I’m probably dating myself a bit, but some of you might remember and old slogan from a certain phone company that encouraged us to “reach out and touch someone”. I can still remember the actual jingle in my head, and now, well that’s just great, it’s stuck in my head. Don’t ya hate it when that happens?
Anyways, (yes I say that a lot in my posts because I type how I talk), in my sessions my therapist encourages me to expand my support system so I have people available when I need them. These people would be those that I trust fully to tell some or all of my sacred, horrific, past and know that they won’t divulge my secret or judge me. So, she wants me to reach out to more people (see what I did there?)
Now, I don’t know about you, but while I do have friends, I don’t know how many of them I actually trust to keep important secrets. I’m talking ones where I don’t even want them telling their spouse, much less anyone else. I do have a couple of friends that I can trust like that I think, and perhaps there are more and I just am too scared to open up to them with something like a history of childhood sexual abuse. Certainly I wouldn’t want to discount their loyalty to me, so it is indeed likely there are more of my friends who would be that trustworthy and it’s just something I have to get past. Add that to the ever-growing list of things I need to work on.
So really my therapist is the only one that knows everything that I know, or at least that I can remember so far of what happened. She knows the scary details as much as I can describe them, and I feel comfortable in telling her pretty much anything that comes into my head. I know that’s what she’s there for, but still it takes time to develop that trust. I would say it took a good 6 months of sessions, dealing with other topics in my life before I was ready to open up about the past abuse. Again, my own shortcomings that held me back. Fear, worry, shame, include those as well.
I do have two friends that know some of what happened. Really only bits and pieces. One that I’ve known for 20 years, I just told recently and the other has known for about 6 months now. While neither knows very much, both have offered to be there for me in any way I needed. For the life of me I wish I could just open up and tell them everything, and I’d have more of what I need, support.
I guess part of it is that I don’t think they could possibly understand so they’ll only be able to give me a bit of what I’m looking for. Then I’d end up being disappointed and wishing I’d never said anything in the first place. Or maybe it’s that I think they’ll just feel bad for me to the point that they won’t know what to say. Which would not be good either, at least that’s what my mind tells me because it would seem like empty pity even if that wasn’t their intention.
See how that works? I can rationalize not having any support system for fear of getting hurt by friends who are there to support me through the things that hurt me. It’s really quite frustrating. I want to believe I can reach out and open up, and sometimes I come “this close” to doing it, then I back off. Maybe some day.
In the mean time, I’m using the social media outlet as way to cope in between sessions and it’s been quite extraordinary so far. The Twitter chats of #SexAbuseChat , #NoMoreShame , #ImNotAshamed, #PTSDChat, and others like it are incredible resources full of people of all walks of life who can relate because they’ve been where I am, maybe were you are too.
There’s nothing wrong with using social media to reach out, there’s a wealth of support out there, and we can all use some more of that in our lives.