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I need to understand why this keeps happening to me

(70 Posts)
Lollypoppop Sun 08-Sep-13 21:51:46

I seem to have a very strong track record of ultimately being let down by my friends. This has happened for as long as I can remember. It usually takes the form of a long term friendship suddenly disintegrating and it always takes me completely by surprise. For example, my best friend for 6 years all thorough secondary school suddenly dropped me because her boyfriend didnt like me. Funnily enough two years later I met him at a party and he decided I was a suitable friend after all and she tried to rekindle our friendship but it couldn't be done by then.
Around the same time I discovered a friend was stealing from me when I spotted her wearing a unique silver ring of mine. There was no confrontation but the relationship couldn't continue.
That happened again when I discovered that a friend I had known since babyhood and was regularly babysitting for my children was also regularly stealing from our home. She got away with quite a lot because I totally trusted her. There are lots of other examples I could give but this week I have had two more experiences.
I run my own business and one of my employees who has grown to be a friend over the years we have worked together has suddenly announced that she is leaving, doesn't want to work her full notice period and will not negotiate the leaving date despite having no other job to go to (she wants to set up her own business) but this is our very busiest time of year. We also just lost another member of staff two weeks ago and i directly asked her if she would be able to do extra hours in the coming months to help out. she said yes, but 10 days later hands in her notice! it almost seems as if shes being vindictive to leave now. She also knows all about the stress I have at home, ds has recently been diagnosed with asd and ADHD and he is incredibly challenging, she knows I have been on the brink for many months now and I thought she cared but she can't have done, can she? I asked her if she would stay just a couple of weeks to give us time to recruit a replacement but she refused. I don't know why.
Also this weekend my sister suggested I might like to look after her kids today as she had a lot of work to do. I happily had them for the day but at the end of it I had an unpleasant realisation.
She is a teacher and has had the whole summer off, I have had an extremely hard time as my ds got excluded from his summer play scheme (his special needs mean he is very explosive and impulsive) so I had no childcare. I suggested that we had one another's children but she declined and said she would prefer her kids not to be with ds. Obv I found that extremely difficult but accepted her view. But now that she needs help it is no longer a problem! So clearly it was just an excuse for her to be able to avoid having to help me.
So, there must be something I am doing to make this happen. I am not blaming myself but I know that I can only change my own behaviour, not that of other people. But how? What is it that I am doing? People say that I am assertive and confident and I think I am but why is it always such a sudden shock when people let me down? time and time again I must be lining myself up for this?

Lollypoppop Sun 15-Sep-13 12:19:13

'Have some faith in your own judgement and stick to your guns.' That I think is the crux of the problem, I don't have any faith in my own judgement at all, so people can always manipulate me into doing what they want. I don't have the courage of my convictions.
I think that when I was little my sister used to undermine my confidence in my own judgement. She would often belittle me and tease me for being silly or babyish or worst of all selfish. I had it drummed into me for so very very long that to be selfish was the worst possible thing I could do. I was very unhappy at school and she would always tell me that I could never say anything to our parents about it because that would be selfish. She said they were making a lot of sacrifices to send us to school (fee paying), so i could not say anything as they would be hurt.
She would tell me I was being selfish if ever I said what I wanted, and so now I can never say what I want. I don't even know what I want, I can't work it out because I've suppressed so much of myself for so very long. I have spent my entire life just thinking 'it doesn't matter what I want, just make sure everyone else is happy. They matter more, they must do because they are the ones who get upset if they don't get what they want. It doesn't bother me.' Why would it? I am so used to it that I feel scared if I have the responsibility of making a decision like what we should have for dinner as I think I will probably make the wrong choice and no one will enjoy it. Funnily enough, in some areas of my life, I am very, very confident in taking responsibility and making decisions yet in other parts of life I revert back to being this child who is scared of making a fuss and people thinking I'm unreasonable. I don't get respect because I don't expect it and don't truly believe I deserve it.

angelinajelly Sun 15-Sep-13 11:40:33

OP, I think you need to think about setting much clearer boundaries with people, both at work and at home, in terms of what you will and won't accept. All of your examples seem to involve you bending over backwards to accommodate other people's needs, and then getting hurt because they don't behave the same way towards you.

For example, the employee who "insisted" on taking annual leave at the wrong time for the business. It doesn't work like that. Standard employment contracts have in the ts and cs that annual leave can only be taken at a time agreed with management. If an employee asks for leave at a time that really doesn't work, say, sorry, no. If she shouts and screams, say "I'm sorry this is upsetting for you, but it can't be helped" and leave her to calm down and get on with it. If she threatens to take the time off anyway, remind her that that would be unauthorised leave and if she does she will be disciplined and ultimately dismissed. You don't have to be nasty about it, just calm, reasonable and above all, consistent. People might moan a bit, but eventually they will realise that your behaviour is always fair and they will respect that. And if they don't, allow them to walk away- they aren't any great loss to your business or your life.

Where the employees' mothers are concerned, just don't deal with them. Politely explain that it is a confidential matter between you and the member of staff and you are not able to discuss it with anyone else, and end the conversation.

If the one who has just left you in the lurch is not working her contractual notice period, you don't have to pay her for the "holidays" she is taking. You ultimately can't force her to turn in, and I agree that suing probably isn't a realistic option, but at least cut her money off.

You seem like a nice person who is trying really, really hard to be kind. You say that when you are assertive you are accused of being unreasonable- well that's not because you are unreasonable, it's because these are selfish, unprincipled people who will fight their own corner and say whatever they can think of to win. Have some faith in your own judgement and stick to your guns.

Lollypoppop Sun 15-Sep-13 11:06:30

Feeling pretty crap today as dh had a real go at me last night when we got that text saying that her response an terrible indictment of our parenting. That I was too easy on the dc and needed to sort myself out and be a proper parent etc etc. I did point out that I thought we were both very good parents doing our absolute best in extremely difficult circumstances and we faced more challenges in one morning than most parents face in a month with their average dc but he just carried on listing my failings.
This morning I brought it back up and he apologised for it but why do I have to put up with this shit from people in the first place?

Lollypoppop Sun 15-Sep-13 10:45:39

In the end I couldn't be bothered to write her a letter, I just decided to let it go.
Unfortunately, I've just had a bit of another let down. Nothing personal this time as I don't really know the person but just wondering what to say in reply. This is a nanny who had a trial with my dc (ds has special needs, but this nanny had years of experience working in a residential home for children with BESD so we thought she would be up to it). She said it was 'challenging' but subsequently she seemed quite happy and we arranged some more dates for her to look after them and that was apparently fine. Now she suddenly texts and says she has thought about it and now decided that she cannot offer the support we need. Now that is fine, but why did she waste our time arranging dates (we were planning to work) when she obviously must had had real misgivings about it? Why let us make plans, think we had something sorted and then suddenly pull out? Now, we are in an even bigger mess than ever.
The worst thing about this is that I had put a lot of time and effort into sorting out this childcare. I'd trawled through a huge list of nannies to make a short list of suitable ones, in the end I managed to arrange interviews with three and this one was the only one that actually turned up! So i know I can't just quickly find someone else!
(We have been referred to social services for emergency respite care by CAMHS after three weeks, we'd heard nothing so Dr said we should have heard from them within a week and he would chase them. I rang them myself too and they said someone would contact us but now another three weeks have gone by now and still nothing! So, coupled with the staff let downs we are in real trouble!)
Anyway, how do i respond to that text in an assertive way. i don't want to make her feel guilty for letting us down but I don't want her to 'get away with it' and not let her know her actions have had an impact on us.

Lollypoppop Tue 10-Sep-13 19:15:33

It is impossible to keep track in a toxic relationship entirely because we were trained up from such an early age to accept this crap and manipulated into thinking that we should never expect and certainly not ask someone to do things for us. Even if that something is only treating us with respect and courtesy.
I am going to write a very short letter and then I will decide whether to send it or not.

springydafty Tue 10-Sep-13 17:12:48

It doesn't work like that cuille . OP is making the point that it was uneven. It's nigh impossible to keep track in toxic relationships, no point trying, best to give it up as a bad lot.

And yes, she did 'owe' 20 hours' work. But that's by the by now.

cuillereasoupe Tue 10-Sep-13 17:09:45

she owes me about 20 hours’ work, work I did for her when I was shattered and felt sick and would rather have been in bed

See this I don't get. A favour is something asked and granted (or not) freely, not some kind of imaginary spreadsheet. Surely if you felt she was taking the piss you could have just said "no" rather than totting up some imaginary total of what she "owes" you in your head?

springydafty Tue 10-Sep-13 17:03:37

You could send a very straightforward letter, outlining the facts: that she dumped you at a crucial time, and lied. You don't have to use the word 'lied' but lay it out. Make it short. Then wash your hands of her - if she replies, send it back RTS. A new day, healthy, equal, fulfilling, joyful relationships beckoning smile

Lollypoppop Tue 10-Sep-13 16:02:35

Springy I know my parents never spoke to my employer on my behalf even when I was 13!
Yes, the apology was not warranted at all. I admit that I spoke harshly and did not conceal my indignace at her behaviour but the reality is I called her on lying to me and on not complying with the terms of her contract and on leaving very inconsiderate time- that is all unarguably true so why did I feel the need to apologise at all? I think it is the shock for her of getting away with it for so long, the only response she can come up with us to never talk to me again. Should I now just leave her well alone or should I attempt to set the record straight??

springydafty Tue 10-Sep-13 14:45:02

I'd say it is extremely unusual for an employee's mother to ring up the company for her princess daughter. Unless she's 13. but you say this has happened more than once. These are clues about the type of people you are attracting into your life. A bunch of princesses who run to mummy; who backs them up to the big boss! It's embarrassing!

Your thread has given me so much thought Lolly because I recognise so much of what you are saying. I recognise eg not having any confidence in the way I express anger or frustration, assuming I am 'too much' when I do. It could be that the princess we were both in thrall to reacted extremely badly if we dared enforce a personal boundary around ourselves - how dare we make it clear we are separate to them, have our own needs and, crucially, our own rights. Your employees have done exactly the same, flouncing off and reading the riot act when you made a demand that clashes with what they want. I was very disheartened to hear that you apologised '20 times' - it wasn't for you to apologise, certainly not 20 times: it was for her to grovel that she had stuffed you one. Perhaps your fear that you [feel you] genuinely don't know what is going on and your zero confidence in your instincts that you are being taken for a ride compels you to apologise assuming you must have got it wrong. Also perhaps a great fear of being abandoned for standing up for yourself? Which suggests you have been terrorised for doing this, somewhere along the line.

I recognise being seen as one whole, no distinction, because my predominant toxic sibling (silent and deadly) and I are very close in age and we were almost always lumped in as one. I have another toxic sister (lucky me) who flings herself about in a similar fashion to your elder sister; and the flavour throughout the family is that I am the family's property. Like an inanimate object, a device. As a result I have found it very hard to integrate the truth that I am a full human being, not part of a whole, not anyone's property; mind or body - THAT I AM SEPARATE.

And that I do have a lot right, my judgement is very clear - often bang on - and I do know what I am doing. I suggest you do, too.

ZutAlorsDidier Tue 10-Sep-13 11:28:39

Well done, that sounds like a big victory actually, and you knew exactly what you were doing.
I think you should have the management training anyway even if you still have emotional stuff to sort out. The latter is a big life project, the former is something you can try to put into practice straight away. I think that was great advice by wol1968. You can be instructed very clearly in practices you can start to follow at once which will professionalise your whole operation, which may have a knock-on effect on your self-esteem - but will certainly make your business run more smoothly no matter what.

Here is a tip: you can decide what is fair in your head and if your conscience is clear it doesn't matter if others agree. Like you, I have a dominant older sister; I also have a certain friend whom I find problematic as she is very sure of herself, and we incline too much to fall into a leader / servant dynamic (she is an older sister too). We met through NCT and the group of us set up a babysitting circle. She left town while owing me many, many babysitting points (I earnt babysitting when I really didn’t feel like it, pregnant with dc2 and very tired, but no one else was up for it and I felt that someone had to keep the babysitting circle going). Then, last summer, I spilt some wine on her cashmere jumper (don’t ask me why she was camping, drinking red wine in the dark, in her cashmere jumper). She freaked out, she was enormously angry, she still has not forgiven me (mentioned it a year later this summer). I don’t care, because I have made my peace with the situation on the basis that she owes me about 20 hours’ work, work I did for her when I was shattered and felt sick and would rather have been in bed. In my head, 20 hours of my hourly rate buys her plenty of brand new cashmere jumpers. So I am fine with this, if anything, she owes me. She doesn’t know that I have made up this equation in my head and I don’t care that she doesn’t know. I’m fine. It’s hard work for me to be fine, because she is used to a dynamic where she is always in the right and I am used to a dynamic where I am always in the wrong. But I’m doing the work, and I’m getting there.

So this is the tip: work out in your own head what is fair, and don’t worry if no one else knows or agrees with you. Right now you are attracting the sort of people who will never agree with you, who believe they are always owed more. So don’t bother trying to convince them. Just work it out and stick to it. Over time, you will attract different kinds of people.

Best of luck.

Lollypoppop Tue 10-Sep-13 01:59:33

Zuralors, yes i do find it very difficult to let people do things for me, it really makes me feel uncomfortable and its almost like i cant accept. I do try to buy time with others asking of me but I can never make up my mind what is reasonable and where to draw the line. So I don't have confidence that I am 'in the right' iyswim.
Wol, you are right that their behaviour and bringing their mothers in is totally ridiculous. I have looked into management training but I think I have to sort this issue at a deeper level first ie. my subservient role to my sister. I think one of the issues is that we were always treated as a complete unit as children (I never did anything without her) and she always made all the decisions, so I never learned to do it for myself.
I don't know where to draw the line and so always that is exploited and if they are called on it I get emotional blackmail. I spotted dd doing it tonight, dh told her to stop swinging the dog lead round her head and she snapped at him I'm not! (She obv was!) a few mins later she was scraping her feet along the wall and he told her off, instead of just saying sorry she launched into an emotional tirade and spent an hour crying, all the time trying to manipulate me into coming to her aid. I ignored which just fuelled the outburst but eventually she relented. So a small victory for me tonight at last!

wol1968 Mon 09-Sep-13 23:55:37

My suggestion re your employees is that you could do with some external management training. You need to deal with them on a professional, not a personal, level; having to deal with their parents, friends and relatives is not in your remit as an employer and they are in fact abusing your time - I would go so far as to say it's legally in harassment territory. You would be well advised to get an outside professional view on your situation and some proper training, as you appear to have learned most of what you know on the job, and need some space and time to put that into a broader context. Asserting yourself in this situation requires a very firm grasp of your legal rights and managerial requirements as an employer, and I get the feeling you're rather out of your depth with this.

ZutAlorsDidier Mon 09-Sep-13 23:48:04

I came on here to say I suspect a lot of this has to do with your sister but then read that you have already perceived this.

I think you are very good at perceiving patterns but not as good as you need to be about managing things to change the patterns. My advice (I am like this too so a bit "do as I say not as I do") is: if you can avoid it, at all, do not reply to propositions in the moment. If the person is asking a favour, take some time before replying and decide before you get back to them if they are manipulating you or taking the piss or not. A good way of taking time is to say you have to consult someone else (this need not be true). then when you are on your own, decide:

if you want to do it

if, broadly speaking, you do, have you been doing most of the favours? Is this by chance or not? Maybe you can say yes but build in a condition, some kind of reciprocation, and see what happens ("I will get the drinks if you get the food" "Good news, I can look after your children this Wed, and I am going to need some cover next week so you can take mine then" - etc). If this is rejected you know where you stand

If you want to say no, you can prepare a clear assertive speech to say no

Similarly, you may be unwittingly repelling people who are good for you who want to help but you are confused by this and not able to accept. Next time someone offers to help you, do not immediately refuse. This is what I do. I say things like "no no no it's ok" "it will be fine, I will just move x and y and z..." "I've got it!" etc. Next time someone says, "can I bring something?" don't jump in with a no, give yourself a second with a holding response like "oh how kind, let me think" and then try to come up with something. they want to help. Learn to accept the good people and the kind acts.

I agree, go and get that ring back!

Good luck. you sound very nice and thoughtful.

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 23:37:15

Garlic, I have tried that but some sort of emergency crops up and if it was genuine it would certainly require time off work. However, these things happen so frequently as to be unbelievable, yet I cannot say she is lying as I haven't got proof.
When I say Go off on one it has involved their mothers (and these are of adults!) ringing me up or coming in telling me how much I have upset their child with my unreasonable demands. ie expecting them to work to the requirements of the business at some point and not expect it to fit entirely around their lifestyle and expecting them to stick to the terms of their contract! How totally unreasonable of me!

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 23:31:20

she would go off on one just like they all do and make me out to be some sort of evil employer!

No, look, this is in the job description. Let them. It's normal!

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 23:30:28

With flaky employee, do you now ASK her EXACTLY what hours she can do, saying she's been unpredictable before? If needs be, send her a text or email after she's said "I can do 10 - 4 but must leave bang on 4" to confirm this precisely. Start using the word "unacceptable" (but don't overuse it, or you'll sound like my fuckwit boss!)

Please, please, please - read your sister the riot act! Face to face. Dn't back down.

And what Cote said smile

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 22:50:30

My parents are trusting and always think well of people and i guess they did rely on people to do things for them but not in a needy way. They employed people too. I'm sure there is something in there that is the example I have learned from but I'm not sure what. My mum has dozens of friends, most if whom she has known for decades.
My sister knows now that no matter how badly she behaves I will always be there so she will continue to do so.
Here is another staff conundrum. I got a text from one saying were they needed at work cos they were free all day. I text back and said yes, that would be great and she immediately text back saying she just had to go somewhere at 3pm for half an hour. Its totally minor and would be petty to say something but she is not free all day! She also on another day said that she could work, then said she had a docs appt at 5pm do would need to leave early, no problem. Then she later said it was half four, then said it was 3.30! So what do you do in that situation? i am clearly being messed around yet she does have a complicated back story. The same person insisted on taking a weeks holiday at an in convenient time again for the business (other people had already booked the week off) she said she absolutely had to have the time because she was going to be distraught with grief as it was the 12th anniversary of a death in the family. She got very very angry and upset when i tried to reason with her. During the week though she popped into work and said she was just on her way to a party! I know for a 100% fact that if I asked her about that she would go off on one just like they all do and make me out to be done sort of evil employer! FFS!

CoteDAzur Mon 09-Sep-13 21:42:12

"I placidly accept a lot of bad behaviour and as time goes by people behave more and more unreasonably towards me"

^ This.

After the first couple of times you babysat for your sister but she didn't for you, it would have been easy to say "You know what, I'm not doing this again because you never return the favour". There would have been no need to get to this point where you are now considering breaking off with your sister.

And when someone steals from you, you tell them to give it back immediately or else you will immediately call the police and report her theft. You don't let it go, ever.

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 21:15:57

This is a little imaginative flight; I may be completely off-track. Your sister relies on you for instant childcare, right? And other things; probably has since you were big enough to be of service. So she reckons you'll always be there for her, in a kind of exaggerated display of trust. And you rely on other people - friends; employees - to be there for you and to do what you trust them to do, even when that includes a co-worker standing in as friend/therapist for your troubles.

Were your parents very big on trusting people? Did they depend on people to do things for them?

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 21:08:56

Well, SIBU obviously, and I suspect you may have overlooked - or failed to notice - her inability to act like a responsible grown-up in the past.

You should always have a Plan B available for such events. Hardly any small businesses do, and that's understandable, but being dependent on specific individuals puts you in a weak position.

Bit of a turning point for you this week, innit?!

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 20:48:58

Magic turnip, I always think I have good people in my life but I am struggling to think of anyone who hasn't made me feel this way in the end.

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 20:47:38

Guess what, the employee has told us today that she will not be back in ever, that's it. This is after we had a discussion where I said I was very disappointed she was leaving now at the busiest time of year, that she was insisting on taking her remaining holiday from her notice period and most importantly that she had lied when I asked her if she could do more hours over the coming months. I admit I was but when I asked her why she had lied she went ballistic screamed that she would not be talked to like this and and stormed off. Afterwards I went and apologised for upsetting her and we appeared to had smoothed it over and both said we wanted to part on good terms after many years happily working together. Well, I guess she must have gone home and discussed this with her family because her mum rang up (she is 30 btw) and told us she would not be coming back ever and all she wanted was for us to leave her alone and let her get in with her life (a rather bizarre statement as i certainly havnt been harassing her, this conversation was the first and obviously last cross word we have ever had between us and afterwards I apologised unreservedly for crossing the boundary (i was too harsh i think) Obviously, directly asking someone why they lied to you is too harsh for anyone to answer and that is why she went off. But as I said, it was resolved that day, we hugged and said how much we valued one another and i aplogised 20 times so again it's rather strange that now she cannot return. Maybe the prob is that she did blatantly lie, and now she has been exposed cannot face me? I just don't know.

magicturnip Mon 09-Sep-13 16:46:41

I agree with garlic. We all get shafted by arseholes. We all have people we have gone out of our way to help dump us inexplicably or treat us horribly. It just happens. I bet you have good people in your life too.

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 16:30:12

What an insightful reply smile Good for you!

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