Wednesday, November 19, 2014

To My Readers and To My Son

After writing yesterday's post, I felt extremely conflicted. There is a lot of embarrassment surrounding the love I had/have for a man who made it very clear he wants nothing to do with me. There is shame about writing this stuff online. Maybe I reveal too much of my life. I know there are friends who think I am too open.

Then I read blogs where women bare all, like Carrie Riemer's blog, Lady with a Truck. I don't compare; I'm trying to find a comfortable place.

Today a friend was direct with me and she was completely right. My focus has been my hurt (Bill) and my focus truly needs to be on my son. He is aware I'm sure of my ups and downs, altho I do try to protect him from that.

I'm close, so very very close to shutting the door on this part of my life (the Bill part). Healing has not been a upward journey. There are ups, downs and periods of no movement. There have been laughter, tears, pain, acting "as if" I'm doing OK, lots of seeking, journaling, reading, learning and praying. Even praising God for all He has brought into my life. I am an honest person and I share honestly with others, usually with little to no shame for that. I have been applauded for my honesty, my ability to look deep into things, for my self-awareness, for my faith and seeking of God.

One thing struck me about one of the articles I shared with you yesterday. In this one, there is a line that read: People with narcissistic traits are known for targeting intelligent, self-sufficient, empathic individuals as partners.

I am an intelligent, self-sufficient person! I posses high emotional intelligence, conflict-resolution skills and the ability to compromise.

I lack self esteem, especially after this 3 year relationship and even more so after being left by ex-husband. I don't think I'm pretty AT ALL. I don't think my body is good enough. I don't think I'm smart enough. I don't think I am mature enough. (Both Bill and Matt made that clear, altho Bill admitted he too had his "crazy" at times. Matt told me once that if he saw me in a bar he'd think I was pretty enough to hit on, but that despite my changes for the better, he knew me on the inside, and that is why he is leaving me. That one comment alone is not something I have gotten over yet.) This is what has happened to me in the past 10 years as I've gained weight, lost my job, lost my marriage, lost a relationship with a man I idealized at times. I disregard my beauty (if there is any). My age-appropriate body. My average to maybe above average intelligence which should be enough. My ability to save money for my future. My strength. My resilience — my therapist made clear that is the one word she uses to describe me! My generosity to others. My cooking skills. My hard work. My creativity (remember those cookies?) My design skills. My style. My work ethics. My ability to come out on the other side. My relationship with God. My desire to constantly seek to be a better person. My ability to tackle problems in their proper perspective. My desire and ability to help and guide others as a mentor. My love of children. My "good mothering" skills with Oliver. My ability to not judge, but rather accept those around me. My ability to be there for others. My honesty. My willingness. My strength. (Blah blah blah!) I forget all that. I don't focus on it.

And in this other article I shared yesterday: The target, who may possess high emotional intelligence, empathy, conflict-resolution skills, and the ability to compromise, may work diligently to respond to the deafening silence. He or she may frequently reach out to the narcissistic person via email, phone, or text to resolve the greatly inflated misunderstanding, and is typically met with continued disdain, contempt, and silence. Essentially, the narcissistic person’s message is one of extreme disapproval to the degree that the silence renders the target so insignificant...

I remember trying to prove my significance to Bill at times – near the end when he was pulling away (sometimes called Devaluing stage).

It becomes an obsession to prove my worth to someone who is rejecting me. While normal people will shudder when they watch a person "put their self-worth in a zip lock baggie and hand it over to another" as one reader, who I respect, wrote to me once, it's something that I have a need to prove. I don't understand why this is so important to me. Other people can walk away and say, WTF?! I deserve better. And that is something I truly want to be able to do. I am not sure why I cannot do it!

I surely hope you don't judge me when you read this. If you want to leave me a comment, please do. Sick of my struggles yet? Ready to stop reading? In a lot of ways it's OK if you are feeling that way. I will keep writing whatever feels comfortable because I need to get it out, because I need to have a voice, and maybe just maybe I can help someone else who has gone thru this to find their own voice some day. It's my journey and it is what it is. I can't change where I'm at, altho I am trying very hard to become a woman who can throw this shit fuck ass to the curb (he's already there because he left me) and gain my power back and hold my head high and let go and be that strong example of a woman with high self-esteem to my son. I want that! I'm working damn hard to be that woman. I've been told I am NOT doing all I can do. This was by a stranger on a forum. I say to her Bullshit. I am. To the best of my abilities, I frickin am.

To my son I say this:

Your mom loves you to the best of her abilities. Which is a lot. I love you dear boy. When you read this blog some day as a man or as a young adult, know that I am not self indulgent. I am not indulging in self pity. I put on a happy face for you. I sit with you and read, hug, cuddle and play (as much as I can). I cook great meals for you and try to serve you wonderful healthy things. I tell you often I love you. I hold you, kiss you and advocate for you at school. I buy you wonderful toys within (and sometime out of) my budget, not out of guilt, but because I think you deserve to have some fun things. I want you to keep up with the other boys but I also want you to learn to be happy with what you have been given. I give you my time, something that is NOT hard for me to do. I enjoy our time together. I say this not to pat myself on the back but to show you how important you are to me. I love you so much. My heart aches for you when you are in pain. You are so strong Oliver. I don't think I could do half of the things you do: living in two different homes. Facing your fears each day when you go to school because you feel intimidated by the structure and the teachers. Your dad and I fight for you there too. And I honor your father and your need for him — and his need — to be there for you. I'd love to have you all to myself. But I know how important your father is to you, how he needs to have a big role in your life. I give up that fight to get what I want because I know you need him. And I respect him. He is a good dad to you, and he loves you so much. When you come here and read this some day, and when you see me aching for Bill, or missing him, just know that I am human too and I have my struggles, some of which I am not proud of. I wish I could have spotted Bill earlier as a man who was not worthy of me, and especially not worthy of you. You deserve better Oliver, and I am working to give that to you. I wish I was better already. I'm broken in some areas. I read recently that God doesn't expect us to be perfect. We are flawed, we humans. We don't get what we want and we do crazy, silly, destructive things to try to fix our hurts. It's only when we fail that we realize sometimes our actions were not the best choices, something I know you learn about in school too. I know you're a smart, brilliant child, and maybe you do pick up on my flaws. Maybe you are the victim of my mistakes. But don't let mommy's mistakes keep you from feeling good about who you are. Because you are a sweet, loving, kind, genuine soul who God loves very very much. And I love you too. So very very much.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Dirty Little Secret(s)

I heard there are 50 states in this here Union that have been hit with freezing temps. It's flippin cold, and I'm happy to report it's toasty warm in our new home. We are so very happy here. I wrote about it before here, and I've mentioned it in several other posts. Yet it bears repeating. There is no corner in my life that has not been redeemed, all but one area is healing and renewing. I must say it's a beautiful thing. I can almost remember back to those days where life was sweet, before the marriage became undone, before my world crashed down, and before my recent break up destroyed what I had begun to build up for myself.

My home is an unending source of comfort to me. It's been a long time since a home has provided a sanctuary, a reprieve from the goings on in the world. My bedroom has not been a place of respite for many many years, even when I was married. There was a time after my ex-husband moved out that my bedroom was warm and inviting; that didn't last too long. I slept on the couch for a while last year. Months and months actually. It wasn't until I bought myself a new mattress and had a bed frame built for me that my room became a refuge. In this recent move, the king-size mattress was taken to the dump and the old bed frame sold for $50. With that gone the last bits and pieces of my marriage went too. It felt great.

There is still a little bit of Bill in my life. Or maybe a lotta bit. I put all of his gifts into two boxes. I received many over the years. I decided not to put up the beautiful mirror he crafted for me. The bed I sleep upon was designed and built by him. I'm not sure about it yet. Part of me wants to discard it into the dump. Part of me likes it; of course I use it. For now I try not to attach memories to it.

I feel huge amounts of shame and guilt for still struggling with our relationship. I beg God for mercy; I beg Him to take away residual feelings. Yep, still working with a therapist and doing all I am supposed to be doing to move thru this.

I'm not brave enough to share with you what I've discovered about my past, about what I minimized in my teen years. I started to assemble the story in my mind one day and it didn't look too nice, and yet there is a part of me that thinks some of it was not a big deal. I realize there was one event that was a huge deal and it just got shoved under a rug. I've shared it with a few close friends, but I haven't been able to tell you guys about it. Mostly because the other person is still alive. I was not sexually abused or molested. Not raped. Nothing like that.

I have also been learning about narcissism and what that entails. I really thought a narcissist was someone who stared at himself or herself in the mirror. I am learning it's much different from the stereotype, and that I may have been involved with someone who ever so cautiously and meticulously worked to undermine my self-esteem. It sounds like paranoia, and trust me, I want to believe it wasn't so. There are so many similarities between what I experienced and what those who are recovering from narcissistic relationships experienced that it's very very difficult to deny.

But... Denial is powerful. It's easier to believe that I was loved by this man, that I lost him because he was too afraid to commit, that I did something to repel him and therefore if I just change some things about me I'll win him back. He's got to see what a great woman he lost.

But... Maybe I was easy prey. And maybe because I was so hurt by my marriage breaking up and my husband not loving me anymore I just wanted to feel loved by someone again. I tried God, and I did find Him. It was just that Bill's seductions were extremely powerful. I've always said it's more fun to be cuddled on the couch with an adoring man than to hunker down alone. “You’re not alone. God’s there!” Well, if I am to be honest, God has never made me feel as good as I have felt with Bill. I wish it were different for me. I wish I could say “All I need is Jesus. He will never leave me.” While I know that is true, it just doesn't feel the same as when Bill held me.

I loved God. I still do! I remember feeling joy in my marriage. Gratitude. “God is great!” I would say. And He was! I was extremely grateful for my life and all He had given me. I loved my husband. I loved my baby son. I loved my family, my life, and all that He had provided for me. I did not take my life for granted. I sang His praises daily. I have hundreds of gratitude lists I wrote. (I still write them too.)

All I can say is that there were two sides to Bill. And there was a part of my life with him that was so incredible; I really didn't share what he brought to the table here in RP. You guys don't know how much he was integrated into my life. Like Stevie Nicks wrote in Landslide, “I've built my life around you.” My life was fully intertwined with his. He gave so much to me... and to Oliver. He was my constant companion, my best and closest friend, my champion, my lover. He'd put me in front of the mirror and make me look at myself, telling me how beautiful I was, telling me I had no idea how beautiful I was. It was so comfortable to be with him. He took care of me in many ways. All the ways in which a partner cares for a woman from good times to bad... lovely talks, dinners, trips together, shopping, moments of laughter, fun. There was incredible passion and excitement. So many fun memories that any man would die to experience. He was there for me, holding me during all those hard times, celebrating with me when I faced challenges. I was a part of his life too. I held him several times when he cried; I stayed by his side when he went thru a horrific depression and was working with various meds to feel normal again. I spent holidays with his family. We were invited to many of his friends' homes together as a couple. Our relationship was no secret. It was this year, sometime in the spring of 2014, that I finally knew I had fallen in love with him. After 2 1/2 years of dating, my divorce was final, and I could feel him in my heart. I thought he felt it too. It seemed like it anyway.

Now I am discovering that it's possible that none of what he said was true, that it was all a ploy, that his feelings were not real. Just like that, poof! Every good thing I experienced was eradicated when I started learning about narcissism.

I'm not sharing this so that you guys comment today, “Oh Andrea, of course he felt those things too.” And I'm not asking you to vilify him either.

I just need to get this out. I need to put "pen to paper" and get this out:

I loved him.
I (think I) still love him.
I'd probably talk to him if he wanted to talk things over with me.
I would probably not date him again.
I cannot throw anything he gave me away yet.
I cannot delete the texts, emails or pictures yet.
I cry over him still.
I still hurt a lot.
I miss him like crazy.
I'm scared to go thru the holidays without him.
I think about him a lot. Like a lot a lot.
I'm not sure if he really loved me.
I'm not sure if he really ever loved my son.
I freak out sometimes because I'm scared I will run into him.
I freak out a LOT about that.
I feel anxious and cannot eat or sleep sometimes.
I think this is all too much for me sometimes.
I hope some day for resolution (not a reunion, but resolution).
I pray for that actually.
I pray daily that he be removed from my thoughts.
I try to believe that God has a plan for me.
I try to have faith that I will get thru this.
I try to have faith that God will bring someone into my life that will give me what Bill gave me and then some...

And here's the biggest secret of all:

I don't feel the same way I used to feel about parenting. I don't have the glee and joy and happiness about Oliver that I used to have prior to July 2014. It's coming back, but very very slowly, and I wonder if it will ever come back the way it was.

There's another part to that and I'm not willing to share publicly just yet.

I love the comments you guys leave me. I do. I really really do. But I don't need you to tell me that I should let God do those things for me. For I just bared my soul to you guys. Re-read what I wrote. I am doing my darnedest to let God do that for me. I am working overtime in that department. I am working with my therapist. I'm uncovering stuff. I'm learning. I'm praying. I'm confessing. I'm open. I'm honest. I put myself out there. I am turning myself inside and out. And... I'm nurturing myself. Nurturing my son. Doing my daily things. Seeing friends. Laughing. Doing the footwork.

There is still this ache in my heart. I wish Bill would read this and have some compassion. He doesn't read my blog. And even if he did, I don't know that he would have compassion for me. I have tried to reason with him. To no avail.

I have not contacted him in a while. It's been since August I think. I wont. I can't. I can't because I cannot take anymore pain and rejection, which is most likely what I would get if I did contact him.

Raising Peanut is my online journal, a record of my journey through parenthood, divorce, recovering from divorce, dating and break up. I hope there is yet another chapter to write about. A chapter on surviving, thriving and joyful living. I pray that is in my future. I keep faith that it will happen for me, with or without a man. (Fingers crossed for a happy relationship in my future though...)

Just know that I still struggle with this and that I am not over him yet. Wishing I was wont make it happen.

One more thing... a very important thing.

Because of the event that took place when I was a teenager, and because I may have dated a narcissist I tend to minimize or conveniently forget all the hurtful things Bill did. Read narcissistic abuse, or  narcissistic relationship stages, or silent treatment and abuse, or cognitive dissonance, or gaslighting, or here's what Bill did too.  I realize that I am not seeing things clearly and am working and praying daily to see the picture realistically. If you look at any of those links you will think I am crazy for missing him. I know he was (is) an asshole! Tell it to my heart. Tell it to the part of me that still misses him. Tell it to the teenager. If I could stop missing him I would. Just trust me on that.

If you look closer at some of those tactics, you may begin to understand why this has been so difficult for me. If you knew how wonderful he could be to me and how intertwined our lives were, you may also understand.

No matter what the case, I am moving on, slowly. It's still hard. On the outside and in reality, I'm functioning fine. On the inside I struggle. I'm being patient with myself and hoping that eventually I will be past this.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Dear Sarah

Two nights ago I had a nice evening with a my friend Angela. We went to the opening of the new Athleta —  one of my very favorite stores! Afterwards we had a glass of wine, apps and girl-chat. We had a blast. She and I have much in common, and we have hardly had a chance to hang in a long time. She helped me move and since then we made it a priority to make time for one another. I love being with her because she is a fashionista; she's beautiful (ex-model) and humble and sweet and kind. A we adore designer clothing and are spasmodic when we find steals on eBay.

We have many many mutual friends. And then... casually she mentioned that my ex-husband (Matt) and his girlfriend were at a party she was at. A party that was hosted by my son's Godmother, one of my closest and dearest friends, Sarah.

I was shocked when I heard that my ex and his girlfriend were at Sarah's party.

Sarah and I go way back, obviously. Our husbands became friends because Sarah and I were so close. In fact, when Sarah went thru her first divorce, she hung out with me and Matt many times. He and I had a date night every Friday, and during this time, Sarah tagged along. Weekly it would be the three of us heading out to dinner, to a movie, to wherever. Once Sarah started dating her soon-to-be husband, we would double date. We spent weekends at our cottage, skied in Vail, and countless evenings in restaurants.

My ex and I attended their wedding. Our son was just a baby when they married.

When my ex-husband walked out, Sarah was crucial to my recovery. She was my support, among other friends as well. She and I talked daily and she kept telling me it would get better, spoken from her experience.

It's been almost 5 years since my ex left, and recently Sarah shared with me that I had no idea how much my divorce affected her. She was so distraught and angry over it. She could hardly talk to my ex, even though they occasionally ran into each other. Her husband and Matt continue to maintain a friendship despite our divorce.

When Angela mentioned the party, it felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I did not make a big deal out of it at the time, and the last thing I wanted to do was put Angela in the middle. I let it go. But that night I had bad dreams about my ex. The next day it started to bother me again. I texted Sarah and asked if we could meet up for coffee. Last night I called a mutual friend to run it past her. My friends are honest and they wont take sides. Then I started crying. I couldn't stop! I was so hurt. Sarah is my friend. She and her husband bought a new beautiful home and I haven't been to her home yet. She knew how hard the marriage break up was for me. How could she invite him and his girlfriend into her home? I felt really hurt!

The suggestion I received was to just tell her that I was hurt. Let her explain her side of it. Understand that her husband and my ex are friends.

I'm glad I'm in a place where I know my ex's girlfriend. I am in a good place with the divorce. Matt and I co-parent the best we can. I have had many conversations with Matt's girlfriend, and I know she is a good person. I have no problem with her; she treats my son very well, and in fact if anything were to happen to me, I know Oliver would be well taken care of by both of them.


I'm off to meet Sarah for coffee now...

I'm not teary-eyed or upset anymore. It helped to chat with a friend last night and let it out. It helps that I know not to attack or act like a high school girl.

Oh life... :) I just don't like how things turn out, and I guess I need to learn to have more acceptance that people will not always do what I want them to do, act the way I want them to act, love me the way I want them to love me. It's a good habit to count my blessings for otherwise I will focus only on the negative and live in resentment, which is not a place I want to be; it's not a place whereby a soul can thrive.

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