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#413606 - 10/19/12 03:32 AM Failing a friend (Triggers?)
SoccerStar Offline

Registered: 10/15/12
Posts: 929
As I'm trying to convince myself to for-real disclose my weird pretty-clearly-abuse memories to my therapist, I think back a lot more to another source of shame and disappointment in myself. Unlike my own story this actually is something that I have discussed with a shrink in the past - I might try to use it as a "segue" with the same therapist. I don't know why, I guess because I'd mentioned it before as it had always bothered me.

When I was young (6-7), a friend of mine was in the process of being ab*sed. Though I couldn't have saved him, I at least could have been a better friend. Instead I mostly abandoned him. And after all these decades, now as adults, himself wrecked, he suddenly dropped a hint to someone else that he remembers me ruefully.

I am trying to be very sketchy here, because part of my guilt springs from the life-ruining impact this had on my friend which I think deserves to be described. However, this guy's perps were the most famous and well-known p*dophile incidents of their decade. If I say anything about them at all, at least some people here of all places will know the story instantly. So I won't say anything about them except that the perps had dinner at my house and hung out with me on multiple occasions while never doing anything to me. I suspect it was because one of the perps was dating a member of my family and I must have been declared "off-limits". I still found it creepy even as a child that the lead perp would shake my hand all the time and not let go at the normal time. When everything was finally exposed with my friend (and the many others) and national media became involved, my mother hysterical crying took me alone in a room and demanded that I tell her immediately if they had ever done anything to me too. When I honestly told her no she at first did not believe me and said it was okay to tell the truth and they couldn't hurt me and she would still love me, but I swore up and down, quite truthfully, that they had never touched me. I will never forget feeling her cry and shake like I had been spared a fate worse than death, most of that night. My unwillingness to ever expose her to that degree of destructive emotion again probably played into why I've been so closed-mouthed about my own experience in a separate circumstance. Even if I do tell my shrink I don't see myself ever telling my parents, because they were so relieved they dodged the bullet the first time. Finding out about a time I didn't escape would kill them.

Anyway. My friend. Before it all became public, I saw some signs at the time and found them very strange, but what does a kid know and understand? When I was at his house playing, he would for no reason suddenly take off all his clothes and start touching himself. He would also talk about seeing males of all ages undress around him, "and then other things happened," nothing more than that. How does a child of equal age, 6-7, follow up on that?

After the ab*se was over, our parents were very close friends and so my parents gave me the vague truth of what had been done to him. By age 9-10 the ab*se was over but his behavior started to severely change. He became erratic, acting out weirdly, and crying all the time at the slightest provocation. As he began to be known as "that weird kid" he soon became the designated victim of our entire school as everybody would make fun of him to see how easy it was to make him freak out and cry. He got beat up a lot. I noticed that I was treated much worse when I was hanging out with him so like a selfish child that I was, I wouldn't really be his friend in public but we still had play-dates at each others' houses fairly frequently. I truly believe he was happy with me as a friend even in that circumstance, and when nobody else could see me and realize that I was with him I was very nice to him. His parents bought him a gigantic dog, looking back I believe it was to make him feel protected. He and that dog were inseparable.

On another occasion, about age 11, a few kids were playing with him at his house with his toys, we were putting some action figures in "jail," and one kid said "--and now they'll be s*xually ab*used!" And my friend went livid and said "THERE'S NOTHING FUNNY ABOUT THAT!" None of us said anything - the others probably had no clue what he was talking about, and I didn't want to make his situation worse in front of other kids by talking about it in front of them.

We drifted apart over the years - went to different middle schools / high schools so as he never stopped being perceived as "weird" I had a free pass to hang out with him less. His behavior dramatically worsened over time.

Despite everything his parents did to try to help him recover, he developed multiple personality disorder. In his late teens he was driving a car when he had a personality switch or dissassociative episode or something - causing a terrible crash. He had to get a metal plate in his head, and the physical damage plus the longstanding emotional scars gave him a seizure disorder. He wasn't able to be on any real career path so this very bright innocent unfortunate kid ended up being one of those people who never left his hometown and was just doing odd jobs here and there, nothing too taxing.

20 years since the last time we ever spoke, he is now married. I don't know much about his wife except that she is supposedly angelically patient and supportive and understanding. I hope she makes him happy.

About 3 weeks ago, some of my relatives met him and his wife and parents at a religious function. And, 20 years after the last time we ever spoke, he asked about me. Specifically asked if I knew that he couldn't leave town and wasn't able to drive anymore, and what I'd been up to all this time.

We all have our own problems - my emerging memories of my own ab*se are on my list. But when I think of what he's gone through and how there were so many small steps that I could have done to make his life a little less bad, I hate my childhood self for abandoning him when he was plummeting.

We have no relationship whatsoever and I have no idea if I should try to re-establish contact and, if so, how. Let alone if it would be "in-bounds" for me to make some weepy speech about what a bad excuse for a friend I was and that I almost hope he hates me for it because I deserve it. Or maybe he'll be really happy with his wife and accepting of his fate. I don't know... I want to ask my parents (still best friends with his parents) if there were some casual way to do a lunch or something. But if he does, justifiablly, feel ill will towards me, maybe seeing it and remembering it would just make him feel worse.

It is also because of how much I feel like a failure over this person, who was not even a member of my family and not actually my responsibility, that if as it sure as hell looks to be the case my own memories are legitimate and just the tip of the iceberg of my own CSA history, I will not tell my parents. Like I said, this sort of feeling of failure would kill my mom.

Sorry if this was rambling, it is something of a trial run for my next therapy session. That will be the big one, when I say my own issues out loud for the first time ever.

Edited by SoccerStar (10/19/12 03:40 AM)
My story

"Don't think it hasn't been a little slice of Heaven just because it hasn't!" --Bugs Bunny

#413615 - 10/19/12 05:35 AM Re: Failing a friend (Triggers?) [Re: SoccerStar]
Jude Offline

Registered: 08/09/12
Posts: 1633
Loc: New England
Dear Soccer,

Welcome to MS. I hope you find the help and support here that you are looking for.

In answer to your post, I think you need to accept that it wasn't your fault. Your own CSA wasn't your fault. Your inability to help your friend during his abuse wasn't your fault.

In both cases, you were a child and were not capable of making the kind of adult judgements needed to rescue yourself or your friend. In both cases the perpetrators were adults who crossed boundries that should never have even been approached. They are the ones at fault. Even if your former friend holds it against you, it just wasn't your fault.

I had to hear that about 500 times before I could believe it, I was so invested in self-blame. The guilt we carry is a terrible burden. Talk to your therapist about it, and start to get free.

I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
Sarah McLachlan

#413622 - 10/19/12 11:33 AM Re: Failing a friend (Triggers?) [Re: SoccerStar]
WVguy Offline

Registered: 09/23/12
Posts: 18
Loc: Upstate New York
I would say to talk to your folks about it. One of the hardest things I have had to face so far in dealing with my CSA was to tell my mother that my sister had sexually abused both me and my brother for a period of around 8-10 years. But when I did, I had instant support, there was a never a moment where she didn't believe me. And in fact there was one of those moments where she said "That explains so much about how you were as a kid" Talk to your friend as well, let him know he isn't a lone either. And as cliche as it sounds one of the biggest things I have learned from here is to just talk about what happened to you. I would guess you are farther along your recovery path than I am because you already have a T. And with the guilt/self-hate I think that is something every single one of carry and deal with everyday. If you feel like you couldn't be there for him as a childhood friend, be there for him as an adult friend. Perhaps you guys can give each other a little strength because of the shared experience.

#413637 - 10/19/12 02:20 PM Re: Failing a friend (Triggers?) [Re: SoccerStar]
Clockwise Offline

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 304
Loc: Pennsylvania
Do not be so hard on yourself brother. I understand how you feel because I deal with some of the same feelings you have.

Back in high school there was this kid named Neil who was always the butt of everyone's jokes and was picked on relentlessly. He was from Asia and wasn't well integrated into American culture. It was terrible for him. I personally witnessed people hitting him and throwing stuff at him and when he would fight back he'd lash out in anger, but that just made things worst. Nobody, including myself, stood up for him. I sat back and laughed because it was easier, it ment I wasn't a target.

I had my own host of problems like dealing with my own past abuse and the sudden tragic death of my father during my sophomore year. I was hurting so much on the inside that it was just easier to laugh than protect. I don't really communicate with anyone from high school because it brings back too many painful memories so I don't know what happened to Neil. I do hope that's he's found his place in the world or is on the path to finding it.

He's not the only one from school that I wish I could have stood up for, there are more but it's so hard to be someone's hero when your just a child. I do hope your friend can understand that.
Yet another 24 hours.

#413730 - 10/20/12 08:49 AM Re: Failing a friend (Triggers?) [Re: SoccerStar]
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4223
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
SoccerStar -

i was a kid who was in some ways like your friend. at least the one who was picked on at school or in a group. and there were a couple others who i know might have wanted to intervene. but i knew that the reason they didn't was that they would then become targets of the bullies & abusers. and i didn't blame them for not stepping in. that's just the way it was . i have never felt the blame belonged to those boyhood friends who did nothing. they were as helpless as i was. so - take it from me - he may wish things had been different and is probly sad that it was the way it was - but i very strongly doubt that he blames you.

hope that helps.


Edited by traveler (10/20/12 09:34 AM)
How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?...
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails....
Habakkuk 1:2-3


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