If you ever have the time I would like to ask you if you could write how you have dealt with losing friendships due to this people believing NMIL lies and manipulations and not wanting no longer associate with you because you are "the bad guy" I'm having a hard time with this, some of the friendships DH and I lost were people who we were friends for years and didn't even knew who was NMIL and NFIL until contact by them so how this happened? how can a heal? how can I find peace?
Anon, you have raised such great questions here and I feel honored that you have asked me for my opinions. I'm going to break down my answers into a couple parts because I think it might make for easier reading, and I'd like to tackle two key components to the issue: How I have handled friendship losses, and how my husband has handled friendship losses.
Here we go:
Q. How is it possible that NMIL has turned your own friends against you?
A. In every case, I can not come up with one single instance where the people who turned against us were ever really loyal to us to begin with. In essence, anyone who knew my husband and called him their "friend" but who turned around so easily to side with NMIL, was never, at any point, a real friend. I can not come up with one example of my husband's past relationships where the individuals in question did not automatically side with his FOO. I like to use Exhibit A often as a prime example of the "friend who was never really a friend."
First, a bit of background: Exhibit A had been present in DH's life from the time they were both young children. Their presence in each others' lives had been predetermined by their FOOs long before they had the power to make up their own minds about what kind of relationship they would have. Fine, this often happens with young children - parents simply get to make the choice about who their children associate with at a young age. So, DH and Exhibit A grew up together. They had no choice. They attended each others' social events, they had mutual acquaintances, their parents were "friends." Exhibit A was like many of the children that DH grew up with: female, superficial, and taught to be dependent on my husband, even as a child, for their emotional well-being. DH called her a "friend" because he didn't know what a real friend was. He didn't realize that he had a choice in the matter, and that this person (like so many others) had never truly been loyal to him or wanted him to be happy.
When DH met me and fell in love, the drama really started. All of the people in his past life stomped their feet and waved their arms, trying to get DH's attention back on them. They cried, they manipulated, they gossiped. They listened to NMIL's lies because they were already vapid and disloyal to begin with.
I can't say I ever officially "met" Exhibit A. We happened to be at the same party in the same house, but we were never introduced. The reason is this: Exhibit A knew her place. She is far too insignificant a person in my husband's life to have introduced herself to me, or for him to have introduced me to her. Simply put: Exhibit A was as unimportant to my husband as my husband was to her. The biggest difference is that my husband would never have gone out of his way to try to hurt her, slight her, or badmouth her behind her back. HE has more class than that.
The day after the party at which we were both present but not introduced, Exhibit A wrote a long rant on her blog (which I didn't find until about a year later, but trust me, I didn't need to ever find it to know these were the kinds of things being said) which included phrases like this: "I HATE YOUR GIRLFRIEND. SHE'S NASTY AND ANNOYING. AND CONTROLLING. AND NOT ATTRACTIVE. I can't believe you would get yourself into this." And this: "Your family and friends don't like her." And this, "You found the wrong girl." Sheesh, honey, insecure much? Jealous much? Hateful much? Disloyal much? And, not only did she not have the balls to say any of this to my husband directly, but she didn't possess the empathy necessary to come across as being someone who was acting out of anything other than her own personal selfish agenda.
I've pointed out to DH what is obvious to me in circumstances like this: People like Exhibit A are not, nor have they ever been, his real friends. Three days after the birth of our DD, Exhibit A wrote the following email to DH:
From: Exhibit A
Sent: November 3, 2009
Heyy SIL told me the good news! Congrats to you and [my name spelled wrong]!! How are mom & baby doing? When are you going to be in town? I can't wait to meet your little baby girlll! :) Let me know if you need anything. :)
Vapid, I know. But can you see the switch? Can you see the obviously fake, over-the-top declaration of her "love" for my husband? This twit who just a few months back was declaring her hatred of the mother of his baby, and hoping for the end of their relationship, was turning around and professing her "care" and "concern" for them. DH fed into her lies unknowingly. He believed that just because she said she cared, it meant she actually did. He told her he "hoped she could meet DD soon" and that we'd be up her way in a few months, so maybe that would be a possibility.
On her blog, this is what she had to say just six days after that brief email exchange: "My best friend had a baby! Well, his fiance did. It's bittersweet though. She completely changed him. I haven't seen him since the Fourth of July because of her! Ugh she makes me so angry. I haven't even seen the baby since she was born...I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I just feel like she hates me, and I barely even know her. I think I've spoken once to her, and I said "Hello". DH and I spent a while trying to figure out what could have possibly gotten her panties all in a twist. The most likely thing we came up with is that a few days after this email was sent, DH emailed her again and politely requested that she remove the photo of our daughter that she had posted on her Facebook page without our knowledge or consent. So, like...was that her idea of her "best friend" being completely changed? Because before, he totally would have let her post pictures of him and his most private moments...or the most private moments of his loved ones...all over her Facebook page and not said anything about it? And now all of a sudden, he had the gall (the nerve!) to ask her to remove a photo of his infant daughter from the nosy eyes of the internet?
And it's funny, isn't it, Dear Reader, when you take a look at who it is that she's professing is doing all the "hating." Funny, also, that this person who was STILL calling my husband her "best friend" could really be saying these kinds of things. What kind of person did she think her "best friend" was, that he could be so "completely changed" so easily by someone else? How funny that she thought she was important enough to have met our infant daughter, just days after her birth. Let's face it, Dear Reader, the only people who are lucky enough to see a newborn are usually the immediate family and closest loved ones of the new parents. People who are less important don't get to see the baby in the hospital, or even at home in the weeks that follow baby's arrival. Having a baby is much too special a time to share with non-important, invasive, and obnoxiously vapid people.
So again, I'll point out the obvious: Exhibit A, like so many others, was no friend.
And there is more, Dear Reader. The following is something that I have not previously shared on my blog. On November 4, 2010, Exhibit A had a short interlude with a fellow blogger:
Exhibit A wrote:
he’s too weak to stick up for our 18 year “best friendship” for a year of knowing her...it sucks & i’m sorry someone else has to feel this kind of thing.
Exhibit A's Blogger Buddy:
wow! 18 years makes my 7 years look like nothing. It's a terrible feeling. You'd think that if two friends make it through at least few years together, anything that happens can be worked out. I was sad when he was just living 2 hours away because I couldn't see him like I used to. When I heard about everything that happened, I've felt...weird. Like, I cried the day I heard about it...and that's it. Kind of a numb feeling. It sucks, I'm sorry you had to go through it too!
yeah, when you hear things so out of character, it puts you back. i was stunned. this happened a little over a year & it’s still hard. we haven’t spoken, really, since he told me. it might take time to forgive, but if he’s honestly sorry, he’ll show it.
Before I go into my analysis of Exhibit A's ridiculousness, I first have to say that I briefly looked into her blogger buddy's story. Dear Reader, Exhibit A was comparing her own story to that of someone who wrote about losing a guy friend whom she had romantic inclinations toward because he chose a path of drugs and crime. Wow! I mean, what a comparison to make with the man who fell in love, got married, and had babies. Striking, the similarities there, eh?
Having said that, this commentary, in which Exhibit A claimed that my DH should be looking for her forgiveness, occurred almost a year to the day after the birth of our DD. This commentary begs the question: What is it she thinks he should be sorry for? Having a baby? Getting married? Choosing his wife over any of his past relationships? Choosing his wife over Exhibit A? Choosing his daughter over Exhibit A? Choosing the depth created by only one year of knowing his wife over the superficiality of knowing Exhibit A for eighteen years?
It's puzzling, Dear Reader, it truly is, that anyone who calls themselves a friend could claim, "this happened a little over a year & it’s still hard. we haven’t spoken, really, since he told me." What is the "this" she refers to, if not the birth of his daughter? It's bizarre, at best, lunacy at worst.
Again, Dear Reader, this is all evidence that Exhibit A was never really a friend. So, if the question is: How is it possible that NMIL has turned your own friends against you? Then the answer must be: They already were against you.
Q: Okay, but what about in instances that aren't as obvious as this? What about the friendships you had more faith in? How did those friends get to be so easily convinced that people like myself or anon were the "bad guys?"
A: This answer is kind of two-fold. First, I'd like to talk about my DH's so-called friendships with Pig and Double Agent. Both of these individuals were considered by my husband, at different times, his "best friend." Double Agent was the best man at our wedding. Pig was his best friend throughout most of high school and college. But let me ask you this, Dear Readers and Friends: Would a friend who was truly loyal to my husband, and who respected him, be okay with NMIL calling them up to vent about his new girlfriend? Would a friend who was truly loyal to my husband be okay with NMIL sending him secretive emails in which she discussed her "concerns" about DH marrying the woman he was in love with? Would a friend who truly knew my husband believe her when she said, "He doesn't really love her, she's just controlling him," or would he believe my husband who said, "I love her!" Would a friend who was truly loyal to my husband be okay with receiving a secret invitation to her holiday party, against my husband's knowledge? Would a friend who was truly loyal to my husband still want to attend that holiday party, even knowing that my husband would not be there? Would a friend who was truly loyal to my husband try to sabotage any relationship that truly made my husband happy? Would a friend who was truly loyal spend more time trying to convince him to make amends with his mother than he would listening to and feeling for my husband? The list goes on and on, Dear Reader, and the answer to all of these questions is one hundred percent NO. These behaviors don't describe a person worthy of being called "friend." How did my husband deal with the losses of these friendships? He fought it at first, unable to believe that the people he'd known since childhood did not have his best interests at heart, nor did they ever. Then, he mourned his losses, coming to realize that they were never fighting for him to begin with. Then, he cut his losses. Had he done anything else, he would have risked drowning.
He could not remain in contact with people who chose to believe so easily that his wife had "changed him." He could not remain in contact with people who continued to communicate with his NM, especially after he asked them to stop. He could not remain in contact with people, even those he once considered friends, who cared so little about his thoughts and feelings.
The second aspect of my answer is, of course, how I have handled my own loss of friendships. Now, unlike Anon, I had the "pleasure" of experiencing two manipulative relationships in my recent past: one with a long-term boyfriend, and one with a friend/roommate. I did not go into my relationship with NMIL or her pions, having any sort of disillusions that I could maintain healthy friendships with any of them. The only person I would have considered a "friend" would have been Double Agent's wife, whom I'll call Freckles.
Freckles and I got along well and I liked her. Had the circumstances been different - had her husband not been a cruel, holier-than-thou, pompous and arrogant jerk who maintained loyalties to NMIL, I could have been her friend. Freckles had been the one to inform me that NMIL had invited them to her holiday party that year. Her reason for telling me was because she wanted to know if DH and I were going to be attending. I told her no and gave her some of our reasons. Then I turned the tables and asked her if she found it strange at all that they might be attending a party of NMIL's without my husband being there. She said, "Yes, actually. It used to be that we'd go to the party and hang out with DH. Now, we'll be going to the party and hanging out with...NMIL...and her friends." I also asked her if she found it strange that their invitation to the party had been separate from the invitation NMIL had sent to my husband. She found that a little strange too.
But in the end, her loyalties were to her husband, who was determined to go to NMIL's party, with or without his supposed "best friend." They attended NMIL's holiday party, not just that year, but the next as well, without DH in attendance.
And in more recent months, when DH finally worked up the nerve to confront Double Agent about this behavior, Double Agent had this to say: When I was having serious relationship troubles with my mom (junior year of college) I didn't just write her off. I worked on the relationship and didn't try to destroy it further by ignoring her at holidays and important events. It's obvious that you're not interested in reconciliation...Do you think that avoiding important things like her Christmas party two years in a row is doing anything but demonstrating a resolve not to be reconciled?
In the meantime, I had to deal with the loss of my almost-but-not-quite-friendship with Freckles. We had the following email exchange:
Sent: Tue, June 7, 2011 @ 5:22 PM
So I was trying to wait to talk to you till our husband's were talking in a friendly way since you didn't seem to want to talk if they weren't talking...but its been awhile and I'm wondering how you are doing...I'm little confused about what's going on with your DH and Double Agent - Double Agent doesn't think your DH needs anymore help than anyone else (I mean literally anyone) so I'm kinda confused why they're having problems- or maybe that's just an underlying issue of something I don't know. Double Agent really respects your DH and doesn't see him or anyone who has different beliefs about anything as less than anybody else. As you and I very much know, they aren't great communicators, and maybe Double Agent is just failing to communicate that his world view is that no one is perfect and that everyone (himself, me, the best people you know) still need some kind of help. That doesn't make one person less than another, it just means we're all equal in being imperfect. The other thing that confuses me is that Double Agent isn't trying to help your DH, your DH brought it up to begin with and I'm guessing it came from a conversation with you since you tend to have meaningful conversations, so that's why I don't understand his offense to my husband's answer. I'd hate to see them end a lifelong friendship over what seems to be a misunderstanding or miscommunication...if this is really even the issue to begin with. If I make no sense or am totally off base, its probably because Double Agent doesn't always make sense when he tells me stuff. Anyway, I've stayed out of it for awhile telling myself it's not my place to get involved, but the possibility of losing his best friend is hurting Double Agent, and I obviously care about him a lot. Maybe you could shed some light on it since I'm sure you and your DH have talked, or talk to your DH, or...some other kind of help...This e-mail wasn't supposed to be about them, I just thought of you today and wondered how you were.
Sent: Thu, June 9, 2011 @ 8:25:11 AM
Subject: re: hi
I am really glad to hear that you are well - I've been thinking of you the past few weeks. I can tell you don't really understand what's going on and I'm genuinely sorry to say that I can't clarify it for you.
But I do want you to know that I really am sad things are working out this way. I don't want to hurt your feelings or make you think that I am choosing not to have a relationship with you because of something you have done. You have been a kind and thoughtful friend, and I haven't honestly had many of those in my life. I wish that things had worked out differently. From my heart, I wish you well.
Sent: Tue, June 7, 2011 @ 5:22 PM
Subject: re: re: hi
Thanks for the nice e-mail :) I wish we could be friends :( Maybe the guys will get it figured out.
Yep, I am definitely confused, but so is Double Agent. First it was an out of the blue e-mail that said Double Agent needed to stop communicating with your DH's mom (a reasonable request but there hasn't been a single word exchanged since christmas anyway) with a threat that if he didn't your DH couldn't be friends with him. I figured your DH is just learning how to confront people so its gonna be a little rough in the beginning. Then it's this difference in religious beliefs thing and how Double Agent must therefore look down on your DH. It's like your DH is fishing for a good excuse to end their friendship and not telling Double Agent the real reason. I definitely understand not wanting to tell me what is going on, but maybe you could pass the message on to your DH that Double Agent respects him and is hurting over losing his best friend, especially without understanding what he did to deserve it...? I hope they get whatever is wrong worked out (or at least talk in person about it) and that things are going great for you.
I explained my feelings about all of this to my dear, dear friend Upsi, in an email. I never responded to Freckles' last email to me. These were my thoughts, which I shared with Upsi:
DH and I discussed - he said Freckles' email didn't sit well with him and he couldn't put his finger on why. I think it's just more of the same - She seems to want ME to be the go between, and to act as the protector of HER HUSBAND'S honor. She told me to "pass the message on to my DH that Double Agent respects him and is hurting over losing his best friend, especially without understanding what he did to deserve it...?" In other words, She wants me to tell DH that Double Agent respects him (I don't believe that) and that he's hurting (He may be, but there isn't anything I can do about that; that's up to Double Agent to fix) and that my husband didn't do a good enough job explaining the problem.
I can see that she cares about her husband. Bully for them, I suppose. But this is not the way to go about helping anyone. I can't and won't convey any messages from them to my husband - besides the fact that it doesn't make any sense (and stinks of drama), I disagree with what they seem to want to tell my husband anyway. And, HELLO, if Double Agent had a problem with any of this, he should have said so, instead of emailing my husband in the past few weeks about video games and other inane topics. (DH did not respond to these emails when he received them). It's absolutely ridiculous for me to give my husband a message from Freckles, from Double Agent. Like, whoa holy-watered-down communication here, Batman!
There is a part of me that wants to say: Understanding is overrated. I wish things had turned out differently.
By the end of DH's talk with Double Agent, he was no longer asking for understanding because he wasn't going to get it. He was asking for Double Agent to respect his feelings and needs. It doesn't matter if Double Agent understands, it only matters that he does what my DH asked of him, which was perfectly reasonable. I like "I wish things had turned out differently" because, unlike the last time I used those words, it sounds much more final. I already told Freckles, twice now, that I'm not going to talk about this with her, and both times, she came back with, "Okay, I understand. BUT..." which means she doesn't really understand.
I felt Upsi's take on all of this was only the teensiest bit harsh. Mostly, it made me laugh, and I welcomed her honest opinions. It helped me get over the friendship that never was. (Upsi's commentary in blue):
Thanks for the nice e-mail :) [TRANSLATION: WOW I EXPECTED YOU TO BE A BIG BITCH, INSERT MEANINGLESS SMILEY FACE] I wish we could be friends :( [TRANSLATION: I WISH YOU WERE THE KIND OF WOMAN WHO WOULD TRASH TALK HER HUSBAND WITH ME, INSERT LAME FROWNY FACE]. Maybe the guys will get it figured out. [TRANSLATION: WITHOUT OUR HELP, THESE DUMBASS MEN ARE DOOMED]
Yep, I am definitely confused, but so is Double Agent. [TRANSLATION: IF DH HAD DONE A BETTER JOB EXPLAINING THIS, WE WOULD BE ABLE TO RESPECT HIS FEELINGS AND WISHES - WITHOUT AN EXPLANATION WE CAN ACCEPT, WE DO NOT RESPECT HIM] First it was an out of the blue e-mail that said Double Agent needed to stop communicating with DH's mom (a reasonable request but there hasn't been a single word exchanged since christmas anyway) with a threat that if he didn't DH couldn't be friends with him. [TRANSLATION: IF DH HAS SUCH A BIG PROBLEM, HE SHOULD HAVE SAID SOMETHING EARLIER THAN HIS EMAIL "OUT OF THE BLUE" - HE'S WRONG ABOUT Double Agent'S COMMUNICATIONS WITH NMIL AND HIS "THREAT" WAS UNFAIR] I figured DH is just learning how to confront people so its gonna be a little rough in the beginning. [TRANSLATION: DH IS AN EMOTIONAL CRIPPLE AND HE'S JUST LEARNING HOW TO DO THINGS NORMAL ADULTS DO, AND WE HAVE TO PAY THE PRICE - BUT WE'RE GOOD CHRISTIANS AND WE "UNDERSTAND"]. Then it's this difference in religious beliefs thing and how Double Agent must therefore look down on DH. [TRANSLATION: DOUBLE AGENT WOULD NEVER LOOK DOWN ON ANYONE, HE'S AN AMAZING PERSON WITH NOTHING BUT LOVE FOR DH (EYEROLL)] It's like DH is fishing for a good excuse to end their friendship and not telling Double Agent the real reason.[TRANSLATION: DH IS TOO WEAK AND PUSSIFIED TO COME RIGHT OUT AND SAY WHAT HE FEELS, SO HE MUST BE LOOKING FOR AN EXCUSE TO CUT US OFF WITHOUT HAVING TO DEAL WITH OUR FEELINGS ABOUT IT] I definitely understand not wanting to tell me what is going on [TRANSLATION: YOU SHOULD BE TELLING ME WHAT'S GOING ON], but maybe you could pass the message on to DH that Double Agent respects him and is hurting over losing his best friend, especially without understanding what he did to deserve it...? [TRANSLATION: WILL YOU ASSIST ME IN GAINING THE UPPER HAND IN THIS CONFLICT SO THAT WE DON'T FEEL BAD ANYMORE AND WE CAN REST EASY THAT IT'S ALL DH'S FAULT?] I hope they get whatever is wrong worked out (or at least talk in person about it) and that things are going great for you, [TRANSLATION: WHATEVER IS WRONG COULDN'T POSSIBLY BE A FUNDAMENTAL INCOMPATIBILITY BETWEEN THEM, SO LET'S GET THIS THING WRAPPED UP SO WE DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT IT ANYMORE - THEY SHOULD TALK IN PERSON BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT WE BELIEVE IS THE SOLUTION TO ALL THIS NONSENSE - OH BY THE WAY HOPE YOU'RE GREAT!! PHONY INSINCERE EXPRESSIONS OF GOODWILL ALWAYS WORK FOR ME IN SUGARCOATING MY SHITTY MESSAGES].
I feel that your DH has ALREADY expressed his feelings, and Double Agent/Freckles don't give a fuck about them because they don't "understand" - i.e. cannot have empathy for their so-called friend. His explanation requires their approval, and if they don't understand (i.e. agree), then he's an asshole. Her email is laced with insults to DH, and paints Double Agent as an innocent victim of your DH's inability to deal with normal everyday conflicts between friends. Nothing could be further from the truth!
If Double Agent is so concerned, he shouldn't have been playing dumb sending emails about video games like nothing was wrong - and if he's going to be an arrogant Christian asshole, why should DH engage in further wrangling when it's clear that they aren't open for honest dialogue??????
That's it, NO MORE MR. NICE UPSI!
Anyway, that was the long-winded answer to the question: What about the friendships you had more faith in? How did those friends get to be so easily convinced that people like myself or anon were the "bad guys?" The short answer is: It didn't take much convincing because they were already convinced of it. No loyal friend who knows you well and has at least half a brain could be so easily fooled by any NMIL's ridiculous manipulations.
And finally, last question:
Q: How can you heal and find peace after NMIL has destroyed any of the relationships you had that she could have sunk her disgusting claws into?
A: Understand that anyone who could be so easily swayed by NMIL was never really loyal to you to begin with, and then find authentic, more meaningful relationships. Easier said than done, I know, particularly if you've not had many loyal friends over the years. But the truth of the matter is that narcs will destroy any relationships you have with any mutual party because anyone who chooses to be a "mutual party" with a narc is just drinking the Koolaide anyway. It's a harsh and sad truth, but it's the only way I know how to say it. A true friend would never betray you to your NMIL or any other manipulative person. My advice would be to start forging friendships with people who are genuine and bright enough to see the dangers of allying themselves with narcs. Living in reality and in Truth, is the only way I want to live. Period.
Anon, I'm sorry if I've bowled you over with my long-winded opinions. I share only what I know from my own personal experiences, and I would be particularly interested in hearing from anyone who has had experiences that differ from my own. I hope that I've answered all of your questions and that you might benefit, even in some small way from my insights. I was sorry to hear that you and your loved ones have been hurt by a narcissist, but I'm happy to know that you're out there seeking answers. Keep fighting the good fight, Anon.