Monthly Archives: December 2014

Backsliding while learning to have boundaries

Dating checklist: 1. Don't be desperate 2. Don't settle 3. Don't hang on too long to something that's pointless

Dating checklist:
1. Don’t be desperate
2. Don’t settle
3. Don’t hang on too long to something that’s pointless

Boy have I done some dumb things lately, but I learned a lot too. I like that I was able to at least realize I was making bad decisions, even though I don’t have willpower to avoid them yet. Knowing and backing out are good first steps! And I’m moving forward. So here’s what I did:

First of all. I’m single. I have been in relationships most of my life since I was 19, so I’m not a fan of being single. I have been alone for two years since I kicked an abuser out of my life and I’m ready to not be alone. I want cuddles and friendship and later more, but I’m also very busy and don’t get out much. So when someone shows interest, I respond. I’ve met a couple people I was very interested in this year, but things just fizzled out. Most recently, someone I would not normally be interested in contacted me online and we started sending long messages. That was fun! I love being able to have long conversations and get really excited about them and I haven’t had that in too long. (In fact, I very much regret losing someone really wonderful, with whom I could talk until dawn and still be energized, due to bad timing a few years ago.) The person I was e-mailing with expressed gladness about our messages and what began as my only replying to be nice led to my being interested…because the other person expressed interest first. FIRST mistake! I should be interested in people because I am interested–not because I’m desperate for anyone to notice me!

It turned out that the person and I had some differences that should have been deal breakers, and I could tell he realized that and started backing off. But, I was so happy to have someone to talk with again, that I insisted the differences didn’t need to be a problem, even though if I were honest with myself, they were. SECOND mistake! I kind of convinced this person that we should continue pursuing whatever possibility there might be, but things never were the same. We went from fun long messages to small talk and finally flirting. I went from being the educated woman with all kinds of intellectual interests to the ditz who threw out some sexy talk to keep someone pseudo-interested. And I knew it! THIRD mistake!

I could tell this person wasn’t really engaging in conversation and I wasn’t really setting myself up as a valuable lady anymore. I’d start stupid little chats when I was bored and sometimes realized that he was barely answering. So I kept trying. FOURTH mistake! Oh, but he sure noticed during late nights when the chats got a bit steamy. Then he paid attention. And even though that is totally not who I am with virtual strangers, I had fun with it. FIFTH mistake!

This person was totally nice but he’s still a male and even though I knew in my head that he wasn’t really into me, I was bored/lonely/whatever enough to keep flirting and being my normally optimistic self. And of course that will keep a man “interested” on a superficial level. SIXTH mistake!

I told this person if we were going to pursue things, I’d like to move to phone calls and meet soon, but I had to nag him for a call. SEVENTH mistake! And there wasn’t much chemistry during the call, (although I’m shy, so that might be understandable.) When I hung up, I thought “ughh!” that was NOT what I want. (And it wasn’t like the guy I missed out on some years ago.) And I still kept trying! EIGHTH mistake! Guess what? Just because there is some interest at first, doesn’t mean you have to pathetically chase it when it’s clearly dissolving! And yet I did.

As things got out of hand, I realized this was not the real me, or how I wanted to be seen or what I really wanted. I realized I was making myself the easy go-to girl while this person was clearly dating people he respected more because they weren’t making fools of themselves. What was I thinking?! I know better than this! I prod my girlfriends when they do dumb things like this…and yet I did it. The authors of The Rules would be shaking their heads at me. The authors of He’s Just Not That Into You would write a chapter about me. And I know these books to be fully accurate and I usually trust them. But I was silly this time despite knowing the truth.

And you know what else I did? I passed up two dates with men who would be good choices for me…because I was talking to this guy. One of the guys I turned down was a great match and very enthusiastic about meeting me and THAT is what I really want. I’ve lost count of how many mistakes I made!

While I was going through this dumb phase, I knew I was doing everything all wrong. Quite frankly, I once broke up with an ex-boyfriend who was short, overweight and balding because I couldn’t feel attraction, and yet this person had the same qualities, (although to be fair, this guy wears it well.) So I made a list of what I really want and tried to remind myself that this person was not going to turn into what I really wanted, and even though I’m very broad-minded, he clearly was not that into me.

And, as soon as I pulled back from getting steamy in chat and said I couldn’t sleep with him…guess who lost ALL interest and got a bit mad at me? Yep. I had a feeling that was all he wanted–especially since our chats were mostly at night and he always turned them that direction. GAZZIOLLIONTH mistake!

So what have I learned? (Or re-learned?) Oh so much! But here are a few things:

First of all, I will always be open-minded to imperfection, but the spark has to be there–as well as genuine, enthusiastic interest on both sides that doesn’t require me to dumb myself down or do some chasing. Don’t be desperate. Don’t settle. Don’t hang on too long to something that’s pointless. I’ve been in good relationships and the real thing doesn’t leave you constantly wondering if the other person is interested–this whatever-it-was left me in that state, and try as I might, I wasn’t fooling myself. (But I did make a fool out of myself!)

So, I realize I have so much more to learn about respecting myself, valuing myself and letting others value the real me, expecting and getting respect, maintaining boundaries and more. But, I’m open to that and I’m refreshed in my desire to constantly improve!

It’s never too late to respect yourself and your boundaries

Respect yourself and your boundaries

Respect yourself and your boundaries

So in my last blog, I hinted that I did something stupid and lowered my personal boundaries. In the past, I would have just gone along with what I’d already decided and felt obligated to continue with poor choices. In fact, when I eloped with my abusive ex-husband, he was raging and calling me stupid the whole way there, and I did NOT want to marry him, but felt like I had to since I’d already agreed to. How sad is that? Fortunately, this situation is not so extreme. However, instead of being afraid to change my mind and do what I believe to be the right thing, I did what I knew I had to do for me and what I know to be the smart, responsible long-term choice. Someone is going to be quite angry or disappointed with me, and I’m sorry for that, but I was on a wrong path and I can’t keep going that way. I’d been making many positive steps forward with boundaries and taking care of myself, but recently took a step back. Well, I just took my first step forward again. That’s something! And the fact that I could do it means I’ve come a long way. Lesson learned.

Always be true to yourself because back-stabbing yourself hurts worse than when others do it

Always be true to yourself and your values

Always be true to yourself and your values

I literally feel sick to my stomach right now, because I realize I have completely disrespected myself, my boundaries, what I feel is right, and my integrity. I put a low value on myself and behaved in a manner that is not in keeping with what I really feel or want in the long term, and I betrayed myself for the thrill of short term fun. Fortunately, no real damage was done, but I realized in my desire to find a relationship, I rushed ahead too much instead of respecting myself and showing the other person how to respect me as well. (In case this is cryptic, I’ll avoid gossip by stating that no one-night-stands were involved. That’s really, really not for me!) I acted like a real ditz and a bimbo, and didn’t really show the real me or the way I want people to see me. I think I basically set myself up to be someone’s fling by being too “easy” instead of looking for a guy who wants more than flirting. There’s every chance that said guy might want a relationship, but I have acted like a plaything instead of a respectable woman, which destroys any opportunity for the kind of relationship I want. What the heck was I thinking? I am experiencing dissonance between my actions and the real me, and it feels terrible.

The playfulness and flirtiness are definitely part of my nature, but I usually reserve them for relationships–not as ways to get someone who probably isn’t truly interested in ME to be a bit interested for a while. I feel like I acted like a peacock to get temporary attention when I really want a dedicated partner.

So what have I learned? Be true to yourself. If you are a smart girl, don’t try to be flirty for fear that a male will lose attention if you aren’t! He might find you amusing for a while, but you know who he’s going to keep seeing? The woman who respected herself all along, the woman who expected typical dating courtesy, the woman who wasn’t desperate. I’ve learned a lot and I’ve documented a lot of it in this blog, but clearly I have more to learn.

Value yourself because people often treat you the way you show them to treat you

Value yourself. You show others how to treat you.

Value yourself. You show others how to treat you.

Humility and selflessness are good qualities! Greed and materialism are bad qualities! Right? Yes…sort of. I want to blog about something I’ve noticed a few times now, and a lesson I learned from it.

As a codependent, I’ve always put my needs and myself last in relationships. I asked my then husband-to-be to buy me a cheap ring because I didn’t want to be selfish. After we married he was the breadwinner, so I lived cheaply and encouraged him to splurge on himself. I kept the house immaculate and catered to him because I felt like I owed him and didn’t have much value since I was “just” a housewife. Guess how he treated me? Like a maid.

On the other hand, my husband was head over heels in love with his ex-girlfriend. (Yes, that made for an awkward marriage!) She had demanded the best of everything…and she got it. She was no better than me, but she asked to be treated like a queen and she was. I quietly pushed attention and gifts away from myself and taught him that I was not as valuable as she was. He never felt like I was a prize like she was, because he had to work for her and compete for her attention, whereas I was the sure bet that he settled for.

I also had a long-term ex-boyfriend that was a financial drain on me. I kept bailing him out of his money troubles and he used MY money to buy me gifts. He would have fun hiking outside all day while I went to work. I got tired of that eventually and left. He soon fell in love with another girl…who made him work for her. Eight years later he’s still chasing that impossible dream. He waits on her hand and foot and spends huge amounts of money trying to win her affections. She isn’t a mean girl, but she wants a man to treat her well and as such, even though we are very similar for looks, intelligence and education, she’s a prize and I’m a shrinking violet.

Both of those men treated me completely differently than they treated the women who valued themselves and asked to be valued. It made me realize that hey, maybe I should expect a little dazzle too! What a conflict with my nature–which is to be shy and introverted and to feel guilty asking for things. Maybe there is something to the traditional courtship gifts of jewelry and roses? Maybe men need to see women as a prize to win over rather than the humble little mouse who doesn’t ask for anything? I think some of these traits are hard-wired into our biology. Maybe someone isn’t going to treat you like a valuable prize unless you let them know that you are worth having.

Now I’m never going to be a material girl, but I’m certainly not going to put myself last anymore. I’m a prize myself and how I view my value determines how others will as well. Lesson learned!

 

Sometimes resisting a bully makes things worse–maintaining boundaries while staying safe

The best route with a bully is escape!

The best route with a bully is escape!

I have a narcissistic mother who has absolutely zero respect for boundaries or my choices for my life. She runs right over them. If I try to resist, she pushes harder, and sometimes becomes enraged or even violent because she’s not getting her way. In early 2013, she had an especially bad episode that involved her triangulating with her sister and stirring up trouble until her sister, (who is emotionally unstable,) was beating on my door screaming that she was going to hurt me after my mom riled her up and told her to come to my home. I hadn’t even talked with her sister, but my mother had created a fight with lies and gossip. Again. When my aunt arrived, I asked my mom not to open the door because I could hear her sister going insane. My mom pushed me out of the way to let my aunt in and my aunt started trying to physically attack me.

I go to therapy to try to cope with my mother’s behavior because she enjoys creating drama and crazy-making. When I talked to my therapist, she told me I shouldn’t have resisted. Huh? That threw me off. I asked her why should I put up with my mom picking fights and inviting people into my home against my wishes? She pointed out that if I had just said “yes” because I knew my mom was going to do what she wanted to do anyway, I could have smiled and nodded, let these two wackos do their thing, then nicely ushered them from the home after playing along. I said to her, why should I have to do this? Shouldn’t they just respect my wishes in the first place and leave me alone? She agreed that I shouldn’t have to parent these two, but that’s the way it was. Yesterday, I woke up and really understood what she meant by not resisting. Obviously, my situation could have been worse, but it hit me: following the advice to “resist” would have saved me a lot of hassle and retaliation. Because I tried to stand up for myself, I went through a lot of crap from those two in the following days. I finally understand the point of not resisting. When people are trying to control you, despite the injustice of it, you sometimes have to play along to avoid their rage and escalated behavior.

It reminds me of the “turn the other cheek” verse in the Bible. That verse used to annoy me! Why should I let someone abuse me and then invite more abuse?! Shouldn’t the bully be held accountable? Well, in a perfect world, yes. But, abusive and bullying people do not want to be held accountable, nor do they feel sorry. If you try to hold them accountable or try to stand your ground in the heat of their moment, they will make you pay for it. I also discovered this when dealing with an abusive husband. When he was determined to rage and scream and attack me, if I tried to plead with him and defend myself, he got more mad. I finally learned to diffuse and escape when it was safe. If I’d gotten in his face and acted the way he did, he probably would have killed me. Sometimes pride isn’t worth it. You can achieve more peace in the long run by not playing their games. Let them get their crazy behavior out of their systems, then get out when the coast is clear. But here’s the important part: once someone has revealed themselves to be that kind of person, never, ever let them come back for another chance to attack! You can still be strong and maintain the boundary to keep them from returning, but you have to keep yourself safe until you can get away from them.

Dealing with Crazy People!

People Can’t Drive You Crazy if You Don’t Give Them the Keys by Mike Bechtle

Click here to purchase People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys

This is a good book filled with lots of useful tips and information for those of us who have to deal with “crazy” people. It is from a Christian point of view and has some religious quotes and influence, although I didn’t think it was too preachy. There were long sections with no religious commentary at all. Most of it is good common sense; however, if you were raised in an abusive home, you might not have learned to have the kind of boundaries and self-respect you need to deal with dysfunctional people. That has been a big problem for me, so the title of this book caught my attention at the book store!

I think the information in this book is essential and very, very helpful. I underlined so many good ideas and realities that I wish I’d known sooner. Such as “The key to controlling our emotions is to manage our thoughts” (page 84.) Bechtle points out that we cannot change crazy people, but we could make ourselves miserable trying to do it. Instead, he points out that we have to change our reactions to crazy people so they no longer have the power to control our emotions. I have a problem with a sociopathic ex-spouse with whom I have not spoken in two years. He still manages to attempt to harass me in any way he possibly can…that doesn’t breach the protective order I have against him. For two years, I have lived with daily harassment or reminders of it as he has tried to destroy all of my friendships and has spread lies about me. I finally said “enough is enough” and decided to completely shut off all information about his wacky behavior. He’s still out there being crazy, but I am not paying attention to it anymore. I am so much happier and my friends tell me they see the difference now that I have peace in my life again. It has allowed me to be far more productive. The author doesn’t specifically address dealing with personality-disordered people, but many of the ideas still apply.

The author recommends tips such as backing away from your emotional response to a crazy person, and instead looking at the situation realistically. Crazy people often manipulate or lie to us in such a convincing manner that we believe them and lose track of reality. It allows them to control us and our emotions. Instead, we need to replace our incorrect thoughts with truth and enforce strong boundaries. This book includes these important ideas and more.

One thing I will say is, even though this book has many level-headed, sensible and helpful ideas, it was not an easy read for me. The text is simple and easy to understand, but it’s not written in an engaging way that made me want to read it straight through. It’s not a fun book to read, but it is one of the best books I’ve read on the topic of dealing with crazy people and protecting yourself. I really think he makes excellent and useful points. Another thing I’ll point out is, this author doesn’t focus much on cutting contact with crazy people. He mostly describes ways to live with that person without letting them control your life, so this book will be helpful for those who can’t get the crazy person out of their lives.

The chapter titles are:

Part 1–Stuck in a Crazy World
1. I’m Okay, You’re Crazy
2. The Problem with Believing We’re Right
3. How Relationships Work

Part 2–Changing Someone Else
4. Stop Yelling at the Toaster Oven
5. The impact of Influence
6. Can I Fire My Family?

Part 3–Changing Yourself
7. Why Can’t Everyone Be Like Me
8. The Energy of Emotions
9. Seven Keys to Unlocking Healthy Relationships
10. Key #1–See Yourself Realistically
11. Key #2–Take Yourself Lightly
12. Key #3–Don’t Sweat the Wrong Stuff
13. Key #4–Don’t Rush Growth
14. Key #5–Live Through the Lens of Kindness
15. Key #6–Base Your Choices on Integrity, Not Convenience
16. Key #7–Go the Distance in Relationships

Part 4–Changing Your Environment
17. Prioritize Your Relationships
18. No Guarantees
19. When to Leave

Part 5–Putting It into Practice
20. Giving Up on Getting Straight A’s
21. You Can’t Steer a Parked Car
22. Your Relationship Survival Kit
23. It’s Worth the Effort

Dating realities part one: If he wanted to talk to you…he would

There are a lot of dating books out there for a reason. I’ve read a lot of them, I’ve reviewed and recommended a lot of them, and I’ve learned enough that I could probably write my own…and I STILL don’t know what I’m doing! But, I am very sure of some key facts and I’m going to share them here. Here’s part one:

If he wanted to talk to you, he would

If he wanted to talk to you, he would

It’s that simple. Do you know how many times women trade messages and frantic phone calls wondering why a man hasn’t contacted them for days and then making excuses for why he hasn’t? Let’s stop sugar-coating it. Unless he’s in a coma or backpacking in Siberia, he can call you if he wants to. Even if he’s busy, he can find a minute to talk to you. Even if he’s on a pay-as-you-go cell phone, he could find a way to talk to you if he wanted to. As I tell my female friends, (and myself,) if he wanted to talk to you, he would. An interested man doesn’t forget that you exist for days at a time. And…he doesn’t just remember you days later when he’s bored and horny at midnight.

Now, you don’t have to spend every waking hour or even a few minutes every single day with someone, but a person who wants to stay in touch…does. And a person who isn’t interested in dating you…doesn’t.

Instead of calling all your girlfriends to analyze why you didn’t hear from the cute guy you met last Friday, how about going out and living your life? If he hasn’t called you, he probably isn’t feeling it, so why waste another minute of time? If he does call you, that’s great too. But the point is, enjoy your life and don’t live it around someone else. If someone wants to be in your life, they will find a way and if they don’t want to be in your life, you can’t force them to be. So…step away from your phone!

This is easier said than done, of course. I have a sticky note next to my wall phone, (and I can see it from here,) telling me the exact same thing I’m saying here: if he wanted to talk to you, he would. So, I’m reminding myself of that again and I’m sharing that lesson here before I go have a nice evening :)

“Should have” is the most useless phrase in the world

"Should have" is the most useless phrase in the world

“Should have” is the most useless phrase in the world

We’ve all made mistakes–sometimes horrible choices that screw up our lives for months or years to come. We often confide in other people and try to find a way to clean up the mess. The absolute least helpful thing you or anyone can do is focus on what you did wrong and talk about what you what you “should have” done. What are you supposed to do? Get in your time machine and go back to make the right decision? No! You can’t do that. So what’s the point of beating yourself or others up about what “should have” happened? It’s a waste of time. It also causes you to get stuck in the past when what you really need to do is move into the present and think about the future…and how you can correct the problem. So next time you find yourself worrying about what you “should have” said or done, stop right there and move on to what you are going to do next instead. It’s the only way to keep moving forward!

Don’t let others tell you what you should have done…ask them what happens next instead.

Take your vitamin D to avoid seasonal depression, cold and flu

Take your vitamin D to avoid seasonal depression, cold and flu

Take your vitamin D to avoid seasonal depression, cold and flu

As we get into the winter season here in the United States, many people face seasonal problems such as wintertime blues, Seasonal Affective Disorder and recurring colds or flus. It’s not always the happiest or healthiest time of the year, but there are things we can do to raise our moods and boost our immune systems.

One thing we can do is eat or take more Vitamin D. We all know that a well-balanced diet with good nutrition is important, but there are multiple studies showing that Vitamin D in particular has many important benefits–especially in the winter. For example, getting more Vitamin D can help improve seasonal depression, ward off colds and improve blood pressure.

This study found that depressed people who took Vitamin D supplements recovered better than people using light therapy. (Another related study showed that infants who received higher levels of Vitamin D were less likely to develop schizophrenia and people with other mental health problems had lower levels of Vitamin D.) Multiple studies found lower levels of Vitamin D in depressed people; however, for happier people who were not Vitamin D deficient to begin with, extra Vitamin D didn’t make a difference.

Another study reminds us that Vitamin D is great for bone health, but it also regulates the immune system. Vitamin D in cod liver oil has even been used for tuberculosis infections! One study found that people with low levels of Vitamin D were more likely to become sick and another found that people who took extra Vitamin D were less likely to catch the flu.

This article shows even more benefits of Vitamin D:
Regulating high blood pressure, reduced pre-cancerous polyps, lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis and more!

Some studies show that at least 25% of people are deficient in Vitamin D, and these are the people who are more at risk for developing a variety of illnesses. Especially during the winter, it is important to get more sunlight, (getting sun through a window is less effective,) and maybe take a supplement to protect your mood and health.

Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice From the Battlefield book review

Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield by Tina Swithin
Click here to purchase Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield

This book is the follow-up to a book I reviewed earlier called Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle. In the first book, the author briefly told her story of getting involved with and being married to a narcissist, then detailed her attempts to protect her daughters from his abusive and reckless behavior. In this book, she includes a short review of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and gives an overview of her story, then addresses a variety of topics that are related to custody and visitation battles with a narcissist. In each section, she asks a question or offers a situation, then describes how the narcissist will probably act. She tells her story of what happened in her case, then lists answers that came from other moms in similar positions. The replies often describe how their respective narcissists behaved or they answer questions. This format actually confused me at first, because if there was an explanation in the preface, I didn’t see it. I did not initially understand why there was a list of answers after each question or where they came from! So if you read this book, be aware that not all of the answers are from the author. That part really threw me off.

Once I got past that and figured out what was going on with the format, I was relieved and discouraged to read many stories of narcissists who behave the same way my narcissistic ex-spouse behaved. I was relieved to read reminders that I am not alone in what I experienced and that eventually, the truth usually wins, but I was also discouraged because I read what terrible things narcissists are capable of. I already know from experience, but just when I think a narcissist can’t get worse…they do. So, read this book knowing that it might scare you, but also recognize the reality that it is possible to survive a battle with a narcissist!

Here are the chapter/section titles:
Dating a Narcissist
Married to a Narcissist
Divorcing a Narcissist:

Leaving with Children
Finding an Attorney
Going Pro Se
Tactical Moves
Courtroom Anxiety
Mere Exposure Effect
Muddy Water
Discovery Process
Witness Declarations
Custody Evaluations
Child Welfare Services
Psychological Evaluations
Minor’s Counsel
Appealing Decisions
Child Support

Narc Decoder
Children:

Co-Parenting
Sheltering the Children
Breaking the Cycle

Life Beyond NPD:

Finding (Real) Love
The Narcissist’s New Love
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Personal Growth and Healing
Forgiveness
Going Public

Family Court Reform
OMB Stories of Hope
Resources

Lasting Lessons:

Narcissists do not care about their children. They care about controlling their ex-spouses and avoiding child-support.
Narcissists will charm the officials who are supposed to protect your children the same way they charmed you. Be armed with the facts and know that you may be in for a hurricane of the narcissist’s lies.