Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Letter Of Love: For Those Enduring A Break-Up

“Future” by graur razvan donut via FreeDigitalPhotos.net 


It's never easy for a good woman to walk away; especially after she's invested so much of herself into making it work. Just know, that by the time she finally decides to leave, she's given you countless chances and debated the idea, over and over in her head, at least 1000 times. She's exhausted; she's frustrated and totally heartbroken to have to walk away from a man who deep down inside, she still loves and is still willing to fight for."
 - Mr. Amari Soul 


But sometimes were not willing
 to fight for love anymore…
because sometimes we realize were the only one fighting for it.


December 2015

names have been omitted in this post

*****************


It was just days before Christmas… what a year it had been. It was a year of many changes and blessings… of financial stability, health and even heartbreak. But with that heartbreak came the promise of a new year… a fresh start… and renewed hope. 

Wearing black leggings, warm socks and a plaid flannel shirt I poured milk from it's plastic container into a small pot upon the cooktop… waiting for it to slowly simmer and gradually reach a soft rolling boil. I listened as my mother spoke. 

"I'll tell you why you're so upset! Why the past few weeks have been so hard! It's because he turned out to not be willing to do the necessary work he needed to. He wasn't willing to step up. Because deep down you realize he doesn't love you enough to do it." She watched as I returned the milk to it's place in the refrigerator, closing it. Then I rummaged through the pantry in search of hot cocoa powder. 

Ouch. 

Yeppers. That was it. 

My voice cracked with emotion like it does when I'm trying my hardest not to cry. "Yeah…" I replied feeling the sting of the truth biting me. "He kept complaining about his back pain, his depression, his ex, his mother, his job, it was always something. I began to realize he just wanted me to be his fix for everything. He takes zero personal responsibility for his own life. I mentioned counseling… that it really helps. He said he would need me to join him in counseling… in his own words "to keep him honest"… I thought that was the most bizarre and alarming thing to say." 

She nodded and said "He needed you to keep him honest… like a child? So what? If you married him you'd have to be with him 24/7 just to ensure he's doing what he's supposed to do? Being where he's supposed to be? Who the heck is going to sign up for that? Then what? If he cheats… let me guess… it's your fault?" 

I murmured in agreement as I poured hot cocoa powder into empty Christmas mugs from Target for my daughter and I and then set out a tub of cool whip and chocolate sprinkles. 

"I actually said the same thing to him in so many words. I asked him if he was three years old… that I shouldn't have to baby-sit him. It's so ironic, really… he accused me of not wanting to put in the work necessary when he's actually the one that is stubborn to self-growth and personal responsibility. It's not my first rodeo… I've been through this before… all this twisting and spinning." I sighed "At the end of the day it's a no go. It's really hurt because I had high hopes. That's the thing about it… you can deeply love and care about someone even if they aren't right for you." 



A Letter Of Love… 


You lost him.

Or her.

You lost someone special.

Someone who at one time you would have done anything for.

Maybe you did. 

Maybe you still would.

Maybe you would have walked on glass or through fire to prove how much you loved them. 

Maybe you would have fought every weary battle imaginable to be with them.

Perhaps losing them happened in one fell swoop… or perhaps it was a painful, long, slow, process as bit by bit you lost them more each day over the course of weeks, months, even years.

Maybe you knew every scar beneath clothing.

Maybe you knew every smirk, look, and inflection.

Maybe you knew each quirk, peeve and irritation.

Maybe you listened to their every fear, hope and dream into the wee hours of night.

Maybe you grasped their hand with affection when all was good and clasped it when tears fell from their eyes in the bad.

Maybe you knew exactly where their sore spots were, where not to touch, where you dared not go so as to never inflict further hurt and pain.

Maybe you knew every little thing that made them laugh and every great joy they basked in.

Maybe you knew their soul, their deep down yearnings like no other… maybe you read every page of their heart and still desired to know more.

Maybe you made love to them in the brilliant sunlight of day with the scent of coffee nearby… or maybe you satisfied them in the midnight hours eliciting increasing crescendo.

Maybe you held them tight when they were afraid and put their worries to rest even when they knew they were silly.

Maybe you worried when they didn't call or arrive when promised… all those times you fleetingly felt a surge of reality rise up within from your stomach and strike your heart… reality that you simply can't lose this person who means everything to you.

Maybe you didn't step up when you needed to… maybe you feel you failed them on some level however difficult or impossible to admit to yourself because it hurts too much.

Maybe you didn't allow yourself to be vulnerable with them and let your annoying traits, your hang-ups, your occasional doubts show because you questioned who could love those.

Maybe you sacrificed too much… maybe you said yes too many times when you should have said no… maybe you realize you were doing the opposite of what you should have been doing.

Maybe they gave up on you and you're left standing on the side of the road wondering where to go next… lost… lonely and baffled.

Maybe you are mourning who you thought they were... as it turned out they resembled hurt rather than love.

Maybe you'll never stop loving them because it wasn't that you didn't… it's that no matter how you tried to show it… you could never seem to get it right.

Maybe you know now that whatever you did wrong you can't go back and fix… whatever it is, or was it's simply too late…

Maybe you're kicking yourself.

Maybe you're angry with them as well.

And maybe you need to realize that it's okay to be upset…

It's okay to cry.

It's okay to acknowledge a great loss has happened.

It's okay to admit that you still love them... love is there, always will be... it's just that you aren't right for each other.

It's brave to say "I don't have it all together", "I miss them" or even "I screwed up."

It takes guts to say "I'm not okay… but I will be."

There is no shame in saying "This didn't turn out how I wanted it to."

There is no shame in saying "I'm incredibly disappointed."

There is no shame in saying "I'm struggling."

We've all been there.

To act like we haven't would be a lie.

The hurt you are experiencing is not only completely understandable but so necessary… it's necessary to go through the dark tunnel of sorrow and grief, to gather up all the past and sort through it like a stack of fading photographs… it's necessary so as to make room for all the new…

Because there is another chapter…

Shining brightly for you.

A whole new world awaits and gradually it's one free of tears and a non-bruised heart.

It's a chapter of great adventures, new skills and learning.

It's a chapter of fresh faces, long talks and laughs.

It's a chapter of healing, self-care and possibly love again.

This trying time won't last forever.

In the overall scheme of life it's a blip.

Embrace the now, your mourning, your loss and emotions.

Then wipe your eyes and cling to hope… hope that indeed life will get better.

It always does.

Be patient, wait for it.

Everything better is worth waiting for.


© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2015 











To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading, commenting 
and sharing! 


RELATED POSTS:


Dating After Divorce: 5 Questions To Ask Yourself


10 Signs You're Dating A Narcissistic Sociopath



Is Your EX-Narc Happy Now?

Monday, December 14, 2015

When He Says: "You Complete Me"

“Couple Seated On Footbridge” by photo stock via FreeDigitalPhotos.net 


"You complete me." 
- Tom Cruise, 
Jerry Maguire


****************

names have been omitted in this post 

December 2015 

this post contains language 



"Did I make you feel complete?" He asked me.

"No." I replied. "I don't believe we ever feel complete with someone. I don't believe in that concept. I believe we have to feel complete first before we can even begin to think about being with someone else. We each have to feel whole, complete, healthy of our own accord… to aspire to being our best self first, happy on our own. And I would tell anyone that, it's not specific to you. The truth is… when we were together I felt like I was steering the ship on my own. If I'm on my own I don't mind steering it, I'm fully capable. But if I'm with someone I don't want to feel as though I'm steering alone. I expect them to be beside me... weathering the storms together, searching for a harbor, whatever… not me on my own wondering where my partner went MIA to." I explained.

"I let you lead because I assumed that's what you wanted… because you said you didn't want to be controlled by a man." He told me.

"I don't want to be controlled. And I don't want to have to do it all either. There's a difference. I don't mind being the man on my own if I have to. I've done it before, I can do it again. I can fight tooth and nail, I can do whatever I have to, call it grit, perseverance, whatever you like. But if I have to be the man when I have a man… there is a serious problem. A man leads and protects… he is self assured and knows that more than anything the woman he loves needs his shoulder occasionally to rest her head on… to know he is there, unwavering. I can finance myself, I can put out fires… get me a man who knows all the other or don't bother. Get me somebody who gives a shit. Who actually worries when I don't get home when I think I will… who sits up and waits to see me… a man who offers to drive without my asking because he truly cares. I don't need someone who thinks "Jennifer's strong. No need to worry. She always pulls through." I want someone who says "I know she's strong but I want to be there beside her in this journey called life." I responded.

"Well, I can do a lot but time travel isn't in my repertoire. I can't change what has happened. These things can be worked out… you make me feel emotionally complete like no one else ever has." He replied.

I sighed. "That's part of the issue! You should feel good on your own. It's too much pressure to put that on someone else. Because eventually the person you're with will have a bad day, they might be grouchy, not look their best, or get a cold. Then what? You look elsewhere? I feel perfectly content and happy on my own. I'm living a nice life. I've been blessed beyond measure. I had the counseling I needed post divorce to deal with the fallout of my marriage and find healing. I exercise and try to eat healthy minus the chocolate. I have a sweet daughter and good friends… I'm thankful for the things that matter. For the first time my life is good… I don't have the toxicity from a bad marriage. And I'm not signing up for another one. This "you complete me" stuff is a no go. Create a beautiful life, be happy, confident and complete on your own and then you'll be ready for someone."

"The rest will work itself out in time. As long as the love is there, the rest will work itself out." He said.

"I don't believe that." I shook my head. "Isn't there a song "All You Need Is Love?" I hate that song… because it blinds people to the truth… love is not enough… it takes so much more. It takes two people who can steer their own ships first and are content doing it… but decide to sail together because they want to… not because of some dependent incomplete need to."

"No, it doesn't take more. Love is enough. This is just a matter of whether you're wiling to do the work necessary to work through it!" He retorted.

"Look… "I exhaled and calmly continued "We have been back and forth on this. I've discussed it, I've told you how I feel… I'm not willing to "complete" anyone… they have to do that themselves… either through therapy and self growth, spiritual growth, whatever… I cannot be the "fixer" or the bandaid for someone else. I'm not taking that on. And I'm not accepting this being thrown on me either. Each person is responsible for their healthy state and feeling good about who they are and knowing what they have to offer in a relationship. What I'm offering you is friendship… that's what is being served and on the table. I simply cannot and will not do more. I know it's not what you want to hear, it's not what I foresaw, not what you wanted, nor how I believed this would turn out. But it is unfortunately where we are. It is what it is. Our perspectives are too different and I see too many things that are deal breakers for me."

"Okay, if that's how you feel, I respect that, but it saddens me. I won't bring it up again." He replied.


A person cannot expect to be in a healthy relationship by wearing down whom they are pursuing or are already in a relationship with through tactics of intimidation, pity, coercement, fear, etc. It will always fail. That isn't love, that is entrapment. 
~ Jennifer Gafford 


A partner saying: "You complete me" essentially equals them depleting you… it's a hallmark sign when someone says "I feel complete with you" that they are not healthy. In fact, it's a sign that a relationship with them will be downright toxic. When someone expects someone else to complete them, make them feel whole, etc… they are placing pressure and unrealistic expectations upon whom their with. We all have expectations in our relationships. That isn't the issue. What matters is more specifically what are our expectations? Are they healthy?

HEALTHY EXPECTATIONS: 

I expect my partner to treat me with kindness and respect
I expect my partner to be loyal and faithful to me
I expect my partner to be there for me but not be my everything
I expect my partner to spend time with me
I expect my partner and I to feel closer as the relationship progresses
I expect my partner to feel complete and whole on their own
I expect my partner to take care of their physical and mental health


Questions To Ask Yourself: 

1. Does this person expect me to make them feel good about themselves?
2. Does this person expect me to boost their ego and confidence?
3. Does this person expect me to be their everything?
4. Does this person expect to spend all their time with me?
5. Does this person smother me?
6. Does this person drain me or energize me? Do they whine? Plead? Manipulate? Guilt Trip?
7. Does this person make me feel guilty when I set boundaries or attempt to with them?
8. Does this person make me exasperated because they don't or won't grasp the issue at hand?
9. Does this person make me feel bad for them? Sorry for them? Does their guilt make me change?
10. Does this person expect more from me than I am willing or able to give and are they expecting much more from me than what they are willing to do for me?


IN CONCLUSION… 

Both men and women who are comfortable in their own skin, who are taking care of their physical health, who are receiving therapy if needed, who know that no one can make them feel complete and whole are practicing self care. Men and women who are not dependent upon someone else to make them happy are ready for a relationship. We attract what we are living. It's one thing to expect your partner to be a safe place for you… they should be… a soft place for you to land after the hardness of the world each day… they should be a place where you feel heard and understood… most of all LOVED.

BUT... they can't be your everything. That's draining. That's life detracting. That's not sailing on a ship somewhere beautiful… instead it's one person hanging an anchor around your neck and making you drown ever so slowly and painfully to your inevitable death.


© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2015 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dating A Narcissist: 3 More Red Flags


“Close Up Of A Man Using Mobile Phone” by stock images via FreeDigitalPhotos.net 


names have been omitted in this post 

December 2015 

********************



I sat across from my therapist in skinny jeans and a black hoodie discussing the patterns I had begun noticing during the short course of my recent relationship. I explained how the small signs eventually grew to such large red flags I was no longer able to minimize or ignore them.

"It was unreal… the amount of text messages he was sending… page after page of rambling texts about his love, sentiment and passion for me… along with a constant update of his day no matter how minute.  I'd send a quick reply, or not respond because I couldn't or didn't see a need to… and yet an hour or so later there would be another string of texts." I paused and then continued "The odd thing was even after I initially mentioned how he was texting so much he didn't let up. He even went so far as to say that he didn't need me to respond, that he was fine with just sending me his thoughts…" I trailed off, thinking how very narcissistic of him.

She sat across from me and shook her head "I'm wondering how on earth he worked and accomplished anything during the day… if he's sending you this many texts. These aren't really texts… this is more like journaling." She pointed out.

I nodded and agreed "I had thought the same thing. And if a guy is texting you that much you have to wonder how much quality time he's spending with his child… it makes you question him as a father. I even pointed that out to him. He came back with excuses. Everything became a red flag as the relationship progressed. He began pushing to want to move in with me. I told him that I wasn't living with a man unless we were married and we needed to take things slow. He said it made more financial sense to live together. Ha! Toward the end I began seeing signs that his "walk with God" didn't match what was biblically correct. That was yet another sign."

She concurred and spoke "I definitely see red flags."

We chatted a little more and finally she smiled at me with a sigh of relief "But you know now…  you saw the signs and heeded them. And I will tell you that in the first three months of dating someone is when we decide what are the deal breakers… and when we typically see any red flags. So what are you wanting to do now?" She asked.

"My mother says I'm too closed off, that I'm not receptive to men." I told her.

She nodded "Well, you do have to be open. You can meet someone anywhere… at the museum, a sporting event, even the grocery store. But you have to make eye contact, smile and speak."

"Yeah…"I trailed off.

She peered at me "What age man are you thinking you'd be interested in?"

"I'm not into zip lining, scuba diving, Six Flags, all that. I think it makes it really hard when you're not. My age group from what I've gathered on the dating sites seem to gravitate toward that stuff. I would enjoy a date seeing a show and having dinner, maybe a play or a movie…get dessert, go to the museum… I'm thinking a little older might be a better match." I told her.

She nodded "I would agree… although generally speaking not all thirty five year old men are immature. There are exceptions."

I spoke "I'm thinking the oldest around forty nine, fifty" I told her. "I just turned thirty nine."

She concurred "I wouldn't go any older than that… I'd try to stay around forty five. I've had many couples meet on the dating sites match and eharmony." She informed me "Have you considered those?"

"Yes" I nodded "The online dating thing kinda scares me."

She grinned "That's what I'm here for. You print off their profile and bring it to me. I'll take a look."

I smiled and nodded, thanking her.


At the beginning of a new relationship we may be so giddy and high from the chemical feelings that accompany new love that we aren't thinking clearly. But it's so important that we stay grounded and watch for signs that we are with someone that isn't truly capable of loving us… but more like putting us through grief and heartbreak. In my recent relationship there were so many red flags… here are three more I observed…


1. During my parents marriage everything revolved around what my father wanted to do. He chose the trips, the meals, the homes purchased, the repairs done, the furniture bought, the vehicles driven, etc. My mother had zero voice in nearly forty years of marriage… if she tried to speak up and assert what she wanted, fits, pouting and passive aggressive behavior on his part like driving erratically in the car to intimidate her would ensue. I soon began to notice similar behaviors with the man I dated… he always pushed for the restaurant he wanted to eat at… he whined I had taken a trip and he would have liked to have gone… it was 99.9% of the time about what he wanted to do. A man who behaves like a man knows it's not all about him… that it takes two people to be considered a couple, to be in a relationship… and remembers that his partner should have a voice and decision making in what she wants as well.


2. My twelve year marriage was devoid of passion and chemistry. Many people who have been with narcissists and sociopaths have stated that the sex was passion filled. Perhaps some narcissists and sociopaths are skilled in the bedroom… my marriage was not one that fit that description. Our sex life was more comparable to my painful "going through the motions with crossed arms" and a "let's get this over with" type scenario. When you live like that for so long it can't be helped but to feel incredibly jipped… when one partner is more focused on their quick release(!) than actually taking the time for both people to enjoy the moment mutually. So imagine my surprise when one kiss with the man I dated made me want more… chemistry so electrifying that I was somewhat blushingly caught off guard at how he made me feel with the cup of my face and his lips on mine. He began to talk about all the things he wanted to do after we married; him voicing his burning desire to please me sexually one day as a husband. His future intentions murmured in my ear amidst forehead kisses soon became a red flag. The issue was his soon all-consuming focus on it that set off my radar and made me begin to cringe... our future sex life appeared to be his main focus, not just one of the many important elements that make up a relationship. Soon it wasn't really all about the idea of pleasing me one day but instead puffing how brilliant his skills were. As I began to hear more and more I considered giving him a gold sticker for patting himself on the back… but then came to the conclusion he'd already started his own sticker collection.


3. Empaths are guilty of being people pleasers, givers, ready to help to a fault and over extending themselves. They often find it difficult to set boundaries with people… especially those of a narcissistic nature as narc's are typically always takers and users. As my relationship progressed I began feeling used, noticing he always needed a favor… he needed to store some things at my place, he needed to do some laundry at my place, he needed me to drive, etc. It was always something it seemed. And yet when the night came that I needed some assurance he was there for me… he was unwilling and going to sleep. (You can read that post here) The stark difference in our behaviors shone brightly and I cringed at each incident… silently tallying, chalking up yet more points against him… him blindly losing me more and more each day until I could no longer remain silent, confronted him and abruptly broke it off.


When it comes to dipping our feet back in the dating pool we can try to look at it from a positive viewpoint… yes, we will have bad days and wonder if we will ever meet someone healthy. But those of us who have been with narcissists and sociopaths we ourselves are a work in progress getting healthy… we are practicing setting boundaries and healthy expectations not only for ourselves but for the relationship and person we will one day marry. Realizing we are dating another narcissist is not the end of the world… disappointing? Without a doubt, yes. But with each person we are gaining strength and putting our knowledge to the test… we are looking for red flags and becoming better at pinpointing them sooner than before. We are becoming confident and less doubtful of signs we need to heed. And with each relationship we are one step closer to becoming the healthiest version of ourselves… so we can be ready to not just fall in love with someone amazing but most importantly… not lose ourselves doing it.

© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2015 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Dating A Sociopath: 5 Warning Signs To Cut The Cord

“Man Holding A Rose” by phaendin via FreeDigitalPhotos.net 



names have been omitted in this post 

November 2015 

this post contains some language 

*****************


I sat curled up on the opposite end of the taupe couch from my mother wearing gray lounge pants, a dark navy pullover, a thick scarf around my neck and hair in a bun atop my head. It was the week of Thanksgiving… my daughter was at her dad's and we were enjoying some down time, specifically some girl time watching marathons of Julia Robert's movies, making hot cocoa and enjoying hot soup. The temps in Texas had dipped to the forties at night and with the northern wind it had brought rain along with it. I listened to the rain coming down outside, the television flashing commercials across the room from me and my mother spoke, picking up from a conversation interrupted by our show earlier.

"I mean… I just don't understand something… how is it that I was married to your father for almost forty years and yet somehow… I don't even know how this is possible…" She admitted ruefully. "But generally speaking, mind you, how can you have a much, much lower opinion of men than I even do?" She asked, looking at me dumbfounded.

Silence.

"I don't know…" I finally replied. "Do I?" I asked her.

She stared at me like I had to be kidding… "What's the first thing you think to yourself when a man looks at you like he's interested?" She asked me. "I mean, honestly."

I didn't miss a beat. "Typically I think shit off." I replied bluntly. 

She stared at me. "You have a problem." She declared. "What are you going to do about it?" She pressed.

I laughed uncomfortably and shifted on the couch, my arms crossed, my body language closed off. "I have a problem?" I echoed. "Really?"

"Yeah. Men smile and talk to me all the time. I just have a conversation with them. And they just smile…" She trailed off catching my expression.

I shrugged in response. I thought back to a conversation I'd had with the guy I'd recently dated. We had been in the car one day and he asked me in an amused tone "So… do you think I'm a sociopath?" I had reflexively gripped the leather steering wheel tighter and glanced over at him. He stared at me with a piercing gaze waiting for a response. "At this point I assume anyone is." I replied cooly. I remembered a Dr. Phil video I'd watched where he'd talked about how we are crazy to ever give people the benefit of the doubt. He said instead we need to gather information about everyone we meet before we hand over our hearts, trust, etc. Everyone is suspect until they've proved their not.

"Yeah. You have a problem." She told me adamantly. "I mean, how do you think you're ever going to meet someone? You don't go anywhere! You work, you run errands, you come home. You meet friends for a meal or fun. That's it. And most of them are married or don't know anyone to introduce you to. When are you going to get out there? When are you going to start putting yourself out there so you can meet someone? Do you think he's just going to show up and knock on your door?" She asked me incredulously.

"That'd be way easier." I replied dryly not finding the conversation enjoyable at all. Wasn't there something I needed to be doing right now? Like re-organizing all the closets or scrubbing bathroom grout with a toothbrush? Something that took an eternity to complete? 

She sighed, her exasperation showing.

"What?" I asked her, my question coming out with an uncomfortable half laugh. I looked over at her. "I don't want to talk about this anymore." I told her wanting to end the conversation.

"You don't want to talk about it anymore because you know I'm right, that's why!" She insisted.

I wrinkled my nose. "No" I replied. "I just don't see why you're bringing this up. What is all this about, anyway?" I asked and got up to retrieve some extra paper napkins from the kitchen nearby.

She sighed "Okay. I just wish you'd be honest and admit you'd rather be comfortable. You'd rather not get out of your comfort zone to meet someone." She told me. Then in the silence she finally asked "What is it that you're so afraid of?" 

I didn't respond. What was this? A therapy session? I swallowed hard and fiddled with the now fraying edge of my white paper napkin. A cup of broccoli cheese soup sat on the coffee table growing cold.

She had hit a nerve and now another one. I sat silent absorbing everything she'd said. Thankfully the show returned to the screen and my time in the hot seat had come to an end.

But I kept thinking on what she said… mulling it over in my mind. Finally, even though I didn't want to admit it, I realized she was right. Mom's or those closet to us like friends are good that way. They will tell us the very painful and not so pretty things we need to hear… truths that maybe we don't want to hear but in reality ring loud and clear. Maybe one contributing factor was being an introvert, I admitted. Perhaps another factor no matter how cliche; I was tired of being disappointed and didn't want to find myself hitched to yet another psycho.


"The human condition is imperfect and when we realize we will endure hurts that affect our outlook in life we can give ourselves compassion and begin to grow beyond where we currently are. 

Diminishing how we feel makes us stuck. 

Accepting how we feel makes us stronger."

- Jennifer Gafford 


At this point I wasn't certain if all men were needy or it was just a glaring sign of the dysfunctional men I'd been with. The man I'd married and then the man I had recently dated had pushed for much more interaction via text and phone than what I'd wanted nor believed to be normal. I wasn't certain what was considered healthy in terms of the amount of interaction one would or should have during a typical day with someone their dating. However, based on what I'd experienced; the constant over the top staying in touch only served to drive me away. It made me believe all men were needy, insecure, what have you and that was enough to make me say just forget it. 


But just when we begin to subscribe to a "Oh, just forget it!" type attitude… someone comes along that changes our mind… that makes us pause… that convicts us, that makes us freeze… they are saying all the things that touch our heart because they make our eyes wet in response. So I'm going to share with you what I was told today: 

"I want you to know it gets better. It will. Don't give up, don't throw in the towel, don't let your heart become hardened. There is someone out there. You're going to meet someone and it will be great. It's going to be okay." 


In my last (very short) relationship I saw early signs of dysfunction (thank the good Lord) before I cut the cord. Here are five things I observed... 

1. FLATTERY 
If he's texting you incessantly with over the top flattery and gushes of love: "I love you so much and always will", "I wish I'd met you when we were younger, I'd love for you to have my children", "I believe we are soul mates, we were designed for one another", "You're all I think about and I want to be around you all the time", "You're so amazing and I'm the luckiest man on the face of the earth." He's "love-bombing" you. This is a classic tactic of narcissists and sociopaths. They love to show how much they adore you via words but sadly the actions very often do not match up... at least not for the long haul. 

2. INSECURITY
He shows his insecurity by saying things like: "I don't deserve someone like you", "I never thought I could get someone so beautiful, talented, kind as you". What he's not telling you is this: Deep down I really hate and resent you for it too... because you're such a reminder of my inadequacies. The flip side of a man saying: "I never thought I could get someone like you" is after they say it enough you begin to wonder: So WHY am I with you?? Because even YOU think I could do better! So I guess I should. The truth is... insecurity is never attractive. Cockiness isn't either. Finding someone who has a healthy amount of confidence is key. 

3. CONTROL 
You go to his house and you're wearing the watch you picked out and bought when you were married...  and the necklace your ex bought you (the necklace you still love). He looks at what you're wearing and says "And... you wore that here." He promptly buys you a new watch. Excuse me? I can wear whatever I choose. His behavior shows control and insecurity. 

4. PRESSURE
He begins pressuring you about a ring and getting married. He's looking at rings and talking about having something custom made when you've asked him several times to put the brakes on because he's moving too fast. And yet... he ignores your request and continues. 

5. DISRESPECT
He's disrespectful of your time and selfish. You tell him you're going to be busy that evening because you have plans. And yet he texts you incessantly the entire evening wanting to engage in a all night text-a-thon. He doesn't respect your boundaries and puts his needs ahead of your much needed time with others.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2015 



_________________________________________
Fasting and praying for a mate involves not only commitment to God, but also confidence in God. Abraham was telling his servant that the Lord who promised his descendants would inherit the land would also provide the descendants. Our second principle then introduces faith in divine guidance. This faith was not some nebulous faith, but an expressed faith. It was a faith that inspires us to follow.
We can expect God to intervene in our situations because He will honor our commitment and give us contentment while we are waiting. Abraham’s servant got up and got going. Faith is not passive. It steps out on the promises of God.   Read more via… Tony Evans
To My Readers: Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing! 
RELATED POSTS: 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Breaking Up With An Emotionally UnHealthy & Immature Man


Crazy, I'm crazy for feeling so lonely
I'm crazy, crazy for feeling so blue
I knew you'd love me as long as you wanted
And then someday you'd leave me for somebody new
Worry, why do I let myself worry?
Wondering what in the world did I do?
Crazy for thinking that my love could hold you
I'm crazy for trying and crazy for crying
And I'm crazy for loving you
Crazy for thinking that my love could hold you
I'm crazy for trying and crazy for crying
And I'm crazy for loving you.


Patsy Cline - Crazy Lyrics | MetroLyrics 



“I Am Crazy About You On Mobile Means Love” 
by Stuart Miles via FreeDigitalPhotos.net 


November 2015 

names have been omitted in this post 

*******************


"I just don't think I should have to tell you how to be in a relationship… "I explained gingerly, choosing my words with care. "I mean, I just don't believe I should have to explain the very basics. I got lost leaving your house that one night and had no business driving after dark when I can't see well. I've told you that…." I reminded him.  "I flew to Savannah Georgia for a week long vacation and as someone who tells me he loves and cares about me it wouldn't have been out of the ordinary for you to offer to take me to the airport and pick me up." I told him calmly. "It wouldn't have been out of the ordinary for me to expect that of you. Words alone aren't enough. Actions matter. Yet you didn't offer and then when I return to find my car with a dead battery at the airport I text you and let you know I made it in but I'm waiting for a jump from the airport courtesy service… you tell me ok and that you're going to sleep. I didn't feel cared for. It's not insane for me to expect more than this. I deserve more than this." I added, thinking of all the hell I had been through with my ex and standing firm that I wasn't going to entertain a relationship with another unhealthy person. Stand strong, I told myself… you don't have to accept this.

Soon came the blaming… the twisting and finger pointing…"Well… you're so independent and I didn't want to take that from you. And you should have asked me to take you and pick you up. I wondered why you didn't." He told me.

Shock went through me. "Excuse me?" I responded "My independence?" I echoed "Yeah, I'm independent. Yeah, I can drive myself. I've done it before. But what a cop-out on your part. I shouldn't have to ask you." I replied. My thoughts swirled and I thought how incredibly lazy his actions were. His actions didn't reflect love and care. Not even friendship. Far from it. More like thoughtless and indifferent.

I asked him to come pick up the few things he'd left at my home… DVD'S from movie night, a sketch pad, etc. He did begrudgingly and as I stood on the front lawn with oversized Jackie O sunglasses on to hide my face he peered at me closely, scrutinizing and spoke… "You're pulling away from me. You're doing the same thing you did to your ex right before you left him. I can feel it. Please take your sunglasses off and let me look at you." He said and reached out to slip my sunglasses off my face.

I dodged his out-reached grasp by backing up and pursed my lips saying nothing. My silence said everything. But my mind was spinning. I bit my tongue and held back. I didn't feel safe to say much. A man's words to me once echoed in my head "Don't poke the bear…" and I clung to them… just ease him out of here, I thought to myself. I pasted a smile on my face, told him I'd be in touch sometime soon, that I had a lot on my plate for now, managed one last weak smile and gently told him goodbye with a hug. Then watched as he drove away.


Soon came the texts to follow… the gates opened and what resembled crazy came pouring out at me "You're right, please give me another chance…" and then back to more blaming... "I'm not a mind reader and a psychic..." Soon came in texts upon harassing texts… texts that ranged from crying "I care about you and love you and don't want to lose you…" to "I promise I won't text you again…" and then ironically, oh so painfully the phone pinged that another stream of despondent forlorn texts had arrived. Texts that if printed would fill a book… texts that became more and more desperate to get a response. Texts that left me with shaking hands and my beginning to feel like I was trapped and held hostage in some kind of texting hell. No, no, no. Make. It. Stop. I thought as I finally silenced my phone after days of non-stop harassment.

Soon came an unannounced visit to my home with roses and I had had enough. I finally broke my silence and texted him that his excessive texting and visit was making me begin to think I needed a restraining order. More texts streamed in that he didn't want me to feel that way and he was so sorry and that he just didn't want to lose me and he didn't understand how he had screwed up so bad.


*****************



A man's words mean nothing 
if his actions don't reflect love. 

A man's love means nothing 
if he twists and blames you for where he failed. 

A man's sanity is questioned if he doesn't know to step back and assess his behavior and give space to others but instead engages in a desperate plea that only serves to further push you away and question your very safety. 



10 SIGNS HE'S NOT EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY OR MATURE:

1. He doesn't practice the basics of chivalry; opening doors, offering to pick you up, ensuring you make it home safely, carrying heavy things, walking on the side of the sidewalk closet to the street, etc.

2. Not being able to assess an issue in a relationship with calm focus and give space when needed; forcing interaction, attempting to wear you down through harassment, waffling between twisting the truth to blaming and then becoming emotionally unhinged; showing desperation, crying, appearing despondent.

3. Being emotionally dependent on you; expecting you to fulfill him emotionally 24/7… which is narcissistic, self-centered and draining for you.

4. Expecting you to give, give, give but giving very little to nothing in return in terms of care and support… you begin to feel used instead of loved.

5. He spends time trying to get you to think like him, like what he likes and do what he wants instead of seeing the relationship as a sharing of individual likes, interests, goals and dreams.

6. Reacting in an unhealthy manner because he doesn't get his way; you voice displeasure about something and instead of him reacting with: "I understand. I get what you're telling me. I'm sorry for doing (or not doing) x,y,z" simple and to the point… instead you find yourself on the receiving end of emotions that are all over the place.

7. He plays the victim and says that you're making him suffer.

8. He uses guilt as a tactic to make you feel sorry for setting healthy boundaries for yourself or expressing very basic expectations.

9. He begins to be seen as a child in your eyes instead of a man; shirking his responsibilities and/or showing extreme neediness toward you (which is often what you later realize is really control).

10. He wears you out… you find yourself becoming tired and worn down where you once had energy and strength. It's time to make a change and get back to living your life. And tell him goodbye.


© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2015 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Relationships: Setting Healthy Boundaries & Expectations


“Razor Wire” by artur84 via FreeDigitalPhotos.net 



November 2015 
names have been omitted in this post 

***********************


Walking in the front door my gray leather booties clacked on the entry floor and I paused to lean over and unzip them. Slipping my feet out of them I set my oversized bag on the zebra printed bench. Wearing skinny jeans and an oversized plaid button down shirt I removed my watch and set it on the Queen Anne entry table.

"Hey! I'm home!" I called out to my mother.

She emerged from the den in her pajamas with an alarmed expression on her face.

"Hey! Where have you been?!" She exclaimed with concern.

I rolled my eyes and yanked the hair elastic off my right wrist so I could begin pulling my hair into a messy bun atop my head.

"Where haven't I been! You would not believe my night! I've just been on a tour of all of DFW, that's where! I don't even know how it happened! How the heck I ended up heading north to Colleyville, I have NO IDEA!" I told her.

Her eyes widened "Colleyville?!" She exclaimed. "What the heck? Well, I've been sitting here getting worried wondering where on earth you were!" She replied.

"I know, I figured you were. I was trying to get home! I STILL don't know what I did wrong… which turn I missed." I admitted as I followed her into the kitchen and began opening the stainless steel fridge to survey what was available to eat. Milk, eggs and leftovers from the dinner I'd cooked the night before of chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans were revealed. I was absolutely starving and it was late. I wanted something sweet.

"Why did he not drive you home?" She demanded. "You shouldn't have gone to his place to hang out! Here it is… late, DARK and you can't see well at night. You have NO business out driving at night and he should know that. You're getting all turned around and lost and he's sitting on his ass at his house. There is something wrong with this picture." She told me angrily. She pursed her lips and crossed her arms as she watched me yank a gallon of peppermint ice cream out of the freezer and begin digging into it with a spoon. Peppermint goodness swirled in my mouth from a bite and I waved my spoon with irritation in the air as I spoke.

"Yeah! I know! I shouldn't have driven to his place. I should have just told him if he wanted to see me he could come by here. Instead I'm getting lost and can't see worth a you-know-what because my eyes are so dry." I agreed and then added "I've told him I can't see well to drive at night."

"Yes, yes you did." She nodded "And he should take it seriously. And he should be looking out for you. Supposedly he cares SO much about you and yet you're the one driving at night and getting lost. He should have driven over HERE to see you, taken you out for a proper dinner and then brought you back home." She shook her head "This is all crap. You need a man. A REAL man! These are NOT the actions of a man. A real man does what he's supposed to do without being told to do it." She declared.

I sighed because her words were hitting a nerve of truth and I dipped my spoon in for another cold minty bite and thought about what she was saying. Finally I spoke "I've been questioning whether he's too young. Too immature. I'm just… "I trailed off and was quiet.

She finally spoke "I agree. I really do believe you need someone older. At least fifty to be honest."

I turned and smiled wryly at her "I was born in the wrong time period. I know that. I should have been born in the fifties or sixties. Men of my generation… "I shook my head and took another bite of ice cream "I hate to say it but generally speaking there are so many that are lazy. So many men don't even want to mow the yard, they think Netflix and chill aka a movie and sex is a date. The majority of them are obsessed with Star Wars which I hate. I don't want to sit on my butt and watch movies all the time. I hate sports, especially NASCAR which doesn't even constitute as a real sport but a mind numbing zone you enter comparable to watching a hamster on a wheel. I can tolerate, even enjoy hockey occasionally. I'd like a man who has energy, who makes staying in shape a priority, who can fix something with his hands or at least tries. A man who wants to travel. A man who shows he loves you by ensuring you reach home safely… it goes back to actions not words alone. Someone who enjoys art and design, reads and can form a proper sentence. Someone who is trying to make a difference." I grimaced and shook my head. "I guess I'm just really frustrated." I admitted to her.

"I agree. And you need someone older. You need someone who knows what to do. I'd just hate to see you settle after finally leaving that first cockroach. The next one better be amazing." She reminded me.

"I should have told him to come pick me up. I'm falling back into a lack of boundaries I think." I murmured thoughtfully, mentally chastising myself.

She sighed with exasperation "No, stop that! You're blaming yourself now! HE'S the one who is supposed to be the man here. You shouldn't have to ASK him to come pick you up!" She stressed to me.

"Oh, heck! I know that!" I retorted with furrowed brows. "But at the same time, I NEED to be setting better boundaries. I should have NEVER offered to drive to his place. Yes, if he wanted to see me he should have come over here. He drives so much I was happy to go to him for a change. But dang… at night? Not a good idea. I knew better and yet did it anyway. It wasn't wise. And yet… you're right, at the end of the day, he let me. Shame on him. I'm done." I told her. Then with wet eyes added… "I'm tired of being disappointed. But I am done."


*****************


We know if you've been with someone of a narcissistic nature or a full blown sociopath you're likely a highly empathetic person... a giver. Maybe even to a fault. Maybe to your very detriment. You enjoy helping others and yet... your helpfulness may become personally problematic. Oftentimes later you find yourself irritated, resentful or just plain angry that once again...  you guessed it... you over extended yourself; you gave too much and now you're at best depleted.

So what happens when we continually find ourselves in hindsight giving, giving and giving and then wishing we hadn't? 

There are lessons learned. 

We can take these experiences and begin using them to become healthier. We can use these negative scenarios once we are seeing with clarity to not let them happen again. We can realize that we will have future opportunities to set boundaries and limits regarding how much we give and what we expect of others. Even of ourselves. We have the opportunity everyday to tell ourselves: 

"I will not give too much today. Yes, there are people out in the world that don't give. It's sad, but true. There are people who are selfish. That is an unfortunate reality of life. However... giving too much of my time, my energy, etc leaves me depleted and unhealthy. And I can't love others if I can't love myself first. Boundaries are healthy and I'm not a bad person when I implement them." 


© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2015


5 TIPS ON SETTING BOUNDARIES: 

1. Think back on how often you've said yes. More than likely a lot. Likely you wanted to say no but didn't. Recognize the patterns of past behavior. 

2. Realize that saying no is okay. And that no is an adequate response. We don't have to give further explanation. 

3. Saying yes when we want to say no leads us to feeling mad. We can save ourselves and others a lot of grief by just saying no to begin with. 

4. Stop apologizing when you say no. It's not necessary. 

5. People who have a difficult time setting boundaries and saying no also tend to have difficulty asking for help. They lean toward trying to be too self sufficient and then struggle, becoming stressed out.






Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Narcissistic Sociopath: When You Unknowingly Enter The Discard Phase

“Love Triangle” by marin via FreeDigitalPhotos.net




names have been omitted in this post

Spring 2011

************


"I'm NOT going!" I yelled at him as I tossed makeup and personal items like hairspray and deodorant into my vanity drawer in the bathroom… slamming the drawer shut with a loud bang.

"Oh, yes you ARE!" My husband retorted back at me angrily as he proceeded to smooth Rogaine on his receding hairline in front of the bathroom mirror.

"And WHY is that?!" I exclaimed in likewise anger… then added "I see no reason for me to go to your stupid twentieth high school reunion. You know I hate stuff like that! It's just a bunch of people standing around comparing notes on how everyone's done in life. It's all superficial." I told him.

"You're going because you're my WIFE! That's why! I'M going… so YOU'RE going!" He yelled back in mounting frustration like I was a petulant three year old child that wouldn't just shut up and behave. He took extra care to comb his hair in place that was still damp from his shower and then proceeded to brush his teeth… like some kind of animal he brushed… the tooth brush bristles were frayed like a dog had chewed on them… it reminded me of my dad's toothbrush when I was little.

"That's just the DUMBEST thing I've ever heard! Just because you decide to go doesn't mean I need to! Just because were married doesn't mean we have to be hitched at the hip! You always expect me to tag along to this crap… business dinners, company parties… and I'm freaking SICK OF IT! Grow up! Grow some balls! Go by yourself!" I yelled at him completely over what I perceived to be his extreme neediness and control. "You know… you got off the hook completely… I haven't taken you to a single reunion. I went and picked up my diploma from the school and was done with it! How nice for YOU!!!" I added with a tone of nasty sarcasm.

"Jennifer! JENNIFER!!!" He chastised me. "What part of this do you NOT understand???!!! YOU ARE GOING!!! PERIOD!!! IT'S NOT UP FOR DISCUSSION!!!"

With that… he walked off. Like he always did. Conversation over.


**************



The night finally arrived… the night of his much dreaded twentieth high school reunion. It was going to be held in a room at the convention center downtown… lame name badges and whispered glances ensued as we walked in. I had spent an inordinate amount of time getting ready… hair flat ironed, little black dress, glowing tanner from a bottle, makeup and nails… and painful heels… all of it I'd done to "make him happy" and shut him up when I would have preferred to be at home in my pajamas, hair in a bun and eating a box of cookies in front of the tv or reading a book. But instead I was on his arm internally rolling my eyes at the scene before me. A few people mingled around with their drinks but it seemed for the most part the majority stayed in selective huddles. As I scanned the room, inside I fumed and resentment grew that I was there. Marriage sucked alright, I thought to myself. At least it did with him, I thought, giving him a side glance of contempt.


We slowly made our way across the room past various groups toward the opposite side where a long white clothed table of catered food was spread out and a bartender stood ready to serve drinks. I noticed that with the exception of his best friend and two women no one initiated conversation with him. It was becoming more and more obvious that we were on our own. Awkward didn't even begin to touch how it felt. I began to wonder what the deal was when the photographer hired began to encourage everyone to move to the staircase and choose a spot for a group photograph. I stood over to the side by the long stretch of windows that looked out at the downtown bustle… couples walked by dressed up to go to dinner and maybe see a show… couples who were having a good time and heads were bent toward one another in closeness and intimate conversation, occasional laughter and genuine smiles. With a drink in my hand I turned back to the room and observed as the class reunion took their places on the staircase and smiled for photo after photo to be taken. A few minutes later the crowd was breaking up from their photo session and it was then I felt someone beside me. A man to my left. I turned slightly to glance over at him.

"What a night, huh?" He smiled easily at me holding a beer, his eyes twinkling at the nostalgia of it all.

"Yeah… " I replied "Is this your class?" I asked him not sure if he was one of the graduates or was a spouse of one.

He smiled and nodded "Yeah… it's been a pretty great night getting to catch up with everyone. Crazy. I can't believe it's been twenty years, you know?"

I nodded "I'm sure… "

"So… who are you here with? Who is your husband?" He asked me with curiosity.

I looked at him and told him my husband's name.

It was then that his face dropped. No smile. No niceties. No anything. His expression turned from laid-back and friendly to immediately tense. He stared at me as if he wanted to say something. But instead he brushed past me and walked away. Just like that he was gone without a word or explanation. I stood there trying to collect my thoughts in bewilderment. I didn't understand what on earth had just happened. One minute everything was fine and the next… not so much. I took a sip from the small clear plastic cup I held in my hand… and tried to process what had just happened. Clearly there was some reason he had acted that way… there was some reason why my husband's name made him walk off without a word. Little did I know then that the rest of the evening would prove to be disastrous… people weren't interacting with us… and I began to voice that I was ready to leave. "In a minute" I was told despite his attempts at letting people know all about his work, where he lived and what he drove. I was becoming increasingly frustrated and alarmed that obviously there was some valid reason why at least ninety percent of these people were not making an effort to reminisce about high school with him or even what they had been up to the past twenty years.


Eventually we departed… after much of my tugging on his arm to "come on, were leaving(!)" out of embarrassment for him. I hadn't wanted to come yet at the same time I was so completely unprepared for how the evening had played out… and it left me with more questions than answers. Why did it feel like I had entered the twilight zone when I'd stepped into that room that night? I asked him... "Is there something you haven't told me?" and "Why do none of these people seem to want to interact with you?" and "Did you do something to make these people so blatantly dislike you?"


Avoidance ensued. Silence. Glancing at his profile as we walked along the now emptying sidewalks of downtown in the windy night I detected growing irritation from him mixed with a set jaw and an ego that had been knocked to the ground if not lower. Something changed that night. I felt it then but didn't really understand it fully until much much later… over a year and a few months later into my divorce. Hindsight is a funny thing. Later that night enduring a horse and carriage ride along the quaint downtown streets with him and his best friend and his girlfriend we all sat in near silence. Internally I  questioned how on earth I was with this person. It was like he had been outed for the jerk he was… I was just late to get the memo… over ten years late but it was received that night. And he knew it. That night looking back… I see so clearly now I unknowingly entered the discard stage by him. Slowly but painfully I was being viewed by him as the problem… I wasn't as young as I once was… I wasn't as this or that… I wasn't as willing to just say "okay" anymore and acquiesce to him and whatever he wanted to do. I had become more and more vocal and he didn't like it. That night he knew I no longer saw him as I once had… any remaining view of him in a positive light at that point was extinguished like a smutty cigarette. I saw him fully for who he was. And it wasn't pretty.


Discard: 

When the narcissistic sociopath has realized the relationship he's had with you has come to an end. He (or she) has used up every bit of good in you… they've taken your self-worth, your happiness, your peace, your confidence, your personal boundaries, your dignity, maybe even your support system…

Even if you are the one who leaves first either by walking away or filing for divorce, you are still suffering from the emotional fallout of a toxic relationship as you now realize with painful clarity that it was all fake, a fraud, his (or her) love was not real… it was merely a show to gain narcissistic supply to feed their infantile and sick ego.

The best news is eventually you can get to a healthier place… leaving is the first step. As time goes on and with therapy, self care and lots of support from friends and family… you can live the great life you imagined… experiencing real love, a life without tension, anxiety and eggshells… and feel physically better too. A narcissistic sociopath may discard you for what they believe to be a better choice but with that comes something even greater for you… your freedom.


© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2015