Cashy asks: I am socializing now, but only with people I am familiar with. But I always feel awkward around boys I don’t interact with much (friends of friends mainly). I see them on a daily basis but I am still not comfortable with them. I am very quiet when I am around them. And I don’t like staying around boys when I am the only girl there, even if my guy best friend is there – I usually leave when my girl best friend leaves without even a goodbye. And I don’t actually know why. I have two theories as to why I am so awkward around them. One could be because I spent most of my childhood with no boys, only my sisters, or it could be because I was molested several times by different people when I was younger. Do you think my social awkwardness around unknown people is because I was molested? I mostly feel awkward around boys but I also feel awkward around normal people (waiters, cashiers, etc.). How can I cure myself of this? For example, I had several flashbacks of my molestations today, so I was super quiet. Should I share this with my friends? I shared this with one friend already who had been molested once too, and it felt better to know that I am not alone. So I want to tell another best friend, who I highly doubt has been molested. How do I move on with my life with knowing what happened to me? I know you would like me to see a therapist, but I would like to recover first without one. But if I am not able to move on, I will see a counselor if necessary.
Hi Cashy –
We dogs aren’t known for subtlety or “beating around the bush.” So I’ll jump in on this one the same way I would on a squirrel or a pizza: Yes, I think your social awkwardness is absolutely related to having been molested! And yes, I want you to seek out better help than this loving, caring pup can give.
Here’s the deal. Of course I don’t know the details of what was done to you, but children live in a world where they feel vulnerable and attacked all the time – a mean kid, an angry parent, a mean teacher, or (I hate to admit it but) a nasty dog all are really frightening to kids. And yet, somehow they survive all that, and learn from it, and are able to grow into healthy adults. But sometimes, an adult does things to a child that go beyond what’s normally acceptable – sometimes damaging cruelty, sometimes something sexual (way before the kid is ready to deal with those feelings in themselves) – and the kid is affected by this at a very deep level. So much that it’s called Trauma.
In fact, Cashy, you might have heard a term that’s in the news a lot these days, PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. We usually hear it in regards to people who’ve been in war zones, and live in constant terror from the way they were affected by guns, bombs, etc. Well, the awful truth is that the effects of molestation on a child can be just as powerful as those terrors, and a molested kid can get PTSD very easily. In fact, my dear friend, it sounds like that’s what happened to you.
It’s nothing for you to be ashamed of. You did nothing wrong (no kid can, when it comes to things like this). There may very well be something for some adult to be very ashamed of, and they might need to be removed from the presence of children. But for right now, I’m only concerned about you.
The worst thing about PTSD, especially from a trauma in childhood, is that it becomes part of the person’s way of relating to the world. So deeply that, when something comes up where the victim says, “I shouldn’t be this way,” like you are saying about how you are with boys, it’s impossible for them to change it on their own. Because of this, it really is necessary for you to get some sort of help in dealing with it.
I don’t know where you live, but hopefully there are therapists there who specialize in dealing with this. It’s horrifying how common it is, and because of that, there are lots of these specialists. A good one is just masterful at both freeing you up from the effects of what was done to you, and helping you get back on your own track in your life.
If you can find someone, that’s great. But if not, feel free to write me back and I’ll see if I can find any resources to help you out. (Of course, as always, I won’t give any information about where you live to the other readers of the website).
What happened to you was unfair and wrong. It’s time for you to start getting past it, and living the life you deserve – and not being stuck in the shadow someone put you into.
It’s time for a new year, and a new life, Cashy. I’m proud to be part of your journey into it. The future belongs to you. Take a deep breath and… jump!
All my very very best,