During recovery there's an influx of information on getting support. My challenge has been finding people who want to be a friend. I found yesterday that I don't really don't have the strength for a friendship. We need friends and people to be there. I found myself questioning, can I be there for that person. Since the trauma, my definition of friend has changed tremendously. I discovered while I look for those who can meet my standard, I questioned do I even have the strength? I believe I need to take more time to heal. Am I even meeting my own standard? PTSD requires different demands. Any thoughts?

15 Replies

  • Hi PoeticOvercomer,

    During trauma, especially that that is endured for a long period you lose many. I did. Then you question if you can add value to a friendship or just co-dependent and needy. Not giving back, as you gave so much to others prior too that were not your friends but abusers....well that's my story. I lost many great friends along the way and frankly to embarrassed to contact them.

    Then I feel shallow, but in truth have a need inside to make amends, as when I was going through my abuse I was not there for them...consuming me with shame and guilt. This leads to fear in finding new friends. I have to admit the boyfriend was easy. Men always seem to be easier to attract. But he is kind, gentle, loving and I love him too....but also have guilt that I am not giving all he needs. Friends are harder, as my boyfriend requires little, as I am always here and that is what he needs.

    Do you ever feel you share too much, making it one-sided? I have found in my recovery and probably in my rationalizations I burden those could be friends with my truth. What I am realizing is people don't want to know that part. They want the happy, self confident me I use to be. I know it is a self confidence issue I have to work on, but after having to explain yourself, your service dog and disabilities to strangers, like those on a bus, human services, social security, psychologists, doctors and that is and has been your only interaction with people in years you just blurt things out. All those other people, not potential friends, ask "your history" reliving it once again. For example, being thrown out in -15 degree weather with no keys and only my dog to keep me warm....not really a good "small talk" conversation.

    So, as friends go, I am looking in to groups, but it is a constant struggle and I am lonely. My boyfriend works two jobs just to pay for my therapy, so real interaction is missing. I use to go to restaurants and sit at the bar and strike up conversations, but then I was drinking too much and they were just strangers that stayed that way. I use to do Meet Ups and plan to try another writing group and joined Toastmasters, but they meet at noon so there is no aftermath.

    So, in a nutshell or a coconut shell:=} I feel your pain, but at least we have this great forum. You are not alone.



  • Wow can I relate to the "sharing too much" part! Strange that all of my struggles just pour out of my mouth after spending most of my life hiding the traumas, even from myself. But, I can't handle loud sounds, music or crowds and those are normal social avenues. So, some explanation is required.

  • Equis! I relate to yours too. I'm easing into loud sounds but I still have challenges. I started with children's lullabies and sounds of nature to ease back into music. I am a singer so it was truly awkward. For me, I had to do a little each day. It took me months to walk in the mall. I've gonna to social events only to take 3-4 days to recover afterward. Hang in there, step by step.

  • Jenn, thanks for your response. I found I shared too much, because I am a private person. However, when you are somewhat "isolating" and have no one to talk to, what's on your heart will come out. So I finally gave myself permission and said it's okay. Talk therapy is good. People share problems all the time. I just found that I had to be comfortable with talking. It's good that you have a good boyfriend. : )

  • I found that while being very venerable people i thought were my friends were only taking advantage of the situation.. Now i fear having someone to close due to distrust. I'm finding this is not uncommon when you need some one you can trust.. Becarful

  • All of my friendships at this time, are internet folks or out of state. I lost friends that I have had for 20-40 years when my son died. People with their grief avoidance. You really find out who your friends are when life turns to sh*t. Funniest part is, I never talk about Ben except for therapeutic venues like here and FB- because most of my FB friends are grieving parents.

    I personally need more time before I look for new folks- if ever. About the only people worth having in life are open, honest and caring people. I have 'dumped' a whole load of people out of my day to day life because I really don't have a life anymore and don't leave home. I am grateful for the internet.

  • Hi MultipleChris: Your posts reminded me of the fact that I had lost many "friends." So that explains my not wanting to run into friendship. I'm sorry about your loss. People are wary of grief, when it is such a part of life. I do know that you will be better for grieving. I hope that you come into the sunshine of life little by little. I know what it is to not want to leave the house because the sadness was so great. I got tired of trying to explain to people my situation, who really didn't want to hear. So be encouraged. You are passing through this valley.

  • It's comforting to hear people here understand what seems so easy for others...having so many friends seemingly with ease. I've always been a few close friends kind of person. As an adult it's been much harder for me to keep even 1 or 2 close girlfriends. I have a couple but only keep in touch occasionally; not frequently. It's so much easier for me as an adult to have close guy friends which thankfully my fiancé is very understanding. Women just seem to complain about self created drama they just keep repeating over and over I swear just so they have something to dominate the conversation with. I find it very difficult to forge close new friendships because it always involves sharing your past to get to know someone. My dad sexually abused me from age 2-15. My mom died of cancer when I was a teenager and my brother killed himself in my mid 20s. That pretty much kills any normal common banter people have in passing or the first types of questions asked to get to know someone. I can't bring myself to lay that on people who find it un comfortable. I find it uncomfortable. I hate sounding so pathetic and when I hear my story out loud it sounds so utterly grim and depressing I've been blessed with a few friends who know some if not all my major stuff so convo with them is "safe" in that I won't be put in an uncomfortable moment answering normal questions. Some of my newer adult girlfriends are self absorbed and do all the talking/complaining about stupid stuff they can actually control so they drain me. I'm a great listener and do it for selfish reasons as well so I don't have to answer ques about myself. I've been avoiding those types more and more but then don't have much if any girlfriend interaction. I also struggle with feeling I don't have the energy or wherewithal to go through the motions of friendship which is what it feels like to me because when I'm with these people I don't feel a real connection that means anything to me. I also struggle feeling like I don't give enough to my fiancé Recently I've been questioning if I know how to love anymore. I loved my parents and brother so much and they either abused me or died. After my brothers suicide something broke in me. My spirit has never been the same and it feels like I lost the capacity to love someone that deeply again. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and allowing me to share mine.

  • I was just reading through the stuff on the right sidebar, reading. I have struggled with friendships my whole life, always felt like there was something wrong with me. People come and go so easily and there is no constant connection going on.

    I hear you today, GD. In reading your thoughts, mine are so similar..........

    Why bother making new friends, they will just die, or they will find out about my real story and run away because it is too uncomfortable for them.......

    or their life is full of normal stuff and mine is not................. silence.

    I am so tired of losing, moving, people dying, and having to start over again..........

    Today, i can be sad and grieve my losses. I react as any human would.

    And tomorrow I will try again........

    but for now, I have internet friends who I can read knowing that someone out there understands this different life................. and sees it as normal.


  • Hi Gemini, wow, I can SOOOOO relate. I've tried hanging with a new friend. The "self-aborbed" thing is too much. I just experienced that for a whole day and I was exhausted. I don't know where the "self-aborbed" get the energy. LOL! Anyway, I can relate to being abused. I was. I have been coming to terms with it for the past few months with the help of a therapist and much prayer. I suppressed all the pain for decades and now am dealing with it. When you love someone deeply you will feel the loss deeply. I understand that wholeheartedly. Love is eternal. Thanks for your reply.

  • You have a health disability. This is very very different than when you were fit and well. The ability you had in give and take when you are well is now very much compromised. You are now open to a class of people which I refer to as social predators. They pick on those who have a weakness such as a health disability.

    Having a health disability attracts social predators. As a result you have to be discerning as to who is a friend and who is an acquaintance. There have been several articles in Scientific American Mind on a class of people called frenemies. These are people who masquerade as friends but are in reality not.

    Many people who are fit and well have no concept of what a health disability means. They cannot understand the lower mental resources you have. They are unable to understand how much longer things take which means you have far less time to devote to the trading of time that friendships need and require.

    I have had to drop many friends after I acquired my health disability. They involved too much stress which I did not have the resources for. I found others who required far less resources and were far more capable of understanding my situation.

    I had also had to go out and find people who could help me with my disability because a long standing health disability does not reflect what the literature says about it. The literature ignores what it is to live with a health disability 24/7. The literature fails to consider the symptoms that are displayed by a health disability is dependant on whether your stress is below or above your stress breakdown point at any point in time.

    Your stress breakdown point can be quite a stressor on friendships.

    Hope this helps

  • John! You're soooo right. Having a health disability is apart of acceptance. Thank you for the reminders. Yes, I have encountered the frenemies. Thanks again for your input.

  • C-PTSD is truly an invisible disease, except for the people that knows us well. They can see it, but also don't understand it. Trying to explain my flashbacks to my mom, step mom, even father is like I am speaking a foreign language !I think my boyfriend sort of understands, but if it is he who triggers me he does not. He does not know the predator I see when something happens. For example he was too tired to go to dinner the other day, but I also wasn't being my "happy" self, so when he said he wouldn't go that triggered me into the punishments I got from my ex for not being "perfect" that would last for days. So, my fear making new friends, as I only have maybe two from my past life, when I use to have a circle of friends and I was the nucleus is very scary. What if I am triggered and the "invisible" shield of this disease is unmasked? What if I fail at friendships? I already feel as if I am failing at life, where prior to 9/11 and the abuse that followed and failing my non-bio daughter for having to leave her, then repeatedly going back with an abusive man I was the "pristine" least as talking points for my mom and dad. Great job, traveled all the time, made very good money. Even my friends were proud to be my friend. I did event planning for charities on the side of the other job, so I could get them into any place in Denver. So, yes, probably used, but my weekends were all I had, as I traveled for work most days of the week.

    I apologize for throwing up all of this...but, I once planned an entire event for a senate contender at my home, well my ex boyfriends home (guess I just lived there) from D.C. I had groceries delivered, got back from D.C. at 4pm got home at 5 and prepared heavy appetizers, not prepared...I love to cook, then dressed and ready to entertain a crowd of 150. The candidate thanked my boyfriend, but failed to mention me in his speech...My boyfriend did nothing but drink and socialize (mainly with women- his MO) I was deflated. The only good thing is I still give him (the contender) trouble about it to this day and it is a joke. Well, not to this day. I have not seen him in five years, as I am long forgotten. The even thought of doing this today, with my triggers and unsure when one might occur is impossible. I was so dependable, now I feel "flaky". I had flaky friends and now wonder if the were sufferers of C-PTSD and too proud to share.

    So, I guess in a long convoluted way, I am sharing with what all of you are going through. I hope to make friends here and some outside. I have my service dog, which helps me to get outside. If any of you want to know the process of training a service dog let me know, as they can be with you always and will make you feel safe.



  • Chilidawg, I can relate as well. Speechless. Thanks for your input.

  • I think I just lost a very long time friend -- maybe my last really long time friend left -- a few days ago. It was a rant I had over email about politics which I think may have offended her sensibilities. I can do that -- become angry/passionate over violence in the world. Over-react. And then when the email bounced back to me I thought -- oh, oh -- so I checked my last email to her and yes it was "angry" and she may have taken a part of it personally or simply had too much going on in her life to want more drama.

    I feel very sad -- so much loss in past seven years -- I cannot seem to keep an old friend , only old acquaintances who don't know "my story."

    I want to be known yet I don't want to be rejected. I want to be able to express feelings as long as they don't abuse others sensibiliities. I don't want simply polite conversation -- I want to learn from others and jostle if there is a disagreement -- work it out -- feels healthy.

    Still -- I'm vulnerable and that's not who I've always appeared to be and I know it scares other people who identified with me. It's like learning someone is very sick with any disease and finding that after an initial call or two the relationships wither -- this is true for most people if it lasts more than a few months. Depression is contageous and iwe're in a society that even sometimes mislabels helping a friend as co-dependent.

    I think it's true that most people are lonely and find diversions to avoid the truth of it. Those of us with PTSD are not able -- yet -- to divert our attention to things outsdie of ourselves as a remedy.

    Thanks for listening and may all have a peaceful evening.

    I find when I'm really in need of a hug and no one is there -- like now -- I can cross my body with my arms and give myself a warm hug. And I can pick up my dog and lie her on her back and give her a message. Or go for a walk. I'll be doing all of those things in the next hour after a day of too much activity and fear of having lost another friend. I promise to call her on the phone in a week or two and see if I can reconnect when she's less stressed. In the meantime I can send her a card -- or a photo I took of her that she may like to have.

    Something nourishing and light.


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