Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cognitive Dissonance - Part One

Cognitive Dissonance is a form of Trauma Bonding. This is a difficult concept to explain and has been quite difficult for me to understand.

In general, it is the existence of two opposing thoughts held at the same time. It promotes a sense of confusion and keeps one stuck in a toxic relationship.

Here is what I said to myself over and over in this past relationship:

Thought 1
This relationship is abusive and unbearable. I need to get out.

Thought 2
He really is a great guy. It's ME with all the problems.

Most people would leave a relationship when it gets unbearable or when their boundaries get crossed. Unfortunately, I stayed around — and for many reason.

Self-esteem was one.

I was hooked. I was hooked by all the good things he did for me.

Bill idealized me at first. What girl would NOT want what he gave me? I spent 2 long years hurting and waiting for Matt to come home. Two years without a date. Two years without a man in my life who kissed me, complimented me, treated me like I meant something to him. I realize this is a short time to be without someone. I know that. At the same time, those years were spent feeling rejected and sad, trying to find the power within myself to take care of myself and my son. I spent those years writing, taking care of myself, hanging out with healthy friends and doing fun things with my son.

It's no wonder when Bill came around (and I did date a few other men too) that I fell carelessly into his arms. Here's what I wrote about Bill when I first met him:

my heart skips a beat when he calls. when he writes. when he texts. when he says he's thinking of me. my heart leaps when he says he's on his way. when he shows up. when he opens the door for me. when he pulls me close and looks into my eyes. when he lightly, softly kisses me. when he walks up behind me, brushes my hair away and melodiously kisses my neck.... his breath tingling my back. i get butterflies when he compliments me. when he notices all the little things about me that have always gone unnoticed, unappreciated. my heart skips a beat when he holds me tightly, pulls me closer to him. when he makes me wait. and wait. and wait. he's patient. much more patient than i am. and he's a gentleman. he only kisses me the way i want to be kissed when we are alone. and he wont go any further than is appropriate. he lets me enter a room first, holding the door for me. he will tell me i look great. that i smell good. that i'm attractive. that he likes the scarf i'm wearing; that he loves the hat i have fashioned on. and then my shoes, oh how he adores my sexy shoes! he notices it all. he misses nothing. and remembers every detail. 
he appreciates everything i say and do. he writes lists of things he loves about me, but most important (he says) on his list is that i am confident and strong. he thinks i am smart and strong. and my age... he is not interested in younger women, like the young cute gals who work at alterra (coffee shop). he wants a woman like me, with life experience. and... he believes in me! it's as if he really knows me, and for the first time in my life i feel as if there is a person who completely gets me! i can't control him, not one bit. but i can make his knees buckle when he looks into my eyes and he makes me weak in the knees. 
he's a man. he's sweet. kind. gentle. light. strong. thoughtful. confident. secure. not possessive. encouraging. cute. tall. talented. spiritual. exciting. adventurous. human. loves the outdoors. loves to read. loves to talk. loves to listen. loves that i love my job. finds everything about me acceptable. i feel good with him. i feel normal. i feel understood. i feel there's no roller coaster of emotions.

i have, finally, a small semblance of a personal life again, and it is so refreshing.

he might have the power to hurt my feelings but he has the humility to apologize and make things right. he's warm, gentle and kind.
he lets me be me. i do what i need. he wants me to be independent and not be clingy. he doesn't need me, but enjoys his time with me. he has a life, friends, passions, interests. everything makes sense. he has a healthy outlook, is educated, spiritual. he talks about my son as if he'd like to be a part of his life someday. he says he never wanted a child but it would be nice perhaps. he thinks i am an amazing mother raising a great child. and that gives me hope that we could be together as a family some day! and he even writes me one-line love poems and 4-line sonnets (technically not a sonnet). we have long, long kisses, the kind a woman dreams about, the kind that make me cry sometimes. he holds me tight in his arms, wraps himself around me like no man ever has. i fit right into his shoulder; my protector, my sweet lover, my friend and confident. he says he hears music when we are together. and i hear music when he's gone. he greets me with a text good morning every day, and each and every night without fail he wishes me sweet dreams. without fail!! without fail!!
i could not ask for more! i'm so happy!

After 2 years of feeling rejected, not beautiful, unloved, here comes a guy who tells me all the things I longed to hear from my ex-husband! He was Prince Charming at his best! I was lifted up and adored! He not only adored me, but thought I was smart, beautiful, kind, sweet. He told me I was strong. Capable. Unappreciated by my ex. That my ex didn't deserve me, that I deserved better! That I married "beneath" me (his words).

Add on to that 3 years of adoration. Ups and downs. Oh there's more to the story. Lots more and I don't want this post to be about that today. However, a portion of that "love" I described above was shown to me even on the very last days, and after, of our relationship. Imagine my absolute horror when I found out all of the above was a lie.


A lie used to lure me into his world, a world of abuse and control like no other. I was strong but I was oh-so-vulnerable.

He wore that mask the entire relationship; he wore the mask so well that I truly truly believed it. It was only when he removed that mask and began to do the most horrible and cruel things to me that I began to see who (and what) this man really was.

Stay tuned. I will write a part two of this story tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I’m Sad...

Four glorious weeks of joy, hope, faith, wellness, happiness, growth. My journey is not thwarted, but I don't understand the fall. Last Friday, only 4 days ago, I'm started missing "him". I started hurting again, altho no where near as badly as I had been. Just a tiny bit of sadness. Sometimes I realize that is healthy. But these feelings snowballed into more sadness. Still not anything like last year. But, geeze, I thought I really was going to be done with sadness.

I'm trying to figure out what set me back. I am not sure.

A friend sent me this today:

“Once they tire of their new admirer, they will quickly devalue her and pass on to another.”

My fear is that he will not devalue her. And my pain is that he "values" her right now, giving her all that I wanted... All the idealizing that I got. I guess I want to be idealized again. And it will never happen. Why am I waiting for him to devalue her just so that I can feel better? Again I ask: what is wrong with me that I stumble and cannot move on?

Luckily my support group is today. Maybe I will get my head (heart) back on straight. :P

Monday, January 26, 2015

Standing on a Road I Didn't Plan

Aside from the good feelings I wrote about this past week, feelings that have been consistently great for almost 4 weeks, I hit a bump sink hole in the road. OK, maybe it was just a big pot hole and I didn't even get a flat, but my tire (heart) has been leaking air since Friday (I can't figure out why) and culminated in tears, finally, last evening and this morning.

Why? I'm not sure. I have learned in order to heal, I need to find out exactly what I was feeling and thinking that start these set backs (sometimes obsessions). However, I am at a loss as to why or how it started. Friday morning I was doing well.

Friday night I was back into obsessing. WTF?

I am aware a lot of it has to do with three men in my life: Matt, Bill and my father. All three men abused me in some way: physically or verbally. I have put on a happy face, turned the other cheek and tried to treat these men with respect in return. I try to accept my life on life's terms. I am focusing on me these days; I am optimistic about my future.

I did have a shouting argument with Matt, my son's father, on Sunday (one week ago, not last night). We have not had many of those in the past 5 years — maybe a whole 5 times or less where I've lost my temper and shouted at him. On that evening he brought up the Swiss trip he plans to take with Oliver this summer. What started out as a simple exchange ended up being a power struggle about who can play the biggest card. Not fun. I ended the fight with this mature text: I hate you.

It's laughable now, but not then. I picked up the phone and called. He had told me he went to court to force me to let Oliver go on the trip, and I just lost it... every fear came out in that volcano; all the years of therapy and recovery out the door. Oh well. I am human after all. Turns out he was goading me, which made me all the more angry that he would try to hurt me like that. How many times will I let this man hurt me?

My dreams have been nightmares for few weeks now. It's either Bill or Matt or Matt's new wife that takes control out of my hands and takes my power away. Bill driving crazy and I'm in the car. Matt doing whatever. His wife flashing a diamond ring in my face saying her diamonds just weren't big enough.

And then reality check: I overheard my little boy tell his friend, "I have two mom's now!" and I freaked out. YOU DO NOT HAVE TWO MOTHERS! I made it quite clear to Oliver and to his friend that Oliver's world had only one mother, and it was ME.

Oliver stared at me wide-eyed. It occurred to me that this will be talked about some day in one of his numerous therapy sessions he will inevitably need when he's in college. I reminded myself to put money away for his therapy account. (Kidding.)

I am your mother. You only have ONE mother!

Fucking divorce. Seriously? Oliver shared that Amy (Matt's wife) told him she was his step mom. Oh lordy. I was just not ready for that. First the birthday party last year. Then the barrage of new clothes that he's been coming home with. Now the stepmom word. I really hadn't anticipated the affect it would have on me.

I know it's great that my son has a woman in his life who wants to nurture and care for him. I accept that. It's a good thing, I KNOW THIS. (PLEASE DON'T WRITE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION HOW I SHOULD UNDERSTAND AND BE GRATEFUL BLAH BLAH BLAH FUCKING BLAH.)

I'm angry. Can you tell?

Then there's Bill....

I venture from hating that man to missing him. Oliver shared last night he misses Bill. Do you hear that Bill? JerkOh sadness. The sweet words coming from my son's heart sprung like the Indiana Jones rolling boulder and sat in my stomach for hours.

That boy has no clue how awful and deceitful Bill was. Even I question it at times. It's hard to believe all those things I've been learning about him lately (regarding psychopaths and narcissists). He read to my son at night. Seriously? That was fake?

And all those Good Morning! Great Day! and Sweet Dreams texts he'd send each morning/night without fail, unless he wanted to punish me for bad behavior (aka standing up for myself). Here's what I read on

First, they want to interject themselves into our minds and life first thing in the Morning to last all day. Its a form of control.

The point is to keep tabs on you and make sure you think about them first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Brainwashing at it's best. Your mind is at it's slowest at these points, easier to manipulate and implant 'good' feelings or bad. Your most vulnerable time.

You all wouldn't believe the techniques this guy used on me. You'd probably think I was paranoid or making it all up. Stockholm Syndrome. Cognitive Dissonance. Check out this post. Everything she writes about, everything, happened to me.

So I guess there are days when it all just piles up and is too much for me. It's when I cry and ask God to take some of this from me (all of it) because I can't do it.

I found this video (thanks to Carrie) and want to share it here. There is nothing about my life that is what I thought it would be. Last night Oliver and I talked. He wished his daddy and I would live together. Amy doesn't even factor into the equation when he shares this stuff with me. I'm not really jealous of her. Not one bit. I don't want Matt back either. She can have him. It's not possible their relationship is ideal anyway. I don't normally compare. I know too I will have my own some day, maybe. Who knows. I still deal with the fact that I do NOT think I'm pretty in the least. NOT ONE BIT. NOT ONE SINGLE BIT. Mostly I think I am ugly. Sad huh?

Obviously I'm not ready for a relationship. Perhaps that's why God hasn't put anyone into my life yet.

Anyway, this video. Love it. Thought I'd share it today.

It's a dump here today on RP. I had to get this written so that it will not be bottled up inside me. My heart hurts. My throat is swollen with sadness. I want to sleep. I want to crawl into my bed and sleep the day away. I want to cry.

I'll get work done instead. I'll put on make up, clean up my home. (Easy to do in this new place!) I'll get ready for my Bible study which I get to host tonight. I'm working on a fun project for a client. I made an awesome soup this weekend (hope to share, it's been a while).

Hopefully this third video does not make page load a two-day event. If so, I'll publish it on it's own post. This one is what I want to do as soon as I am done reveling in self-pity and sadness. ;) Please take the time to watch it. It's fun. :)

Thanks again friends. The support you offer me is very much a part of my healing process.

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