Painful relationships


Hi Brooke,

Several years ago I was part of a coaching group. I eventually left the group due to what I perceived to be many unhealthy dynamics which were created by the coach — lack of boundaries, favorites in the group, coach breaking confidences and talking about group members to one another. I ultimately came to believe the leader is a narcissist.

A year after I left, the coach via email informed me that she was deeply hurt that I “cut her out of my life.” I did not respond because my perception was that this person had actually cut all contact with me after I left the group and was not an emotionally healthy person. More recently, we had an inadvertent email contact and I decided to take the opportunity to close the loop and explain that I never meant to hurt her and left the group to take stock of my role in the unhealthy dynamics. She wrote back seeming to take a lot of responsibility for her role and signing off “Love You. Always.” I was not planning on re-opening the relationship but glad to close the loop with some kind of peace.

Two to three days later, she published a podcast describing a situation with me in which my feelings had been hurt (without using my name but enough identifiable details that I knew it was me) and described me as “manipulative,” “controlling” and “a weirdo.” It was so surreal and, even knowing everything I know about her, deeply hurtful. I know this is because of my thoughts and because there is a part of me that believes her and feels shame. While in that group, I did become co-dependent which is why I chose to leave.

You have talked in your podcast about ending relationships and still holding the person in love. I am definitely not even close to that. I feel a yucky cocktail of anger, shame, and hurt. What I really want is to put everything about that relationship behind me and feel that she can not hurt me anymore. Ultimately if I could feel compassion for her, that would be great.

My model:
C: Coach says words about situation with me on podcast
T: She is right. I acted like a weirdo.
F: Shame. Pain.
A: Withdraw into myself. Overdrink to try and stop the pain.
R: Act like weirdo??

C: Coach says words about situation with me on podcast
T: This is gaslighting. She has no business coaching anyone.
F: Anger
A: Think of emails to send her calling out her behavior.
R: Disconnect from myself.

C: Coach says words about situation with me on podcast
T: ?
F: Safe
A: ?
R: ?

I know I have a big old story here that I am smack dab in the middle of but any help would be appreciated.