Archive for July 14th, 2008

I am kind of in a weird place right now in my healing journey from child abuse. I am questioning a lot about myself and my relationships with other people. I am specifically focusing on my friendships.

I had an epiphany that I have been the one setting myself up to be disappointed in many of my friendships. I am the one who chooses who to spend my time with and who to confide in. So, I am the one who has chosen friendships that do not meet some of my basic needs.

What has made a lot of this clear is that I have entered into a new phase of friendship with a few friends who are offering what I have been looking for pretty much my whole life. Quite frankly, it scares the h@#$ out of me.

I have the expectation that friendships are not going to be reciprocal and that I will be pushed away at some point for some reason, and so I often push away first. I always feel like I have to prove myself or earn my way into the friendship, if that makes sense. Having people offering friendship on a deep emotional level and being open to receiving me as I am is both what I want and what I fear. That is being offered to me now, and I am alternating between being extremely grateful and extremely fearful.

I have always wanted a friend that embraces me as a sister. Yes, I have my actual sister, and I love her dearly, but she lives far away. I really want somebody nearby who sees me as more than just a default pal when there is nothing better to do on a rainy day. I have a history of offering this to friends but being put on the backburner because their family members always come first, even family members that they do not particularly like.

In fairness, it is much easier for me to place friendships as a higher priority. My father is dead. I am estranged from my mother-abuser. My sister lives hundreds of miles away. I see my husband and his family frequently enough that I can easily bow out of a family dinner in order to spend time with a friend if I want to.

However, even if my parents were alive and in my life, I would still put friendship higher on my priority list than most people do. When I love someone, that love is not tied to being blood-related. Blood relatives hurt me deeply, so being related by blood carries very little weight with me. It hurts when I have no family other than my sister that finds me special enough to make me a priority and then have my friends always put me behind their families as well. It hurts twice as much when I know that they do not even like many of their family members. Why do I rate even lower than people that they don’t even like??

TV shows like “Friends” or “Sex in the City” show the kinds of friendships I want – friends who are as close as, or even closer than, family. So I know that somebody somewhere gets it. However, I have not been able to find that level of friendship in my own life. I am beginning to realize it is by my own doing and nobody else’s. That’s a hard one for me to accept, but it is true.

And now the branch of friendship at a deeper level is being offered to me (I think), and it scares me. I don’t want to be hurt again. And yet, if I do not risk allowing that kind of love into my life, then I am the one choosing the loneliness for myself.

Growth is hard sometimes.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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