I’ve said it for years, “Hind sight is a cruel teacher”. I say that because that’s the only way I seem to learn my biggest lessons.
I don’t remember very much from when I was growing up. I assume my parents taught me to avoid people who are drug addicts. Actually, the only way I think they tried to teach me, there, is through example and “down-talking” drug addicts. My Dad was in a division of law-enforcement, could have anyone watch me from anywhere…AND I DO MEAN ANYWHERE…and questioned me about my behavior when I got home from high school, driving in a COMPLETELY different town, or what-have-you. I learned not to hang out with “those” people. Lordy, could I tell you stories! lol!! Even now, I don’t know half the stuff he found out by watching me or having me watched. I don’t know how he knew..but he always did.
I behaved myself. Never got into drugs, drinking, fights, skipped school or anything like that. I was a virgin when I married my children’s father (since I was molested as a youngster, I still considered myself a virgin since that was never consensual). My grades could have been better, but all in all I was a good kid. I started going to church, instead. Each morning I left for church (my parents didn’t go), my dad would make fun of me as I was heading out the door. He upset me more than once that way. If I had friends who were overweight, he would make it a point to make fun of me for hanging out with them, and demean them, though never to their face. Always to me.
My parents didn’t teach me about self-esteem or pushing toward my dreams. If anything, they really tried HARD to discourage me from accomplishing any dream I had, that they thought would steer me in a direction they didn’t like. I don’t remember either one of them talking to me about the warning signs that someone wasn’t who they pretended to be. I didn’t learn life lessons that would keep me safe from abusers. If anything, I was encouraged to pursue a life of being someone’s tool. Not purposefully, mind you, but in their “ignoring’ of important topics. Things I really should have learned before I ever left home, got married and had my own children, I didn’t learn until I went out into the “real” world.
At 14 I was allowed to go see a new boyfriend whom I had met at a summer camp. He lived 7 hours away from me. Literally 2 states away. Our youth groups were at the same camp. The plan was for me to visit him and his family for the weekend. They didn’t know him or his family. They paid for a train ticket, dropped me off at the depot, trusting that someone would be there to pick me up. Nothing really happened that weekend other than just hanging out with him and his family. There was one instance that my new boyfriend was a little “forward” with me. He had never acted that way with me before, or gave me any inclination that he would, and he chose to do it in front of his family. A little too handsy for the company, if you get my drift. I put a stop to that, though my first thought was about his feelings. I was entirely embarrassed, I can tell you.
I can only imagine normal families who talk about the hard things together. Normal families where the parents don’t willingly put their young teen-aged daughter in a potentially dangerous situation. Normal families that didn’t ignore problems, hoping they would just “disappear” or handle themselves. Normal…
Perhaps they thought the schools would teach me. We all know how well I was taught through THAT avenue!
That left hind-sight as my only life coach. My only teacher of the hard things. My lumpy, bumpy closest confidant. Yes, I’m being facetious.
This type of non-teaching left me entirely vulnerable to predators. It set the playing field for me to be more concerned about someone else’s feelings over my own well being. I had to learn all of that on my own. One excruciating lump at a time.
What have I learned? A myriad of things, though never before I was in bad situations. Always after.
I can say I knew one instinctively: If someone is OVERLY complementary, they usually can’t be trusted. They are hiding something. You’ll get the willies, I promise you, when around someone like that. Trust your gut. I didn’t, and had my wedding ring stolen by someone who couldn’t stop telling me how “nice” I was, and “wonderful”, etc… Long story. Willies: The sensation that your skin is crawling. Short hairs are tingling, among other bodily signs.
Hind-sight has taught me to ALWAYS pay attention to my FIRST gut reaction. If your skin is crawling while talking to someone new, even if the reason isn’t apparent, please heed that warning sign and beat feet out of that situation. It’s taken countless times of not listening to my gut, and being reminded that I really SHOULD have, to finally get me to listen.
It took an experience with a Psychopath, to finally get it beat into my head.
I’ve learned that it’s of MOST IMPORTANCE to voice your discontent or opinions when someone is violating you in some way. If you are being mistreated in any way, it’s important to SPEAK UP! I still have problems in this area, though I know the right thing to do, now. Remember, silence is an abusers greatest weapon of choice. SPEAK LOUD, SPEAK PROUD!
Respect other’s feelings. Encourage their success and do what you can to ensure their well-being is still in tact. BUT… DON’T DO THIS to your own martyrdom. YOU ARE IMPORTANT TOO!!
Don’t listen to someone’s opinion if they are demeaning you and tearing you down. Here again, SPEAK UP! The peacemaker mentality is a good one, but if imbalanced will make you afraid of your own shadow! No kidding! If you have been working on something and you are proud of it…(I had an epiphany last night about something I’ve been working on) yes, show it to your friend. BUT if that same friend tells you it’s “wrong” or “not good” enough, don’t listen to them. Don’t give up on it! Their opinion is just their opinion. You still have the choice to disagree with them. You aren’t a bad person in doing so, nor are you being insensitive to your friend.
YOU MATTER MOST OF ALL!!!
Please don’t let life be your only teacher. The lessons are longer, more painful, and harder to recover from as you get older.