Archive | January 2016

How Do You Say Goodbye?

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I found out last night that my ex-husband’s grandmother is dying.  I was part of that family for over twenty years.  I loved her.  I still do.  Part of the pain of divorce comes in these kinds of situations.  It is difficult for me to process and work through my grief.  I am not sure I would be welcome, nor would I be comfortable to attend the funeral.  I would like to visit her at the hospital, but again, I don’t know if that would be possible without causing emotional turmoil.  My emotions must be put aside for the good of this lovely woman who lived a long and resilient life.  My sons are also struggling with what they will do.  The grief for us happens on many levels.  I told them we will find ways to pay our respects and honor her memory.  We will remember her well.

I Was Married to a Covert Narcissist

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Typing this title was very hard for me to do.  I still find it hard to acknowledge this truth.  But, it is the truth.  And, acknowledging this helps my healing process.  When I read about covert narcissism, it describes my ex-husband and my marriage so well that it cannot be denied.  This article describes my experience of my 20 year marriage very well:

http://infoselfdevelopment.com/covert-narcissism-know-your-emotional-abuser/

I am on the road to healing.  I hope I can help my kids to do the same.

Getting Real

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Those who follow me may have noticed I have changed my name and photo. I have decided it is time to get real on this blog. It’s time to tell the harsh truth about my marriage. …what I experienced,  and what my kids experienced.  But, that puts me….and them, potentially at risk. So, having an anonymous profile will make it safer for me to get real. My purpose for this blog is twofold : to be therapeutic for me, and potentially to help others. Being able to write more honestly will help me achieve both those goals….I hope.

The Way it Is

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I find that I continue to struggle with accepting my post- divorce reality in certain ways.

It has nothing to do with missing the marriage, or the ex.  I am so far past all of that, and have enjoyed the relief and freedom of being out of a marriage that was not healthy for me in many ways.

It has to do with the on-going reality my kids face, and the effects on them that they continue to struggle with.

It was one thing for me to hear my counselor say words like “abuse” and “emotional manipulation” and “narcissism” in response to my descriptions of my marriage.  It took me time to accept and grieve those truths, because I spent many years making the best of things and trying to keep the peace, believing that to be best for my kids.

But, when my now adult children have come to these conclusions on their own, through research and counselling, it is devastating to me.

I wish for a post-divorce reality in which my kids have healthy relationships with both parents. I imagine what it would be like for them to have nice visits with both of us, receive emotional as well as financial support from both of us, have two parents to turn to for advice and help with decision making.  That would like a dream to me.  My kids deserve that.

But, that is not what their reality is.

Instead, two of my kids have made heart wrenching decisions to not have contact with their father, due to on-going damage that contact was doing to their emotional well-being. They are in counseling to heal from memories of years of emotional abuse, witnessing many incidents of explosive anger outbursts, and at times, physical abuse.  My other adult child is feeling in the middle…. maintaining contact with her father, but struggling with knowing what her brothers are working through. She has her own memories to deal with, but wants everyone to be happy.  I encourage her to attend counseling as well, but she has not chosen to do that at this time.  As my kids have shared these memories with me, it has been devastating to me.  Many of their memories occurred at times when I was not present.  And, the times when I was, I tried to buffer and minimize the effects.

But, that was not enough.  I can’t change the fact that my kids went through what they went through. It is the reality.

How do you come to a place of acceptance about something like that? I still struggle with feeling that I failed them.  I see them continue to suffer.  I see them continue to hurt.  I see them take longer to work through life decisions and managing day to day tasks.  I am alone in helping them sort life out financially and find a way to establish a future.  I feel so helpless in not being able to help them with that. There is so little I can do for them financially.  But, I am doing everything I can for them emotionally.  I am doing my best to be present, to listen, to support… but, not enable.  The balance I try to find with this is a day by day struggle, and most of the time I am not sure if I am getting it right at all.  I can only do my best.

I have to believe that they will get through this.  I have to believe that the reality we all live with is not some kind of black cloud we will never be able to get out from under.  I have to believe that.

I do see them fighting their way through.  I do see determination.  I do see them loving and supporting each other.  I do see them being good to each other.  They do express appreciation and love to me as well.

I wish for a different reality for all of us.  But, this is the reality we have, and I need to find that acceptance.  I will get there.  It is the way it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of the Perspective Shift

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What a difference a day makes!

I am in a completely different place today than yesterday. And, I am thankful.

I had a counselling session after work yesterday.  My counselor has been with me through the hardest times of my life.  My first appointment with her was just over six years ago, the day after my life got turned completely upside down in terms of learning the traumatic truth about my marriage, and she was with me through the devastating, infuriating, empowering, anxious, and joyful moments since.  At this point, I only see her when something comes up, and it can be months or close to a year in between appointments.  But, it had become clear to me that it was time.

In the space of one hour, I was heard, validated, challenged, and invited to see some things differently.  I was reminded, in the direct but gentle way that she knows works very well with me, that I can get very stubborn and “locked in” with some of my perspectives.  She encouraged me to examine if those perspectives were serving a good or healthy purpose for me.  I was invited to question whether there was another way to view certain current circumstances in my life.  Yes, of course there is…. there always is.  But, my emotional triggers from my marriage had hijacked my ability to see that.  I realized that I have been functioning in a very “high alert” state now for several months.  This has kept me in a state of mind that causes me to think in terms of self protection at all costs, and has limited my ability to problem solve, reflect, connect with others as I want/need to, and see other perspectives.

My circumstances have not changed since yesterday, not one bit.  Today, the struggles that weigh on my heart and mind are still there.  Yet, today, I feel as though a weight has lifted off my shoulders.  I realized as I was singing my heart out to my favorite music on my morning drive to work that it has been months since I have done that.  I grinned, looked in my rear view mirror and said, “Welcome Back!”

My perspective shifts have to do with allowing myself to see that there are more possibilities than the ones my fearful brain got locked on.  Yes, the negative outcomes I fear might still happen.  But, there is just as much a chance that positive ones will.  And, I apparently forgot that I am resilient, capable, strong, and able to find my way through negative circumstances.  I sure have done it before, and I sure can do it again.  Not only am I not a failure, I have a history of success as an over-comer.  A history that I am capable of continuing into the future.

I am so thankful for a new day, and new thoughts!

 

A New Story

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It’s interesting how we get bombarded with certain life lessons. …and the same ones just keep coming and coming….until we finally learn what we need to learn. Sigh. I know that’s for my good, but I sure am weary right now.

One of the effects of my marriage was that I became conditioned to believe that I  just couldn’t do much of anything right.  I remember fighting against that early in the marriage, but then being criticized for being too defensive. Over time, I slowly adapted to the mind set that I was really screwed up in some fundamental ways, and that I needed to depend on others (especially my ex-husband ) to guide me through my inevitable screw ups.

After I left him, the fog started to lift. With the help of friends, family, and my counselor, I started to see my strengths and value. I felt such freedom in finding a balance of taking healthy responsibility with not taking responsibility when it wasn’t mine.  It was quite a process, but I really felt I had mainly tackled this issue.

Apparently, there is more work to do! I have been presented with situation after situation after situation in which my mistakes and faults are brought to my attention. …sometimes lovingly and gently….but mostly with painful clarity.

Ouch. It hasn’t stopped yet. Just when I thought two days ago that I was finally coming up for air….one of my kids said some very painful things to me last night that broke me. I crumbled.  I felt like such a failure. 

We talked it through and got to a healthy place. He apologized and we hugged and came to a better understanding of what each of us has experienced.  In the end, that is very good. But the journey to get there sure hurt.  And many other events leading up to that over the last few months have hurt.

I am so aware that I stand on the edge of the cliff that I have fallen down so many times before….the cliff that tumbles me down, battered, bruised, and broken to the valley of I Am A Failure. I have lived in that valley often. It was a long, hard, victorious climb out! I don’t want to go there again. Yet, event after event has been pushing me closer to the edge. Please, no more nudges. I need the strength to turn around and find my way back to the land of Self Worth and Joy. It was so great when I was living there. I need to find my way back. I do know the way. I just need a break so I can find the strength.

I have a new story to write. I want to start writing it. I want to author a new chapter in my life. I want to get past the current triggers that keep happening.  I know I will never again sink as low in my self worth as it was when I was married. But, I need to get to a healthier place now. I am praying every day for loved ones in my life who are suffering, and it weighs on me. I can’t fix things for them and I can’t change the past. I am human, I am fallible, I make mistakes and that is okay.

It is time to move forward to the next part of my story. And it will look nothing like my past.

Patient and Tough

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I have no doubt that this is a true statement.

I am usually pretty good at being patient. I am a “go with the flow” kind of person.  That can be good or challenging,  depending on the circumstances.  One of the “good” aspects is my ability to be patient. Okay, I have that working for me.

Oh….but to be tough. That is not something I am good at. There is a difference between being strong and being tough. People often tell me I’m strong. Although I have not always felt very strong,  when I reflect back I can see my strength.  I do seem to find some place of resilience within me to draw on in hard times. I’m thankful for that.

But being tough is something else. I am emotionally sensitive.  It is the way I am wired….always have been, always will be. I am meant to be who I am.  My emotional sensitivity is a gift in many ways. But, it does not make it easy for me to be tough.

I have really been struggling emotionally for months. I have been reflecting, thinking,  processing. …trying to sort out why I have been struggling. There are some very logical reasons that are definitely part of the picture.  But, it’s more than that.

I have recently realized I am absorbing a lot of the pain and emotions of people in my life. There are some people I love dearly who are dealing with very difficult circumstances.  I feel surrounded by it.

It is one of those seasons. It is something outside my control. I wouldn’t have it any other way but to make myself available for those I love.

The trouble is that no one in my life knows what I carry personally.  People in my life share with me and seek support from me, but do so confidentially. So, I  can’t share with my support system all that I carry.

I have realized only recently that I have been emotionally overwhelmed and absorbing people’s pain. In my professional life, I have no trouble  separating myself from other’s emotions. But when I am invested in caring for people in my personal life, that is a much harder thing to do.

The result is I have been “checking out” emotionally in order to cope. But people I love suffer for that. One friend, in particular, who is dealing with far more trying circumstances than anything I face, has been neglected by me during this time. And that breaks my heart.  It’s a vicious cycle. These are the times it would be nice to have a supportive partner to lean on. Some of what feels the most emotionally intense for me right now has to do with my kids. And I am on my own. So, I carry on. 

The difficulty with sharing this is that some of my dear friends read this blog. Please don’t stop sharing with me! It is up to me to set boundaries and take care of myself. That is 100% my responsibility.  It is also 100% my responsibility to ask for what I need when I need support or space or time for me. I am working on that.

The point is….I sure don’t feel tough. I feel vulnerable.  I am not sure what tough is like. I guess I will find my own way to be tough….and maybe that comes through carrying on as I always do.

I know this season won’t last forever. I also know there is a purpose to this season, and much that I am meant to learn through this. I am doing my best to remain open to that learning.  I hope this season won’t be too long, and I will see the lessons soon.