Some news stories grip you right in the gut with an immediate reaction of condemnation for those who have committed unspeakable acts. The reaction is multifold when those involved are children, teenagers, or the disabled.
The article that follows this author’s preface reveals details of a high-functioning, autistic teenager who was abused by two teenage girls. The startling fact is his insistence on maintaining a friendship with his abusers.
It may be easy for us to assume his autism is the cause for the way he feels. Then again, there are many teens–adults, too–who struggle with the concept of a healthy friendship or a romantic relationship. This could be distorted by the primary relationship with parents, the modeling of a relationship, the warped perspective of friendships on television, and even the natural immaturity of young people.
I believe this teenage boy is representative of many, in the sense that we all want for attention and want to feel like we belong. The emptiness of being ignored or passed by can be more difficult to endure than the slights of a so-called-friend or sporadic verbal or physical abuse that might accompany a relationship.
The identification of a true friend and the qualities of a healthy friendship is not simple. This process requires a skill set that includes critical thinking and questioning. Would a friend call me names? Would a friend laugh at me when I am seriously hurt? Would a friend lie to me?
To be clear, real, solid friendships go through their ups and downs. If you have a high level of respect and care for each other, then, most likely, you are in possession of a priceless gift–a true friend.
Understanding the imperative relationship to have is the one with self, to accept a high level of self-respect, appreciate one’s quirks and to embrace being alone. We spend more time with ourselves than anyone else, best to develop that friendship.
“You can never be happy as someone’s other half unless you can be happy as a whole all on your own.” –Anonymous
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