I was re-calling recently a woman that I had met some time ago. We had met at a local non-profit that has free mini-classes for those with health and mental health issues. We liked each other and talked a few times about a number of healing issues. We were both really looking for a friend and that was exciting to find someone who was working on healing and was looking for a friend as well, but it didn’t work out.
There were a few essential chasms between us and I was not interested in being close to someone that I thought was so theoretically and philosophically far away from me. That was regrettable, but not as bad as really caring and sharing with someone and then to find out how diametrically opposed they are from you.
She had gone to a day-long seminar one week and talked about how much healing she had experienced at the time and since. She tried to share some of the beliefs from the seminar that she found so healing. The one that I found the most glaring and disagreed with so much was the belief that it wasn’t the experiences that cause us so much damage, but rather the beliefs that we attach to the experiences.
Her biggest and most memorable example was that it wasn’t the neglect and abuse she sustained in her childhood that caused the damage, but rather the belief she had held that parents are supposed to care for their children and keep them safe. She believed that she had found healing from telling herself that it wasn’t their job to take care of her and keep her safe. She seemed really high on some kind of drug or alcohol, that might have been the case, but I thought that it was the high from the seminar that she was riding on instead.
Babies and children are completely dependent upon their caregivers. They need to be protected, cared for, and kept safe. We, the survivors, needed that, but we did not get it. Babies’ and children’s beliefs notwithstanding, abuse and neglect causes damage, damage that continues for decades.
I sort of brushed that off and talked to her some more, thinking she would in the coming weeks still find lots of damage from her childhood within her after the buzz of the seminar wore off. Although I definitely don’t agree with her views, I do allow that anyone else can hold whatever kinds of beliefs that they choose to. But it sort of precluded considering her a close friend whom I could disclose anything about my life or experiences or beliefs or the facts as they are understood in the field of psychology relating to victim/survivor psychology and healing from abuse.
As we were getting ready to say goodbye and I was going to go across the street to wait for a bus, she brought up something that I had previously mentioned about being an abuse survivor. I don’t know why I answered her, I guess I just am too stubborn to remain silent even when I believe that another person does not understand what abuse is really all about, though I won’t go on very long with the conversation.
She asked me something about my brother and how did I know for sure if the abuse really happened? I told her because I remember the abuse, I have never forgotten the abuse, and I believe myself. She then asked, but what proof do you have? I said myself, my life and my memories are the proof. She said, no I mean, do you have proof, do you have someone else who saw this and is saying this happened to you too? I told her I don’t need anyone else to know the truth and my memories are accurate, I am my own proof. I don’t need anyone else to agree with me that it happened.
You can see how the two of us would never have been able to make ourselves into friends. Sometimes you get under the surface of someone else and you find the two of you are simpatico and other times not.