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How do you know if someone is abusing you or if they're right?

(38 Posts)
OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Sat 28-May-16 21:12:24

I'm in very lonely and difficult position where I only have one friend I see day to day. I am very depressed and struggle with past experiences and finding it harder and harder to pretend to be fine. I am seeking help etc.

But he is insisiting his version of reality is true and calling me abusive for standing up to him about it. I think its abusive of him to try to force me to believe a "reality" that I dont think fits with the evidence. He's insisting that stuff where people have hurt me is my fault. Im so confused cos it's actually earning some self-respect and standing up for myself that has helped me go on, and feel a little better in life. I used to just try to please everyone and got walked all over and abused.

He thinks I am bonkers for thinking I have to pretend to be ok in front of other peope so they like me and don't drop me as a friend. He reckons thats not true at all cos it isnt for him. But people have actaully said to me that becaue I am upset often, struggles ongoing, that rightly or wrongly people lose interest and dont care. I mean, you have to be fun to be around, yeh? But he insists this isn' true and that people aren't like that. But he thinks I am actually a horrible bitch pushing them away by being angry. He's using me being upset and angry at him blaming me as evidence that I am irrationally angry, and thus that I must do that do others, so they dont give a fuck about me.

(Actually I do find it confusing how people care about some people but not others and I dont understand their reasoning, but it seems to relate to popularity rather than any objective aspect of the situation. And I've seen others scapegoated, too.)

I feel very, very alone. I also feel like I' somehow unworthy and its all always my fault, and no matter how hard I try I'm never good enough. I have been having nightmares about this sort of thing, waking up screaming. I would describe myself as traumatised due to life expereinces that left me overwhlemed, horrified, helpless etc. I cant talk about it to most people cos I feel like such a twat and like im making a fuss and should just be fine, and am terrified of people calling me attention seeking or overeacting cos that happened when i was younger and used to freely ask for support.

I'm terrified im either hallucinating or being stitched up here. Im so frightened, and in so much pain, please be very gentle, I am only trying to understand.

Misnomer Sat 28-May-16 21:21:32

Hi OP. It's hard to figure out what is going on because there are some important parts of this story that you haven't told us (which is obviously up to you) but you sounds very distressed. Do you think you would be confortable having a chat with your GP and maybe getting some advice or an opinion from somebody outside of your relationships that might be able to help you work out what's going on? And they should be able to refer you for counselling for what ever it was that happened - there is no 'should' about dealing with trauma. If you're still struggling to cope with what happened then your not making a fuss. These things don't go away by pushing them down.

Please take care and consider speaking to someone IRL.

AnnieOnnieMouse Sat 28-May-16 21:21:42

try this link, and look at coercive control

OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Sat 28-May-16 23:42:00

Thanks. I'm just so scared in case I really am bonkers and have little grasp on reality. He's not my partner btw and hasn't prevented me from seeing others. But I've heard some dreadful things about myself "on the grapevine", outright lies as well as things twisted to make them sound different, embellishments etc. As a random example, when I first broke down peope thought I was attention seeking and not trying to seek help. This seemed to be based on misconceptions about the level of service available, not helped by one guy insisting he was sectioned (as a suicide risk) for just being a bit low, as if you have to hide to stop them whisking you off to hospital and enforcing months of therapy! I think the rumours were abated somewhat afterone lovely person spent 11hrs in A&E with me and got to meet the crisis team... (On a related note, after leaving an abusive relationship, two male crisis team members conferred and concluded I wasn't to worry because they thought the relationship was repairable. hmm Which adds to my concerns over who to trust is acting/speaking in my best interests.)

It freaks me out the way peoplle do this... I always wnt to know the truth of a situation, get to the nub of it, ask qustions, compare it to tother situations to know the right way forward. Others seem to close ranks and sort of go with the most popular view or person rather than what is the truth of fair. This is the point where I shoud mention I've been referred for an ASD assessment... although I read body language and facial expressions very well (when tested). This is another thing - my friend struggles with reading body language. Also with diplomacy. So he wouldnt agree to disagree on this - he's convinced me not accepting his view is wrong. But re. body language, he sometimes thinks Im imagining things but I swear I'm picking up something he's not. He sometimes acknowledges this.

OTOH he is usually kind and will pop in etc if he knows i'm low. Or just generally. Has been there with me for benefits assessments etc too.

I'm just so scared cos whenever I start to make sense of things, something changes or something like this happens where someone rubbishes my conclusions and it makes me all confused and doubtful again. But another thing is, I try to be a good person. By that I mean question things and change my views if necessary (for example my political views change in light of evidence), and try to see things from anothers point of view if they're upset even if I cant understand it I will try to empathise. I've been the person both halves of a relationshp on the rocks confide in before! (they are now married with children so think I managaed impartial mediation ok, haha) So when I try to do the right thing and so on it freaks me out to think I might be completely bonkers and getting it all wrong.

I really hought I wa getting somehwere, had come a long way in last few yrs. But now I dont know.

OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Sat 28-May-16 23:42:33

Sorry, that as a bit rambly. head all over the place. Apologies.

OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Sat 28-May-16 23:45:41

Sorry, yes, I'm seeking counselling. Had some therapy before which helped me feel more confident and able to stand up to /walk away from abusive behaviour, and to understand the way people tick, so eg. it didnt feel so personal that I wasnt very supported by people.

OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Sat 28-May-16 23:53:48

Sorry, when I said id heard dreadful things on th grapevine, I didnt mean things he'd spread. Just that people seem inclined to think badly of me. I met someone at a local festival and hung out together (few yrs ago now) and then at some point she realised I was this person she'd heard all about and was stunned I was the same person. I think its easy to 'other' the mentally ill and then one doesnt feel one has to do anything about it. I used to actually ask for help though which sort of put people on the spot, so it forces/intensifies the whole thing. I naively thought those around me were more communally minded than they were, too, so was quite hurt and crushed by being unsupported. So tried to be bright and good fun in public and speak to trusted few.

OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Sat 28-May-16 23:56:14

...but according to him, i'm angry and argumentative and thats why people dont care. He thinks i ask for help by shouting at people, or something. I kept giving examples but he woudn't listen. I asked him for examples and he could only say that I was doing it now, which is a bit circular.

But I'm scared in case im an out of touch narcissist or something.

dodobookends Sat 28-May-16 23:56:56

Counselling would definitely be a good idea, you will be able to express your feelings safely.

OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Sat 28-May-16 23:58:58

Have just read about coercive control. Feel like I'm coercively controlled by humanty in general. I must be bonkers, then. I like going abroad where no-one knows me cos I feel I can be myself properly then. Does that shed any light on it?

Myusernameismyusername Sun 29-May-16 00:23:29

If someone really had your best interests at heart they would probably be trying to help you through this, not making you feel like it's all your fault.
But then I have experienced family members attempting the concept be cruel to be kind and brutal honesty and sometimes it helps and sometimes it makes it worse

Do you have to see this person so much? If it is making you feel this way?

KindDogsTail Sun 29-May-16 00:32:30

Once it does sound as you may be very badly affected by the previous traumas you mentioned and the best way would be to ask your GP to arrange a counsellor for you.

The person you are mentioning just does not sound able to help, and there is probably no point in expecting your friend to understand your view. As another person said, maybe you should see less of your friend.

I am very sorry you feel so alone.

OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Sun 29-May-16 00:36:50

No, I dont have to see him but will then be completely alone. I just wish I had someone irl I could confide in. Only female friend is currently abroad for a year, and also has a tendency to get into relationships with shitty men so not necessarily the best barometer in that regard. But she's lovely.

OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Sun 29-May-16 00:38:21

A lovely MNer send me a present this week which was just lovely when I'm so down. But it's this two realities thing that's getting to me. I want to be a good person.

Myusernameismyusername Sun 29-May-16 00:47:43

I think you should maybe consider a bit of space, not to stop completely x

AugustMoon Sun 29-May-16 00:56:23

Sounds like you are experiencing, on some level, cognitive dissonance. This can make a person feel very uneasy. You need to start having some conviction, you want to be a good person, you believe you are a good person, something/someone else suggests you are not...?
Narcissists don't question themselves in this way, so stop worrying about that. Your sense of self is shaky and you seem to be a little overly introspective is all. You are not your thoughts or defined by them. Try some mindfulness and grounding and see if you can step out of the cycle.
And try to see less of your friend. See if it helps. I suspect it will.

OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Sun 29-May-16 01:01:06

I'm just scared cos I had to stop seeing my therapist cos I just wasn't coping with leaving the flat etc. She felt I neeed more support and contacted my GP. This was privately so they are used to professionals not people on benefits who are really disabled by their mentalness.

As far as services go, I've just had another assessment with local talking therapies service. But previously they have said I need secondary care. But there's a gap between services, you can be too severe for one but not qualify for another (round here, anyway. Others have noted this). Talking therapies in secondary care are cut to the bone. They also deem me unsuitable and keep focussing on what im supposedly doing wrong (which is based on a lot of assumptions) but not anything about past trauma (I'm on a thread in MH board... "lost souls lounge").

But then this also makes me think - what if they're right? What if everythings my fault somehow? But then I've connected with some awesome people including a local MH charity thing and spoken to people who understand where I'm coming from and are quite against traditional psychiatry etc (interesting feminist critiques etc, plus the way they just dont really 'do' trauma.) But maybe I'm deluding myself and seeking fellow deluded people? How does one know?

The real clincher is that there is stuff that I am certain of, whilst holding a different view to the mainstream. I often feel like an obsever of human behavior and ponder things and cross-reference to psychological research (am studying social sciences actually). It's like the classic thing in CBT where you replace unhelpful thoughts, only to replace the "im shit and not worth treating as well as others" explanation in my head involves research into alternative explanations. And you can't just ask people, people hate having their goes-without-saying-human-behviour questioned (and you sound like a dick stirring things up, rather than genuinely curious). So basically if I'm sure of something it's because it fits all available evidence, and I've carefully thought it through. And because I've had certain experiences, including seeing the frightening side of psychiatry, and sort of attracting abusers who are lovely to others (last ex was a friend before we got together. He totally changed), then I have a view infuenced by things others just dont know about/have no insight into. So the other things i'm unsure of I dont know whether to trust my gut (or brain, tbh) or assume others are right.

And aside from all this, I'd love to just have a brew and a natter with someone vaguely kind rather than feeling I have to act or justify myself. Must go to see people at MH charity place.

AugustMoon Sun 29-May-16 01:08:32

*The real clincher is that there is stuff that I am certain of, whilst holding a different view to the mainstream.* yeah, too much Mumsnet can do that to a person wink

AugustMoon Sun 29-May-16 01:13:51

Your therapy doesn't sound like its done you any favours. Like you say, its focussing on what you are doing wrong, which compounds the problem. Assuming you are doing anything wrong at all...? You seem to just be hyper aware of the numerous contradictions and inconsistencies of the human race. Why do you feel like you need to understand it all? Do you not think you'd be more at peace if you accept things to be complex and contradictory? And not all good or all bad. Are you splitting?

OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Sun 29-May-16 01:21:32

August Yes I think you're right. This is the thing that I feel instinctvely is at the heart of my issues. Sometimes I feel actually frozen to the spot because I don't know what the "correct" way to think, feel or act is. I feel like I'm standing between realities.

And people don't actually make sense, do they? Or at least, there are a lot of unknown factors so they appear to not make sense. I feel like I'm an alien researcher constantly assimilating new information and re-writing my planet earth guidebook. Which is weird because at other times I feel very human and empathise, I wish I could reach out and hug people rather than use words.

OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Sun 29-May-16 01:57:45

Your therapy doesn't sound like its done you any favours.

Sorry - should have made that clearer. The private therapy was fantastic to start with but stalled as I became less supported in real life (large part was losing my confidant to a LTR), so was having trouble dealing with the past as everyday was overwhelming. Also therapist very focussed on me getting more help from services and not really aware about how much they've been cut back. I found that quite invalidating especially as services like to say I've refused therapy (won't go into that here, long post on Mh thread explains.) I feel powerless and hopeless in the way certain others have the power to define a situation, and by extension me. Overall the therapy has helped though. If I look back, I can see that.

It was the assessments for therapy within NHS services that were very focussed on what I was doing wrong rather than dealing with my past. I did try to explain to the therapist that I often have nightmares and memories, and wake up feeling crap, and the main way this affects relationships is because I feel I should be happy, or I am so low I ask for support and am a burden on people too frequently (and they feel this!). So obvs I was trying to work through my past and feel better so I did not require so much support and could just get on with life. She wrote that I had a refusal to acknowledge how my actions caused my current difficulties...

I think I need to find a new private therapist, but im scared it's feeding narcisstic supply or something.

Why do you feel like you need to understand it all? Do you not think you'd be more at peace if you accept things to be complex and contradictory?

I suppose I feel I need to understand the relevant bits. I need to have some sort of, um, working model of the world in order to navigate it. For example, the example I gave of being very naive as to how much people should/would support each other and so on. I have changed my perceptions on this to make sense of the reality, including that perhaps I shouldn't help others until I have nothing left to give.

Are you splitting?

Thats an interesting question. I have been accused of this, but I think I "split" less than average for a human...

Offred Sun 29-May-16 07:11:18

You sound like ATM you feel the need for external validation of your 'truth'. A certain amount of that can be healthy but I think you are taking it to the extreme, which is not.

The other thing I see is that you've had bad experience with 'support' which seems to have affected your openness and your ability to believe in your 'truth' but has not stopped you needing extra support.

I am with you completely on the not 'doing' trauma thing! Everything is either 'you need CBT to change the way you think' or 'you won't accept the need to change the way you think you have BPD' with women I think.

swingofthings Sun 29-May-16 08:04:38

...but according to him, i'm angry and argumentative and thats why people dont care.
Could he have a point? Maybe he cares enough about you to be honest?

I had a friend who lost all her other friends because she was constantly angry, confrontational, and by being so, ended up putting everyone on edge, especially as you never knew what would happen. Thankfully, I was studying mental health issues, and knew she was under the care of a psychiatrist and being assessed for a potential diagnosis of bipolar (later confirmed). I knew that bouts of anger were symptoms of the illness.

As I was her only friend left, she used to spend most of our time together moaning about how other people were unfair to her and desperately trying to justify that everyone was abusing her, so one day, I decided to be honest with her and explain that her anger was very hard to deal with and that it wasn't easy not to end up taking it personally. Inevitably, she got very annoyed with me, before I knew it, I was labelled as 'no better than the others', and she walked off. I did keep in touch with her and at times she still responded, at others, she threw more anger at me.

That was until she got medicated and her illness was better controlled, with that her anger. She was back to the lovely calm person she was before and she was herself able to admit that she had been overwhelmed with anger that overtook her, but at the time, she couldn't do anything about it. She felt really bad at how she was treating people, but I reminded her that we all go through difficult times and it was ok.

I am in no way saying that you might suffer from a mental illness, I just used the above as a example of how it is possible that indeed, your dealing with your friends might come across as anger and conflict which they find very hard to handle, hence them stepping away from you. I think the best thing you can do is raise this as a main focus of discussion with your counsellor.

KindDogsTail Sun 29-May-16 12:45:20

I cannot really answer if your friend is abusive from what you have said, but only know that you seem to be very depressed and that for whatever reason you do not feel validated by him.

Somehow it feels as though you have exhausted yourself with over-thinking - perhaps going round in circles in your mind. And some how it seems almost as though your mind is taking over from a 'you' inside.

Would you be able to do something several times a week like 'yoga' where the breathing and movement brings the body and mind back together?
You would also have company around you then too.

There is also a way I think you might be able to help your self with your past trauma by getting a book called
Usually good second hand copies are available.
It isn't really just acupressure at all bit I won't go into it here - so don't go by the title. I have personally tried this and it has the effect of releasing memories one by one in a safe way as though layers of an onion are being peeled off.

It may well be that you need more help than either of these two things would provide, but the are both something that might help in a safe way for now.

Also, how are you eating? Are you eating good food regularly with protein, vegetables, whole fruit?
What about drinking alcohol? Marijuana/other? (I am very sorry if this question is misplaced but I do have family experience of these elements having ill effects. Even though someone has been using them to be soothed, in the end it goes the other way.)

Nutritional supplements that can help enormously are magnesium, B vitamins incl B12, Vit D, Zinc.

WesternMeadowlark Sun 29-May-16 14:42:09

I doubt I'll be able to follow this up because I'm in the middle of a load of stuff at the moment, so sorry in advance if I don't reply any further, but I really wanted to just say this:


"It freaks me out the way peoplle do this... I always wnt to know the truth of a situation, get to the nub of it, ask qustions, compare it to tother situations to know the right way forward. Others seem to close ranks and sort of go with the most popular view or person rather than what is the truth of fair. This is the point where I shoud mention I've been referred for an ASD assessment... although I read body language and facial expressions very well (when tested). This is another thing - my friend struggles with reading body language. Also with diplomacy. So he wouldnt agree to disagree on this - he's convinced me not accepting his view is wrong. But re. body language, he sometimes thinks Im imagining things but I swear I'm picking up something he's not. He sometimes acknowledges this."

Sounds like I could have written it. I completely know what you mean. I am autistic (but like you, good at reading people) and I think that might be behind a lot of this for me; I'm completely evidence- and logic-oriented. And most therapy/self-help for trauma, such as it is, assumes that the client is not that way. For example, there's a lot about regaining trust in people/systems and belief in yourself etc, and I don't really get those concepts. I have to instead focus on things like keeping an open mind with people/establishments I don't know and treating them as innocent until "proven" guilty in the interests of fairness. (It's usually weight of evidence rather than outright proof.)

Also, unless you find a really great therapist, there's often very little validation and understanding of how much the facts count for. Anyone can be gaslighted, but I do wonder whether people who place as much value on facts/reality as some autistic people do are more sensitive to behaviour that feels like it's going to end up as gaslighting. Say, if someone else doesn't seem to be as interested in what's true/untrue as we are, maybe it feels destabilising to us because we can't understand that lack of interest. I tend now to avoid forming relationships with people less evidence-oriented than I am (some of whom are also autistic; just because they are too doesn't mean we'll have compatible traits!), instead prioritising people who share my way of thinking.

If it turns out you do have ASD, that might help, as it could give you confidence to find resources/support that will work with the way your brain works naturally. If you don't, there still might be autism-related trauma resources that happen to suit you better than mainstream ones, even just blogs and things like that.

I know this isn't the main thing you were asking about, but I wanted you to at least know that you're not alone in having that particular experience.

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