I’ve always had this wish to have that circle of friends.  You know that amazing group of friends we see in all the movies and commercials where they eat together, vacation together and are unconditionally supportive of each other even when they make mistakes.  I’ll be honest.  I am not entirely sure this kind of friend circle is entirely possible based on the current evolution of humanity, but maybe that’s my trauma talking.  I can say that it doesn’t seem to be possible for me.  I am a bad friend.  I don’t know how to navigate a relationship unless the rules are very clearly defined.  And let’s be real, they never are.

Relationships bring up the most struggle from my inner parts because relationships are where my trauma happened.  So up until now, I have had to keep my desire for that circle of friends as a pipe dream.  I have had to give myself distance from people so I can watch my reaction to them and help my parts heal.  When my relational patterns have inevitably shown up, I have had to process in isolation so I can keep building my relational skills.  Through all my processing, I have learned some of the reasons I am a bad friend.  I am not saying that to be hard on myself.  It’s not my fault I was plagued with so many relational challenges.  But I have learned that honesty about my struggles is my best way to healing.

My controller is controlling.  This is not surprising.  It doesn’t mean I am always controlling the other person.  But it means I am always trying to control the situation.  Everyone and everything has to follow rules.  If someone wants to spend time with me, I have to schedule them in.  I have to figure out how to have time for a person while doing all my other tasks.  And I’ll be honest, my controller doesn’t prioritize friendship high on the list of things to get done.  Having friends is not life or death.  There is no goal to be reached.  So they see it as something to do when everything else is done.  And everything else is never done.  My controller is also trying to figure out where everyone stands.  What is my role in this friendship?  What is expected of me?  Who has the power position here?  In friendship, the rules aren’t clear.  And if it gets too unclear, the controller wants to move on.

My isolator is distancing.  The isolator doesn’t trust.  That’s understandable.  But it can make vulnerability very challenging.  Why should I open up to someone who is just going to leave?  Why would I make time for someone who just wants something from me?  The isolator sees everyone as a potential threat to my ability to stay authentic and true to self.  So distance is best.  The more suggestions another person has, the more the isolator will distance.  They see “arm’s length” as the best option for relating to others, and they will do whatever it takes to keep people there.

My love seeker is blocked.  I do have a part(s) who wants connection.  As a matter of a fact, they are screaming for it.  They are desperate for it.  But they’re blocked.  And they aren’t just blocked by one part.  They are blocked by almost all the other parts for different reasons.  The vulnerability and closeness the love seeker seeks is not acceptable.  And the patterns they tend to recreate are not safe.  So they get blocked.  But when they do get out, they come on strong for a short time, creating confusion for someone who may be used to (and comfortable with) my standoffish tendencies.

My inner rebel is defying.  As a freedom fighter, my inner rebel wants to make sure there are no attempts to get in the way of my freedom.  If someone is interested in telling me what I should do next, you can bet I won’t be doing it, even if it is a great idea.  Don’t get me wrong, it is good to disagree and be open about it.  Conflict is fine in friendships.  But my inner rebel won’t be so obvious.  I might even say that’s a great idea.  But when I am on my own, I will never be able to make it happen.  There will be a force of monumental proportions stopping me from my attempts to take steps in that direction, even when I am completely on board with it.  And that can leave others completely baffled.

My karma kid is preparing.  My karma kid knows what the family contracts say.  If I am breaking them (and I am), the people close to me will suffer.  They will be harmed by my family.  So I either have to have secret relationships with others (which is impossible) or I have to stay on my own to avoid anyone else being hurt by my horrible family members.  My karma kid knows better than to drag any innocent people into the mess that is my life.  I must sacrifice my desire for connection to keep everyone else out of trouble.  And unfortunately, the more I like another person, the more this applies.  My family was NEVER okay with anyone or anything I really liked.

I will keep working with my inner parts and their survival skills.  I will keep trying my best to unravel the relational struggles that seem inherent in those of us with complex trauma.  I will slow things down so I can see what is happening with my inner parts.  And hopefully, I will build an inner understanding of what friendship is supposed to be.  In the process, I will do my best not to be so hard on myself for struggling to figure this out.  It isn’t my fault I am a bad friend.  But I’ll work to fix it because I deserve my circle of friends.