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 Gregory_Vice
Joined: 3/22/2012
Msg: 1
I need advice on mending a broken soul [under review]Page 1 of 2    (1, 2)
Without ever expecting it, I recently found myself in a difficult situation with a young woman of a troubled past. This young lady and I have been sharing three college courses since late February. For many weeks we had never spoken to each other, although we had always acknowledged each other with cursory remarks. Last Tuesday, however, we randomly met each other on the way to school. With a simple "Hi," we started talking, and for the rest of the class period, enjoyed each other's company. Shortly after class, we sat down and continued talking in the cafeteria when the unexpected occurred.

Although she hardly knew me, she began to confide in me the pains of her life. Out of left field, she opened up about one of her last relationships, which was physically, emotionally, and sexually abusive, the details of which are heartbreaking. As one can imagine, it's a demon which she has yet to silence. To make matters worse, her current boyfriend's father, with whom she was close, had just suffered a heart attack. And during this trying time, her boyfriend instead vented his grief smoking pot with his friends instead of spending time with her. All of this is a mere microcosm of plenty of other pains she has endured in her short, 18-year old life.

After we parted ways on a happy note, I was left pondering over everything she had just told me. What was so unusual about her telling me all of this was that she had no reason to entrust me with her brokenness; in fact, she hardly knew me. And yet, she still told me her story. It all seemed quite surreal.

We met again on Thursday, when she confided in me that her boyfriend's father, with whom she was close, had just passed away. What's even worse is that her boyfriend is going to Denver, leaving her alone in New York. I could see the pain in her eyes, something which she concealed with a smile. Nonetheless, we still had a good time just talking between classes.

However, in English class, something inside of me triggered a great sense of compassion for her - a kind of sincere sympathy I had never felt before. During his lecture, our English professor read a passage from a book on the sexual exploitation of children in Cambodia. The details were so horrid that no one made a sound. When I looked to my right, I saw her, her head down. That was when I nearly wept in the classroom not only for women who are raped on a routine basis but also for this girl who confided in me her own abuse. I literally felt compelled to hug her and tell her not that I understand her pain, because I don't, but that she is a strong woman, admirable not only for surviving her abuse but also for lending support to her grieving boyfriend. But I did not, because I had not wanted to bring her any attention in the classroom.

As the class concluded, I could not say a word to her without risking shedding a tear, for my sympathy was too heavy to bear. So, she went her own way to class, and I had not a chance to talk to her. I went my own way too, heading over to the nearest lounge on campus and throwing myself onto a couch to grieve in silence, allowing my thoughts to flow and my mind to be cleared. After an hour of pensive reflection on everything I had felt for her and for women who are abused, I stopped, smiled, and felt a profound appreciation for life. At that moment, I felt joyful to be alive and breathing and so joyful for her that she still breathes to this day. Although some people, like herself, endure many pains in life, we all are so fortunate to be given the gift of life.

Since that Thursday, I haven't seen her, and will probably not until Tuesday. This brings me to my present challenge. When I do meet and talk to her, I want to say a word of encouragement. I want her to know that she is strong, that is blessed to be alive. But I frankly don't know how to do this without triggering her memories again or making her feel awkward. And I most certainly do not want her to think I'm trying to get too close too soon. However, if I let this pass without saying anything, I may never have another opportunity to uplift her with the genuine compassion I had and still have for her suffering.

For these reasons, I hope someone who has been in my shoes can give me sound advice on how to talk to her. I know that what she needs is comfort, otherwise, she would not have uncovered her past with me. I just need a way to convey this comfort appropriately and as sincerely as possible.

Thank you for reading.
 _TALL_IQ2_
Joined: 2/10/2010
Msg: 2
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/5/2012 5:43:35 PM
Well grasshopper, you can't mend another, her soul or anything. She has to grow and mature herself, and if necessary with an actual therapist.

What you can do is to be a sympathetic ear, allow her to vent safely to you and sometimes give her a hug or take her to dinner/walking/any fun events and let her talk more.
Be creative and invite her to do something fun after class or on the weekend. Sports or exercise groups may help her cope with her troubles and not dwell on them.
 Iona_Bob
Joined: 3/31/2012
Msg: 3
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/5/2012 5:55:52 PM
Google knight in shining armor for more info.
 jmark4
Joined: 7/3/2011
Msg: 4
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/5/2012 6:00:24 PM
Gregory you need to butt out. You are an 18 year old with little to no experience in life. There are so many red flags going up I'm blinded.

You seem like the classic "nice guy" in your age group that is very soft.

She has a boyfriend; let her talk to her. And if she's such a messed up past, then she needs professional help; not from an 18 year old that has a crush on her.

You are not a counselor; and I doubt her story in general because those that have gone through that aren't exactly the type to go tell someone they dont know all this pain. There is shame, pain, guilt, anger and many other feelings involved in this and something isn't right.

Dont' get involved. You can't "save" her. Let her talk to her boyfriend or a professional. You are playing with fire and are about to get played.
 Gregory_Vice
Joined: 3/22/2012
Msg: 5
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/5/2012 6:10:22 PM
Tough advice, but I've the feeling you're right. Maybe my softness was about to get the best of me, but that's why I posted this to a random forum, because I did need some advice before I did anything too thoughtless.

I appreciate it.
 Gregory_Vice
Joined: 3/22/2012
Msg: 6
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/5/2012 6:13:06 PM

talk to her honestly...let her lead into her personal life...respond in a positive manner, but honestly.
expect her to have many setbacks, and expect to face many frustrations when she does not seem to be able to absorb the simplest solutions you present to her...
except her confiding in you as an honor bestowed on you... and not as an invitation(bf/gf) to a relationship.
choose wisely... it is a very delicate responsibility to mend a broken butterfly. and the mender can not be the lover

I'm inclined to agree. I do care about her, but I feel she needs to deal with the past before she engages in another relationship. If I talk to her, I'll do so as a friend, not as potential bf. Hell, another relationship is probably the last thing she needs right now.

Thanks.
 flaneur001
Joined: 7/31/2011
Msg: 7
view profile
History
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/5/2012 6:19:32 PM
Philip,
The only one who can mend a broken soul is that person. As the men above said tread very carefully here. I suspect they have a lot of wisdom and experience here. If you see her be kind and thoughtful. If you ignore her she may feel that she disclosed too much and this might escalate her shame. However, if she starts to talk about her problems, with great kindness and empathy, tell her that you are limited in what you can advise....given that this is a new experience for you, however, you see the importance of her situation and you would encourage her to seek help - school counsellors, the local sexual assault/rape crisis centre...these are all free services.

What you must resist...even if she initiates is sexualizing the relationship. The main trauma of sexual abuse, is the betrayal of trust. Her father or who ever it was ...was suppose to protect her and support her not use her for their own gratification. Don't end up doing the same thing...the nice guy who wants to be a friend then ends up having sex with her.
The most healing thing you can do, is be her friend by directing her to the resources that have expertise in dealing with her complicated issues.
 Gregory_Vice
Joined: 3/22/2012
Msg: 8
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/5/2012 6:29:29 PM

Philip,
The only one who can mend a broken soul is that person. As the men above said tread very carefully here. I suspect they have a lot of wisdom and experience here. If you see her be kind and thoughtful. If you ignore her she may feel that she disclosed too much and this might escalate her shame. However, if she starts to talk about her problems, with great kindness and empathy, tell her that you are limited in what you can advise....given that this is a new experience for you, however, you see the importance of her situation and you would encourage her to seek help - school counsellors, the local sexual assault/rape crisis centre...these are all free services.

What you must resist...even if she initiates is sexualizing the relationship. The main trauma of sexual abuse, is the betrayal of trust. Her father or who ever it was ...was suppose to protect her and support her not use her for their own gratification. Don't end up doing the same thing...the nice guy who wants to be a friend then ends up having sex with her.
The most healing thing you can do, is be her friend by directing her to the resources that have expertise in dealing with her complicated issues.

Thank you for the kind words. Bringing sex into the picture was the last thing on my mind, because I do not want her to let her guard down anytime soon. I even told her to be wary and not allow anyone to get too close too soon. But I will encourage her to seek proper help if she confides in me again.

Most appreciated.
 RUQ
Joined: 3/31/2012
Msg: 9
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/5/2012 7:39:20 PM
As previously said: no one can mend the broken soul except the individual with the broken soul.
What you described is common; Those who have experienced severe trauma, as you described, (various forms of abuse in particular) are unaware of normal communication boundries and will discuss the details with anyone who will listen. (I know this simply because I have been one of these people in a former life untill I got therapy)
She is most likely NOT even aware of how inappropriate she may have been.
She maybe seeking someone to listen, and you are the only one who can decide if you can be that person without becoming too involved. Ideally she will find a counsellor who can help her, but if she doesn't want the help she won't take it. Just be careful not to get sucked in to her drama and to take much of it on yourself.
I would suggest DON'T ASSUME what she NEEDS~ASK her what she would like from you. And listen to her. If all she wants is an ear, and you feel you can do that WITHOUT offering advice, go for it. or if you can't say that too.
Tell her what you can and can NOT do to support her. (ie: Ride to see a counsellor; hang out to play ~insert random sport here~; have a meal;)
Good luck~ you are obviously a kind hearted soul.
 _PassionFlower
Joined: 11/27/2011
Msg: 10
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/5/2012 7:39:59 PM
you need to listen to some Al Green, and make a CD for her as well.....
 J_bird61
Joined: 10/22/2011
Msg: 11
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/5/2012 9:02:24 PM
First, I want to say kudos to you for seeing something that not everyone does. For having compassion when not everyone will.
For acknowledging the abuse, physical and emotional, that some women have to endure and calling it what it is.
Your heart is large. Making it vunerable. It's a heart that makes people act. Or lack of one that makes them turn their heads.
The way you talk to her should be to A) listen B) understand C) introduce bits of regular life.
Such as a walk to get ice cream, an hour at the dog park, a trip to the zoo. etc. It's a regular life she wants and can't see. She's under a cloud at the moment and I think that after time, sometimes lots of it depending on all that's gone on, and after regular things happen more than not, she'll start to heal. But it's not exactly up to you. If you care, or if you want (which you don't have to), and if you had patience and belief, then you could help. But not cure. And that's the part that you have to remember, ultimately it's not up to you how she will deal with all this.
And encouragement is huge for a woman to hear. Especially from a man. Saying things that tell her she can do it or she's fully capable of handling something or that she's handling it well. The problem is she may need to hear it way more than once.
Some of the women around here have been broken. It's not pretty and it's not completely all up to you to fix it. Remember that.
 bwena
Joined: 2/5/2012
Msg: 12
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/6/2012 12:01:12 AM
Gregory Vice, Thank you for sharing your story. What a compassionate person you are. I am moved by your motivation to feel for this girl. Of all the things we read on the forums it was nice to hear a story about someone showing kindness and compassion towards a woman that you have just met. As suggested, of course, it is not your place to heal her and she has much pain to work through. However, who of us cannot use another friend? If your motivations are true and you don't feel romantic toward this girl, but really are concerned for her, just be her friend. Tell her that you admirer courage and then just be kind to her. When you see her, say hello. Make her laugh. Give her encouragement. Just be a friend. We all need each other to heal the wounds of life. Just receiving a smile from another is healing in itself. And don't ever lose your ability to feel for others. You should feel proud to be one of the few who take the time to help their fellow man (or woman). Kudos.
 WiseBurro
Joined: 11/25/2011
Msg: 13
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/6/2012 1:04:45 AM
Most all the advice here is great.
I'll offer one more bit: When someone opens up like this(people I barely know), I tend to be polite, but my sympathetic reactions are immediately squashed. It may seem like I don't care, or rather, I don't know what to say. It is deliberate; they want to "suck you in", as mentioned before.
You don't need that, so even friendship is something I would be wary of here.
I would say try to date other women(just to balance your social circle in a way you don't get pigionholed with this one), but school is more important than anything else, you likely don't have the time or cash to date.
 purfectmeow
Joined: 4/17/2012
Msg: 14
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/6/2012 1:24:41 AM
She has to mend her own broken soul through therapy. A friend is one to lend an ear; a professional is one to give proper advice and guidance. Just for the flip side: Small gestures can turn into large debts that never get repaid with persons addicted to a cycle of abuse. You as a stranger may be a target.
 motown_cowgirl
Joined: 12/22/2011
Msg: 15
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/6/2012 3:33:41 AM
People who spill those kinds of personal details about their lives to others they hardly know (unless you're their therapist) are psychic vampires.

People who think they can "mend" them are kidding themselves.
 magicallaroundme
Joined: 3/9/2011
Msg: 16
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/6/2012 4:02:01 AM
jmark hit the bullseye on this one. I can only add some background that might be pertinent.

You are in college. Unless you are in a STEM field, they are no longer institutions of learning, they are instruments of female hegemony. If you are soft the faculty is downright squishy. Your entire environment is about imaginary rapes, baseless female complaints and how you are personally responsible for it all. They and she meant to manipulate those reactions out of you. They aren't done yet so watch out.
 Pingshooter
Joined: 3/15/2009
Msg: 17
view profile
History
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/6/2012 4:03:10 AM
OP,

Colorful writing, use of adjectives. Did you write that all by yourself? At 18? Hmmm (raised eyebrow)

You are making this everyday life situation, into a made for TV movie. Be there for her, IF, she wants to talk. That's all you can do.
 starofgaia
Joined: 4/11/2012
Msg: 18
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/6/2012 4:06:48 AM
Her soul isn't broken. It's still in tact and you're not any overarching deity to "save her." she has vast life experience so young that she'll make the wise decision once she is old enough to apply it to situations which might assist others n making good decisions for themselves. When you feel bad for somebody like that, or feel like you have to save her, then you impede her growth.
 Broomhilda_the_Nun
Joined: 4/16/2012
Msg: 19
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/6/2012 5:01:04 AM

People who spill those kinds of personal details about their lives to others they hardly know (unless you're their therapist) are psychic vampires.

People who think they can "mend" them are kidding themselves.


Ding ding ding ding ! The above is the correct answer.

Broken people are a challenge to help, even for the most invested and skilled professionals.

The danger of this for lay people is "we don't know what we don't know."

I'd no more wade in to provide psychotherapy to an abused person than I would pull out a kitchen knife and start toward the appendix of a person with abdominal pain.

Yes of course, be kind to her, as is your nature (that's why they choose you).

But more harm than good can come of it, if you don't know what you're doing and step in to start mending or fixing human beings.
Have a care.
Help her get professional help.
 a_Libra_rising
Joined: 2/29/2012
Msg: 20
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/6/2012 7:24:06 AM
She will grow out of her pathos eventually, and so will you. Until then, try not to derail yourself so much by getting involved with other people's demons. You can't save people from themselves, so be selfish and look out for yourself. Or maybe that's just the lesson the hero of the story has to learn.
 Drestin.Red
Joined: 8/27/2011
Msg: 21
view profile
History
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/6/2012 7:33:33 AM
Excellent attempt at writing! However, the plot has been done to death. Boy meets gorgeous wounded bird, 7 drama filled chapters filled with him rescuing her, she gets preggers, dies in child birth, he buys a house with a little white picket fence, he never marries & the baby, a girl of course, grows up to look exactly like her mother. And the audience cries & thinks he is the most wonderful man in the world! Surely you can come up with a better story line than that.
A little critiquing. You have included so many details that you took all the mystery out of the story, next time hold back a little so the audience will ask questions, that way you can keep the thread going.
Too much info about you, to the point of being self grandiose. This whole plot is about you being the confused hero, next time don’t make it so obvious.
Know your audience. You should never write about something you know nothing about then present it to a group that are experts in the field.
If you are going to practice on us, don’t give out so much info about yourself, like the “writing” interest in your profile.
I give you a B, nice use of grammar, too much info too soon, plot line over used. Overall not a bad attempt & you did fool a few posters. Good job! I’m looking forward to your next thread.
 soicat
Joined: 3/3/2010
Msg: 22
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/6/2012 7:47:46 AM
OP - don't pay any attention to DrestinRed. Only someone with a heart of stone could read your depiction of this poor girl's plight without laughing.
 Drestin.Red
Joined: 8/27/2011
Msg: 23
view profile
History
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/6/2012 8:35:02 AM
Soicat...I respect your opinion, but I do expect the same in return. With that said we can turn it around & say only someone with a stone cold heart would use such a sad situation to hone their writing skills in order to make themselves appear to be the kind sensitive hero. JMO
 AnAustralianWoman
Joined: 4/26/2012
Msg: 24
view profile
History
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/6/2012 8:59:06 AM
Kayla58..... Msg 3 ...Why even bother to answer a thread such as this? It easy to see you have a heart of stone.
OP You must come across as a kind hearted person and this young woman can see that.
Your young she is young and needed a person to talk to.....You were that person.
Unfortunately everybody has a 'past' and a 'now' and you cannot fix the problems presented to you.
You have now involved yourself in this young woman's life and it would be cruel to step back.
All you can do is be there for her as a friend.
Don't advise her just listen to her cause that's what she need's.
 ThusSpokeZarathustra
Joined: 4/24/2012
Msg: 25
I need advice on mending a broken soul
Posted: 5/6/2012 9:10:14 AM
Wow, a woman who's almost 60 castigating an 18 year old boy.
I bet that's a power trip and makes her feel good about herself.
Hear her roar.
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