This is part 7 of the "Cross-Cultural Caring" series. The series deals with tips and tricks that you can use to succesfully make a cross-cultural relationship work.
To bite or not to bite? That is the questions of today. It is no secret that the first world society is far from innocent. I believe that is why there seems to be such a fascination with my friendship with Marisa. There is quite a level of innocence that exists in the dynamics between us that is just not seen in relationship between people in North American society. And I would really like to keep it that way! Unfortunately, that can be challenging at times especially when I have to leave Argentina and go back to a society full of snakes.
This blog deals with what you can do if you feel like you've been "bitten" by a friend or someone from your own culture and not only are you wounded, you feel that venom is trying to get to you. I got "bitten" when I got home after my first trip. In fact, I got bitten by more than one person and in one case it affected me greatly. I could feel that there was this venom inside of me trying to get to me and affect all that was good. I didn't want to come back to Argentina a different person than the person Marisa knew and loved.
So what do you do if you've been wounded and you're afraid that what is happening in your world is going to affect that person that you love from a different culture who has no idea of the problems that exist in your culture? You do what any person does when they've just been bitten by a snake....you report it. Tell that person as soon as you feel comfortable. That is what I did, I shot off an email to her as soon as I felt OK. I wasn't expecting her to have an answer or even a response. At this stage in our relationship, all I wanted for her was that something had happened.
To tell you the truth, I think I tell Marisa just about everything if I think it's going to affect me. I don't allow myself to keep secrets from her and on her end I don't think that is a problem because she doesn't have any secrets! I've told her openly about this blog and that I am writing about our friendship and putting it on the internet and in the email I told her all my feelings and all that I was going through internally. It's really important for me to do this because I do have the type of personality that internalizes everything and then when I react, people have no idea where I am coming from.
But I don't just talk with her recent situations where I have been bitten, I have a difficult past and because of that, I get scared of letting people too close to me. And I get scared that I'm gonna hurt someone that I love. I have my own baggage that I've had to work through but I decided that there is nothing that she can't know about. I've let her know that I have issues that I have to work through so she understands my reactions sometimes and that in all things, I do love her and I would never hurt her. In fact, if I knew that I couldn't be a safe friend, I would rather that God remove me from her life. But apparently God does think that I'm a good friend so it looks like I'm not going anywhere!
This is her first ever friend from North America and I wanted her to have a really good experience so I felt really protective. I try my best not to bring any issues into our relationship and when there is stuff that is affecting my behavior towards her, I let her know. Part of me doesn't want to talk and keep things private. But like venom, those things will become poison to my soul if I don't talk, destroying every good thing in it's path. Yes, I do have a right to my privacy, but I waiver that right to protect the safety of my friend. I don't think I could live with myself if one day I ended up hurting her because someone hurt me and I didn't deal with it properly.
Our relationship is alway evolving. She is growing so fast and I am beyond proud of her! One day soon, she will be at a place where she will have a good enough understanding of the complexities of relationships in my culture to be able to take action if something that should happen that will affect our friendship. But no matter how long we know each other, we always have to adhere to the number one rule. And that is to keep in mind that the first step is always to report a snake bite....