Category Archives: Just Thinking…

I’m a good catch…and the narcissist knows it

Today I looked in the mirror and remembered that I am beautiful On Facebook today, I saw a series of links from different pages discussing why a narcissist would pick us. I already know, but reinforcement and learning more is always good, so I followed the stories.

This page in particular has such a great quote:

And here’s why I think that is. By doing so, the narcissist wants someone who will make him look good….it’s as if they are saying, “See who I’m with. I’m a heck of a guy.” 
Then, since you are above him, he has to run you down privately, and perhaps to others when you don’t realize it, simply because he knows you’re the better person. It’s weird, but in his mind, you have to be demeaned, put down, and belittled SO HE FEELS AT YOUR LEVEL, or even better than you are. But, in reality, he knows the truth.

This is right on! I’ve been saying for a few years that the narcissist targeted me because I was a CATCH. Then, he tried to consume everything good about me and take it as his own. It’s been a rough few years through a smear campaign as he’s projected all of his abusive behavior onto me and pretended he was the one who was innocent. But the truth is, he saw a light in me and knew that I was valuable.

My ex abuser is a known womanizer. He rarely dates anyone for more than a night or a week. But he wanted to marry me within weeks. He pushed really hard. I hesitated and he pushed more. He was 56 and had never been married, but he was insistent that he marry me. I used to wonder, why me? But you know what? ME because he saw that I was a good person with good values. He saw that I was someone worthy and someone with a lot to offer. He knew I was a prize and he wanted to own me.

As soon as we were married, he treated me like garbage. Literally over night. He started telling me how worthless and awful I was. I was confused. How did I go from being the best woman he’d ever met to being worthless? Why did he marry me? It didn’t make sense.

When I met him, I had a good job and was on a good path. I had a beautiful happy child and a lot of friends. I was quiet ,but could warm up after I got to know people. I was pretty well-liked in our social circles. People thought I was smart and funny. Men thought I was attractive and tried to date me, but I was always too shy to date much. I had a good reputation. The narcissist wanted that for himself. People thought he was lucky when I started dating him.

And you know what? He was!

Several years later, he has abused, smeared and demeaned me until I’m a laughingstock among many of the people who used to think I was fun. He has taken most of my friends, (who clearly weren’t real friends,) and he lives my life that he took over. I have little left, and he is Mr. Popular. What in the world happened?! Well, I met a sociopath. That’s what happened. It’s awful.

But this is meant to be a happy blog, so let’s move on! I had that good reputation because it was real. It was me. It is who I am. I am considerate, smart, witty, thoughtful, pretty, and all kinds of good things. That sociopath wasn’t shopping for a loser. He didn’t break 56 years of bachelorhood to settle. He thought I was that special and that valuable. He is a vampire latching on to what I was. But I am not only the same person I always was, but I am an improved version. I am more astute, stronger, wiser, more enlightened. I have been through a hell that not everyone can experience or imagine, and it has taught me many new skills, as well as awakened me to the weaknesses that I can work on.

He’s still just a narcissist. Yawn.

If you were targeted by a narcissist, it was never because there was something wrong with you. It was because there was so much right about you. Take heart in that and know that, no matter what horrible things they have done to you, you are still you. You are still the magic person that the narcissist wanted to be…but can’t.

That is winning.

Accepting what is good enough so I can focus on things that matter more

Don't waste time on the wrong things. It will only keep you from getting to the right things. Don't be afraid to let go of things that aren't right for you! I have a problem with being a perfectionist. I like to be super neat and organized, and sometimes I get a little bit stressed if I can’t keep everything perfect. In recent years, I have learned to STOP that! But sometimes, I still struggle with it.

Recently, I was sick for a few weeks and a friend came over to help me catch up with chores and house cleaning. Of course he didn’t do things the way I did. He didn’t sweep every corner of the floor to get all the fuzz balls. He didn’t wipe the windows until they were spotless. I was also doing a bunch of work to catch up, and I had to stop myself from re-doing the less than perfect things.

 

When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough: Strategies for Coping with Perfectionism

I have two little kids at a home and I’m self-employed, (a wonderful new development!) There is no way I can be the best at everything. It reminded me of a time in my early 20s when I was a supervisor in a department store. I had a hard time delegating tasks to other employees because I wanted every bit of of my department to be perfect. But the thing is, in a store with thousands of customers every day…nothing is going to be or remain perfect. You have to meet a happy medium where everything is functional, nice and good enough. Not only is that a crucial lesson for managers, but it’s a crucial lesson for life. Especially if you have kids, pets, a spouse, or a roommate, you have to compromise and stop trying to be the best at everything.

Thinking back to an economics class I took in college: you may be the absolute best at a lower level job, and you maybe “just” pretty good at a better paying job, but it’s still better to take the pretty good position over the perfect position because you can go farther with it. Why limit yourself to being perfect at something that isn’t as important when you can have something better? And so with cleaning my house…do I want the absolute cleanest kitchen floor in town? Or do I want an okay floor and a great day with my family? Sometimes you have to let go of perfect and choose good enough because good enough is better for you.

 


Present Perfect: A Mindfulness Approach to Letting Go of Perfectionism and the Need for Control

Letting the little things be less-than-perfect helps reduce stress and helps improve your quality of life. In the end, all those little things won’t matter. It’s hard to let go of trying to be perfect at everything, but it’s something I am learning to do.

Don’t be the grump that scares people away

Surround yourself with beauty!

Surround yourself with beauty!

It’s easy to get caught up in a bad mood, a bad day, a bad life…and get grumpy about everything. It may make sense to you, but consider how it sounds to other people! There is a grump in my office who is just so grumpy, I groan and want to get away every time I see her! I’ll call her Frieda.

Frieda’s desk is close enough to mine that I can hear her very clearly throughout the day. And do you know what I hear? Her being grumpy, short, cold, and rude when she’s on the phone with our clients. Sometimes I am shocked at how rude she is! She is so grumpy, she ends up arguing with them–unnecessarily, because if she wasn’t being so mean, they wouldn’t respond defensively. I hate sitting near Frieda. I take care to always use a soft, calm, and polite tone with clients. I find that works much better than pissing them off ;) But then I hear Frieda being harsh and grumpy and sometimes I end up mumbling under my breath, “geez, stop being a jerk.”

I also hear Frieda grumping and trashing our co-workers. She’ll look at someone else’s work and nitpick everything she thinks is wrong with it. She will grumble to the person who sits next to her about how awful so-and-so is, and how they always mess things up. I’m still pretty new to the company, and I’ve had the delight of hearing her discuss ME while complaining about those idiot new people. Oh how pleasant…. NOT! Hellloooo, Frieda! I can HEAR you trashing me. How about a bit of empathy for the newbie who still has a ton to learn? Or…get this. Maybe I am not doing anything wrong and you are just a grump who thinks everyone should do things your way?

So I have to sit there listening to Frieda being mean to clients, gossiping about co-workers, oh…and grumbling about our supervisors. And I wonder, (since Frieda is married,) how really miserable her husband must be because I have never heard her say anything nice.

We recently had a day for charity fundraising that included some games to play in between doing work. Because of it, we received e-mails from our Human Resources department to help us play along. Most people thought it was fun, and a nice break from the stress…but not Frieda. She grumbled and grumped about all those annoying e-mails and how stupid the games were. She complained that the HR department was wasting time and needed to get back to work. She grouched that she was going to send a letter to the CEO about how pointless and wasteful the games were.

I had to bite my tongue after hearing a whole day of her being a grump.

I wonder if she has any clue how mean and awful she sounds? Or how all of her complaining and attacking makes other people see her? She must have *some* good qualities, (since her husband hasn’t run away from home!) But…all we hear is the negative all day. It’s so depressing, I’ve considered asking to move to another spot in the office. I don’t want to hear her being mean all day. I want to be in a positive mood at work, and I want to do a good job, and be fair to everyone else! But Frieda is quite frankly…a drag.

Don’t be a Frieda!

Change Your Words, Change Your Life: Understanding the Power of Every Word You Speak

Recently, I read a book that was filled with wisdom about the power of our words to make or break our reputations, make or break our moods, and to make or break our relationships. Maybe I should silently donate a copy to Frieda ;)

She might be a fun and interesting person, but all I know is that she sounds like a meanie. It’s something to consider for all of us. When we think we are venting, (not that there’s anything wrong with that,) are we going overboard? Are we making our entire world gray and dreary? Are we scaring people and opportunities away from us? Are we destroying workplace morale? Do our moods spiral downward as we focus more and more and more on negativity all day? Who knows what damage is done by a big mouth and a bad attitude!

I know from time to time, I get into these modes, and now I realize with horror…I hope I don’t sound like Frieda! Like the title of the book tells us, your words can change your life. I enjoyed the book a lot, and have been making an effort to remember the good advice in it. Listening to Frieda has inspired me to be even more careful about how I talk because I don’t want to make people feel the way Frieda makes me feel.

Other women can be a woman’s worst enemies. Choose your friends carefully!

laymitrustgiftglowinghandsAt work, most of my co-workers are women and men are relatively rare, so we are free to talk about men, women and stereotypes. The other day, one of our supervisors mentioned that she is teaching her teenaged daughter to be careful about trusting other girls, because girls are so mean to each other. We all nodded our heads with knowing looks on our faces. Ain’t that the truth! Women can be brutal and cruel to other women!

If you are an adult woman, you probably went to some slumber parties as a kid. Did you ever notice that every single one resulted in the girls taking sides, getting into a “war” and switching sides through the party? The fun party always ended up with girls talking about each other, being friends, then going to the other “side” to back-stab the girls on the first side. Someone or everyone always hated each other by the end.

Mean Girls, Meaner Women: Understanding Why Women Backstab, Betray, and Trash-Talk Each Other and How to Heal

And guess what?! IT DOESN’T CHANGE! We’d like to think that we grow up, that other people grow up, that the people who bullied us grow up, but adults are just as mean to each other as kids are. Sure, they have learned some lessons, but a woman can be your best friend one minute, then your worst enemy the next. You trust the wrong one with your secrets, and when they turn on you, the whole world will know them–or more likely, a very distorted version of them. And yet, we are supposed to be the nurturing and gentle sex….

As I’ve dealt with the smear campaign from my sociopath ex spouse, he has charmed dozens of women into attacking me on his behalf. Some eventually realize they are being used and back off, but there is always a new round of women ready to believe his mean ex wife is destroying his life. And there is always a round of women to harass me. Men? Not so much. Sure some men just hate all women, but most of them aren’t so ridiculous. No, I am not a woman hater. (I am a woman after all!) But ladies, how can we expect people to respect us if we treat each other like crap? And how can we find real, trustworthy friends when we have to figure out which person is holding the knife to stab us in the back?

Here is a good article about Girls Who Bully that offers some ideas for why females act like this, and why it is so devastating. There are a lot of good quotes in there!

Grown-Up Girlfriends: Finding and Keeping Real Friends in the Real World (Focus on the Family)

Recently, someone I’d considered a good friend cut me off, befriended my abuser and started trashing me. I was confused. We had been chatting on Facebook, then POOF! I couldn’t respond. We weren’t arguing or anything. She admits to being bi-polar and has done such things in the past, so I just let it go and gave her space. I figured it wouldn’t help to push her. A few weeks ago, she started attacking me publicly out of nowhere and “explained” why she was mad at me. It was over an incident that I didn’t know anything about, and definitely wasn’t responsible for! Well, at least now I know. She then continued to attack me and post distorted versions of secrets I’d told her. Wow. Some friend. I believe that my ex abuser helped rile her up, because narcissists do things like that and triangulate fights between people, but she still proved to be a terrible friend. Frankly, even if I do forgive, I won’t trust that person as a friend again. But, it certainly taught me, (yet again,) that we need to be extremely choosy about who we trust as friends, and who we share our weaknesses with, because women in particular will often use them as weapons. Trust is a gift, and I won’t give it away so cheaply in the future.

Learning to trust and be supportive of the right people

Let your confidence shine!

Let your confidence shine!

I’ve lived with myself nearly 40 years, and I frequently discover I’m good at things I never realized I was good at. As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes we believe what others or society tell us we are instead of really thinking about the truth.

Lately, I’ve been frustrated by some friends who let me down in a very bad way. And I’ve thought about how much I supported them over the years only for them to drop out right when I was needing friends and a support system the most. Some friends. I’ve thought about how much I regret putting myself on the line to defend their reputations. It’s hard to know who to trust, and I’ve written before that I often do so much for people who do so little for me. Why are we so backwards this way? Idealizing people who don’t care about us, but neglecting those who do?

While I was pondering these things, (and mentally telling off my backstabbing former friend!) It hit me that I’m a very supportive person. When something helps me or someone helps me, I want to let others know so the helper can benefit and get the kudos they deserve. If I find an artist or musician I really like, I share their work–hoping they can make more sales. If one of my friends is the target of gossip or a bully, I jump in and take hits to defend them. (Figuratively, not literally. I am soo not a fighter!)

When you’re a doormat like I *used* to be, and you pick the wrong people to defend and support, this is not really a good thing, but as I learn to be more astute, trust the right people and value my real friends instead of being fooled by false friends, I think this hidden talent of mine is actually a really good thing.

Trusting people for the wrong reasons leads to disappointment

Gaining the confidence and skills to discourage predators

Gaining the confidence and skills to discourage predators

I realized something interesting today and something that should help me avoid being disappointed in the future. Many of us trust certain groups of people simply because of what we expect from them instead of what we know them to be. For example, we naturally trust that teachers, pastors, mothers, therapists, nurses, and others like that are going to be good, safe people that we can trust. And quite often they are, but sometimes they are not. In fact, sometimes terrible predators will join those groups or careers specifically to get access to people who will blindly trust them. Those people are very dangerous!

In my life, I was raised in a so-called Christian home. It was pretty abusive, but I was still raised to believe that “Christian” was synonymous with good. I attended church from time to time and I went to Christian schools for a while. I did indeed meet some good people–including a friend I’ve had for over 25 years! But, I also met a lot of jerks and snobs and bullies–including my abusive mother who would threaten to kill me and beat me, but looked so wonderful teaching Sunday School at church. I should know darn well that not all Christians are good people, but I still have this naive hope in my mind that they are safe. I want them to be. I want to feel like I can turn to people. Much in the same way, I wanted to believe my mother could be a loving mother despite all proof that she wasn’t.

Sometimes we get so caught up believing what we want to be true, that we miss the reality that it isn’t true at all. And so, for years, when I have needed support in my life, I have turned to Christians or Christian support groups. I have been sorely disappointed every single time. I keep finding people with no empathy, people who are self-righteous and people who are judgmental. Why do I keep trying? Because I have this idea/hope in my head that a Christian group should be a place of safety. And that naive belief misleads me.

Now some of the best friends I have are Christians, and they are the type I expect to find, but some of the nastiest people I’ve met are also self-proclaimed Christians. I don’t blame the religion or God. I blame the meanies who join the religion! But I need to learn the lesson that even disappointingly cruel people can end up in positions of people we/I have assumed are trustworthy. Since I have a history of being a doormat, I need to remember that just because someone carries a label that I trust doesn’t mean that person is trustworthy. Today I had a good reminder that I still need to watch and wait to really know what kind of person I’m dealing with, because actions speak louder than words.

Longing for other people’s blessings instead of your own

Comparisons can be hurtful and toxic. We are all different people on different paths with different experiences. Don't expect your way to match someone else'sI’ve been thinking a lot about being grateful for what I have, and looking for what I can achieve rather than feeling bad because someone else has more…or seems to have more. Yesterday, I wrote about how unhealthy it is to compare ourselves to others, and a while back, I blogged about learning not to feel like a loser compared to my old classmates who seem to have so much more. It may look like others are doing much better than we are, but it’s not always true. Tonight, I realized just how real life can be.

I often feel sad, and maybe a bit jealous when I see happy, loving couples with extended families and a great support system. I feel sad that I don’t have a caring spouse to help me and to be there for my kids. I feel sad that my parents are toxic and incapable of love. I see these “normal” families and homes where the husband isn’t throwing the wife around and the parents aren’t threatening/trying to kill the kids, and I feel the hurt of never having had a loving, healthy family. It’s not fair! I know that I married an abuser because of the way I was raised–because I didn’t know any better and never learned to expect anything better–so I feel cheated.

Tonight, I was Facebook surfing and looking at profiles of people I used to know. I found one person I had known very casually, and her page caught my attention. Why? Because the family was beautiful. The home was gorgeous. The vacation photos were stunning. The love was apparent. The kids were smiling, the husband and wife were looking at each other with love, the captions were happy. I got a bit of that jealous feeling again. I have struggled so hard to be a loving, good person and find the love I never had in childhood. I want a family. When is it going to be my turn to find a spouse who doesn’t abuse me and can respect me? When will my kids get to have a father? When do I get the cozy home?

But I looked further. I turned cold and I found myself crying. Why? Because that love-filled happy family with the nice home lost a smiling child to a tragic accident. Their happy beloved toddler was grinning one minute…and dead the next. I think I would literally die if that happened to my child. How could anyone go on? Then I realized that, even though that family was very blessed in many areas, they had faced more tragedy as well. They needed all that love and support to get through the worst thing that can happen to a parent. How can I feel jealous of their family support system when they are leaning on it to survive something so bad?

Instead of feeling sad for all the things I don’t have, I want to feel grateful for all the things I have.

Comparing yourself or other people to others can be hurtful

Comparisons can be hurtful and toxic. We are all different people on different paths with different experiences. Don't expect your way to match someone else's The other day, one of Dr. Phil’s guests was a mother of three, (with one child at home and two in school,) who was also running a family business from home. Her problem was that she was completely exhausted and overworked, hadn’t had a break in years, and didn’t have enough time to take care of herself well. Oh boy, I can relate! I’m a single mother of two toddlers. When I had a full-time job, I was working 50-80 hours a week, and I was always exhausted. Between work and commuting, there wasn’t much time during the week. I took my kids home, fed them and put them in bed. I tried to keep up with housework, then start the next day with less than enough sleep. It was rough! Then I lost my job and became a stay-at-home mother. That is even more exhausting! I am older than the average first-time mom, and I feel it. I can’t even imagine how the mother on Dr. Phil was taking care of her toddler AND running a business at the same time. At least when I worked, my kids were in daycare and I was focused on my job. Can you imagine trying to do your professional desk job while jumping up every couple minutes to feed, clean, change, chase your active toddler? So I read that woman’s story and I was nodding. Oh yes, I want a nap sooooo bad.

Here’s the problem: On Dr. Phil’s Facebook page, the majority of the comments about the woman were shaming her for wanting a break, and most people were comparing themselves to her with her being the loser. Dozens of women were claiming that they could do all of that, and more, while looking great, working out, volunteering, and more…and they STILL had tons of energy. It was like a competition with lots of exaggeration and no empathy. Guess what?! Motherhood isn’t a competition. All those superwomen who were comparing that woman to themselves and calling her lazy, and worse weren’t doing anyone a favor. (Plus, I’m guessing most of them have some big problems that they aren’t sharing ;) )

Who knows what that woman’s story is? She’s doing two full-time jobs–mothering and running a business at the exact same time. We don’t know anything else about her energy, her health, her family dynamics, her temperament, her spouse, her support system, or any of that. And it’s none of our business. Her life is her life. Those other women’s lives are their lives. To make comparisons and act like everyone is exactly the same, and should be doing the exact same things is toxic. It drags people down, and it ignores our individual personalities and strengths.

To compare ourselves to others is just as pointless. Did we all have the same childhood? The same experiences? The same opportunities? Talents? Luck? No! So we shouldn’t expect the same outcomes, and make ourselves feel bad because we aren’t doing what someone else is doing. Nor should we be shaming others who aren’t doing what we are doing. I wrote a while back about my feelings of being a bit of a loser since many of my peers are doing “better” in life than I am. I could compare myself to my former classmates all day, and I’d just feel like crap. Or, I can look at reality–we are just different and different is not bad. It’s just…different. I can keep my eyes off someone else’s path and just work on mine, and find joy in MY life instead of feeling bad about not matching someone else’s.

When we start comparing people’s lives, there isn’t a whole lot of good that’s going to come out of it, because someone is usually going to be on the “bad” side. And when we are comparing ourselves to others…it’s usually going to be us. Have you ever gone through a day feeling worse and worse about yourself as you focus on what someone else did that you didn’t? Or something another person has that you can’t afford? That person has a nicer house, that person has a good-looking spouse, a better job, a more impressive degree, nicer hair, a better figure, more friends…. If you keep going, you can really destroy your mood, and honestly, what’s the point of doing that? Will it get you the things you want? Nope. The things we tell ourselves matter and have a strong effect on our emotions and our energy. Wouldn’t it be much better to forget comparisons and just focus on where you are going? I think so! I’m done comparing myself with others, and if I find myself starting to do it, I’m going to redirect my thoughts to what *I* am doing to reach my own goals!

Learning to look out for myself

Life doesn't happen to me. I make life happen. I'm learning to look out for myself at lifeasyoumakeit.com When I first started writing this blog, I decided I was going to review the self-help books that were helping me. I realized that I was too passive, too fearful, lacked boundaries and just wasn’t getting as much out of life as I should. So, I started reading and learning about a whole bunch of topics that were helping me become the person I wanted to be–happy, fulfilled, successful, productive and a good mom. I picked the title “Life As You Make It,” because I wanted to focus on how we can all MAKE our lives the way WE want them to be instead of just letting life happen to us, because, as I go through life, I’m realizing how true that is, and how many opportunities I’ve missed by being passive.

I have learned so much, not just from reading the books, but by processing my thoughts, considering my life patterns and writing about what I learn. It’s therapeutic, it opens my mind to change, and it makes me feel like I’m really finding my path in life.

The old me was afraid to speak up about my wants and needs, but the new me looks out for myself.I came at this blog as a survivor of a bad childhood and an incredibly abusive relationship. My mousy ways made me a magnet for predatory people. But, they also kept me from meeting good healthy people, finding and advancing in the right career, and looking out for my own best interests in every day life. I don’t mean looking out for myself in a selfish way, but in an assertive way, where I speak up for my rights and voice my needs and wants. The very qualities that were attracting abusers were also keeping me from being fulfilled.

I’ve just been writing about things that inspire me, good books I read, chapters that are exciting, research that makes me think and tips that help me. There isn’t one single topic because it’s about getting the best from life in all areas that matter to me. And I’ve finally realized what I am doing:

I am learning to look out for myself!

 Through life, I have not done a good job of looking out for myself or standing up for myself. I didn’t know the life skills that come naturally to some people. I’ve just drifted around settling for relationships or jobs that didn’t make me feel good and didn’t make my life better. I was not looking out for myself at all! I would be extra considerate of others, but never myself. That is now changing!

I don’t want to be vulnerable to predators anymore.

I don’t want to be the woman who is looked over for promotions anymore.

I don’t want to be the person who is afraid to speak up anymore.

I don’t want to feel like I’m missing out on the good stuff anymore.

And I am ready to take charge and re-invent my life the way I want it to be!

I am excited about learning from others, learning from my own mistakes, and sharing my journey with others. It’s a great feeling to know that I am in charge of my life and to know that, even when bad things happen to me, I am gaining the knowledge to bounce back and take care of myself better than ever before. Especially for other abuse survivors, I want you to know, it does get better. I didn’t enjoy the trials I experienced, but I realize now that they happened to give me the epiphany I needed to snap out of my passive lifestyle, and change my life for the better. I am a doormat no more, and I want others to know that you can recover and thrive. It all starts with the decision to learn.

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