Length of time to read post: 9-20 minutes (see Joan’s comment) LOL
I have a full understanding that life is a series of events ranging from elated happiness to devastating sadness. How we react to those events is based on our own personality, experiences and desires. I know that my mother believes I think things to death, but in order to defeat my demons, thinking and pondering are requirements.
Let me share a few examples from my own life to help you understand where my thoughts are today.
Several years before the horrible event happened that catapulted me into PTSD Hell, I “thought” that I was in control of my life and emotions. Looking back now, I realize that it was my subconscious deception.
The most important person you can know is yourself. Being completely honest with yourself is not easy. Many things you may not ever vocalize to another human being, but inside your mind and soul it is important to be honest.
In order to rid myself of PTSD, I’ve had to be very honest with myself. My personality is to see the good in people, ignore the bad in people and stuff my pain down deep without coping with it. That is a terrible combination. I have become a professional at ensuring that I get used and hurt.
I’m just blurting this all out, but it wasn’t easy for me to admit it to myself and definitely not easy writing about it. I read the words and immediately think, “What a stupid woman!” I know! I know! That is terrible self talk, but at first blush I really think I’m stupid.
I don’t think I’m stupid because I don’t have knowledge, but because I not only made some poor choices, but I stayed in the situation too long. On an intellectual level I usually know that I am not reacting quick enough, but my heart always convinces my brain to wait just a little bit longer and give it/him/her just a little more time or another chance. That heart of mine is like an Achilles Heel.
Being totally honest with myself means that I am open to a bunch of pain caused by regret. That would probably be okay if I was only twenty, but I’m not. I’ve lived a ton of life already and my regrets and stuffed down emotions are numerous. The amount of time I wasted while “trying” is hard to accept.
After being married to husband number two for six months, I knew that our union was a poor decision. So what did I do? I stayed married to him – not just a day, week or even a month. No, I wasn’t that logical. Instead, I stayed married to him for eight years. The more I tried to make the marriage successful, the worse it got.
A successful marriage takes two people. One person, no matter how much they try or want it to work, can’t make or save a relationship. Well, eventually I couldn’t take the pain of the relationship any longer. It was killing me. Really. It was kill-ing me.
One of the things I had to do was convince myself that I didn’t deserve to be so unhappy and that the marriage needed to end. That meant I needed to determine why I stayed so long after I knew the marriage had major flaws. I’m not going to candy-coat anything, so these are the reasons I stayed:
- Everyone said I was stupid to marry him in the first place, so I was even more determined to make it work. I couldn’t take being ridiculed for failing.
- I don’t give up easily. I want to see each experience all the way to success. Nothing is impossible!
- He isn’t all bad. He’s human and has his own problems. I tried to dwell on his good traits and ignore the unhealthy, bad traits because I loved him.
- I had already gone through a divorce with Alyssa’s father after a sixteen year marriage, so I didn’t want to have yet another divorce. Marriage is supposed to last!
- Before marrying him, I said I wanted a companion to experience the rest of my life with and grow old together. It was a dream and dreams die hard.
- I couldn’t believe that he didn’t love and respect me. I was worthy of love and respect, so surely he would feel those emotions for me because he married me.
- I enjoy being a wife. I like doing all the wifely things. I needed to be wanted and needed.
It has taken me years to get to the point where I could not only make that list, but to admit those things are true. However, now that I’ve admitted them all to myself, I have been able to work my way through the different parts of the pain, shame and regret. It also helped me to forgive instead of hate him. Forgiving myself for staying so long, however, has proven to be much harder to do.
In order to validate my existence, I serve unselfishly. Consciously I don’t think, “I’m going to do _______ to validate my existence.” I just know this about myself. I like doing things for people because it not only helps them, but it makes me feel useful, needed, intelligent and with people that are close to me, I feel loved.
There is a major negative to the helpful service attitude. I’m often taken for granted or used. I make it so easy for the person that they stop appreciating my efforts.
My next story has to do with my first husband. This happened many, many years ago and I’m sure he has improved as a husband since being with me, so this story is just to illustrate my attitude.
I iron. I’m a wrinkle free fanatic. Not only do I want my clothes wrinkle free, but slacks and shirts also need to feel crisp. Steam and starch are my friends. I felt that one of things I could do for my ex-husband was to starch his shirts. Starching a shirt is more of a time commitment than just steaming it.
This particular day I had about sixteen shirts to iron. So I opened the ironing board in the middle of the kitchen, cranked up the steam in the iron and sprayed starch for the next couple hours. When I was finished ironing, his shirts could practically stand up by themselves and were one hundred percent wrinkle free. The creases in the sleeves were sharp enough to cut steak! I exaggerate just a little.
By the time I finished ironing all of them, my ex-husband got home from work. He was much stronger than me, so I asked if he would carry all the shirts to his closet and hang them. He happily took all the shirts and disappeared down the hallway. I didn’t think twice about the shirts after that because it was time to put away the ironing board and set the table for dinner.
The next day after washing more laundry, I took my ex-husband’s clean socks to his closet with the intention of putting them away. As I opened the door, I was flabbergasted. On the floor in a heap were all the shirts that I starched for him the day before. They were no longer wrinkle free. Instead they were smooshed against the rest of the stuff in the closet and wrinkled.
My heart sank. His ingratitude and disrespect of my effort was painful. I was at first so hurt, but by the time he got home, I was angry. His excuse for tossing them was – he had no excuse. Actually, he wasn’t even apologetic and acted like it wasn’t any big deal. I never ironed another thing for him. Obviously, I eventually stand up for myself.
The thing that always gets me “stuck” in a situation is the “why” for the actions of the other person. I believe there is always a reason for everything that happens and I know there is actually a reason for everything, however, I’ve learned that I may never know the reason.
When someone gives you their time and talents unselfishly, it is your responsibility to be honest and not use them. Do we live in a perfect world where people always do what they are supposed to do? No. I’m not that naive to believe that my post is going to change the world.
My “giving” to other people is not a bad thing, but when I let them walk on me then it becomes my flaw. It is such a fine line and I always have to step back for a minute to see if my need to be wanted or accepted is causing me to allow others to use or disrespect me. In the case of husbands one and two, I felt that “marriage” gave me the reason to keep giving, giving, giving until I was completely give out. Now I know that my attitude was wrong, wrong, wrong on so many levels.
When you love and care for someone, it is natural to have an expectation of reciprocal emotions. Sometimes it just isn’t going to happen. There will be people that you love with your whole heart and they will use and abuse that love. Our responsibility is to protect ourselves. If the person is willing to use us, then what are we missing if we quit giving them too much? Uhhh…We won’t have the pain of being rejected, disrespected and used!
If this post resonated with you and you’re a taker, quit being disrespectful and using people. If you are the over giver, quit giving so much and respect yourself by not letting people use you. We are all human and trying to be happy. Unselfishness and understanding would get us all to a really great place. That quote at the beginning of the post is just so true – sometimes we are going to have it really great and other times, it is just going to stink.
Each day is a new opportunity for happiness and another chance to get it right. I hope you all are pigeons today.