Category Archives: self-love

V For Victim — Straight-Talk With Myself

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(November 21, 2016) Fall is my favorite time of year — well, besides Spring — but it brings with it that dreaded annual tour into mental hibernation. You’re not asleep, just in an honest introspective plane where few dare to drift. Though the days grow darker, the year’s unresolved issues surface like a radiant gemstone that rose on a pedestal and came full-stop on a spotlighted turnstile. Blinding are the reflections bouncing off this strangely beautiful rock. The fact that it’s beaming with light is remarkable in itself. You would think that it being the shadow side, the rock would be black as coal. But a diamond is a piece of coal that endured stress well, or so the saying goes.
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So my inner life shines in the dark. That’s me, in the spotlight there. And there they are, my issues, refusing to be ignored and hoping to be confronted and resolved once and for all. We all have them. Some will choose to leave the stone on its pedestal well past the dead of winter and glean what attention they can from it. Or they’ll let the reflections blind them to their own blindness. As for us hopeless emo kids and seekers of the deep cosmic we, we will choose to drag the bright gem into our dark, warm dens. There we’ll spend the winter contemplating every edge, bevel and beam of light that reflects back at us. We do this with the hope of polishing out the blemishes so that only the brilliance is left. Confronting it is the difficult task. It’s hard (and humbling) to stare down your truths & not back down into denial again.

As I take stock of my year thus far, I can truly say I’m finally on the up, though still confused and seemingly directionless. Day by day I am led to great lessons from those who have taken this road less traveled and found they enjoyed the hike once they adjusted to the conditions. They built bridges over gaping potholes. They marched right through obstacles because their feet knew them to be illusions. They slowed their pace down to the present moment as they meandered up the road to their true selves. I followed their road signs like a child follows a treasure map.
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Parts of the road’s terrain were brutal and downright frightful. There was no half-assed secret to negotiating it. You had to walk the walk. Honesty and authenticity were best gained by being true to yourself and taking full responsibility for your actions. That is the hard part most skip over. “Oh, I’m too weak for this right now,” some of us justify when it starts to get uncomfortable. Unfortunately, inaction won’t make your issues disappear. They will always be waiting in the wings for you.

I have to admit that I unknowingly — and sometimes knowingly — played the victim my entire life. Shoot! All these blog posts are evidence of that. Admittedly, deep down I felt the universe owed me a secure and ecstatic life because I was abandoned as a child — both physically and emotionally. I sacrificed a great deal, I thought. My life teetered on complete upheaval and I never felt like there was solid ground. I was hurt, angry and fearful. I cursed the universe, shaking my fist to the sky like Snoopy cursing the Red Baron.
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“Why are you doing this to me?” I’d lament. Sometimes I’d fall into a sobbing, sometimes drunken, heap and ask, “Why? What had I done wrong?” I felt as if the universe abandoned me too. In hindsight, quite sappy of me. It’s probably a common belief that we who had a rough go feel we deserve better in life. It’s a hard one to overcome.

But after binge-listening to medical intuitive Carolyn Myss’ Energy Anatomy and Advanced Energy Anatomy, embarrassingly, I recognized myself in the negative aspect of all four of the main archetypes : the victim, the child, the prostitute AND the saboteur. The victim and the saboteur, in particular, permeated every avenue in my life. All those shitty jobs, crappy men and subsistent life were realities of my own self-defeating subconscious thoughts. My ego mind passed off a lot of illusions as false truth. If we feel like we’re sending mixed messages to the world, it’s probably due to our perceived truths (ego) versus the real truth (subconscious). There, our fears and anxieties lie for the excavating.
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It’s a big step to realize the lies we’ve been living. But that’s only the beginning. Sometimes we really aren’t ready to take on our issues. It’s not because we are lazy, but because there’s still more growth and resolve to reach within each particular issue. You can’t pretend to resolve things from this place and then revert back to your current, dysfunctional default. Resolution must come.

I used to beat myself up for not taking swift action on polishing the facade off my shining pile of coal. Patience was not ever one of my virtues. I figure that as long as I recognize the lies and set the intention to take responsibility, every day will bring me closer to that goal through my actions. Our harsh inner-critic undermines us a lot. Once we make a conscious decision to be mindful of our negative self-talk, it floors us how frequently we must cut them off at the pass. The ugliness becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But it’s not etched in stone. We can redraw the map. RECALCULATING!
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Another major obstacle I’ve come up against on that lonely, open road to enlightenment is fear! About a month ago I had my tarot read at a local Spirit Faire. The lady was spot on about my situations — including the part about my fear keeping me down. I told her I was aware of my ominous fear and frustrated by it, but I didn’t know how to confront and abolish it. I told her my fear was paralyzing at times. She asked: “What are you so afraid of?!”

The frustrating part? I had no answer. And I still don’t. Releasing fear is major work. There’s no pretending here either. It’s hard to escape the paralysis of our fears because sometimes we don’t know the root cause of them. And we beat ourselves up for not knowing. Uncovering that mystery is not child’s play. Meditation helps. Writing helps. Doing things that ground you in nature and make you feel like part of the whole helps. Sadly, the Eureka! moment doesn’t happen overnight.
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Since it’s a rule of physics that energy follows thought, it means for certain that I must be brave and charge on. If I continue to cower, I’ll spin in a cycle of cowering forever. Perhaps my salvation is to write the wrongs and write right through the process of eliminating, or coming to terms, with my issues. The fact that I’ve avoided writing is most likely due to that unknown paralyzing-fear thing. To overcome these fears I must put pen to paper. (Yes, I’m old skool!) And I’ve got to see the huge, glaring gem called my issues for what it is — a blessing in disguise. It’s going to be a long, dark winter.

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Silence Is Not Always Golden

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(January 5, 2016) You have the right to remain silent, but in this case, why choose silence? What is the motive for withholding from someone well-deserved praise and acknowledgement – especially one you call a friend? Is it passive-aggressive competition? Understand that when you’re dealing with me, it is a game you’re playing with yourself. And who are you to dictate who’s getting enough or too much praise?

True, there are drama queens who fish for compliments because their egos need constant stroking. I am not that. Yes, I’ve met “vampires” – online and in real life – who suck the light out of me and leave me only darkness in return. I think those types are the exception and not the rule, yet somehow I seem to attract them all, just like the many mosquitoes who find me tasty. But perhaps I completely underestimate the degree to which “selfie“-absorption has become the norm in our society. The internet has created a jungle of egos that forever engage in a game of the survival of the fittest. We are “brands” – commodities – trying to peddle our “wares“. But there are so many making the same noise! “Look at me! No, look at me!” Honestly, it’s an exercise in futility. “Branding” draws an ego response that, most times, is ugly and brutally cutthroat. The irony is that true achievers are blazing trails and living life in the real world. Being king or queen of the internet means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Then there are those who suffer unrequited praise and acknowledgement. This is the hell where I’ve dwelt my entire life. I give it, but it’s rarely reciprocated. Praise and acknowledgement elude me – to the point where I am flat-out ignored. It’s intriguing, but bizarre. I try to understand why people withhold encouraging words from me. It has cut deeply in the past. After nearly five decades of it, it’s chipped away at my self-worth and it’s taken me this long to finally realize the damage that was done. There’s been so much negativity piled on. If words were weapons, people would see the scars and disfigurement. Fifty years is a long time to right the wrongs. I have nothing to build upon except my own withered warrior spirit, since others choose to withhold words of encouragement for whatever reason. With me, a little bit of sincere encouragement would go a long way.

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But why? What is up with that? Why is this my lot in life? Is my presence so great that it instantly threatens those around me online and in real life? Seriously? Relax. If only you knew how difficult it was for me, an INFJINFP, to assert myself in the company of more than one other person, you’d see how totally ill-informed your assumption is. Or worse, do you see this weakness in me and choose to exploit it? Bad on you!

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I was never one to feel like life was one big competition. Frankly, I never saw a “prize” worthy of it, even as a child. Early on, and without realizing it, I adopted the Buddhist philosophies “there’s room for all kinds of greatness in this universe” and “what’s yours can’t be taken away!” We are all individuals with our own unique gifts. These gifts and talents are our birthright! Everyone is part of the whole. (We just haven’t evolved to this egalitarian state of being just yet). Keep calm and do your own thing. I persist, though at times it seems all for naught.

In this jungle, I find myself unintentionally raining on others’ parades just by being in the room (or on the social media platform). One of the biggest myths people have about the amount of praise I must certainly receive daily – if not hourly – is that I get more than my share. Because I’m attractive, people think my life has been a cake-walk and that I’m always surrounded by good vibes and good words. But, in fact, the complete opposite has been true! Or is it coming from an even darker and more desperate place? Do these withholding people want to deny me my just desserts, so as to kill my sparkle and watch me fizzle and die? I shield myself and I keep smiling and pressing on.

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I’m not being conceited for stating my truth, based on decades of observation. I’m not self-absorbed because I question the motives of those around me. It’s such a valid observation that a team of psychologists deemed it worthy of a study. Of no surprise, in the 22 sample scenarios where withholding for various reasons was reported, all involved interactions with those closest to us – family, friends (online and off), roommates, spouses and fellow employees. After reading the study I was thankful not to be the only who’s dissed by an army of those who withhold.

A January 4, 2013, Psychology Today blog post offers reasons behind the withholding phenomenon so that we who are dissed may better understand what motivates people who withhold. The reasons are pretty much what I expected, with jealousy and ego being the main culprits:

Recognition-deprived” people feel uneasy giving kudos to another because it possibly opens old wounds of their own. I grew up “recognition-deprived” but was an early adopter of The Golden Rule: Treat others as you wish to be treated.

A competitive person who needs constant approval may feel that giving praise and acknowledgement to another somehow demeans them. To them, complimenting another is like admitting that they themselves are inferior, inept and defeated. Beyond that, there are those who only feel good when they tear another down. I’ve already said I’m not competitive. Because of this, people take credit for my observations, contributions and witticisms. I have matured out of the whole “tearing another down to feel good about myself” mentality. I learned that in actuality, you’re tearing yourself down.

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A person who grew up with praise-withholding parents who justified their deliberate withholding as a way to keep the child from becoming big-headed, conceited, cocky or egotistical, may actually feel that this is the proper way to be. I grew up in that deliberate praise-withholding atmosphere. I was called self-centered if I gloated for even a minute. Sometimes I’d get an ugly, guttural, “Oh, yuck!” or I’d have the beaming light slapped out of me. Personally, I never believed that paying the ugly forward would relieve me of it.

People in denial about their own unmet need for acknowledgement may deny others when praise is due. “Commending a friend, when appropriate is a responsibility (in fact, it is a ‘requirement’) in a close relationship,” the blog post states.

Those with a strong sense of entitlement (through parental spoiling) expect recognition and take it for granted. They are the self-centered ones. They withhold, but expect praise. Others are not so eager to oblige these types.

All of which is to say that your not being acknowledged likely says much more about the other person that it does about you – or your worthiness,” the blog post says. “So in such situations you’ll be far better off once you learn to be content simply through becoming more adept at self-acknowledgement.” Well, wouldn’t you know it? This is the place where many of us get stuck. It’s especially difficult to build yourself up to this higher conscience on your own.

Crying inside over withheld praise from those you’d think would give it to you freely because they genuinely cared about your well-being is not a weird emo kid thing. Receiving praise and acknowledgement for a job well done validates us. Giving sincere encouragement to someone who is depressed and struggling gives that person a glimmer hope. There is not one person who doesn’t need lifts like these every so often. And really, how hard is it for one to help a fellow human in need when nothing is required but kind words?

Alas, as commodities in a capitalism run amok existence, fear is instilled upon us that there is not enough to go around, so you better grab what you can however you can. Sadly, we must toot our own horns and beat our own drums, even if no one hears them. As the blog post reminds us, “Ideally, you goal should be to feel unconditionally good about who you are independent of any external ‘favorability meter’. …” The blogger psychologist offers up a link to a solution – The Path To Unconditional Self-Acceptance.

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Yes, self love is crucial to our well-being. I’ve known it for awhile now. It’s eluded me like encouragement and acknowledgement from others has. And still, there’s a small part of me that can’t help but be hurt and resentful toward those who chose to withhold, even in my darkest hours. I can’t help but dream that when I do receive acclaim from a large audience in a bigger arena, I will want to dis those who have dissed me. There would be resentment for the sudden interest to be accommodating when there were years of silence. “How dare you all!” I will think to myself. A few kind, simple and sincere compliments would have cost you nothing and given me everything when I needed it most. I know. It’s not very zen of me to feel this tinge of vengeance. Someday I’ll get past it, but right now the hurt is still too great.

In the meantime, my inspiration has been revived by the most unlikely source – a pop song, if you will. … The gorgeous Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off!.

There’s learned wisdom in Swift’s happy little ditty. I’m sure she’s met major opposition by the army of the jealous and the withholding. But she rose above it! We all have this power to overcome within us. Swift embraced her goddess power early in life. And she shares her gift with us, so that we who are still seeking may dance, release, enjoy, overcome! Thank you, Taylor! Keep on keepin’ on, love.

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Musician Taylor Swift poses for a portrait in West Hollywood, Calif. on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010. Swift’s new album “Speak Now” will be released on Oct. 25, 2010. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

… But I keep cruising, can’t stop, won’t stop moving
It’s like I got this music in my body and it’s gonna be alright

‘Cause the players gonna play…
And the haters gonna hate…
Baby, I’m just gonna shake..
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heartbreakers gonna break…
And the fakers gonna fake…
Baby, I’m just gonna shake…
I shake it off, I shake it off …

~ Taylor Swift, partial lyrics of “Shake It Off“.

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V For Victory?

(October 4, 2015) My husband is cheating on his girlfriend. I’m not joking. Sometimes the weirdness of life just writes itself – the comedy of errors in high def.

However, I’m not laughing … yet. Instead, my disgust has risen to new heights, it disturbs me so. And I’m perturbed that I’m so disturbed by it. The pang of this discovery hit me like the jab and twist of a dull knife – THE dull knife that has been lodged in my side for years now, the one I thought I’d finally become numb to.

But not so. I asked myself the tough questions: Why does this fling bother me? Why should I care? Do I regret the ending of the relationship but pretend not to? Am I jealous of who the new fling is? Or has my pride thoroughly been shaken and my ego wounded? Why does it bother me so? The questions ran a loop in my head for 24 hours as I sought to be honest with myself, even if it stung. Perhaps this was my opening to remove the knife from my body once and for all. Why did I just leave it there in the first place? Had I not healed and progressed as much as I thought I had?

I was doing so well, or so I thought, cutting verbal contact with him the day my big, sweet, special, beloved, ginger, boy cat crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on July 11, 2015. I’m still grieving for him and the two others I’d lost – the ex-neighbor man’s orphans – all within a two-month period. But the trauma of the abruptness and sudden mysterious illnesses and deaths of my kitties shattered all that was unnecessary in my mind. It felt like then was a good time to cut the pretenses that me and the almost-ex were friends. Nope. Friends like those made me want to be alone. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, but I certainly wasn’t in the mood for his “obligatory” condolences. He had turned a cold heart to my kitties once the girlfriend situation was an official go. It was bizarre and sad. The kitties didn’t understand the coldness.

I was adapting well and filling my time during that time of very little contact. I updated my resumé and sent out some queries, that have since been rejected. But some contact had to be maintained via email because no one can just can’t go ignoring the bills. I’d itemized some things and sent an email notice, which got ignored. After a few days I sent another saying it was uncool to ignore my emails and to make me feel like I was begging. He finally texted a response the other day, saying he took care of business. Then he asked how I was doing, since it had been so long that we last spoke.

I was fine, I replied, busy transcribing my poetry so I could organize it and enter the manuscript into a contest, which I did. It was poetry I’d written 30 years ago – stuff he didn’t seem interested in looking at when I mentioned them in the beginning of our relationship. I replied to him that in reading those poems while transcribing them, I thought some were surprisingly good, while others were like, “meh.”

“You are your own worst critic,” he texted back. “You are a good writer.”

As I continued on with a few more texts, including thanking him for the compliment, I realized that his responses came fewer and farther between. He must have been preoccupied by another because he’d stopped in “mid-sentence.” I figured the girlfriend called and he opted to show her some respect by not subjecting her to the constant buzzing of his endless text alerts. (Vibrate mode is not very quiet!). I told him once he was worse than a 13-year-old with the texting. He could barely converse with me in real life when he came to visit. Personally, I’d rather stay mobile and talk hands free than be stuck having to stare at the screen.

The whole text encounter simmered in the back of my mind for the next 24 hours. I didn’t understand why it nagged at me. This should not bother me to this degree. Yet it made my stomach ache. The next day I checked the phone site, which I hadn’t done in a long time! I saw that I was sort of right. Texts began with the other precisely when I thought they had – that point where I was basically dropped in mid-text . The predominant phone number on the bill was the real shocker. It was the fling’s number, not the girlfriend’s, that filled page upon page of the phone bill. The texts with the fling that evening led to a long phone call. While he was texting and chatting it up with the fling, the girlfriend called! A kind of long conversation with her, then back to texting the fling. None of this should have bothered me, yet I obsessed over it.

Come to find out, the text exchanges between he and the fling are daily, for hours on end, usually in the evening and lasting into midnight some nights. The massive data amounts listed between the texts were probably FaceTime® video chats. Their video conferencing escapades probably centered around a lot of tits and ass, six-pack abs and v-spot shots – exhibitionists that they both are. Whichever of her ex husbands or boyfriends forked out the dough for her overly-sized fake breasts did her and the rest of the female population no favors. Her reputation for barraging mostly married firemen with sexts of nudie and boobie shots of herself precedes her. She cares not one iota about the carnage left in her wake. He once texted me a selfie with him bare-chested, “getting ready to start the day,” it said. It was unprovoked, came out of nowhere, and I didn’t reciprocate. I thought nothing of it at the time. Now it makes perfect sense. But still, why did it consume me?

It was while images like those flashed in my mind, like a waking nightmare, that I thought back on my first encounter with the fling a decade ago. We were her customers in the little shop of horrors she managed, buying phones and a service contract. He’d met with her earlier but he needed my presence because it was my credit that allowed the purchase and contract of those new, expensive phones. The experience was uncomfortable for me and the blatant disrespect too much. Her customer service tactics involved ignoring the wife and leaning in toward the man with her low-plunging neckline “office” wear. No, I did not like her and I told him about it later. It fell upon dead ears. Their friendship was already blossoming and I felt like I’d interrupted a private running joke. Yeah, I had. The joke was on me.

“Nah,” he said. “We’re just friends. She’s friends with all the guys. Besides, what would she want with an old guy like me?”

I could always see past his false modesty. He didn’t wear it well. “You’re a man with an insurance plan! Age doesn’t matter! She and her child need the security! Besides, don’t you think [her employer] would be appalled at how she’s using that small-town phone shop as her viper lair?”

So, there it was, the truth, spilling out and leaving a big sloppy mess for me to clean up inside my head. Why did this newest and latest bother me so? I finally figured it out. Truth is, I was played! I married a cad. His need to seek adoration from every single woman he encounters was and is insatiable. His mighty ego needs a constant stroking. When the love hangover fades to sobriety, real life is just too incredibly boring for him. He savors the rush adrenaline junkies get  sneaking “innocent” flirtations with every woman who is not his wife. And he does so without conscience.

Oh, how we fought about these women. Oh, how he became so harshly defensive, telling me I was a sick and jealous person, which made me ugly. He felt entitled to “spread it around” like Johnny Appleseed. Basically, as long as he was bringing home the bigger paycheck, I should just suck it up, trust him, and greet him with a big hug when he came home. But I could not trust him. The man has no three-foot circle – the cone of lookie but no touchie. He is the master of mixed messages. He misleads women, making them think he is available and then feigns innocence when a woman tries to get close. To argue with him about boundaries was to dredge up something that would read like Bill Clinton’s testimony about his (non)relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

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The most gut-wrenching part of it, I came to understand, was that after all this time I was right about the fling and all the other “women-friends”! It has all come to pass. I went through years of counseling with the issue still unresolved. I was gaslighted by him – made to feel crazy. I was broken and needed fixed. It was too much trouble for him to reassure me. He didn’t want to seem like an asshole to strangers (women) by bringing the niceness home to me instead of sharing it with the outside world. No, the ugly, insecure and verbally abusive part of him was reserved especially for me – and the first wife, so I was told.

This is a huge victory, but one that I am still absorbing. It’s not easy to accept that my marriage was not real – that it was all for show. It’s not easy to accept that I married a man incapable of real love and that I was too wounded to notice. But these recent revelations are beginning to change my life in a most profound way. I am starting to be  for the lessons he taught me. Never again. I am worthy of real and true unconditional love. Once that victory seeps into every molecule that combines my cells with the cells of the universe, I will forever revel in it.

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