Patience with an Eccentric Friend . . . and I'm Eccentric Myself, I Know . .


#1

I have a friend who is rather eccentric. This is going to be tricky. And hoping this is the correct forum in which to post this.

Okay, here goes. This friend has OCD. (BTW, for the sake of honesty, so do I, :D but over different things.) She gets really concerned about safety and germs and morals. She seizes on something that the majority of people don't notice. And then she goes on a long monologue about it. How this is unsafe, and a person could get hurt, how they could get hurt, what would happen next, etc.

Sometimes I have the patience and sense of humor to let her be on her soapbox, and sometimes I don't.:shrug: I can't tell at any given moment which it will be, and these topics arise suddenly so I'm often blindsided by it.

At times in the past, I have gotten angry and there's been conflict. After the last peacemaking effort on both sides, things have been better. I would like to keep it so.

On days when this friend and I are "on the same page," we have a great time. But then sometimes it makes her more likely to dump one of these worry-things in my lap just when I'm having a decent calm day, and if it strikes me wrong, and I feel I have to say something to try to suggest to my friend that maybe she's blowing things out of proportion, I risk hurting her feelings and causing an argument.

I either have to endure the soapbox speeches (rolling my eyes to myself:rolleyes:) or say something as calmly as I can to remind her that we have talked about how I feel some of her worries are excessive. Either way, by that time I'm all upset :ouch::bighanky: knowing she's probably got her feelings hurt and I'm worrying about her worrying! :( It's ridiculous!:o

She gets wound up in prayer too, really overexcited, and even that gets wearisome to me, I can't explain why.

I just want to be friends with people without so much intensity, if that makes sense.


#2

I have a very dear friend who is a bit OCD. I don't know her level, but the girl freaks out over certain things. We are BEST friends however. She's a clean freak. You could call and ask what she's up too and she'll tell you she's been cleaning her bathrooms ALL DAY. Now I KNOW they weren't that dirty to begin with... and OMG 8-10 hours for 3 BATHROOMS! Seriously, I can knock that out in 20 minutes. She once was quite sick and complaining about how the house was a disaster. I just told her straight out. Look, I'd fly down in a minute and clean that place up. But you know what? You'd tell me it's all wrong, and not clean enough. So just know that you'll get to it when you get to it. LOL! At first she's... NO I WOULDN'T... and then, well, maybe you have a point... We just know how to cope with each others idiosyncracies.

Again, we are best friends. We have a rule too... perhaps you could tell you friend you'd like to create this rule... or create something that you think would work for you.

It goes like this... I call her and say.... I have something to complain about... Will you be honest and tell me if I'm over reacting???? And then she says YES, and she means it. And so do I.

Then we listen to the whole long drawn out story... And if we think the other is being nutz we say something like. Yeah, that sounds really awful. I can see how angry you'd be. BUT... I have a feeling... XYZ...

This actually works for us. But we promised to be honest. And we'll even tell each other some times that we can't believe she's are not MORE angry. haha... so we know it's the truth!


#3

Honestly? I'd try to minimize the time I spent with her unless I knew I could be patient. With both of you being OCD things must get pretty...difficult. Your last sentence about wanting to be with people who aren't so intense is a completely reasonable desire. It must be draining to have to put up with so much difficulty.

It's OK if you don't want to see this friend all the time. Someone like that would strain most of us. Some people are so easy-going that they would just tune her out. And you are not like that, maybe, as you said, she sets you off. Everyone has a choice of who they want to spend their time with, though.

:)


#4

Thanks - good advice from both thus far. It sure does get tricky - because the friend and I do agree on many things, at least in a basic way. Or in some cases, up to a certain point and then her take on it seems extreme to me. And the emotional intensity with which she presents it.

There have been some limits I have already set, and sometimes one or the other of us is able to use humor - like I said, things definitely have improved from how they were for awhile. There were several times I thought we’d squabbled our last squabble. And during the times when we were not in contact I would think maybe that was for the best.

Then when contact gets resumed, it seems there has been some learning on both sides how not to push each other’s buttons. I’m just musing on all of this so I can appreciate what is good.

My balance I need to strike, I think, is this: To be ready in any encounter with this friend for the unexpected. To have some kind of “stock answer” prepared. To learn to take deep breaths and count to 10 when necessary! :coolinoff: To recognize that “good intensity” can bring on “not-so-good intensity.” (Sort of like some cats that want you to pet them then they get hyper and sink their teeth and claws into you - not quite the right analogy, but it’ll do till I think of a better one.)

And to pray for the grace to do all this without tensing up myself and feeling like I’m walking on eggshells…and not to make my friend feel a need to walk on eggshells around me…:frighten:


#5

I wonder if you two could discuss the issue at a calm time, and make a suggestion that you develop a "code word" if the other person has gone off the rails. Like, "When I say 'Chocolate bunnies', that means I've had enough and I really need you to drop the subject."

It might help, in that you're not giving a big speech or saying "You're being crazy/annoying/unbearable!" which would put anyone on the defensive-- versus "Chocolate bunnies!" and then you can both laugh and change the subject. :)


#6

That's kind of what I do, and the more humor I can put into it the better. Like today, we were at a store and she started to go on a long tangent about whether, if she looked into her purse to count her money, someone would think she was shoplifting.

It was like this big deal - I mean, IMO, if you know you haven't done anything wrong, why worry about it? There was no evidence that could be found if she didn't have an item of merchandise in her purse.

To me it was paranoia, overthinking, scrupulosity and who knows what else. And I felt annoyed by it. It was yet another of those oddball things that just arises in an ordinary moment, doing an ordinary action that most people would never think to worry about or read deep dire implications into.

I think that's what bugs me a lot about this - I never know what to expect, when a seemingly innocuous thing will become a big moral or safety or responsibility issue of grave concern (and lengthy explanation of every possible extrapolation thereof) to her.

And then I feel compelled to respond, or not respond. Sometimes I keep silent and just don't feed her worry monster and that's sufficient. We have had discussions in which I have pointed out that she seems to want agreement or validation for her quirks, and that I am not going to give it to the ones that I feel are excessive, that I have a right to my difference of opinion as much as she has the right to her strange ideas.

But today I caught myself, in the moment, and I just said in a humorous manner, "Too much for (my name)!" Meaning too much explanation. And she got the point and let it go. Yay.:)


#7

Another option that may work depending upon that the topic/issue is is just to mirror back what she said...

"I can't fix this for you but I hear and understand what you are saying (her name here)...."

Or some variance of that.
I dont know the dynamics of your friendship. Is she looking to vent or is she looking to have something that is concerning to her resolved?

If she is just venting, she needs someone to listen and not really "fix" anything.
If she is looking for someone to "fix" something then another humorous relply can be "Love ya! This is beyond my paygrade however" and give her a hug...

God Bless


#8

[quote="Marie5890, post:7, topic:222604"]
Another option that may work depending upon that the topic/issue is is just to mirror back what she said...

"I can't fix this for you but I hear and understand what you are saying (her name here)...."

Or some variance of that.
I dont know the dynamics of your friendship. Is she looking to vent or is she looking to have something that is concerning to her resolved?

If she is just venting, she needs someone to listen and not really "fix" anything.

[/quote]

Well, probably more venting - and wanting validation. Because we've had the "I can't fix it" (me) and "I don't expect you to" (her) discussion.

It's interesting; I read the book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus book where it says that men want to fix problems and women just want someone to listen while they vent. And being a woman, I can listen to most of my friends and be empathetic. But when a friend is too passive and kind of reverts into a childlike state, I get more like the man - "Don't complain endlessly to me if you're not going to do anything about it" becomes my retort.

I know that's probably not helpful. But sometimes I get to my limit. I have many stresses of my own to deal with, and sometimes I feel this friend is a little clingy and emotionally immature. Of course, I have my needy and immature parts, too. So then I feel guilty for saying this about her.

And I see my old self reflected in her - the thin-skinned, oversensitive me that I've tried to toughen up. Then I can swing too far in the other direction and be like "get over it already."

This seems to be one of those friendships that God has brought into my life to help me and the other party learn things like patience from! :D And we do have fun times, and are able to give each other good useful help lots of the time. It's just these weird times that bug me.

[quote="Marie5890, post:7, topic:222604"]
If she is looking for someone to "fix" something then another humorous relply can be "Love ya! This is beyond my paygrade however" and give her a hug...

God Bless

[/quote]

I love that line - beyond my paygrade - delivered humorously that might just work! :rotfl: Thanks!:)


#9

[quote="3DOCTORS, post:6, topic:222604"]
That's kind of what I do, and the more humor I can put into it the better. Like today, we were at a store and she started to go on a long tangent about whether, if she looked into her purse to count her money, someone would think she was shoplifting.

It was like this big deal - I mean, IMO, if you know you haven't done anything wrong, why worry about it? There was no evidence that could be found if she didn't have an item of merchandise in her purse.

To me it was paranoia, overthinking, scrupulosity and who knows what else. And I felt annoyed by it. It was yet another of those oddball things that just arises in an ordinary moment, doing an ordinary action that most people would never think to worry about or read deep dire implications into.

I think that's what bugs me a lot about this - I never know what to expect, when a seemingly innocuous thing will become a big moral or safety or responsibility issue of grave concern (and lengthy explanation of every possible extrapolation thereof) to her.

And then I feel compelled to respond, or not respond. Sometimes I keep silent and just don't feed her worry monster and that's sufficient. We have had discussions in which I have pointed out that she seems to want agreement or validation for her quirks, and that I am not going to give it to the ones that I feel are excessive, that I have a right to my difference of opinion as much as she has the right to her strange ideas.

But today I caught myself, in the moment, and I just said in a humorous manner, "Too much for (my name)!" Meaning too much explanation. And she got the point and let it go. Yay.:)

[/quote]

She also doesn't know much about shoplifters. they don't look into their bags, they just stuff and go. :D

I think it's less scrupulosity than it is mental disorder. Like OCD. A mind that keeps returning to fears/worries/ruminations. She could benefit from some therapy and perhaps medications. Not that she isn't worthwhile the way she is, and she may not want to change, but wow, to go on like that about something that isn't even real...:shrug:


#10

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:9, topic:222604"]
She also doesn't know much about shoplifters. they don't look into their bags, they just stuff and go. :D

I think it's less scrupulosity than it is mental disorder. Like OCD. A mind that keeps returning to fears/worries/ruminations. She could benefit from some therapy and perhaps medications. Not that she isn't worthwhile the way she is, and she may not want to change, but wow, to go on like that about something that isn't even real...:shrug:

[/quote]

I think it has to be OCD, and even the friend admits it. Trouble is, she has tried medications and not tolerated the side effects. I can relate to that. She uses nutritional and natural remedies for other health conditions, and doesn't want to go to a doctor. But even when she was on meds, it was for depression instead - and she doesn't think the OCD is something that warrants seeking help (more on that below).

Another tricky difficulty is, she's a revert to the Faith, and I have seen this pattern in others and even in myself when I have fallen into sin and then repented - scrupulosity sets in. I guess it's a form of overcompensation or something.

She really sincerely does want to serve God, to see Jesus in others, and so on. She works in healthcare and I admire her service attitude. The trouble is that sometimes it meshes with the OCD and so she thinks she has to protect the entire world from every danger her mind can conceive of. She is hypervigilant, constantly scanning for dangers, :frighten: and extrapolating things into potential dangers that most people wouldn't even think of.

And she believes that this is what God wants her to do - so she doesn't conceptualize any of it as problematic most of the time.

Once in awhile, here lately (due to my nagging and insisting on presenting alternate points of view for her to consider? :o I don't know) she will sometimes say "I just need to let it go/put it in God's hands." Which seems to be a bit of progress.

Added to that, the gal is really devout, almost nunlike, prays a lot, and believes God is telling her what to do at every moment. I don't mean psychotic, though she does say "I heard a 'yes'" or "I'm hearing 'no' on that" or "God told me to . . ." and similar phrases. I think devotion is great, don't get me wrong, but is it possible to obsess about God too much?

She is very intuitive, and sort of a mystic. I feel out of my depth with that, too :ehh: . IMO, she's in need of spiritual direction that she's not getting on a regular basis.

It's hard to get that from priests in our diocese anymore. We used to have an order here but now it's all diocesan priests, who are busy to the max. I have given up on the idea of having a spiritual director myself for that reason, and I miss it.

I question myself, too - is it my place to decide what she needs and play devil's advocate in this way, or am I overstepping myself? :confused: But if I don't, I end up getting angry at her, and she keeps coming back to me as a friend so maybe she desires at some level to seek advice from me, and even values some of it.:shrug:

Many other people in her life just either seem oblivious to it or they blow her off, sometimes rudely. I have been rude in the past, when I have gotten angry, but I have apologized and tried to do better. I am even to the point where I can say "I can't handle this subject, let's not go there, I'm not the one for you to talk about this with." **Sometimes I'm a bit hypervigilant myself **worrying when the next oddball thing is going to suddenly land in the middle of an otherwise peaceful conversation and enjoyable time.

Thank you everyone for letting me vent. I have felt alone in this perplexing situation, or else tempted to talk about this gal with other people, in a way that might be gossipy or get back to my friend, obviously not a good idea. Also thanks for your good advice. Keep it coming!:thumbsup:


#11

I just want to be friends with people without so much intensity, if that makes sense.

I have a friend who is very negative and a worry-wart. I have to take her in small doses.

Sometimes I politely challenge her. Like...she tends to freak out real bad about germs so I might say "what is the worse that happens if you catch a germ?" She says "I get sick". And I say "okay... and... ?" She says "I could die". I say "People get sick all the time, what is the statistical likelihood that some cold or flu or stomach bug is going to kill you?" She says "not very high, but I don't like the pain". I say "Do you dislike the pain of a flu ...that is temporary... vs the pain of CONSTANT worrying and imagining being sick?"

Then she goes back to the whole "I could die" thing and then I say "Well you are definitely going to die... no amount of worrying will prevent that". She says "I'd rather it not be sooner than later". I say "Me too... but if I am going to die I would rather minimize my suffering in the mean time... and that means thinking positive thoughts instead of negative"

Then she gives up and tells me I am annoying to debate with. But at least she doesn't voice her worries anymore. :D


#12

[quote="violet81, post:11, topic:222604"]
I have a friend who is very negative and a worry-wart. I have to take her in small doses.

Sometimes I politely challenge her. Like...she tends to freak out real bad about germs so I might say "what is the worse that happens if you catch a germ?" She says "I get sick". And I say "okay... and... ?" She says "I could die". I say "People get sick all the time, what is the statistical likelihood that some cold or flu or stomach bug is going to kill you?" She says "not very high, but I don't like the pain". I say "Do you dislike the pain of a flu ...that is temporary... vs the pain of CONSTANT worrying and imagining being sick?"

Then she goes back to the whole "I could die" thing and then I say "Well you are definitely going to die... no amount of worrying will prevent that". She says "I'd rather it not be sooner than later". I say "Me too... but if I am going to die I would rather minimize my suffering in the mean time... and that means thinking positive thoughts instead of negative"

Then she gives up and tells me I am annoying to debate with. But at least she doesn't voice her worries anymore. :D

[/quote]

I hear ya. This gal won't even receive Holy Communion a lot of the time for fear of germs. When I asked her about it, concerned that she was struggling spiritually, she told me it was about the germ thing. Now I would be thinking, hey, if I received the Eucharist and somehow did catch an illness and died, what a way to go! And she's constantly praying for people to have a miraculous healing (partly because she distrusts conventional medicine). Yet her faith for her own health is a different matter.

I know, OCD folks compartmentalize things strangely. I do it myself. I forgot to mention, too, this gal was diagnosed with some mild immune problems a few years back - but she hasn't gotten sick for quite awhile that I can recall. She won't sit near anyone else in church, and the Sign of Peace should be stricken from the Mass in her opinion.

She opens doors with her elbows, and after one too many times of trying to squeeze through behind her and not have the door slam back on me, I finally started telling her to go on through and I would open the door again for myself. She consumes enough garlic to repel vampires (and other people) because she heard it's good for immunity.

And why does all of this have to bug ME so much?! Is it embarrassment? Yes, partly. Impatience? Check. Longing for normalcy and peace? Yep. Wanting the friendship to be, but not to be annoying? Definitely.


#13

See... I would have a really hard time not to bust out laughing. I guess my sense of humor is a bit dark.

When that one friend took her child to the doctor because she was concerned his feet might be fat and therefore indicative of a heart condition, and the doctor looked at her and just said "ummm... his feet are normal"... I seriously wanted to bust out laughing.

Even when I think of it now I get a tear in my eye from the hilarity.

I try to hide this from my friend of course...but sometimes I have to excuse myself to the bathroom to do it.

Life is comedy and a tragedy and sometimes there is quite a bit of overlap.


#14

[quote="3DOCTORS, post:12, topic:222604"]
I hear ya. This gal won't even receive Holy Communion a lot of the time for fear of germs. When I asked her about it, concerned that she was struggling spiritually, she told me it was about the germ thing. Now I would be thinking, hey, if I received the Eucharist and somehow did catch an illness and died, what a way to go! And she's constantly praying for people to have a miraculous healing (partly because she distrusts conventional medicine). Yet her faith for her own health is a different matter.

I know, OCD folks compartmentalize things strangely. I do it myself. I forgot to mention, too, this gal was diagnosed with some mild immune problems a few years back - but she hasn't gotten sick for quite awhile that I can recall. She won't sit near anyone else in church, and the Sign of Peace should be stricken from the Mass in her opinion.

She opens doors with her elbows, and after one too many times of trying to squeeze through behind her and not have the door slam back on me, I finally started telling her to go on through and I would open the door again for myself. She consumes enough garlic to repel vampires (and other people) because she heard it's good for immunity.

And why does all of this have to bug ME so much?! Is it embarrassment? Yes, partly. Impatience? Check. Longing for normalcy and peace? Yep. Wanting the friendship to be, but not to be annoying? Definitely.

[/quote]

You are a good friend, 3DOCTORS. :thumbsup::D And your friend is nothing if she's not interesting!


#15

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:14, topic:222604"]
You are a good friend, 3DOCTORS. :thumbsup::D And your friend is nothing if she's not interesting!

[/quote]

I hope I can be a good friend. This friendship is high maintenance at times. And I'm not the world's most patient person.

Just a couple of days ago, I asked the friend if, since she hasn't been sick in awhile, she might be willing to consider not being so scrupulous about germs. She was receptive to the original question and gave a sort of evasive answer.

From there, she got onto long tangents about other things that were of more interest to her, and it came to me that that was my answer right there. I'm not ever going to change her and I'm being an arrogant fool for even considering the idea!:rolleyes:

And I have known for decades that it's pretty silly to try and change folks - the only reason I even consider it in this case is that her behavior and beliefs in recent years have been so much more extreme, in contrast to how she used to be.

And we used to be more compatible when she was less extreme, because we were more alike. I went along with some of it when she started to be more extreme, then at some point, I "hit the wall." That was part of the reason we went through conflictual times. Which I think are not so bad as they used to be, because both parties have learned from mistakes, and boundaries have been set. And I'm just going to have to get over my nostalgia for the past when things were more easygoing.

However - I was thinking about this - why did God put this friend and I into each other's lives, and I think part of it is to learn patience and how to have a long term friendship when people change. And many of the changes in each of us have been good changes. So I guess one has to take the bad with the good - and again, be patient, patient, patient...:yup:


#16

A memory came to me this morning that back in the late fall, I’d talked to this friend about my desire to do some of the old fun activities we used to do more often. I figured that might help us to “lighten up.” :newidea:

And it did - one evening we had a fabulous time playing tennis. And then winter came so we only got that one chance. But soon the spring will come and weather will warm up and we can do that again. We also used to chase and throw a basketball - more chasing than throwing, LOL.:ballspin:

The good thing about sports with this person is it gives us something to do, a positive way to have fun, without so much talk, talk, talk. And I think it’s a balance this particular friendship needs. :juggle: It balances the emotionally intense times.

We did also take walks in years past, for the exercise, but that proved less helpful here recently because then there was more conversing, and potential for argumentation. :eek: Also I had gained weight :o and couldn’t keep up with this friend, who is slender. Perhaps when I lose my weight walks will be an option - fast walks, less talk!:yyeess:


#17

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