Archive for December 10th, 2008

When it comes to sharing my child abuse history with friends, timing is very important. If my friend is going through a difficult time herself, I don’t feel comfortable dumping all of my baggage onto her shoulders at that moment. I generally get strong reactions to my story because it is so intense, so I don’t want to push that intensity onto someone who is already struggling with other issues.

I only share my child abuse story when I feel like there is a need to do so. Early in my healing, I really needed to tell both my therapist and friend about my latest flashbacks. Telling helped validate that what I was remembering really happened.

I needed a friend to hear my story because I was paying the therapist to spend time with me. I needed to know that someone else could hear my story and still choose to be my friend. Fortunately, I had a great friend to help me through this.

Now that I am much farther along in healing, I really don’t need to do that as much. However, I have dealt with a few flashbacks in the last couple of months, and I did feel the need to tell a friend about them. I just need to hear that nothing that anyone ever did to me can change who I am. I am vulnerable after a flashback, so telling the right person is crucial.

These days, I mostly feel the need to share my story to deepen the emotional intimacy of a friendship. If I want another person to know me, then she needs to know how I became the person that I am today. I also need another person to understand what is going on when I am suddenly triggered. It really helps for those who I spend the most time with to get it.

Sometimes I will ask a friend if she wants to hear my story. If she does, we will talk about it when we have some time alone to do it. I will always begin by making sure that she feels ready to deal with my story because it is very intense. Large blocks of time are very helpful because the other person might have lots of questions. You don’t want to be getting interrupted 20 times when you are talking about something this intense.

For me, when to share my story goes back to intuition. I intuitively know when it is a good time to share and when it is not.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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