Today I finally address the letter I received from “Leah,” a woman with a difficult past who is dealing with a very flakey friend. Please enjoy!
I love your blog. Thanks for doing it.
I’m in my late 60’s. I moved to my current city about 7 years ago after leaving a cult ($cientology). I’ve never lived in the same place longer than 5-6 years (my father was in the Air Force and, as an adult, I just kept up the tradition) and now I’m trying to make some friends.
It’s so hard. It’s really really really hard. I’m pretty sure now that the problem is me. There must be something very wrong with me. Why else would this be so f**king difficult?
About a year ago, I was introduced by my neighbor Mary to her friend Lisa. Lisa and I started getting together on our own for tea and chatting. We get along really well, think the same things are funny and generally enjoy each other.
Lisa has lived here her entire life — she’s been hiking with the same group of people every Thursday for 20 years and playing Mah Jong with the same group for 10 years! She has tons of friends, tons of activities with those friends and is also busy remodeling some properties she owns.
I like her so much and want to be an included friend but she has never asked me to join any of her group activities except a week-long retreat in California. I accepted the invitation even though it terrifies me that I’m going to totally feel like the odd woman out since they all either are attending with folks they know or have been going to this retreat for years. I’ll know Lisa but she will be busy as one of the leaderss/teachers. She’ll be busy.
Here’s the thing: Lisa stands me up about 50% of the time. We’ll make plans and she just doesn’t show. My usual response is to wait until I’m sure she’s forgotten and is not going to say anything about it and then send her an email saying something like, “I’m sorry I missed you last Tuesday, hope you’re doing good, blah blah blah.” She doesn’t generally apologize but will maybe say what happened that kept her.
I gotta say, this really hurts my feelings and I am not even the slightest bit willing or interested in telling her that. She’s the closest thing I’ve got to a friend here and rocking the boat (when she’s so popular) could make her go away.
I’m sure I’ve left out pertinent info and you’ll ferret it out as usual. Looking forward to having a conversation with you about this.
In our ongoing conversations over the past couple of weeks (also known as my “ferreting process”) I asked you a series of questions. Your responses were astounding and last week I posted about them here: Scientology and abuse Survivor details. Readers, pop on over for a recollection refresher on Leah’s incredibly difficult childhood.
Leah, it’s no wonder you ended up in a cult.
Between your father’s sexual abuse and suicide and your mother’s steadfast refusal to discuss any of it with you, I’m sure you have long been desperate to make powerful, positive, and loving connections with people and to seek a higher meaning than that which was presented in your terrible childhood.
You joined a cult and after many years realized the meaning and connections you sought did not reside there. That’s the good news.
The bad news is you lost many friends through the cult of Scientology’s “disconnection” policy when you left.
More good news: being cut out from the lives of those who choose to remain brainwashed by the cult leads you to your current state in which you continue your search for confidantes and allies with whom to share life. That’s something all of us should strive for.
More bad news: Your personal history is impacting your picker and your ability to speak up for yourself. That’s a bad combination.
What’s a “Picker?”
Each of us has a “picker.” A “picker” is an internal analysis mechanism by which we select friends, lovers, jobs, and pets.
Your picker is malfunctioning. It was working when you selected your husband, a lovely man who left the cult of Scientology with you, but it is broken when it comes to women, and I’ll tell you why:
Your mother betrayed you in the most terrible way. As a result, you desperately seek the attention and approval of other women while simultaneously seeking out women who will disappoint and hurt you.
This strikes me as classic trauma repetition: the adoption of maladaptive behaviors over and over again because they are familiar. We do this despite the pain it causes because early experiences are so ingrained within us that we are driven to recreate them.
Look at the cult you joined.
Scientology is abusive, manipulative, authoritarian, secretive, violent, sick, illogical, and betrays its adherents after they come to trust the cult and its leadership.
Does that sounds familiar?
Scientology stood in for your parents after your father’s suicide and your exit from the family home. Now that you have escaped the cult, you may be subconsciously seeking to repeat those shitty feelings with which you are so sadly familiar with people who are supposed to care about you.
Stand Up for Yourself, God Damn It!
As if that wasn’t bad enough, you struggle with the concept of standing up for yourself.
You engage in passive-aggressive “check-ins” with Lisa when she stands you up but won’t bring her rude behavior to the forefront in a conversation. I think you avoid those conversations because you are so anxious to make friends that you are scared they will reject you if you challenge them.
Here’s the thing: that’s an amazing way to find out who really has your best interests at heart. Anyone who would be so thoughtless as to simply not show up for a scheduled social hour 50% of the time is not someone you should be chasing after, but perhaps there is some reason for her glaring lack of manners.
So ask her. And if she minimizes your feelings or becomes angry, take a good hard look at yourself and ask if you want to live a life in which you are lead around by others like a dog on a leash.
I’m sure Lisa seems like a very exciting and interesting woman, but her behavior towards you would indicate she’s just not that into you. Yes she invited you to a retreat but I looked into it and she will make money from that retreat. That’s a little suspect.
In Lisa’s defense, I think you shouldn’t expect to be included in some of her long-standing group events. Some people really hold to tradition when it comes to activities with certain people.
Me? I’m more flexible and more prone to making new friends and wanting to bring them all together. But not everyone is as fucking awesome as I am.
I’ve written about unreliable and suspect “friends” many times.
Take a click on the following blogs because I see no reason to reinvent the wheel today:
and where appropriate to your situation take the advice within them.
Finally, please consider getting back into therapy because the amount of trauma you’ve suffered demands more than my free advice that’s worth every penny.
Hey guys, don’t forget to share this! Sharing is caring and I know you all care deeply for me so get on it.