To be very open about 'my past'(121 Posts)
Hello, sorry this may be long and a bit ranty.
I'm in my early 20s with a toddler. I'm a single mum and shock horror I currently live on benefits! I'm in the process of setting up my own business though and will be receiving working tax credits instead within the next month.
I have had a bit of a turbulent past, an unhappy childhood/even worse adolescence. Lots of sexual assaults/rapes which eventually lead to drug habits and mental health problems as well as me being sectioned.
I've done a lot of things I'm not proud of, and for a long time I was so ashamed and unhappy with myself. But not anymore. From the day I found out I was pregnant my life changed and I have been completely clean for over 3 years, I am a very loving mother and a good friend and girlfriend.
I don't have many friends, I don't tend to befriend people easily as I have trust issues. But I have joined a young mothers group in my area, we go every week and as it's always the same group of people we have all got quite close. We get talking quite a lot about life in general, and a few weeks ago my past drug habits came up. Since then I have felt a huge change in atmosphere within the group. I'm sure they all judge me.
I have been told by people before that I should just lie to new people I meet, including new boyfriends etc about my past. My DP is amazing, knows everything and loves me completely for who I am.
The biggest part of me thinks well, this is the truth, if people want to judge me off of it without having lived my life then fuck them I don't need them. But am I just being an antisocial idiot?
I mean I don't greet people when I first meet them and say 'hi I'm Cundt I'm an ex junkie' but when you spend a lot of time chatting with people it can tend to come up and I don't shy away from it.
Am I doing it wrong? Would you not want to associate with me anymore? I don't feel comfortable lying about my life, I'm proud of who I am now so perhaps I'm destined to not have many friends. I don't mind that much I guess.
There's a nice grey line between honesty and over sharing. Find it , you are entitled to privacy.
If you've had poor boundaries in the past it's hard to find. I've suffered with this myself.
I think it depends on what the rest of the group were talking about and sharing. Reading your post, it seems to be that you just seemed to reveal all of this (and some of it is horrible, you must be a very strong person) and then expect to conversation to go back to nappies?!
I wouldn't share to be honest. I just think that addiction is a private issue....people WILL judge. If you want to be judged then share away. It's the minority who won't judge...the majority will think "Ah...best give her a wide berth then."
I genuinely don't just spurt it all out willy nilly, we were all having quite a serious emotional conversation about how our kids changed our lives etc. and somebody asked me! Perhaps I should have just come up with something else...instead of ruining the whole group dynamic!
I don't think anyone is entitled to know my life story, but I also don't feel like I should feel obliged to hide it.
I agree with Laurie. Everyone has different boundaries and one person's honesty is another's TMI.
Also, it might not be the drug history that means the atmosphere changes. I don't really get on well with people who talk about every little detail about themselves all the time and have no filter. Someone who tells me about their drug history at a baby group would potentially fall into that category so I would avoid them. It wouldn't be the drugs thing but the not using a filter.
But it doesn't matter really what I say because everyone is different. If you want to talk about that stuff and don't want to talk to people who don't, you'll eventually find someone who is comfortable with it.
It is a hard one. Of course you should feel comfortable disgussing it with your dp, you have a long term intimate relationship with him or future dp.
mums at school gates and fair weather friends possibly best not to. Wrong or right people do judge and gossip and it can not only effect your life but also your dc's.
I admit though it is hard when you think that these ladies are friends and open up as close and trusting friends should be able to, to then be treated this way. Put them in the 'fair weather friend box' and move on
Someone asked you if your DC had changed your life and you told them that you were sexually abused, a drug addict and suffered from mental health problems? I think, in the nicest possible way, that you misjudged the conversation and now they do feel a bit awkward.
When you have your first child, you tend to go into protective overdrive. I would be feeling raw and vulnerable myself and if you started freely sharing about an abusive past, I would instinctively pull away I'm afraid (whereas if I was single/childless, I would be able to listen without being judgemental). It's a protective instinct of a sort, perhaps.
Unless you are still that person, then don't share about who you once were.
Tbh, most people don't want to know about your past, it's probably quite boring for them to have to sit & listen to it - personally, I'd only tell my doctor & partner about my addictions ( past or present )
It depends on the context and how well you know the person you're speaking to. I personally would be relieved to encounter something other than offspring conversation at a baby group, but I could easily see someone else being a bit shaken because one minute you're discussing potty training, the next you're telling her about your addiction and abuse, when you barely know one another's name.
So they may not be judging you for having a difficult past, they may be being wary because they don't know you well, and may feel you have revealed something dark and significant in a social chat context, and are now wondering where the relationship goes from here...? I think you might have had the same response if you told them you had been widowed in a hit and run at twenty, or had grown up in care.
Or they may be being sanctimonious.
I think it depends on the audience. Talking about past issues which people who are close to you and appreciate you, no problem. People who are acquaintances, who may find it difficult to separate your current self from the past one, avoid.
No Santana I didn't say all that, but I did mention that I used to have a drug addiction. It says that in my first post
I think (and hope!) that the people who stick around are the ones who are worth having as friends
and sod the rest of them!
I honestly wouldn't share too often.
It sounds horrible, but from experience most people back off very quickly because they just don't know how to handle it unless they've been there themselves. I don't think it's about being judgemental as such. For what it's worth if I met a person who admitted to addiction (and I have, my dear grandfather) I would respect them for having the the balls to kick it.
However, most people will back off I find because they don't know how to handle it, and for that reason very few people know about my personal life unless they absolutely have to. I'm scared if I do be honest no one will want to know any more.
Wear your achievements with the pride they deserve , you have so much to be proud of . Tell people what you want to ; so what if anyone has issue ?
Just be aware that you only tell as much as you will want your dc to know though .
But shouldnt isn't it a bit shit having friends who you think would probably run for the hills if you revealed who you used to be?
It isn't who I am and it doesn't define me but everyone's past plays a part in who they are today. This is probably why I have a few close friends and don't really bother with anybody else.
I really don't just come out with random life stories around everyone, perhaps I wasn't clear but I meant with people I am forming relationships with. The young mothers group has always been different to an average playgroup as we are encouraged to talk to eachother and not just about nappies and weaning!
I think it is brilliant that you have turned your life around, but I wouldn't share either. Not because you should be ashamed, but it just isn't that appropriate, and people will judge.
I had a very turbulent / traumatic time in my teenage years, and nobody except my DH knows (and he doesn't even know all of it). For years I felt very ashamed, even though looking back, I was very much a victim of circumstance, but at the time I lost a lot of friends, their parents told them they weren't to associate with me etc (I hadn't actually done anything wrong - victim of severe physical abuse, taken into care for my own safety). It really affected my confidence and self esteem for years, and even now I don't really keep in touch with anyone I knew then. In fact, even posting about it is very triggering.
I am a completely different person now. I have a loving DH, 2 lovely DC, and am very senior in my career. When I think back to my teenage self, I feel sadness for the trauma that happened, and I suppose experiencing what I went through contributed to the person I am now - strong, resilient, a strong sense of justice, empathy, and a hesitation to judge harshly. Having said that, it is my past. It does me no good whatsoever to dwell on it, and I am glad that after many years, it no longer affects my confidence.
It is something I most definitely wouldn't share with other people, and in fact I will most probably ask for my post to be deleted in time.
Yes but they're not yet your friends and it sounds like you're over sharing.
You haven't found the line with new acquaintances yet.
Many people have dark pasts and skeletons in their closet. I have known some people for years and they still don't know certain things about me. Wait until you get to know people very well and trust them. It's probably more suitable to disclose your past on a 1 to 1 basis rather than group settings. You are not the sum total of your past, and you don't need to make a big show of revealing all your past weaknesses to get close to people.
there's the other side to this too. whereby you become friends with these mums and then someone who knew someone whose brother used to know you will spill the beans. then your new friends feel conned and deceived. I think I would go for dropping hints like I "used to be a bit wild", "got a chequered past" etc. If they then probe deeper, offer more details but slooowly. Good luck and glad you find peace and happiness.
I think it is a case of finding the happy medium. I have a history of depression involving sectioning and long hospital admission (over 15 years ago now). I think that at first I felt that to be open about it was necessary - and I still am open in that I don't hide it. I don't let it define me, so much has happened since, it is something big that happened to me but doesn't affect me every day.
I think that when people have just met you, they can be uncomfortable with sharing of personal information like that, especially if they haven't much experience of the issues and don't really know how to handle the disclosure. I think a better way would be to let them get to know you as a person first, and if they become good friends then sharing a little information might be a good start to see how they react.
Keeping some boundaries isn't the same as feeling ashamed. There is no reason to feel ashamed, rather feel proud that you have come through and overcome something so difficult - many don't. But if people know this about you before they get to know you, it might be difficult for them to know how to react.
Having read what you said about the conversation you had with your friends, it doesn't sound too inappropriate to have said what you did - maybe less specifics to see how it's received, as in "I had quite a difficult past and having children has changed the way I see things" etc etc? People might ask more, they might not? I don't think you need to worry about this group of friends though, I think that if you just keep being yourself they'll see that there's more to you than your past, and it might change their perceptions. Just be normal and let things settle?
you need to find a balance - no you are not obliged to hide it - not at all BUT that doesn't mean everyone has a right to know or wants to know
sometimes oversharing can seem attention seeking and needy - plus there is a damn site more to you than your past
I speak as someone who has not one iota of shame about my abuse but who has learned that that is personal to ME
not sharing doesn't equal being ashamed
other people can't keep being expected to validate you
It depends on whether you truly believe it when you say " if people want to judge me off of it without having lived my life then fuck them I don't need them."
If you mean it and you aren't likely to be hurt by people judging you, or backing away from you, or limiting their child's friendships with your child, then hold your head up high and say what you want to say when the time feels right.
But if it is likely to hurt you if people judge you, even though your head is telling you you don't need them, then it might be best to keep quiet. Only you can decide.
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