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My friends bickering in front of me. I triggered bad

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heartbroken_kk posted 7/14/2013 23:58 PM

One of my best friends invited me to dinner at his house tonight. He has a 6 year old son, who calls me Aunt KK. His wife and I are also friends and have shared our struggles with each other over the years. They are both strong personalities and it isn't an easy relationship. They have been witness to the implosion of my M. I dont know for sure but I think they might not have gotten M if it werent for their DS who was an accidental P when they were dating. Their wedding was after his birth.

The H has recently taken a job 3000 miles away. He commutes home for 2 weekends and works remote from home one week a month, but has an apartment near his work.

I have encouraged them both to get into IC and MC to learn abt themselves and the not so healthy dynamics in their M. I try not to stick my nose into their business, but they both open up to me and trust me.

Tonight I went over to borrow a tool and got invited to stay for dinner. I lasted about 30 minutes. Chatted with the W a little, helped the DS learn to tie his boot laces, drank about 1/3 of a beer before H came in the house all aggitated. Within five minutes he was commanding W to come "get DS under control" because he was running around like a 6 year old boy
W attempted calming DS but voices were raised and although I didnt make out the words it seemed he was being critical and she was defensive.

I stay out of it and play with DS outside. H is starting dinner, getting meat ready to grill. W comes outside with me and DS. H is still agitated but voices are normal. At some point he calls W into kitchen. Voices raise. I can hear criticism. H comes out, puts meat on grill, goes back inside. More voices. He comes back out and asks if I could help make a salad. Sure, I say.

I go into the kitchen while H is at the grill. W tells me, "I'ts ok, I can do it" I say, "You sure? I'm happy to help" and she says "Actually I was supposed to make the salad but H asked you to do it because I wasn't doing it fast enough" She kinda shrugged, said "I don't know what to tell you" I said, "OK I will let him know you said you were doing it" and went back outside. H comes storming in and starts chewing her out. She says something I can't hear. He calls her a name (I cant remember what he said, it wasnt a curse word but it was critical and mean).

At this point I snap. I can't stand another second of this hostility. I say to him in front of her, "I wouldn't tolerate someone talking to me like that. If you did that to me I'd want to deck you" "I'm gonna go. I have enough stress in my life and I am not going to hang around listening to you two bicker at each other"

I put my 2/3 full beer on the counter, grab my purse and the tool I am borrowing and head for the car. DS follows me "Why are you leaving?" "I gotta go, Im sorry I cant stay" "But WHY??" "Its an adult thing, I just need to go"

I get to my car and im practically in tears. Total PTSD fit, heart racing, chest tight, tears welling up.

Dammit! I haven't felt like crying except for once in the last few months (huh. Now that I think about it, it was when I was on the phone with him talking about my housing situation and he was offering advice)

Bolting has been my go-to defense during the turmoil of dealing with STBXWH - I just have to get away, like NOW before I explode.

Emotionally I'm right back to my reactions during the worst of false R and the beginning of S. It sucks.

I feel like I need to explain and follow up with them but I havent a clue what to say. Right now Im going with crickets but I know at some point this is going to need to be addressed.

I feel like I did what I needed to do to enforce my own boundaries WRT how I allow others to treat me. No, you don't get to invite me over and then act out in front of me. I'm not cool with that. But I also feel really bad for his W and ultra bad for their little DS. IMO this is terrible parenting to demonstrate to your son that it is OK to be so disrespectful to your wife. Just gahhh.

Obviously I dont know the whole story and who is pushing whose buttons. Having been M to a Passive/Aggressive I can tell you that just because your voice is quiet doesnt mean you arent throwing barbs and pushing buttons. What a mess.

MerryMeNot posted 7/15/2013 02:53 AM

Ugh! I feel you on this and would also have triggered. Hostility and emotional violence always make me go jellyish in the knees and I feel incredibly anxious. People *should* know better than to bicker in front of others....but perhaps this couple went there because they'd each been open with you about private stuff.

I don't think you need to apologize at all. IF one of them asks or IF there's tension next time you see each other, then you can simply tell the truth. You triggered. BUT you don't even need to say that. You said it all and said it well at the time. I'm sorry you experienced that. The boy asking you why must've been heartbreaking. Hugs to you and him.

curiouswiz posted 7/15/2013 06:26 AM

My stbx was the quiet one, speaking in low tones. When I would freak out everyone thought "oh poor guy, imagine dealing with that nutbag?" He always did it. Pushing buttons, pissing me off in public, very very quietly.

He always looked like the abused one.

SBB posted 7/15/2013 06:54 AM

I think you did the right thing in leaving.

I don't think you owe them an apology.

You are setting your own boundaries - if they know anything about what you've been through they'll understand.

None of us knows what happens in marriages. You may have given them a wake-up call if they are just in a rut. You may have given one or both of them a wake-up call if they are disconnecting.

Please be prepared for one or both of them to be angry or avoid you. I know that's what I did. Please know that that is about them - not you.

I wish someone had said something as direct to me. I see now several tried to broach the subject with me because I was so desperately unhappy and but I stopped seeing them instead. I couldn't bear to have anyone witness what had happened to my M. What was happening.

^^THIS is all well before DD, mind you. The sad clown's best friend used to call to speak to him about once a month - he was always either not home or out. I still remember his kind words after several months of this: "Geez - are you OK with that?". I started letting the phone go to voice-mail whenever he called. I'm a damn good Ostrich!

million pieces posted 7/15/2013 08:15 AM

No advice, but just know that I used to trigger a lot (still do a bit) when my friends bicker. And not at things as serious as your friends.

You did awesome!

nowiknow23 posted 7/15/2013 11:19 AM

I think you did the right thing in leaving.

I don't think you owe them an apology.

Agreed 100%! The apology is owed BY THEM, not you.

I'm so sorry they tried to involve you in their quarrel, honey.((((kk))))

caregiver9000 posted 7/15/2013 14:12 PM

I love what you said to them!

I think you took care of you- great job! and you set a good example for the wife and the DS on setting boundaries. It sounds like they could benefit from the example.

I wonder if when the H goes back out of town, if you could have some time with your friend and she might open up to you in a way that doesn't trigger you and does allow for guidance or suggestions or resources you could offer?


I think you did great!

Sad in AZ posted 7/15/2013 14:18 PM

Yes; they owe YOU an apology. I would have bolted, and I don't think it would have been because of a trigger; what was going on should not have gone on in front of an invited guest.

heartbroken_kk posted 7/16/2013 21:30 PM

Thanks everyone for the great feedback. This has really shaken me. Part of is that I live on my friend's father's country "estate" and I need to keep his friendship.

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