Just off the cuff, I hate trying to come up with a catchy title for each entry. I suck at it. Just saying.
Sooo…learning. I hate learning and change. I always have. I’m the one who loves my little comfort zone, good or bad, and have always had the tendency to protect it like my own family. It’s taken me 40+ years to learn that staying in ANY comfort zone is not productive. It’s harmful, destructive and paralyzing. If you are in a seemingly good comfort zone, where everything is done just “so”, you are taken care of and at the very least, content, it’s still harmful to you. It’s harmful to those around you that would benefit from the wisdom you would, otherwise, have. For me, it’s easier to stay in whatever I’m used to. To go beyond that requires taking a step into the unknown. As you probably remember from previous posts…that terrifies me. It’s easier to stay in whatever situation you’re in, right? Even the bad, abusive situations? Lets get into this one a little deeper.
Taking a step back in the past…back to the beginning of your life with your abuser. What was the number one thing he/she did? Tested you for weaknesses. Those that he or she could use to gain an advantage over you. Something to exploit and use to keep you trapped. Can you remember what that one thing was? Hind sight will usually make that one perfectly clear for you. If you are still in the middle of an abusive situation, take a quiet moment and use it to reflect…glean knowledge from that time. Introspect. Can you see it? Can you recall? I sure can. Mine used a situation with an ex boyfriend, to find my Achilles heel. Mine was an excruciating fear of anger, negativity and confrontation. He discovered that if he confronted me, using anger to do it, I would cower. Especially if he changed his tone moments later, to a calmer more understanding one. He discovered my tendency to cave due to guilt. There was no reason for me to feel guilty. He upset me. He changed his tone, then I would cave in and feel guilty for feeling upset by his unreasonable attack. This became a fun game for him. He used it to keep me off-balance. To keep me second guessing myself and my own emotions. He used it to try to drive me, literally, crazy. Just that phrase is unbelievable to me. Even more unbelievable is how easily done it really was. The most unbelievable? I was completely aware.
As excruciating as my experience was, I was stuck. Not by ignorance of events or even his tactics. I was stuck by my own fear of negative emotion. This was nothing new for me. I’ve always been afraid of just that. Every abusive situation I would ever find myself in was fueled by that particular fear. I would stay in that situation, letting myself be mistreated, exploited, used and abused, because that was my own personal comfort zone. Not to mention, a terrible one. I wasn’t necessarily comfortable in that fear. I was never comfortable in those situations, but it was better to stay stuck than face that looming attack if I were to stand up for myself. It was easier for me, even at the expense of my own shaky version of sanity.
Thinking back, it’s actually hard to see any area of my life that wasn’t dictated by that particular fear… Clothes shopping. Relationships. Daily life at home. Life at school. Friendships. Doing something nice for others. My parents. There isn’t one area that I ever confidently said, “I don’t want to do ‘that’”, ”please don’t talk to me like that” or “no thank you”. How about the one where you should express your own wants and needs? “I would rather…”
I understand how difficult it is to retrain yourself. I understand the amount of conditioning that goes into that paralyzing fear. Conditioning. For some it’s a type of PTSD, that lingers throughout life. You allow horrible things, to avoid being afraid or uncomfortable. I know this. I do understand. For me, this includes clothes shopping. I still have clothes that are 20+ years old, because to go clothes shopping means I will become irritable inside of 5 minutes, and all but run out of the store, not buying a single solitary thing. I would rather not. Ever.
Where are your comfort zones? Why are they there? Where is the negative conditioning, which allows (or forces) you to stay stuck in any situation? I know the mental dialogue associated with that. You know what you need, but you settle to go without. You know the life you WANT, yet to allow for the good you have to face the bad. To face it brings insurmountable fear. Instead of facing it, standing for what YOU need, you settle. You stay trapped. You remain victimized because of it.
It’s time to grow, dear one. It’s time to step. It’s time to realize and accept that you are better than what you settle for. Even when you choose to stay, to avoid whatever negative would come should you stand up for yourself, you are still afraid. You are still anxious. It isn’t better than the alternative, is it?
What do you have to lose? Your life is what YOU make it! It’s time to make it. Entirely.
Listen and hear what this wonderful man says. It’s a must for those of us struggling with our own identities, still.
Then, let it sink in. Unforgettable.
This is to assure you that in all of your successes to change and affirm boundaries, you will be tested for your response to challenge. I can’t promise the outcome won’t be painful, but in choosing the correct direction and step, you will find strength and pride in yourself.
Don’t quit. Don’t lose heart. Keep going.
One day at a time, one step at a time…
Breathe in, breathe out…
This journey has turned into a type of adventure for me. I’m no longer (at least for now) trudging along, battling every difficulty and praying I’ll live through it. There have been those times that I have, but looking back I realize all I’ve really gone through have been bumps in the road. I’ve had to go around some big boulders, while others were seemingly completely impassable. In those cases I had to study the barrier in order to find the best way around it or through it. That required going in circles for a moment. If I had just pushed my way along, that boulder as well as any other impassable obstacle, would have just gone with me. If I hadn’t learned about the existing obstacle, it would have only become an added burden to carry with me. With that being the potential, if I had actually made it to the end of the “road”, what would I have? Not freedom or strength. Rather, I would have a pile of crap, boulders, weeds, dirt and death that I’d have carried the entire way. Freedom? No, my muscles would have been tired and sore from the added weight of everything I didn’t conquer, which I would have to continue to carry into my “new” life. It might look like new surroundings, but it’s the same old baggage that should have been left behind.
If you strong-arm your way along, instead of dealing with WHY you were damaged going into the pathological relationship, you are just pushing down the path carrying the same old wounds, scars, and added weight of baggage from childhood on through adulthood. Your new surroundings would be full of the same old same old, and you will still be in bondage. If you push through without dealing with things, nothing changes.
You need to discover why you were willing to stay in an abusive relationship. You need to learn the hard things about yourself in order to understand what made you such a sumptuous meal to a predator. You learn, understand and finally are able to let that “boulder” stay where it lays.
Why take the time to deal with it? So you are free to be nothing but yourself. Free to be you, without the added weight of the effects of abuse, boundary issues, and the like.
I look back now, and I realize the path that I have already traveled and the uncertainty of the remaining path. What I see behind me are parts that I have cleared, making my way along. The spirals were my psyche’s way of dealing with baggage that doesn’t need to go with me on the rest of my adventure. Each spiral has come in its perfect time. It surrounds a boulder or obstacle in my path, such as why I might have a problem being afraid of negative emotions, for instance. That was an obstacle that needed to be cleared before i could continue on. If I had just “pushed through it” without understanding the root of it, I would never have conquered it. I would have continued to carry it with me.
This TED video came up on the radar yesterday (I just discovered the TED channel recently, and I think it is SO the cat's bum).
Anyway, in a nutshell, an 11-year-old boy in Kenya, whose family raised cattle near Nairobi National Park, had a huge problem with lions jumping their fences and attacking their animals. In observing the lions, he noted something about their behavior that called to mind a simple solution to a problem the government had already spent many millions to try to address.
Healing. There are so many people out there who are telling you that if you don’t work at it “this” way, then you aren’t doing it right. There are no rule-books, “how-to” or self-help anything out there, to guide our healing process. We are thrust into this unwanted realm, alone and purely baby-like. We are given other’s experiences as a guide for our own process, which we need to pay attention to. Absolutely. However, when it comes to our own personal journeys, we are individuals. Very purely unique in all aspects. That is, except for our experiences with psychological abusers of every facet. Our experiences are so very similar, it’s absolutely amazing. However, how we deal with the aftermath, is purely our own process. Things that worked for one, will not work for all. That said, the one thing that MUST be a constant for every single survivor, regardless of where you are in the stages, is you must walk forward. You must move your feet. You have GOT to strive toward healthy life and refuse to be complacent in your own healing process. The process of getting to this place, is different for everyone.
It’s the process of this that takes different shapes, emotions and directions for every single survivor. For me, it’s looked like a spiral with some plateaus along the way.
It took me quite some time to be at peace with everything about the abuse and abuser. I didn’t have all the answers (in fact I had very few), and it seemed that I would never have every answer known. I had to force myself to find the only answer available at the time, and let it be “enough” for me to be able to move on; “It just ‘is’” and “It happened”. I had to make peace with the abuser in my own mind. In order to do this, I first had to understand him, to the best of my ability, then accept it.
Relatively recently, I was able to find information about Machiavellinism. Here was part of the answer I have needed, though I didn’t really need it anymore. I consider it a gift that would help me be able to completely close the mystery behind the monster himself, and my own experience. The only part that will never be answered fully is, “why?”. I don’t care why he chose to do what he did to me. I don’t care anymore about why he chose me or why he decided i was so important at the time, to try and destroy for no real reason.
The only part of the picture that is worth-while now, is the part that I played. I didn’t do anything with real knowledge that I was a part of the problem. Later, I learned that particular fact, while doing some soul searching on my own. I could see where my own inability to trust myself, enabled the abuse in the beginning, and continued it for the duration. At the same time, it was my own instincts that finally got me to pay attention to the truth, and allowed me to run.
Our instincts are so very important to listen to! I can’t express this enough. It’s a hard lesson when you are faced with psychological abuse. Our instincts give enough of a warning that they should save us from ever becoming victims. The fact is, that many of us don’t trust ourselves, our perceptions or even our own needs, to stay out of that type of situation. When we are finally thrust out of it, we are forced to remember our internal warnings in the beginning. “Why didn’t I listen to my gut?” The fact is, this wasn’t the first time I was faced with this question. I just never had the where-with-all to figure it out. I didn’t see the need to, at the time. Until my jaunt with a predator.
For me, I finally started trying to learn why I didn’t listen to my gut this last time, or any other time that I was faced with an abusive situation. Enter time-consuming soul searching. I learned the whys behind my inability to trust myself as well as the fact that I needed to learn how to do just that.
I’ll be building boundaries for quiet some time. I have some that were solid boundaries that I need to reaffirm. For whatever reason, it’s some old established ones that are shaky. I don’t understand why they were affected, though I know it’s a direct result of severe psychological abuse, that definitely broke down my core. Never-the-less, these particular boundaries are more important to rebuild and strengthen than any new ones I will establish along the way. Ones that surround old basic common sense. I have discovered that I’m more prone to drink alcohol to excess than I ever was. I will not allow this at all! Until I’m stronger, I will not be indulging in that area. It’s never ever been a problem before, but I see the potential of it, now. Won’t allow it.
With each spiral we go through, we are met with peace in our hearts for a while, at the end. It’s a process. We question, study, learn and rebuild. With each trial conquered, we can find peace. It’s an oasis for weary travelers.
Last night I had problems sleeping. It must be because I fell asleep on my couch watching NCIS…but, whatever
I woke up after a dream, somewhere around 2 this morning. Nothing unusual.
On January 15, I put down the narsty coffin nails. I’ve had no desire, really, of picking them up again. I’m happy NOT smelling like an ashtray. By the way, did you know that even passing someone walking on the side of the road who is smoking, will cause the cigarette smell to come billowing into your car? Yeah, me neither..until the other day while I was doing deliveries. Lord, did I REALLY smell like THAT?!
Back to the dream…
I was on a break I think. I bummed a cigarette from someone, as well as a lighter. I couldn’t figure out how to work the lighter, as it had some sort of toggle/flip switch. Nothing I had ever seen before. I lit the cigarette (in my dream) and took a looonnnggg drag. I even tasted it! As soon as I tasted it, it dawned on me what I was doing..
I looked at the person next to me, saying, “What the hell am I DOING?!” and gave the rest of it to that person. I thought to myself, with fear in my heart, “How could I be so stupid! I’ve gone this long…what was I thinking?!”
Then I woke up.
I’m still amazed that dreams can be so realistic! Tasting something in my dream? Bizarre!
Have a wonderful weekend!
I do not accept your abuse. No, I do not deserve it.
I do not buy your backhanded apologies, non-apologies, really. No, I'm smart enough to know the difference between the crap you are trying to dish out and a real apology.
I will never accept future exploitation by you. The only reason you exploited me at all is because you deliberately deceived me in order to get what you wanted.