Emotional Independence, Self-Care

Trust

Yeah, well, Rose, I mean, you shouldn’t trust anyone completely.” – Dorothy Zbornak, Golden Girls

Trust seems like a simple concept: you either trust or you don’t. Right?

Recently, my son asked me if I trusted him.  We were in my car and he was at the wheel.  Perplexed, I asked him why he would me such a thing.  He said he just wanted to know.  So, I stopped and thought for a minute.  I looked at my son as he was driving my car.  After a few moments, I gave him an answer.  I told him that I trusted him in different ways.  I told him that I didn’t trust him to drive my car by himself, as he only had a learner’s permit and was still new to driving.  I told him that I trusted him to watch his younger sister overnight, if the need came up.  I told him I trusted him to manage his own homework and I trusted him with my finances.  I told him I didn’t trust him to perform surgery as he has a weak stomach.

He took a moment before telling me how much sense that made. 

Trust, like a diamond, has many sides that are not equal nor identical; this is what makes trust unique for each person. We may trust a colleague to review our work but not to have drinks with.  We may trust our significant other to be a financial partner but not load the dishes into the dishwasher.  We may trust ourselves to pick out a great pair of shoes but not with the box of sweets in the pantry.

The idea that trust can be so complex and multi-faceted is what makes it so difficult.  This can be why so many try to minimize trust to “do” or “don’t” categories.  Attempting to track all the layers of trust can make one crazy with anxiety.

Is it important to understand those layers?  After all, isn’t it just easier to put people into the “trust” or “don’t trust” box?  When we are talking about trust, aren’t we all talking about the important things?

It is easier to put people into the two types of trust boxes.  And some of us may only be referring to the important things when it comes to trust. The problem is that not all of us embrace the important things the same way. We often misunderstand communication or motives based on how those two polarizing boxes of trust are defined.

Bottom line, trust can be a scary and uncomfortable thing. The first person we need to be able to trust is ourselves. If we don’t trust ourselves, we will look to others to help with making decisions.  A lack of trust in ourselves can also lead to repetitive unhealthy behavior (we can talk about that more later).

So begs the question? Should you not trust anyone completely as the quote stays above?  Well, that is really up to you.  Do you honesty trust anyone completely?  Can you look at the layers of a relationship in your life and say with 100 percent confidence that you trust at least one person completely. 

You’ll need to define what trust means to you and how it interfaces with your emotions to answer that.

But, you can do it.

Emotional Independence, Self-Care

The Review of an Independent Woman

The independent woman is an interesting phenomenon. 

The complexity of her confidence and emotional stamina is highly attractive.  Some want to be her despite their fears. Some want to learn from her while others want to limit her.

The independent woman has failed to let her experiences define her.  She can speak to her past without the tears because she has faced her feelings.  She recognizes her flaws. 

She doesn’t subscribe to social constructs nor does she fit into any box. 

She is her own person with her own thoughts.  She is unique. She is confident and respects herself.  She is driven by the love she has for herself.  She is unapologetically herself.

  She knows her ‘why’. 

She seems to be a pro at being independent, but she was not always this way.  While she embraces her flaws and mistakes there are plenty out there who would be all too happy to share her bad decisions with anyone who will listen, and she won’t stop them.

She is the kind of woman that doesn’t seem to “need” anyone.  She seems to be able to not only manage her own problems but that of others.  She is heavily relied upon by those around her.

She motivates others with her perseverance. 

She inspires others with her words.  She attracts many on various levels, but she honors personal boundaries in order to preserve relationships. 

It is not the independent type doesn’t need others – we all need others in one fashion or another.  But the independent type knows how to make space for others, so they feel wanted.  They understand the value of relationships and the boundaries the bind them. 

The independent woman doesn’t lack need.

She has needs.  This is not to say that she is impersonating her independence.  But the independent woman know how to find the grove or momentum to pursue her goals.  She has found the light to shine on her path even when the direction is not clear.  And when the light is not so bright, she will feel her way through.  She has learned enough about herself to know when she needs to rely on herself and when she should rely on others.

The independent woman has a sense of self and has assigned it a specific value.

We all have this sense of self but to love and nurture it is a specific discipline.  Most will abuse, neglect, or ignore themselves in order to fit into a box created by others.  The independent woman doesn’t have a box and without the box there are no instructions. This can make troubleshooting with her more difficult when times get tough but she just becomes that much more intriguing. 

So, what do you do with the independent woman? 

How do you help her when you can see she is struggling even if she is not voicing her struggles? Ask her. Ask her the questions you think you know the answer to.  While you might know her independence you can still learn her needs.  There is a difference.

Uncategorized

Healing: The Overlooked Process

As I sit here, a recently experiencing major surgery, I realize how interesting the healing the process is and how it is overlooked.  The process I am going through reminds me how much we underestimate the time needed to completely heal before moving on to a new normal.  Think of the last time you skinned your knee and the event that caused it.  Did you pay mind to the amount of time it would take for the wound to heal?  Or did a simple bandage make everything better allowing you to continue along your merry way?  Surely the trauma from falling was minute posing no mental concern resulting in a minor injury that would heal quickly, quietly, and on its own.

That is the best experience when it comes to healing: “quickly, quietly, and on its own.” Turns out that may not be the best thing for all injuries.  Not all wounds are the result of child’s play. As emotional humans we take on different levels of injury. Some of these injuries we seek out such as a scheduled major surgery.  Some injuries are out of our control but pose no less danger to our health or life.  Other injuries we just don’t seem to know how to avoid because mentally, we’re not healthy enough to know what to look out for.  What’s worse?  We don’t know our mental health is slightly compromised because we generally look “okay” – though, deep down, we may suspect otherwise.

As I sit here at my desk, you would not know that I am injured. You would not know the injuries I have are from a scheduled surgery.  You would not know I am healing and working rather hard to do so (ouch, by the way!).  I am presenting myself as I do any other day.  One could say I have applied the bandage that makes everything “better”.  However, inside, I am sore.  I am incredibly tired.  I am incapacitated to a degree that prevents me from household chores due to my medical restrictions.  To look at me though, I look as healthy as a horse until you see my eyes.  To look at my eyes it would be easy to see something is not right.  I need help.

Upon this observation one might be tempted to ask if I am okay.  This is where I would tell you that despite the level of the procedure I had, “I am fine.”

You should take that statement with a grain of salt no matter who says it.

Some injuries are not visible to the naked eye.  Some are not visible on the body, at all.  Some traumas are such that they cause injury to the mind where healing can be the most difficult. The issue is that mental sores are not the easiest to talk about much less ask details for.  Which is why sometimes when we are uncomfortable with the trauma others have experienced, we avert our eyes to “not get involved”.   I find this interesting as most would rather look on or get involved with a physical trauma than a mental one.  I suppose it is difficult to receive the designation of “hero” if others cannot see you assess the trauma.

This is why it is important to realize the healing process, at the mental level, takes no less time than a physical one.  While the injury cannot be immediately seen nor is there obvious signs of trauma such as bandages, the injury is there all the same.  It should receive the same level of care and time as any other injury. This is not to say mental injuries, such as divorces, abuse, or failures should be milked until all parties are exhausted but there could be a level of exhaustion experienced from maneuvering yourself through the emotions you feel even if you have a guide, like a counselor, to help you.  This is what makes the healing process a learning process, as well.

Give yourself time to heal no matter the trauma or the injury.   The healing process is designed to allow yourself the space to explore the feelings (mental or physical) associated with the stress so that you can get past them.  If not, expect them to rear their ugly head repeatedly until you do.  If you don’t allow yourself to heal completely you hold yourself back postponing any opportunity to get better and be better.

What injuries were the hardest to heal from?  Are you completely healed?

Helping Friends

She’s In Another Unhealthy Relationship: Here’s How You Can Help

She’s attractive. She carries herself well. She knows how to dress. She is funny, smart, and witty. She has a good attitude and she handles life pretty damned well. Anyone who knows her enjoys her. She seems to have her act together. So, why does she waste her time with a guy that you think is a d-bag?

It just doesn’t make sense, right? Her guy is basically a lousy human being. Oh sure, he has talents and skills and may even be successful in his work but when it comes to treating her well or just respecting her he more than falls short.  And, for the life of you, it is hard to imagine why she stays with him! 

Maybe the information here will help you understand what she is doing or what she is going through. You can’t save her, as much as you would like, but you can learn to understand and help her along her way. In the end, it has to be her decision to separate from Mr. Not Right – and that is a very tough decision for her no matter how simple of a solution it is to you!

First of all, and this is not always obvious, the girl has self-esteem that works like a roller coaster. Some days she seems full of confidence and ready to conquer anything and other days she wants to crawl under the bed and hide from the world.  What’s different about her is that she won’t chose to hide. She’ll fake the confidence she needs for the day.  So, why does she still go for the wrong guy?

WHY?

Because she wants to feel loved. She wants to feel she is special to someone. She wants to know that she is important. She wears this incredible curtain that is super impressive upon first meeting her but as you get to know her you see what’s behind the curtain and she is not as strong as she looks.  It is like the Wizard from the Wizard of Oz where there is a great big presentation at first only to be met with a meek person behind a curtain.  Take her curtain away and you will find a similar meek person who is terrified of what’s behind curtain.

The pink elephant in the room is another serious challenge for the girl. What do I mean about “pink elephant”? Well, it is a something you can see and recognize but she denies it.  For the girls who go after the really “bad” guys (aka d-bags) that pink elephant is attention, which is being mistaken for interest.

What the hell does that mean?

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

The “good” guys will show their interest in a girl and turn that into positive attention, which gains the girl’s interest and then attention is reciprocated. This is the potentially healthy making of a balanced relationship.

The “bad” guys will give attention to the girl to get what he wants out of her but won’t take an actual interest in her.  He is using her to gain her personal benefit, which may or may not be unhealthy or evil. This is an unbalanced relationship.  It is not good for anyone and it is hard to understand why anyone would stay in it.

As her friend, you will hear about all the bad attention consistently but very little about the good. When you inquire about anything good in the relationship she will defensively shrug it off as, “Oh, we have good times, too.” You probably wonder if she can hear herself over and over again? Frankly, she can – which is why she eventually stops talking about him prompting you to ask her about him.

Why does a girl put up with a guy she has to work so hard to receive so little from?  

Because it is what she is most comfortable with and is all she knows. She is conditioned for it.  It is a sad and very real statement for the women out there struggling with unhealthy relationships.

Your gal pal holds on to those chumps that disrespect her will because she doesn’t recognize it as an unhealthy relationship or she has not found her tolerance threshold. What many of us don’t understand is that all abusive relationships are unhealthy but not all unhealthy relationships are abusive. There is a fine line that tends to become blurred as the “relationship” develops. This is the territory where one-sided compromising comes into play.  Where rationalizations and explanations start showing up. This is where she makes excuses for him. Once she crosses that line she is hooked and there is little you can do to bring her out of it. Meaning you can’t “save” her and it is important you accept that.

So, what can you do as the loving friend or family member?

1. Be patient. She is smart. When ready she will put two and two together and realize she is not enjoying a good thing but it’s on her timing, not yours.  It will be difficult and frustrating but it is her experience to grow from.

2. Be supportive. You don’t have to like what she does to support her and you don’t have to enable it either. When she wants to talk listen to her. When she isn’t talking ask her. Yes, you are tired of hearing about the same thing over and over but you need to give her the outlet because she will get tired of sounding like a broken record player.

3. Be respectful. Maybe she is not showing herself respect with her messed up ideas of relationships but that is where you showing her respect is important and most vital. Don’t insult her by putting him down – this can lead to her feeling defensive of her situation, which can stunt her growth in the matter.  Be respectful of her…and (ugh) him. *eyeroll*  Just don’t over do it, okay?

4. Be loving. Remember, her idea of relationships is a bit twisted. She needs examples of what being loved means and you might be one of the few who can help her re-condition herself. This means being a good example to her as a friend AND encouraging your man or mutual male friends to be good examples.  (This means you might have to take an introspective look at your situation)

It is heartbreaking and frustrating to watch as a friend puts herself through such unnecessary heartache while wasting her valuable relationship resources. You could tell her until you are blue in the face that she needs to drop him and she will still turn to him for the attention she craves. Sometimes it is sexual attention that has been falsely translated into a relationship. Sometimes it is constant quarreling twisted into quality time. Whatever it is, it is up to her to wake up and see what is really going on. Until then, be there for her and forgive her as she will have a hard time forgiving herself once is it all said and done.

Defeating Narcissists, Emotional Independence, Self-Care

How I Let Him Go Even Though I Still Loved Him

How did I do it? How was I able to walk away from the man I loved so deeply and profoundly? How was I able to move on from a love I felt and embraced so much?

woman sitting in front of tree

And there is it was – staring me right in the face. I knew it immediately but despite my knowing I still questioned it. My gut was on red alert and my heart was on the verge of sobbing. My ears were ringing. My eyes felt frozen. It was the red flag that couldn’t be denied and I denied it anyway – at least for a few more years. Ugh. (facepalm)

We seemed to have so much in common. We could talk for hours. Our pasts seemed parallel giving us an exclusive understanding of one another. We had genuine interests in each other’s hobbies. We could see through to one another. Being together we both emerged with a side from within that was buried so deep. The connection was unique. It felt rare. It redefined passion.

So, why is it I am not with him today? How could I not eternally embrace something that sounds as though it was delivered from “a land far far away”?

Well, I finally saw what everyone had been telling me – that he was not right for me.

What we had was a very passionate relationship in every romantic sense of the word that you can imagine. And yet with the positive passion came the negative passion. Both were intense at their own distinctive level. Both were scary. Both were invigorating. But also dangerous to my mental health.

I won’t go into the details of the relationship but what I will tell you is that we had little to no support from our friends and family. This is a definite sign that the relationship is not what you think it is. Sometimes, the best measurement of the health of a relationship is the level of support from those around you.

I refused to listen to those people because there was always that one person who stood out and said, “Yes! Yes, you are the one for him!” My desire to hold on to that positive passion was fed by the repetition of that one statement for two years – in my head.

woman in black full zip jacket

So, how did I do it? How was I able to walk away from the man I loved so deeply and profoundly? How was I able to move on from a love I felt and embraced so much?

I had to recognize that what I felt was not equal to what he felt or the negative passion would not have been as strong.

Don’t be mistaken. He liked to keep me around for his pleasure and fun or his needs but when it came to what I needed? Ha. It was not only my fault he was unhappy with our situation but it was my fault if I was experiencing turmoil or trials. It was my stupidity or my bitchiness that created my situation and that wasn’t his problem.

But, he loved me. Yeah, I didn’t get it either. But, wildly enough, I believed that he loved me and I needed to stay. It took me about 25 months to finally pull the trigger and walk out of his life and back into my own.

I don’t know if was time wasted or the most influential learning experience I have ever been through. What I do know is that the experience is mine to share with you.

So, back to how to let go if you still love him. How did I put my love aside to escape my prison?

1. I kept all the text messages for reference. He used to get mad that I would retain our text conversations and refer back to them. He rarely came off looking like a nice guy (and my responses weren’t always pretty, either) and therefore he would demand I delete them or sweet-talk me into deleting them.

Once they were gone I had nothing visual to remind me who he really was. Once those texts were gone he would turn on the loving charm and then cycle back into the emotional deviant I was hooked to. I do have some of the texts to remind me of why I left when I start to miss the good times.

2. I had to push my emotional brain aside for my logical. I had to really think about his actions and how they aligned, or misaligned, with his words. I had to look at his expectations and my expectations and determine how they balanced. I had to stop deceiving me and come to terms with the reality that I was not getting anywhere with him and my life was depleting the more time I devoted to him. Once I realized that it was easier to not respond his last text message.

photography of woman using laptop

3. I needed something to maintain my focus. My attention had to be placed somewhere else so I could go through the process of grieving a relationship I had with a man who was mentally dangerous. I found that focus and protected it with every fiber of my being. That focus remains today as a reminder that being me is a great thing and not a result of someone else’s demands.

4. I prepared myself emotionally for the final walk. I literally stood in front of a mirror and told myself, “You will want to text him so the crying will stop. You will want to run back to him to feel normal again.” I knew the real problem for me was fighting the addiction created throughout the relationship. Maybe the uncomfortable tears of grief would stop by contacting him but they would be replaced with the comfortable tears of name-calling and emotional abuse I had been so accustomed to.

Maybe I would feel normal again by running to him but would hurt myself more by embracing that sense of “normal” versus developing myself by venturing out of my comfort zone. The funny thing about a comfort zone is that it might be comfortable but it doesn’t necessarily feel good nor is it healthy. It is just comfortable.

5. I had to be fair to myself and allow myself the time to heal and try life without him. I had to be permitted to be me again without his permission or approval. I had to give myself enough time to feel the emotions I prepped myself for. I had to give me a chance to heal even if it hurt like hell. Even if I cried myself to sleep. Even if it meant I would never be loved again. In the end, it meant I would love me and not have someone attempt to make me feel guilty for it. There is no guilt in loving me but there is guilt in knowingly hurting me via an unhealthy relationship.

woman holding a smiley balloon

So, the time has passed and here I am. I didn’t die without him like I thought I would. I didn’t spiral down into depression like he had predicted. I continued to breathe and live my life. I am free to be me and am happy being me. I have grown and continue to do so every day. Why? Because I didn’t give up on me.