Tradgedy and time on your hands has a way of re-teaching you who you are. It also shows you where you could use a helping hand.
I tend to be a person who hangs out with herself a lot. What do I mean by this? First of all I really do like hanging out with myself. Also, I grew up learning a couple of things that stuck with me.
I learned that it’s best not to count on other people – so learn how to do things yourself. I’ve also learned to be a very good secret keeper for those who treated me badly but knew how to look good in front of others. These teachings have damaged my thinking and impacted all of
my relationships. I’m starting to realize that now.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it is fantastic that I can do so many things without needing to pay someone – case and point refinishing my bathtub. It cost me about $30. I love that I am multi-talented!
The problem comes in when I don’t ever depend on anyone for anything, not even emotional things. I don’t have that group of gals I chat with. Heck, I don’t even have 1 best girl friend. I do have a great neighbor who I consider my best friend. We call ourselves the odd couple because he is 68 and I am 38 and we have a marvelous friendship. Of course he has a life with his wife and goes on vacation and such. So, when he’s not there I have no one. The thing is that other people are there, but I don’t form deeper relationships mostly because in good times and bad, I don’t want to bother them.
Eventually, if I’m going through something very trying and it’s beyond my ability to handle it alone, I can become very depressed and isolated. So, this is the ugly flip side of extreme independence.
The order of events in my life lately seem to be of no coincidence. I am clearly being shown my areas in need of improvement and compassionately I’m also being presented with solutions. I need a better support group so that I feel loved no matter what and so I don’t have to rely so heavily on my romantic relationships to be the single source.
After 7 years of not seeing my dad’s side of the family, I was invited to spend the 4th of July with them in NC just when I needed it most. Then, they invited me to spend the week with them at their beach house.
I also reached out to my cousin in Nova Scotia who, despite never having heard her voice until now, has been a source of inspiration to me through various electronic and written mediums. She also wrapped me in her love and patience with the offer to let me “get it all out in a safe place” and to visit sometime.
That’s the ticket isn’t it? One has to feel safe to open up. Part of being a secret keeper for abusive people is that you never know real safety. You tend to silence yourself and suffer quietly. It is not natural to trust , but very special and treasured dearly when it happens with someone. You’ll never meet someone more loyal.
Part of the challenge that I faced in my last relationship is that everyone in my life encouraged me to leave him. I did, several times. They all thought he was a piece of shit, psychopath, narcissist….you get the idea. So, when I’d leave and eventually find my way back, I felt more and more ashamed to talk to people. This can be very isolating and damaging. I was
embarrassed. I knew in my head what a manipulative bastard he was, how badly he was treating me. My heart kept going hoping against hope something would change. By the end of it all, aside from my neighbor, I stopped talking about him entirely to anyone. So I had nowhere to go with all the pain except this blog and my music. So thank you for keeping me going!
It’s past the point of needing to write a new chapter. I’m ready to crack open the spine of a brand new book and begin fresh with this post as my preface.
I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless
and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.
I have been thinking about this irony quite a bit lately. Most people think I’m a very happy, successful person who is well-adjusted and lives a good life. Some are shocked that I’ve had major challenges in my life.
I always try to make people feel a bit better about their mood or circumstances because I’d never want them to feel the terrible way I do inside most of the time.
What I find is that I’m left with no one to listen to me they way I listen to others. There are a number of people in my life who only contact me when they need something; advice or an ear, etc. Then, they are gone once they’ve gotten what they’ve needed. It is hard for me to make real friends despite my outgoing personality because they tend to be one sided. As anyone would, I tire of that quickly.
I find that I spend a lot of time alone. I am able to do so many things that most of the time I do not need to ask for help. Recently, I realized what a lonely life I really lead. The irony is that I’d really like to be involved with people who care about me. I’d like to have an inner circle that I could count on. It is strange how much I can make other people feel good, but I am alone; in my solitude with my nagging thoughts and there is often no one to comfort me.
For the 4th of July weekend, I visited a part of my family that I was estranged from for a long time. As I talked to my father’s only remaining sibling, looked through albums and watched my cousin interact with the family, I began to see patterns that have lasted generations. I haven’t even taken it all in yet, but I noticed the anger and the violence and the destruction. There may be one person on my dad’s side that is still married to their first spouse. Even those who are married are not in healthy relationships. I saw the way my family cuts people down and makes them feel small. I saw the vindictiveness and the way that the anger has turned inward on each person who lets their anger loose on someone else. I watched how they just struggle to find reasons to keep staying alive. I thought to myself how familiar it all is.
Everybody in my family has a broken piece in the unit; a missing father or husband, an angry man, a passive agressive spouse, co-dependents. I don’t think we even realize that we’re actually grieving that loss. It all comes out in wierd ways that we try to use to manage how close or how far away we keep you from knowing that pain. It’s like no one told us we could share the burden.
I simultaneously draw people close and push them away with my humor depending whether I think they could handle the grief. I’m lonely because I learned that I cannot rely on people to stick around even if they promise forever or unconditional love. I cannot let them share my grief because to open it up with someone who will not stay by my side through thick and thin is to do nothing different than I’ve always done. Because I always get the same result, I don’t know how it feels to share with someone who actually keeps their words and doesn’t leave. I would very much like to know that feeling.
Here’s the thing, you can’t believe something else is possible if you’ve never experienced it. My experience is a lot of pain. I would like to be loved by someone who would let me stop being a comedian. In the meanwhile, I make people laugh because I don’t want them to come close to feeling the pain I do.
Everyone wants to be happy. We live in a society where any inconvenient thought or feeling is considered “drama.”
How do we find our happy place? Can we plot out our journey with happiness as the final destination? Can we steer clear of the “drama” until we are only sourrounded by people with no needs at all? Will that make us happy?
Avoiding unhappiness, is not the road to happiness
How many times have you heard yourself say, I need to get away? How many times have you walked out on people or situations that challenged you to stay present? How many times have you drunk, smoked, fucked, shopped, etc. too much just to avoid facing the unhappiness in your life? You’re not alone. This is a place where we can stop lying to ourselves, put down the mask and look into the mirror.
People are not happier because they’ve been through so little. They are happy because of how they handled getting through so much.
Fear: Ah yes! Your fear can kill you from within making you second guess yourself into inaction. Fearing death makes you afraid to live. To really live is to smile at the face of death and say “thank you for one more day”.
Happiness is in all the moments on the periphery.
It does not come when we try to force it or search for it or put a laser focus on it. It is when we stop looking that we catch glimpses of it out of the corners of our eyes. It is there in the moments we are enjoying a conversation, a play, the birth of our child, a five second orgasm. It is the moment when we confess to another our truth and they say with their eyes, I love you as you are.
Clariry of Purpose is knowing what you’re willing to lose to keep that happiness.
The key to everlasting happiness is knowing what you value the most and relentlessly pursuing it with all your might for the rest of your life.
For example, if the happiness of your spouse makes you happy and s/he is currently suffering, then you will not feel well either. You will feel her pain, suffer with him. Your happiness will elude you. Therefore, you must work for her happiness directly and your own, indirectly. You see, your smile, your hapiness is the by-product of achieving what you value most – the hapiness of your wife.
Figure out what you value the most, pursue it tirelessly and you will know how to acheive everlasting happiness.
Mine is to be loved and accepted for who I truly am. This has been the main pursuit of my entire life. So goes the name…aneternaltraveler.
When things end differently than we expect, especially when we’ve invested a lot, it can be really hard to move past the outcome. The phrase most often heard to describe this is “needing closure”. In some situations I believe closure can be achieved, in others not so much. Hanging on to getting it in these situations can put your whole life on hold. And you deserve better than that, don’t you think? I think you do 🙂
I’ve recently extricated myself out of a really bad relationship that I’ve been hanging onto for about 1 year. It was one of those situations where you keep thinking it will get better because it is “not so hard to fix”. You believe that he will move beyond making promises and finally take action. You think the meanness will stop. I began to hold on to the few moments of happiness in between the pain thinking that the 10% could become 90% if we talked enough. You start asking yourself what you’re doing to cause it or if you’re imagining things because it seems so unreal. I’ve never done such mental gymnastics to be in a relationship in all my life.
He claimed he was here for me, but sabotaged every important moment in my life. He badmouthed me to his family to the point that they hated me and then invited me to drive 6 hrs. to spend Thanksgiving with them. He caused drama in an attempt to come between my best friend. Then, he’d buy me expensive”I’m sorry” gifts as if that should make it all better. He’d tell me how much he wanted to spend his life with me, but could never manage to get past his selfishness to actually include someone else. As he often reminded me – “I just don’t think about you when you’re not around”. Nice. So, yeah he was here for me, but not in any way that you’d want to have someone around.
I just couldn’t understand how someone could be so consistently hurtful. It is, after all, so easy to be nice and kind. The benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Particularly if you really want to spend your life with someone. I took so much crap from this man. I didn’t like who I was around him. He put on a good show in front of friends and family, but in private, I rarely smiled, cried a lot, didn’t want to be intimate with him in any way. I was completely unclear why I stayed or invited him back again and again. Somehow he would always find a way back and it would always be worse the next time.
Finally he had done something so horrible to me while I was heavily medicated and sleeping, that I was done with giving out chances. But my mind still wanted answers for how someone could behave in such horrific ways. Why, why, why?
So, I wanted to share some thoughts with you that have been helping me move forward even though I have not gotten any answers or asked him to make sense of it for me.
First Lesson:Who Cares? If a person cares about you they would never disrespect and humiliate you – EVER. If they do and you tell them and they don’t do better or feel remorse, this is a reflection of their shitty character. It is not a judgement of who you are. People who care take care of you especially when you’re weak.
Second Lesson: Invest Wisely Sometimes we invest so heavily in someone that we feel we are owed a return on investment. But in fact, it is a lot like the stock market, there is NO guarantee. Also, there are some “stocks”, like men, that are simply better performers. They have shown what they’re made of over time. If I had taken his “portfolio” to heart, I’d have walked away from a man who was a serial cheater during his entire marriage, who blamed his ex-wife for his unhappiness, and also bad-mouthed her to his family while never revealing his misdeeds at any time. After all he started to do the same things to me. Every time we’d have a fight he was out on the online dating websites trolling for new women to stroke his ego, he’d bad mouth me to his family, and told me that if he ever killed himself, it would be my fault because I make him so unhappy. Yeah. Sometimes, you have to cut your losses ladies and admit that you put your trust, time and energy in an undeserving man. Just walk away and learn something that will make you invest more wisely next time.
Third Lesson:Where’s the Apology…the Explanation? Waiting for the apology that never comes can be infuriating. It is kind of a waste how much faith and belief I put into a man who has shown no integrity in his thoughts or deeds. Even though he’s let you down more times than you have fingers and toes to count on, you hold out hope that he will care enough about you to suddenly realize how “worth it” you are and rush in like a knight to prevent losing you. I assure you that you ARE worth it. He just is lacking the integrity present in decent human beings. Think of yourself like a placeholder more than a significant person to him and it will make a lot more sense. Anyone who stands in that spot gets that treatment. Trust me, I wanted an explanation for his despicable behavior towards me. An account of how he could bring himself to commit a crime against me. An apology. I didn’t get any of that. Not for days after. Not now. Nothing except complete denial as he walked out and slammed the door at me crying in a heap on the floor. Used and discarded like trash. Good men just don’t do this. Period.
It takes time to get past all this sludge because we want our hurt, our experience to matter to the one who does the hurting. We want them to feel bad about making us feel bad. We want them to make good on their promises. It is normal and healthy for people to interact in a caring way about people they care about and most people are decent. For example, I hurt you. I apologize sincerely. I don’t do it again. You accept. We move on stronger and deeper. But some people really don’t give a shit about you or your needs or the fact that you are a person with feelings, let alone that you were in a relationship with them.
The thing is that the longer we hold on to our desire for “admission of wrongdoing” from the one who hurt us, the longer they are left in charge of our personal power. And nobody should have access to that wheel except you should they? No. They shouldn’t. So, let’s just take that back, shall we?
What we really want is to just feel better. We want all the yuckiness to clear out so that we can feel good again. It is more of an internal/emotional shift that we are looking for from another person.
Luckily that is a gift we can give ourselves, much like forgiveness. We have to do it all the time really when you think about it. We know that the rest of the world, our coworkers, strangers, etc are not responsible for our feelings, right? So, if we apply that to relationship “closure” we don’t really need the other person to help us move on do we? No. We don’t 🙂
I would say instead of trying to deny it or drink, drug, or shop your way out of it……
Do this instead:
Just acknowledge that something sucky happened. Don’t pretend you’re not hurt just so you look all “together”. That’s just gonna mess you up for interacting with other humans. It doesn’t mean your weak, it means you’re human.
Get real about the feelings you have – name them. Are you sad, hurt, humiliated, betrayed, violated*. You get to decide what’s important and significant to you. Nobody else can tell you what’s real for you or how bad it hurts. Don’t compare yourself to others.
Resist the need for outside approval. You don’t need others to validate your feelings. Learn to accept and acknowledge your own state of being and consider it valuable. This way you can trust what you want and need for yourself. Use your own voice!
Learn something as you process this life moment. It will help you make different decisions next time. Nobody’s perfect or has all the answers and that’s ok because we’re designed that way.
Finally, give yourself the gift of closure by honoring yourself, remembering you are awesome, and that sometimes other people really suck and that’s not got a darn thing to do with you.
-with love from aneternaltraveler 😉
*If you feel that a crime has been committed against you, I would add to the list that you consider contacting authorities and taking appropriate legal action.
While I love delving into a variety of psychology topics, I seem to have developed an acute interest in researching, understanding, and explaining Narcissistic behavior. Perhaps it is because I grew up with an abusive, alcoholic “N” father and was left with a lifetime of questions I’ve been working to answer. I also seem to meet a lot of narcissists and even date them (Freud. Is that you?). As time has gone on I’ve gotten far better at recognizing the red flags and have healed so I walk away a lot faster and minimize the damage done to myself.
Recently I was reading an FAQ on Sam Vankin’s website, who is a narcissist himself and writes extensively on what it is like from a 1st person perspective. For whatever reason, his description about the two different “geneotypes” of narcissism; somatic and cerebral struck a different cord for me.
It made me think about religion and its long standing relationship to misogyny and narcissism.
The second thing that it important to know is the definition of the two genotypes and that if you stick around long enough you’ll witnesss both. One is default or dominant, but both will show depending on circumstances:
Cerebral narcissists – basically trying to impress you with their brains, intellectual accomplishments, “the know-it-alls” define this dominant type.
Somatic narcissists – these are the ones that are into their bodies, sex as conquest, the philanderers. They treat women as objects to get off. If you ever felt like you were having sex with a man that felt like he was basically using your body to masturbate, you may have been with this dominant type.
In an excerpt regarding Narcissists, Sex and Fidelity, Sam Vankin, a dominantly cerebral narcissist writes, “The somatic narcissistuses sex to “conquer” and “secure” new sources of narcissistic supply. Consequently, the somatic rarely gets emotionally-involved with his “targets”. His is a mechanical act, devoid of intimacy and commitment. The cerebral narcissist feels that sex is demeaning and degrading. Acting on one’s sex drive is a primitive, basic, and common impulse. The cerebral narcissist convinces himself that he is above all that, endowed as he is with superior intelligence and superhuman self-control.”
This made me think about about religion. Let’s take a look at what St. Paul has to say in 1 Timothy 2:12: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent.”
Then I remember that at the core narcissists hate women. Finally, I went back once more and thought about why religion remains a pervasive part of our society even though we supposedly have equality. How could parents bring their children to a mass that condones this kind of sexism? I thought about the horrors women still face and the very real danger they are often in.
There is a clear endorsement of female subservience in Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit to you husbands as to the Lord”; and similar advice for slaves in 1 Peter 2:18: “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.” One truly cannot discern a difference between being a woman or a slave.
Another blood-curdling tale from the Book of Judges, where an Israelite man is trapped in a house by a hostile crowd, and sends out his concubine to placate them:
“So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, ‘Get up; let’s go.’ But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.” (Judges 19:25-28)
Fundamentally at the core of religion is the degradation of women.The fact that both genders still participate is an act of consent to the precepts both written and preached.
As I consider narcissism and the misogyny that exists at its core, I cannot help but be convinced by the overwhelming evidence that the very founders of most world religions were themselves narcissists. I imagine two types of narcissist priests – the somatic who has urges he tries to repress (they are the ones we eventually hear stories about) and the cerebral narcissists who find sex disgusting anyway so it is not that hard to abstain. These are the ones making the sexist, degrading laws. All because they have a dysfunctional relationship to their bodies, women and sexuality.
The more traditional the country, the more easily it is bound by religion. The worse it is for women. But even here in the USA where we are in the land of the free and we supposedly have equality, day after day women continue to support religion as a front for their own degradation simply because they show up and self-identify! And puuuhlease, even though I hear this all the time, NO! You cannot pick and choose the parts of religion that you’ll support or not support either. Every time you show up and keep quiet, every time you donate your time or your money, you condone it all – part and parcel.
Do you know that there are 3 rules to keep a dysfunctional family intact: Don’t Talk, Don’t Trust and Don’t Feel. As long as you feel that you are being treated badly and don’t say anything, you are complicit. You are enabling the behavior to continue. And when it comes to religion, if you are woman supporting a religion in any way that categorically degrades women into a lesser position, then you are saying “it is ok” to treat me like less, my daughter like less. It is ok to expect less. It is ok to be dominated and silent. And as a man you are also agreeing to treat your wife, daughter, sister in this unequal manner and to teach them that this is what it is to be a man.
If we had any kind of real equality, religion either wouldn’t exist or it wouldn’t put the genders in a one-up, one-down position. But in the competitive society in which we live, we can’t even imagine a world where both people are equal. There has to be a dominant and submissive model in play. Do you realize that research shows that only 1 in 4 relationships have women in the one-up or dominant position? That mean 75% of our “romantic” relationships have men dominating women and women in the “one-down or devalued position”. And of course the culture punishes the men by calling them “wimps” and the women “bitches” in hopes that it will get them back in line.
Do you see that all of this perpetuates the idea that narcissism and misogyny is ok? Do you see that religion sticks around because our society keeps generationallyreinforcing that this model works even when it doesn’t. The social pressure to conform feels like too much. So we stay quiet in public and dissent in private.
Don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel. It masks reality. It gives way to learned helplessness, drama, and victimhood. Instead of empowering yourself, you become “the one who survived” each life event and think that measures your success.
Woman or Man – If you want to change how you’re being treated… If you want to leave the Narcissist in your life/dysfunctional relationship… If you want to live in a healthy society and have healthy relationships between and among genders….
How many times have you sat next to your girlfriend while she sobs pitifully into her Cosmo (a la Sex and the City)about the latest guy? You still refused to give her a much needed wake up call. Didn’t you? This goes waaaay beyond – He’s Just Not that Into You! It’s about gathering up your self respect enough that you can tell your girl to opt-outbefore she loses her own self-respect.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that it can feel good to get at least some of the things you want from a relationship,especially if you’ve been alone for a while. But that doesn’t mean you’re getting what you need to make it last.
I’m all for letting the guy know if you don’t like something or what your preferences are. That’s just good communication. But here’s the thing, if he agreed to make the adjustment and you don’t see any improvement over a reasonable period of time, you’re probably not going to get further by telling him the same thing more often. Unless disappointment and empty promises are what you’re after.
Unless you’re dating a complete moron (which begs the question of why you’d be interested in him to begin with), he is capable of understanding the words that are coming out of your mouth. He would WANT to listen and make you happy if he were able and if he gave a flying fancy about you.
You don’t have to resort to scare tactics – threaten him, get all passive aggressive or break up to make your point. In fact if you are doing any of these things for that reason, please get real and understand that it is not sustainable or healthy to keep going on like this. If he suddenly promises to change when you make these threats but not when things are “normal”, then you know you’ve got a solid reason to opt-out. There is nothing to “FIX”. Nothing better to look forward to. Just honor the waving red flags, gather up your self-respect and get out of Dodge.
opt-out noun an instance of choosing not to participate in something.
Here’s the clincher – it doesn’t matter WHY!?! It doesn’t matter if he’s into you, not into you, has a tough day, week, year, life, childhood or is just not able to give you what you need. What matters is that YOU know what YOU needand you say buh-bye to someone who doesn’t meet those needs. Boom! Ta-Da! Done! There’s the magic! The Rabbit has left the hat!
For a long time, I used to think that I was terrible at relationships because of my divorces, but the flip side of divorce can be a much greater understanding of what works in a relationship and what doesn’t. Of course the caveat is that you must actually take the time and make the effort to breakdown, grieve, get real with yourself and come out the other side with peace AND understanding.
So when I did this and then ventured back out into the dating world, I had a whole different view on myself, my needs, and my expectations in a relationship. I knew what values needed to be in place, the kind of emotional connection necessary, the humor, attitude, character, etc. that would work best for me.
I had learned to take care of myself which was terrifying at first, but became a source of great empowerment to me. I didn’t need someone to complete me. I discovered that I am already whole.
If you’re anything like me you love lists. So compact and to the point. So here’s my list of the TOP 11 Reasons You Need to Bail on A Relationship. As a side note, this can of course apply to female partners as well, but I am writing from the perspective of a hetero female 😉
1. He doesn’t comfort you in your worst moments. He actually often makes it worse by arguing with you, laughing at you or showing no emotion or inappropriate emotion.
2. He thinks of himself first and leaves you what’s left or nothing at all.
3. He thinks that s/he can buy your love to make up for the lack of emotional intimacy.
4. You can’t imagine him caring for you if you were old, sick, or dying. In fact you might imagine him trying to get sympathy in public and treating like garbage behind closed doors.
5. He makes you feel worse about yourself when you’re together and brings out the worst in you. You are not growing emotionally or spiritually with him.
6. You spend more time talking about the relationship than enjoying being in one.
7. The bad times start to outweigh the good and hardly a day or two goes by without conflict.
8. Nothing ever gets resolved because he manipulates the situation with threats (suicide, leaving, withholding etc.), putdowns, avoidance, playing dumb (gaslighting), managing down your expectations by teaching you that fighting with him isn’t worth the trouble so you better start expecting less.
9. He’s over 30 and still afraid of what his family thinks about him, you or your relationship. He puts more effort into making sure they are comfortable instead of you. He makes you look bad in front of his family. This man will not have your back (unless of course it suits him). He is not a reliable partner. Good time, yeah! Bad times….not so much.
10. He has a history of cheating while in a committed relationship. Whether or not he cheats on YOU sexually, I guarantee you that this kind of behavior is a whole mindset that is based on superficiality, entitlement and instant gratification. This is not a guy who goes the distance. He won’t keep promises he makes no matter how often he says so.
11. If his words don’t match his actions, judge the actions. That’s what counts.
Commitment is great, but make sure it is to someone who is really committed to your happiness too.
In a culture whose mantra has become, “what you believe, you conceive”, we could use a cold bucket of reality to wake us up every once in a while. While I tend to look on the bright side of things, I wouldn’t consider myself an optimist. Quite frankly, I think these definitions are too oversimplified to be helpful.
I think we can all agree that being a “Debby or Dan Downer” with things in life can be just as bad as expecting to shit out rainbows for breakfast everyday. Total realism, on the other hand, is like a dry piece toast; edible but not enjoyable. Extremes in any form are not healthy, no matter which way you slice it.
I like to think of myself as a Realistic Optimist which I define as, someone who goes into a situation filled with the hope of a good outcome, but who is realistic enough to know when enough evidence to the contrary says it is is time to walk away.
So, I find promoting the idea that “what we believe we can make true” without any caveats is both irresponsible and untrue. For example, no matter how much we may believe and conjure up all our will power, hope, and commitment towards changing someone, we cannot make an individual do something they don’t want to do. We cannot make them change. We cannot make someone care. We cannot force love. None of these things are possible through the power of thought.
You don’t need to put up with someone’s crap just because you want to show how positive you are. Or how kind you are. Or how loving. Here’s another newsflash, they are not going to change for you.They are an asshole despite you. You sticking around will only wear you out. It will not cause them to change.
I promise you that they will not wake up one day and say, WOW!! Because she’s/he’s stuck around all this time while I’ve busted up every boundary she/he has, taken all my shenanigans in stride, and given her/himself up for me, I’m TOTALLY READY TO SUDDENLY BECOME (WO)MAN OF HER/HIS DREAMS NOW.
It is fine to give someone chances, but have a time limit in mind. Showing yourself less love will not make someone change unless you want that someone to be YOU. You have not been put on this earth to martyr yourself. You don’t have to stay in a place that sucks. You can do better. It may not feel like it at first, but being alone is better than having your soul sucked out by someone else who means you and the relationship no good.
Today was another day of waking up to a roll call of my failures and shortcomings. All before I even opened my eyes.
Sometimes, I stay paralyzed in this state for a good 15 min. while I get the shit beaten out of me.
At some point, another dude shows up and says, “C’mon now, it’s not that bad. I love you & we’re gonna be ok.” I have to hear this repeated over and over in order to release the physical paralysis and get up.
Tired Before I Get the Day Started
Needless to say, this is an extremely exhausting way to begin my day. Often it will take me until afternoon to start feeling ok. It makes it hard for me to focus on the things I set out to accomplish. Often, I’m too exhausted to do much else after just managing these assaults all day long. This, of course, folds back on itself creating “proof” that the asshole in my head just might be right after all.
Of Two Minds
Research shows that the conscious mind averages about 40 bits of information/second – approximately 1-3 events at a time. The subconscious mind however takes on an average of 4 BILLION bits of information/second – so literally THOUSANDS of events at a time!!!
If these two were in a fight to get the message across the fastest, who would you put your money on to win?? If you said the subconscious, congratulations…you’re a little richer.
If you are one of the many people out there, like myself, who have jumped on the “law of attraction / affirmation” bandwagon in order to feel better about your life, you may have also noticed that it’s not quite cutting the mustard. Why not? Well, I’m glad you asked 🙂
First, we read all these books or watch the videos and we “think” Aha! I’ve got the secret. Soon, after much practice…we say something like…wait a minute, it’s not working.
That’s where the gurus typically tell us that we are not trying hard enough and we are affirming our negativity.
I don’t know about you, but there is nothing more I hate than someone telling me I’m failing because I’m not “trying hard enough”, especially when I”m giving everything I’ve got.
I believe that’s both unfair and unhelpful. It gives you absolutely no insight whatsoever. To make some headway (pun intended hehehe), first you have to understand a little bit about the purpose of the conscious and the subconscious parts of the mind.
Conscious vs. Subconscious
Conscious – uses logic & reason, anything you CHOOSE to do, past & present, filter for your belief system (the judge/bouncer)
Subconscious – uses emotions, involuntary actions, always in the present, core of your belief system and memories
Let’s use an example. Based on my experience of being bitten by a big dog I trusted, my subconscious has stored a memory of the event and a belief that ALL big dogs are dangerous and I should stay away. When I see a big dog my conscious mind is alerted by the subconscious that there is danger and it logically chooses to avoid contact to keep me safe from perceived danger based on my belief system.
Now, let’s imagine you try to create a conscious affirmation that “ALL big dogs are safe”because you’re tired of being scared. Hmmm…it isn’t working. Well that’s because your conscious mind says these words and then dutifully checks in with the subconscious belief system and learns that the subconscious says…hell no. So basically, you can say all you want, but if the subconscious says bullshit, all bets are off. You are still afraid of big dogs.
The Powerless Feeling of Positive Thinking
In my own life, without realizing it, I’ve habitually and chronically adopted some beliefs deep down that prevent me from achieving what I say I want out of life. This is really demoralizing and depressing.
You start to get pissed at yourself because, you’ve tried to convince yourself to believe differently through affirmations and you’ve failed. You start to think well maybe I really am useless, messed up, broken, etc. So now you’re basically afraid AND feel like a failure. Cool. So much better. Thanks.
If this sounds familiar, first of all take a deep breath. You’re not the only one who has tried the power of positive thinking and felt at your wits end.
It is enormously helpful to understand that, you simply cannot consciously do what you subconsciously don’t believe without creating a moral dilemma.
That is the whole basis of the conflict, misery, and discontent you feel inside.
When these “two minds” are aligned we can be successful, when they are not we are in conflict with ourselves and others. PERIOD.
If you wonder why you say you want to do one thing, but seem to quit before you start, or half-way through, or lose it after you get it, this is why. It is almost impossible for us to achieve a goal if we hold subconscious beliefs that are in conflict with that goal. Your subconscious mind will find a way to sabotage you at some point in the process.
Any time the conscious is distracted or offline the subconscious takes over the reigns of control. So, that’s why I wake up to the jackhammering sound of my subconscious every morning for a while until my super slow conscious comes back online to get me up and going like a good project manager.
Your Head is Like an 8-Track Player with One Tape to Play
Most of us have heard about the “tapes” that play in our heads. This is another way to approach talking about the subconscious mind. Sometimes, it is really hard to tweeze out the messages that are constantly replaying in our minds because they play so quickly. If your’e lucky you have great positive messages playing, but for many of us, that’s not the case. Today, I wrote mine down immediately after my conscious mind got me up.
I’m going to share them with you because, I have a feeling you might think you’re the only one this is happening to and you’re cracking up. You’re not alone. I can’t promise that you’re not cracking up ;p
Here are the ramblings of my subconscious (my tapes) that I hear every morning and whenever I feel insecure and my conscious can’t keep it under control.
Why don’t you just kill yourself? You always take on more than you can handle. You know you are going to fail, so why do you even try? Sooner or later you’re going to be homeless and living on the street. Nobody loves you. Nobody cares about you. You are insignificant. Fucking loser. You can barely keep it together. Why do you even bother getting up day after day? You are not good enough. You are not smart enough. You’re a fraud. You suck with people. Nobody would ever want to be your friend. Everyone see that you are a problem. If they don’t see it yet, give it time.
Whew!! I read these aloud and began sobbing uncontrollably half-way through. Day after day of waking up to this barrage of abuse. Knowing it is lying just beneath the surface of my consciousness threatening to undo me with the right trigger, makes it damn hard to get much out of life.
What do your tapes play? See if you can write it down and then read it back to yourself. How did you feel?
Prolonged Exposure Therapy?
I recalled reading about a “prolonged exposure therapy” developed by U. Penn psychologist Edna Foa to help veterans with PTSD. It has been enormously successful, but it works contrary to the way most of us deal with trauma (by avoiding talking about it or discouraging survivors to dwell). Basically, this therapy encourages you to talk about it /tell your story over and over until it minimizes or eliminates the PTSD entirely. If we don’t talk about things, they don’t magically disappear. They fester.
Prolonged exposure therapy is now also being successfully used to help survivors of rape and sexual assault to deal with their PTSD. It has been shown to be more effective than conventional therapy. After exposure therapy, 83% of these girls no longer had the diagnosis of PTSD vs. 54% who received conventional supportive counselling. Even their depression and daily functioning improved significantly with exposure therapy.
It got me thinking about how the tapes we play in our heads operate in our lives in a very similar way as PTSD in that they both can take over your life and belief system to negative affect. Ultimately, in both situations a trauma has occurred that has affected your belief system AND is making life unmanageable.
Could a version of this “prolonged exposure therapy” help us to manage our crippling fears and beliefs that negatively impact our lives so that we may move past the trauma and towards creating the life we really want to live?
Experimenting with Conscious Exposure to Subconscious Tapes
Step 1: I decided to begin by recording myself saying all the messages I hear on my tapes in the same mean way I hear them everyday.
Step 2: Then, I played the recording over and over and over while I visualized someone outside of me saying these things to me/about me.
Step 3: Each time I listened, I rated my emotional reaction on a scale of 1 (least affected) – 10 (most distressed).
Step 4: When I need a break, I either go to a safe place in my mind or I get up and go to another room to create a sort of “environmental reset”.
My theory is that I “know” somewhere deep inside that the things on these tapes are bullshit….somewhere beneath the trauma and the entrenched belief system.
I hope that by courageously facing the fear of hearing those words and feeling the feelings that go with them head on, I can get to the point that I recognize it as false, reject it as untrue, and desensitize myself to the emotional terrorism I feel day after day so I can have my whole life back again with a much better belief system.