Thursday, April 24, 2014. I wrote some time ago on the blog about the time around 25 years ago when I realized I had no clear idea what an enemy was. I asked two of my friends who had never met each other and lived 130 miles apart to tell me their version of what an enemy was. Both of them used the exact same sentence in reply: “An enemy is someone who does not have your best interests at heart.”
I have always found it intriguing and a bit mysterious that they mirrored one another’s thoughts. Of course I now know that I was born into an enemy camp. Both of my parents were enemies to me — BIG TIME! Mentally ill, psychotic, abusive Mother did everything in her power to try to ensure that everyone, including my siblings, my grandmother and my teachers all shared her view that it was I who was everyone’s enemy. Tragedy.
I am here as I near my 63rd birthday in August finding that I also cannot find my own definition of what a friend is. Sure, intellectually, I have believed I had “an idea” of what a friend and friendship is. Truth? I don’t really have much of a clue at all. Friendship seems to be something that exists on the other side of The Great Divide. As such a severe abuse, neglect and trauma survivor I never had the chance to experience friendship which IS connected to safe and secure attachment in a social world.
Right now I can’t assume I understand friendship. But I did receive some interesting clues about its nature from a woman whom I consider a friend back in the little Arizona town I recently moved away from. From her description of friendship as she described it I gather that in her experience — because Bisbee is a friendly town — one never has to worry about who is a friend versus who is not. Most everyone there is FRIENDLY to one another.
My friend went on to describe for me patterns of her life and patterns of my life while I lived there that demonstrate friendliness and friendship. PATTERNS. Friendship is a PATTERN that includes friendliness shared mutually — kind of spread around permeating the daily life of those who share a particular environment.
I could say that her descriptions were a little too vague and nonspecific for me to get my questions answered. But, then, I realize my friend has always lived on her side of The Great Divide that separates severe early trauma survivors from those who benefited from safe and secure attachment from birth. In other words, my friend could not really comprehend the nature of the depths of my question any more than I could have those depths of friendship questioning answered by her.
I NEVER had anyone treat me with friendship during the first 18 years of my life — with the possible exception of teachers my mother could not convince of my evil essence. Yet not one of those teachers ever recognized the depths of my suffering or offered a single word or gesture of assistance to me. They lived in their professional teacher role and I suppose simply did not abuse me — which was as good as attachment ever got for me as a child.
Then, naturally, I entered my adult life acting as if I could be a friend and others could be a friend back to me although I could not have given one single sentence to describe friendship. NOW? I think I know less, truthfully, about friendship than I did when I was 18.
Another tragedy connected to severe abuse survivorship, and not a surprising one.
I think from what my friend was telling me if one lives in a friendly town (Bisbee is about 5,000 population now) one has their friendship needs met simply by being there. If a person has a special need for help they simply need to ask and someone will “pop out” of the sea of friendliness in response. My friend described for me what she sees of how I fit into that community so that my friendliness needs were naturally met. Of course I missed my family while I lived there, but I could talk about that with people who listened and cared. Otherwise I guess I took being a part of that friendly community just grew into me.
Someone attacked me verbally recently for talking about how I missed those people. After all “not one of them offered to help you move.” I asked my southern friend about this. She said if I had ASKED anyone for help they would have been right there. Otherwise, they knew one of my northern friends had come down to help me and that was simply that.
Writing this I am seeing that perhaps it is, in part, the absence of unnecessary complications that must mark the friendliness in that area. Why add any degree of drama when it is not there naturally? There is a kind of magnanimous though not showy or flashy equality in such a version of shared social existence. There is some kind of mutual respect for individuality in such a friendly place that is taken for granted. It almost seems like: if there is an absence of enemies there is a presence of friendliness and the friendship that is simply such a part of such a place — like dirt is a part of the earth — that nobody has to question friendship being either present or absent.
So maybe it is exactly because I am not in that place NOW that these questions are coming up for me. I felt at home there. I have been criticized here for saying that. Can anyone at any time simply FORCE that kind of connected and peaceful feeling to a place — if they only try hard enough?
The thing about THIS area is that I spent 13 years of my life — over 30 years ago — working as hard as I possibly could to do exactly that — FORCE myself to be happy in a place that I came to finally understand was a toxic environment for ME. Not for others who live here, obviously. But for ME.
My Arizona friend reminded me last night that I spent more than a year outside working on building my garden, only coming indoors to eat and sleep. I think it was more than a year — but, oh yes, as I told my friend “I NEED THAT!”
Sometimes it is hard for me to accept my own truth as being exactly that. Not right or wrong. Not saying anyone else is right or wrong. Just knowing what I need, what is comfortable, what sustains me. Place is critically important to me as a trauma-altered person. There will be a huge cost for me in missing my girls and grandsons here should I find my way back to “my place” down south. I do not know how to cope with these conflicts. I really don’t.
Here is our first book out in ebook format. A very kind professional graphic artist is going to revise our cover pro bono (we are still waiting to hear that he has accomplished this job – I think we will have to find an alternative!). Click here to view or purchase –
It lists for $2.99 and can be read by Amazon Prime customers without charge. Reviews for the book on the Amazon.com site