Friendship and safety

Like many survivors, I learned from an early age that people weren’t to be trusted – a smile could hide other motives, laughter could mean that someone was heading towards drunkenness, etc.  I also learned that people I considered friends could, and would, set me up for abuse in order to save themselves.  These friends were also victims, but that betrayal of trust isolated us further.  A result of these early betrayals, is a range of behaviours that could be classed as avoidant – I avoid people, attachments and social situations.

These avoidant traits have been with me for so long that it’s hard to imagine a world without them.  I was described as a loner during my childhood, and now I have no one that I would consider a friend to share basic things such as go to the movies or to go for a coffee.  It is rare for me to feel any regret or worry over this isolation – which has made me question whether it truly is an indication of an avoidant personality, or just my natural inclinations…  The online world however, is slightly different.  I have people that I’ve known online for over two years and consider them friends.  Sometimes I help them, sometimes they help me – there is some form of mutual benefit in the relationship that goes beyond any tangible value.

This brings me to last night, which was a particularly rough night for me – I was sad, needing to self-injure and feeling lost.  Thankfully one of my online friends was available to chat.  As I’ve never had a friend who has understood me in the past, I’m never sure if the reactions I experience when chatting with an online friend is “normal” within the context of friendships.  Last night, my friend and I were trying to describe the experience, we decided that it was like getting a warm safe hug from someone – there is a feeling of being safe, protected, understood and as if there was a buffer to cushion you against any hurt.  This feeling makes both of us smile, with our respective younger parts feeling safe to come forward to play, tease and have fun.  I have other online friends who I feel a similar sense of comfort and safety that don’t trigger the presence of the younger parts, but this particular friend does.  The main result of the younger parts being present, is a sense of freedom and joy – something that is very foreign to me when talking to anyone.

I know that I have done entries in here about friends in the past.  But one thing I’ve learned is that you can never take friendship for granted.  It’s something to be valued, cultivated and be thankful for.  If they are good friends, then this will be reciprocated – not necessarily in blog entries, but in more subtle and meaningful ways – asking how you are and pausing for an answer… listening to what is being said and responding appropriately…  These little things add up to that feeling of being valued as a person with an opinion that matters.  This is also why I value the comments I get on this blog.  They a little snippets from people who have taken the time to respond to something that caught their interest.  I try not to take that for granted, but also not be fawningly grateful 🙂

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7 thoughts on “Friendship and safety

  1. This is really nice! I also value the people I have met online. My best best friend is someone I met nearly 10 years ago online. Now she’s hardly online at all but we talk on the phone all the time and I feel like she’s my sister, and I know she feels the same way towards me.

    It’s relatively rare to find such a friend though. I am glad you did.

    I also think it’s important to find ways to build friendships that you can have face-to-face. I think there’s great value in being able to go to coffee with someone or to the movies. Someone who you can feel comfortable with and who you don’t have to be superficial with. These are hard too.

    I don’t see you as avoidant, by the way. I see you as hurt and that gets in the way. But you are healing, and I think that helps change things.


    • I understand the concept of a “family of choice” that you describe in regards to your friend Paul, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever get there. I know that I should be working more on friendships in real life, but it’s not something that I even have a desire for. My cynical work friend is possibly the closest that I get to a friend, but there are barriers (of my own making) which make it impossible to go over that line into friendship outside of work.

      I suppose it’s healing to know that I have those traits 🙂 I can more easily identify them now.

      Take care,

  2. Friendship – true friendship – really is “like getting a warm safe hug”. I have a few very dear friends irl, and it’s just like this – as it can be online.

    There is something special about online friends though. Or at least the ones we meet here. They know us – I mean they really know us – and, well, blow me if they’re still not our friends. 😉

    I feel truly grateful for my friends – online and irl.

    I don’t see you as avoidant either. And I think every step you take is another step towards healing.

    • I think that’s what I like about the online friendships. All of them read this blog, or know about it, yet they still want to talk to me – they know my crazy and seem to take it in their stride. I suppose it’s true that we feel crazier than we appear to others.

      I’m glad you’re able to maintain those friendships Kerro…

      Take care,

  3. I’m pretty much in the same boat as you are with friendships. I also feel safe and supported here online. Thank God for the Internet! 😉

    One of the reasons I do The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse is for the survivor solidarity and support we can give each other. I’m hosting this month’s carnival at my own blog this time, in honor of World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse which is on Thursday. Do you have a post you could submit? This one is an excellent survivor topic, or you could pick another. Thanks for considering!

    • Hi Marj,

      Is this really the sort of thing you’re looking for? If so, I’d be happy to submit it for the carnival… I agree that carnival is a great example of solidarity, combined strength and courage.

      Sorry if it seems as if I’m looking for praise, I just never think anything I do is good enough. I’ll check out the guidelines for this months topic and see if anything I’ve done is more suitable 🙂

      Take care,

  4. Pingback: Attachment and reliance on a therapist | Scattered pieces

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