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Ending relationship with "friend" from 12 step programme VERY LONG

(11 Posts)
bumbleclat Tue 16-Feb-16 13:19:30

I just need to write everything down in order to see everything as a whole.

About 5/6 years ago, I started going to a food addiction 12 step programme to help me tackle disordered eating manifesting in many different ways throughout my life.

I was welcomed into the small meeting (4-5 people) per week by a very large woman who was warm, friendly and very much seemed the leader of the group.

She gave me a copy of her 12 steps book (the main book that the whole recovery programme is based on) A few weeks later I asked her if she would sponsor me to work the 12 steps (support me through) and she agreed.

In the beginning I was overweight, binging and feeling very much like my whole life was being taken over by food.

I began to make a food plan, follow the 'steps' and ring my sponsor every day as is traditional in these programmes.

My sponsor praised me heavily for doing everything she told me to (I was ready and willing to follow the programme) she used to bad-mouth other people that she was sponsoring, because they were 'rebelling against her'.

I lost a lot of weight and she gave a lot of good advice which helped me get out of a bad relationship and a toxic work situation, I had everything I wanted and began to feel free from the eating problems that had characterised most of my teens and early twenties.

Her controlling manner and quick temper eventually drove everyone away from the support group and she ended up feeling like a victim because she was so called 'doing everything' and couldn't get anyone else to take responsibility.

However, I observed that if they did take jobs on she would micro-manage them and see fit to point out the faults of others whilst not appearing to get on top of her own (so called) 'character defects.'

I found it disturbing hearing her break the 'anonymous' rules of the programme but I felt so indebted to her for all her help that I didn't ever say anything.

She continued to get fatter.

I began to feel I was no longer learning from her and she continued to put on lots of weight so it was obvious she wasn't 'working the programme.' I left the 12 steps to get on with a busy year finishing my degree.

I still needed someone to turn to for emotional support because I had an extremely difficult childhood so I began paying for a professional councillor weekly who has helped ( and continues to help) me beyond measure.

In the 2 years that I haven't been attending the 12 step programme I have been feeling increasingly stuck and missing feeling 'on top' of my disordered eating and missing the liberated person I was when I was in the 12 steps I decided to start my own group.

My old sponsor has always invited me to go to meetings with her and I've never been able to be honest enough with myself to admit that she is the very reason that I left in the first place, her controlling nature is hugely stifling to the point where she was once ringing me every day to check whether I had asked for a pay-rise yet (even though I don't want or need one)

Anyway, last week I was missing the support of a group of people who have the same eclipsing food issues as I do, so I decided to set up a meeting in a nearby village.

I shouldn't have done this but I rang her and told her that I was going to do this and that I had found a cheap hall for rent every Sunday. She was delighted and immediately began to try and take the reins "why don't we have it on Saturday?" I said because I ring-fence Saturday for family time so Sunday is all Im willing to do. She argued a bit but I stood firm already feeling my nervous system jangle at being back in her controlling dynamic again.

I went home and got a message from her saying that she had been to the hall that night and looked through all of the windows telling me that the room I wanted to rent was not very nice so we would have to have the large one.

I batted this off saying that when the group grows then we can afford a larger room.

She then sent me a message saying can you bring my big book with you. I instantly replied saying that she had given it to me so it was now my book!

She then told me to print posters and that she wanted it between 11 and 11.30 but I'd already told her the time I was willing to do and this was the tipping point...

I had arranged to meet with the village hall lady this morning and my old sponsor had asked if she could to come along, this morning she sent me a message saying; "I will let you do most of the talking today" WTAF!? Thank you for "letting me" do "most" of the talking in a meeting I have arranged!!

I have shelved the whole thing and told her that I feel her controlling behaviour has got too much and the thought of setting something up with her is filling me with dread.

It is a shame because it could have helped a lot of people in need and myself but now I'm going to drive an hour every week to get to the nearest meeting.

But it is such a relief to get her out of my life.

Phew Thank you for reading, relief really is the most reliable emotion.

I just thought I'd share in case anyone else has experienced controlling relationships and finds this helpful.

sonjadog Tue 16-Feb-16 13:34:17

I don't understand why you rang and told her about it. Did you not think she was likely to behave like this from previous experience?

bumbleclat Tue 16-Feb-16 13:48:03

Yes, but her and I have been meeting intermittently just for coffee and I thought that we could set it up together (I had kind of forgotten how controlling she could be)
I didn't want to lie/ suppose I was a bit scared of her being cross with me.

RedMapleLeaf Tue 16-Feb-16 13:58:25

I just thought I'd share in case anyone else has experienced controlling relationships and finds this helpful.

Do you see your own role in this dynamic?

MatildaTheCat Tue 16-Feb-16 13:59:43

Well done for standing up to her, she sounds incredibly hard work. The original idea is great, though. Could you leave it a few weeks and then go ahead? If she finds out simply refuse to discuss. It sounds as if your relationship has finished which is a shame in that it hasn't ended well but good in that she was actually no longer a friend but a bully. A bit like over eating food, in fact.

bumbleclat Tue 16-Feb-16 14:00:14

Yes I do, I hadn't had too much to do with her for quite a while and it all came back to me and seemed really clear.
I am now more assertive and my boundaries don't allow me to get embroiled in these 'dynamics' anymore.

RedMapleLeaf Tue 16-Feb-16 14:01:31

Are you familiar with the Drama Triangle theory?

bumbleclat Tue 16-Feb-16 14:02:41

No Im not, what is it?

RedMapleLeaf Tue 16-Feb-16 14:12:27

It's a model that simplifies a frequently observed and/or experienced dynamic between two or more people. It uses three roles of Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer to describe common traits about how we might think and behave in every day situations. If you read up on it, it's helpful to identify when you slipped in to one of the roles and consider why you did.

sonjadog Tue 16-Feb-16 14:25:08

I think your idea is good. I'd leave it for a few months and then try again. This time, don't say anything!

bumbleclat Wed 17-Feb-16 21:27:48

Thank you both, the dynamics were very unhealthy that's all I know.

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