Portrait of a Friend

I mentioned that I would shine some light on my relationships with Friend. Pull it all together and give you an idea of how our relationship evolved. This is going to get a little confusing.
I’ve known Friend and his wife casually for about 5 or 6 years due to our group of mutual friends, bizarre hobbies, and shared annual vacation which revolves around said hobbies. In this group there was also a woman I’ve had a romantic interest in for years. Kit. She has a girlfriend (Twiggy). They are polyamorous and have a kind of open relationship. Friend and his wife also traditionally have an open marriage though they are not poly. Kit, Friend, and his wife have been friends for nearly a decade. We have kind of a socially incestuous group.
After I broke up with Boring-Ex (which Kit had been trying to orchestrate for months), I almost immediately became involved with her and Twiggy. I had very little interest in Twiggy because she’s much younger and to be honest, not the brightest bulb in the bunch. However, Friend was interested in her. Friend and Twiggy had a flirtatious and slowly developing romantic relationship over the course of 9 months. I had nothing to do with this, it’s just some back story.
One day at a gathering of our friends, Friends wife had a manic meltdown (She’s extremely bipolar) over some event politics and punched Kit in the face. She screamed at Twiggy that she was no longer ok with her, and made Friend end their relationship. I happened to witness this and at one point had to help restrain his wife. A short while later after she stormed out, Friend was sitting alone on a couch. I went over to him, sat on the arm of the couch next to him and gently placed my hand on the back of his neck. He looked so sad and alone but I didn’t know him very well or know how to comfort him. It was all I could think to do.
When he finally managed to take his wife home, he implored me to look over Kit and Twiggy, which of course, I would have done anyways.
The next day he IMd me and thanked me for my compassion. I was the first person to notice him in pain and provide any kind of comfort to him.
After that we were inseparable. Just like that. We both have an extraordinarily difficult time trusting people and letting people into our worlds. However, the chemistry and connection between us was instant and intense on a number of levels. None of which were romantic for me (not until a couple months down the line). We would chat, text, and IM for 8-12 hours a day.
Every day. For months. Art, religion, spirituality, gender, costuming, science, technology, food, politics, the state of alien civilization as hypothesized by some fictitious character created in our own heads…. We could talk about anything and everything with such ease and acceptance it was remarkable. I have never met anyone that shared so similar a view on the bizarre and varied ideas that I have. We would occasionally have dissenting opinions on things, but the debates that would come of them would be extraordinary and enlightening. Extremely satisfying.
I wouldn’t say I trusted him instantly, but I never had any concern about revealing who I was to him. This was mutual. And possibly a first.
Our friendship quickly deepened and became more intense. After a few months, gradually he began flirting with me, and I encouraged it. Unfortunately there was a lot of drama from the fallout with Kit and Twiggy and this would eventually cause a rift between me and them as well.
As Friend was dealing with the turmoil that was his wife, the accusations and drama from the less than honest relationships between him and Twiggy, and the delusional smear campaign running through Kits mind, I got swept into everyone trying to pull me in a multitude of directions as an objective 3rd party. I refused to take sides because I adored Kit, but I was captivated by Friend.
As things between him and his wife continued to decline (they’ve been on the verge of divorce for years), and as things between me and Kit became more strained (while at the same time I was also dealing with the loss of my best friend in another dramatic side story that involved Girlfriend), Friend and I began to rely on each other more heavily for emotional support.
One night while I was over watching movies with him and his wife, he may or may not have accidentally given her sleeping pills with the rest of her medication. She went to bed early. We’d both been highly stressed, and he offered to rub my back. Just the closeness of him was intoxicating. As the minutes went by he pulled be back onto him slowly until I was leaning against him. He kissed me for the first time. The world could have stopped for all I cared; the rest of the evening was intense and uncontrolled.
Ok. Here’s where things get a little sketchy. He and his wife weren’t technically supposed to be indulging the open relationship aspect after the debacle with Kit and Twiggy because of their sham of a failing marriage and a decision to try and put some effort into it. I didn’t know this at the time. As soon as his wife woke up he told her, which I knew he was going to do. Friend calls me shortly after having a panic attack. His wife invites me over for the three of us to sit down and discuss what happened. I went over; we talked through what happened and what we were going to do.
In a surprising twist of fate and rationality his wife was actually very reasonable about the whole thing, and in fact, didn’t mind at all. She liked me and had been enjoying getting to know me; she just wanted to avoid drama, so we decided to keep whatever was going on discrete. Which we always did.
Here’s where it gets sketchier. Her one stipulation is honesty. Anytime our relationship progressed after this point, Friend was sure to be very honest with her. However, prior to this…. Not so much. We both played that night off like we weren’t expecting this to happen. True, I hadn’t gone over the night before expecting anything to happen on that specific evening… but we’d been flirting (and by flirting I mean it was to the point where he’d been telling me the most intimately detailed fantasies he’d like to indulge with me) for at least a month or two. We both knew something would happen eventually, it was only a matter of when. No one suspected this of me though. It was general knowledge that I had a difficult time with men touching me so this would be the cause for a lot of internal conflict for me… or so his wife believed. Generally this is true. It was not so true in the case of Friend. I won’t lie to you and tell you that I didn’t manipulate the emotions running high at that table to increase the level of sympathy I would receive. I did. At the time though it seemed desperately necessary to keep this intimacy I needed so badly, and to prevent Friend from dissolving into emotional chaos. I was already dealing with so much abandonment and loss between Kit and my best friend, that I couldn’t deal with the thought of losing the closeness I had with Friend as well. I didn’t plan out what I was doing, so much as go with what I felt needed to be done.
To this day his wife does not know about this.
Well, regardless. We had the green light to go ahead with whatever it was that we wanted to do. And we did. For the next 4 or 5 months our relationships intensified. Emotionally and sexually. From sun up to sun down we would IM, text, chat, hang out, and indulge every sexual whim we considered. I purposefully maintained a very pleasant relationship with his wife as well. I didn’t trust her, but the best way to get what I wanted, was to make sure things were smooth with her as well.
At one point his wife had a psychotic bipolar break. Friend had to take her to the psych ER a couple weekends in a row, and eventually she had herself committed. I was the one they called to take care of their affairs while they took care of her failing mentality. From inside the ward she would call Friend and implore that he ‘find comfort’ in me. This is how close to them I was and how much of part of their lives I am.
There was seriously nothing normal about any of this relationship. Any time either of them needed something I was the one they called. They didn’t turn to each other, they turned to me.
About two months later, his wife decided things had to change.
You see, the man she was interested in and wanted to be with….whom she’d had an affair with the year prior… did not want to indulge her anymore. Not that I blame him. Friend and I have always just been friends, sexually involved friends, but we never felt a need to quantify it… our relationship was simply intense. One that was threatening to his wife. This is a morbidly obese, pock marked woman, medicated into oblivion, with nothing but a harsh, abrasive personality and thoughts that are too slow to hold anyone’s attention. Coupled with an extreme manic disposition towards entitlement, grandiosity, self-centeredness and extreme selfishness. She’s cold and shallow and provides nothing to anyone if she is not getting something in return which is why Friend still relies so heavily on me as his only emotional support … it’s not exactly difficult to see why she would be threatened by my relationship with her husband.
Really her therapist decided things had to change because she wasn’t making any decent progress. After she was institutionalized she intensified her therapy, and came to the conclusion that she should probably work on her marriage. She told Friend that her therapist wanted him to stop seeing me completely. I was in complete shock. He refused. Flat out, refused, to give me up. She agreed with him, because frankly, she liked me too. My opinion of her was forever changed though (prior it was still at neutral acceptance). It became increasingly difficult to be around her. Especially because at some point in these talks, she did convince Friend that while we could be friends, we could no longer be intimately involved and we needed to reduce our communication and spend less time together. We went from chatting 8 hours a day to exchanging only a few stunted texts. Do you know how frightening this is?
She wanted what she wanted, and while she couldn’t control all of his decisions, she controlled as much as she could. None of that included any consideration for how things would affect me. From that day the split that started when she told me her therapist wanted Friend to stop seeing me, solidified. Black. Done.
And yes, they were both aware that I am Borderline and have extreme abandonment and abuse trauma.
… Through all of this they forgot (neglected) to explain any of this to me. Or his wife expected him to tell me. All Friend told me was that he wouldn’t be able to talk as much (because his wife would now be reading all of his text messages and IMs – which he also didn’t tell me until much later).
From my perspective, things just suddenly changed.
Then what happened, instead of talking to me, Friend decided he couldn’t deal with his emotional stress anymore and decided it would be best to take some time off from the world. No internet, no phone, no texting, no talking… to anyone. Except of course his wife. I respected his need to fall of the face of the planet and didn’t contact him. I gave him whatever space he needed. But I rapidly descended into a mental oblivion that I couldn’t quickly crawl out of. It only lasted a week before he contacted me, but I was a confused wreck by this point.
When we finally did talk about what was going on it was only after weeks of uncertainty and awkwardness. I had to push the conversation; since he was content to avoid it, and as a result of letting the tension build and build I let him know just how deeply I was affected. I was terrified that the revelation of my feelings would drive him away, though he reassured me it wouldn’t. I also told him I needed some time and space to process everything. Which he refused to give me. He would text me ceaselessly. He refused to give me even a single day to clear my head.
He would tell me, reassure me, how much our friendship meant to him, how deeply he cared for me, that he couldn’t stand losing me…. All things a Borderline needs to hear… even if he couldn’t be with me. He would still invade my physical boundaries when I was over. We would sit close after his wife would go to bed, hold my hand, rub my back… and take comfort in one another, but it would stop there. Maybe he had the capacity to not desire more. But for me this was an emotional torment. All it did was perpetuate the feelings of closeness that I needed, but was told I could no longer have, coupled with the confusion of the appearance that while he was no longer allowed to do it, he still seemed to want it as well.
It wasn’t until a couple months later that I finally demanded he give me a break and stopped speaking to him for a week. Where I nearly dissociated from him completely.
I was now living in a devastation of heartache, confusion, fear, and raging, raging anger. None of which I could show anyone though. People expect Borderlines to Act Out and ‘be crazy’. That’s the stigma. I no longer do this. I Act In. I take it out on myself silently if I can’t be alone. I am very good at holding in my emotions and not expressing them. Eventually though this turns into a dissociated depersonalizaton and derealization which is one of my natural defense mechanisms. To this day his wife does not know the extent of my loathing towards her.
For as hurt as I was, the fear of losing someone I was so close to was even more powerful. I’ve met so few people in my life that seem to accept me fully that I cannot imagine giving up someone like this. For as Idealized as he has been before… he’s been completely devalued in my eyes as well. For months I would sit next to him in heartache and hate, loneliness and love. My feelings for him were in perfect opposition.
Still, it wasn’t until even longer months after this that I finally, finally I established some physical boundaries. I started dating Lady Friend. I broke up with Lady Friend. I started seeing Tech Boy. And things were starting to get easier for me around Friend. Oddly, the more distant I seemed to become, because now my attention was more split from him and focused on other romantic interests, the more he seemed to try to pull me back. He renewed his attention in me. Not that we didn’t still talk every day, but he would invite me over more often, want to do more, invest more in our specific hobbies so we could work on them together, and seemed to try even more to remain closer. He continued to be passive aggressive about whomever I was seeing, but I was feeling better.
That never seems to last though.
Finally, I snapped at him. It’s been a year since our physical relationship ended and I still have unresolved feelings about the whole situation. Much of this is caused by the fact that I still do not think he understands the enormity of what it was that their decision did to me. I can accept that they needed to work on their marriage and all that jazz, but the complete and utter failure to communicate with me… to leave me alone and in the dark with no explanation, was absolutely cruel.
I still haven’t spoken to him since last week, though I’m beginning to feel that I should. It’s odd to feel compelled to do something but have no real desire for it at the same time.
So there you have it. That’s a much abbreviated break down of the last couple years of my life with Friend.
It’s funny how nothing I say can truly capture the truth of this relationship for me. We could sit in the same room, doing our own thing, not even talking, but I wouldn’t feel alone. For someone who dissociates and has a lack of object constancy this is enormous. The simple comfort of enjoying the warmth of someone that understood me was immeasurable. And fleeting. 

Feel free to tell me I should be over this by now. But when an old wound is constantly reopened, it never gets the chance to fully heal. 

10 comments on “Portrait of a Friend

  1. That's a little to intense "to be over by now". I won't pretend to live your life, but I can see the motivations fairly well. I've done some dumbass things for love/acceptance/concern/sympathy myself (though nothing remotely like your situation- If you can juggle all that, you are obviously stronger than you think). I suppose the only way really out of such a thing is for everyone involved to do whats right for the others instead of themselves. But it doesn't sound like anyones ready for that right yet. (or at least any good at accomplishing it). I hope this doesn't sound judgemental, I'm not trying to be. But hearing the "whole" story fills me with sympathy for you. I'd probably be sucking my toes or somesuch, and you actually use your trials to help other borderlines, and if I don't grasp it all, I certainly admire it.

  2. I second CW's comments, except for the "sucking toes" part.I have been filled with sympathy for you since day one. Not because I feel sorry for you, but because it does not seem right for one to have such complicated things to overcome. And, in some sense, I have some of the same baggage. But, you are stronger than you think, and you are doing here, more than you can possibly ever comprehend.

  3. Your therapist seems to be nailing the issue, Haven. Backing away from that odd triangular relationship to gain some perspective is working miracles. You're not only growing stronger towards your abadonment issues, but you're sorting and expressing all the emotions you explain you have trouble dealing with and bottling up.I'm skeptical that Friend's wife has so many shortcomings, but I truly understand where your anger comes from. Therapist seemed to catch pretty quick how much so you wanted to vent about her – and, more importantly – Friend. You never expressed so much dissapointment about him in such a clear and bright way.I think she's right (your therapist). You're learning very well to get intouch with your feelings and to gradually express them in the best way possible. Gaining perspective from Friend and the following abandonment, finding a nice relationship in Tech boy… To see you on this road is invigorating.

  4. ::smiles:: Thanks AMoral. I can admit to being a little biased against Friends wife, however she has burned every single bridge and friendship she's ever had, literally, no exaggeration. I'm not the only one that holds these opinions of her. She's a very volatile person with very few redeeming qualities. My Therapist is quite wise. And has the patience of a saint considering how long it takes me to reach a point where I can begin to take her advice. I really believe you're right. Taking time away from them is really helping me get my head on straight. And surprisingly, it's not as traumatic as I thought it would be! I'd say that's progress. I think my next step is going to have to be expressing a lot of this pent up emotion and frustration directly to Friend. I'm not quite ready for that yet. And oddly, again, Tech Boy is surprisingly me in very pleasant ways. It's funny how the world keeps turning despite what you think are life ending upsets. Thank you. I really appreciate your words.

  5. This is a funny thing, bc I myself feel thankful for the post. I think I'm expressing my simpathy and enthusiasm when I decide to hit the comment button and type in this box. So we're even, I think .(?)This post surprised me, because at first your portrayal of Friend's wife was of animosity, and then your new whole explanation added so many layers I had felt for you, on your own very shoes, and I'll tell you why. I wouldn't be able to step in such a triangle, but then again, someone that I had such a chemistry with was never involved in a relationship with such an agreement, so the issue had always a monogamous face.You really got me wondering what would happen were I in your place. What would I do my mindset in place of yours. And then a whole lot of questions started to hit me, not by trivial speculation, or perusive interest, which I thought at first and then second, but being surprised by a deeper resemblance one that called me to a frequent reflection I'm having late in life. Which is my defense mechanisms I'm having and trying to deal with. I think I alluded to these in one of those schema posts, albeit in a short way. Friendship and love were always a big issue for me, friendship not really anymore for quite a while, but love a lingering one. Not that my fascination with the psychopathic mind would be a product of having loved a psychopath, but rather the mold, as an archetype, taylors my experience to perfection. It would be akin to how you rationalize Evil Ex and how it is fitting to tackle it this way.

  6. Anyway, I see the layers in conflict with Friend's wife and how the triangle worked in a so very bittersweet way. To her eyes it must've been degrees deeper of tragic, because she saw how he was happy with you and tried to live true to the principles she espoused in a polyamorous way, which was the chief reason I saw myself having opened a can of worms on my side of things, heh.The skeptitude I had came from the sense that you seem bitter at the entire outcome, and let me assure you that I can not only picture such a troubled and, acknowledgingly, uncaring person but I know it from life experience, hence my drama between disillusion and faith, avoidance and agreeability, jadedness and acceptance. I mean towards people. In general and experiences in particular, like the ones you try to convey to us on the blog.Friend's wife must have felt ambiguous between the principle that made so much sense to her and the clear threat she got from you from the start. I can't say, in her case, that she really felt true when she acted with such maturity when at the first talk over the table, but I can say that she made peace very well in her time as it surely felt providential to find a reasoning that fitted with her desperate need to keep him in her life, and it rings true the way you described how things went from there to better between you and her for a while.

  7. It came to terms horrible on her part because she had her own mental challenges and the baggage would soon be a part of the whole matter, and I suspect Friend must have too, like you yourself also have yours. Her breakdown I see not simply as a consequence of her self defeating way or steering self-fulfilled desperation, and I know you don't see it that simply, because you acknowledged she wanted you to see to him while she was commited, which is I think your way of realizing that things weren't only her fault, but a complex matter made worse that should and could be better were it not for everyone's limitations. This, I think, was the block your therapist saw, the one that wanted to blame her for most of the dissapointments, ones that she clearly commited, but some others that were masked by your longing for a better outcome that were swept under the rug, reasoning how things would be smoother were she not on the equation, a solution made sense to someone that troubles abandonment and simply wants to be happy. We all do, and this will be our constant shortcoming and, by definition, our tool of betterment.When I read how much you were willing to reveal about Friend and the unsurmountable dissapointment you had with him shows how accepting you became of your feelings. Dissapointment is the chief harm, I laymanly guess, we have while dealing with abandonment. For it is hard reliving how we can be left alone. This valley is dark and we see creature in the corners we don't know are friends or foe, and starvation is a fact because we don't know how to sate the spirit in this land. What is unexpecting and immediately amazing is that it is a hard passage, one that becomes a geographic location, a spot in a map and we are now seeing how continental life grows around, extending endless far beyond the insightful gaze.This, my friend, is the thankfulness I express. And I can stop writing now, and you will mind my prose, because I blame you, soulfulpath and Hemingway for going back to the books.

  8. Thank you so much for opening up to us Haven. Now I confess Im wondering what happened between you and Best Friend. I do not doubt that Friend has alot of amazing qualities, but how he handled this shows one of two things, he is either emotionally immature and completely obtuse or possible more likely he is a coward. I get that impression from several things in this post. I do not want offend you by saying that. As I said obviously there are some wonderful things about him, but either one of the aforementioned short comings are pretty serious. I believe as you grow, you will demand more from your loved ones because you are giving so much emotionally. That is my hope for you, you are worth it. Everyone here can see it.

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