Non-survivor Privilege

To the person I once called Friend,

It wasn’t like I was going to drown you with a bunch of statistics or give a five minute crash course on PTSD and narcissism.  Nor was I going to make an emotional plea about living with abuse as a child and as an adult.  I didn’t do this, did I?  My words weren’t asking for sympathy, I was sharing a part of me.  I made a decision about my life that doesn’t look pretty, in fact, it is so ugly that to even think about it sometimes I fall apart.  When you asked me why I didn’t talk to my parents?  My answer wasn’t long and distinguished seeking validation, it was simply: It is healthier for me.  I ended it there.  I wasn’t going to justify what I had done nor was I going to lie not because I thought you didn’t have the ‘right’ to know the truth, but because, you see, you did have that right as my friend.

It took every ounce of strength, energy, courage – the little I had left from fighting other battles that come from surviving the abuse – to voice the truth.  To say that you deserve hearing it because you are my friend.  To say that this is who I am.  Not hide behind a web of lies I got tired of keeping track of in my head.

As hard as it was to face that hurdle, I face a bigger one today.  Because half of it isn’t really getting up the courage to say it out loud, that really isn’t it.  To have the truth come out of me in one sentence with 5 words that may seem so trivial was one of the most freeing moments.  To not condone what my mother and father had done to me anymore.

But it really doesn’t matter, does it?  It is abnormal, not something anybody wants to hear or consider.  Because to consider it might make you uncomfortable for five minutes.  And maybe, just maybe, that uncomfortability wasn’t worth friendship.  True friendship, anyway.

To you, the person whom I once called friend, however abhorrent my 5 words were, yours were by far the ones that cause people to fall, to lose hope, to feel pain so unbearable it causes you to stop breathing.  These words written to me after I told you I was in contact again with my abusers were of gladness and understanding for how they must be feeling.  I thought it was betrayal, maybe part of what I felt when I read your words was betrayal.  I was hurt, sad and angry.  But what were you thinking and feeling when you wrote those words?  I don’t know, I may never know.

What I do know is that it partly came from privilege.  Privilege, you may ask?  It isn’t a privilege to live without abuse, it only becomes one when you think your story is the only story with merit, worthy of consideration.

Take care,

TR, a Survivor

14 thoughts on “Non-survivor Privilege

  1. TR, I’m sorry that your friend couldn’t figure out how to be your friend. I’ve been there before too, and it can be so hurtful. It’s hard enough to deal with all of this without guilt and obligation and other crap being heaped on us by those who could not possibly understand. Thinking of you. XX, Jess


    • Hi Jessie,
      Thank you for your thoughts. It was hurtful to hear this message, the friend contacted me after three years of not hearing from her and realised I did the work of staying in contact. I wrote this ‘fake’ letter to let out my anger. xxTR


  2. Jesus, TR. what a powerful letter to write to yourself. The clarity amazes. 5 words, to know
    their truth for yourself. Yet still, the “friend” can only identify from the privileged perspective, with how your parents must be feeling. wonderful post, and a needed one as the once-dreaded (now not so much) “Mother’s Day” approaches. xo CS


    • Hi CS,
      That was the interesting part of her response – I hadn’t heard from her for 3years so I wrote to her some highlights and I didn’t mention reuniting with my FOO, only that we go back about twice a year to see them (as was one of her questions). And I didn’t think she remembered the last time she asked me about them but it was clear that she knew that me going back twice a year meant reunification. There were other things about the friendship that made it clear it was no longer to be, not this one response as a lot of non-abuse survivor’s don’t understand because of their own fears, emotions, etc. It was interesting, nonetheless, because she also wrote about how in the time we hadn’t been contact she had gone through major self-selection and personal learning (her exact words). There were other ‘pink’ flags.

      I’m digressing. Yes, Mother’s Day, it feels not so dreaded this year too.

      Happy Teacher’s (Professor) Day to you! Thank you for all the you do, many teachers (professors, coaches, lecturers) have gotten me through difficult times. Hugs, TR


  3. Was yesterday “Teacher’s Day”? I was too busy giving final exams to notice!! You are allowed to “digress” on your own blog, no? In fact, if it’s on your blog, it aint digression! Your “friend’s” words were interesting. “self-selection and personal learning”? what the heck does that even mean? xo CS


    • Ouch, final exams, that made my heart beat faster. 🙂 I hope that means a ‘break’ is around the corner for you as the semester ends.

      LOL, self-reflection and personal learning, I think I read it somewhere on a billboard or on TV 😉


  4. Hi TR,
    I’m so sorry you friend showed so little empathy. I understand how much it hurts, the pain you describe is just how I feel too. I find it so puzzling that people would comment on something on which they have so very little knowledge, and that, while claiming to be your friend, they would choose to view it from your parents perspective and not yours. How easy and simple would it have been to say something like: “That decision must have been very hard for you. How are you coping?”
    Thanks for sharing the article on “privilege”. It was very good.


    Kara xxoo


    • Hi Kara,
      Thank you.
      What you say is very true with her ” I find it so puzzling that people would comment on something on which they have so very little knowledge”. In fact, she knew very little and I talked very little about them. She, on the other hand, is really close to her family of origin and talked about them all the time so she found it ‘weird’ that I never talked about them – with this statement: “I can’t imagine not speaking to my family.” Thus, I didn’t divulge more info on my FOO.

      The decision was hard but not hard at this moment in time. The last time I saw her was after discovering narcissism and I had started blogging. I realized I had done a lot of the ‘work’ in the friendship so I started to pull back. And then, she contacted me to have dinner when she came here for work. I knew she had come here before for work and hadn’t contacted me but after pulling back she set up dinner with me this time. Then, I didn’t hear from her for 3 years after trying to stay in contact over e-mail. In 3 year gap, I accepted that the relationship was not 50-50. It was hard and new to deal with the anger but this letter helped (which surprised me) so I am ‘okay’ with it today.

      I really liked the article too, she addresses topics that one not dare speak of.
      Hugs, TR


      • To say:“I can’t imagine not speaking to my family.” when the conversation if about someone else’s family is very self-centered. Is also irrelevant to the discussion you were having with her, because presumably her family situation is completely different from yours. I wonder if the thought ever occurred to her.



        • I wonder that too. She prided herself on her close family and at the time I was struggling with what to do, still in a place of self-blame. Thinking about it now, although not vocalised, I probably didn’t ‘hear’ her stories about her close family – we didn’t hear each other. Hugs, TR


  5. Pingback: Book Review: The Dance of Anger | In Bad Company


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