“OH, WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE”

‘As she weaves herself tighter and tighter into the web, the hole becomes deeper and deeper and she sees no way to escape. She has become desperate to escape, desperate to not be despised but to be loved but cannot find the exit. Surely, reaching the exit is the only way out but then she knows full well that doing so would mean total destruction of her world as she has always known it. It would be complete annihilation of her life as she knows it. She is terrified of the hurt and damage she would cause, both to loved ones and friends and ultimately to herself. Oh, what a tangled web she weaves.’

How do I help her? She has confided in me. I was, and still am shocked. Tears were running down her face as she blurted it all out. I thought it would never end. She is desperate for me not to break her confidence. How do I hold on to a secret so huge? Although I don’t want to break her trust, what about all those who are being wronged and hurt by her and have been in the past. I wish she hadn’t have told me. I have enough heartache and despair going on in my own life without holding on to someone else’s guilt and shame. Or is that just selfish? In telling me, she has deeply wounded me too. I thought I could trust her – now, I can never be sure of this again. I am angry! Am I right to be angry? Although part of me feels sorry for her because she is obviously in so much agony, another part of me hates her for the damage she has done over the years, not just to me but to many others too. Nothing life-threatening I know but so awful, just the same.

They say “you can fool half the people all of the time or all of the people half the time”. Well, as far as I can see, she has been fooling all of the people all of the time. And why? Why for so long? She says that she’s never known anything different, that she just wanted people to like her, to care for her. Well, many of them already did but she says she doesn’t believe that. I did too….will she ever believe me either? Who do I now turn too? I have been holding on to so many secrets of my own for so many years and am just beginning to unravel them in therapy. I don’t want more secrets….I have had enough over the years to last a lifetime. I know she needs help but how am I supposed to help her without her helping herself. How can I be responsible for her problems too. I wish she had told someone else. Why me? Or is that selfish too?

She is a forty-four year old ‘friend’. She is married with a husband and has three teenage boys. If I say anything to her husband, I know it will blow her whole world out of the water! Oh, I do wish she hadn’t had told me. She says she is sorry but sorry hardly even touches the edge of the hurt and anger that I feel.

I always thought she was happy but obviously not; otherwise why would she behave in this way? Half of me feels sorry for her but half of me hates her too. I hate her, not only for her deception and lies but also for want of a better expression for ‘dumping her shit on me’! And yet, I still have love for her – she has been a friend for a very long time and you can’t just wipe that out, at least I can’t although I know many that would. She is hurting but now, so am I. What do I do? I can’t go on like this. There must be a reason for all of this. I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. Help!!

* (Some details have been changed to protect identity) 

4 thoughts on ““OH, WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE”

  1. its so hard to know what is best to do in this situation. your right, she shouldnt have dumped her secret on you like she did. it was wrong. maybe when you calm down talk to her again, tell her how you are feeling. XX

    1. Thanks you. It is so, so difficult to know what to do. Yes, I am still angry. I know she is still my friend and I, hers and I do still care for her despite all the lies. I think she needs professional help but I don’t know what her reaction to that comment might be. I wondered about telling my therapist when I see her because I feel so burdened by what she has told me and it is already affecting my mental health. I know my sessions are confidential but would telling my therapist this be breaking my friend’s confidence? I have come too far to be responsible for my friend’s problems as well as my own. I feel so torn. Ellie xxx

  2. Ellie – that’s just the key – and you already know it. You ARE NOT responsible for the actions and behaviors of others, including your friend. Confidences may be shared – including the deepest of secrets – but that doesn’t mean YOU have to bear the burden. It is NOT your shame, guilt, deception to OWN – and yet, you are doing just that.

    Clearly, YOUR well-being has to come first – and this doesn’t make you any less of a good friend. And the fact that you have feelings about whatever “her secret” is too – given what you’ve written – it directly affects you too? I ask – for clarification – and you should think about this – because given what you’ve written – you seem to be mixing it all together into one huge lump of crap.

    Sift and separate Ellie.

    She told you something. What is your personal reaction to that – meaning – how does it affect you and your relationship?

    She told you something as a confidant. Fine. You wish she hadn’t. These feelings are different from the first “blurb” I’ve just written.

    If you need to discuss this with your therapist – because you need to find a healthy balance – then I don’t think you are breaking her confidence – the only way you would be doing so – is if you *choose* to tell her of this – and if you do, I would suggest it is because you want to add to your own problems, subconsciously.

    A good friend – define it.

    A good friend knows how to listen, without judgement. A good friend knows how to set and stand by their personal boundaries and limitations. And a good friend knows when to tell the other person that perhaps they need to seek a qualified professional to help them work through their feelings and issues, – and they aren’t afraid of the “fallout or reaction” — because if someone won’t help themselves, then there is nothing to be done for it. But that doesn’t mean that you have to extend yourself anymore than listening, being non-judgemental, and being firm in making it known that you are not the solution to their problems. And no, this doesn’t make you a “bad or selfish” person or friend. It means you’re honest.

    Sending you positive and encouraging thoughts Ellie. XXX

  3. Thank you Mj. I’ve spoken to my therapist on more than one occasion about this now and realize the mistakes I was making which caused me so much unnecessary stress. Thank you so much for your encouraging and sensible words, Ellie xxx

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