Had a Traumatic Loss, Now Everyone Takes Advantage of Me

Reader’s Question

Brief background: 10 years ago I went through a traumatic experience. My brother committed suicide, 6 months later my Mom died from cancer, 2 months later my dad committed suicide. I was very depressed, angry, confused and for the most part non-functioning for several years after this. At the same time, my boyfriend (BF), whom I had been with for 8 years, became very distant, unsupportive and eventually (emotionally) abusive to me. He would ignore me and even get mad at me for being depressed. He refused to let me show any emotions around him. I found out later that he was just using me the last 4+ years we were together. I know I should have told him to leave when he started acting this way, but I couldn’t bear the thought of losing someone else I loved, and I think he knew it. He moved out 3-1/2 years ago. (Note: I inherited a good bit of money when my father died.)

Here is my problem: I don’t feel like people (even those I call my friends) respect me. It seems that most, if not all of them try to take advantage of me. Also — I’m having trouble making friends. I don’t know how to disclose or share personal, intimate details about myself to another person (male or female). (I don’t have ANY friends — I have acquaintances, but there is nobody I know that I feel I could call to talk to about a personal problem. Nobody I can think of to call if I needed help with something.)

As for respect — I have a friend (I thought we were very good friends, but apparently I was wrong). I will call him “K”. He and his girlfriend had to move out of the house they were renting and had no place to go. I offered to let them stay at my house until they found a new place. It has been almost 3 months now that they have been here. I know they are having money problems, always have as he is on disability and she doesn’t work or have any form of income.

I just found out that my friend K has been lying to me ever since he moved in. One day he just out of the blue, told me that he never sees my Ex BF anymore. (He and my Ex have been longtime friends.) He talks down about him and basically says my Ex was wrong for how he treated me and that he has no respect for him, etc. K and B leave here every weekend and tell me they are going to stay with their friends T & R in town. But I have recently found out that K lied to me. Instead they have been going and staying with my Ex and his new GF. I don’t understand why he would lie to me about this. My Ex and I have been apart for over 3 years and I never expected K and my Ex to not be friends anymore. I never asked or expected him to pick sides, and I’ve even told him this.

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I also found out he changed his cell phone number about a month ago, but didn’t tell me. Not only that, but I even asked him if it was changed and said, “No”. Now, K & B were here for Christmas as well as another couple who are friends with all of us. We exchanged gifts. I gave gifts to K & B and to the other couple R & L. R & L gave gifts to K & B and me. And then, when I was out of the room, K & B gave gifts to R & L. But K & B had NO gift for me! NOTHING, not even a card!

I feel like I am being used, taken advantage of, (like my Ex did to me.) And K knows how I feel about that. He knows how I feel about lying. Why is he doing this? Why is he treating me this way? And what should I do about it? Should I just sit down with K and tell him how I feel, like what I’ve said here in this letter? And ask him Why? Although asking someone who lies to you like this is kind of useless because you won’t ever know if he is just lying to you more with is excuses.

Psychologist’s Reply

The loss of your family members has likely made you intensely sensitive to loss, rejection, detachment, etc. When we have this sensitivity to loss, we develop a high tolerance for inappropriate, abusive, and manipulative behavior. In short, we tolerate behavior we shouldn’t tolerate in those close to us. While you are sensitive to their needs, as in the BF and other couple, they show little sensitivity to your needs or concerns. The couple may have lied to you because they fear rejection — but not in the same way you feel rejection. They feel you will kick them out and the vacation is over!

I suspect you are having a lot of issues related to the traumatic loss of your family members. Such a series of events often disrupts our normal social development and in you may have created problems with intimacy, social functioning, and fearfulness. I would recommend seeking the help of a professional therapist or counselor. You may need to sort out personal issues from the issues created by the insensitivity of others. I suspect you are being used and manipulated and the behavior of the homesteaders at your place was disrespectful over the holiday. If we have a weak spot, users, abusers, and manipulators will find it and use it against us. You can fix this weakspot in treatment and rethink the way you relate to others, thus improving your life.

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