Simplifying isn’t just about letting go of things but also people

I start with these ten points because I am still learning them myself. I am learning to let go of shame and procrastination and expectation and excuses and as I have been growing in the letting go of all these things holding me back, I’ve found also that I’ve been having to let go of people I love. A person I love. This is not an easy thing for me but I have seen that the time is not right for us nor seems ever right and i live the adage that good things come to those who wait. Instead of seeing the shedding of people as a disappointment I understand that this happens for the following reasons:

  • They no longer fit who you are becoming
  • They need to live their life without you so that they can learn their own lessons that maybe you would keep them from learning
  • They need space to figure out what they really want or need.
  • Knowing this I always wonder if their retreat out of my life was because of something I did wrong. It is unknowable really and I am letting go of torturing myself about what I did wrong or if I should have done this or that or the other thing. Loss isn’t about me. It is all about them, their best outcome and all I can do is love them anyway. And I do. Things seem emptier without them. I am faced with myself entirely and so I turn to writing as I have always done, to process life and loss and who I am becoming as my life becomes more about independence, minimalism, positivity and less about weighing myself down with guilt and shame and dread and the illusion I have power to change much of anything or anyone. It is better that I don’t. I can control my responses to things that happen. I can’t control people, nor would I want to. The people who I matter to will remain in my life, whether they retreat a while or remain actively engaged with me.
  • Sometimes the wrong people have to be cleared away so that the right people can enter. It doesn’t mean you don’t mourn the loss for a while. I do and I don’t deny or bury my feelings.
  • Loss doesn’t mean getting over having love for someone. It means learning there is a bridge over what we have lost and that nothing is ever really lost in the end. Love is that bridge. I love enough to let go and not control and show the respect and compassion we deserve in the letting go.
  • The ones who are meant to stay and support my growth will come into my life and stay and go perhaps; gain and loss is a circular thing that helps us learn about ourselves if we are open to the lessons people teach us as we live this journey.
  • I have gone where I feel most alive. I am home, by my Lake and gulls and boats, living how I want to live with a minimum of what I need experiencing life more fully, being more present, authentic and loving without reservation. Thank you for all of the people who taught me about who I am.
  • Nothing is ever lost.
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Jon

I still think of you, you know

when the snows of a thousand winters frozen by melts softly into springs many springs pass now many times the trees have leafed out and reached out

and I am taken by breezes and sunbeams into years ago when

things seemed

simpler

when you were that shy and thoughtful boy I talked for hours with on any conceivable subject in that Burger King in Florida

and sometimes we even laughed.

I took you at face value

I knew nothing of masks then. There was just you and your sweetness and quietness I liked and sought

there was nothing in me warning me to question you no red flags unfurled and years flipped by at the speed of a paper calendar hurricane with the power to make us age and experience and learn about the power of futility

How differently things turned out than I thought they would–

Still.

I remember

the boy with the shy smile and

how he seemed to like me and I him and we were friends we talked nonstop on telephones with cords spanning years and years before

life

became complicated and arduous and we had to be adults in a world in which we never grew up in

we don’t know how.

and I smile a little

sadly.

If

only

Disillusionment by Abigail Larson

Love does not conquer all

This has been a season of all too brief hellos and all too soon goodbyes of friends who were friends for years and years. One I was reunited with. The reuniting was wonderful and a love long dormant in Me was expressed but to the tune of the wrong place and still the wrong time.

I was not the choice. As painful as that is sometimes you just have to accept it and move on. While the reason was all too clear in my situation, sometimes goodbyes are based on situations that are inexplicable and you don’t ever get to know why.

The door, after a goodbye or many opens. Sometimes we trap ourselves in situations because we feel it’s what we deserve and most of the time this choice is unconscious based on what has happened to us in life and what kind of protections we have developed. Even when we don’t need them anymore those same protection mechanisms can become a prison keeping us from growth and new experiences.

For me the goodbye was hard and unwanted but necessary so I didn’t live a lie and also to remain honest, even to a person who didn’t know I was around, who I personally can’t stand but who still as a person deserved my honesty. I was angry at the injustice of things and how the time is never right and I took my anger and frustration out on the one I said goodbye to a little bit. I am not proud of this and I tried to make amends but I leave with silence for an answer and a bittersweet taste in my mouth. Maybe one day in time, we can come around again in the right time and the right place, with understanding and love.

I am weary of goodbye. I am sad and drained and aged. I am now leaving my whole past behind while returning to the place my past occurred. The place has changed, as have the people who populated it…some have moved away, some have died and most have simply grown older. Enough has changed I think that restoration and a new life may take root and I can make my home my own and lay down deep roots, forge new friendships and find a love of my own unfettered by emotional baggage and closed doors and dead ends. Love does not conquer all: it often means, if we are honest, if we are true, that if we really love somebody we have to honor their choices enough to walk away and allow them the freedom to live their choices while sacrificing our own desires. I really loved him in the right way and when I am sad, as I am now, I am comforted by knowing I’ve grown enough to learn that letting go is an act of faith in doors that will open, other opportunities that will come, new people, new possibilities and new growth opportunities.

So I sit in the coffee shop and think of the movie Begin Again:

Bright star, he

In my night there lives a man who is the sun burning the mist from my morning slumber

In unfocused half-wakefulness I see him truly and listen for the melody that is his and his alone bending my soul towards his

I hear

he

is the rain gently falling on parched grass the mist that gathers at evenings end and his spirit soars with the bird-flock who arch upwards into the clouds wings outstretched he

Carpets my world in green and puts the blue in the sea dolphins dance and the silent songs of mornings are his songs

he is the fish that leaps joyfully breaking the surface of the still, deep pond rippling outwards and he is the shy deer that stands at the edge of the forest at sunset

music moves with him drawing the world somehow nearer to listen to the melodies of his soul-song

he is the bright star of my morning travel ever north, compass point home. All that is good follows him softly for his way is not brash but gently his artistry shines

the silken webs of spiders creating beauty holding the beaded shining morning dew his is the bird song lilting up to the clear blue sky

He is himself and inside his soul-light

beautiful

The hawk and the King

Look back with longing eyes and know that I will follow,

Lift me up in your love as a light wind lifts a swallow,

Let our flight be far in sun or blowing rain–

But what if I heard my first love calling me again?

Hold me on your heart as the brave sea holds the foam,

Take me far away to the hills that hide your home;

Peace shall thatch the roof and love shall latch the door–

But what if I heard my first love calling me once more?

Sara Teasdale, The Collected Poems

I dream endlessly in the arms of the night.

First that hawk flying into my life announcing you two days

before

I tied a message to the bird’s feet and it came back with your exultant reply

Rainbows pour into my black and white existence and Music explodes trumpets and stringed instruments surprising me

this was my heart singing

I am home with you right and present and correct. Years and obstacles mean nothing and there is just us in that large soft landing strip

our world where nothing bad can happen and we inseparable

Then a hole in the sky opened up sweeping you into it and I left here alone again wanting perpetual sleep but

Even my dreams are haunted with you in them

I with a strange family in a large rich house with your two blonde nieces who catch us kissing and you telling them there is no need to tell their aunt anything while you touch me in secret places and leave me wanting and I wake up body responsive and electric

This is the third dream. The first was when we were young and at the end of the runway at home you kissing me endlessly I can feel the smooth roughness if your face under my hands and smell you as I drink you into me

Desire is red and pink and uplifting and I fly upwards upon it wanting you to lift me higher and claim me in upward thrusts at airspeed

The second was last night.

no words only the silence of years apart and we

speaking in the still fraught language of looks caresses and desire

my heart caught hold of my soul as we held each other tightly and burst into flames

Your hand held tightly to mine.

I awoke still feeling the pressure of it

Alone

tearful hard lumps of sorrow liquefying and rushing out of eyes no longer unseeing

I have dreamed three days and plus the last fourteen nights with you a hawk in the first dreams alighting finally in front of me sharp eyes searching

Trusting.

Jesses hanging from your feet no longer tied and captive

Slowly and tenderly I take them off your feet entirely and you allow me to fling you exultantly up into the air and you fly as you always were meant to

you are a speck disappearing then

You are gone. I then sadly scan the empty blue one more time and turn to go back inside exulting in your freedom accepting what is

but no.

You return to me a man, sauntering jauntily up my porch stairs as you do catching hold of me once more

my body breaks out into song

Miracles happen I hear whispered in the breeze

I wait on the porch eyes scanning the horizon

We are connected

Awaiting

Contact

awaiting

Flight

Grief, observed

“The death of a beloved is an amputation.”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

I grieve. I grieve for someone who still lives. I know now that is possible. I have found out this year more than any other year through the culling that sometimes occurs when the universe tells us through the loss of friends we outgrow, or who no longer serve us, that the grief that follows these losses or this loss is the same as that for someone who actually dies. For it is a death, this loss. To lose a friend that you thought was a friend, only to find out that no, indeed they were not, maybe never your friend is an amputation of the self. There are good days, which seem to flow like an uninterrupted current in a river, then there are the bad days, when something reminds me of who we used to be, and how it was all just an illusion. How we met. How we talked and talked, and in the years ever after, he would speak of that first time, and how impressed he was by the way I could speak about any subject with insight and intelligence. I felt the same way about him. Maybe that was an illusion too. Maybe what he saw in that conversation was something of my vulnerability and that was what interested him, for it gave him ammunition for years on end the more he learned about me, which coincided with me trusting him more and more with who I was and who I grew into as the years passed. I saw so much possibility in him; in the kindness he seemed to have, in the gentleness he seemed to possess, which I wrapped myself in like a warm blanket. I am reminded of something else Lewis says in his book “A Grief Observed:”

“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth of falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?”

And when that rope is used by your friend to hang you with, everything you were, vulnerabilities and weaknesses and all, everything you did with him and for him, perceived by him as just more weakness, instead of the strength it is supposed to be–for love is a strength; friendship is a strength–it makes the entire endeavor and work that goes into cultivating friendship and love into the weapon designed to destroy me. This friendship was important to me. I was willing to wait for it to grow and blossom and willing to work at it in a way that I was never willing for anyone else. I believed in it. I believed in him. He was my best friend and now he’s gone. Forever. By my choice, and probably his. When the truth is unveiled you can’t go back. I can’t go back and tell the girl I was not to get into his car that first night. That is what I would do now if I could.

Still, I find myself in tears from time to time over this loss and stunned still by the unreality of it all. The friendship spilled over into his family and mine. I loved his family and I thought they liked me. Perhaps that was an illusion too.

Writing is a healthy way for me to work out this grief and I suppose that is where the poem “You, Death,” came from. It honestly never occurred to me how everything he touched or everything I tried to grow died when it was left alone with him. A garden I worked tirelessly to grow mostly died despite my best efforts. What a metaphor for this friendship. Two peace plants I gave him died when he was left to tend them. There was rarely peace in the friendship. After a while he would bail, more than once, and I would be left torturing myself about what I did wrong. Believing in God as I did, and still do, it never once crossed my mind that my friend’s vision of God was quite different from mine and how he used God to justify everything he did—presenting himself as somehow more patient than me, more willing to trust in God than me–it never once occurred to me that maybe he really believed in nothing at all and only mirrored my belief to make himself look better than me and feel better about himself.

So I observe this grief as I write and I grieve for the friendship that never was. I grieve for the man he never was. I grieve for myself and all I gave, for nothing. I understand this loss was for my own good; that I am better off without him. I understand that this friendship dragged me down and held me back and now I am free of it, free to have faith in the unknown, the unknowable, free to live unencumbered by worry and doubt about him. He had me doubting God at the end. That was God’s way of telling me that something was dreadfully wrong with the whole thing, and that freedom lay in trusting the unseen path ahead, not the dream I wanted. I am alive, I will live; and there is the hope in grief, that life did not end the day our friendship died, even though I felt as if I would never live again; that love is never wasted, even when the other person does not understand it, does not understand what they rejected. I made many mistakes with him over the years and so I am no better than he is.

I am just who I am; and I make no apologies for being trusting, for loving, for extending my hand in friendship. These are not weaknesses. They are the best things about life.

Still, sorrow is a process, with good days when she does not appear, and bad days, when it seems all is grey and tears come unbidden. Still the sun rises every day; and still the stars come out at night. There are less grey days and more sunny days as time heals me and I am comforted still by the sight of deer.

I just wish…..I just wish that my friendship with him was real. I wish so much that we will both become better people in the future. I will always love him anyway. How can you not love a person when you see them all alone, never happy, never looking forward to anything, and incapable of understanding compassion, empathy and love? I wouldn’t wish that kind of a life on anyone and I am sorrowful of the people like that who must live that way always.

I will love again. I love myself enough to have faith in an uncertain future that will hopefully help me grow as a person even if my best companion is God and myself. I do not need someone to validate who I am; I love myself enough not to continue suffering in a pairing that does not suit me or my growth. I love myself enough to get away from that. I am willing to wait for whatever comes and I make peace somehow with the uncertainty of the future, trusting that nothing but good is coming. I spend my time extending a hand to others, giving a smile, listening to friends instead of talking.

It’s going to be okay.

“This is one of the miracles of love: It gives a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted.”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

regret

sometimes on sunny days when the river sparkles and birds hover in cross breezes over the waters

it is easy to dream

easy to live in what could have been or what could be if the wind reversed direction if life rewound

if old paths once so promising reopened

I peek behind one door and I see you and how the sun opened onto your face in that easy smile or how conversation opened to easily in our talk of books and poetry

it was easy to love you then and flickers long buried resurface like the flash of silver fish jumping in midair and disappearing in the current

I have carried you gently, like a bird

quietly

in the silent places in my mind music of you with me over the years in a little pocket in my carry on bag in that place where I could be me and you could be you and we loved Shakespeare and Gibran and spoke of books as our friends while our path intersected and there were wildflowers and promise

I stand at the intersection of memory and how things happened and if I’d been in a different place or you perhaps

perhaps…if my world had not come tumbling down in the unexpectedness of things that happen if I had not been silent if any of it mattered till the day came when all I could do is set you free my silence held in the rightness of letting you fly

(I could never have kept you caged you see not you that was never me)

memory is black and white an old reel playing out then the end of the tape flapping as the reel spins round and round

So we live in our own stories now

perhaps

all is as it should be and it is not for me to say what should have been or what should be

I only wonder at the mystery of whether love is really love if it falls in the woods and nobody hears it I am all too acquainted with words unspoken with holding back with futility

for now I stand here on the shore listening to the sound of the river flowing past watching the birds fly above me

there is only the present

I hold time the sun your smile close to me in the silence of my solitude

The river flows onwards as it has done for a thousand years and will

For a thousand years to come

I am but a moment

you

I envy flight

Surrender, narcissism, self-love, and a resolution

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Know thyself.  This was the inscription on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Socrates says, as he did in Phaedrus, that people make themselves appear ridiculous when they are trying to know obscure things before they know themselves. Plato also alluded to the fact that understanding ‘thyself,’ would have a greater yielded factor of understanding the nature of a human being. Lao Tzu says that “mastering others is strength, but mastering yourself is true power.”   I have been thinking a lot about introspection, and self examination.   A singular event that happened over the course of the last two years has caused me to think differently about self-examination and focus more on the idea of self-acceptance which is a huge part of self-love.   I think we all focus too much on what is wrong with us, or with other people, instead of the idea that we can be and maybe should be okay with who it is we are right now.   Because we will always be imperfect.  Perhaps it’s a good idea to get right with that idea right now.   I’m going to tell you about the greatest teacher I ever had who taught me the importance of loving myself. He was the person who betrayed every meaning of the word “friend,”  who did not know what love was, and so treated me with a lack of love bordering on pure disdain.  I thank him today for the experience I had with him, because today, I understand in a profound way that loving myself means things I never realized before, which I will get to and describe to you by the end.  I promise.   Teachers are everywhere, dear reader, and often times the best teachers are the people who aren’t really very nice.  I am posting this with the hope that it will help other people who may not realize they are dealing with a narcissistic personality, not to malign anyone.    I hold  no ill will against anyone, not against this person because I realize that they can’t help it; they are to be pitied, because even  with therapy it is almost impossible for them to be able to change. It is my hope that this article helps the person I’ve discussed and others who fear they may have NPD.   Almost impossible. Sometimes,  if someone who exhibits traits of NPD becomes self-aware, with the right help they can over time, turn things around.  Psychology Today states:

Many have suggested that NPD emerges from an environment in which vulnerability comes to feel dangerous, representing, at worst, either a grave defect, or at best, a stubborn barrier to becoming a worthwhile human being (that’s simplifying a great deal of research and theory, but it’s a workable summary); hence, the correlation between narcissism and insecure attachment styles, in which fears of depending on anyone at all engender constant attempts to control the relationship or avoid intimacy altogether. If you devote yourself to directing interactions or holding people at arms length, it’s a lot harder to become vulnerable (needless to say, the “safety” is largely an illusion). People with NPD have learned to ignore, suppress, deny, project, and disavow their vulnerabilities (or at least try) in their attempts to shape and reshape “who they are” in their interactions. Change—allowing the vulnerability back in— means opening up to the very feelings they’ve learned to avoid at all costs. It’s not that people with NPD can’t change; it’s that it often threatens their sense of personhood to try.  And their failed relationships often confirm, in their minds, that narcissism is the safest way to live.

I had a friend who was my best friend.  He was kind and generous and listened to me.  He seemed to accept me for who I was, and over  the course of the twenty odd years we knew one another, I developed  over time, an absolute trust in him because I felt he accepted me for who I was and where I came from.   I told him things I didn’t share with anyone else. He made me feel safe. I came from a turbulent home life.  I experienced things that were not good that he said he had never experienced.   I thought he came from a good home life. He seemed interested in showing me a different life from what I knew and I thought he knew better than me.  I trusted his judgment.  I trusted his ideas about things.   I loved him for what I thought was his kindness and patience.

I was not one to make waves.  I avoided confrontation at all costs. I feared it.  I wanted peace all of the time.  I was the kind of person who would give everything for others often at the expense of myself.   I never minded helping others except I did not know until quite recently that giving at the expense of oneself is damaging to me, because what tends to happen is that a person wears themselves out giving and most of the time, is taken advantage of, or just becomes exhausted mentally, physically and spiritually with all of this giving.   I know lots of women like that.   Women in society are conditioned to be givers, and I believe that this has been to our detriment.  Giving is wonderful, no doubt about it, and we should all give as we are able–but there is the caveat.   To give as we are able–not to give until we’re spent on others, when we should be loving ourselves, giving to ourselves.

Everything in moderation the Bible advises, and this goes for giving until you’re spent, and loving yourself to the point of narcissism.  There is a happy medium.  I erred on the side of being overly generous, with my love, my money and my time, while my friend erred on the side of being narcissistic to the point where everything and everybody had to change for him–he never had to change anything about himself. He was very good at psychological manipulation. A good blog that talks about that and explains more of what I experienced is here.He followed the narcissistic pattern of lovebomb, devalue then discard. He said we were soulmates. He announced we were getting married. He had to talk to me constantly. Emails flew back and forth. Four months went by. He said he wanted me to move in.

When I did move in suddenly things changed on a dime. No more affection. Like boom. He said he loved me then outlined over thirty things about me he said had to go as a result of the way I grew up.  He was “helping” me. When I objected he told me “help doesn’t look like help.” He repeated this over and over until he had me believing it because I thought he knew better than me how to be healthy mentally. I trusted him. Never mind I’d had years of counseling for the way I grew up and had become equipped to understand that part of my life and how it affected me.   He became, of his own will, my counselor and psychiatrist, when I’d never asked him to be either one.   Then he lowered the boom and told me after telling me for months what a wonderful future God had for us being together, promising me a future, that  none of that was going to happen until God changed those thirty things about me.   He told me I couldn’t change myself. He told me to give up control. Over time, he got me so  upset and  discombobulated that I felt a state of desperation about myself that this future with him seemed to hinge on whether or not I could get it together with myself.  I was the one holding everything back.  He was the one who came from the good home life.   I was the one messing us all up.  Worse, he said I had to be still and let God do the changing of me.  Over how long?  How long was this going to take?  He didn’t want me to leave, but we no longer had a relationship either, and I was left sleepless and crying over many nights with him in the next room. I lay there trying to figure out what the hell had happened.  We went from him lovebombing me, to a surprise marriage proposal to all of a sudden there were all these things wrong with me that had to be fixed to have any relationship at all.  I was devastated.  I was crushed.  He watched me cry over so many nights impassively, with this blank and empty look on his face.   He did not try to ever comfort me.  He made it plain he did not like anything about me. He picked apart how I ate, how I walked, and my sense of humor, which he said was uncultured. He didn’t like how I talked. I felt he did not like much about me except my intelligence.  Yet when I got into a good school, he questioned  whether God wanted me to do that.   Always planting doubts.  Never uplifting.  Never encouraging.

He told me God took away his love so I wouldn’t be distracted by it while God was fixing me.  So I could concentrate on my “transformation” as he called it.  He moved me into the spare room. He treated me with the same distant politeness you would treat company. He fed me.  He monitored what I ate. He expected me to be weighed daily. He gave me a nice room.  And then he shut himself in his room for hours.   If we spent time together it was either exercising for six to eight hours a day because I wasn’t thin enough and he was “concerned about my health.”  Or watching television with him using shows to make some point of where I was deficient or broken. Fair enough.   He was a runner when he was young.  I thought he knew better than me so I got into this boot camp program he started. I thought he was self-sacrificing for doing this with me, for carrying 20 pounds of water on his back every day for us.   On these walks he talked incessantly about how I had to be patient with the process and get my anger out. He insisted I was angry even though I was not. He needled me about being angry until I got angry. Then a triumphant look would cross his face and he would say “that anger needs to go.” On the other hand, confusingly, he withheld affection. He sidelined me, my opinions, and isolated me from his family.  Sometimes if I objected to how he was treating me he got angry and yelled at me. He brought up how old girlfriends still wanted him and how lucky I was he was paying attention to me. He did not want his colleagues knowing about me.  He spent progressively less time with me until it got to where he wouldn’t come home from work till eight at night. I suspected there was someone else and he angrily denied it. With narcissists, when they are in the devalue stage they need a new form of narcissistic supply so in this stage there is always someone else. But they keep you on a string in case things don’t work out supply wise with the other woman or women. They’re like drug addicts. They have the ability to compartmentalize the other women so they don’t know about each other but provide him with continuous supply. Because that’s how narcissists get their excitement–through manipulation of others. Their lives are boring. They can’t feel anything so they crave the power and excitement of screwing with others’ heads. They love adulation and sex and then they love kicking the chair out from under the ones adoring them to make them feel better about themselves. There is always someone else. They simply do not have the ability to love or commit. He made me doubt my intuition.

Red flags started going up in my head.   My dad did the same stuff to my mother. Know thyself.  Know where you come from. 

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Through all of this, for months, he promised me this glorious future with him, when God changed me. He said I didn’t love myself.  He knew my weaknesses, like that one, because he had known me so long; it was true.  I did not love myself.   I had been put down most of my life by my dad, by a lot of people, and so I did not have much of a favorable opinion of me.   The enforced exercising, which I got to actually enjoy after a while, because it did get results coupled with the trauma bonding with him was a confusing experience.  That is the only other thing that was good that came out of this whole thing.  I lost a lot of weight.   I had been losing a lot of weight before I even showed up to live with him so like everything, his compliments were always left handed.    Everything he knew about me was ammunition against me. Even though I lost a lot before I showed up, to him, I was still fat and he said so with a bald faced honesty that bordered on being cruel.   He made me angry because that’s all everybody had said about me all of my life.   You’re fat.  Don’t you think you should lose some weight?  You’d look so much better if you lost a few pounds.   And then when I did, when I worked for a year to lose almost 100 pounds, here’s another person saying in not so many words that all that work I’d accomplished wasn’t good enough.   Moreover, he said it like I didn’t already know I wasn’t down to my goal weight.  I’d told him that before I even showed up.  I knew I had more to do.    Why couldn’t he say “Hey, I know you’ve been working hard to lose weight and be healthy.  Maybe we could do it together!”   That would have been supportive.  He chose cruelty and made it look like support.    Even after I lost another sixty pounds it still changed nothing. I was still not good enough for him. That is when I gave up. That is when something in me changed.

There were days he treated me with almost unbelievable cruelty with his words and lack of regard.  Then there were days when he was kind and attentive again. It was confusing, it was frightening and it was, as I came to understand, not my fault.    This one truth that God put in my heart would become the single cause for relief and joy that gave me the strength to put and end to a lifelong friendship that was never really a real friendship at all—a friendship I couldn’t fathom being without—and I had to learn to put my faith in the God of the unknown–and trust that everything would be all right in the end without my friend there at all. When I confronted him about his behavior he turned on the silent treatment which is punishment. It is also abuse.

To make a long story short, I left him after two years, five months of which was me being consistently and systematically torn down by him.  Two years of waiting for a man who systematically and deliberately over time withdrew affection and sowed doubt about his love, the future of our relationship and who made me feel like it all hinged on me, using God as his justification. My performance.  My looks. Then the silent treatment. It was that one thing that led me to websites where the truth was revealed to me and I felt so much relief that this wasn’t my fault and it wasn’t all in my head. I was freed.

I believe God put a stop to things before they went too far.

  1.  My plans are my plans—but God, the universe—has better plans for me.  I trust that now.  I had to learn to trust that in the process of letting him go, which was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I had to work through the idea that he was not an expert, that it wasn’t his job to change me, it was God’s, and that God expects us to love one another where we are at right now because He loves us where we are at right now.
  2. I deserve better than a “friend” who picks me apart all of the time and makes me feel badly about myself. I deserve supportive friends who make me feel positive about myself and my life and my God.   He is not one of them anymore.
  3. I deserve not to spend endless hours in self-examination because while self-examination is good, it can quickly spiral into narcissism.
  4. I deserve to be able to be myself unabashedly with the right person who is meant to love me for who I am, not who he wants me to be.   The right person doesn’t keep moving the goal posts.  The right person accepts my weaknesses, and we grow and learn and change together, over time.  The right person inspires change. The wrong person demands change.

Hurt people hurt people.  I understand this about my old friend.  Somewhere in his past he was hurt to the point where he can no longer feel anything and made him the way he is today.   I can sympathize, and through the grace of God I can forgive him, because I know he does not know what he has done. However, self-love means that I do not have to put up with nonstop criticism, belittling, sidelining and a hundred other actions that are designed to dehumanize me and make me feel unimportant to a person who claims to have loved me.   None of those things are love.  No matter how much he insisted it was.

He taught me that I deserve so much better than what he had to offer.  I thank God for that and I thank him for that.   I believe with all my heart that I will be blessed with the person I deserve. Someone better for me than even I can comprehend.   So the surrender part comes in here.   No more plans.  No more trying.  This experience taught me that just because someone says it’s from God, just because even I might believe it is from God doesn’t mean it is from God.  Sometimes it takes a little time for that clarity to be revealed.    God would never want any of his children to live in that kind of unending unhappiness, despair, lack of love, sadness and grief for life. He used just enough of it to teach me that He loves me so much that I deserve the best He has to give.

My friend was not that gift.    Not to be my husband but the real gift was using him to teach me about loving myself although he did not realize that.

My resolution:

  • I’m not spending any more time around people who are overly critical of me.   Ive been  listening to people “suggest” how I can change all of my life.   I change what I can after thoughtful introspection, but I will always be imperfect.   I deserve to have friends who can embrace that I will always be imperfect too.
  • I am doing what I want, when I want, how I want.  If I want to get a tattoo, I’m going to get one.  If I want to take a trip, I’m going to take one.   If I have an opinion about something, I’m going to give it (with consideration and when appropriate).     I am not hiding for fear of what other people think anymore.
  • If you don’t like me, there’s the door.   Period.

I love myself too much to waste any more of my life on people who don’t like me, don’t appreciate me, and who don’t want me around.

I love myself.   I value myself, and in valuing myself, I can value others without depleting  myself.

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