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 🙂