I’m grateful

I’ve been going through old blog posts of mine, this morning, and I noticed a few things. In the beginning of this blog, I was only free (in a way) of the abuser for a couple of days or weeks. I was in such a horrible place, feeling very much alone, unbelieved, shunned, afraid, paranoid etc. Later, I was still dealing with paranoia and fear. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin, and was still in a terrible place, even two years later. I was fighting to get “Me” back, and gaining wonderful ground…though, occasionally I was put in another bad place, to deal with old wounds, old damage to my boundaries, etc. Things I needed to work on showed their ugly heads. Revelations and plateaus were my hell, again and again, creating the whirlwind effect, as I called it.

Today…it’s almost 4 years away from my hell. The first, most awful one has been done and gone for almost 4 years. Yes, I have dealt with the same patterns a couple more times, but I believe it was to strengthen my resolve, and emotional health. It was still very painful to deal with the Narcissist, first, and then the Pro-social Sociopath, later. I still had to learn to trust my gut. I still had to trust my own perceptions. I came out rather well, if I say so myself. Now, I don’t have the need to look over my shoulder, everywhere I go. I don’t see things through a cloud, in my daily events and decisions. My recollections of the Psychopath and the abuse, are still seen through a cloud. Today, I am grateful for that. Before, the fact that everything was still hazy about that time, created such a horrible anxiety for me. I remembered everything, but it was like seeing it through clouded eyes. That hasn’t changed, for me, as far as remembering the abuse. I believe, now, that it’s my psyche’s way of protecting me from those memories. It’s covering the negative emotions that go along with the memories of that time. Instead of feeling anxiety because of it, today I am grateful for it.

My thought patterns are still changed from how they were, before the psychopath in my life. I still have a hard time thinking clearly in some areas, but it’s better than it has been.

My personality has changed. The way I look at the world around me has changed. How I deal with other people, has changed. So many changes!! But are they bad? Is it a bad thing that I have changed so much? No!

Pre-Psychopath, I was WAY TOO TRUSTING! I was ok with being alone, but craved the closeness of another person. I believed in and trusted others, without them ever earning my trust. I believed that a person deserved my trust, until they proved they were not trust-worthy. That opened myself up for every manner of abuse. When a person did show they weren’t trustworthy, I didn’t trust my gut or instincts. I didn’t trust my own perceptions, and made excuse after excuse for their behavior, whether that was in a relationship, or a friendship. I allowed others to walk all over me, because I reasoned that they were having a bad day, or what-have-you.. This is where the change is a good one. I am nice and cordial to another person, who I meet for the first time…or even a few weeks or months down the road. Now, I also wait to see how they act or react in certain situations and scenarios, before I ever give them my full trust. I don’t divulge any personal information, or any other information that can be twisted and used against me or my family, until I can see what that person is really made of. There are superficial acts of kindness, and there are genuine ones. There are superficial shows of empathy and compassion, and there are genuine expressions of those things. It’s taken me this long to separate the two, and to learn to discern the difference.

I look back at the hell I was in, and see things as they are, now. Mostly my emotional and psychological make-up. Such a huge difference! Gaining ground and becoming more and more healthy. I am happier and more confident than ever before. I don’t worry about another’s perception of me, good or bad. I’m just me, doing my best in this life. I am happy with who I am, now, and no longer grieve the person I was before.

I have said this before, but it hasn’t rang so true…I will never be grateful for the abuse, but I will FOREVER BE GRATEFUL for the changes the abuse forced in me. The outcome is a better place, than before the bastard ever came into my life.

Thank you all, for walking with me, encouraging me and helping me through the most difficult times in my life!! You have all been angels. You are precious and priceless to me.

Gifts.. Freedom is one of those..

Gifts… Over at The Project Me: By Judy, She is working on a set of gifts to herself. I am so grateful for this idea! So many times, we think of goal setting, or “resolutions” and an ominous weight falls hard on our shoulders, in an instant. As if we are destined to fail, just by “resolving” to change. She’s right in saying that “Gifts” are better option. Change is still the goal, in one way or another, but she’s right in calling it a gift. To change for the better, should always be a gift to ourselves, and not a burden.

Life is full of failures, or perceived failures. There’s too much of it going around, to be quite honest with you. It’s too easy to just resign ourselves to failure, before ever believing in ourselves. It’s too easy to become defeated when think about making even a small change in our lives. Defeat doesn’t always mean that we walk away depressed. It also means that we resign ourselves enough, that we just stand still, not giving the change or goal another thought. We don’t stretch our proverbial wings. We don’t dream anymore. It’s too hard…

Today, I found inspiration through Judy’s post. It’s my gift. I found inspiration in an old familiar house. I recognized the similarities between that old house, and my personal life. Where I have been vs. where I am right now. That gift was allowed to show itself to me, but it becomes my gift to myself, when I choose to act on it and accept it as my own. I’ve been so busy lately, that I haven’t given personal growth much thought.

I still have not arrived to that place I want to be. I’m still healing and changing. This will continue for a very long time, that’s a definite! Tonight, thanks to Judy, I choose to give myself a gift.. I have noticed that I am still distrusting and insecure. I know that tackling this, will be no small task. Not only does this become a burden for myself (still being distrusting and insecure), but it produces a negative wall between interpersonal relationships of all types. I suppose in some ways, I’ve still been looking over my shoulders. Time to stop that.

Freedom, which also means ALLOWING myself to BE free, is my gift to myself, today. Insecurity is a horrible weight, which I feel on a daily basis. Today, I begin to rid myself of that weight.

Step one. Begin to trust. Of course, I know I can’t trust everyone out there, but does that mean no one is trustworthy? Does that mean I’m not allowed to have friends, because I still fear an ulterior motive? That’s wrong, and imbalanced. It’s stripping away a life that I want and need. Insecurity is part of that distrust. Or, is it a product of distrust? I believe so. It’s insecurity that invites mistreatment. It’s distrust which keeps me in a bit of a shell, though I am finding strength in these old bones. Maybe they go hand in hand. Either way, I know there’s a link between the two, and I don’t want my new life to be ruled by such a damaging weight, anymore.

You see, if I share this with you, maybe it’s going to sink in deeper for me, in order to see it as possible…

“Breathe in…breathe out, one foot in front of the other…”

Thanks for you, Judy..

This Old House

I remember being a very young girl, when I met my Grandmother’s neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Snyder. They lived in a very, VERY tiny one bedroom home that Mr. Snyder built for his bride, so many years ago. Mrs Snyder wasn’t much taller than 4; 10″, (if that tall) and he built the kitchen “just her size”. What a lovely couple. Mr. Snyder had a little welsh pony to go with his tiny, though beautiful, wife and home, and he brought that little pony out to let little me ride him. Mr. Snyder held onto the lead rope, and I rode on the back of this little guy, feeling very big. I loved animals then and I still do. Mr and Mrs Snyder were never able to have kids of their own, so they borrowed me when ever they could. Just for the record, I miss the two of them.

The sad day came when, first, Mr. Snyder passed away, and then later, Mrs. Snyder. My parents bought their little house (or maybe it was willed to them?) and remodelled it. That little house became a rental home, adding to my parents’ income. I have very fond memories of them, their home and my own grandparent’s home, just next door.

The last renters who lived in that little house, had been there for many years, never once respecting the history of the house, the people who built it, nor ever respecting the people who actually owned it. My mom, being the sweet person she is, allowed them to walk all over her, after my Dad passed away 5 years ago. She finally had enough, and they were evicted. Mom asked me to clean it, in order to get it “renter-ready” again. Normally, that wouldn’t have been a problem. A week or two, tops, and it would look good. Nope. They were chain-smokers, drug-addicts, and horribly filthy people. They wouldn’t call, if something broke or needed to be replaced, because that would mean someone would have to actually ENTER their house, revealing every atrocity that they wished to stay hidden. Plumbing, electrical, floors, etc.

I walked into that place, and thought, “what did I get myself into?!” The day came to start to grueling process. Each day brought new revelations as to how damaged this, once lovely home, actually was. Rotting floors in the bathroom, because they plugged the bathtub’s relief drain, allowing it to overflow repeatedly, onto the floor…. Then the outlet in the kitchen that for some reason, they actually cut out, and covered with drywall patch. Plumbing…oh my goodness! The Plumbing! The floors, windows, walls, basement, were all rotting. Not to mention the nicotine-stains, absolutely inundating the entire house. You get the picture.

We, months later, are getting ready to put the finishing touches on this, now remodeled home, and the difference is night and day. In the beginning, I never imagined how horrible it was, compared to my memories from childhood. Yes, I am looking forward to ending the “never-ending” project.

As we’re getting ready to walk away from this home, which will be put up for sale when we’re done, the aura is bitter-sweet. It’s a house. It’s my mom’s house, now. It was “their” house, and my house. It was abused, neglected, and never loved, after the passing of that wonder couple. It breaks my heart, to think of the love that was once in those walls, only to be traded for abuse, later. I realized the connection I have with that house, then and now, when we walked away last weekend.

That house is, in more than one way, an echo of my own life.

Abuse. Neglect. Lack of caring, lack of love, and continuous invalidation. It leaves a wake of destruction inside, doesn’t it? It leaves depression, despair, hopelessness, and stains on our psyche. It feels like it’ll be like that, forever, when someone is in the middle of it. When you look at it, all seems lost. “tear it down and rebuild” would be what anyone might say, who buys the house. It’s what seems feasible, when you see whats left of you, your life, and psyche, sometimes (for some people). At the most destitute of times, suicide actually seems feasible. You are unable to see the beauty that lies just beneath the rotting timber.

The old house that we have been working on (Mr. and Mrs. Snyder’s), holds some of my most precious memories. I couldn’t imagine how I would react if someone were to tear it down. It holds a piece of my heart.

I realized that I am a vessel. A house. It’s this house, though only made of flesh and bone, that still holds my most precious feelings and memories. I am someone’s most precious memory. I, as a house, (bear with me) have been beaten, neglected and abused. I have been unloved and uncared about, by those I loved the most in my life. I can assure you, the mess that was left seemed impossible to fix, without tearing down the house, and rebuilding. I considered suicide, more than once. Yes, I had to rebuild. Yes, I had to remodel some things. But this house is still in-tact.

This project with Mr. and Mrs. Snyder’s house started with ripping out the rotten carpeting and bathroom floor. As we ripped up the carpeting in the bedroom, it revealed the original, beautiful wood floor. On that floor, was a footprint from a tiny shoe; size 3, womens, I think. She must have stepped in the stain which Mr. Snyder was using to stain the wood on the floor. I felt like I was there with her again, for a second. There was some dry-rot along the edges, so we were unable to save the original flooring. We had to remove some of the baseboards, too. Under the baseboards, were some old bobby pins, that Mrs. Snyder wore in her hair. We laid laminate flooring over the top of the wood (a lot of it was still in wonderful shape), replaced the baseboards and it is beautiful room again. Tearing the old, rotting material, recovered some memories, for me. It stirred my heart.

Now, imagine yourselves. Your “house”. You were born beautiful. Someone loved you. Someone laughed when you laughed and fed you. Beautiful. Life happens, sometimes. With life, comes painful experiences. Abuse. Neglect and all manner of evil, leaving a river of rotting destruction. The aftermath seems hopeless, as if it’s not worth the effort to fix it, or rebuild from the pile.

Take a deep breath. Take another one. Don’t stop. Take a step in the direction of the pain and destruction, lying before you. Pick up a broom and see what’s waiting for you. Keep going. When you hit something that seems impassable, breathe and think of a way to repair it, making it new again. Does it erase the damage? No, but it will make it beautiful again. New floors. New fixtures. New life. New hope. The house is still the same house, holding the same memories, but the damage is something you won’t be able to see anymore. You cant forget that it happened, of course, but you won’t have to live with it anymore.

To repair a neglected and abused house, takes a lot of time, sweat, learning and tenacity. It’s worth it. Imagine what is lying beneath the rubble? Find it. Breathe.

You will live again, revealing the beauty of YOU again, I promise.

Let your own voice be heard…by YOU!

It’s been a while. My computer seems to have gotten over whatever ‘cough’ it was suffering from, causing the dreaded blue screen. So, I’ll run with it while I have the chance.

Just a quick update on the challenge I mentioned, back in February…I wound up having a meeting with the HR manager and District manager, regarding what was going on (at their request). I was threatened a couple of times by the HR manager, who said “You know, we don’t have to give you full time hours…” Threatening to take away my hours, because I was making a stand and encouraging other employees to do the same. The problem facing all employees, was management was forcing us, for years, to “work off” our overtime. I did some research and discovered that it was/is illegal for the company to do so, turning our “overtime” hours into “comp-time”, without the benefit of receiving the extra pay normally associated with working overtime. I was originally happy to take a longer lunch, get off early, etc. because I believed our company wasn’t seeing the normal sales that it was used to seeing, also believing it was only temporary. I was happy to help out then. Long story short, after the meeting, a note was posted on the employee board, stating that we could occasionally be expected to work a few minutes past our normal shift, but anything over 10 minutes needed to be approved by management. Also, “if there isn’t anything to do, then please clock out early.” That’s it. Nothing is being said about taking a longer lunch to make up for the overtime our monthly mandatory meetings would create, and nothing is being required of us, to work off ANY overtime incurred during the normal work related instances. I see this as a great victory. The employees won! Yippee!!

The cool thing about this particular scenario, is that 5 years ago I wouldn’t have ever considered stepping on any toes, or even asking questions that might seem offensive to a company I work for. In this case, it was needed and SOMEONE needed to say something. It all began with asking questions. I had questions being brought to me by other employees, and I decided to get to the bottom of the legalities surrounding this particular scenario. The rest just happened…

Yes, I have somewhere I’m going with all of this.

The journey of healing is all about changing, rebuilding, growing and becoming stronger in our own skin. It’s about rebuilding our emotional selves as well as our psychological selves. It’s nothing short of living with growing pangs, which are extremely painful in every definition of the word, even when you begin the journey with a predefined direction and goal. Usually the direction isn’t exactly clear, other than knowing its “there”. Though you live with it for a time, you will still see growth and strength in your life. It’ll still hurt, but don’t let that stop you.

One of the first lessons I learned, early on, was how to recognize my own internal voice, as opposed to the monster’s voice. In doing so, i recognized my not-so-healthy views of myself and was able to begin to change that. It also allowed me to recognize abusive tendencies in others, and gave me the strength to be able to stand up for myself. Setting and implementing personal boundaries, was the most important part of the lesson.

If someone would have said, “3 years from now, you’ll be stronger than you have ever been. You’ll have confidence, strength and peace of mind..” I would have called B.S. I would have asked what they were smoking, and never considered believing them. All I saw in the beginning of my journey, was a timid, scared shell. I was someone who wouldn’t stand up for herself, for fear of offending another. I was someone who’s wants, wishes and feelings were never important. I didn’t see their importance, because that would mean I was full of myself, arrogant and awful toward others. If I asked for something I needed, which I believed created some small hardship (minuscule) for another, I would be buried by horrendous guilt. It all started with my own voice.

I learned that every boundary that I would stand firm in, or allow to become shaky, began with my own voice. What I said to myself, or accepted FOR myself, became reality. I used to hear others speak of something like this, and always thought it was hogwash. “speak wealth into existence”, etc. The fact is, though there are imbalances in this type of belief, there are also truths in it.

Your voice is that which alerts you to problems or successes. It’s the beginning of every new step you will ever take, or every healing from pain, in your life. It’s the beginning of strength or failure. Smiles or depression. You see, it’s your OWN choice…your voice. You choose what gets in, and out. You choose what to believe or shake off. You choose where your life will go, and what you will accept FOR your life. It begins with your own voice.

There are so many who are in the beginning of this same journey. They are belittling themselves, calling themselves such horrible things. They are agreeing with their abuser, who took such huge steps to insure his/her success by psychologically raping their victim, calling it “love”. The first step is the most crucial to finding your own wellness. Learning what are his lies (or anyone else’s, throughout your life), and replace those lies with your own needs, wants, beliefs, and truths. If you wake up one morning and think, “I look hideous!” please recognize, that’s a LIE! If you are wanting that promotion at work, and your instant thought is, “I’m not good enough..I’ll never be hired for that”. Recognize that as a lie too. Instead, tell yourself you deserve better. You deserve to talk to yourself more positively. Then, step out and do what you need to do, to try for that job, promotion, or happier self. To start seeing the end of the tunnel of depression and self-loathing, begins with hearing your OWN voice. Not that voice from hurtful people, toward you. Speak out in defense of YOU. If you don’t like something, say so. If someone offends you, say so. If the day is beautiful, say so. If it’s wrong or right, say so.

No more fear. No more lies to yourselves. Make a pact with your emotional and psychological selves, to never speak or think another cruel word to yourself again. The next step is to move your feet and accept that better life, which was already yours for the taking. Does that mean you will become rich? Perhaps, but probably not. Happier? Most definitely!