Archive for November 5th, 2008

I have previously written about the challenges of friendship after child abuse. At that point in my healing process, I was disillusioned about the friendships in my life. These days I am feeling much more positive thanks to one very special offline friend.

Nevertheless, friendship after child abuse continues to be a challenge. It is so hard for me to let my guard down. It is so hard to trust. My intuition tells me that I am safe in this friendship, and I have learned always to trust my intuition. This has given me the courage to share much more than I have felt comfortable sharing in the past. I even told her about the dissociative identity disorder (DID)!!

Probably my biggest challenge is to share when I am weak and vulnerable. I can do that online because there is the safety of distance and anonymity. It is significantly more challenging for me to admit vulnerability (which equates to weakness in my head) when I am face to face with someone.

When I feel vulnerable, such as in this time of year when I feel constantly triggered, I put up walls. I can also get “mean” because I have learned that other people will take advantage of my weakness. I must come across as doubly strong so they don’t see that I am hurting. I cannot risk being annihilated by showing weakness. I learned as a young child that I must always, always, ALWAYS be strong.

The problem is that I am not always strong. I need a safe place to fall, just like everyone else, and I have never had that in my life. My two safest people before this friend still don’t enable me to fall safely. One (my sister) pulls back and ignores it until I pull myself together. We have too much history for her to know how to comfort me. She has a hard enough time comforting herself.

The other is a friend who really, really hurt me a couple of years ago. Once I am hurt, I never fully recover. I opened up my heart. She broke it. She will never get a second chance. I still care about her and confide in her some, but I know that I am not safe with her, either.

And now there is this newer friend. I play the dance of trying to allow myself to be vulnerable without being needy. I cannot be needy. It is not safe for me to need. I would rather be alone and push everyone else away than for anyone to see how desperately I need a safe place to fall apart.

I feel myself doing the dance inside my head. A part of myself wants to push her away so I don’t reveal any more. Another part of myself is relieved to have finally found safety somewhere. I am trying very hard to listen to my intuition and not my fear.

I really hate that something as basic as friendship must be so complicated after child abuse.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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