“Maybe you are afraid that every friend you have now will leave you eventually. Because that is what always happened back then, and you were left without friends.”~Self
As I have written in past posts, after Jenn (my only friend) left, I did not have any friends. No friends from the time I was 14 and into adulthood. Those are formidable teenage and young woman years. I made friends with my Mom, but I couldn’t tell her everything. Samantha and I were ‘friends’ but we couldn’t really let anyone know, because it wasn’t appropriate. I’m not telling you this for “woe is me” attention. These are facts that affect me still today. I am hesitant to make friends. I expect them to leave eventually, so it is a challenge for me to reach out to new people. I have made friends since becoming an adult, but I hate/don’t know how to handle drama that can come along with friends. I do have some really really good friends who have stuck through hard times with me, and myself for them. For these friends I am thankful.
I was taught that it was inappropriate for me to be friends with girls that were a different age than me. The pastors gave an age range that was appropriate; I had to have a friend that was within one year of my age. That hardly matters to me now. I was taught that if I didn’t have any friends, then there was something wrong with me, that I was “not right with God”. Furthermore, as long as there weren’t any girls in school my age, the school suffered from low attendance. I grew up with this idea that as long as I was not right with “God”, I was costing the school money. I felt this enormous responsibility. When I graduated, I felt that I had never learned my lesson of what was ‘wrong’ with me, because I was the only girl in my graduating class of three students.
As you can imagine, I became a confused emotional mess. I am sure I will always be learning to pick up the pieces, and I am okay with that. I became so accustomed to being alone that I became dis-interested in friendships. When Husband and I first started dating and talking on the phone, I told him every terrible thing about myself. He just kept saying that he didn’t care. He told me that he wasn’t interested in the past or the things that I had done, he saw me for who I am now, and he liked me. I couldn’t believe that and I would push back. I wasn’t letting him or anyone else in, and it was for their own safety. My self esteem was and still can be extremely low.
When I am having a bad day, the words echo in my head of the horrible things they told me about myself: arrogant, unworthy of friends, whore, stupid, ugly, evil… These words are being replaced by wonderful words from my friends: kind, caring, compassionate, intelligent, beautiful. With repetition, the kind words will drown out the past. My friends are creating a new script.
Some things I have learned about friends since being out of the cult: they come and go. There are good ones and ones that pretend. I have kept the good ones and learned that it is okay to let go of those who are not genuine. It is okay to tell a friend about my past, so they can understand, but that doesn’t change their opinion of me. They see me for who I am today, and I am okay with that. Friends are great!