How Do I Get The Old Me Back?

On another site I belong to, someone asked, what do you do about the family and friends who say you’ve changed, aren’t fun any more, and want the “old” you back?

My answer would be this;

You and everyone who knows you has to face the fact that you will never be the old you again. You, are the same person you always were but life gives us experiences that change how we see and function in the world.

Sure, there are a few people who float through life and never have a life altering experience but true character is built by adversity and over-coming life challenges. Without challenges and overcoming things we didn’t think we could; we never know how strong and capable we are.

Alot of how people view us is directly connected to how we view ourselves. We used to live up to others expectations of us. The opinions of others mattered to us, we were people pleasers.

In the past we presented ourselves as we thought others wanted us to be. I know for myself, I often felt like an impostor, or failure because I was trying so hard to be all things to all people. Victims of a narcissist are often over achievers and usually put other’s needs before their own.

After leaving the narcissist we are drained, depleted and unable to be the person we used to be. People don’t like change, they liked the way you were because they knew how to talk to you, what you liked, needed, and now they don’t know this person and they don’t know how to relate to you.

Think about this; if you or any one of your friends were violently raped, would anyone complain that they weren’t “fun” any more? Well, you have been raped at a soul level. That is going to change a person. It’s a fact and it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can be an opportunity for personal growth, in fact, it should change a person. If someone can bounce right back after being in an abusive relationship, they are not dealing with their emotions and pain and will more than likely end up in another abusive relationship. You had better learn from the experience now or risk repeating history over and over again.

Being all things to all people is exhausting work and you are drained. I didn’t have the energy to be “my old self”, nor the desire. Whereas I used to be a clean freak, I often didn’t do dishes for a week. I actually threw dishes away instead of washing them. My mother would be agast when she saw my dirty house. I used to be a wonderful hostess, cooking and entertaining, the life of the party, and I had no desire now. I felt broken, and had no idea how to put myself back together when nothing felt natural and everything was an effort. A sign of depression is a lack of desire, energy, and motivation. You could take meds to mask the depression or you can accept you have every right to be depressed and to need time to heal. Give yourself a fucking break!

I felt I was always disappointing people, I hadn’t been able to make my ex happy, now friends and family was unhappy with me. I decided the only thing I could do was to be myself come what may. I was too tired to be anything else. I stopped trying to please everyone else and focussed on pleasing myself. I would not do anything out of obligation or pressure. I would not let anyone make me feel bad for not living up to their expectations of me. I was going to live true to my core self and if they didn’t like me, so be it. I was tired of feeling resentful, taken advantage of and like an impostor.

It is not selfish to live true to yourself, to say no when you can’t do something. When you do say yes, people will know you are sincere and you won’t feel resentful.

The “old you” wasn’t working for you or you wouldn’t have gotten in so deep with the narcissist. You went through the experience to learn a lesson, you can learn from it or not; it’s your choice. You will never be your old self again, you will be the new and improved you. You probably WILL lose some friends and you will make different friends.

Life is like that, things change, friends change, we grow, sometimes we leave people behind. As long as you live true to yourself you can never be wrong. Do you want friends who like you for you or friends who only like you when you are the person they want you to be?

It’s OK, I’m Just Sad

I start most of my days the same way.

I wake up about 6 am, make myself a coffee, sit on the couch and turn on the tv, Stella comes and snuggles up with her head on my lap or tucked behind my back; and I cry.

Now, don’t feel bad for me, it’s ok, I’ve been doing it for years, and I have accepted that it’s just the way I am.

I don’t think everyone experiences such a deep sadness that it just becomes a piece of you, but I wanted to write about it because I think some of you can relate. It’s not pain any more, it’s a deep sadness that comes with acceptance. It doesn’t follow me all day long, and it’s not that I am unhappy with my life. I am thankful for every day, in fact, I am filled with intense gratitude most days.

For most of my life I viewed sadness as weakness, something to be avoided; no one likes sadness. Friends and family want you to be happy, get over it, move on, you are away from the abuser, you should be happy. They tell you to “find a nice guy”, go out and have fun; and you can barely drag yourself out of bed. Friends give the worst advice because they don’t want to deal with your sadness, they feel helpless to fix it. They don’t have to fix it, they just need to listen, be there with a box of Kleenex and to assure you, this will pass.

When my step dad died after 30 years being married to my mother and she was apologizing for still crying after 2 weeks. I told her, “I would wonder if you weren’t crying”. There has been many times my mother suggested I get “something” from the doctor to help me “get over” my ex, or deal with my life situation. That is the way society is these days, be happy and if you aren’t, take something that will make you happy.

I know that there are people who are helped with meds when they have suicidal thoughts, are depressed for no reason, have post partum depression, or a chemical imbalance; but I had every reason in the world to be sad and depressed. I had lost everything and was starting over from zero at 51 years old. My life had been shattered. I had every right to be fucking sad. To medicate myself into being happy was like putting a bandaid on a wound without cleaning it.

I did that as a child, I had skinned my knee badly doing something I shouldn’t have been doing so I put a bandaid on it and didn’t tell my parents. I didn’t clean the wound, I didn’t put antiseptic on it, I just left the bandaid on and pretended it never happened. Until one day it started to really hurt so I took the bandaid off and it was an oozing ugly mess of infection. What did I do? I changed the bandage and left it a while longer, until it got so painful I had to say something.  By that time the size of the wound had gotten bigger, deeper and more painful. You know, I fought that infection for months, and I have the scar to this day.

If you don’t deal with your feelings now and mask them with meds, the feelings don’t go away, they sit under the surface festering, growing, and someday, maybe years from now, after having another abusive relationship, or when you blow up over something stupid and unrelated, those feelings WILL come back at the most inopportune time. The scars of emotional abuse only deepen when they are ignored.

Did you know that tears are cleansing? It’s your body’s way of clearing toxins from your body. Crying is good for you! Why else do people say they had a “good cry”. No one ever says they had a “bad cry” because 9 out of 10 times, we feel better after having a “good cry”.

After leaving my ex I cried so many tears I was amazed I had any more tears to cry. I couldn’t stop crying. I mean, we have to be able to function, go to work, deal with the kids, we have to eventually get control of our tears. I decided to give myself an allotment of time every morning before I put my makeup on, to have a full body, pity party, good cry. Then I would get ready for my day and get things done. Then at the end of the day, often times while driving home; I let myself cry again.

It never failed to make me feel better. It was a release.

I enjoy a good cry. I can make myself cry over all kinds of things, but you know what? I never cry over the ex narc any more. I will cry out of gratitude, because I am happy my son is happy, or I might cry because I feel guilty about something I need to forgive myself for, or because I think about my old dog Kato, sometimes I am so filled with gratitude I have to cry or there was the time I used the wrong chemicals on the fairways at the golf course and killed the grass; I felt so bad I took Stella for a walk in the forest and cried.

It’s ok to cry. Give in to it, deal with it, analyze why you are crying, feel it, really let yourself enjoy your tears, feel the stress leaving your body, know you are cleansing yourself of all the toxins left behind by the narcissist. Let all the pain and sadness out and then wash your face and get in with your day.

Have a great day!!

It Is What It Is – Let It Be

The wonderful thing about having to put yourself back together after having a narcissist all but destroy you, is getting to create who you are meant to be without the pressure to be  something you’re not. As I continue to put the pieces together and strive to be the best most authentic version of me, I look at how other people operate in life. I continually make note of the characteristics I admire in others and traits that I recognize in myself and don’t like.

As children, we rely on others to teach us who we are. In those first 5 – 6 years our brains absorb information that forms how we view ourselves for the rest of our lives, good and bad. If we are told lies we will repeat those lies to ourselves, over and over until they become truth. Alot of people are oblivious to the fact that they aren’t living an authentic life.

I consider it a gift to be given a second chance to be all that I can be, to be comfortable in my skin, and live a life I am proud of. I believe in life long learning and people should never stop striving to be better. Few people can sit back and say, “I am the best I can be.” The past 10 + years I have come to the realization I have spent most of my life trying to be like my mother; a person I consider to be shallow and self-serving. I have been made to feel something is wrong with me because I cared, loved deeply, and considered how my actions and words affected others. I struggled with knowing what was and wasn’t mine to pack.

I continually listen and read information from experts, Oprah Soul Sunday, Brene Brown, Eckhart, Deepak, and the like; taking in information in my quest to continue to grow. I watch how the people I admire handle their lives.

One of the people I admire the most is my son, it amazes me that a child I raised has such a healthy approach to life. He has the wonderful ability to be a caring, giving individual who still lives life on his terms and remains true to his core self. Throughout his childhood I was criticized for giving him to much of a voice to express his feelings, loved him too much, wasn’t strict enough, and encouraged him too much. I guess somehow deep inside I wanted better for him and even though I didn’t realize it at the time, I didn’t want him living a lie and coming up short like I had.

I never had a preconceived notion of who he should be. Never expected him to choose a certain profession, make alot of money, or attain a certain level of success. The only things I insisted on while he was growing up was honesty, not judge others, be hard working, and generous to those less fortunate. I remember telling him the only expectations I had of him was for him to be a productive member of society. I can’t take credit for the man he has become because he has met other people in his life who have influenced him, good and bad.

His motto in life is, “It is what it is”. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t care, or avoiding responsibility.

“It is what it is”, is accepting life, not trying to control things you can not control, not trying to manipulate things to happen the way and in the time frame, you want them to, and not worrying about things that may never happen. It is not getting angry about things someone does that don’t concern you.

It is owning YOUR actions and reactions. It is accepting life and people at face value, not how you wish they were. It is owning your happiness, it is the source of inner peace.

I wasn’t raised this way and didn’t raise my son this way. I was raised by a mother who pretended to be caring, who controlled her little world, who believes that; how things look is more important than how things are. Who buried her head in the sand and put her fingers in her ears and loudly sang “Lalalala”; because what she couldn’t see, couldn’t hurt her. And she loved me when I played by her rules and presented an image her friends would approve of. My father tried to mold me into the woman my mother wasn’t and said as much through my whole childhood, “you are going to be a better wife than your mother, YOU are going to know how to keep your husband happy.” “If you don’t behave I will take your brother and leave your mother”.

What a weight to put on a small child, no wonder I went most of my life thinking I was responsible for everyone’s happiness or anger and that if I wasn’t “good”, people I love will leave.

It is no surprise to me that I felt totally broken after I left the narcissist. I am thankful for the experience now because I believe it was the only way I was ever going to break free of the expectations of others and my fear of losing the people I love, and live true to my core self and be who I was meant to be.

If I am not aware I can still fall into old patterns, especially when I am with my mother. She always finds someone she can critique and deem, “wrong”. They don’t just live life differently from how she lives her life, they are living their life wrong. They don’t keep their house clean enough, they are fat because they don’t eat right, they don’t dress properly, they don’t parent right (which is the biggest “what the fuck?” because her parenting style was based on how things looked). Forever the expert on every fucking thing and now it makes me angry when she starts “tisk, tisk, tisking”. First of all, who made her the judge of how people should live? People can have a dirty house and still be a good person. I may not want to eat at that person’s house if the cats walk all over the counters, but they are still a good person and it is none of my business how their house looks. Yes, I suppose her friend is over weight because she eats too much, but her friend is 70+ years old and it is none of my business and it doesn’t change who the person is.  My mother could choose to not go out for dinner with her friend, instead of going for dinner and later talk behind her back to me by comparing what she ate compared to what her friend ate.  She could ask her friend to take walks with her. Her friend was involved with an abusive controling man, my mother would never allow a man to treat her like that. But when her friend broke up with the man my mother invited him over to play cards.

Did I mention this woman is supposedly a “friend”. Instead of just listening to my mother and agreeing, like I used to, I now will confront her on her actions by saying, “why would you invite him over when you think he is so bad for your friend?” Her reply, “Well he’s not like that with me”. “But she is supposedly your friend, if you want her to dump him, why would you still be his friend?”

Or, “Yeah I guess so and so’s house is dirty, it’s always been dirty, I don’t know why, I suppose they don’t have a hang up about having a perfect home like you. I don’t really care. They aren’t going to change. It’s not my problem.”

The other thing I have struggled with most of my life that I learned from her. Catastrophing (I don’t think that’s a real word) everything. It’s the ability to turn any positive moment into a negative by projecting everything that could go wrong. It’s the “what ifs”. It’s the false concern, “I hope this doesn’t happen”.

I can think of so many times I was excited about something and my mother was able to burst my bubble in seconds. She doesn’t mean to. She engages her mouth before her mind. For example, I was asked out by a really handsome, popular guy. Her response, “I wonder why he asked you out”. Or I’d have an idea for a business, her first thought was, “If someone could make money doing that, someone would be doing it already”. My art was junk until her friends saw value in it. When my son was in his teens he was getting into trouble, had quit school and she thought I should “wash my hands of him” and when I refused, she sold my house out from under me and gave me 2 weeks to be out.

She did it twice to me, she held my mortgage in order to “help” me and ended up selling it out from under me both times. For a long time I held alot of resentment towards her because of it. I am sure I never would have gone back to my ex if she hadn’t made me homeless, both times. But I have had to let the resentment go. I have told her the consequences of her actions. I don’t let her believe her delusions but I also understand she has her own history, her own warped view of who she is and her own survival mechanisms. We all do. The best any of us can do is to strive to be better and not allow our screwed up past affect our kids.

I still worry about my son but I also trust that he is quite capable of dealing with whatever happens. He is the most capable man I know. He’s an adult and if he want my opinion or advice, he has no problem asking for it. He knows I will always have his back.

So many times in life, the things that cause us the most strife and sleepless night, are the things we have absolutely no control over. When we try to “make” things happen the way we want them to. When we let what we wish would happen influence the choices we make.

My ex hurt me, yes; but the most painful experience of my life was my mother selling my house which forced me into the position of not being there for him. It broke my heart and it made me more reliant on my ex because he encouraged me to not give up on my son.

In all honesty, I can’t say how things would have turned out if my mother hadn’t sold my house. I didn’t know what to do with my son, I was drinking too much, he wasn’t listening to me, my self esteem was wrapped up in whether I had a man or not, my life, I had 3 marriages under my belt. Who knows where my life would have gone. I can’t dwell on the “what if’s”, and the “if only’s”; all I have is “what is”.

All I can do is live life honestly and remain true to my core self. I can hold myself accountable for my actions and what I allow into my life, from this day forward. I can not change the past, wishing things would have been different, is a huge waste of mental and emotional energy. Feeling sorry for myself and remaining a victim does nothing for my self esteem, or to improve my future.

The interesting thing about living true to my core values is; I am more confident and I never feel like a failure. When you live your life trying to please others you can’t help but feel like at any moment people are going to discover you are a fake and not like you any more. When you live true to your core self, you know people like you for you. There is no fear, no self doubt, no second guessing if you are doing the right thing, and no one else to blame.

Live life on your terms, don’t let anyone influence your decisions and you will live a life without regret.

So many times the victim of a narcissist wants the “quick fix” to healing. They think healing will come if they meet a new guy who loves them. I have heard people say it time and time again, “I want to meet a man who loves me for me.” Or someone will say to the victim, “You just need to meet a nice guy”. “Some man will love you for you”. Your self worth should never be reliant on who loves you. Your happiness and confidence needs to come from knowing you are living your best life regardless of whether you have a man or not. The minute you make your happiness dependent on a man, you are giving that person control of your happiness and self worth. Whether you are loved or not should never be determined by whether another person approves of you.