I have been thinking about this topic lately, and I just read a post about a teenager with an FASD, and how he was manipulated by his “friend” to go into a store with a fake $100 dollar bill and make a purchase. So, I took that post as a final sign to write about… MANIPULATION. SUCH a long word for something so hard to detect.
Anyone can be manipulated. You don’t have to have a disability to succumb to it. I have two memories that I now know were manipulative situations. The first one happened when I was maybe 10 or 11? We were at my grandma’s, and there was this neighbor boy, who was about 13. He would come over to hang out, and after pretending to want to play games with me, like pool, he told me we should play a game under the pool table. I was like, “sure, why not?” So under the table I went. Well, he asked me to do things, and I did, because he was my new friend, an older friend, and I wanted him to like me. After it happened, he left, and I went to have dinner with my family upstairs. I ended up telling everyone what happened, because I felt sick over it. My parents assured me it was not my fault, and the last time I saw him was that night, when my dad took me to get ice cream. The kid was riding his bike down the street, looking to come “play.” MY dad looked at him and yelled, “GO HOME, AND DON’T COME BACK!” I never realized that kid had manipulated me until I became an adult.
The second time I remember was when I was in high school. There was a girl on my track team, and one of her friends who was in a couple of my classes, and occasionally we would all eat lunch together. These girls called my house one day, and asked if they could come over and hang out. I was beside myself with excitement, because I had never been asked to hang out with them outside of school before. They came over and hung out for maybe 45 minutes? Then they left to go to a party. My mom found out they left almost as soon as they got to my house, and thought that was strange. I told her they had a party to go to. My mom looked at me and told me, “They used you. They used YOU and THIS HOUSE and US. They told THEIR parents they were going to hang out at OUR house, but really are now at a party.” I didn’t want to believe it. I got mad at my mom, and stormed off. I thought about the events, and later that night, my mom came into my room to talk to me about what had transpired. I realized in that moment I had been taken advantage of. I remember crying and yelling, “Why would they do this?” I was so hurt. It was a horrible feeling. I really thought they were my friends. I called the one girl the next day, and told her how upset my mom and I were at the situation. The girl and her friend wrote my mom and I each an apology letter. So, I guess something good came out of it , but i remember to this day how my heart felt. Looking back at these moments in my life, I realize my FASD contributed to me being easily manipulated. I am 42 years old, and still find myself in situations where I can be easily manipulated. I see the signs now, and I usually run events and situations by my husband , best friend, and/or my parents. I have gotten more aware of bad situations as I have aged, and matured.
For those with an FASD reading this blog, stop and think before starting an activity. If there are people you know from school, but don’t really hang out with outside of school on a regular basis, be careful. Just always take a moment or ten to think about the situation you are in, or may be in. For those CAREGIVERS out there to those with an FASD, drop me a line, a question, a comment. Keep doing you, be on the alert, and keep lines of communication open with your kiddos.