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|Posted on July 6, 2017 at 10:00 PM|
I want to begin this post with a statement: this is not a ‘poor me’ message or one looking for sympathy. This message is about self-discovery & understanding what & who I am. Maybe in my quest, I can help others understand who they are, as well.
The other day I was scrolling through Facebook & came upon a meme that I thought was funny. It said something to the effect of “If you line up all your ex lovers in a row you can see the flow chart of your mental illness”. My immediate thought upon seeing this was, “well... isn’t that the truth?” & I moved on. But... somewhere in the back of my mind, this phrase must have stayed, because this morning, I woke up thinking about the patterns of my life & what it means.
This brought to mind a gentleman that I dated while in my mid-twenties. I haven’t thought of him in years & had no reason to, so why did he pop-up in my mind? There’s a lesson to be had. Here’s a brief synopsis of the relationship:
We met through work - both professionals, in the same industry, but working at different jobs on the same project. About 4-5 months after working together, he moved to another project & we began dating. Everything was great & we got along famously. About 9 months into the relationship he took me on a luxury vacation to Mexico & suggested that we move in together. Was I elated? YES! We did the ‘meet the parents’ thing & I even received approval from his step-mom, who was notoriously difficult. My parents liked him & we were good to go! I moved in to his townhouse, we got a dog, it was the picture-perfect relationship. We were so in snyc that we actually had cars that were almost identical.
The relationship wasn’t perfect, but it was really pretty good - at least I thought so at the time. He worked a lot & I was little Miss Domestic - all was well. About 6 months into this aspect of the relationship he became a little moody & almost secretive, with lots of phone calls to his dad, who lived in another state. I didn’t think anything about it & carried on as usual, until one Saturday morning, when everything turned upside down.
I was in the master bedroom/bathroom, changing sheets, sorting laundry, straightening up & he was in his ‘office’ which was the loft area outside the master. He was a architect & had been busy making revisions to a mansion for a Saudi Prince, so I wasn’t about to disturb him & was quiet while doing my chores. The phone rang & it sounded like he was talking to his best friend. I wasn’t listening, but focusing on what I was doing, until I heard him say, “I can talk. She’s downstairs doing stuff.” at which point... I’m listening, right? (who wouldn’t after hearing that phrase?)
He then proceeds to tell his best friend that yes, he is moving to Arizona in the coming weeks to start a business with his father. No, he’s not taking me & never intended to do so. He then explains to his friend that he only had me move in because he needed some help in paying his mortgage & that I didn’t mean anything to him - he was going to ‘cut her loose’ in the next couple weeks, before he started his move.
I don’t remember anything else, because at that point, I went into the bathroom, shut the door & cried my eyes out. What the hell? I was just being used to help him pay his mortgage? Nothing about our relationship was real? How on earth did I get back into a ‘user’ relationship & not even realize what was going on? (more on that later) I was so shocked & hurt that I didn’t even confront him about it. What can one say when they are totally rejected in this manner?
Over the next couple weeks I found a new place to live & proceeded to move out of his house. Broken, feeling like I had no value, no worth other than the money that I made. This was very similar to my previous relationship, so my faith in men & humanity was gone... just as my faith in myself, which had always been fleeting, was now obliterated.
Three years before, I met Prince Charming. The most devastatingly wonderful man on the planet. We had a very unconventional meeting & I fell for him immediately. If I could have created the ‘perfect man’ for me, it would have been this guy. I was 21 years old, getting started in my professional career & he was in his last year of law school. Our first date was on the day that Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles, so obviously that’s a good sign, right? This man was amazing... intelligent, handsome, personable, funny, a great conversationalist, had a wide range of interests & pushed me to be a better person... perfection. We dated throughout his senior year & I was crowned the ‘world’s most supportive girlfriend’. I helped him study, I got along great with his siblings, family & friends. He passed the BAR exam & started his first ‘real’ job as an attorney & was doing great. We were still together, although each of us maintained a separate apartment, most of the time I was at his place. We were the ‘golden couple’... perfect in every way. His sister & I were friends & she even mentioned the fact that he had acquired a family heirloom ring recently. Things were looking beautiful, magical & it appeared that the fairy tale had arrived for me! Well... I couldn't have been more wrong in my life, because the "perfect relationship" was a one-way street!
One day I stopped by his office, but he was out with a client. I went in & sat at his desk for a few minutes to write-out a grocery list before finishing my errands. I looked around for a piece of note paper & found a spiral notebook on his credenza, so I grabbed it to pull a sheet out.
When I opened the notebook, I turned to a page that had my name written about mid-ways down. I had no idea what this was about, so I started reading & discovered that this was a journal. He was writing about our relationship. I could tell by what he was writing that these were this thoughts... this wasn’t for anything else. In fact, I knew that he used to keep journals, so I wasn’t surprised other than the fact that he had this sitting out in the open & not put away, as one would expect. What did surprise me is what he wrote. It seems that his relationship with me was a matter of convenience - he even said that it held no significance in his life - that I was there as a distraction from the pressures of school & now work, & nothing more.
My entire world was shattered in that instant. Why didn’t I matter? We had been together for two years! I had helped & supported him through the last year of law school, through the BAR exam & then the stresses of finding that first law firm to work with. I was nothing to him? What do you say or do after reading someone’s most intimate thoughts about you? I certainly hadn’t gone in there snooping or trying to find something. I just needed a piece of paper to write down everything I needed for a special dinner for him.
I threw on my sunglasses & left his office immediately through the back door - never to return again. I was crushed & had received the ultimate rejection from someone that I had given my heart, soul & body to. I gave him 110% of me & asked nothing of him - yet he never had the decency to let me know how he truly felt.
I never truly got over this rejection & didn’t date again for quite a while. When I finally did... I met the first guy I told you about & now you know that story. So what does this say about me? Am I truly that unworthy of being loved or do I just choose the wrong men to trust & share my life with?
I later reconnect with a man who had been a good friend in high school & I had dated briefly after I graduated. We got along great, but split because his family kept pressuring him to marry me, but we were 19/20 years old & didn’t need to do that yet, so we went our separate ways. Now we were 25. He was getting a divorce after a short-term marriage & I was refusing to get serious with anyone & committed my time, energy & efforts to my career - it was easier & less painful that way.
We ended-up getting married at age 26 & 14 months later welcomed a baby girl into our lives. I LOVED being a mom, even though I was a bit overwhelmed. He appeared to enjoy being a dad, but his feelings for me seemed to change. I devoted ALL of my time, energy & efforts into being the best mom that I could be & while I was working at a traditional job, I was also building my own business so that I could be a semi-stay at home mom with our daughter. By the time she was 18 months, I was able to quit the regular job & focus on her & building my consulting business. I did really well & received national recognition within the first year. Not bad for the pre-computer/internet era!
He started drifting away. First it was weekend golf trips. Then it was weekend fishing trips. Then it became weekend partying/yacht racing. Female friends began to be introduced to me & questions started arising, but I held on, for the sake of my daughter. She & I did everything together (because he was either at work during the week or partying on weekends). She studied dance, rode horses & then later I started buying horses, so she & I did that & horse shows. He would come watch occasionally, but normally was too busy with his social life to attend. We drifted apart & after 18 years of marriage, I filed for divorce. We were great friends... we just should never had gotten married, because he’s really not the relationship kind of person. He is 100% dedicated to his mom, which is great, but when he kept putting her wants & needs before our family - it was a problem for me. He’s married again & we actually have a good & friendly relationship when we see each other now, but there were some rough times in the beginning getting all of that sorted out.
As part of this self-reflection journey, I’ve also come to realize that I have reached expert-level at attracting narcissists into my life. I was raised by a horrible one, who excelled at keeping her narcissistic side hidden from everyone - especially my dad, who I’m convinced never knew that she was as bad as she treated me. He died when I was 28 & then she was free to show her narcissistic self so much more & she fully expressed her disdain for me every time we were together - especially in public, because then she could humiliate me in front of people & she LOVED to do that. It didn’t matter that what she said was mostly lies... it was just that she could tear me down in front of other people & I would not fight back or defend myself.
Not too long ago I reconnected with one of my aunts who was able to give me even more insight into some of the family dynamics that I grew up in. My mother had complete disdain for everyone on my father’s side of the family, but it appears that in the earlier years, she said & did a lot that let them know who she really was. Maybe that’s why she backed-away from them. I also learned that when I was young, my father realized that my mom had ‘issues’ but he didn’t know who to deal with them & he didn’t think that she was doing anything harmful to me (he just wasn’t aware of it at the time). He was from an ‘old school family’ that didn’t discuss things like that, so his response was to work two jobs & stay away from home more, to avoid her wrath. Since his death, I’ve received many messages from my father - through mediums who know nothing of my story. In these messages he apologizes for ‘abandoning’ me (by working all the time) & allowing the abuse to go on. That he really had no idea of how she was treating me in private or how sick she really is. He’s has also relayed that she & my sister are both ‘sick’ & that I was “the good one” & full of love. There’s nothing wrong with me. I can’t tell you how wonderful it’s been to hear these messages from various sources, but it still hasn’t healed the scars.
It was she who launched me into this journey of struggling to survive narcissistic relationships. I honestly barely survived my early years having to deal with a woman who obviously was two different people, but no one ever saw this except for me. She had me & others convinced that I was ‘mentally retarded’ (that’s the phrase that was used at the time) & that I was crazy because I couldn’t reconcile these two different people who were my mom. One, everyone thought was wonderful & the other was mean, cruel & abusive. I literally used to sit in my closet with books to hide from her wrath - which got even worse after she had my sister, when I was 7 years old. After my sister was born, things got even worse for me & I was verbally, emotionally & physically abused by my mother & later my sister, every day of my life until I left home - then they did it more when they saw & spoke to me. This didn’t stop until I was about 48 & after 30 years of trying to ‘talk it out’ with my mother, finally had to stop seeing or speaking with her, because she would not stop the harassment, telling outrageous lies about me or the verbal abuse that she had so enjoyed throughout my life.
Once again, I am in a less than ideal relationship, but this one has shown me the patterns & what I am learning & working on. Don’t misunderstand me... I’m not perfect & I’m not a victim. I know that I’m not always easy to live with... who is? I have scars, I have baggage, & for obvious reasons, I have trust issues.
The most ironic thing about this entire story is that even as a small child, all I ever wanted was a big, loving family & I never once have had this... even for a moment. Instead... I have a beautiful daughter, son-in-law & precious grandson who live several states away from me & a husband who has become a narcissist (because of a shock to his body, mind & soul) & who travels 98% of the time.
I am alone, except for my animals. Alone on birthdays, holidays, every day. I spend my time learning, studying, & working... trying to help others so that they won’t have this pain or have to deal with this abuse. I’ve learned about how to successfully deal with narcissists & how to not accept their abuse. I’ve learned about exit strategies & most importantly, how to shield.
Through these experiences of betrayal & abuse, I’ve learned how to become a Bad-Ass Spiritual Warrior. I’ve learned tools & techniques to cope, protect & guide oneself through the maze, to come out triumphant on the other end. This is why I am here & why I have experienced all of these things & a whole lot more, so that I can help others on a level that other mentors can not.
I may not have been able to have that beautiful, fairy-tale, loving family life that I always wanted & that does hurt - I have to admit, because it’s a hole in my heart that probably will never be filled. But what I have accomplished is the ability to help & serve others, those who have head to deal with similar situations & need someone who understands the true meaning of betrayal.
So I guess, in the grand scheme of things... this is a good thing after all, because there’s one thing that I know for sure... I AM A SURVIVOR & I’ve learned how to thrive, even in the most difficult of times.
Just like the lotus, you have to go through the mud to reach the Light & to shine!
Love & blessings,
Categories: Every Day Spirituality