I have trouble with the idea of abusive friendships, and I was in one. I feel awful when I read someone else’s account of an abusive friend they had and my impulsive thoughts go ‘I don’t see why this was so bad’, and then my rational thoughts go ‘shutupshutupshutup how dare you think that, how hypocritcal of you to think like that after what you went through with R?’ But the problem is, part of me still doesn’t think what I went through with R was that bad either. I keep trying to think of ways I could have minimised harm to myself by doing something differently, or blaming myself for having been affected so strongly by what happened to me when maybe someone else might have come through it unscathed. That’s a thing- for example my brother appears to have come through our Evangelical Christian upbringing relatively unscathed and become an atheist without the turmoil I went through with it, and we attended the same church and had the same family. Talking to him once about his atheism, I was struck by how un-emotionally charged it seemed to be for him. That’s just my impression, of course. But I don’t think I’d have even been able to talk to him, or anyone in my family, about how growing up in our church affected me.
Anyway, I’m getting diverted. So what I’m trying to say is I have real difficulty comprehending that something that happened to me can still be bad even if the possibility exists that someone else could have gone through it and emerge unscathed. I think this goes back, like many things, to R, and the way he always treated me as The One Without Problems. The difficulty I have asserting my identity comes from R treating me as The One Who Has No Identity, and in fact exists to validate R’s all-important identity.
Maybe it is wrong to try and attribute so much of my damage to someone as vulnerable as R was growing up. I tell myself this, saying to myself ‘how cruel you are being to that past R, claiming he did all of this to you, which could reflect really harmfully upon him’. But…present R doesn’t know I’m talking about him like this, and he never will. So who gets hurt?
I will, if I have to bottle it up any longer. That’s why I originally made this blog. I actually started it while I was still in touch with R to a degree, and I was going to use it to write down and make sense of my story, get it all in order and out of my head onto the page (/screen). I think I even had notions of using my newly put in order story to help me talk about what happened with my mum or my sister, both of whom I am close to. I don’t really think I want to do that any more. It’s been several years since then, and my relationship with my mum is starting to become by necessity more balanced, less her supporting me (she has been a constant source of emotional support in my life, and I’m very lucky to have her) and more equal, and I’m preparing for it to gradually start to tilt into me looking after her, as she ages. My sister…I guess is possible. But she had a friendship with R’s younger sister (Gwen), that was sometimes turbulent and difficult, and sometimes my sister said some things to Gwen that she regretted, stuff she said because she didn’t understand the difficult, adult things Gwen was going through because she was a sheltered teen. Her friendship with Gwen was fundamentally built on mutual respect, though, and that’s why she can have those regrets without them being part of a spiral of self loathing like my regrets about R always become. I don’t know if my sister realises how different our two friendships were, and I’d have to explain that, on top of everything else. Maybe it’s too much.
Now I’m not in touch with R, and haven’t been for 3 and a half years, and he doesn’t know where I live and doesn’t have my contact information and it’s the best. There was a time when I couldn’t even dream of this. So now my purpose for writing this is less immediate, and more thoughtful. I’ve had a lot of time to think over what happened and my thoughts are a bit more in order already than when I started this blog. I’ve got a long, long way to go. I’m actually seeing a new counsellor next week. I don’t know what that will be like, but hopefully it will be useful. I’m going to talk to her about my struggles with my bisexuality as well.
I hope to continue writing my story soon. In my ‘about’ page at the top of my blog I’ve added some profiles to keep track of who everyone is and their pseudonyms are depicted with the Animal Crossing characters I nicked them from, because it’s fun. If you play the games, there isn’t really much correlation between a character I choose’s personality and the person who I gave the name to, it’s more like ‘here’s a handy list of names and also they have these colourful animal pictures that go with them’.
Thanks for reading. ❤