Making Friends: When to Disclose

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CapeStorm

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Making Friends: When to Disclose
« on: November 22, 2021, 06:56:09 AM »
I'm lonely. So I've decided to become a bit more intentional about finding platonic intimate friendships. As a child of a PD parent, I have many scars that I carry into all my relationships. Understanding the scars maybe an important step in forming deep friendships, but I also don't want to come across as needy or someone who is going to become overly dependent on my would-be friend. I have never shared my full story with anyone but my therapist, although people I am around can pick of elements of my background, just by interacting with me regularly.

My question is: How soon is too soon to open up to a potential friend about how "damaged" I am?

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Worthy of Care

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Re: Making Friends: When to Disclose
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2021, 12:51:18 PM »
For me, that is a person by person decision. For some friends, I have an instinct that I can share a lot. For others, I give little pieces and see how they react to those. There is no formula or perfect way to do that. Sometimes out of my pain, I share too much. From some friends, I sense and even am invited to share more; but it still ends up being too much for them. People have varying capacities for understanding and for empathy. That is about them, not about you.

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notrightinthehead

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Re: Making Friends: When to Disclose
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2021, 02:50:59 PM »
Such an interesting question. Having grown up in a dysfunctional home and then continued the dysfunction with my own relationships I had no idea how 'normal' people build relationships. So in the journey of healing I researched it. How to make friends. How to build healthy relationships. How healthy relationships look like. There is a lot of information out there, often in the negative - how it should not be.
Then of course comes the implementation. I have fared well with being honest and open when asked and let the others cope with their discomfort, should they experience it.  Not many people ask. Most are quite happy to look for common interests,  shared opinions and experiences. Intimacy takes time. I show a liitle bit of myself and observe how the other responds. If the opening up is mutual, I continue. If it is not, I stop and take note that we have reached the closeness that is comfortable for now.
I can't hate my way into loving myself.

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CapeStorm

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Re: Making Friends: When to Disclose
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2021, 05:40:54 PM »
So you are basically saying I'm going to be open and honest and if that makes you uncomfortable, that's your problem. To me that doesn't sound like the best strategy to begin a friendship.

The fact that not many people ask may be a positive or negative thing. Doesn't it place a cap on your ability to build intimacy, if there are whole areas of your life that, the other person has just glossed over in the rush to find common interests?

I lie by commission or omission. I had a father who abandoned me at birth. One of the first questions people ask are Tell me about your family? So I lie. I've always thought it is so much easier for children to say my "my parents are divorced" (it suggests they came to a point where they didn't want each other - it has nothing to do with the kid). But if your answer is "I never knew my father, he left when I was born" (it suggests the problem is with you). You're the person your father didn't want - and that thought is painful for me and risks coming off as needy or seeking pity, neither of which I want to portray.

So if you pile omission on top of omission then there is just very little room to build intimacy because the other person knows what I am rather than who I am.

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square

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Re: Making Friends: When to Disclose
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2021, 08:04:59 PM »
Youíve asked a very difficult question, and there really is no one right answer. While itís easier for some of us than others, we all grapple with how to relate to other people, whatís appropriate to share, to who, when. And the answers vary based on ourselves, the other person, the circumstances, etc.

I first want to address something that really stood out in your post. Your farher leaving when you were a baby does not have any reflection whatsoever on you.

I do understand that this can be really difficult to accept emotionally. My question to you is, do you get it intellectually? Even if you donít believe it deep down inside, do you understand it logically?

I have a second point but will post this and get back in a bit, have something I need to do first.

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CapeStorm

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Re: Making Friends: When to Disclose
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2021, 09:24:58 PM »
I first want to address something that really stood out in your post. Your father leaving when you were a baby does not have any reflection whatsoever on you.
I do understand that this can be really difficult to accept emotionally. My question to you is, do you get it intellectually? Even if you donít believe it deep down inside, do you understand it logically?

Yes, I get it logically but I don't believe it deep down inside. After all your own father wanted nothing to do with you. How can that possibly not be a reflection of your worth? Particularly if said father goes on to have children with someone else and play good dad to them.

People used to tell me not having a father was a huge loss. My defensive response was always You can't miss what you never had. But the truth is that children do better when they have both parents in their lives.

I would have been less socially anxious growing up, would have had a male role model and having another parent would have helped me find an escape from my single mothers OCPD. I would be a great deal more psychologically healthy than I am now. There's even new evidence that growing up without a father could permanently alter the structure of the brain. :aaauuugh:
« Last Edit: November 22, 2021, 09:51:37 PM by CapeStorm »

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moglow

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Re: Making Friends: When to Disclose
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2021, 09:53:33 PM »
Quote
...But the truth is that children do better when they have both parents in their lives. I would have been less socially anxious growing up, would have had a male role model and having another parent would have helped me find an escape from my single mothers OCPD. I would be a great deal more psychologically healthy than I am now.

With all respect - maybe, maybe not. You get no guarantees. Plenty of people here on these boards had both parents, and plenty of us are damaged anyway. We did the best we could with what we had/have, and it's down to us to overcome and build better.
"Expectations are disappointments under construction.Ē  ~ Cap'n Spanky

Stop Stinkin' Thinkin'!

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Andeza

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Re: Making Friends: When to Disclose
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2021, 01:27:14 AM »
"So tell me about yourself, what's your family like?"

"Oh, you know, totally dysfunctional. I put some distance there for self-improvement though, and it's been an interesting journey. What about you? Parents? Siblings?"

We're playing tennis. The ball got lobbed into your side of the court, you give a light answer, and lob it back. If I'm just meeting a potential friend for the first time I would bust out the whole "I'm adopted, the skeleton in somebody's closet, only child, abusive mother, fully NC, etc etc. That's like dropping a bucket of cold water on someone. However! The dysfunctional answer is something that many many people share to some degree. Very few people think their families are perfect. Therefore, it's 100% honest, and relatable.

As far as the rest, you disclose when it feels natural. Answer honestly, but briefly, and then lob that dang ball back into the other court to keep the conversation moving. As the scarred children of PD parents, the natural inclination is to just blurt all that crap out, or say absolutely nothing at all. I propose the middle ground. The correct path often lies in the balance of extremes.

But what I'm really seeing here is something deeper I think. I'm going to take a guess, and I may be off the mark. Sorry if I am.

Capestorm... You know you're worth being somebody's friend right? You know you're not so damaged by your experiences that you can't have that in your life? Most people are not going to have a criteria list you've got to meet like "Must have two parents" "Must have had a perfect childhood" Nah. Nah. It's not like that. They'll come to see your scars over time, and appreciate them, because they make you the person you are. Sending you one of these :bighug: 'cause I think you need it.
Remember, that there are no real deadlines for life, just society's pressures.      - Anonymous
Lasting happiness is not something we find, but rather something we make for ourselves.

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square

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Re: Making Friends: When to Disclose
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2021, 02:05:39 AM »
 :yeahthat:

The other thought I had that I said Iíd get back to - maybe itís more than one but they are connected. And I think the idea of ďbalanceĒ is the connecting idea.

This is just my take - your complex question will elicit different takes.

Balance - in that you reveal yourself bit by bit, not all at once. Balance, that you notice yet donít obssess over the other personís reaction.

One person that got the answer Andeza gave will pull back a bit, confused or something else.

Another will say ďOMG ME TOO.Ē

And both are ok. If someone doesnít seem to get you, thatís ok. Not everybody is a good fit for every (or any) part of us.

Balance - that you do take a risk because you are expressing loneliness and a need for human connection. This is worthwhile. This is what life is about.

Balance - that you are careful. People are disappointing. We canít help it. You will feel hurt. Thatís why you just reveal in bits and stages. To not feel destroyed, to feel like you can try again, with the same person or another one.

You can answer a question honestly but briefly. The other person may ask for more info, and you can respond with more honesty but keep it simple. Or they may not ask more, they might just think about what you said. Or they may have a disappointing response but you will have told them only a little and you can either try another person or enjoy that person on the level they can be enjoyed at. (Some people are fun but will never really get to know you).

You might consider meeting people in situations that are about certain things, so there is some structure. Church. Book club. Hiking group. You meet regularly. There is something to talk about. You can be honest but the focus will be on the activities and subject, not overly personal topics. 

Or maybe you want to cultivate some connections online first.

Itís worth the risk. Make mistakes, itís ok. Then try again.

Oh, and yes, a healthy father is priceless. A toxic father is a burden. A father may or may not have helped you. You deserved healthy parents.

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CapeStorm

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Re: Making Friends: When to Disclose
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2021, 06:05:02 PM »
But what I'm really seeing here is something deeper I think. I'm going to take a guess, and I may be off the mark. Sorry if I am.

Capestorm... You know you're worth being somebody's friend right? You know you're not so damaged by your experiences that you can't have that in your life? Most people are not going to have a criteria list you've got to meet like "Must have two parents" "Must have had a perfect childhood" Nah. Nah. It's not like that. They'll come to see your scars over time, and appreciate them, because they make you the person you are. Sending you one of these :bighug: 'cause I think you need it.

I've long being diagnosed with dysthemia (low grade depression) and I live in a highly toxic environment, which for the foreseeable future I can't leave. This means I have a huge inner critic which enjoys telling me just how unworthy I am. I think also even I did make a meaningful friendship, I'd ruin it, because I am desperate for others approval. I may just be inviting even more toxicity into my life (negativity attracts negativity after all).

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kelleron

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Re: Making Friends: When to Disclose
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2021, 02:15:00 AM »
Hi CapeStorm, I'm Kelleron, pretty new here too. I am a little shy to open up about my family background too. Often, I have lied about my past as well when asked. I usually just avoid the question, saying, "Oh we aren't that close. What about you?".

I can't say I have the solution exactly. But I felt more comfortable when the other person actually replied the truth about their family. I live in a conservative culture, so things like estrangement, abandonment, family abuse, even moving out before marriage, is pretty taboo. But someone I'd met not too long ago actually told me the truth about her difficult family background. It made me feel awkward inside, like I didn't know what to say, but I also appreciated her honesty, because it made me feel a lot less weird.

I am still afraid to make real life friends who are healthy. I don't feel like I deserve them, like they will slip away if they knew who I really was. I end up getting all excited to be around people who feel familiar (aka toxic, self-centred people who aren't reliably there for me), even though they ultimately make me feel worse.

But I don't know, the girl who was honest with me is still trying to talk to me, even though I reply to her sporadically, and even then my replies are completely clumsy and not cool haha. I am trying to overcome my self-doubts and fears of unworthiness and try to be her friend. I keep on replying though I am literally scared she won't want to talk to me anymore! Sometimes I feel I'm a little mad to do that, haha.

I guess what I'm saying is that even if you're completely not cool at all, genuine friends will want to talk to you. They see something in you that you don't see in yourself. The truth is you are adding something positive to their lives no matter what made you who are today. I only met this girl because I put myself out there and tried to make friends. I guess it was those little brave first steps that led me to find her.

I can't tell what will happen in the future, but I'm sure if you can take the first brave step to try and make real friends, you will find someone eventually. And I've always believed you don't need a whole gang of friends to be happy. You only need 1, maybe 2, true friends to feel real connection.

I even told that girl about my family situation, the real situation, after we had talked a little more. I feel more comfortable sharing with her now...And hey, in the meantime, you are welcome to share your family story with us here! We all come from messed up homes, so you'll fit right in haha :) Nobody will judge you here. :)

« Last Edit: November 25, 2021, 02:16:39 AM by kelleron »

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treesgrowslowly

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Re: Making Friends: When to Disclose
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2021, 10:33:47 PM »
I've been NC for years and I can count on one hand how many people I've said anything to. Most people in my life don't know anything about my NC or my history.

One time i spoke to someone who has disclosed they had family members with addiction issues so I said that is in my FOO too. It made sense in that situation to disclose more than I had before.

But honestly, someone can become a good friend to you without knowing your trauma history. They are going to get to know who you and and the most important thing to them is how you treat them.

I try to avoid the stigma that still exists in society. Telling a new friend that we have depression or abandonment wounds is very risky. That's what i think. People are trying to figure us out when we meet them. Maybe its a gift to everyone if we can let the friendship be based on how the 2 people treat one another.

I am sure there are people with perfect childhoods who treat their friends awful and people with awful childhoods who treat their friends great. People who have done some healing often make great friends...i hear. So leading with "hi im trees and I battle anxiety" isn't the full story. The reality is that we are all working on our self. Your story is complex.

You'll know how to disclose some of it, once you get to know someone.

The people I know without PD parents will never understand my healing work. I don't tell them anything.

Sometimes we have to give ourselves freedom from our past and I think that new friendships deserve to grow in that soil. You have asked a really important question about life after PD parenting.

Trees

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xredshoesx

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Re: Making Friends: When to Disclose
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2021, 11:39:37 AM »
i'm not really into sharing about all my trauma either.

for example. i've worked with the same people for 4 years and have just started speaking on some of the family history.  i feel more comfortable with people knowing 'me without baggage' before i share at that level.