Stand Up for Yourself or Suck it Up!

I apologize in advance for this long post, but the story needed to be told and there isn't a condensed version...

For the past year and a half, I have stood idly by and watched a good friend, go from an independent, fun loving, self-absorbed, control freak to a bi-polar, emotional puddle of goo, with insane tendencies. She is still self-absorbed, but with a fatal attraction, bunny-boiling, stalker-type twist to her personality. I bet you are wondering what can turn some someone so quickly.

Perhaps it was being told by her husband of 17 years “I love our cleaning lady. I hope you’ll understand. I haven’t had sex with her yet, but I know she is my soul-mate. She is nothing like you – she is thoughtful and has a great heart. We’ve rented a house together, but can’t move in together until the beginning of the month, so I’ll be staying here until then. I will be moving out on your birthday because my shrink says I shouldn’t prolong the agony I feel when I am without her. I know that seems harsh, but life is too short to spend the rest of it miserable with you. Oh and in the meantime, I still love you, but not enough to stay married to you, so do you think we can still have sex?”

You would think that with a revelation like that, I would have been stunned, but I wasn’t. It came to me as no surprise. I had been expecting this day to arrive with just about as much fanfare. What was shocking to me was how blindsided my friend was. How could you be married to someone for so long and not see this coming? Especially when she herself had at one time been the “husband stealing whore – the other woman” to this very man.

“Wow, he’s an idiot” was my first response. It should have been, “Wow, he’s an idiot and so are you and I’ve made a pact with myself, that I can’t be friends with idiots. Have a nice life.” That bit of truth could have stemmed a whole lot of pain and suffering on my part.

For the past year and a half, I have supported her through her emotional highs and lows and by doing so have come to realize that there is a “process” in the recovery scenario of a cheating spouse; similar to that as death grieving, but perhaps not as irrational. The five steps of death grieving are:

  • Step 1 - Denial – “This isn’t happening to me!”
  • Step 2 - Anger – “Why is this happening to me?”
  • Step 3 - Bargaining – “I promise I'll be a better person if...”
  • Step 4 - Depression – “I don't care anymore.”
  • Step 5 - Acceptance – “I'm ready for whatever comes.”
In comparison, albeit similar, the steps of “cheat grieving” are:

  • Step 1 Denial & Self-Pity – “This isn’t happening to me! Why is this happening to me? What am I supposed to do now? Who’s going to love me now?”
  • Step 2 Pre-Anger – “What can I do to get even with that home-wrecking whore?”
  • Step 3 Bargaining – “I promise I'll be a better person and pick up after myself, listen to your boring stories, pretend to care about your emotional needs and stop the cat from pissing in your shoes if...”
  • Step 4 Anger – “Maybe you truly are an idiot and the home-wrecking whore isn’t solely to blame.”
  • Step 5 Acceptance – “I don’t care anymore and I really don’t intend to change. I'm ready for whatever comes, but he better damn well get me something nice for Christmas!”
  • Step 6 Post Anger – “What can I do to get even with that home-wrecking whore? It has to be something good.”

Somewhere between the beginning of Step 2 and the beginning of Step 3, my patience started to flounder and by the end of Step 3, it was completely and forever lost, as was some of my respect for others that were once my friends.

Long story short, after many months of struggles, therapy and threatening to take him for everything he owned, she managed to convince her husband to stay, but I would be lying to myself if I believed that this “second honeymoon” was going to last.

Guess what? Yesterday was her birthday and considering a year has past since the whole “I’m moving out on your birthday” fiasco, she expected a special birthday surprise from him. Such would not be the case - instead she received a birthday card with a fishing license inside. Yes, a friggin fishing license!

So, instead of confronting his self-centered actions, she chose to call me. Yay me! She wanted me to call him and tell him what an idiot he has been. I refused to be sucked into this void again and she wasn’t too happy about it. This is the exact problem that started their problems in the first place – poor communication and lack of honesty!

Poor communication skills in any aspect of life can lead to many problems, but poor communication skills in a marriage, can have disastrous results.

Whether it be the worry of hurting another persons feelings or saying something you might regret, there are circumstances that prohibit us from saying what’s on our minds; however if I believe that if you expect continued support in difficult circumstances and want the respect of those around you, you better learn the basic techniques of communication and respect for yourself.

Am I wrong in believing that if you want support and expect respect, you should be prepared to stand up for yourself and your beliefs? This may mean speaking your own mind, not expecting friends to relay messages on your behalf. It’s like the standard wedding vow line “speak now or forever hold your peace”, although modernized means “suck it up and say what’s on your mind or shut the hell up and wallow in your misery.”

Enough said - these friends are sucking the life out of me...


Wow that really sucks. I agree with you but you know some of them actually like being in situations like that. It's like they get a high or something similar from being the center of chaos.
Brian Miller said…
i wonder if they are really listneing to each other. actually you can tell they are not. and that the second go round will probably end much like the first. you are so right that when the communication goes so goes the marriage, the friendship...sad really.
We all have to have the wacko and overly dramatic friends in our lives. But I'm with you, and I finally kinda cut my wacko friend out of the picture because I just got tired of her causing her own problems and enabling herself and then whining to me about how terrible her life was. Hello?? She was the one making the decisions, not me. And it was just as you said--it sucked the life out of me. I wrote a very long email in the nicest way possible in March or April (I blogged about it way back then, I think) basically saying exactly what I thought and that she could talk to me again if she wanted, and if she didn't, I would understand. I haven't heard from her since, and although I've wondered how she's doing, I haven't missed being sucked into her bullshit at all. Good for you for standing up for yourself and refusing to be sucked in again!
K13 said…
The whole "friend relaying messages" thing is SOOOO 6th grade...wth?

Not only does she need some communication skills, but she needs to mature a few years too it seems.
M.J. said…
I will never understand why women who are a man's mistress decide to marry the guy once he leaves his wife (fiancee, girlfriend, whatev) and don't expect to be cheated on themselves. Stupid.
@SA - I never thought her to be an attention hound, but perhaps you are right *sigh*

@Brian - I can guarantee they don't listen to each other. Neither of them can stand confrontation, so it's easier to ignore it (as in his case) or get friends to do the dirty work (as in her case). You are right, the friendship is in jeopardy.

@FG - Boy do we ever have wacko friends! I've read about yours and she is something else. I want to be supportive, but when I try, she wants me to take over her problems. Grrr!

@K13 - I agree about maturing. As I mentioned to Brian - they both can't stand confrontation and she seems to think he will listen to other people when he won't listen to her. If she wants to be listened to, she needs to actually speak up.

@MJ - I couldn't have said it better - stupid sums it up.
JW.BW said…
Wow, you sure are a great friend. I am not sure how I would act in that situation. I do have a USE TO be very great friend that I was super close with until she fell in love with a (married) jackass who treated her like crap. We still talk once in a great blue moon, but I honestly couldnt sit back and watch her be so self destructive and have such little respect for herself. Its a shame, because I really miss her.
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