my intuition told me about this person when I first met, but I chose to sit back and wait and follow the deep connection we apparently had. I chose to ignore the warning signs, and by doing so I have been broken by their words and actions. It has been a long time, if ever, since I have been able to be fully myself in their presence and I should have seen that then. But I chose to ignore it and chose to continue to try to build a relationship with them.

So I don’t know, is this catalytic shattering of our friendship my fault for not having withdrawn earlier at the first red flag, or first handful of red flags? I feel like that would be a dangerous path to travel down in my current state of mind.

I believe it takes both people in a friendship to build and connect and deepen the vulnerability and trust. But it truly does only take one person to utterly destroy what the two have built in an instant. A snap of a finger and everything’s been destroyed and I’m left standing here holding the shattered pieces of what was once one of the strongest friendships I thought I had.

I feel skittish at the idea of ever trying to find another friendship like this (I never will…) or even letting someone in to my life as closely as I allowed them. It is a risk, I know, to let someone in that close. It is always choosing to take that risk of handing your most vulnerable and fragile parts of yourself to someone and trusting that they won’t smash or damage them at the first chance they get. I chose that risk, and chose to trust this person, and they just literally threw it all crumbled and smashed back into my face. I am weary, I am disappointed, but it is so much more than that. I am angry with myself for having let another person do this to me. I am angry that they decided to use me as target practice and forcefully destroy everything we had together. I am angry that I am holding so much grief and that I trusted this person and they have thrown that all back in my face.

Even as I’ve written all this, sat with it, thought about publishing it, I lost a second friend who bought in to the first person’s narrative. There has been no compassion for anything I may be feeling, I’ve had my own trauma and triggers thrown back into my face, and had all these vague and unfounded accusations blamed on me. My own words, my own steadfast honoring of triggers and trauma was brutally twisted and used against me. It was all said in a way that to defend myself would be me breaking my own standards and words. It has felt like the only way I remain friends with the second person was to throw myself at their feet and beg for forgiveness. It felt like that with the first person too. And now, with this quarantine in place and all of us social distancing, I’ve lost the two people who were closest locationally to me and I still have no idea what I have done. I have lost dreams and plans of things that we were all going to do together. And that is painful and is causing me to grieve and mourn that loss as well.

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