Archive for December 8th, 2008

In my last blog entry entitled Telling Friends about Your Child Abuse History, I shared about the first few times that I shared my child abuse history with friends. The first three tellings went pretty well. The first friend I told was extremely supportive throughout my years of therapy. The second and third friends were supportive and helpful. Unfortunately, not every incidence of sharing my child abuse history went so smoothly.

I confided in one friend about the mother-daughter sexual abuse. In the moment, her reaction was just what I needed. She got very angry at my mother (whom she had never met). She then stopped herself and said, “First of all, you need to know that this was not your fault.”

I sooo needed to hear those words. It also felt very good to see her get angry at my mother/abuser because, at the time, I was not capable of doing that myself.

I thought that conversation would bring us closer, but it didn’t. We used to go walking together in the park on a regular basis and stroll our children. That stopped. It wasn’t an instant pulling away … it was gradual. I didn’t hear from her as often. She was pleasant when we ran into each other, with a “…we should get together soon…” kind of tone, but “soon” never happened. I rarely see her any more. When I do, she is pleasant, but there is no acknowledgement whatsoever of what I shared with her.

I had a similar encounter with another friend who, ironically (or maybe not ironically), is very close friends with the first one. Same story – Very supportive in the moment, and then she dropped off the planet. I occasionally run into both of them … maybe once every few months. They are always pleasant, but they never bring up that conversation, and they make it clear that they are perfectly okay with the distance.

I had another friend who did not pull away, but she was much more honest with me about her reaction. She admitted that it was very hard to hear about the things that happened to me (referring to the ritual abuse) because to hear them and believe me meant that she had to accept that this level of evil exists in the world. She did not want to believe that it did. I assured her that I did not want to believe it, either, but I did not have a choice in the matter. My truth is my truth. I no longer have the luxury of denial.

I have found that sharing my story (or parts of it – few offline friends know all) is the great divider. It tells me who my friends are versus who my pals are. Friends can handle hearing about it and love me through it. Pals don’t want to hear about it.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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