Hello again! Wow, August is almost here and that means many things. One thing is for sure and that is that I cannot wait for Clemson football to hit my radar again!
Recently, I attended a Google Plus Hangout with a colleague Annie Fox. I have been familiar with her work for a while now. She created the Cruel’s Not Cool Campaign. Also, has delved into the nature of friendships in females. She shared valuable information concerning how friendships follow us throughout life.
It was an awesome hangout experience! Really!
One thing I believe survivors struggle with is friendships. Now, everyone has a different story and even though some of us did eventually marry, not all of us did. I know many who did not. It had nothing to do with sexual preference. A lot had to do with learning appropriate social skills so we could grow into the next phase of our lives. If you look at relationship development in a person, you see they start out knowing their parents and family first. By the time they enter school, they begin forming friendships that they choose themselves. As they enter the teen years, they notice the opposite sex. Plus, they enter the workforce. At this point, they learn to develop relationships that are romantic in nature. Also, work related relationships they do not have in their personal lives. As young adults they marry, have careers and children. By this point, they should know how to develop different relations in their lives. They are friends, colleagues, parents, spouses, siblings aunts, uncles, cousins and the list goes on. If someone has not learned healthy relational skills during developmental years, makes going to the next level hard.
According to Ms. Fox, friendships in girls are vital. Sure, boys value their relationships just as much. However, for girls, it has an affect on their social development. During these crucial years, girls develop intimate relations with their friends. Subconciously, what girls are doing here is looking for potential mates in their lives. They learns desires and turn offs in a mate. Also, girls learn how to nurture during these years. If this is not learned in a healthy manner, it affects the girl. She could wind up in bad marriages, seek dysfunctional mates, or avoid it altogether. I look back and see a lot of it in my own life.
Praise GOD for healing! It can happen…
Friendships among girls is like walking a tightrope. One slip and the relationships crumble. During the adolescent years, there are physical and mental changes. As everyone is changing, relationships change faster than they started. Two girls will become best friends and form a thick bond. If another girl enters the equation, it upsets the balance. Suddenly, the tightrope shakes. For a girl, this is like holding on to a life preserver. Eventually, it will sink and the relationship goes down with it. If one of best friends starts to change and move towards the interloper, it can be because the other girl and her needs are changing. However, with survivors, they held on to bad friendships (or that life preserver) for dear life. Settling for anything was the way to cope. They feared so much lonliness and exposure. They will do anything they can to hang on to that friend. These friends usually treat them badly I know, I did this. I never allowed myself to grow and change because my own thought patterns were so dysfunctional. Those I developed were skewed. It took 14 years to relearn them.
Another green eyed monster is popularity. For girls, popularity is a hot commodity. If a girl is considered popular, she carries a lot of social power. She may enjoy this but also deals with a lot of jealousy and backstabbing behavior in her circle. I have dealt with girls who were popular and they felt vulnerable and violated. This circle of friends is very competitive. They tear one another down so they can fight to stay on top. They do not always know if someone is really their friend or not. So, as you see, survivors can come in all packages. Popularity is what everyone wants or thinks they want. At the end of the day, it is just as destructive as any others social dysfunction out there. Girls today will go online, see how many “likes” they have on Facebook. Or, go on Twitter and see how many tweets she has that are favored. If she does not reach so many of these, she may fear going to school the next day. She is scared her popularity is in danger. It is not a healthy way to grow up. We must start taking social abuse seriously!
Listen, popularity is not what it is cracked up to be…….
As survivors missed out on learning what is healthy and not, they bring to their relationships much dysfunction. One thing I see in girls and in women is their need to belong or have someone as a friend. They will do anything they can to get in their circle. If they see that potential friend with another potential friend, it is devastating. I do a lot of observing and see this online as well as offline. Social media feeds into a lot of this as well. I will save that blog piece for another day.
Ms. Fox left suggestions in dealing with this. I am leaving this for both parents and adult survivors. For survivors, this will be much harder to tackle. However, with baby steps, its possible.
- If you see two people together, look around and see if anyone else is around. Most people will have room in their hearts for several friends. Learn to branch out and get to know others. Just discern what is healthy and not.
- Empathy: Parents, listen to your children. Survivors, find someone safe if possible to share these feelings with. Someone who does have empathy and has love in their hearts. Survivors heard of a lot of negative reactions growing up. As a result, they will struggle with this. You have to keep searching for that person to help. Jesus became my anchor here. This is one who never lets me fall off that life preserver.
- If you keep knocking on a door that will not open, stop knocking on it. It took me a very long time to learn this. However, moving on can be the most refreshing thing out of this. Not all adults are socially sensitive.
- Social skills: Please seek some behavior modification or cognitive therapy here. In some cases, you will have to go back and relearn things. It is essential to get in a contained environment away from external variables. You will be doing a lot of desensitization here. As I have a background in psychology, I was able to tackle this myself and with GOD. I had to get into a completely different environment and use the internet to tackle these things full on. It was hard, it nearly killed me but by the grace of GOD I got through it. If a child is currently experiencing abuse, please do not think twice. Get them into therapy as soon as possible.
- Get unplugged. We are so dependent on technology now. As we have cell phones, we can get access to all sorts of social outlets. Kindles help us feed into this as well. Sometimes, it is nice to do it the old fashioned way. Take time away and just spend it with others. Go out to dinner, see a movie or whatever is out there to enjoy. I lived without all of these distractions for almost 30 years. I am no worse for wear.
As survivors, our healing is at different places. Our thoughts are skewed. We have developed problems due to the abuse. I know I missed out on a lot. There is hope! We can heal! If children are currently dealing with this, do what you can to ensure they are growing up healthy. As you see, their future is on the line. A fine tight rope line and do not want them clinging to life preservers.
Thank you Annie Fox for your insightful interview and valuable information!