When looking back over my friendship with my ex-friend who has OCPD, I recall that there were many good times we shared, but they are quickly fading. I learnt the hard way that the friendship was a lie. I served a purpose and when my usefulness expired, so did the friendship.
I recall one Wednesday at work in late July, a colleague and friend said to me and my (now) ex-friend, “You’re going to get sick of each other sooner or later”. We both laughed at the suggestion. After all, we spent a lot of time together and never grew tired of each other’s company. Our friendship was solid…or so I thought.
The fractures in the friendship began to appear sooner, much sooner, than later. In fact, “sooner” was just the very next evening on the Thursday. As we were still close at the time, I noticed that my friend was stressed and asked her as to what the cause was or how I might assist her.
I guess she lacked insight at first. She said she felt stressed but didn’t know why. Her anxiety and stress was palpable. She couldn’t sit still or relax. She would get up and down, doing goodness knows what. I put on a movie and fell asleep on the couch. My friend still appeared stressed when I awoke. Again I asked her if I could do anything to relieve some of her stress.
She then said to me, “You know why I’m stressed?”
I answered, “Why?”.
She said, “It’s because of you”.
At first I thought she was joking, but then she went on to mention a few trivial matters, such as me not filling up her ice cube trays (she said I was mad that she had no ice in her freezer…WTF?! As if I’d be mad about no ice) and helping around the house if I saw that something needed to be done.
Okay. That seemed reasonable and fair. I could tell now, though, that she wasn’t kidding around. I said I would help out more, but that I’d just taken a sick day that very same day because I was feeling under the weather. She hadn’t finished. She went on to mention the dinners that she had cooked for me and proceeded to tell me how she always was the one to do everything when she was growing up at home and that it’s just the same now with making me dinner and buying groceries.
WTF?! She was making herself sound like such a victim and was comparing me to her mother (who would have belongings repossessed after failing to meet her financial obligations and was a gambling addict) and her brothers (who were both well into their 20s, still lived at home, were unemployed, trashed their mother’s house and smoked weed all day).
I was so offended that she would compare me to her brothers who are just a pair of lazy, freeloading stoners. Being compared to her mother was also offensive, given that her mother was an irresponsible and apathetic adult/parent.
I had done so much good for my friend, and now it seemed like she’d forgotten all of it. Not only that, but obviously she was harbouring resentments against me whilst doing, what I though were kind and thoughtful acts. To top it off, she just wouldn’t stop talking about how hard it was growing up in a house where she was the only responsible person.
I was in shock and felt hurt. I knew that her stress was about more than just me not filling up the ice cube trays or buying a few groceries on my way home from work. I knew that she was stressed at work and that her contract would be ending in 4 months which had sent her into panic mode over the previous few weeks. But still, I felt like I could no longer trust my friend. Unbeknownst to me, even when everything seemed fine between us, she was really jotting mental notes and keeping tally of ‘who had done what’ in her head.
She said that my mistakes were “no big deal”, but it’s obvious that they were worth keeping note of and bringing up at some later date. She clearly saw herself as a victim and that I was like her family whom she was always denigrating.
Anyway, I really didn’t want to sit around and hear how hard done by she was growing up, so I interrupted and said I was going to bed. She could tell I was upset and followed me up the stairs to my room. I told her that it was late and that I was okay. She was freaking out and wanted to find out why I was upset. I just told her that it was too late to discuss it because I had work again in the morning.
I guess I didn’t know how upset I really was at the time. It’s not that her criticisms of me were severe…it was that she had been acting as if everything was fine for some time when really she was resentful toward me. That jeopardised my trust in her. Things weren’t as they appeared. Could I trust her again? Was she now just beginning to show her true colours?
She had always said that she would tell me if she had any issues with me as they occurred, but she didn’t. She was acting like I was a freeloader when I always paid my share for everything and contributed my time and energies into helping her around her home. I’d also bought her things for her home to make her more comfortable and so had my mother.
That Thursday night was the day I learnt that things were not as they seemed with her. Underneath her sweet facade was a highly critical and resentful human being that believed she was a victim. I was gutted.
The next day I spoke to her about how I was feeling. I said that I still felt upset about what she’d said and wanted those feelings to go away. In trying to console me, she mentioned that she had more resentments, such as me not cleaning out the kitty-litter tray of the cat she was looking after for a friend. The cat lived in her part of the house. It was her friend’s cat, not mine. She was the one who had agreed to take care of it for 3 weeks. All she would have had to do was ask me to clean the tray and I would have done so. She never asked. I didn’t know it was stressing her out so much. She mentioned more trivial things that I had or hadn’t done, so instead of consoling me, she influenced me to feel much worse.
Now I knew she was definitely ‘keeping score’ and resenting the hell out of me. Then she decided that I was too annoying with “all [my] emotions” and decided that it would be for both our good if she went away for the weekend. Thanks for making a decision for me without discussing it with me first!
We had originally planned to have some of my friends over for dinner on Saturday night, but I had cancelled it in case she was really harbouring resentment about having them over…I just couldn’t be sure anymore so I thought I’d err on the side of caution. I didn’t want to add to her stress levels. I think she took this badly and decided to get away from me. I needed to discuss and resolve the issues with her rather than just ruminate over them all weekend which I know would make me feel worse. She had decided she would leave town that night and that we would both feel better (maybe she would, but this wouldn’t work for me) about it after a weekend apart. I was even more hurt because it was one of my last weekends that I would have to spend with her before going overseas for 5 months.
I told her that I needed to resolve things and that she was just making things worse by bringing up grudge after grudge that she’d been hiding. I didn’t care that she was going to visit a friend out of town for the weekend…it was her reason for going that was hurtful. It was because she wanted to get away from me and had no desire to resolve things. I wrote her an email at work and told her to go and screw herself…or something to the same effect. I was hurt and upset.
On the way home I called her and told her that she could take her friend’s cat away that weekend with her because I wouldn’t be taking care of it while she was gone. Then I abruptly hung up on her. Later that night I apologised for being so rude on the phone and explained that I was angry that she had just criticised me for not helping take care of her friends cat, which was never my responsibility, then expected me to look after it for the weekend. Regardless of my apology, she never forgot or forgave me for that abrupt phone call. To her, it was the worst thing I ever did and she would bring it up every time I mentioned I had felt hurt by something she’d done to me.
That night, she decided to leave to go to her friend’s house (in a town a few hours drive away) the next morning, which gave us an opportunity to resolve matters. That’s when I really could see how easily persuaded her opinions were by what other people would say. She said that our recent conflict was due to us spending far too much time together. In actual fact, it was because I was beginning to learn that someone I had trusted so much was incredibly untrustworthy and resented me…this hurt and saddened me…this scared her because she thought she was losing her only friend in town…which made me feel terrible that I had disappointed her and scared her so much without meaning to.
I had tried to widen her social network by introducing her to my friends and including her when we went out for a meal, etc. She eventually criticised me for trying to help her meet more people because she saw it as me undermining her ability to make friends on her own. I was just trying to help, but she wouldn’t acknowledge that I might care about her and only have good intentions.
Anyway, we were able to resolve things that night and everything was good and back to normal. Then she brought up more resentments about opinions I had expressed so long ago that I couldn’t remember saying them. I conceded that I probably had said whatever she had a gripe about because it consistent with my beliefs. Again, it was trivial, but it was an issue to her because she didn’t agree with what I’d said. Then, just out of the blue, she said, “I’m tired now. I’m going to bed”. She had just opened another can of worms after we’d resolved the issues and then said she was going to bed. What a jerk!
In Retrospect I Can See All the Symptoms of OCPD
So many times she would get mad about the stupidest of things like whether or not to have children. She believed that children were career killers and that there is nothing as important as work. She is the only person I have ever met that was delighted after having a miscarriage. It’s no wonder that ‘Revolutionary Road’ is one of her favourite movies. She would often talk about how taking a whole box of contraceptive pills would bring on a miscarriage if someone *hypothetically* had an unwanted pregnancy. I was secretly horrified.
If I didn’t agree with her opinions she would keep coming back, even hours or days later with more reasons why having children is a bad idea. I couldn’t have cared less if she had different opinions to me, but she couldn’t stand it. It wasn’t just with me…it was with everyone. She was right and everyone else who didn’t agree with her was wrong. She made it her duty to tell us all just how wrong we were. I would usually just tell her that it’s okay for two people to have different views on any given topic. Now I know that one of the symptoms of OCPD is that sufferers believe that what they think is correct almost all the time. No wonder she wouldn’t let other people have their own opinions.
She even became suspicious and paranoid about everything kind that I had done for her in the past. She said that I must have had some “agenda”, but she didn’t know what it was. She thought that maybe I was trying to keep her in town by buying her things and being kind to her. At the time, I couldn’t believe that she would think like that about me! I guess she never really knew me. She knew that I’d done nice things for heaps of people. I asked her what she thought was my “agenda” with them. She couldn’t answer it, but thought my motives must have been sinister. Even if I apologised she said she didn’t believe I was earnest.
I told her that I was a kind and thoughtful person because that was how I’d been raised. I reminded her that my mother had also bought her household items and gifts, and that she’d even helped her clean her old place before moving to the downstairs portion of my home. I told her that I’d leant to be generous from my mother and that I wanted nothing from her except her friendship. She didn’t believe me. I recalled that the first time I did something nice to her she said that she was wary of accepting anything from anyone because people really had agendas and were just trying to use her in some way. I now wonder if that was true or if her scared brain just made it up.
Anyway, I asked her what benefit my mother could derive from buying things for her and helping her to clean. She couldn’t answer this, but she maintained that I was just trying to control her. She was totally mental! I was really hurt that she thought like this at the time. In fact, when she first ended the friendship, she told me to go downstairs and take back everything I’d ever given her. I wrote her a note explaining that everything I’d given her was hers and that I understood if she wanted to dispose of it, but that that was her decision to make. My friend was clearly morphing into someone else, but at the time I still thought that I was to blame for everything bad she thought about me and the friendship. When I found out she had enough traits of OCPD to warrant a diagnosis I was able to stop taking things so personally, but it still took a long time to recover from all her unkindness, rejection and betrayal.
People with OCPD also define themselves in terms of their career. It makes sense to me why my ex-friend would resent having children and believe that they ruin careers, despite the example of our young, successful manager being a wife and mother. She was so proud always of how “independent” she was…at the age of 26. I didn’t think this was much of an achievement at her age, but she was fiercely protective of her independence and reluctant to accept help from others.
People with OCPD are also highly critical and will harbour grudges, even recalling past conversations verbatim. They obsess over the most trivial things when they perceive things in life as being ‘out of order’. This is especially true when they are stressed. Everything seems to be disorganised and chaotic when they are suffering an episode of stress. Stress is what brings the personality disorder traits out of hiding and you begin to see a whole new side them…this is common to all the PDs. It can be like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
OCPDers think that their way of doing things is the only correct way. For my ex-friend, she was very closed minded in regard to using new cleaning products or learning new ways of doing things (amongst other things). She had already established that her way was the only right way and she was sticking to it forever! If she didn’t have an opinion on a topic, she would adopt the most popular opinion to avoid being seen as wrong or unintelligent. She was very insecure about her intelligence. She would often look at me for an extended time after espousing some belief…she was constantly gauging my response.
It is unlikely that people with OCPD will admit they are ever wrong or apologise. They are likely to blame you or someone else for their mistakes or problems. This is why my friend blamed me for all of her stress! It wasn’t my fault, but she led me to believe that it was all my fault. They are highly sensitive to criticism, but can be very critical and intolerant of others’ mistakes 🙂 There were many times when she would respond angrily to me after something so inane, such as when I told her to “be safe on the roads” when she was taking a road trip one time. She was stressed at the time and retorted that she was not a child and had been driving for many years. I just wanted her to be safe because I cared about her. I wasn’t trying to criticise her driving skills. I just cared about her.
OCPDers are rigid and unlikely to see the ‘grey’ in life. Everything is black and white to them. They dichotomise everything…even people. In my ex-friend’s mind I was ‘good’ for a time, but when I became “unpredictable” (to use her word), I became scary and ‘bad’ because things were getting messy and not organised the way she wanted it. She was losing control and it stressed her out.
She was already stressed because she was having to look for another job in 4 months…this is a nightmare for someone with OCPD because they define themselves and take much pride in their career and achievements. Like many OCPD sufferers, my ex-friend catastrophised about not having another job, so she began looking for jobs very early and took the first one she was offered, which turned out to be a hasty move that had more costs than benefits (she hated the new job in sales and it paid much less).
Another interesting thing about my friend being OCPD is that after she quit her job at my work (which was in her chosen career) to work in another job in sales, she didn’t update her Facebook page to reflect her new place of employment. In fact, she just left her job and employer the same on her profile, even after she had updated other things on Facebook, like deleting our mutual friends. When she left the city I live in to move back to her home city, she got her old waitressing job back, where she’d worked as a uni student. As far as I know, she still works there but still hasn’t updated her Facebook profile to reflect the job she now has. In the past week she updated her profile to say that she was a previous employee at the place I still work. I guess being a previous employee at my work (in her mind) projects a more accomplished image of herself to her Facebook friends (most of whom are not really her friends but people she now despises and only keeps as ‘friends’ to monitor how ugly or fat they now are…I’m not even kidding…she told me that this is why she kept them as ‘friends’).
My ex-friend was a confused walking-contradiction. She says she hates superficial people, yet she was the one always obsessing over her appearance, her hair (cutting off the split ends at work) and how fat or ugly other people were. She called me up seeking support when she was depressed, anxious and stressed and rejected me a few weeks later for the very same symptoms. She was so proud of herself that she’d moved away from her home city to pursue a career and meet new people, but when she moved back home she said that she just wanted to get back to being her old self. She criticised her best friend back home for being with such a “stupid guy” and continuing to live the same life and have the same problems as she had years ago. When she went back home, she wanted to resume her old life with her old job (that she had criticised to me many times, but when she resumed working there she said she secretly loved it because the staff were like family to her).
She criticised me when I became excessively anxious and depressed in the fallout of her ostracising me and erasing me from Facebook and her life, ignoring me, avoiding eye contact, telling me never to contact her again, saying she did not want to reconcile and a bunch of nasty things about me. However, it was okay for her to be traumatised for 8 months after her last boyfriend (that she dated for 4 weeks) called her a “slut” when he was upset that she was leaving town. She couldn’t even think about him without crying. If we went to a place that they’d once been together, or even drove past a turn off that reminded her of him she would start crying and emotionally shut down. She would totally dissociate and wouldn’t hear a word I said. She and that particular ex-boyfriend had left on fairly good terms, but that didn’t stop her being traumatised over calling her “slut”. What a hypocrite.
Feedback I Have Received About My Ex-Friend Since She Ended the Friendship
I guess when you’re friends with someone, people know not to mention criticisms of your friend to you…until the friendship ends…then everyone tells you what hey really thought!
One of my friends perceived my ex-friend as “fake” when she met her. My Mother noticed the rigidity and stubbornness along with the vanity and emotional immaturity. Work colleagues have mentioned that they found her conceited and unfriendly. People who worked closely with her found her incredibly rigid and uncompromising. They said it was difficult to collaborate with her and easier to just let her work on projects individually, even if they required group input. Many men and women at work say the same thing…that she was very immature. It’s good to know that I wasn’t the only person that had problems with her 🙂
I’ve also heard it be said that she was, “just a pretty face without much going on under the surface”.
People could see what was right in front of me but that I had refused to see. I can also see now that my ex-friend chose me to be her friend from the beginning. She held me up on a pedestal at first, then hated me and put me on a guilt trip because I didn’t live up to her standards as “her only friend”.
Whereas I take responsibility for choosing to be her friend, I see now that she targeted me purposefully. I never ‘used’ her or had “an agenda” with being her friend, but I can see that she certainly had an agenda in befriending me. There’s projection at it’s finest! Damn she has issues!
Concluding Remarks and Next Post
I’ll do a vignette on my friend and what precisely OCPD is in my next post. I’ll also explain how this differs from OCD, which sounds similar, but is a very different condition.
I’m so pleased that I am able to reflect on what turned out to be the worst friendship of my life without any emotion!
Blogging has truly been the most therapeutic medium for me. Knowing that I am helping people through my blog keeps me wanting to write new posts! Getting back to working with my clients and helping them to manage their problems has also helped me a lot. Continuing to be a good friend to all my other friends and listen to their problems and be a support to them has helped me focus on other things beside my own troubles. Spending time with old friends and family who are genuine and love me unconditionally has also been very therapeutic.
If you have managed to get through to the end of this post, then I commend you for your endurance and thank you for the time you sacrificed to read it.
This post goes to Bec. Thanks for listening, for the advice, for the kindness and compassion. Your words and insights have helped me more than you’ll ever know 😉