Thursday, June 16, 2016

Life is a journey, not a competition

Life should not be a competition but when you live with a narcissist, it becomes a way of life. The narcissist will call it being passive aggressive. But the co-dependent didn't develop this passive aggressive tendency overnight. It was developed over time. The narcissist would dominate every situation. It was always the narcissist that the conversation was about. It was always him, what he liked, what he wanted to do, and so on. He would sulk or become aggressive and aggravated if the topic switched from him and what he wanted to talk about. He considered himself the authority on any topic. His say was considered the ultimate authority and anyone that disagreed with him was inferior. His co-dependent wife would always try to smooth things over with everyone else and try to make him happy. She appeared to be content with being the silent one in the relationship, laughing at his jokes and humoring him. She fed into his ego by agreeing with him about how special and entitled he was, after all, he was superior in thought, intelligence and in every manner. It was because of this constant put down that she began to compete for his attention. This is the behavior that he called passive aggressive. She could not face off with him because he always seemed to end up on top, so she had to smile at him and work towards finding a reason to feel good about herself. She began to compete with him.

They took a trig class together one summer. She was good at math and he needed her help to pass the class. She tutored him. The class was easy and fun for her. They sat down together at the kitchen table to work on homework. This was typical. They started the lesson together. They have five children together. She took a moment to feed them and then went back to the homework together. He was now on number 12 and she was still on number 6. She sat down and began working on the next problem. "Mom!" one of their children yelled to her. She got up from the table to see what the commotion was all about. Settling him down, she went back to the table to work on their trig homework. Now her husband was on number 27. He found this problem a very difficult one and asked for her help. She was on number 10 by this time. Up and down, homework and children, she needed a moment to get her mind back on the math homework they needed to complete. She had to shift her brain. Totally unaware that she had been up and down working with the children. All he wanted to know was how to solve number 27. "Just a minute. I need to get my head around the problem. Can you wait until I get to that one?" His response to her was, "We have been sitting here all morning working on this. Why aren't you keeping up with me? Quit goofing off. You're suppose to be the math expert in this family and you are letting me down."

She held back the tears. She did not want him to know that he had hurt her. It would only cause more problems. Any time he had seen her cry, he always told her the same thing, suck it up, what's your problem. The list went on. She did not want to hear that again. She got up from the table and went back to helping the children. This was it. She was not going to attend another trig class this summer. She was not going to do another math problem in this class. She just couldn't do it anymore. She was hurt. He was probably right anyway. Who was she kidding that she could do math. Math was hard and out of her reach. She gave up.

She did not attend another class that summer. Her husband got an A in that class. He was so proud of that A. She received her grade in the mail for that class. She got a B. He was so right, she really was fooling herself thinking that she could have done this trig class.

He sat there in his recliner one Sunday afternoon after lunch. Friends were over as they often did that summer. He bragged about getting an A in that class and how he did so much better than his wife who was 'suppose' to be a 'math person'. Why would a man belittle his wife in front of company if he loved her?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A typical Sunday afternoon

I and my daughter came to visit a friend and her children. We would spend Sundays together since we lived so far away and two of our children wanted to attend church together. She was upset because there was not enough money for their mortgage and she was wondering where they were going to come up with the balance. Her husband came through the door with bags of groceries and wanted to make an asian dinner. The look on her face was so sad as now she had less money to put towards the mortgage. It was probably going to be late, again.

The husband was telling everyone what he wanted them to do to make this meal that he was excited about. My daughter and I were helping with the cream cheese and crab, wrapping them in the wontons ready for the fryer. This friend of mine that I came to visit was trying to help the husband. She reached for something on the stove as the back of the hot spatula came down on the back of her hand. Her husband yelled at her, "Did I tell you to touch that?!" The oil splattered on her cheek and she took her other hand to wipe away the hot oil from her face. Not a word came from her lips as he snapped at her and asked her, "Do you think I am stupid?"

I watched my friend walk away from this man that was suppose to be her soul mate. How can a man be so awful to a woman who he has promised to love and cherish? She looked at me and saw the anger in my eyes. She smiled and said that it was ok. This man is evil.

This woman was so beaten down by the verbal abuse for the years before this Sunday afternoon. What can I do for her? What would you do for her?

Battle is Bloody, Surrender is worse!

When ever there is a fight, there will be always be sides to choose between. The civil war was a nasty divorce between brothers of the United States. I grew up near a town called Fort Sumter which on April 12, 1861, was where the Civil War was officially started. In 1864, in another southern town of Atlanta, Georgia; the Civil War concluded. There were more than half a million soldiers that were killed from 1861 and 1865. When this divorce began, I doubt anyone thought about how many people were going to die or how many relatives were going to turn on each other and fight fist to fist on the battle field. It was a sad period of time for our nation. What could Lee tell us about his meeting with Grant and that famous surrender on April 9, 1865. Both sides were weary, tired and bloody. Neither side was truly a winner. Hindsight is 20/20 and we can look back and say what we want to say but really, we were not in the shoes of our forefathers to understand truly what they felt.

Recently, I was reminded of how just how badly war hurts everyone. People are forced to take a side, either right or wrong, but they have to pick a position. It does not necessarily mean that they believe that one person is better than the other, they just don't want to be involved or want to stand beside someone that they love because that is what they feel they need to do.

It is in these times that makes me want to go back in time and start over. It hurts my heart when others are in pain. I have to remember that just like during the Civil War, the war started for a reason. Right or wrong, there was a reason. Wars today, no matter how big, are bloody. We cannot get past that, but what is the alternative, surrender? Surrender will always be worse.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Learning to cope

Old habits die hard so it is so important to learn new ways to react when things happen. Too often I feel that I am doing well and then I fall into an emotionally vulnerable state. Something triggered that state of mind and for a long time, I didn't realize what was happening until after I had my own crazy outburst.

In my journey to become normal, I have found that a passive reaction is better. The reaction that I had become accustomed to was that of very inappropriate behavior that if I saw someone reacting in that manner, I would think of them as crazy. That is what became the norm for me and my family. This is not healthy. My son had told me that when he saw me react that way that he did not recognize me. I was not the mother he had grown up with all his life. These outburst did not start overnight. They became a way that I used to defend myself. I was done with the bad treatment that I had received and I was lashing out just like a wounded animal would. My coping mechanism was flawed and needed to be fixed.

I was afraid of being hurt again and I would lash out to make sure that I was not being taken advantage of. I was like a little two year old who throws a tantrum or reacts to being told no. I had to grow up and begin to act like an adult. The hard part of this lesson was that I had not had any demonstrate what proper adult behavior was.

I needed to get past the hurt and the grief that I held onto because I had been so belittled. I needed to face this grief and deal with it so that I no longer had the outbursts that were so unacceptable. Someone told me during the early days of my divorce that I needed to experience the pain and feelings that was swirling around me. At first I could not understand why it was good to experience the emotions when they hurt so deeply.

Little by little, these feelings began to make more sense. I began to see the triggers that sent me into the tailspin. I can look back now that the hurt is not so deep and I can see what was happening during those miserable days. I needed to experience the loss so that I could let it go. It was real. It was painful, but it is teaching me to grow up and act like an adult. I will not go back because I know that old habits would take over. I need to face the painful days and find a new way to cope with the things that were and still are my triggers. It is much easier when there is a no contact with the trigger, but can we guarantee we will never see that trigger again? Maybe, but not likely. I am learning to cope.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Slay that dragon

She has spent her entire adult life doubting herself. This invader consumed everything she did. It had all the power over her. It kept her in the same place and did not allow her to pursue the things that she really wanted. It created fear of trying something new because failure would mean that she would be reprimanded severely. It left her confused at every turn and full of shame. But she held this doubt close to her like a warm cozy blanket that was familiar. The worse part of this invader was that it caused her to second guess her relationship and was she right in leaving. Should she have clung to him longer?

This doubt was a symptom of the disease of codependency that she was a victim of. She played over the same situations trying to second guess how she could have made things better. She did not realize that she was full of doubt. She was so overwhelmed that it was no wonder that she didn't know it consumed her.

Some of the things that she looks back on that if she would have realized it back then, she would have seen the doubt. She never put herself first. She always put the needs of her family and him before her own needs. Ok, I am not saying that it is wrong to put your family first, but do not do it at the cost of your own self. She viewed herself as small and not important.

She finally saw the perfection as it really became. If everything was perfect then there would be no violence. But really, that was not her fault that he came unglued on her and her children. It was him. She procrastinated all the time. She didn't want to face it so put it off. She needed those around her to approve of her and to compliment the things she did.

Finally, she refused to leave the toxic relationship. She wore it like a a warm jacket. She clung to it like it was comfortable and enjoyable, when really she was afraid of change. She was going to be a prisoner if she did not slay the dragon once and for all. She has finally put this dragon to rest and so can you.

Slay that dragon once and he will never have power over you again.” – Steven Pressfield