My friend called me again after I told her I couldn’t talk today and I’d get back to her when I had time. She knew I was on vacation with my kids but apparently that didn’t stop her from “needing to talk about something super quick.”
I could hear how irritated she was that I didn’t pick up the phone, and I deleted her message before I listened to it all.
Not today. I can’t deal with this today.
She’d been my friend for more than decade, since I became a new mom. After our honeymoon wore off, she was calling me in distress all the damn time, and rarely asking about me and my life.
I felt like she always needed something from me lately and it was becoming a dirty habit I needed to wash myself of, but I didn’t know how.
I consider myself a good friend. I try to make myself available when I’m not working or tending to my kids, which I have done for her. I realize we all have some sort of drama, we all need help, we all need that friend we can spill secrets to and ask about strange things going on with our lady parts.
But on this day, I realized I needed to set some boundaries because I was feeling so damn resentful. I needed to speak up, because this was all too much.
My friend is a narcissist, and I have not wanted to admit that. For the past decade, she’s been going through a hard time in one way or another, and the more I’ve tried to be there for her, the more she sucks me dry and leaves me on the side of the damn road. And I’m beginning to think it’s my own fault for not putting an end to it.
She has always been this way. I’ve always accepted this as the way she is and I’ve loved her anyway. But let’s face it, no one wants to admit their friend is self-absorbed person and unable to see outside of themselves.
So many think a narcissist is someone who thinks so highly of themselves that they can’t see you. That they aren’t compassionate. That they are selfish, and too in love with themselves to care about anyone else.
But only part of that is true.
Many times a narcissist is tangled up in their own self-loathing. They don’t always think they are wonderful, or better. In fact, their self-esteem is so low they feel the need to make it all about them thinking the outside validation will somehow calm them down. It doesn’t matter who they have to step on to get it.
My friend is always in crisis mode. If there’s no drama in her life, she’ll create it. Like the time she reached out to her ex-boyfriend from high school after her divorce for some companionship and he wanted nothing to do with her. I should mention said ex-boyfriend was married.
She was beside herself and said no one would ever love her and she should have stayed in her unhappy marriage. When I asked her what she was thinking, and how would she feel if a woman from the past had reached out to her husband or partner, she responded with, “I just can’t talk to you. You don’t understand how hard it is for me.”
Mind you, I had just gone through a divorce myself and was scared shitless. But she wouldn’t know because she never asked about it.
I was also allowing her to wipe her dirty feet on me before she plunged into my house and took and took and took. I know now I didn’t need to answer the door.
When she did ask me how I was, she’d only listen for two minutes before taking over the conversation and talking about herself and all of her many problems.
If you’ve done something, she’s done it too. Only faster and harder and much better.
Or so much worse and she is still recovering and will never be the same.
If she’s bored or lonely, she wants you to do something with her to buffer her pain that second. If you can’t, it doesn’t go over well and she doesn’t get mad but will say passive-aggressive things about how hard life is.
But it’s nothing for her to be late, cancel plans, or say she forgot about a date with you if something better comes along.
If she’s involved in a group text and a few of us are talking about something, she doesn’t even acknowledge it. However, she will bust in with all the happenings in her life, even if they have nothing to do with the conversation.
It’s about her and only her, always. And I just can’t do it anymore.
A narcissist literally doesn’t know how to be a good friend.
The guilt was tearing me up, but I realized that needs to stop. If she doesn’t feel guilty about taking advantage of my time or calling me when she knows I’m on vacation with my kids after I’ve told her I can’t talk, I don’t need to have an ounce of hard feelings about “not being a good friend.”
Sometimes, friendship has an expiration date and our time was up.
So, about 6 months ago, I told her how I felt. I wanted to have a conversation about our friendship to see if it could grow into something healthier.
I was an adult about it. I was calm. I told her I wanted to be her friend but I couldn’t be a doormat. I said I wanted to be there for her but I wasn’t on call. I told her she made it all about her and rarely asked how I was. And whenever she did, I could tell she lost interest in two seconds.
That was the end of our friendship. She never talked to me again after I told her how I felt, and it’s so clear to me now.
I thought she needed me to be a true friend, but she didn’t. She just needed someone who would listen to her at the expense of themselves. And I can’t be that someone. I am someone else.
Trying to be friends with a narcissist is next to impossible — stop beating yourself up about it, or thinking you need to accommodate to meet their needs — you don’t.
But you do need to change to accommodate yours. And now, I’m wondering why I waited so long.
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