The Airing of Dirty Laundry & Breaking the “Status Quo”

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As I was sharing my recent heartache and experiences with my therapist the other day, he stopped me to explain his role as a mandatory reporter. Therapists, as well as other medical providers, teachers, etc. are trained to recognize the abuse and or neglect of children or vulnerable individuals and report the occurrence to the authorities so that it can be investigated. Individuals trained in this manner are called “mandatory” reporters because, by law, they are required to report any alleged incidents of abuse or neglect of a vulnerable individual. Both my mother and I are “mandatory reporters” because we both have worked in the healthcare system and have received the training that now requires us to report. This isn’t the first time a therapist has stopped a session to explain that he or she may need to report the abuse or neglect that has occurred in my sister’s home. In fact, it has happened with nearly every therapist I have seen. I haven’t had any therapist tell me that they have followed through with a call, but it is likely they have.

This has got me to thinking about a few things. For one, I have made a few calls to both Child Protective Services (CPS) and to Adult Protective Services (APS) over the past few years. To my knowledge, my mother has never called CPS or APS to file a concern regarding the well being of her great-grandchild or her disabled, adult grandchildren. Although, we both have been trained to report incidents of abuse and neglect, I find it odd that my mother has never done so. Often, my mother and I disagree over the extent of the abuse and I feel she not only downplays it, but doesn’t want to acknowledge it or even discuss it. This has left the responsibility up to me to report and has often left me feeling like “I’m the bad guy” for “telling on the family”. The lack of adults who have knowledge of the abuse, but who have not reported it, have left the grand baby and disabled adults vulnerable to potential danger. Because of my willingness to confront the abuse head on and even report it a time or two, I’ve endured shame, scapegoating, gaslighting, and abandonment.

Meanwhile, continued episodes of abuse and neglect occur with no real consequences that could possibly change things for the better while providing protection to those who are vulnerable there. Instead, over time, I have had to grieve and let go, walking away with pangs of guilt for “abandoning” those I know to be struggling there. The system (CPS) simply doesn’t have “enough” information or resources to investigate and move forward on the claims I’ve made. And, my Mom and sister downplay the chaos and drama that continually enfolds there, calling me “overly dramatic” and/or “controlling”. I have left because after years of confronting and fighting for respect and visibility in my family, I have been dismissed as difficult, abusive, and disrespectful. Granted, I have become very ugly with my Mom for not “taking my side” when I’ve confronted the addiction that I feel has substantially ruined 5 lives already. I have brought up the SAME concerns to my mother that I have to therapists only to be ignored, discarded, or dismissed by her. This struggle has lead to feelings of despair and alienation, and ultimately has lead to me feeling I have to “walk away” for my own health and sanity. I do not feel my mom dismisses me knowingly and intentionally. Instead, I believe her responses to be a result of her own ineffective ways of dealing with trauma that were formed early in her life.

It was in this LAST therapy session that it truly dawned on me how ALONE I have been in this fight against the addiction that has caused so much hurt and annihilation in my family. I “took note” this time when my therapist noted the severity of the situation as I casually discussed the violence and drug abuse that continually erupts in and around my sister’s house. It wasn’t until a day or two later that the therapist’s response began to weigh heavily on my mind. The information that I had relayed to the therapist was the same information that my mother has received on multiple occasions, but had neglected to question it and report it so that it could be investigated. Often, my mother would decline following up or reporting, using the mantra that “no one really knows what’s going on” anyway. As long as she could claim some level of ignorance on things, she would do so.

And yet, as time moved forward there has been more episodes of violence, incidents of drug use, and crime. Not to mention no adults (there are 6 of them) who reside in my sister’s home work. Two are disabled as a result of their drug use and I question their ability to work. The other two, I assume actively use, as they both were supposed to be in rehab recently, but one left treatment, the other might still be on a waiting list. Both of them only decided to consider rehab after getting in trouble to avoid certain consequences. Again, evidence that consequences actually can cause an individual to receive help. I acknowledge that is just the first step. But, often our family has “failed” at getting people to the first step because they have enabled them and thus they do not experience the consequences that might provide them with an opportunity to seek treatment.

Over time, I’ve learned that it is not only addiction, but Narcissistic Personality Disorder, that has caused so much pain and devastation to me and my family. My sister, simply put, continues to cause damage while my mother enables her behavior. And thus, everyone outside of that codependent relationship is actually quite sick. Either they are using substances and are in the throes of “active addiction”, or they are permanently disabled due to severe and persistent mental illness. They have not been well enough to manage their lives and heal from the significant trauma of being raised by two people who struggled with chronic addiction issues. And the parents never really invested in their future by providing them with a basic education and the tools needed to be independent. Instead, my nieces and nephews essentially “raised themselves” in their adolescent years with little to no oversight. The neglect was extreme and they were not protected from chaos that was continually brought in by the constant traffic of individuals struggling with significant addiction issues. In fact, the family endured the death of a three year old that my sister often baby-sat that resulted from a caretaker beating her to death because she knocked that individual’s “fix” off the table. After the traumatic death of this child, I tried again to get my sister help for her addiction and urged my sister to surround herself AND her kids with healthier adults. My pleas fell on deaf ears, the drug use continued, and not more than two years later my sister’s kids experienced the traumatic near death of their mother due to needle use.

Even so, no one would stand with me and confront my sister’s drug use and she went back to using after healing enough to do so. I’m not sure if she used needles after the incident, but she definitely was using again on and off. Although I urged my mother many times to join me in confronting the addiction, my mom dug in deep and continued to dismiss my concerns. There were times she “agreed that there was a problem”, but it never seemed to her, severe enough to join my efforts in confronting it. I stood alone in the storm and over time this has completely eroded the relationship between my mother and me. To me, it has felt like a refusal to acknowledge the depth of the addiction and the neglect it caused. I predicted long ago when my sister began using very heavily that my bonds between my family and me would nearly be destroyed. More than a decade later, after years of screaming into dead space, I am walking away from the trauma that caged me. It has been traumatic for me to watch my nieces and nephews all struggle with addiction issues, many times leading to arrests, incarceration, abusive relationships, and near overdoses. The struggle with my sister was hard enough, but it has been multiplied times 5 over the past decade as I watched one by one my nieces and nephews surrender to the throes of addiction. I watched as no one walked across their high school stage to receive a diploma and each of them became more engaged in drugs and criminal activity. At one point, I even watched as my niece went back to her abusive husband who was reported to have assaulted my niece’s father and had even held her hostage at gunpoint. I continued to confront and fight for my niece for a whole year while hearing that her husband was “drugging” her and controlling communication. As an individual with a diagnosis of C-PTSD and a history of childhood trauma it took a lot of time for me to “let go”. It was made even harder because no one else in my family wanted to join me in the endeavor of confronting my sister’s kids and getting them help. I often felt I was the only one seeing and acknowledging the devastation. Things continued to be normalized and I became the “problem” of my family.

Over this past year, I acknowledged I was powerless in this fight. I was not only being stonewalled and character smeared by my sister, but my mother also continually dismissed my concerns and often either rationalized away things or defended my sister. Stuck in this spiral of never feeling heard, I surrendered to the reality that I was completely ineffective in “reaching” those in my family struggling with addiction. As a result, I have slowly and painfully given up “the fight”. It was destroying my health and I decided to “cut ties”, heal, and wait to reconnect in distant ways after I grieve the loss. So, in the midst of a global pandemic when many are reconnecting and becoming closer, I have “let go” and have become more isolated. It’s difficult, but it is what it is.

So, when my current therapist stopped me during our session to share his role in mandatory reporting, it struck me AGAIN that it wasn’t only me who found the behavior of my sister and her adult kids concerning for the child who is being raised in the home. In ways, my therapist’s response was validating to a certain extent.

I believe one of the most difficult things in dealing with a dysfunctional family, besides feeling alienated and often invisible, is the shame that society places on “airing dirty laundry”. We are told to hold the secrets inside because there is great shame and stigma associated with revealing the dysfunction in our families. This further compounds the issues of isolation and can lead an individual to go “over the edge”. And often, this leads to an individual feeling as if they cannot “relate” to others. I want to “break the silence” and the “mold” that is telling those who suffer, to do so silently. The silent epidemic of sheltering and hiding dysfunction is deadly, for some.

Ultimately, I would love to one day work with and write about the trauma and pain associated with the forced shroud of silence surrounding family abuse and neglect. We heal when bring things into the light, which can lead us from confusion to clarity. We heal when we can separate our story from the historical cycles of shame and guilt. Although it can be a brutally messy process, light and truth is required to separate ourselves from the ancient chatter that binds us to the darkness of our past. The darkness that people want to ignore, to burry, and to even deny, is what must be bravely examined in the light so that separation can occur. We must go on a journey of self discovery, and “shed” the skin we were sealed in as a result of cyclic shame and loss. It is in this space, where we are increasingly becoming aware of our loss of attachment to our past, that we begin to sense freedom from it. This is the space where separation results in accountability and ownership, and ultimately the empowerment to “take flight”. It is in this same space, where we are able to cultivate compassion for our past mistakes and willingly forgive ourselves and others. We begin to open our conscious to the collective suffering of humanity and, despite it all, we become curious about our infinite potential to create and sustain our own peace and stillness. Standing in the light, recognizing the shadows that have been laid to rest on the ground beside us, allows us to fix our vision and gaze on the vast horizon ahead. I’d like to think this space is where the “magic” happens and the “mystery” of life is renewed. We once again view the world with childlike excitement, but with the strength and resolve of an adult. It’s a rebirth where separation occurs, boundaries are drawn, and mastery is refined.

The curtain where the “wizard” was pulling the strings has been drawn. Light is flooding in and, in the beginning, this causes disappointment, disbelief, anger, and even pain. But, what comes to pass is that we realize, much like Dorothy did in The Wizard of Oz, that “home” was within our grasp all along. We can take ourselves where we like. The light that floods in reveals we’ve always had a “heart, a brain, and courage”.

With the curtain pulled back on my life, I can easily see what is mine and what is theirs. There is now full transparency and although, initially painful, I realize that it is up to me to go forward, separating myself from the shame and suffering that caged me.

I feel a sense of stability in this newly formed space that I have begun to cultivate all on my own. And I’m proud that I am no longer part of the “status quo”. I’m moving forward, even if a bit isolated and alone. I trust that I will bring people, love, and light into my life while protecting myself from needless noise and chaos. Land, undefined, is finally gaining definition and taking form. Finding myself in this space is freeing, while, at the same time I feel more anchored and resolved. This is my life. It is messy and imperfect, but it is also full of forgiveness and love. And this is just the beginning. I’m shedding the cocoon to flutter, fully in the light, with less cares and worry. Life is lighter. And the space around me is finally mine. ❤️ 🦋❤️

Alone & Unable to Connect to Family in a Global Pandemic: We are Strong, Resilient, and Enough

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I am in a lot of personal pain that is stemming from the dissolution of my family. I guess I thought, by some stretch of a fantastical imagination and misguided hope, that the threat of a deadly global pandemic might somehow bring my broken family closer. I am reminded daily by “warm and fuzzy” commercials on TV and the professionals on the news, to connect and reach out to family and friends during these difficult times. This only serves to crush me further, because in doing so over the past two weeks, I have only felt more devalued and disillusioned by the continued chaos that continually erupts from my family. The chaos that quickly entraps me in old, ineffective coping mechanism from years of being gaslighted, devalued, and discarded. The chaos that has taken the lives and potential of my young adult nieces and nephews and has left two of them disabled and the other two in the throes of active addiction. The chaos that has lead to the erosion of the relationship with my aging mother whose denial has lead to me feeling muted and silenced.

And yet, I know, that I am the only one that can walk away from the devastation, the confusion, and the unbearable weight which has left my health in a state of deterioration  and decay. I have been wasting away, unable to “swallow” the grief and pain of not only losing my family to addiction, but also to the personality disorder I now believe my sister has: Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). I have hesitated in the past to “label”  her negligence and ineffective coping as NPD, but time has provided too many experiences where the “mask” has been stripped, revealing a crystal clear picture of the tactics that narcs commonly employ to erode the confidence and credibility of their victims. This reality has made my decision to leave and “let go” a difficult one as her adult children are suffering greatly. They live in a remote and rural area, are uneducated and live in poverty, and they do not have the skills or resources to leave the situation. They do not have phone service and their access to internet is limited. Because they are also in the throes of addiction, they are even more vulnerable to my sister as they are dependent currently on her for transportation, food, and housing. Her kids grew up in chaos and never acquired an education or the skills to work. I have remained engaged lot longer than I normally would, in attempts to gain support from my mother so that we could together try and help her struggling kids work toward independence. These attempts were often met with deep resistance and denial from my Mom who wants to continue to believe the lies and confusion of the web that my sister spins that make it nearly impossible to break through and have any amount of sustained change. I have tried for years now, only to the detriment of my own health and sanity, while relationships continued to erode and disintegrate.

Weeks ago, before the Coronavirus Outbreak became a daily reality, I was at peace in my decision to “let go” of my family and focus on my time and attention of rebuilding my life in a more balanced and peaceful way. I even set up a volunteer opportunity with NAMI and I chose a local church that I would start attending. Within a week of doing so, the world was turned upside down by the daily reality we now are living: social distancing, staying at home to save lives, and helplessly watching as many are impacted by the deadly virus that is circling the globe.

With uncertainty and fear looming, I made the decision to “reach out” to my family again and to try and remain “connected” during this difficult time and encourage my family to “remain inside”. My initial goal was just to make sure they knew how serious the threat was as my family lives in Tennessee and their state was not taking things that seriously at the time.  My good intentions were again thwarted by chaos and confusion when my disabled niece, who became sick with pneumonia, went to the hospital twice, unaccompanied by anyone to advocate for her. Because of her level of incompetence, she ended up leaving the hospital against the medical advice of being admitted (the first visit), and the second time she just “walked out”, leaving our family in a panic to find her. The police were called to locate her and eventually she was brought home. Tension rose as I had strongly encouraged my sister to go with my niece if she had to go to the hospital a second time, because my niece has significant mental health issues and lacks good judgment. When she went missing from the hospital, I became angry, as well as concerned. The situation was made a lot worse over the next couple of days when my niece’s separated husband (who has abused her in the past & has had a recent arrest and drug issues) was allowed to just come up “unannounced” to my sister’s home and take my niece with him. This caused a great deal of friction between my family, as I had hoped while she was still sick she would stay resting at home. Not to mention that my niece’s mental state was compromised as she had not been taking her medication and was still sick showing symptoms of pneumonia. I acknowledged that my sister and mom may have not been able to prevent her from going, but I did not feel they tried hard enough to prevent her from going. I also pointed out that my sister’s “lack of boundaries”, where my niece’s abusive husband feels comfortable dropping by anytime, unannounced, is problematic for my niece who was sick at the time and exercises poor judgment. Avoiding going into anymore details, things deteriorated from there and as a result, I have again felt the need to protect myself by disengaging and “letting go”.

As depressed as this is making me, I felt a responsibility to write publicly about my struggle, because I know there are others in similar situations. I went in with the good intentions of connecting to my family during a time when everyone is encouraging others to connect, to appreciate life and each other, and ,ultimately, I regret doing so. Some of us do not have the supportive structures in our families to gain comfort from them and it can “backfire” and lead to additional stress, anxiety, and depression. For a few days, my mental status was derailed and I was triggered, showing signs of mania and  increased rumination. I even felt suicidal, at times, although I knew deep down I did not actually want to die. For me, and maybe for others, reaching out to our families may not be a wise idea. For some of us, our families are chaotic and can cause additional strain and anxiety.

For those of you feeling alone and struggling through this uncertain time without the support from your family or even friends, please know you are valued. I feel this is the perfect opportunity for me to value myself by engaging in healing endeavors, like yoga, meditation, art, music, etc. I acknowledge the past few days, I became swept up again in the disillusionment and depression that interacting with my family causes. I am still raw and “bleeding” and it wasn’t the right time for me to engage, and yet, the media outlets with their “warm and fuzzy” commercials, had me feeling all nostalgic. I lost my compass for a few days on a fantasy of family connection that deep down I knew would be “too good to be true”. Healing takes time and I went back with hope in my heart that was eventually dashed. However, more importantly, I was reminded that I alone am ENOUGH and I intend to spend the next few days cultivating forgiveness and love.

There may be a time in the future where I have acquired the skills to interact with my family without being “pulled in” and becoming ungrounded. Until, that time comes, I will do my best to remain disengaged with my family, while engaging in self-care and compassion, daily. I recognize when I do so, an enormous amount of space is freed up within me, that brings clarity and peace. I just went back “too soon, too early”.

For those of you in similar situation, please know how valuable and worthy you are and that YOU, ALONE, ARE ENOUGH. This troubled and scary time will pass and there will be more concrete ways that we can move forward in our healing processes. It can feel like we are suspended, and it can cause some to lose hope. Please take comfort that I am here, like you, in this same space, feeling somewhat alone and fearful, at times. But, as all things do, it will pass. If we know anything about life, we know that change is the one constant we have. I hope you take comfort in my words and take care of yourself today. Even if you feel you can connect to certain loved ones right now for support and solace, Know you are not alone, and will make it through. Hopefully we will even learn something about ourselves in the process: That we are that strong, resilient, and ENOUGH.

 

Love and light!

 

Amy

Swimming & Separateness

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I remember long ago, when I was only a small girl, swimming effortlessly in my Grandma’s backyard pool. I don’t recall ever learning to swim as I’m fairly certain it followed closely after I learned to walk. I vividly recall gliding along the bottom of the pool, watching the reflection of the sun bounce around, shimmering on the bottom of the pool surface. All the noise and chatter of the above-water world would disappear for the moment as I lost myself, surrounded by the silence and serenity, submerged in water. I was weightless and free. I felt a sense of mastery gliding along, with my eyes wide open. It was during these times I felt confident and joyful despite being separate and alone.

Surveying my life and my history, I am able to acknowledge that I often have difficulty truly separating from others. Not in the sense of having to always be around others as I am actually often alone. The difficulty arises in my ability and desire to trust my own decisions and to build my own self-worth. I’m too often searching for validation in others  instead of relying on my own intuition and instincts. I also have allowed certain people in my life to completely derail me by accepting their definition of me. My self-concept is too easily swayed by others. I feel I have a lot of work to do in this area.

I can go back further into my history and acknowledge that as a child I often did not feel safe to assert myself. As an adult, this has translated into a mess of sorts which often ranges from rage to defeat. And there are times, when interacting with unhealthy individuals, that I am demanding and insistent, throwing a temper tantrum like a three year old. For some reason, I am drawn to people who are also hurting and I often have too high of expectations for the relationship. I become too easily enmeshed and have difficulty separating myself from not only their story, but how I am valued within it. I am learning to disengage from those individuals in my life who are unable to connect, even if I love them. I have often lost my dignity while demanding love and respect and something larger inside of me desires the freedom of being separate and self-reliant. This is a very messy time for me and I’ve actually been quite depressed.

Despite the messiness and shame, I feel a bit hopeful. I feel that perhaps I am getting closer to finding myself. I have spent the first part of my life in silence, often too afraid to express anger. There were years where my emotional state often was dependent on others and I would check all my decisions by those in my life that I trusted. The last decade of my life my voice emerged, often as thunder. I was ineffectively coping with my sister who was battling an addiction and I was also dating a Narcissist at the time. I became increasingly angry as both my sister and the narcissist tested my self esteem by devaluing me often and abandoning me. With both, I hung on far too long and anger often spilled over into rage resulting in a loss of dignity and self-loathing. And now, I am finally at a point of self-forgiveness. If I am successful in letting go of my sister, as I have done so with my Narcissist, then I will find the space and time to forgive her. Still yet, I will not attempt reconciliation at this point unless it is initiated by her because I must maintain my dignity. I have gone “No Contact” with my ex-Narc and I feel pretty good about it.

I felt I needed to write this post today because doing so is a level of accountability to address my lack in self-sufficiency. I actually enjoy being alone and do everything from camping to taking trips. I am more so talking about the dependence on others for my self esteem, my self concept, and my confidence in decision making. I see this pattern and I feel addressing it openly will compel me to address it in my day to day existence. I am letting go of these patterns and it needs to be in concrete ways from this point forward. I believe the greatest endeavor I can do is to begin participating in the things I used to enjoy doing. And although I have trust issues, it’s time to join some groups and make friends again. The last year and a half I have been pretty depressed and have “let go” of a lot of things I used to enjoy. The more I “do” to rebuild my life, the more I will benefit emotionally and in my self esteem.

I’m often nearly shocked at how depressed I have been over the last few years. I had to stop working because I was getting sick too often and missing work. I even recently was approved for disability benefits, but it will take time to receive them and it hasn’t hit me yet that I have been approved. The last several years has been a blur where both my Bipolar 1 and PTSD have been unstable. I do feel I am slowly improving, but I would say I am only halfway to where I want to be! Writing is helping me to heal and it’s so important that I begin to physically do concrete things to challenge myself in the healing process. I’m hoping to write about my upcoming adventures as I heal. I’m grateful for the opportunity to blog about my experiences and appreciate the support I have received from my readers! It means a lot!

And finally, using the metaphor of swimming, I would like to jump back in to my life, totally submerged in water, eyes wide open, gliding effortlessly along the surface of the pool. It might just be time to go for a swim!

photo of woman diving into the water
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Hug Me Tightly: Recovery Before Romance

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Perhaps, I’m impenetrable.

I’d like to think that someday, someone out there will find me. Someone who is waiting and wondering where I am. I’ve nearly given up hope, but something tells me that maybe there is someone for me. I’m still not ready yet. Healing from a decade of desperation, darkness, and devastation has left me disoriented and distant.

I would love to be held tightly and hugged, leaving no doubt of my lover’s intentions. The next time I lose myself in someone’s embrace, I hope it’s with the one I will grow old with, finally feeling safe.

I’d love to find an artist who could be the harmony to my melody. Someone who could sing me to sleep.

My last love of ten years continually pulled me in and spit me out, dragging me out to his lonely sea. I was mesmerized by the beauty, but nearly drowned in the undertow, often left alone and vulnerable to dry out on the barren shore. I had memorized his face, his body, his scent. I pleaded with him for years to wake up because life in time will leave us. Time is finite. I was convinced that our sacred space which felt tender and raw, at times, was enough to sustain us. And yet, we fell apart, crumbling. All that is left now is dust, swirling in the wind. The shattered and separated particles that was once us, are now distant and dormant memories. There is nothing left to hold. The lover I had memorized has nearly faded from me. I only see him in my dreams. After ten tumultuous years, I look back, scanning the horizon for what was real and what was imagined. I’m only grateful in the present to stand on solid ground. With him, the sands were always shifting. I believe in hindsight our instability was intentional. I had become an ornament that was lost in his pain and I was an easy discard for him. He was secure in his possession of me. We were destined from the beginning to erode and decay, still, I held on for way too long, desperate and hopeful.

The years I where I was perpetually losing him, were the most painful. Hanging there alone, in that space, where I was always frantically searching for the evidence that he loved me and willing to take the crumbs that were haphazardly tossed at my feet. I’m no longer grieving the relationship, but am grieving the time I lost for myself when I was trying to find him. Over time I labeled him as someone struggling with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. My therapist continually called him a psychopath. I joined on-line support group and read familiar stories of others. Part of me was angry and hurt at him for the abuse I endured, both physical and psychological. Another part of me, was livid at the abusive environment that caused his impenetrable walls to develop, imprisoning him in a lifetime of no real intimacy. Oh God, how I grieved the lost little boy inside of him that needed to be hugged and loved. Still, I had to surrender and let go. Time and experiences had proven to me that I would never truly be able to reach him.

I’ve haven’t seen him in over two years and it has been over 5-6 months since our last contact. He contacted me through e-mail a few months ago, desiring to hear how I was doing. I did not respond.  I cannot run back chasing the millions of particles that was once us. They would only slip through my fingers. I was exhausted always trying to somehow hold us together. It became easier to deal with the loss than to stay, always running after him, trying to make sandcastles in the wind. It devastated me. I picked myself up off that desolate shore where I was left alone too many times, and decided once and for all that I would not return.

It will take time to love again. I have to learn to completely love myself before loving another. I will not get lost again in someone’s embrace without first knowing my value. I will build a strong castle above the desolate sea where I can still be mesmerized by its beauty, but safe from its undertow. My castle will be adorned with love and each brick will be placed by me. When I value myself in this way, I will know quickly what I am unable to compromise. I’m not ready for another romance yet, but when I am I’d like to find another vessel that has done the work inside that allows a passionate and present love. I want us to not only be in love with each other, but in love with our place in the world. I’d like to be in love with the beauty that surrounds us.

I miss having a romantic connection. I miss the intimacy of memorizing someone’s face and figure. I long for the companionship and warmth a relationship can bring. I want to laugh again and feel alive in the presence of a new love.

Perhaps he is out there. Maybe he even wonders where I am. I’m coming, I’m just not ready yet.

If I find him one day, I expect ordinary magic. I will be blessed to cherish the mystery and miracles that present themselves in the present moment when we are living without the hindrance of suffering. When we love ourselves first, we can completely love another. So, if he is out there I hope he is learning to love himself. If nothing else, this is the journey I am on and even on days when I would love to be hugged tightly and held, I know I have myself. And I am enough.

 

 

 

Trauma, Addiction, and The Cage

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It’s a paradox of sorts, clinging to addiction to feel so alive, when, in reality, it’s bringing you so much closer to death. And still, you continue to cling to the chaos, relentlessly pursuing the false narrative that somehow you’re safer when high, distracted and disconnected to the misery weighing you down. These endeavors always leave you feeling alone and helpless, constantly craving a manufactured bliss, forever held captive by the entity you feel “sets you free”. An all or nothing approach renders you trapped as relapse is inevitable followed by binges and despair. This cycle is familiar to so many, even those foreign to substance abuse. Addiction wears many hats, is delivered in a variety of packages, yet yields the same emotions of despair, isolation, guilt, and helplessness.   

This cycle of highs and lows becomes interrupted, at times, giving the opportunity to peer through the curtains, pierced by the light that comes flooding in, bringing in too much visibility of the gaping scars and bruises that cover your war torn frame. Wincing, you’ll hastily pull the curtains shut…. But, wait, not so fast. The light and the stillness that surrounds you is exactly what is needed to heal. Truthfully, the sun feels good.  Maybe it is time to bask in it and marvel that you still exist despite the bruises and scars. And, seeing them in the light may make us realize how strong we actually are.  If you are sitting there in the stillness and silence with the sun warming your skin, you have survived thus far.  It will be the stillness that saves you.  When you quit running and sit in the light and warmth, it’s easy to see that the war has always been with yourself. It’s time to turn towards yourself, accept reality completely, and sit with the pain. Sitting with the pain now, will protect you from suffering needlessly. 

I have been fortunate to never struggle with substance use, but I have struggled with addiction. I struggle with gambling and have lost a lot of money and time sitting at slot machines. I currently manage my addiction by self-banning at the casinos that are closest to me so I rarely gamble. Even so, I think of gambling often as a way to escape and distract myself from emotional pain.

My sister and some of her adult children have suffered with severe and persistent addiction issues for several years now. It has affected our whole family and relationships are strained as a result. As the one who has continually confronted and questioned, I’ve been alienated and scapegoated. I am unable to trust those in my family and feel discredited, dismissed, and ignored. I feel I have attempted reconciliation many times, but it’s always during times when there is need for my help and during a crisis. When it is quiet, no one is reaching out to repair or to connect. I have been hurt and even suicidal, at times. But, I am healing and want to stop the continual bleed and learn how to communicate effectively and safely. I often get ugly and abusive by raging and have ended up losing my dignity many times. I’m ready to let go and be free.

The damage that has been done on both sides is too great to reconcile. I personally don’t want to continue risking my emotional health for people who actually feel that my goal has been to have my sister’s grandson taken from the home and potentially placed in foster care. My goal was actually to help those in the home that were using to get help if they would accept it. My goal was to encourage the mother of the child to get her GED and work so that she could actually provide for the child. Currently, she is 20 and doesn’t even have a driver’s license. My goal was to help her eldest daughter get the treatment she needs for both a mental illness and an addiction that has been a factor in recent incarcerations and violent behaviors that have occurred in the home. My goal has always been to help facilitate the healing process so that people can connect in healthy ways and live a life that is full and peaceful.

I longed for the people in my life to recover and to take back their lives. Selfishly, I longed for the connection I had with them before we all lost ourselves in the fire that consumed much of our interactions and occupations. I have missed my family greatly. After years of fighting, I was struck one day recently, by realizing that what I was grieving was not the loss of my family to addiction, but the loss of never having had a close family in the first place.

Memories of abandonment as a young child flooded me and I winced in pain, tears flooded down my cheeks. In an instant, I became aware that I had been holding on to a fantasy of closeness and protection that never truly existed for me. Sadly, I feel it didn’t exist in the generation before me either. My spirit was longing for a space that wasn’t often occupied by others in my family. Love was present, but displayed in sometimes ineffective endeavors which were overshadowed by addictions and other mindless preoccupations that served to provide distance from anything too emotionally charged or intense. I held the intensity of the family and was a constant source of confrontation, always demanding connection and change. However, I was always losing connection, moving farther away from the target I had aimed towards.

The process of confrontation has never been productive. Instead it has often revealed the old, archaic habits and fears that get recycled over and over again. This brutally painful process left me grappling with my grief, completely unraveled and confused.

I was left alone a lot when I was a young child. I was fearful of my step-father as he was often explosive and unpredictable. My Mom worked and my older sister was rarely at home as she was out with friends socializing. I can recall having nightmares and feeling abandoned and afraid much of the time. My sister would come home and stir up problems as she was very rebellious and she would constantly “butt heads” with my step-father. I remember her threatening to run away one afternoon after a heated argument with Dad. I sat there on her bed watching in shock and disbelief as she packed her things. My heart sunk and I was paralyzed in fear, feeling panicked and abandoned. Things felt chaotic and out of control, and I did not feel close enough to anyone to feel protected and safe.

A lot of these past feelings continue to play out again and again as I hopelessly watch the chaos resulting from years of drug use in my sister’s home. I’m not certain if there is current drug use or not, but there has been recent assaults and an incarceration. It’s impacted relationships and has significantly diminished the potential that exists in each of her now adult children who all struggle in various ways. I believe my desire and intensity to help my family stems not only from love and concern, but also from my own feelings of not being protected in times of crisis. The intensity is higher because of my own feelings of abandonment and fear. Their situation in many ways is dire and in need of intervention and yet the constant refusal to work with me and professionals to truly get help has left me feeling perpetually victimized. I’ve finally recognized the unhealthy pattern and am eager to disengage from a hopeless relationship where my needs are continually not met, in order to process the grief of never really having had a close-knit family. It’s going to be ok, because in my stillness, I have discovered the root of so much that I have been struggling with for years.

This feeling of abandonment that has driven so much of my impulsive and destructive behaviors has finally been uncovered. I understand now where it stems from and can work to give myself the protection needed to finally feel safe and ok. And, I can grieve the loss while rebuilding in love. I also will be disengaging with people and situations that re-traumatize me. I love all of my family members and I can recognize that they are all struggling in their own ways. I also know that I have, at times, added to their struggle and have hurt them. Still yet, I am convinced now that disengaging and grieving, while processing the past, is the only way to move forward in a peaceful and healthy manner.

I had to let go of certain people in my life to clearly see why engaging was so damaging and invalidating for me. Trauma results in so many ineffective ways of coping, involving habits and addictions that can be extremely destructive. These negative ways of thinking can trap you, keeping you continually preoccupied with picking up the pieces that fall as a result of employing them. I’m going to one day be completely free from the cage that has confined me and the ineffective coping mechanisms that has kept me trapped.

I would guess nearly all addictions and negative coping mechanisms result from some deeper pain within you that feels too difficult to process. The light that floods in and the stillness that surrounds you is a gift of discovery if you are willing to do the difficult emotional work. The freedom you will feel from letting go is the purest form of joy that I have ever tasted. It leaves me feeling peacefully connected to myself. That is the greatest gift I’ve ever received. It cost absolutely nothing and is pure, its benefit, endless.  Peace and light to all. Wishing you light along the journey toward wholeness.

I Will Rise, I Will Love

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I am again in the midst of leaving and letting go. This act of self-love has left me captivated in thought.  Much of what I was clinging to throughout the years and wearing in heavy layers, is shedding, leaving me unraveled, naked, and new. I would have never guessed that the process of healing would leave me in a space of solitude, and yet somehow embracing it. It’s strangely odd and yet liberating at the same time.

I have often wondered if those in my life have realized that this imperfect process of anger, and even rage, is my voice growing in relevance and determination. I believe it to be lost on most of them in their continual defenses of behavior that has been damaging to me and others that I love. People become trapped by their own trauma and are often unaware that their behaviors and words communicate strongly that they do not believe you, hear you, or value you. People forget that action is truly the only litmus test for revealing someone’s true beliefs and intentions. And often, people do not act.

I spent a lifetime living in fear, paralyzed by the unpredictability of an adult who lived in the home who exploded often in anger and rage. I was only a child and was unable to escape from the situation. I recall living in a hyper-vigilant state, unable to breathe, always on guard. My small voice wavered as I reached out with courage to 2 adults in my life. I was quickly invalidated and told in so many words not to trust my own instincts and perception of reality. All of me wanted to be out of this situation and be safe. Years later, I was again invalidated by people refusing to accept accountability, and instead offering excuses that these erratic and explosive acts that I endured as a child, were never witnessed, but occurred when they were away from the home. There was an apology issued, but they didn’t express complete accountability, dismissing themselves from addressing the behaviors at the time because they weren’t really there to see them. Again, an indicator that perhaps what I experienced was fabricated somehow or less serious.

And so, I remained vigilant and ever ready to protect myself as best as possible and I often disassociated as a result. I remember times during these explosive situations that I disappeared. I recall the beginning of the event and the individual reaching to shake me, and then I recall nothing. I had faded into empty spaces, protecting myself from the assault, not only physically, but spiritually as well. I was broken and silenced as a result and did not feel protected or safe. This communicated to me on a deep level that I was not worthy to be protected by the adults in my life.

As a result of the ongoing tense and uncertain environment, I grew paranoid, depressed, and fearful. It has had a lasting impact on my life. For years, I felt expressing anger would kill me and even now when angry I feel unable to breathe. As I write now, I am severely anxious and tearful. My expression of anger now comes at a high cost. It is often explosive and leaves me feeling exhausted and anxious. I am still learning how to safely express it.

Years have passed with mental health diagnoses and medications and I’m still searching for the part of me that disappeared. I fight tooth and nail with family members regarding an addiction that has fostered loose boundaries and trauma of another sort. Deep neglect has not only destroyed the potential found in early adulthood of those I dearly love, but it’s limited their ability to have boundaries. It’s crippled their confidence to execute independently and as a result some do not have an education or a job. When asked, they are unable to articulate goals for themselves and are often absorbed in desperate activities to numb the pain stemming from their trauma. Restless and unable to often act, they engage with others who are on the same destructive path.

I often see the same patterns of enabling destructive behaviors and an throwing money at the situation which does nothing to address the underlying issues that are perpetuating the devastation. I see some of them being invalidated much like I was as a child, their voices downed out by the guilt of those not awake enough to accept accountability and truly address the trauma they endured as children. Adults in their lives that have kept them bound to inaction with behaviors of enabling and their own addictions, whether it be food, drugs, gambling, sex, etc. I do sporadically see efforts to remedy things, but these efforts are often coupled with enabling. I recognize the complexity of things, still yet, people turn away from each other, instead of towards each other in accountability and compromise. The guilt and shame associated with their mistakes impedes healthy patterns of reinforcing consequences and having expectations. This may eliminate some of the guilt, but does little to address the root problem which is the only way to truly heal and recover. The cycle continues. And not only is it heart breaking to watch, it has prevented me from connecting to my family in a normal and healthy way. It’s too hard for me to watch the pain and not address it.

I have fought alone for the past few years with no one really joining in and I’m exhausted. I recognize my own mistake of staying engaged and working harder than those who are struggling with their addictions. Often, I have been ignored and devalued by the ones I love and this results in nasty rage with abusive words. These words, expressed in anger, are what they continue to focus on instead of their destructive path. They easily forget thatI have reached out multiple times in kindness, offering support and help.

Engaging with members of my family is a continual and complete reenactment of past abuse. I am often ignored and abandoned, and my concerns are downplayed with no action taken. Many times I am told, in so many words, that I am not seeing things correctly.  People become defensive and my credibility and intentions are questioned over and over. I end up feeling devalued and misunderstood. I have walked away many times and no one knocks on my door, worried and concerned. And when I return, people expect me to nearly deny my reality and erase the past history in order to dwell in their complacency and avoidance of the issues. It’s a continual bleed that no one wants to acknowledge or treat. I am tirelessly running around alerting people of the grave injury that needs immediate attention and treatment while others ignore, flee the scene, or argue with me that treatment is not really needed. Exhausting, really.

I wonder sometimes if they realize my rage and even abusive words is my bloody, messy process of carving out my self esteem? The voice of the child that sat frozen in fear for years has shattered into a million pieces and is finally tasting freedom and self worth. Of course, I am angry. What has broken them and muted their voice, has also broken me. And yet we turn away in our pain, instead of towards one another to heal. Historical patterns I will one day be free of because they serve no purpose.  They have no space in my life. These pattens have paralyzed me and my family and are no longer effective. I am in the awkward process of letting everyone know that I am awake. My voice is strong and clear. And I’m shedding the shackles that I’ve lugged around for years.

The initial softened words that my voice shared were tolerated. But the sharper ones, full of piercing frustration, are deafened by those still clinging to the familial fabric that has been created and perpetuated by the abuse and trauma that we all experienced at one time or another. Your voices have often faded into addiction and complacency, too fearful to rock the boat.  Rocking it might mean getting truly messy and feeling too much. I get it.

I hurt physically. I am fearful, letting the waves of grief crash into me. And, yet I am relentless in my resolve to heal.

I will rise. I will love.

I have screamed enough, often becoming ineffective in delivery as my newly freed voice was clumsy in delivery due to years of hurt and anger bound by silence. I bounced around from being appropriate to being purely abusive and was awkward and uncertain. Shouting at those hurting who are hidden behind their active addictions that erode their lives and potential. I don’t want you to disappear and I’ve been tirelessly banging on your door, if only you could see me and sit with me. I have a lot to share. I know it’s not time and fear it may never be time. I have to let go in self love to become stronger. I can’t hang around watching the devastation when no one hears my cries, it re-traumatizes me. I am right back there being shaken with no one listening, validating, or caring to protect my spirit. I am strong enough now to protect myself and can leave what is hurting me. I pray all of you find your strength.

Many times people get stuck in roles: older siblings, parents, etc. I’m eager to break these molds and discover common experiences between my family members. I implore parents to release their adult children, realizing their uniqueness. Children pass through us and never truly belong to us. Often these familial connections become so enmeshed we can no longer be effective with setting boundaries because we see them as extensions of ourselves. Their realities are completely separate from the one we hold in our minds that only belongs to us on a personal level. Age and order has absolutely no relavance on maturity and spiritual growth. It is the work you are willing to do on your spirit that defines you. It is a personal journey in the end. However, clinging too tightly and enabling will keep children tide up in the story of their parents, instead of creating their own story. Having expectations is crucial in developing esteem and growth. Pain is a necessary part of life that no one can be sheltered from and the sooner a person learns how to cope with pain, the quicker they will not only be more self-sufficient, but will have a richer life. People are free when they step away with their own separate story of what took place and honor their own reality.

I’m getting help in unpacking all of this and moving forward in my life. I’m disengaging from the heaviness to learn how to engage more effectively while honoring myself in the process.

And I will rise. I will love. I see so much of the cycle and I long for others to find their voice and be free. I remain in solitude in this space, filling my spirit with self-love and validation.

I will rise. I will love. The time is now and I will aggressively pursue my health, even if alone. In this beautiful place of solitude, I will cultivate MY voice and MY strength. And I am so grateful today my voice has been found. It is a hard lonely road at times that people often do not understand, but one worth traveling.

We Are Stars: Finding The Center and Basking In It

 

black ceiling wall
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I am centering. I have found this to be a difficult process where I often backtrack or retrace my steps. The center is where I long to be, basking in light and warmth, finally floating and free. Oh! How my soul fills with excitement when thinking of finally reaching this space. Perhaps, I will be able to dwell in it for long periods of time. I long to just feel ok: safe, relaxed, loved. I did not realize when I started this journey how much I would have to “let go” to feel weightless, free from the shackles that have kept me caged in despair and fear.

I’ve loathed myself over the past decades. Through broken and abusive relationships, I have suffered and felt lost, abandoned, and ashamed. I was rejected, abused, neglected, and left over and over. I became callous and defensive, perpetually caught in the web of other people’s assumptions and ideas. I spent hours oscillating between two realities, the one I defended as mine, and the one that was defined by the reactions of others when I angrily confronted their mindless and abusive behaviors. I became abusive, at times, as a result of staying engaged too long, unwilling to concede and let go. I stayed and fought alone and often with myself. I rarely stopped to think that these people I had invested so much time and energy in did not care about me. And in many cases, these people did not even care about themselves. This recent revelation ironically is freeing me.

I was hooked into their struggles and pain, trying to save them from their addictions. No one listened and the relationship became more and more strained. My assessment was “on point” and sadly their struggle continues to rage on and I am gagged and bound by the addiction and mental health issues that have trapped them.  I saw it coming, I sounded the alarms, and then stared wide-eyed in disillusionment and fear as the storm ripped apart my family, leaving it destroyed. The storm touched everyone involved and pushed me far away, watching helpless. Everything inside of me says the worst is yet to come, but I will hope for a miracle. I was so hurt that I too caused some of the destruction that has wound up lying in pieces, scattered on the ground. And yet, the storm was so brutal it has left the people I love disconnected from themselves, forgetting their past, unable to truly participate in the present moment. They are still stuck on survival mode with little room to reflect on much else.

I feel remorse for the angry words I said.  I have a way of cutting to the core when I am angry. Yet, I have every reason to be enraged, hurt, and disappointed. And quite frankly, two decades of trying in various ways to push for reform with no resolution has left me embittered and empty. I have learned during these times that I did not truly have a family that cared to know and love me. My mother remained supportive, yet even our relationship was nearly extinguished from the high flames and temperature burning it all down to ashes. It is smoldering, but it is ruined. Ugh.

There is a new voice inside of me. It’s telling me that it’s ok. I became too invested and too involved by trying to help and got dragged in by the undertow despite my valiant efforts. It has been traumatic for me. If I had the chemicals in my system blunting my reality and emotions, perhaps I would not be so raw and exposed. My voice tells me that they do care, but its buried deep beneath layers and layers of what trapped them in the first place. I wince in remorse for words shaming their behaviors because I don’t feel they are that insightful. Perhaps they too are scared and sad underneath the rubble that they are buried underneath, suffocating with no escape. I hate myself for beating them down when they already are so low. I’m angry at them for botching the rescue efforts.  Still yet, they would say they didn’t need rescued and deny the destruction. Everything is splintered, confusing and chaotic. There is nothing to be said or done as trust has been lost. They will carry on through the rubble and smoke, never fully leaving the scene in order to ensure their safety. If this sounds confusing and crazy, it is.

And you see how I so easily can get, “off center”. The voice inside tells me that although they are all still fighting alone and among themselves, they really don’t care to know me. It hurts, but it does not devastate me anymore. I think of the hurtful things I have said in anger and compare them to what has been said and done to me and no longer judge myself so harshly. This has been really hard. I don’t want to hate myself anymore and I don’t want to hate them either. I see clearly the benefits of forgiveness.

There is a beautiful, warm light in the center of it all where I can float freely and I must find this space. Everything inside of me tells me now that it exists and that it truly is ok that they do not care. I feel for once in my entire life that I might just stop fighting. I might truly float. All the noise that I absorbed that told me I was bad, unworthy, crazy, mean, etc. was misinterpreted by me. I was fighting so hard for people to love me because I had not yet learned to love myself. I was demanding that people respect me and value me, because I did not feel worthy. The light in the center of my soul wasn’t going to let go of this idea that I deserved people in my life that loved me.

And so, I stayed way too long demanding love from people who also did not love themselves. And now, more clearly than ever I understand the words: “hurt people, hurt people”. I truly cannot put into words the madness of screaming into the emptiness over and over again trying desperately to get my needs met and being unable to move. I did not see at the time that I was learning to love myself. I wanted love from my family and my abusive ex Narc and I was insistent upon getting it. I stood out in the pouring rain for months nearly dying to get it. You will love me, dammit, I ranted and raved. My world crashed around me and I became physically and mentally sick and was unable to work as a result. I was suicidal and enraged. Still the rain fell, steady as strong. The storm wasn’t going to pass until I decided to love myself.

I still have a lot of work to do on “this thing called love”. It’s really hard stuff. I am not sure why it isn’t easy. I feel all the years of crap being piled on higher and higher that tells you that you are unlovable and unworthy traps you. My self esteem needed an overhaul and my mind needed to be cleared from the loads of crap planted there. I guess I had no idea how much I hated myself and how much other people’s opinion of me influenced my self concept. I guess I needed to scream enough in conflicts to others to convince myself that I was worthy. I cringe at hurting people, however, but my nastiness and cruelty comes from a pure place of wanting to be visible, valued, and heard. Now that I know this and feel it, I think perhaps a lot of my anger will subside. I can let go of those people who do not care, because I care.  I care about myself.

Maybe this is simple for some people and even silly. But, some of us miss these basic things because we have troubled and traumatic beginnings and we didn’t learn it along the way.  Some of us are just sensitive and more affected by the constant chatter we receive in life from criticism. I’m happy to be on this little journey.  And, I do feel the light and warmth is coming. A place you can sit in for a time to be loved, rejuvenated, and protected. I was running anywhere, but there. It is inside of you…. this light. I’m so happy I finally found myself, a bright light light in the universe. We are all stars!!

The Dark Side of You: I Have Issues, But I am not THE Issue!

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Stolen Space

I bared, He stared,

At all of me there

In the space we shared

That cost very little.

His hands would mold

My skin of gold

My spirit, He stole

By His constant drivel

His lips, they brushed

My corpse of dust

Animated in lust

At one time, a riddle

He walked away

Unable to stay

Unwilling to say

Why he rid of Her.

***Trigger Warning: Narcissistic Abuse, Physical Abuse.

We’ve been broken up for almost three years now. It’s been two years since we were last intimate. I’ve had contact with you on and off, still searching for answers and sorting out the reality we shared. I’ll admit, I have issues, but as time and distance brings our past into greater focus, I don’t believe I was THE issue.

Here are some telltale signs that convinced me that it is you who needs help:

  1. You continue to “pull me in” only to quickly discard me. This is a power play that Narcs use to maintain control by emotionally manipulating and confusing their victim. You have been upset at me for awhile now because I did not tow the line and instead confronted your games “head on” over and over. When we have reconnected, my intention has been to seek closure, question your sincerity, and define my part in our demise. I am beginning to feel that your intention has been to establish control, seek revenge, and to eventually wound me. I don’t like thinking this way, but it’s a pattern I cannot ignore.
  2. You’ve contacted me and overtly flirted while with another woman. You have boasted about your lovemaking to her and how she “thinks the world of you”, while in the same breathe, inviting me down to your home to be intimate with you. I declined. You have built me up, while trash talking your girlfriend, thinking it would win me over, and instead it made me less attracted to you. For nearly three years, you have told me you are “not in love with her” and you are breaking up with her in the near future, and yet you are still with her. Once you even mentioned that she is “so in love with you” and thinks that one day you are going to marry her. It is at this point I began to realize that you are playing her, and in that awareness, I feel as if I have been played as well. You are being dishonest to both of us for the supply you need to feed your fragile ego.
  3. You declined therapy over and over again. It was something you had promised that you would do, if needed, in order to get me to move back to the state in which you reside. I moved across the country to be with you and all I received were broken promises.  And you never followed through on your promise to go to therapy with me, when things got tough. I was willing to seek help and I pleaded with you to go to therapy with me to no avail.
  4. You stonewalled me, refusing to connect during difficult times in my life. It was during these times, when I was struggling at work, was very sick, and was dealing with difficult family issues, that you would not take calls. If you did, it was to reel me in while you were dating another woman. I began to see your disrespect and disregard for both me and her. These times helped to loosen the hold you had on my heart and my life and let go.

And so, It’s time to truly “let go” now and heal.  You messed with my heart and head so badly that it will more than likely take a couple of years until I am ready to date again. I’ve been single now over a year and have had no desire to date.  In future relationships, I will be very slow to trust and give my heart away. I don’t understand someone who can love me the way you did and then leave.

There were a few times when I “got in your face” and asserted control and you physically asserted your control back by choking me, suffocating me with a pillow, pushing me, etc. These times where infrequent, but they still shake me to my foundation. Over the last few years, I brought up the choking incident on several different occasions: while we were in bed, in e-mails, in texts, in conversations. Each time you laughed it off, saying you were acting and trying to intimidate me, that it “wasn’t real”. I shudder now to think if during one of those times I had questioned you, you had “lost it” again, and this time, mortally wounded me.

At one point last year, you sent me an e-mail stating that you were upset that I was guilting you over the choking incident and you sent links to pictures of what a “real choking” looked like. This was another incidence of you never truly taking accountability. I realize now that I should have left you as soon as it occurred, but I was in shock and unable to process the event. In fact, I am still working on processing it. It may never truly compute that you choked me while threatening to put a bullet through my head. So many things over the years have confused me and have kept me doubting my own reality and sanity. It will take a lot of time and energy to shed light on the past so that I can heal, hopefully to never make those costly mistakes again.

You have stripped me down in doubt and fear. I had issues before I met you. I have even more issues now. I was always one to see my issues and want to improve. I was naive and thought everyone was like me in that way. I feel unraveled and isolated in my experience of us. It seems complex, a riddle that is almost impossible to solve. And yet, I am leaving it behind. I am letting it go. I am healing myself. I am forgiving myself and shedding the shame that surrounds us.

I will pray for light. I will pray for the heaviness to dissipate. I will pray for the lightness to return in my step and laughter to release in joy from my lips. I will write it away, sing it away, travel it away, and hike it away. And as I shed you from my skin, I’ll release the shame and the guilt that is binding me from my freedom. My story isn’t over and I am in the midst of great change. I don’t want to be that “chained up little person still in love with you” (Gloria Gaynor, I will Survive). I still have life and love inside me and it’s not going to wait anymore. I’m grateful for the lesson you gave me in self-love. Had I not been gaslighted so badly, perhaps I would have never searched my heart so much. Thanks to the depth of your continual scrutiny and rejection, I’ve had stake out my own self worth and esteem. In the end, you will have been a catalyst for my “Greatest Love of All” (Whitney Houston), self-love! And, I don’t know of any other gift that one can receive in this lifetime that is more valuable than the gift of loving oneself, fully and completely! The gift was mine!

adult birthday birthday gift box
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Leaving Me Thirsty For More

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THIRSTY FOR MORE

Rolling over rocks

Rushing into you.

Feeling interlocked,

Feelings naked, new.

Foaming, violent seas

Heavy, heady night.

Stars floating free,

Giving up the fight.

Hands, silk and sin,

Trees hang overhead.

Sensuality, Sex and Sin,

Soft green grass, a bed.

The tide, rolling in

Silver with moonlight.

Majestically moving within,

Holding on tight.

The sea pulls away,

Brushing the ocean floor.

The dawning of a new day,

Leaving me thirsty for more.

After a decade involved in an abusive relationship, I have been taking a long break from romance and dating. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss it, I do! I long for the day I am romantically involved in a healthy relationship. I adore being “in love” and romantically engaged with another. But, I am still not ready. I am taking the time I need to heal and “romance” myself. I definitely do not want to go into another relationship when I am not entirely healed from my past.

I wrote this poem around 12 years ago before I began dating, a few years after my husband and I separated. I had taken nearly 3 years to heal and was ready to begin dating. It was both an exciting and scary time for me as I hadn’t really dated that much in life. This was inspired by my first crush after my separation. A co-worker had caught my eye and we were flirting and having fun. It was all very innocent as we only went out once. It’s fun to think back to the times in our lives that were full of mystery and excitement. I’m hopeful one day that I’ll fall madly and deeply in love. There is noting more intoxicating than the beginning of a new love!

red rose flower
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Does “Love Conquer All”?

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“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return”.

Eden Ahbez, “Nature Boy” (song, recorded by Nat King Cole)

I’ve spent my life savings trying to find love, only to become emotionally depleted, bankrupt. If I am honest, I fear that I will never trust again. I have difficulty trusting others when so many have let me down, devaluing and discarding me. I have difficulty trusting myself when I’ve often overstayed my welcome, stripped of dignity and self worth. Oh, how I have loathed myself for fighting solo; Screaming expletives into the dark, throwing punches to my face, with no one there to buffer my fall. I fell alone and I fell hard, over and over and over again.

Those I loved were home, sleeping soundly, their phone silenced, with so much space & distance always growing between us. The distance, infinite, and the destiny unattainable. I could not penetrate their thorny walls no matter the method employed. I only grew embittered, despondent, and even wrathful, at times. Your inability to love me must mean I am unlovable on some level.  Your inability to forgive, rendered me unforgivable. And so I would sit, spending days, weeks, and months running inventory in my mind, meticulously adding up the crimes committed trying to determine if the sentencing had been fair, or did some injustice occur. Even if so, I would never abandon those who I loved. I naively believed that “Love Conquers All”.  I’ve learned through suffering, it does not.

I have been playing solitaire for too long, dancing madly in the darkness, shouting obscenities into vacuous spaces.  I’ve been imploring the darkness to befriend me and have been jolted by the reverberations of my own voice, circling me in laughter and loneliness.  I look around and I see there is no one here.  My mad screams unable to reach you due to the growing vastness created by your endless preoccupation.  It was you that cut off our connection and denied our potential, resulting in disillusionment.  It has left me in constant confusion, scratching my head, wrestling with my own reality.

How does one love so intensely with raw emotion, only to be separated by an ocean a day later?  How does one grow up side by side only to abandon you when confronted over their mistakes?  You point fingers and cast blame for my angry words that have spilled from my mouth in response to your abusive ways.  I have never stonewalled, gaslighted, shift-blamed, or discarded you. Even so, I am the one not sleeping as I plunge into the madness, searching for the reality we shared.  I am sure it exists somewhere, and so I sit, still searching for answers even after you left me long ago. How could it be so easy for you?

And so, I have suffered greatly under the abuse of a Narcissist.  Well, actually two narcissists.  And, it will be my greatest life work to unravel what has been screwed on so tightly and reinforced by their abusive ways.  And yet, I still love both of them, even as they walked out of my life, cutting me along the way.  I cut back in anger, in love, and in desperation. I thought they loved me. I thought they could truly never leave and I played right along, dancing in the fire with them. But, I was different, my intentions were PURE and I truly thought they couldn’t leave. I thought this foolishly because I felt if I couldn’t leave, they couldn’t either. I thought they loved me. I naively believed that “Love Conquers All”. And, it doesn’t.

And, now, I am to blame, for playing their foolish games. I am no match for someone who is able to walk away. They must have never loved me in the first place.

I am still going to believe that “Love Conquers All”, that is, if it actually is love and not ego. I still will have difficulty trusting, but I won’t have difficulty loving. I proved my capacity for love by still loving the two that left, even as they walked away. I’m capable of love. And in my pain, this brings a smile.