Across my life I have had many people try to define who my friends should be. Some were successful in their attempts, probably because I wasn’t strong enough to stand up for what I wanted and for what I knew I should have.
As a child, I had a number of adults who deemed that their offspring were not allowed to be friends with me. What had I done wrong to get this judgement? I was a Preacher’s Kid, and Preachers Kids had a reputation for being ‘off the rails‘ and generally a bad influence. I wasn’t ‘off the rails‘ at the time, and if anything their offspring were probably a bad influence on me. But the ‘jury’ had me announced to be bad news, simply because of my father’s profession, and so it was difficult to have the friendship we might have wanted.
As a teenager, and then as an adult, I spent many years being the victim of two stalkers. Society seems to have this idea than stalking, and being stalked is a bit of a joke. It’s not. Among other things it plays serious havoc with the mental health of both the stalked, and the stalker. Stalking is never a joke!
It was difficult not to let my friendships be defined by the actions of these two men. Friends were an access point to their victim, and so I constantly had to be careful about who I spent time with, what I told them and where I went with friends. Some of my friends at the time were amazingly supportive, and I will always feel much gratitude to them for the way they supported and protected me. But other friends fell by the way side. It was simply necessary for trying to maintain that mental health, but I feel sad that I have missed out on much because of this.
By the time the stalking terror was over, I was married and again, I was told who my friends should and shouldn’t be. Perhaps most memorable to me is the friend who was ‘barred’ from our house, particularly while my husband was at work. She was barred because she smoked (he didn’t realise that I had started smoking by then), she too had a mental illness, and perhaps the most dastardly ‘deed’ was that she was a lesbian. All of that made me more angry than ever, for so many reasons. This particular attempt to define my friends very nearly ended in tragedy. Thankfully it didn’t, but it was certainly not without lasting harm to both of us. And to my marriage, which is long since over thankfully.
All of this came to mind in a disturbing manner this week when I discovered (I’m probably months behind most people) that Facebook has decided for itself who my ‘close friends’ are. What’s more, without my permission, Facebook will tell these ‘close friends’ of my activity on Facebook. The cringe factor sky-rockets for me instantly, and what I want to do is run as far away as possible from Facebook.
This might seem extreme to many, but not for me. Again, I am being told who my friends are, and scarily similar to the many years I spent being stalked, I find that those ‘close friends’ get information about me which I have not agreed too. Remember too that these ‘close friends’ are not my close friends. A few maybe, but they are simply Facebook friends I have contact with regularly on Facebook.
I object strongly, Facebook.
Now that at least some of these people get a notification when I am ‘on-line’ (even though I permanently have the chat function turned off), I am starting to feel stalked again.
People know what I am doing, and when I am doing it. This is the scariest thing when you have been stalked. The stalker knows more of what I do than even I know. Somehow they seem to know before I do something. They constantly know everything, and I have little or often no power to stop that. I am left with that familiar feeling that there is someone standing outside my windows just watching me. I lived with that reality for 15 years, and many years following as I tried to recover from the trauma of living this way.
Yet again, my friendships are defined by others. Just when I’m learning to define myself, I have a social media that wants to do that for me. That completely freaks me out. It seems that I have little control over who Facebook determines to be my ‘close friends’ and I have no control over what they get told about what I do.
This time social media has gone too far for me. I know that most people won’t even get why I am so disturbed for by this, and in a way, I am glad because it tells me you haven’t had to live as a prisoner of another. As for me though, I need to work out what to do. I can’t live like this. Time for some thought.
“I cried for all of those things that should have just been for us…”
― Kate Chisman, Creep
- Stalked… But Still Hiding Part Of Me (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)