Motivation

Repercussions of my ugly reality

I smoked my first cigarette when I was 15.

I had this friend, her parents smoked and she would sneak a few away and hide what became a habit for her, and as it would turn out, for me as well.

When I was fifteen, I went to this high school football game to see the guy I was starting to date, it was a small town in the deep recesses of Georgia and high school football was where everyone gathered on a Friday night.

The popular kids, who were my friends from church, invited me up to their section in the stands. My smoker friend was excited for this, getting an invitation was the first step, so I went.

In the stands on that football field, the guy I was dating, and the girls I was friends with from church seemed thrilled to have me with them, I had this warmth in my heart that I was being accepted, when only moments before I had been scared that the guy I was seeing wouldn’t want to see me since I had confessed to him that I had been raped, but everything seemed so good in those first few moments.

Knowing what I know today, I should have known that they weren’t thrilled, the smile that Lizzy had on her face wasn’t excitement, it was treacherous and manipulative, but I was young and naive. I wasn’t prepared for her to come at me with a full blast of accusatory statements, there was no time for me to get a word out of my mouth. I was embarrassed, humiliated, horrified that everyone knew now and then they all turned their heads away from me. I reached my hand out to touch the arm of the guy I was seeing and he jerked it away, not even looking at me. I burst into tears and he moved past everyone to get away from me.

In shock, I walked down the stairs to leave. I found my smoker friend, she asked me what was wrong but I had already pulled back deep into myself to keep the wounds I felt inside from bleeding any further.

I was broken, she took me to her house, we sat on her bed and she lit a cigarette. I didn’t say anything, I just took it from her, I coughed, choked, but the pain that it caused made me feel better. It took my mind off of the destructive abuse of rape, the searing pain in my lungs momentarily made me forget the humiliation of being shunned by my peers, the high of it – that sharp pain it causes in my brain – filled the void that had been left behind when I felt like I had been stripped and beaten from the inside out.

Today

More than fifteen years have come and gone as a painful blur. I dissociated to save my thoughts from the pain that my body went through, even though the emotions live inside like a black mold eating my body from the inside out. I blocked and blacked out in order to try and survive just one more day.

The healthier the people I surround myself with and the healthier my life gets because of therapy, the more it hurts and the more I hurt myself.

When I would dissociate, I could have an argument and I wouldn’t be present for it, I would go to an inner place in my head while my mouth spewed words that I would later be sorry for. When I am present and I have an argument, the adrenaline spikes and the trigger that it is, causes my face and body to ache in the locations where I have been hit. These areas on my face, my neck, my back, my stomach, my arms, they ache with the hurt of the past.

The monsters of my past haunt me every day and without realizing it, I’ve been helping them.

I felt like I was the worst kind of garbage after years of rape and abuse. I became so broken that deep down I believed I deserved to be treated this way, even though outwardly I was smiling and telling people that I was strong enough to stand.

The repercussion of the physical and psychological monstrosities is that I treat myself like garbage.

I hide from people I love in order to sneak cigarettes because the pain I feel when I smoke fills an ache of pain from my past and I think I deserve that. I drink too much at night in order to make sure that I won’t lie awake in bed terrorized by memories of my past, the headache the next morning … I think I deserve that.

I have stomach issues, lactose intolerance, GERD, and an ulcer, but I don’t stop eating food that is bad for me, because the pain it causes affirms that emotional feeling that I deserve to feel bad.

As it is every day, my vision isn’t clear because I have headaches that build into migraines. My stomach is burning with pain from eating. My neck tension is so severe that when I turn my head I hear cracking noises and pain reverberates, shuddering through my brain.

I panic that every day will be my last because of the amount of stress and pain I feel. I used to think that I was going to die from this pain, suddenly and swiftly.

I think about stopping all of these vices. These vices which have not helped me, but have only monumentally added to the pain I feel. My inner struggle is worry, that without these vices and bad habits – I am afraid I will feel everything. Is the pain from these vices really worse than the ugly reality of what happened?

Is the pain worse than finding out I’m a terrible at keeping a clean house and it isn’t just laziness?

Is the pain and fear worse than tossing and turning for hours, trying to shut out the monsters that haunt me in the dark of night, when the world is silent, but my mind is screaming?

Is it worth the pain and fear of dying sooner in life due to my vices and habits, because they help me dissociate from the agonizing terror of dying at the hands of someone else?

With these vices of mine, I have perpetuated and continued the feeling that I deserve to be in pain and that I deserve to feel bad. As the black tar of cigarettes coats my lungs with every inhale and the bottle of wine half finished is poured into another glass, I tell myself that I will get better, that I will do better, ironically, that is the same thing I used to say when I was being abused.

It is stunningly clear to me today, that the monsters of my past have evolved into new monsters in my present, in the form of things that I can become addicted to.

My addiction is clear for me, I am addicted to not wanting to feel, not wanting to remember, not wanting to look at myself in a mirror and seeing who I have become.

I did not want to acknowledge how I felt about myself, my face, or my body. So I embraced vices and habits that made me numb to everything but the pain that they themselves cause.

I have come to a place in the last few weeks where the vices and habits are making life harder, the purpose they served in the past is missing.

I have nothing to give this world but who I am, if I am numb and my eyes are vacant, I am not living. If I am in pain from a hangover and smoking, giving my body and mind less oxygen than it needs to function, I am only hurting myself.

There is a great quote, unknown to me who said it first, but it goes … I will remember and recover, not forgive and forget.

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I miss the person I once was, I sometimes dream of the person I had hoped to become. This life, with all of the good, the bad, and the ugly, is my reality and I think it is time that I confronted it.

I think it is time I fight for me, for who I want to be, and for what I want out of this life.

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A tenuous grip on truth

I felt like I was in control of my life yesterday, that is the first time that has happened in over seven years. I was so elated that I considered popping open a bottle of champagne, but the Seahawks were playing the Saints, and that is really more of a beer drinking event. I feel overwhelmed today with joy that I was motivated without having to force it, what I wanted to do – I did, without any self-talk or self-deprecation. I’m going to chalk that up as a point in my favor.

Trust is the highest form of human motivation. – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I was just talking about trust with the husband a few weeks ago. He asked me to answer a question for him, it was: When women are dating, in a relationship with a man, do they ever ask themselves – “Can I trust him?”
I had to think about it for a minute and realized that I had never once asked myself that about the men I dated and moved into relationships with. I always knew that there were things that I could not trust about them though. “A relationship without trust is like a car without gas, you can stay in it as long as you want but it won’t go anywhere.” I have no idea who said that, but it is true.
The simplicity in answering this truthfully is key, do you trust him? I know in my past relationships that I never did trust them, if they lie often it is a pattern and from what I know to be true for destructive personalities, it is because they are selfish and don’t want to face the consequences of their actions. There isn’t a healthy way to live with a liar because the pattern of deception corrodes a relationship. While that is happening in one corner, the other corner is us, trying to force ourselves to believe the lies. When we force ourselves to believe lies, even though our gut tells us it isn’t true, it steals our confidence in what is reality. It steals our trust in our own instincts little by little. Then, we are left in that relationship-car that won’t go anywhere, feeling insecure and insane, when in truth, we were right, it was a lie.
After my husband asked that question I thought about how simple a decision factor in relationships that would be. Don’t trust him/her? Don’t date him/her. Don’t trust him/her? Don’t believe him/her.

Trust is earned, respect is given, and loyalty is demonstrated. Betrayal of any one of those is to lose all three – Ziad K. Abdelnour

Practically Single

It’s been wholly uneventful this last week as both the husband and I were sick. So I really have nothing to blather on about.

It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall. – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

My husband tells me this all.the.time. I tend to devote my schedule to things that are just busy work instead of devoting time to things that would make me successful as a writer and healthy as a person. I don’t do it intentionally, it’s like housework, there is always something that I could be doing to maintain our house, to keep it clean, clutter-free, but I could, and have, lost days, weeks, and months to that activity and it resulted in not spending time writing, working out, and I was left feeling like I hadn’t gotten any further in life.

This quote also translates to bad relationships, those are very much the wrong wall that the ladder is leaning against. There is no ultimate goal in working your ass off for a bad relationship, but we keep doing it, why? For one thing, if you’re in a relationship with someone that has a destructive personality, is narcissistic, abusive, or is simply not into you – all of what you do to try and make it a success is just a way of not focusing on the truth of the matter.

And the truth of the matter is that the relationship is:

A. Simply a bad relationship.

B. An abusive relationship.

C. A Narcissistic relationship. Which is a one-sided relationship where you meet all of their needs and they meet none of yours.

I call all of the above on my last relationship and definitely on the one my twinsie is in. Where a narcissistic personality is combined with tendencies to be emotionally destructive, you are left feeling like everything is your fault, so you try harder. The truth lies in the fact that when your significant other is consistently indifferent to your needs, and instead focuses on themselves, they neglect you. When they neglect you, what they are absolutely saying is ….

I really don’t care about you and you don’t mean enough to me that I will spend my time on what you want, or what you would like to do.

They also won’t want to spend money on things that you want or like. Birthdays? Mother’s Day? Christmas? The least expensive of gifts, if any, and the least amount of effort on their part. If kids are involved you probably feel like you cannot depend on your significant other, being with the children is a chore for them and you are left holding the bag, carrying the weight, and truthfully, you are what I like to call “practically single.”

I know this well, I went through it myself and I see my twinsie going through it now. With the help of my therapist I learned that even with years and years of therapy that there are just people who will not change to care about you. So strong is their conviction that their needs, their wants, their life is not meant to be shared, but to be focused on themselves and them only. Sure they’ll say they want to change, they will apologize for neglecting you and they seem sincere, but it will happen again, and again, and again. The day that you stop listening to their words and start watching their actions, that is the day that you see the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.

Strange isn’t it, each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he? – Clarence the Angel “It’s a wonderful life”

I think that this is true in two opposite ways. The good versus the bad.

1. The good man’s life touches so many other lives positively. Like my Dad, he loved life and the people in it intensely and they loved him back. When he passed away, thanks to Facebook, people from all his journey’s in life, all around the world felt a hole, mourned, and missed him.

2. The bad man’s life touches people so negatively that even after he has walked out the door, left the relationship, or even passed away, the hole that is left is painful, not poignant. The hole that a bad person leaves is like an open wound, jagged around the edges, inflamed, and still bleeding.

The future never just happened. It was created. – Will and Ariel Durant – To Your Success

You cannot take charge of the present if you are busy reliving the setbacks of the past. – Newman & Berkowitz – To Your Success

I struggled with leaving a bad relationship because I was busy focusing on and regretting the decision to be in it in the first place. I was embarrassed to admit that I wanted to leave because I had worked so hard to make it work. If I had not fastened my bootstraps and climbed onto my horse of freedom :it was actually a Chevy Tahoe:: I might still be with someone who would never care about me more than himself, who would continue to cheat on me, neglect me, and abuse me. So forget what bad decisions we’ve made, everyone makes them at some time or another, there shouldn’t be any shame in it, there should be freedom.

Live it

Limitations.

This weekend was pretty rough. I have issues with bulging discs in my neck and when there are flare ups, inflammation, and pinched nerves I get a lot of sensory nerve pain. Everywhere. It wages a strong war against my motivation to go, go, go, and I find myself feeling limited in every way. limitations

If I take a second to really think about it though, it is pain, depression, and fear that make me feel limited. It is the exhaustion from pain that makes me unmotivated and when these go together I have always crumbled. I felt a shift happen today though, I realized that I have been limited, I let myself be limited by the fear and the pain. No more though. Swapping “What do I have to do….” with “What do I get to do.”

You can decide within yourself how circumstances will affect you. Between what happens to you, or the stimulus, and your response to it, is your freedom or power to choose that response. – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

One thing I know to be true about myself is that in when hard times strike in life, I rally. Which is really strange considering how much a panic attack devastates me. The difference to me is that when tragedy strikes, or times are hard for people that I care about, I can put the war paint on and push as hard as is needed.

When Aeron abused me I didn’t think ::wow, I should leave him, what an asshole:: I would instead take the worst of what he said to me and about me and I would make a plan to be better, to be what he wanted, to be skinnier, prettier. This was the wrong type of rallying. I was fighting the wrong battle. I should have been fighting for myself.

Aeron was cheating on me, not only was he physically abusive, but the emotional destructiveness he wreaked was overwhelming. Every single time I found emails, chats, photos, and video’s of him cheating, I would try to breathe deeply and suck it up. I would go to the gym the next morning that much harder, I stopped eating, I started throwing up. ::not on purpose, but from the stress:: I stopped paying attention to what my body was telling me and I shut off my heart. I wasn’t even able to cry anymore. I thought I had to keep pushing to be better, that if I became what he wanted he wouldn’t do this. One day though, my body couldn’t take it anymore and I had a nervous breakdown. I fought the wrong battle. I should have been fighting for myself.

It is in the shelter of each other that the people live. – Irish Proverb

Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be. – James Allen

The future is of our own making – and the most striking characteristic of this century is just that development. – Joseph Conrad

What I never saw when I was in a bad relationship was that I was fighting the wrong battle. I haven’t fought for myself until now. My future depends on the decisions that I make today and if the decisions that I make are for someone that treats me badly, even if I win, I lose.

Fight

Get after it.

I woke up this morning and thought to myself … “Self, make today a great day.” I put the coffee on, made breakfast, and set out on a run. It feels great, my energy is high, I’m motivated to actually do something today. One part of this might be the colder weather, the approaching Christmas season, or perhaps, the wonderfulness that is Christmas music itself. Every year, Christmas season, I pull out the Christmas music. It makes me want to put on a frilly apron, wear cute shoes, and dance around my kitchen baking cookies.

Private victories precede public victories. You can’t invert that process any more than you can harvest a crop before you plant it. – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I’ve said it before and here it comes again, I really do need to read this book. I’m gaining momentum in this process of changing my mind every day to change my life and it’s getting to a point where those around me are starting to see a difference. My inward victory over the pain, depression, and panic will someday be visible outwardly, and I’m looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to not dreading each day, to instead be excited for it. I’m looking forward to one day being able to say that I am living as my Dad lived, joyfully.

More importantly, I just wrote “I’m looking forward” three times in a row – Four weeks ago I was in a place where I could not look forward, so much was my fear of the past that I had to keep an eye on it at every moment. So raise your coffee cups, here’s to private victories!

The effect of one good-hearted person is incalculable. – Oscar Arias

I have good-hearted people in my life, and it’s true, their effect is incalculable. The problem is, the bad-hearted people in our lives, their effect is calculable, we can tally it. I can remember every single detail of the times when I’ve been torn down, ridiculed, humiliated, and beaten. Every. Single. Detail. I can’t remember even vaguely, what beautiful things that loving people have said to me though.

It’s one of those areas that we have to choose who we surround ourselves with. Who are your closest people? Are they positive, full of life, caring, respectful, loving? Or are they negative, bitter, resentful, disrespectful, and rude? I can’t describe the relief that comes from leaving relationships with negative people, but I can say that the sun shines brighter, the world is warmer, the trees are prettier, and your shoulders feel lighter. Obviously, leaving those relationships didn’t magically cure my depression or panic, but it did lessen the weight I was carrying around. I learned after many years that we can’t make others happy, we can only try to give ourselves a chance at a healthy life by removing the darkness that is negativity.

Keep a daily diary of your dreams, goals and accomplishments. Your life is worth living, it’s worth recording. – Marilyn Grey – To Your Success

Done, and done. Kidding. But seriously, in five words “Your life is worth living” – I know that I’ve been alive these last seven years, but I’ve been far from living. My Dad lived, my mom lives, but depression and panic kept me debilitated and holed up in a safe corner. At many points over the last seven years I couldn’t imagine even walking around my neighborhood because I was sure that I was going to faint and then something horrible would happen to me, so I wouldn’t go.

I changed that, I forced myself to get out, to go anywhere I feel like going. I suppose I’m not so much afraid of fainting anymore, I feel more like screaming “bring it on” and “do your worst” because at this point I’m mad that I lost seven years of my life to this panic and depression and I’m going to fight to make sure that I don’t live in fear ever again.

Sidenote: A huge part of deciding to stop being afraid was taking a five week self-defense course and I stopped saying I am a victim, I started saying I am a survivor.

SurvivorOh and because it’s awesome.

Unity … or no.

I made biscuits and gravy for breakfast on Sunday. While the biscuits were baking, and the gravy was thickening, that yummy, warm, fresh scent filled the kitchen. I had a flashback to my Dad being the one making this exact breakfast. I love these moments when I have a scent and memory that go together about my Dad, I breathe it in and have complete peace for a few brief moments.

Achieving unity – oneness – with ourselves, with our loved ones, with our friends and working associates, is the highest and best and most delicious fruit of the 7 Habits. Most of us have tasted this fruit of true unity from time to time in the past, as we have also tasted the bitter, lonely fruit of disunity – and we know how precious and fragile unity is. – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I was living on the bitter, lonely fruit of disunity while I was with Aeron. When you are in a relationship with someone who has narcissistic tendencies and destructive behavior, there isn’t any room for two. They only have time and space for themselves, you aren’t an equal, you are a possession.

Just to set the scene, here are a few signs he is a narcissist ::I use he because it relates to my experience::

1. No empathy – most people care when you’re upset, but a narcissist will focus on how he feels, and how upset you just made him.

2. Sense of Entitlement – He feels entitled to things/successes even though he hasn’t earned them.

3. Exaggeration – embellishing everything, dramatic.

4. Needs excessive attention – He needs constant attention and becomes moody or upset when you’re attention is on something else.

5. Possessive and controlling

6. Behaves like he is the center of the universe

There isn’t any room for unity as a couple if you are in a relationship with someone that has these characteristics. When I was with Aeron, I thought that if I tried harder, did better, was prettier, skinnier, worked harder, cleaned better, made him happier, etc, etc, etc, that he would finally love me and we could be a happy couple. The truth is, he never wanted to love me, or anyone, more than himself. I deserved better than that.

The worst part of leaving was that I felt everything that he was incapable of feeling. I felt the pain of a relationship lost because I had put so much hard work into it, I felt bad for hurting his feelings when I left him, I felt awful for saying no each time he asked me to reconsider leaving, but because of days gone past, I knew his promise to try and to change was a lie.

There is in each of us so much goodness that if we could see its glow, it would light the world. – Sam Friend

 

Set your sights high, the higher the better. Expect the most wonderful things to happen, not in the future, but right now. Realize that nothing is too good. – Eileen Caddy

I set my sights high when I left Aeron, but recovering from the damage has taken so long that I’m only starting to look at them. I feel like I’m not done fighting because my sister’s husband is so much like Aeron, her relationship being so much like my last one in many ways. I see the weight of neglect in her eyes, I had the same look. I hear her put off her own feelings because he hasn’t cared about them since the beginning, and it breaks my heart.

I wish I could show her a picture of her sights set higher, of what she deserves to feel in this life; love, unity with someone who loves you, joy. How do you create a picture showing the weight that you carry by being with an emotionally destructive partner?

When we set exciting worthwhile goals for ourselves, they work in two ways: We work on them, and they work on us. – EDGE Learning

Pink

Trying

It’s a foggy morning here in Seattle. I love mornings like this, they remind me of days when my sister and I would take long walks with our mom, through the rolling fog.

Dependence is the paradigm of you – you take care of me; you come through for me; you didn’t come through; I blame you for the results.

Independence is the paradigm of I – I can do it; I am responsible; I am self-reliant; I can choose.

Interdependence is the paradigm of we – we can do it; we can cooperate; we can combine our talents and abilities and create something great together.

Dependent people need others to get what they want. Independent people can get what they want through their own effort. Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success. – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

On Depedence: When I met *Aeron, I was definitely independent. I was strong, I was confident in myself and I knew I could do whatever I set my mind to. My parents had raised all of us that way, they reinforced strength through trial and error, that mistakes were not stopping blocks, that we had everything we needed to make it happen. It being whatever we set our mind to. No goal was stupid, no dream unobtainable.

It was almost immediately after I moved in with Aeron I started to have a lot of doubts about myself and what I was capable of. I had never experienced someone that could be so heartless while saying that he loves you. It was small things too, for example, every time I didn’t clean the dishes right away I was labeled irresponsible, if I didn’t clean the house the way that he liked it he would have a list waiting for me when I got home from work and he would go over it with me, speaking to me as if I were a child.

He made it clear that I wasn’t to tell anyone about my mistakes because he was helping me and he didn’t want me to be embarrassed that I didn’t even know how to vacuum ….there began the isolation. Why, why, why did I listen to him?

I see in that quote what happened. I went into that relationship confident that I could take care of myself, that I was capable of doing whatever needed to be done, but I was also 20 years old. Aeron was almost 40 and I thought he was outwardly very confident, but that isn’t it, he was arrogant, he was proud and to keep feeding it he needed to put others down, including me. With his skillful manipulation of words he rendered me dependent on him after weeks of pushing the same button. “You are irresponsible, you can’t do this right, you don’t know anything, you need me, I’ll help you learn, I’ll help you get better, I’m the only one that cares.”

I didn’t believe him at first, I was just furious, I was insulted and knew that I had made a mistake in moving in with him, but I felt stuck. So I had a plan, I would submit peacefully to his demands, I would do the best that I could to show him that I was not the names he had called me. I worked my ass off doing it, but it was never good enough. After weeks of submitting to his conditions and feeling like I couldn’t tell anyone, I lost myself.

Dependence was also Aeron’s problem, he would never take ownership if things didn’t go his way. Someone else was at fault for letting him down, he was skilled at placing blame on others. My sister’s husband *Blake, is also like this. The whole world is against them, you should feel bad for them. These two guys have daddy issues….. here is a red flag, when a man nearing his 40’s has daddy issues that are unresolved, step away.

Unselfish acts are the real miracles out of which all the reported miracles grow. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s a pity we can’t ask people while on a date, to describe to us a time when they were selfless. Their answer could be a stealthy way of figuring out if they even comprehend how to put others before themselves, but how do you bring it up over appetizers?

Extraordinary people visualize not what is possible or probable, but rather what is impossible. And by visualizing the impossible, they begin to see it as possible. – Cherie Carter-Scott

This week, I do believe that something which may seem impossible can happen. There are miracles, and there are dreamers, there are people with the grit and strength to push themselves to make it happen. I want to be one of those people.

Some men see things as they are and ask, “why?” I dream things that never were and ask, “Why not?” – George Bernard Shaw

Dreaming things that never were and going for it.I know it’s worth it if you just try, but trying, is the hardest part.

Try

*Names have been changed.