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Crippling lack of confidence due to argument with friend(2 Posts)
In my early twenties I was confident and outgoing. I loved going out, making new friends and dating and I was known for having a quirky dress sense and had so much fun dressing up in vintage and retro pieces and being the slightly eccentric one in the group. I holidayed with friends regularly and loved parties and festivals and always felt like I had a ready-made group of friends to go to events with.
When I was about 23 I had a devastating argument with my best friend. She was going through a tough time in her personal life and she said some cruel things to me which hurt my feelings. Rather than turning the other cheek and making allowances for the fact that she was really suffering privately I was equally cruel in return and said some awful things to her that completely mortify me now. I know I hurt her very deeply. If I could go back now I would take everything I said back and would have been so much more understanding of her situation. Immediately after it happened we stopped speaking completely and, as she was the "Queen Bee" of our social circle she basically cut me off from all of our friends and forbade them from seeing me again.
For the past decade it feels like this one event has been eroding my self-confidence and stopping me from forming meaningful relationships with other people. Because I'm so full of regret and shame at the things I said to her, I now walk on eggshells around other people in constant fear of ever saying anything that might offend or hurt them or make them think badly of me. I can manage polite small talk but that's the extent of my ability to engage with others. I never really connect with people anymore as I'm terrified that they won't like the person I am and I struggle to turn acquaintances into friends. My world consists solely of my husband, my family and the three friends I have left from university, who I only get to see every couple of months.
I'm painfully lonely and full of loathing for the person I've become. When I talk to people I'm constantly worrying that I'm saying something that they won't like, or boring them, or coming across as cold or stupid or unlikeable. In my professional life I'm unable to receive any kind of criticism or negativity without dwelling on it for weeks afterwards and feeling a wave of horror come over me whenever I think about it. I don't feel able to gauge appropriate levels of intimacy, so I either give away too much about myself and come across as desperate for friendship (who am I kidding, I am!) or too little and come across as an ice-queen. I wear generic clothing so as not to attract attention to myself and I feel incapable of being anything other than polite with people in case I say something they might misinterpret negatively. All my interactions with people are superficial.
I know something needs to change. Please, has anyone out there ever experienced this and found a way to come back from it? I just want to feel comfortable in my own skin and engage with people in a natural way without constantly worrying what others think. Any advice or insight would be so welcome. It terrifies me to know that one day I might not have my husband and family and then I will be completely alone with no on in the world. I know how self-pitying I sound and I imagine lots of people might think it's a really silly problem, but it feels very real.
NB. In case anyone was going to suggest that I need to make up with my ex-friend to find closure, I wanted to add that we have already met up and exchanged our apologies, but we both feel we are very different people now and not really compatible as friends anymore.
I would have suffered with similar experiences. But I just hid it and forced myself to be confident and friendly, kept reminding myself people aren't that bad and don't think bad of other prople constantly. They are usually more bothered about themselves. If you enjoy wearing retro and vintage, wear it! You've sorted things with the ex friend, I'm sure its not a very big deal to her these days now it's been resolved.
Basically fake it till you make it.
Also- cbt helped me.
Good luck, most people are nice really and will give others a chance, your past doesn't define you
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