I am hurting my brain with this one so I need a little help.
Okay... how to start. It was a situation that I walked away from with a lot of questions and concerns about the world. It was something that while I tried to suppress out of my inability to change anything, greatly affected me and has troubled my mind on numerous random occasions throughout the years since it happened. It is also something I have never told anyone about in my life. Literally this is the first time I am even talking about this to any kind or number of audience.
So back before I was in the army, I was living with my aunt in an unnamed city (for consideration of the person involved) and I was new to the area and had only been there a few weeks. I was checking out some local areas and trying to meet people. The first person I met, I won't say her name, but we will call her, Autumn. We were both sitting in the park one evening, on opposite benches and made eye contact. We both smiled at each other and she almost impulsively grabbed her bag and got right up to walk over and sit down next to me and we began talking and having a great time. She was a beautiful girl and was very welcoming. Very sweet. We spent the evening together walking around and talking and after several hours I walked her back to her place and she casually invited me in. As you might have guessed things got intimate fairly quickly. That is when things got unusual. Don't get me wrong the sex was great but like..... unusually so. She was hyper-sexual is the best way I can describe it. She seemed like a perfectly normal sweet girl, we were around the same age in our 20's, seemed to get along great at first. After an interesting sexual experience we stopped almost abruptly. She began crying and saying "I'm sorry I'm sorry". I had no idea why but I just tried to comfort her the best I could. I had no idea what was going on. She had something of a breakdown and told me a lot of things that sometimes I wish I could un-hear. She had severely abusive parents her entire life. Social services she said was completely useless. Her parents were really good actors apparently. They blended in like perfectly normal people day to day. But sounded like brutal psychopaths in the home. She described nights when her father would just burst into her room at night while she is sleeping, angry about something completely unrelated to her, and just beat her senseless for no reason. Apparently her mother and few years older brother were no better. Her brother was also a victim to their parents but he also brutalized her as the common enemy. Sometimes the parents would hold her down while her brother "punished her". It had been going on since she was a child and no one had done anything. Some may be quick to think maybe she was just making it up for attention, and for a second it had crossed my mind as well.... But this girl was genuinely pouring her heart out in front of me. She described a myriad of mental disorders that she suffered from as a result. And I did not doubt any of them for a second because since the moment she started crying, all the symptoms of those conditions came pouring out of her. I could literally point out her symptoms in my head as she displayed them. I found out as she told me, her hyper-sexual behavior is a severe symptom of her trauma I guess. Now remember, when we met she acted totally normal. I never would have guessed she was anything but happy until we got back to her place. manic depression, bi-polar, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, PTSD.... She was dealing with more than I could even imagine and it was all so bad that she actually struggled to simply function in normal society and hold a steady job or even get hired because of her medical history. When I came to the full realization, how truly traumatized this beautiful, perfectly normal looking girl really was under the surface, I nearly broke down. I gave her a short and sweet goodbye a few days later and never saw her again. I could no longer bear to see her anymore knowing all that because I wanted deeply to help her but I knew there was nothing in my power that I could do then. I did not even fully know what I was dealing with. I don't have a degree in psychology I just read about it a lot, especially back in those days, I knew far less than I know now even. It literally made me sick to my stomach because everything in me wanted to rescue her and I felt powerless. I felt so powerless and sad about the whole thing I just tried to forget about it.
But over the years that night seems to almost haunt my brain every now and again. I got to thinking of her tonight as I was reminded of her while watching something. I did a search for her name. All I remember is her first and last and what her face looks like. I could never forget those things, especially her face after seeing her completely break down, obviously crying for much needed help... and I could do nothing. I mean literally. Financially I was barely supporting myself at the time, and I had no means of helping her in any way other than being a friend but after that my stomach felt like a bottomless pit every time I saw her. Well I found several people with the same name and narrowed it down on the white pages to a listing that has the same address I remember us being at. I remembered where it was because it was close to where we met and the white pages had a map view. The address and name were a match. The question is, Should I try and call? Should I try and call and reconnect, maybe be the friend I thought I couldn't be back then? The reason I want to is.... Well, I just can't help but wonder how she is doing. If she is okay. Has she gotten help in any way. I just can't shut my mind up about it. I want to know if she is okay. I don't know why I just do. But I am nervous maybe she won't even remember me. Then I might just sound like some kind of stalker lol.
I don't know. I just remember being so sad about it and I feel bad that I did not do more to help her. Even though we barely knew each other, I felt like I had abandoned her like everyone else when she asked for help. Should I give it a try or no? What would I even say?
What is your end goal? She sounds like she has been through more than a lot of people can take on. Do you want a relationship with her - one that might turn into you being in a position of being a nurturer/healer? Is that something you are strong enough, or even want to handle?
If you reach out to her, which is absolutely fine to do (especially in this day and age where everybody can find everyone online), just be clear in your own head what it is you want to accomplish and what you are able to provide for her. If she wants something from you that you can't offer, you may be one more person that ends up causing more harm to her than good in the end. Good luck. She sounds like she needs a good friend.
You seem to be a very caring, sensitive person. I'm not a counselor, but I would say if you've ever gone to one, or if you have a good rapport with your doctor, you might want to ask them. My question would be: Who are you doing this for, really, and how do you want to feel about it in a year from now? I know you're curious, to the point of near obsession, but what price are you willing to ask her to pay to satisfy your curiosity without knowing her current circumstances?
She seemed to be the type of person to get caught up with any type of romantic involvement, and her current one might not be nearly as understanding as you. So if you sent her a letter, and he intercepted it, you might even be asking for trouble, for her or for you - it's hard to tell. I would suggest a good deal of caution here, with a person who seems to have been so damaged. That's my ten cents.
What a sad tragic situation for that girl. Were you in love with her? Sounds like it to me.
Oh there's always that "one that got away"... with men.
Here's my humble opinion. You need to really ask yourself if you reach out to her are you willing to not bolt again. I think this just haunts you.
On one hand I'm totally sympathetic to your realizing your limits in dealing with her traumas. That's a great deal to contend with for anyone! It's very hard to be with someone who's had such damage. (btdt but briefly- out of my depth also)
On the other if you're just trying to soothe the wound that you left her, right or wrong, to sate your curiosity, I would not shake up her world with my presence. If you can't stick around and make amends for real if you see her in person, you will just be doing more damage IMO.
If you are absolutely compelled to give some token of acknowledgment sleuth her REALLY well and write to her with an honest apology and own that you were out of your depth. (no harm in admitting that)
She can't help what happened to her. That was a horrible hand she was dealt, so not her fault. At the same time in situations like that my thought would be "first do no harm", because it's apparent you cared for this girl and it's haunting you.
((( hugs )))
Your own guilt at your inability to help, or even cope with what she presented then is making you feel this way.
As a survivor I must say
a. This was long ago right? She may have been in therapy for years and tried to put all that behind her, you popping in out of the blue might actually cause her regress. She might have to deal with all the baggage resurrected by your return.
b. She might not want you around, she broke down, needed help and you essentially ran away then. She might not be receptive to your rationales as to why, as they might seem trivial in comparison to her own situation then.
c. She may have had no therapy and still be suffering, and even with it most of us do forever anyway. As inevitable as the damn tide. Are you better able to help with those burdens now, or have you evolved enough as a human that your prior actions make you feel shame and you wish you had done otherwise?
like Betty said "First you should ask yourself if you would be contacting her for yourself or to help her?"
Look at your rationales as to why and wherefore, weigh all options.
No one can tell you what to do, you have to live with yourself. To thine own self be true.
Will not making any effort leave this as a haunting regret?
This is a good question. You are only 27, so unless you won the lottery, I doubt you have many more dollars now, than then, to help the young woman. Therefore you can't help her. You are just curious about her. That is not a good reason to look her up. She will remember how you left her after she told you about her life. It will make her feel bad that you are just curious now. If you are truly curious about her, write her a letter and send her flowers. Tell her how badly you felt because you could not help her years ago. Ask her to write you sometime.
I would suggest writing her a letter that she can read privately and have her own reactions without an audience of any kind ~ even someone waiting on the other end of the phone. Tell her who you are, how much you've thought of her, how concerned you are, and of your regrets. Let her know how to reach you if she wants to and make it clear there are no expectations on your end. Give her a little time to sort out her feelings and say something to the effect that she should feel no pressure to get in touch ~ you're there only if she wants you to be there. The more freedom she feels, the more likely she is to trust.
Ofcourse you are aware that one cannot rescue anyone but themselves when it comes to trauma. Your altruism is admirable. Your resilience is what has sustained you. Before you make a decision you may regret, think long & deeply of the consequences of not letting sleeping dogs lay. There is a yearning in you that for the moment seems to be consuming you. The moment may pass. The invitation to toxicity may not. Do really want the complications in your life that contact may result in? Perhaps you might follow her for a while on social media & get a sense of where she is in her life. Remember one can not rescue anyone but ones self regarding brain issues. One should never or shall I say rarely act upon emotion. Especially emotions based on "a connection" which tends to be one of pheromones & a need of the moment. For me this has always resulted in regret. You can not save her. Your urge should pass. Work thru this desire before you make any decision. Your cooler mind should prevail.
'She described a myriad of mental disorders that she suffered from as a result'.
You were just someone who found yourself in the middle of her crisis. It sounds like she had a tough life but this is not something you need to punish yourself with forever. Someone who dumps that much information about their lifes traumas on someone they just met is dealing with issues that have nothing to do with you. Let it go and move on.
For the record, being "hyper-sexual" is not always a sign of trauma or abuse. Sometimes (many times) people just really, really, really love sex.
I am answering carefully. Your confusion over what to do is the thing that influences me to say don't call her. You have more emotion about her than would be healthy after knowing a girl for such a short time. You are vulnerable. Plus, you already made the hard decision, and if you contact her again, you will have to say goodbye a second time.
From what I read you have a lot of emotions tied up in this girl. You met a great girl, had a great night of sex after a lot of fun build up, then she had a horrific break down and you wanted to help but felt you couldn't. Your guilt is understandable and your inability to let go of her is clear.
For your own sense of mind you want to reach out and get her current status. The guilt you feel is not for her, it's for yourself. I'm not saying you're a bad person, but you should recognize that sating your curiosity about her is not going to help her. You may get lucky and she's doing great and you can go away happy, but that outcome sounds unlikely. She sounds like she has no support system and as she was traumatized by what should have been her support system (family) when she was young, she will not know how to generate a proper one.
Most likely, you'll find out that she's in a bad place, maybe slightly better than she was but still bad. Her feelings towards you are probably negative, regardless of your guilt she'll know that you left her when she clearly needed someone. Again, you're only human but her view point is probably not going to shine you in a good light. What she needs along with some professional help is a lot of support and it will be very difficult on the support. Are you ready to provide that?
What I'd recommend, is that you find out what you can about her (even if it gets a little stalky) without her knowing. With more information make a more informed decision from there. The likely outcome of this is that she's still in a bad place, and even with your guilt you're not ready to support her because it's a LOT of effort. Again, I'm not saying you're a bad person, but the amount of emotional toll helping this person will be is more than most people can bare.
What I'd do, is I'd reach out and decide that I was going to help her in every way that I could until she got to a good place, and I'd probably fail. Good Luck!
Wow that is a lot to take in, It's also a lot to take on, are you sure your ready to be there. I am personally all about compassion for my fellow human, that being said this girl definitely needs to see a professional. Sure you can lighten the load a bit, but she needs to work through that. Also don't be shocked if she turns you away, she may feel like you abandoned her. This is your choice, and it is a hard one, no one can make it for you. Good luck.
I agree with what most of these folks have said.
Know your own motives first.
You would have done more back then if you could have - but you did have to take care of yourself first.
If you decide you want to know how she is - you could easily ask just that. "How are you? You come to mind now and then because I know you went through some terrible things and I wonder if you are doing better now?". That sort of thing.
I'd even say use FB or some such social media as that is very casual and the person can refuse to connect with you. (IDK if that's an option).
You don't have to complicate it. You can ask "as a friend". I'd make that plain.
Because I worked in Mental Health I've had friends here and there over my lifetime who were not in good shape. I'm a great listener. I have my own issues - so I really get it.
But be really sure you're willing to take this on as a complication in your life.
I had a friend who needed help with everything. And it finally reached a point where he's ask for advice - not take it - and not do anything to help himself. About two years ago I finally told him I was done.
To take on someone who may not be able to give back is a great thing.
But you have to want to be doing it. (This guy I got very accidentally and his therapist actually fired him for not following through - I figured that out eventually).
That was my wall to beat my head against though - not yours!
She may still be dealing with her stuff. Or she may be well recovered.
I don't think she'd want to avoid you unless she's entirely blocked out what happened.
I'd hope with a history like that one - that she finally got therapy.
At worst she may never contact you. At best you have a friend that you really want to support.
As an aside there have been people I regretted losing out of my life. And some of them I've reconnected with. So far I've no reason to regret that.
Frankly if it doesn't work - then usually they would sort of drift back out of your life.
She sounds very vulnerable and it’s a testament to you that you’ve thought about her and want to check in with her. You received a lot of advice both good and bad, but as a survivor of abuse and with PTSD, I would be very grateful to hear from someone who saw me at my most vulnerable and wants to see how I’m doing.
The smartest thing you did was walk away. Someone in my family did the rescue thing with a girl that sounded very similar to your story. Unfortunately it seems he had SUCKER written all over his forehead and she was a USER. Just a short few months later this guy is in major debt for helping out a girl because he "loved" her by feeling sorry for her. To me the jump in sexual behavior along with the sad sob stories, real or not, spell one thing BIG RED FLAGS! There is no reason to rescue someone and be the knight in shining armor because they need to resolve and deal with their own issues to have any healthy relationships anyway. AND when you run out of empathy or money, those types will prey on the next SUCKER.
You are not a licensed mental health professional...the Only thing you could do would be to help her find one she felt comfortable with...they do vary wildly in terms of competence & empathy!
Or, you could throw your life away worrying about her....just sayin'
There is a strange and consistent reaction when people are told of others traumas. Always, it seems, disbelief comes first. I suppose those of us who don't experience the worst the world has to offer don't want to believe it is that bad. I do wish people would recognise that bias when it comes up though. It's always painful to hear that someone has to "prove" their traumas every time they're revealed to a new person.
If this had been 30 years ago I'd say no, but your profile says you're 27 so guessing this was only a few years ago. I'd haul ass over there with a hand written note from you with a photo and leave a number she could reach you at. Leave it in her hands. Don't say too much. Just maybe a bit about your life the last few years and would she like to see you.