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.

If a person doesn’t see your value, don’t try to force them to. Respect yourself!

Value yourself. You show others how to treat you.

Value yourself. You show others how to treat you.

For going on three years, my narcissistic sociopath ex spouse has trashed me to anyone and everyone he can find–including all of my closest friends, my family, my toddler, all of my acquaintances, and possibly even some potential employers. He is relentless. But, he’s also charming and he’s in their faces pushing boundaries all the time while I’m at home raising kids and living my life. So, he’s the one most people believe. You would think that any sane person would wonder why he goes around giving them unsolicited monologues about how evil I am, but sadly, not many people stop to think about that!

After I kicked the abuser out of my life, he began smearing me within days, and he started with my local social acquaintances to be sure to cut me off from any possible support right at my home base. Then he went for men who had tried to date me, the people I talked to most, my closest friends. When he worked through all the “valuable” people, he just started aiming for anyone who was left. I have lost so many false friends this way.

Recently at a social event, I was talking with someone that I had been friendly with in the past, and my ex abuser happened to enter the room, (specifically to intimidate me, but that is a whole other story!) As soon as the narcopath walked in, the person I was chatting with stepped back and said maybe he shouldn’t be talking to me because my ex abuser had warned him not to. I was shocked that an adult would be so gullible. “Okay,” I said and started to walk away. The guy changed his mind and decided it would be okay to talk to me after all. Gee, lucky me. Since my abuser has so many people giving me the cold shoulder based on his lies and the web of gossip he created, I was sort of glad to have someone to talk to anyway. More than once, the guy made comments about how we shouldn’t look too friendly. At the time, I accepted that.

Then I got home and realized how incredibly rude and childish that person was–at over 50 years old! What an ass he was to treat me like I was lucky he’d talk to me because he was warned by someone who viciously abused me and many other women! I had never done anything to him, and I am wonderful person which is exactly why the abuser was trying to consume my life. Jerk! I now wish that I had just walked away the moment he acted like he was doing me a favor by allowing me to be in his presence. Who needs to be treated so badly? Especially based on lies and a sociopath’s smear campaign? Next time, I will spend my precious time with someone thoughtful and respectful!

Splurging a little lifts your mood and gives you confidence!

Let your confidence shine!

Let your confidence shine!

A while back, I was reading some articles and information about the importance of what we wear and showing off a little to impress others. I’ve always been frugal and avoided name brands, because I thought that was the smart thing to do, and that what I wore didn’t matter. It turns out, sometimes what we wear does matter because wearing or owning items of value gives others the image that we are confident and successful, as well as able to do great work. What we wear to an interview can influence whether or not we get a job or make a sale. For example, if you are a real estate broker, and you drive around in an old junker car, your clients are going to think that you must not make much money, you must not sell houses very well, and you must not do a very good job if that’s all you can afford. But, if you pick them up in a nice new Mercedes, they are going to think, “wow, that Realtor must really be good to have such a nice car!” Let’s hire her to sell our house too!

It’s not necessarily fair that life works this way, but sometimes it does. Our first impressions matter, and people judge us based on appearance even if we don’t think they should. I had read this in multiple self-help books, so I decided to invest in some nicer clothing and accessories.

I decided to buy myself a Coach purse. I’ve never owned one, but I know they are a status symbol, so I started looking for deals and learning about their value. I knew I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, so I went to their outlet store on a sale day. Immediately, a very pretty, robins-egg-blue purse caught my eye. It was a sunny spring day, and that beautiful blue was so pleasant and calming! It fit in with all the good feelings of a fresh spring after a cold winter, and it inspired me. I made myself look around the store and see everything, but I went back to that purse, and I bought it.

Once I got home, I put it on my dresser, and every time I walked by, I smiled about how much I liked that color. It lifted my spirits every time. Then, when I needed to go out, I decided to put on a prettier outfit and carry my new purse. Usually I go to the store in jeans and a t-shirt, but that day I put on a pretty spring dress for no reason other than I felt like being pretty! Usually I let my pretty clothes wait in my closet until I have a special event, but it was really fun just getting prettied up to go to the store.

Now I carry my blue Coach purse everywhere I go. It perks me up and makes me feel special. I carried it to a job interview last week and the person interviewing me complimented me on it. I got the job, too! I don’t think it was the purse that got me the job, but instead the confidence I felt when I carried it and felt good about myself.

Yes, that purse was a splurge, (for me,) but it was totally worth it! The color brightens my day, carrying it makes me feel good, and it makes me stand out. That investment in my wardrobe was also an investment in ME, and I’m glad I made it. I can’t spend that kind of money every day, but it’s important to remember the principle behind it. Be good to yourself and remember you have value, and you do deserve little splurges. When you pamper yourself, you feel better, and you look happier to the world around you. Your improved mood will inspire others to have confidence in you as well.

Controlling your reaction to things you cannot control

Napoleon Hill’s a Year of Growing Rich: 52 Steps to Achieving Life’s Rewards

I post about reading this book every once in a while, because I read one chapter at a time and I’m taking my time. It’s a very inspiring book! Even though it is focused on getting rich by making more money, the tips the author gives for getting rich are really tips that make our lives better anyway. And that is where my journey is taking me after surviving abuse–a better life where I am assertive and taking care of myself better than I have in the past!

The chapter I read today was “Your Source of Power,” and at the end was a quote that really got me thinking. I’ve read it before, but I usually find it a bit frustrating. Hill says:

Your state of mind is something you can control completely….

No one can control the actions of others or the many circumstances of life that tend to make one angry, but you can control your reactions to these actions and circumstances.

This is not a new idea, but sometimes I just read things in a new light. This idea is also the main point of another book I read called People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys. That book is filled with assertive ways to deal with maddening people! It really is the truth that we can control our reactions, but I’ve always found the idea so frustrating because when you are dealing with a crazy person–especially an abuser–you begin to feel helpless after a while. It’s hard to believe you have any control over anything when there is a strong bully ruling over your life! The authors can say we control our own minds, but if you are being criticized and attacked and gaslighted daily, it really gets hard to stay strong. So I guess what I’m thinking is, sometimes it is harder than usual to control your reaction to a situation and stay strong, and that’s why every time I’ve seen that quote, I have had trouble fully accepting it. It was always so hard to see a way out of the abuse.

Still, it gets me thinking…when my ex was screaming and calling me names all the time, and I was huddled and crying in fear, could I have changed my reaction by simply not letting his rages scare me? I don’t know, because he was so unpredictable. I did change the problem by ending the marriage very quickly, so I guess that was the only way I could control my reaction to a volatile person.

Since I used to be a co-dependent, I’ve always had a problem with working harder and harder to fix the problems with abusive people, when I should have been strong, and kicked them right out the door after it became clear they weren’t going to change! When I was trying to fix disordered people, I was giving up my own power and letting them run all over my life while I waited for them to be respectful. (As if that would ever happen!) I can’t believe it took me so long to gain the insight and boundaries to stop letting unrepentant abusers control me when I could have said “no!” so much sooner. Lesson learned….

As I’ve been healing, I’ve really taken heart in this idea that I can control my reactions instead of trying to control people’s bad behavior. It is so much easier and less stressful, that’s for sure! It makes me feel like I have more personal power, and it gives me so much excitement for the future.

The other day, someone did something really crappy to me–stole my work off of my website, cropped out my website address, re-posted it as her own, said it was hers, and told people they too could share it. I was not happy that this person was so disrespectful with my work, nor the fact that technically, that is a crime. When I confronted the person, she refused to remove my stolen work, and she blocked me. That’s the kind of situation where someone else is taking control of your life, and you feel like you can’t stop them! It was incredibly rude and entitled of that person to think it was okay to do that! And it was that situation that made me see that old quote up there in a new light. I am no longer allowing people to abuse me. That person violated me, and I cannot control her behavior, nor can I make her an honest, ethical person. She was dishonest and that probably isn’t going to change. People are what they are until they decide to change… and judging by her refusal to remove my copyrighted work or even talk about it, she wasn’t planning on changing any time soon!

So…if I can’t prevent someone from violating me, I can control whether or not I let them continue, and whether or not I let it ruin my day. There are always going to be jerks in the world. All I can do is use my legal rights, (which I did.) I am done engaging with that person, because I don’t want to waste my time on abusive people anymore. I cannot keep those types of people from walking through my life, but I can keep them from staying. And that’s really what that quote is about.

The importance of relaxing without feeling guilty

blogphotoBecause of the way I was raised with an abusive mother, I was taught not to take care of myself or nurture myself. I was made to feel guilty about enjoying anything. I grew up to be a strict goody-two-shoes who was nervous about trying anything “bad” or even taking a break. Hedonistic people live for pleasure, but I grew up being the opposite–denying myself pleasure. In some ways, that is a good thing because I never got caught up in vices, but at the same time, I never learned to relax…or even believe I deserved to.

I rarely watched television, I never drank alcohol, I didn’t get to movies, I didn’t splurge on self-care like massages or manicures, I didn’t buy delicious foods, I didn’t take time out for fun. I lived as if I did not deserve anything good. Even if I did watch television, I’d do work while I watched. I never did anything enjoyable without doing something productive at the same time. I have been one incredibly stressed-out person!

Most people are looking to watch less T.V. or get off the couch more, but recently, I have started trying to do the opposite. For all of my life, I have been active and busy doing things that “matter” from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed. In the past few years, especially now that I have two toddlers, my days have been non-stop. It’s nearly impossible to keep the house clean, keep the dishes done, get all the laundry finished, and I’ve been stressing myself out trying to do everything and keep everything perfect.

That’s no way to live!

So, a few months ago, I decided to sit down in my comfy recliner and watch MORE television. Every night before bed. And…I force myself to put down the laptop, put down the books, and just sit. (Even though it’s tempting to run around the house and put things away with the TV going in the background.) I’m challenging myself to just sit, relax and do nothing. To enjoy just watching mindless shows for pure enjoyment. It’s nice!

Learning to enjoy life probably comes naturally to many people, but it was not natural to me. In fact, I remember being around 9-10 years old and watching my mother buy herself new clothes. I asked her to buy me a shirt–a purple turtleneck–and she told me that I did not deserve anything because I did not earn the money. Even when I did grow up to earn the money, I carried that comment with me–that I did not deserve things.

Over the past few years, I have learned to indulge myself in luxuries like some fancy perfume, a manicure, a massage…and a night in front of my television watching good-looking men on an interesting show. Purely wasting my time…and not feeling guilty about it!

Free eBooks on Amazon June 6, 2015

I haven’t read any of these, but I go through the free Kindle books on Amazon from time to time. Right now, all of these are free and sound like they could be helpful! If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the program for free to read on your computer.

 

Sometimes the prices on free books go back up, so make sure you check to see if it’s still free before you download.






The jump between knowing what you need to do to grow and actually doing it

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Earlier someone asked me if I’d been abused before and knew the signs, how did I end up with another abuser? So, I wrote about it on my narcissism blog. There were a few reasons I was naive enough to let it happen again, but one of them really got me thinking because it related to this blog about learning and growing. The reason I hadn’t yet changed and grown went beyond just recovering from abuse.

I made the mistake of marrying a second abuser because I didn’t do the work I needed to do to recover and learn after the first one! I naively thought that just knowing what to look for was enough for me to avoid any more abuse. I thought that it couldn’t happen again and I’d get lucky the next time. Wrong! The reality is, I knew in my head what was going on, but I didn’t change my life. I didn’t change my poor coping skills that led me to marry the first abuser.

Even though I’d started reading so many of the self-help books I review for this blog, and I truly believed them and loved what I was reading, I hadn’t yet made the jump to LIVE them. I passively thought reading them was enough. I used to go to therapy and understand all of the psychological reasons I was the way I was, and all the textbook reasons I repeated abusive relationships, but I would ask my therapist HOW to go from having the knowledge in my head to activating change in my life. My heart was not catching up with my brain.

This problem translates to all parts of life–not just abuse recovery. I was trying to take the easy way out and acting like reading books was going to fix my problems. In reality, *I* had to fix my problems, and the books were just the instruction manuals. I truly believe there is so much to learn from therapy, self-help books, and the wisdom of others, but I needed to be an active participant in that learning. That was the final step that took me a few more years to master.

If you want to change, you have to change. You have to make the jump from head to heart to life. You have to know yourself to see your weaknesses then choose to be proactive about changing your behavior and your thoughts.

It’s like learning a dance. You can read a book about it, you can watch videos, you can think about it until you are an expert in how it should be done…but you don’t actually dance until you get up and do it. And this is the same leap that I needed to make to connect what I learned with how I was going to start living.

For me, even though I hated the way my life was going, and I felt frustrated that I met two different controlling, narcissistic men after growing up with a narcissistic mother, I hadn’t yet hit the point where I was desperate enough to change. For several years, I learned and learned and learned until I understood what was going on, but one day, I had to get fed up and move to the next level. That’s when my life really began to improve.

1. I had to recognize the problem.
2. I had to examine the problem.
3. I had to find the source.
4. I had to learn how to fix the problem.
5. Then I had to live the solution!

 

For several years, I was stuck on step four. On my narcissism blog, I write all about my observations of narcissists and their victims. This blog is my journey through the final step–living my life the way I make it!

You can’t make choices that you don’t know you have…yet

laymichoicesseaThere’s a meme going around on Facebook right now that says we are all responsible for our own choices. I don’t like it and I’ll tell you why! (I also wrote another post about it–specifically related to all the ways abusive childhoods can affect us for life.) While there is an element of truth to this meme, it ignores all the gray areas in life and the reality that not everyone has the same choices available to them or knows what all of their choices are. This meme is too black and white!blame

I’m sure this meme is nice and simple for people who grew up with great social skills, a healthy family, and perfect emotional intelligence…which is not most of us. The truth is, we all come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and what we can choose, or what we currently know we can choose, is biased towards our own realities. We see life through our own eyes, and not those of someone else.

For people who have struggled in life thanks to poverty in childhood or poor social support systems, we often feel our choices are limited. Sometimes an abused wife with no job or career skills might feel like she has no choice but to stay in a violent marriage. Sometimes the only child of sickly elderly parents might feel that he obligated to put his dreams on hold to take care of his parents. For people like me who used to be doormats, it never truly crossed my mind that I could say “no” to people and not feel guilty.

Sometimes people do stupid things because they haven’t seen good role models and have no idea what the “right” way to live is. Sometimes people make bad choices out of desperation because they think they have no other way to get through a difficult time. Sometimes people make poor decisions because they have misleading information. There are all kinds of reasons that people learn to live the way they do.

The life wisdom that some people gain at an early age might not come to another person until later in life, if at all. We can look at people’s situations and judge them and say well they “should have” done this or that, but we are only looking at their choices as WE see them instead of as THEY see them.

For those of us who were raised in abusive homes and repeated the cycle by marrying abusers, sometimes it never crossed our minds that maybe life wasn’t meant to be so miserable. Some of us felt like we were obliged to compromise and put up with abuse because that’s just the way it was. Some of us live our lives for years before we finally have a light bulb moment and realize we have other choices that we’d never before realized were available. Maybe to others, that was obvious from the start, but for us, we have to travel our on paths to learn about life. How could we make choices we didn’t know we had?

Only when we realize that we have other choices, can we make those choices!

None of us are born educated, wise, and all-knowing. We make the best choices that we know are available and possible for us. And sometimes they are not as good as the choices that other people on different paths make. And that’s okay. We cannot know what we have not yet learned!

This meme insinuates that if bad things happen to us, it’s all our fault for making bad choices. It’s not so simple since our lives are colored by everything that has happened to us and it’s impossible to escape our past influences. Let’s have empathy for ourselves and others who aren’t always perfect.

Don’t be afraid to say what you are thinking

The old me was afraid to speak up about my wants and needs, but the new me looks out for myself. I posted earlier about reading Real Simple magazine and getting some great ideas and inspiration. One particular expert was especially meaningful for me–so much so that I wanted to give it a post of its own! This is a section from their new book The Real Simple Guide to Real Life: Adulthood made easy. This is a quote from Madeleine Albright–the first female Secretary of State in the U.S.

Early in my career, I went to numerous meetings where I was the only woman present. I would want to contribute to the conversation but would think, If I say that, everybody will think it’s really stupid. And then a man would say exactly what I had in mind, and the other participants would find it brilliant. I learned that you shouldn’t wait to speak. I started listening actively, knowing that I was going to comment on something and having it in my mind that I would interrupt at the right moment.

Oh how I can relate! I’ve mentioned before that I am painfully shy and introverted, and I freeze up in groups even though I can speak just fine in one-on-one conversations. I have had what Albright mentions happen to me hundreds of times! For me, it’s not necessarily about men and women, but about me being afraid to give my ideas in general. It was worst when I was in college and I knew that many professors included class participation as part of my grade. I knew I wanted a good grade, so I had to fight my inner fear and try to speak up more. A lot of times, I would think of something, but decide it was too simple or obvious, so I’d skip over it. Then someone else would say it and the class would think they were really smart. Uggh! Other times, I’d be so afraid to jump in, that I’d miss my chance.

While most people were just having a conversation, for me it was a nerve-wracking nightmare! It makes me feel better to know that a powerful politician has had the same feelings, and it inspires me to take her advice and speak up more.

Finding role models and inspiration in movies and television

My last few posts have been about looking for sources of inspiration and information in my journey to escape narcissistic abuse and dysfunction and learn to be a thriving, happy woman. It’s amazing how you can find light and knowledge in so many unexpected places just by being open to it!

Social Skills for Teenagers and Adults with Asperger Syndrome: A Practical Guide to Day-to-day Life

A few years ago, I read a book to help people with Asperger’s Syndrome improve their social skills. I’ve never been diagnosed as Aspie, but I match a lot of the characteristics–possibly not because I have Aspergers, but because I had such an abusive childhood. I’ve always been painfully shy and scared of social situations, and I’ve often been confused and awkward about what to say and how to act. I figured even if I wasn’t Aspie, I could learn something from that book no matter what the cause of my social anxiety.

The most important idea that I personally got from the book was the idea that I should watch TV shows and movies for models of social skills. Hmmm…. Now, there are also some terrible role models in the media, but I started thinking about how I could find sources of good on TV. One of my inspirational movies ended up being Legally Blonde. I even wrote a whole post about it!

Ghost Whisperer: The Complete Series

Another unusual source of knowledge was The Ghost Whisperer. Seriously! On the surface, this is a show about a woman who helps ghosts solve their problems and move to the other side, but when I watched it on a deeper level, I realized that the main character was a very loving, thoughtful and empathetic woman. She had a hard life, but practiced good empathy and communication with her friends and family. She truly cared about others in a way that I had never seen in my own family. It might sound a bit weird, but I truly would recommend this show to someone who wants to observe how healthy people work. (Just like I see Elle Woods of Legally Blonde as an inspiration!)

The theme of my last few blogs has been one of learning from everything around us. It sounds a bit out there on the surface to talk about learning something from TV and movie characters, but I believe there is more to this idea. Melinda Gordon and Elle Woods are both great role models for learning good character qualities and both of them, in their own ways, are women I would like to be. Women who are kind and caring, successful and helpful to people around them.

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