A store full of the latest beautiful clothes, shoes as far as the eye can see, soft leather purses, sparkly jewels and makeup in every color offers so much to the fashion lover. I was and always will be a fashion lover. Fashion makes me happy. Fashion makes me creative. Fashion helped me express myself and my inner character that day. When I was in my 20s, I had a girl in my office tell me she looked forward to seeing what I would wear to work. She laughed and said that some days I looked like I was going to rave and the next I looked like Audrey Hepburn. I took it as a compliment. I was comfortable enough to be me every day. I wore Converse with skirts, big flowers on my lapel, high heels with cuffed jeans and sleek black dresses. It was me.
So when asked over the past 10 or 12 years, “Do you like this dress?” I did’t answer from my truth anymore. My first thought was, “Would he like it?” I was constantly trying to impress him. Constantly trying to make him fall in love with me. Constantly trying to get him to SEE me. Like he saw me when we first met. I wanted to see those eyes look at me again. I desperately, so desperately wanted this. It is so crazy to me that someone who walked the streets of Manhattan with a giant fuchsia silk flower on her lapel with coordinating Converse would ever dress to make someone else happy. Now I am back to dressing like me, for me. It feels so amazing. So free. I know now that I wasn’t my true self for so many years. I was a puppet with so many strings. One string was even attached to my love of fashion and would control my perception of myself. He had every string in his sick hands and he knew it. He loved manipulating me with his strings of lies, rejection, betrayal, mean words and false love. Shutterfly sends those “remember six years ago” files and I look at me at old photos and get so sad. I changed my hair to what he wanted. So often I did it myself because I felt guilty that I didn’t work to pay for it. I let go of my fashion because I didn’t want to spend too much money and upset him. Someone knew I wasn’t myself two years ago when I walked in my kid’s school in oversized, poor fitting sweatpants. I had hit the bottom of my pain and just didn’t care anymore. I had given up on me. It was all about him in every way. I cannot blame him completely though. I let him get into my head and change the way I thought. I let his comments affect me. I let his rejections and betrayals make me try harder and love bigger. I let his anger make me feel guilty and ask forgiveness. I let him stay longer than he should have stayed. I let him steal my truth. Sure he was the sick monster knowingly doing it all to me, but I could have said stop at any time.
It has taken me almost a year to forgive myself for letting him throw away my oversized flowers and Converse sneakers to match. A very long year filled with so much pain and guilt towards myself and my kids. What kind of example was I? I shouldn’t feel guilty for loving someone that much. For loving someone so much that you think you can see beyond the dark shell to a person filled with honest light and love. I love big always. I don’t know how to love small. It is who I am. I wear giant flowers on my lapel, diamond pins in my hair, memories on my wrist, Converse in many colors, stilettos and jeans, Roman Holiday dresses, fun t-shirts, baseball caps, makeup but never oversized, poor fitting sweatpants in public. I let myself down in so many ways over the past 17 plus years since I met him. I wanted to be loved back so badly. I know now that I was looking to the wrong person to give what I deserve. I was asking someone who can only love himself to love me. His love comes with strings, many strings. I never wanted to be a puppet. I pitied women like that when I was young. I became that woman and I don’t want pity now. I want to be a lesson. A guide so others don’t follow me. A voice to teach about emotional abuse and the long term pain it causes. An inspiration for others to get out or never even enter with a narcissistic person. So now I ask, “Do I like this dress?” instead of “Do you like this dress?” Be true to yourself. You are one of a kind. You are beautifully imperfect inside and out. You are what you choose to be not what someone else says you are. The sick monster will never make me feel like a piece of shit again (sorry but only word to really make my point). I am a hero in my own life….I am a (She)ro in Converse and stilettos depending on the day.
Breathe out judgements, breathe in confidence. Breathe out fear, breathe in pride. Breathe out attachment, breathe in letting go. Breathe out oversized, poor fitting sweatpants, breathe in feeling amazing and loving yourself.
Well, we are approaching the end of 2019 and everyone says that next year will be different. Will the click of the clock from 2019 to 2020 really make a big difference? So many seem to think so. So many people stand there to watch that sparkly, magic ball drop from the sky and start a new year. Kisses and hugs are passed to strangers like they are at a family reunion. There is so much happiness and hope floating like the confetti in the air. It is magical and inspiring to even the heaviest of hearts. I wish that feeling could last longer than till the next morning when the sun rises and exposes that it is the same place you were in the day before. Nothing really has changed or gotten better overnight. Same life, different day. But it is a new year. New calendars. New numbers. New ages. New us?
It is a new us if we want it to be a new us. The numbers of the year don’t make it different for us. We make it different for us. We have to choose to make it different for us. That change doesn’t happen overnight by a big. blinged-out ball dropping from the top of Times Square. That change happens when we take our feet and turn them just the slightest bit and walk in a different direction towards a new destination. Nothing changes if we just write 2020 on our checks now. The checks still are worth the same amount. But the hand signing that check leads to the heart of the person wanting to write a different chapter. This year I am going to write a different chapter and make sure that I don’t keep walking in the same direction towards pain and sadness. Every year before I would watch the ball drop and say a prayer that my husband would finally get better and change back into the man who once seemed to want me and us. I finally realized I was hoping and praying for the impossible in someone else. I couldn’t make someone love me or want me just because I loved and wanted him. They always say if someone truly loves you, they will never take a chance to lose you. That ball never clicked a new number to make my life better or different than the day before. That ball just made me more sad that the kiss at midnight wasn’t filled with sincerity and love, just emptiness and requirement from him.
Now I see the ball as this wonderful giant bling saying, “Hey beautiful, it’s your time to start over and make YOUR life as fabulous as you are.” I see that ball as what I am and will be…a shining light of hope, love and inspiration to others. That is why I started writing this blog. To inspire others to never give up and know that they are never alone in this difficult journey of pain towards renewal. The new year doesn’t have a wand to erase the bad of 2019 but it can be a time to say loud and clear to yourself, “I am starting now to love myself and change my life towards MY happiness.” So when you see that ball drop, kiss and hug with honesty, love and hope and know that you can change your life with the faith that God and all of us are with you.
This year don’t allow anyone to steal your happiness. Don’t allow anyone to make you feel bad for who you are on the inside or outside. Don’t allow anyone to make you lose faith and hope in the good. Don’t allow anyone’s addictions or anger hurt you. Don’t allow anyone to dull your smile or run your mascara. Don’t allow anyone to question your worth. Don’t allow anyone to keep you from your destiny. Don’t allow anyone to keep you in their darkness.
This year smile when you don’t think you can find it. This year love yourself and the right people even when your heart is broken. This year show the world that you know your worth is extremely valuable. This year show the world that you have faith and hope even in the darkness. This year show the world that you can cry and still be okay. This year show those toxic people that you don’t need them and you are strong enough on your own. This year go after your passions and dream big. This year is the year of YOU. This year take care of you while still being a caring person to those who genuinely appreciate you.
Goodbye 2019, you have given me so much pain that has taught me great lessons about life and myself. Thank you for it all. Hello 2020! I am excited to see this year and this number change. BUT I am more excited to see myself change and grow towards the person who I know am and want to be in this life. I never make resolutions. I make changes to better my life and those I love around me.
Breathe out the old, breathe in the new. Breathe out the pain, breathe in the healing. Breathe out the doubt, breathe in the faith. Breathe out the bad past, breathe in the hopeful future. Breathe out loneliness, breathe in self-confidence. Breathe out 2019, breathe in 2020.
I have been driving in traffic for years. I am not talking standard, just busy street traffic at rush hour. I am talking about that kind of traffic that moves along at a steady pace then BAM! it stops. You inch along and at times even contemplate taking a service road or an alternate route. That traffic that becomes so infuriating and you just can’t even hear the radio pounding from your dashboard. All you can hear and feel is your heart beating and your blood temperature rising. When you are just about to take the next exit, you see the flashing lights and get past the congestion to start going at a steady pace again. Wait! Don’t get too comfortable and convinced that you will get there on time. Stop. Go. Stop. Go.
Relationships with someone who suffers from addictions and/or narcissism are just like this picture of traffic. Sometimes everything is moving along at a good, steady pace towards your destination. Other times you are just trying to find a way to breathe from all the congestion and chaos. I label my experience for the past many many years as “Emotional Whiplash”. Just like physical whiplash that leaves you in pain and unable to turn your head to see the world around you, emotional whiplash leaves you in pain and unable to focus on anything but the person in front of you. He keeps you going with false hopes and lies to continue with him on his steady pace towards his own darkness. Then he makes you stop in the middle of life, crippled with despair and the inability to find an alternate way other than his way. Sometimes you become that accident or broken down car sitting on the side causing everyone else to stop or slow down. This sick person is like that passenger who keeps saying, “Get in that lane, it’s moving faster. No, go back to this lane.” Yeh, you know that passenger. Then if you change to his lane and it slows down, he blames you for changing lanes. It is always a reminder how wrong you are and how he is better in so many ways. When you finally arrive at the destination on that day, he is all loving and supportive of you in a distorted false loving way. But it is the best love you can get from him, so you feel calmer and pleased that he sees you like that. The whiplash comes when it all just happens again the next time you are stuck in the traffic of his addiction and narcissism. The extremely painful whiplash from feeling good and bad in the relationship you so desperately wanted to be “stuck” in every day. Love. Anger. Love. Anger.
Living in a marriage like this for way too long has given me chronic pain from the emotional whiplash of the “false” love and rejection cycle. First, he couldn’t get enough of me and pursued me with such passion. It felt great. No, it felt amazing to think someone was really like me and wanted me like I wanted him. He was easy to fall in love with then. He made himself easy to fall in love with then. He was a professional at love bombing women as I have learned throughout our marriage from the many others to whom he was doing the same things. Love bombing brings you in so fast that you don’t have time to breathe or think except about them. This happened to me and we married so fast after just meeting. It seemed like a romantic movie in the making. There was no second or third level of the process. We went from dating, quick marriage and newlyweds to just a middle of fog and confusion. He played games of rejection and love for 14 years. Chronic whiplash of love and rejection; love and lies. I thought it was normal for a relationship to have ups and downs. Take the good and the bad in a marriage, right? For good times and bad? For sickness and in health? Well, yeah all that was constant. Sickness…5 rehabs in 10 years. Health…well, never sure, maybe about 1-2 years of sobriety after counting a few weeks here and a few months there. This added to the terrible whiplash. I would think he was clean and sober. Looked for the same signs of relapse every time he would get clean. I would find familiar “items” and only get yelled at for finding them or for looking for them. So I was whipped between loving to save him and letting go to let him die. Nothing was right by him. Nothing. I would approach with love and fear and get the devil yelling at me and punching walls and doors right by me. The next day I would get this man saying he was sorry and wanted to be better and make our marriage better. Only to get verbally beat up hours or days later. I was the crazy one much of the time to think that he wanted to change and make our marriage better. He only would change the habit or drug to throw me off and to get even higher than before. Or placate me to stop looking or trying to help him survive. I was trying to get him to take a better route and get off this highway of disaster. Then to make it worse, he would add new addictions like women and material stuff. His addictions progressed into a terrifying place as he could no longer drive anywhere near the speed limit. I was suffering more and more from the back and forth of love and anger – love and rejection – love and lies. And the cheating added to the drug addiction made the whiplash more frequent and more painful every time he would reject me and give false love to keep me from leaving. Wow, the cheating was worse than the drug use. It was like being on the interstate across this large country and EVERY city had a major accident that delayed you. I didn’t know about some of these women until we separated and things started to surface. The “signs” of other women were like billboards on your way to South of the Border on I95. I realized that he started cheating about two years after my first child (well, that I know of). I do believe that he was always a cheater when I look back at those times that just didn’t add up even when we were first living together. I put up with so many painful moments of seeing things, reading things and hearing things that I shouldn’t have. No wife should. No one who truly loves someone should. Then I turned to him in pain and got verbally beaten up for the truth of his actions. I was always at fault. My fault for stumbling upon the information. My fault for not believing his insane stories that constantly changed. It was my fault for having a sick baby. It was my fault for everything all of the time. It was even my fault that he lied about drugs. Why? Because I didn’t approve so he had to hide it from me. Yes, it was all my fault. I started to believe some of it and that I was starting to go a bit crazy and imagining some what was true. I wasn’t. Whiplash of love and anger – love and rejection – love and lies. He was doing exactly what I saw, read and heard. He even told a girl on the phone that he loved her. Of course, he lied in a grand way and made a big deal about me not correctly hearing him and definitely not being on the phone with her (phone records don’t lie). This was the first major accident that I came across on this long journey. The emotional whiplash from the many women throughout our marriage is beyond any pain that an actual case of chronic whiplash would cause me. I even started to work on healing from it all when we separated. But there was no healing as long as he was still on the road with me (no longer in my car but on the same road) and running around with women, bad behaviors and lies. There are far too many women stories going back to the beginning to start talking about now. That will be another article where you may need a glass or two of wine in order to get through it all. Yes, I have had jaws drop at my “accidents” that I have had to get past on this road of his addictions and narcissism. This emotional whiplash has been the greatest pain to me. False loving gestures (thinking and hoping that they were authentic) followed by the ultimate rejections…lying and betrayals in every way possible. Even verbal rejection of me as a person was mixed in there at times. I started to believe his words too. Crazy how sick we become and how normal sitting in traffic and seeing bad accidents becomes to us. Even crazier how normal it becomes to be the broken down car on the side of the road causing the traffic. It even became normal to be in the major accident that everyone stopped to look at in the middle of the road and get back into the demolished car and keep driving to his destination. I am getting car sick just thinking about all of this chaos of constant stopping and going. I stopped looking at the reason for these stops and starts and just kept finding a way to get passed them without turning off his road. I was in so much pain and so sick from it all and never stopped to look at myself anymore. I had started to believe the things he was putting into my mind. I just allowed myself to keep getting hurt and walk around in pain. I was so traumatized by the constant back and forth of love and anger – love and rejection – love and lies.
I finally had to turn off and take an alternate route when he went to rehab again and I found a dating site with an alias and fake life with no kids or relationship. The worst stop and the worst whiplash came when he had only been home a month and he texted my friend the wrong text at my birthday party, yes my party. He meant to text his new girl, a mother in my daughter’s class, that he loved kissing her. This was the same day he professed to me that he loved me and wanted to make this next year great for us. He even got mad at me for not believing his revolving lies around this text. The story changed about four times and somehow I was the bad person for even thinking he was lying and being hurt by the words I read. He acted out by going to a hotel the next weekend, lying about it and then making me feel bad for questioning the hotel receipt that I found. Then he would make me think he wanted to make it better and do the right thing by doing a few of the marriage recovery steps. Only he was still carrying on with her and lied again about staying over in a hotel after a “business” meeting that was close enough to come home. I had such severe emotional whiplash that I couldn’t tolerate the pain or breathe normal. The pain of being whipped between love and anger – love and rejection – love and lies was and is beyond words and I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew there was only one route to take off this dangerous road…DIVORCE. I was so beaten up by the emotional whiplash from his hurtful rejections and crazy love cycles to keep me confused and lost. He was in control. I looked in the mirror and realized that I wasn’t driving at all during these years. I was the passenger suggesting alternate routes. Sometimes telling him he was wrong to stay on this road. I am sure it annoyed him to hear that he was on the wrong road that offered him selfish rewards for his own pleasure. I saw that the alternate routes promised a better way for both of us. I was reading WAZE how to go around the troubled spots and make it safely home. He didn’t want any GPS telling him how to drive. I was the passenger of someone who was very sick, sober or not. I am lucky to be alive. I am now in the driver’s seat of my own life. He is not in the car with me anymore. He is on a road of his own choosing, not mine. I can breathe at times. But sadly his sickness is still there and affecting me. Now his “women” are adding to the pain and whiplash with their chaos and his behaviors with them. One of his new girls (yes I said one because I hear from others in town that she is not the only one) has proceeded to send me a picture of them, texted me using his phone about how he is cheating on her and even a picture he sent her from our bed when he was professing to love me and rants about him and other women taking the same nudie photos he did with her. Whiplash of moving on and anger – moving on and rejection – moving on and lies. I just want to stop this whiplash that he seems to love giving me with lies about these women, our divorce and what he is doing in a very small town that affects me and his children. Small town and lots of mutual friends creates no secrets. But sick as he is, he continued to lie to me through all of this torture from his disgusting behaviors being put on me by the talkings of so many and the sightings of myself. There will always be stand stills, slow downs and accidents to get past but I can hear the music and stay calm because I am not the passenger in a car driven by someone who doesn’t care about sharing the journey with me or if I am even safe and loved. And my whiplash from all of the emotional and verbal abuse and harsh destructive actions will take a lot of therapy in order to heal. BUT I know now that I AM worth the time and effort to heal. I am worthy of genuine love, honesty and serenity regardless of the traffic on the road. There is grief over losing someone but sometimes passengers are not meant to take the whole journey with us. They may just be there to teach us an important lesson for the roads ahead. I have learned a lot about myself and understanding the caution signs others give us as to who they really are and how they can affect our journey in good or bad ways. Pay attention to the signs, whether positive or negative, on the side of the road. Don’t let the false love and rejection cycles of these very sick people trap you in a dangerous journey that only leads to darkness and pain. You will live in constant back and forth of love and anger – love and rejection – love and lies. You can drive your own car on this journey. I am still in so much pain from years of emotional whiplash but I am learning how to recoup and grow stronger every day. I am learning how to not allow him to continue whipping me around with his selfish behaviors, constant lies and anger. He most likely will never change but I don’t have to stay on his road of chaos and destruction anymore. Just remember sometimes it is important to pull over the car and rest so you don’t get into another bad accident. Take care of yourself now.
Breathe out impatience and breathe in patience. Breathe out being lost and breathe in finding yourself. Breathe out toxic people and breathe in genuine love. Breathe out chaos and breathe in calm. Breathe out getting there on time and breathe in getting there when you are ready. Breathe out rejection and breathe in self-acceptance.
Today I am standing face to face with a wall. I usually see a wall made of these breakable clay bricks and mud mortar, but not today. It is a wall created by the strongest metals and natural stone. It is so tall that the top is barely recognizable. It is hot to the touch from the fire raging on the other side. It is reflective so I can see my exhaustion and age shining back at me. It is such an enormous obstacle placed at my feet. It feels like it could grow arms and push me back at any moment.
I have never felt this intense strength of the wall before today. The wall has been constructed over many years by the narcissist addict. Each brick represented the desire to shut me out of his life. A couple thousand bricks firmly placed by cheating and affairs. Many more thousands by lies upon lies upon lies about anything and everything. He even lied about what he had for lunch and where he got the food. (Like I really cared about that.) The reddest bricks were placed by his severe addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling and women. These bricks have the scariest markings reminding me of their pain. This wall is not a clean build. It has mortar dripping where addiction just threw the brick up and didn’t really care how it looked just that it prevented me from getting closer. This wall has grown familiar. This wall I could handle and grew to like. It protected me from me seeing him and being hurt more and more.
This new wall of today, well, is not familiar. It is a sign of a man who wants to banish me forever and never have to deal with me again. Even with children involved, he no longer sees me as their mother or his once wife. I am just an intruder in his new life that is all about him and his needs. It is very sad to me. It is very sad that someone I once loved so much and saw a future with has had this blueprint his mind for such a long time. That this was most likely part of his plan all along. I was just the asset he needed for that part of his life. I was the supply filling a need. Now I am a problem to his new life as a wealthy bachelor full of women and his own time. I represent sharing his “stuff”. How could I have not seen it? How could I have let this wall turn into this? It is so easy to beat my head against this wall and scream in frustration for the past growing into this unbelievably difficult present. He wants to be single so badly…yet will not follow through with a divorce? It is easier to torture me and also harm is older, aware children than to do the right thing by turning off the fire of rage and stepping away from the wall and letting us go towards our future so he can go towards his future. I can see in my reflection that he is not the same as I am. He never was the same loving and kind-hearted person that I was and believed him to match. I was love bombed by a narcissist and then slowly abandoned on the road side full of thorns.
I just stand at this wall today and hope that someone will come and stand with me to figure out a way to move away from it. I am so exhausted and I can just stand here today. I look at the reflection with sadness and ask her what does she want to do with all this and where is her strength. I pray and ask God to lift me up and help me walk away from this wall and never to return. He can live in the fire of his own choices and addictions. I just need to turn around because I think there is no way around this wall other than turn my back on it and never look at it again.
I know so many have faced walls constructed from so many difficulties and from so many different materials. I sit with you today and embrace you and your journey so you never face that wall alone. Breathe out aggravation and breathe in serenity. Breathe out negative weakness and breathe in strength building weakness. Breathe out wrongly placed acceptance and breathe in self-acceptance. Breathe out hate and breathe in love.
Yes, I have been missing for a bit of time. Yes, I was stuck in the rabbit hole again for a portion of the time. I was also allowing the world to take my time and abuse it. Isn’t it so crazy how we can walk through life being blatantly abused by one person for so long and not even see how we allow others to abuse us too? It doesn’t have to be physical, emotional or verbal abuse from someone. It can be as simple as wasting our time with the extra stuff that really is no concern of ours in the first place. Or even taking on the “bullshit” of the outside world and turning inwards to create frustration, anger and sadness that we do not need on top of everything else.
So why did I say isolation in the title of this article? I don’t know about you but for me I allow all of this extra abuse to pile on during the holiday season. Like I am the Santa Claus or the hero that can help everyone have a better holiday all the while I am the one needing saving from the waves trying to drown me. This holiday has started a bit rocky for me. First one physically alone but not emotionally alone. He isn’t here but was he ever really here for years? I keep asking myself that to feel better. I feel alone. All the traditions that I was trying to create seem to have expired. So I spent Thanksgiving with friends. A much quieter day than I was used to being at. But the perfect thing for me this year. My first instinct was to totally isolate myself from the holidays and start them off with a glass of wine and a list of movies no one else wanted to see with me. Definitely didn’t want to go out and make small talk and put a smile on my face and pretend to be okay. That gets so old. Pretending I am okay and that I am stronger than the storm around me. Some days I am not stronger than the storm. Some days I want to stay in bed and cover my head like a kid in a thunderstorm or hide in the closet like a dog. Isolation is so easy. No fake smiles. No small talk. No pretending. No being strong all the time. Who is going to know that I am exhausted and sad? My fish after swimming around their mini ocean? My hamster in between marathons on his wheel? They only notice if I don’t feed them.
I thought people would notice if I didn’t help them and would be as upset as my animals. It was all in my head. That bad neighborhood that you never should enter alone, yes that place in my head. Someone else just stepped in and helped out. I was relieved that I could take that off my holiday plate. I was feeling lighter already. And I realized it is okay to take time to mourn the loss of what holidays used to be. I just can’t live in that grief. Then I will isolate into my very own custom made jail cell. I found the solution to this insane conundrum of pain and confusion when you are surrounded by holiday joy. Take off the door to cell. I mean really take it off. Remove the hinges. Throw away the screws and bolts and then take the door to the dump. Keep the cell open. For the times when you need to regroup and isolate in a healthy way to regather yourself and reposition your feet. Then step out and give back in a healthy way. Not allowing people to abuse you more. Reach out to a friend in need with some kind words or inspirational quote. Listen to their hearts so they don’t lock themselves into a cell too. Give them a card with a simple note of encouragement and love. I did this all recently and it has made the difference in accepting a jail sentence or being free to live within my feelings without allowing them to consume me. I have also learned healthy boundaries after so many years of disconnecting my security system so he could abuse me whenever he chose was best for him. No is a complete sentence that needs no explanation to anyone. I have learned to say NO when needed and YES when needed. I have learned to step in someone else’s shoes and open my eyes to the pain of others. Supporting someone else through her pain has helped me understand mine more and more. Helping others, helps us if done to those who truly appreciate it and return that emotion.
So this holiday it is so easy for us, the empaths in this world, to want to be Santa Claus or a hero to too many people. It is so easy to become overwhelmed and frustrated by feelings of loneliness in this pursuit of giving back and appreciation. It is so easy to feel lonely around the holidays regardless of this. My recommendation is to not isolate and cover your head till the holidays have passed (yes, I have wanted to do just that). My smaller, quieter was just what I needed. People who loved me and understood what I was going through and never asked me about it. Just celebrated the fact that I could be there to share the day with them. And surprisingly found out that I helped one of them by being there as she still struggled with the loss of her mom on her favorite day. Isolating this time of the year can be a jail sentence to impose on yourself. You are not being punished and do not deserve to be in jail. You deserve to be comforted, supported and loved. And someone near you may be looking for and needing the same thing. If we are all in our jail cells of isolation then we cannot help each other and the holidays will pass without any new good memories to eventually erase the bad ones.
I hope that you all have a holiday season that is filled with hope, faith, extra strength and love instead of pretending, fake smiles and loneliness. If you ever need someone who can give you an encouraging word or remind you that you are not alone in this world. Please, send me a comment and I will get back to you.
Blessings to all for this tough holiday season and a much better 2020. Now together we breathe out the old and breathe in the new. Breathe out frustrations and breathe in the relief. Breathe out the pressure to be perfect and breathe in the acceptance of who we are. Breathe out the fake smiles and breathe in the beauty of our brokenness. Breathe out the loneliness and breathe in healthy regrouping.
A little kid sits at a tiny table in a tiny chair and makes big swooping motions with crayons of every color. You can’t tell where one line begins and another one ends. It is a beautiful work of art meant to be nothing other than a wonderful mix of colors and lines from the fun inside the child. It is more than that though. So much more. It is grief in full color. You can’t find the beginning and the end of it all most days. You can’t untangle the colors to make sense of the lines. You can’t focus on one color because too many colors absorb into each other. The child sees beauty and I see what is inside me put onto a canvas.
Grief is so hard to define or label. Grief is not the same lines and colors and designs for everyone. We would all draw a different picture and use different colors. There is nothing wrong with that. We are each a unique work of art. Painted with all her/his own experiences and pains, each of us can’t follow a basic formula for healing. Your healing is as unique as your work of art continually being painted on your soul.
Some of us are grieving the loss of a person no longer here on earth. Some of us are grieving the loss of someone still living but drastically changed. Some of us are grieving the loss of a dream that we had seen for our lives. Some of us are grieving the change we have had to go through without choosing it. Some of us are grieving for the loss our way and who we thought we were. Whatever you are grieving, know that grief doesn’t have to make you a loss too. Getting through grief is not impossible. It is hard but not impossible.
I have been going through grief from losing someone still alive who has drastically changed and the loss of the dream that I had for my family. A double winner in grief. Lucky me huh? Some days I don’t understand the pain at all. I can’t find the beginning or the end of the emotions. I can only find the mess of colors absorbing into each other through the lines criss crossing all over the page. It feels like I as overwhelmed and exhausted from sorting through it all that I can’t breath. I don’t know what I am thinking or why I have so many thoughts that I can’t think at all. Just numbness falls over me and I am outside of my body. As someone going through a very similar journey said to me that it feels like when you are in a plane…floating and cannot feel solid ground underneath you. I am watching my skin sit there and cry. The tears burn my face and fill my throat with confusion and pain. How did I get here or better yet why am I here? II don’t want to be here. I didn’t ask to be here. So how did I get here?
Some days are great. I can see that hypothetical light of hope at the end of the tunnel of pain and confusion. Then other days, I can only see the faintest hint of a light and can only feel the weight of the darkness on every molecule moving on my skin. So this is grief. The ever changing face of emotions and thoughts. These fluctuations of being okay and not okay are exhausting and make me feel like I am standing in the same place and not progressing just when I think that I am. This grief process is so hard. It is hard to comprehend. It is hard to accept. It is hard to process. I hear through struggles you find your strength. I hear through the broken cracks you see the light. I keep repeating mantras everyday. The Serenity Prayer. That which does not kill me only makes me stronger. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God’s will never passes us by. I am not alone. I can do this. Faith is the belief that God has control over what we cannot and He loves us so much and will never abandon us. The first three steps, I can’t, He can, so I will let Him. Some days I say them and read them but they don’t penetrate my heart and mind like I had hoped that they would. I am so hard on myself at times.
Every color swirling together in that work of art is every emotion swirling in us. I hate the color that dominates my grief lately and it is the color of anger. I don’t like anger. Never have in any way from childhood until today. No one yelled around me as kid. I never learned that skill of dealing with it. My grief is consumed with anger lately. And my body aches from this pain of carrying it. I pray to give it to God but take it back. Grief doesn’t make sense without anger to me right now. How can I be settled or at peace with losing someone I deeply loved to addictions and changes? How can I be settled with the fact that my family who became my world is no longer and is split now? It is like my best friend, my husband has died but they never found his body in the crash so I have no gravesite to visit or closure. My family, whom I never had planned for but filled me with the greatest joys of all time, was dismantled into words and numbers on paper. I never imagined me as a wife. Being a wife, filled me with such happiness and strength that I had never known. Then adding mother to my new role in life, I was overflowing with peace and love. I had everything that I could ever have dreamed of in this lifetime. Now I understand the sadness that takes over when someone you loved dies. The pain of that hole inside that has no bottom. It feels forever unfillable. The winds of the storm around you are whipping through this hole like a window left open in a hurricane. Your roof feels like it lifting off and may fly away at any time. It is overwhelming, sad, frustrating and very scary. I just keep watching the radar to see when the storm will be over so the winds stop causing so much damage.
I have listened to so many who have looked at this painting and had to sort through its colors and lines. They all say the same thing. The storm will subside. The winds will greatly lessen. The pain will heal. But also that the hole will always be there. The loss of someone who mattered to us will always be there as we adjust to the changes of his absence. The loss of our dreams will be there as it changes our path towards a new direction. Feeling all these colors and lines and finding the beauty in each one, I know that it means that I cared and it mattered to me. I am proud that I cared and it mattered. Grief is not pretty and organized. Like the picture drawn by the child, grief is what we see and how we let it not steal our hearts from those who are still here and need us. I am still a mother. I love being a mother beyond any words (I could write for days on this). I am no longer a wife. And that is a grief that I am still working through one day at a time. I will keep adding lines and colors. Some day it will actually work together to create an amazing picture of strength, hope and love in my new book in my series of life.
Breathe out the old. Breathe in the new. Breathe out the sadness. Breathe in the faith. Breathe out the tears. Breathe in the smiles.
The other day I had an incredibly insensitive counselor, who was not my counselor or even knew a thing about me, speak in very harsh tones and tell me that I am stuck in being a victim. All she did know about me was what the addict had told her. LOL. You have to laugh out loud on that image of someone trapped by addiction even in recovery, speaking 100% of the truth. Not saying that all recovery addicts are not at a place of humility where they are speaking in honesty. Just saying after many visitations and family weeks in too many rehabs, I have not met too many newly recovering addicts that have reached that place of total enlightened honesty. The steel trap of lies and manipulations cage the person and those around him/her for quite some time until consistent hard work removes those gates. But this is off the subject and an entirely different topic that could take pages to get through after so many years of dealing with active addiction and recovery cycles.
So as I was saying, I was belittled by a very insensitive counselor, who did not know anything about me and my journey to that day. I was told that I was stuck in being the victim. A victim because I wanted to know if my family member was taking a drug test to show us that he was still clean and safe. He even signed paperwork to have the results given to us. So why am I a victim? Why would someone say this to a hurting person who they didn’t even know? My take is she that she is not in a good, peaceful place within herself and takes it out on those she can. Or she is so frustrated by all the lies and secrets within her outpatient group that she just cannot channel it anymore. I am not really sure in all honesty. Her behavior baffles me as much as that of my ex’s new local playboy persona. I am not paying her for my care so she doesn’t have to feed me what I pay her to feed me. (Sadly, I have found this as a common denominator of many expensive, high-end treatment programs…indulgent ego building care.) We are on the other side of the recovery process. We are often left out of the process. We are often treated insensitively, almost like we are a huge part of the problem to destruction and chaos left behind. I still don’t understand why we are treated this way and even less important in the recovery process. We are damaged. We are angry. We were sober through it all and had to deal with it all in real time. We are innocent victims of the demon of addiction. We didn’t ask to be abused by addiction. We just loved someone with a vicious demon. We tried to save someone from the demon. We got hurt by the demon in doing both of these things. So yes, we are innocent victims. We chose to love someone with a demon but that does not make us bad people who should be abused by the addict or others. If anything it makes us stronger, better people who deserve to be loved back. This is not how it works with addiction. Oh no. Addiction is a multi-headed demon that slowly eats at the person from inside out. We don’t see these changes at first. Addicts lie, keep secrets and manipulate to keep the demon out of sight. The demon becomes the addict’s best and only friend. There is no room for us. There is no way for our love and support to get in. The demon has built a triple thick wall to keep us from the person’s’ soul. We are fighting an impossible battle and dying in the process. The demon is killing everyone, the addict and the innocent bystanders. I may be a victim from being near the demon for too long, but never pity me or tell me I am stuck in it. We all grieve and heal in different ways and in different lengths of time.
So when someone says I am a victim, I want to say yes I am a victim. I am victim of abuse. Emotional abuse from addiction is very serious and very painful. My emotional abuse went on for so many years that I cannot even find the starting point anymore. I lived in a constant storm of doubt, confusion, sadness, anger, frustration, grief, loneliness and exhaustion from the constant bombardment of secrets, lies, manipulations, cheating, accusations, aggression and denial. The storm would calm when the addict would manipulate me with empty words of apologies, love and change. I would bounce between feeling horrible to feeling good. I felt like I was beaten up with a bat or run over by a car or free falling from a high rise with no bottom, but I had no physical markings to visually show the extreme pain that I was living in for years. The confusing part of it when outsiders looked into this picture was why I stayed. Why do people allow someone to kick them or punch them? Why do people allow someone to make them crazy on a roller coaster of emotional abuse? Because we love them and believe that there is someone good in there that needs our help. I believed that we were brought to each other by God. That we were to be broken together and embrace each other with such a loving force that we would put the pieces back together. Fairy tale stuff, huh? I thought it was possible. I believed in possibilities. I was an optimist. I liked being an optimist. There is nothing wrong with believing in possibilities at all. I am proud that I can see the darkness and not be scared. I am proud that I can love the darkness I see in others. I think that I am gifted in this way. So I stayed because I loved him deeply and believed in that love to fill the dark places in him. But when I turned the lights on in the darkness, it just cast a shadow of the demon that really lived there. He was not who I had believed him to be nor was the man I had loved. I learned a valuable lesson in living in this never ending storm…you are only victim if you choose to stay in the belief that your love can help someone who is really hiding his true self in that darkness and is consumed by the demon.
Am I a victim. Yes, I AM a victim of emotional abuse. BUT I am also a survivor. I am a survivor because I chose to get out of his dysfunctional idea of love and the emotional abuse from the many faces of the demon. I am not trying to do better anymore. I AM doing better now. I have reached out for help from many people along this winding path of recovery. An emotional and narcissistic abuse support group and counselor. Private counselor. Affair recovery support group. Spiritual guidance. Family and friends who support and love me when I finally got honest about the life that I was living. It all felt so amazing to own my story, face it, want to heal and find the love in my heart. It felt great to see myself as absolutely beautiful inside and out. Being a victim will slowly kill you and drain you of any and all light inside your soul. I didn’t want that to be my story. I wanted more. I wanted to love again. I wanted to know what it felt like to have someone truly love me, broken and beautiful. I am reclaiming my life and standing up and facing the darkness around me without fear. The addict may keep his darkness, but I know that I was not the person to help him on his journey. I may have kept him on earth till now because of my love and strength to confront him and make him see the his addiction from time to time. I feel good that I could do that for him. But now I have to save myself from his continuing emotional abuse that will always be aimed towards me. I will never know why he wants to hurt me over and over but I know I don’t have to figure it out or solve it anymore. I have to move on in order to heal. I have to forgive myself for allowing my abuse to continue and not standing up sooner. I have to see my strengths that I have gained and revel in the fact that I didn’t let the demon kill me too. I have to accept that this man will never love me or anyone because he can only love himself and his addiction. I have to keep the faith that God has greater plans for me and I will prevail after everything. I have to always remember that…
I AM VICTIM BUT MOST IMPORTANT I AM A SURVIVOR. AND I AM STRONGER EVERYDAY. I AM NOT GOING TO BE A VICTIM ANYMORE.
Breathe out the anger. Breathe in peace. Breathe out shame. Breathe in the gratitude. Breathe out the helplessness. Breathe in the strength.