"For safety is not a gadget but a state of mind. ~Eleanor Everet
Several years ago I maintained a livejournal titled Hester Prynne. I had quite a few friends on my list and a few friend filters. I wrote about everything from my silly daily activities to my adoption trauma. It was friends only. I liked LJ in that regard that I could a) make it friends only and they could easily see me by logging into their journal and viewing friends list and b) I could segregate my content/topics into viewing audiences with filters. Some of my friends were interested in my adoption stories, others were not.
At a certain point in that journal two things happened. First, my home computer was hacked and passwords were stolen, key logging was happening and individuals that were not supposed to be reading personal information were. I felt terribly violated and unsafe. I also felt I had exposed my friends who trusted me with their personal information. Due to the nature of my search and support work with ehbabes, people often share really personal details of their life with me. I believe it to be paramount that I keep that very personal information confidential. I had a security leak and I felt I failed my friends.
Second thing that happened is that I began to feel unsafe with certain people that were on my friends list. Their own words, life, situation, other friends or choices made me feel very uneasy. We seemed to have different values on proper Internet behavior and as such I felt I could not keep them on my friends list. They were involved with people or groups that I had strong objections to and did not want to be associated with – if even by extension.
I eventually shut down that journal and came back under another journal (Feenix_Rising) with an incredibly pared down list. The people that I had removed were incredibly upset with me. These were people that I cared about but felt I could not trust. I tried to explain to them that it was about ME not them but they did not understand. They did not see the correlation between the first incident (being hacked by a person very close to me) and my need to pull in the journal anchors and move to another location. Reactionary? Perhaps but I had to do it. I tried to explain that I needed to feel safe and that I didn’t. I was protecting myself. They did not care. I had upset and offended them and they took their friendship toys and left my Internet sandbox.
I reflected on this situation today when another friend told me she felt she made a mistake thinking that adoption blog land was safe. She had recently been viciously attacked by someone she thought she knew and trusted and was questioning her own judgment and ability to be "safe".
My heart ached for her. I did not say much except I understood and had been there. Part of me thought about commenting on how the Internet should never be considered safe, don’t ever assume you know someone, but that is not what she needed. I just listened to her.
We discussed a few things and finally both landed on the fact that WE make ourselves safe and that is, perfectly okay, to withdraw from relationships you don’t feel safe in. We also agreed it was okay to shut down blogs, to password protect posts, to limit your sharing with people you feel safe with at a particular moment in time.
I knew the question was going to come before she asked it.
"What about our children? What about when we don’t feel safe with our own reunited children? How do we handle that?"
To those questions, I had no answers. Its understandable, to me, that our children would not feel safe with us. We abandoned them, we caused their trauma (no matter how unintentional) but for us not to feel safe with them?
Perhaps I could not answer her because the issues hasn’t occurred for me. I don’t feel unsafe with my daughter. I feel lots of things but unsafe is not one of them.
Does anyone have any advice for my first mom friend who feels unsafe with her own child?