That Ugly Power and Control Gene

I shared a post on FB of the cover of the latest New Yorker mag. It’s a very unflattering caricature of the Cheetoman, hitting golf balls at the White House, breaking windows. It’s pretty funny. Someone commented that he is such an “unqualified” public servant. I replied, “he’s not a public servant, he’s a public nuisance.” Seriously……he only serves himself. Jimmy Kimmel had a video up from his show where he shows how the tweeter-in-chief has a habit of moving things when he sits down. At dinner, at his desk, or coffee table, at a conference…what ever. I think my ex used to do that a lot, especially when he was trying to show that he was working. Control issues, both of them. Gotta re-arrange the table setting to show it’s never right.

Then I saw a video, on FB, of Cheetoman in a ceremony to sign a bill, with everyone there, and then he walked out of the room without signing it. He thanked everyone, said we’d see some immediate changes, and then left the room. Pence tried to get him to come back, and DJT told him to bring the bill with him. He’s starting to lose his shit, really. It’s wild, but kind of scary to see someone in that position who is seriously losinig it.

Every day, there is more stuff about this mans inability to deal with his job. After dealing with my ex last week so much, I can’t really watch him much because I swear, he even looks like my ex. Same facial expressions, when I know he was trying to fool everyone that he actually had a clue what was going on, but didn’t. I really hate to listen to him. So most of the videos I just watch and shut the sound off.

It’s scary really, when someone is so hell-bent on power and control that they will lose everything, like my ex did. But to see that same personality type….with their fingers on the nuclear codes….and randomly tweeting in the middle of the night, constantly disrespecting our allies. Crazy scary shit.

I learned a lot about power and control when I left my marriage. I had no idea what had happened to me until I was in an online community for abuser survivors. Then, I found Brene Brown, among others, but it was her TED talk on vulnerability that really broke it down for me. I wonder if the orange one’s father berated and belittled him his whole life, like my ex did my son. Like my father-in-law did to my ex. And all of tRumps wealth and running for a job for which he is clearly unqualified, to say the least, was to prove to his father he was worthy. And I bet he’s still not. This is just random musing on my part, but he sure fits the bill.

What I’ve learned is that these people never can change. They will go down with the ship. You can’t save someone hell bent for terror. I tried, I kept thinking that one day he’d snap out of it, one day he’d see what he was doing. but he just consistently became more deeply imbedded in it. My ex would rather have lost everything than admit being abusive. The stories he makes up now, I just have to pick my jaw up off the floor. I gave up a long time ago setting his record straight. It only creates an argument to tell him, for example, that he had 16 years with our son, not just 6 or 7. He made up this outlandish statement to try to explain why his son wouldn’t talk to him, rather than face that fact that he was horribly abusive to him. Just made up a story, that he can tell people, so he’s not at fault, so he doesn’t have to face the shame.  I am so glad I had my moment of realization that he was never going to be able to change, and was never going to allow my family to live a normal life, and moved on.  Because, look at the life I have now.  It was worth 4 years in court, to salvage the rest of my life.  It was even more worthwhile, to see how well my son is doing, because I gave him a chance to see a different way of living.  Not in fear but in love.

DJT too, just tries to cover one lie with another. He’s a bully, to hide his own fear rather than face it.

Well, it’s whatever. I guess I’m a little retrospective today. That power and control gene is a tough one.

I have a nice day planned. Going out to the “Frankie and Johnny” show tonight to hear my good friend sing. Might even put a dress on for it, lol. It’s a beautiful day today, 80° and sunny. I probably need to do some baking for my son in the next day or two. And maybe for our new writer’s group. That should be fun. Think I’ll take a nap this afternoon too. I was up in the middle of the night again last night, and finally took an Ambien. I guess I got some sleep. You know those nights when you wake up and you don’t think you’ve been asleep, but the clock shows the passage of hours….That was me. I don’t want to be falling asleep at the show tonight.

Love and light everyone.

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On Being Vulnerable

our-deepest-fear-is-not-that-we-are-inadequate-our

A friend who lives close to me came by tonight and dropped off a couple of rakes she offered to loan me, rather than me buy one. I was going to buy one today because I need to rake up the back yard, from stuff that’s fallen from the huge tree, which someone told me is a banyan tree, though I’m still not sure it is, and from the palm tree that is entwined with it. I want to get the yard cleaned up, and put down crushed shells back there. It’s supposed to cool off later this week, so it will be a good time to do it. She offered to loan me her rakes rather than me buy one.

I invited her to eat with me, and watch the Voice. She’s the friend who sings, really sings, so I thought she might enjoy it. She doesn’t have TV. We had about an hour to kill til the show was on, and I’d told her about Brene Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability, so we watched it. She loved it…she already understood it, but loved it anyway. It’s probably the 20th time I’ve watched it. It has almost 27,000,000 (yes 27 million) hits now. Literally.

But I thought about how while I espouse vulnerability all the time, I still don’t make myself completely vulnerable. While I am fully willing to be the first to say “I love you” with no guarantee the feeling will be reciprocated, and while I’m fully willing to invest in a relationship with no guarantee it will work out. I was fully willing to move to a town where I knew 1 person, and willing to do what I had to do to create a new life here. I thought I was fully willing too, to show up, to be seen, and to risk failure, because after all, I write a blog. I pour my heart out here, I have few things that I won’t discuss here.

Then I look at my friend, who sings her heart out. I look at the others who go to open mic and sing because they love it, and aren’t afraid of the failure. Of the people who are willing to sit in front of a crowd and read their poetry, and risk that maybe people will not like it, or worse, criticize it.

Those people are really espousing vulnerability. Their lives are alive, and full of joy, and they get off the stage and they collaborate on playing music together, or putting together other venues, or asking people to come hear them read their poetry.

I’m not that willing. I am terrified to get up in front of people and read my poetry. I am even terrified when my friend gets up and sings it. I can’t, yet. It terrifies me to my soul. I easily allowed myself to fall in love with someone and completely gave my heart to him, with no guarantees. Yet, I cannot get up in front of a crowd and read a poem I’ve written.

What’s up with that?

I think if I’m going to walk that walk, and talk that talk, I have some work to do. Allowing my friend to sing the poems was a start, I suppose.

I think it may align with Marianne Williamson’s famous quote, that our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. Who am I to write a good poem, that people like? What if I can actually write? What if….does that then put expectations on me that I’m afraid I can’t meet and that then I’ll disappoint them? And then disappoint myself?

Brother. This shit gets deep.

Every time I have watched that TED talk, I have learned something else. I always take another step, begin to excavate another level.  As Brene says, “Lean into the discomfort.”

Well, here’s to some productive digging.

Love and light, all.

To Take the Risk, or Not

regret

There is a risk,
In everything

Isn’t there?
Love,
Fear
Moving,
Letting go.

The risks I’ve taken
Were always scary.
I weighed the risks.
The possibility of loss
Versus
The possibility of gain.

Some of them
Worked out.
Some of them,
Didn’t.
At least,
Not the way I wanted.

But I know,
Beyond all
That if I didn’t take the chance,
If I didn’t allow myself to be vulnerable to loss
There was no chance to gain.

I’d rather lose 100 times
With the chance to gain once,
Than to stay stagnant,
And wondering,
What if I had taken that chance?
What if I’d asked the question
And the answer was yes?

A Few Words on Words

words

Words….

I have been accused of being too wordy, by some. Funny, my ex-husband, in his pre-alcholic days, disliked my reticence. I learned to keep my mouth shut around him, so he’d have nothing to get fired up about, nothing to twist into some crazy attack on him, nothing to make me defend myself against.

I once told his mother, who was calling him at 8 AM, that he’d call her back when he got out of the shower. OMG, the tongue lashing I got for telling her he was in the shower at 8 AM. Geezus. When you live with someone like that for almost 40 years, you learn that the less you say, the less he knows, the better off you are. (Why I stayed is another story, in fact a book, but abusers are good at making us shoulder the blame for their anger.)

When I left him, I gradually found my voice, and my words, and I vowed no one would ever silence me again. Much to the chagrin of at least one other man.

But what else do we have, to express ourselves? Rolling of our eyes? Hand signals? Hanging up the phone? Withholding in bed?  I’m sure I use the first 3 of those, in combination with the words.  The last?  Not really my style….

All that stuff….may communicate pleasure or displeasure, but it doesn’t let someone in. Some people don’t want anyone in. Fear. Afraid if someone gets in they might get hurt. We all probably have that fear at times.

My greater fear is that no one will ever get in. That forever, I’d be alone with my thoughts that I didn’t have the courage to be vulnerable enough to say out loud.

I can say “I love you” if that’s how I feel. There could be a million reasons why it’s not said back. But there also might be a reason to say it. Like, it’s just how a person feels. Maybe me saying it first takes away the fear of saying it back. Maybe not. But maybe. And it may be worth the risk to me.  The bigger gamble for me would be to spend my days wondering “What if I’d said it?  Would he still be here if he knew?”

I like the truth out on the table. I like things to happen based on the truth. Not on games that people want to play. Not on being manipulated into a position. I know who I am. There is kindness underlying my truth, most of the time. Unless I sense injustice. I hate injustice.

But words, written words in particular…have taken me from the dark days of an abusive marriage, they enabled me to help my son to climb out of that same dark cave. The words brought me through an intense affair that ended in terrible betrayal, to the joy I feel in this moment, because the words have allowed me to be true to myself. They have allowed me to tell my story, to form relationships with like-minded people, all over the world. They let me see what is in my head, and decide if what I was thinking, and what I’m saying is actually true.  I have discovered, along the way, that the truth rings.  If it’s not ringing in my head, it’s most likely not true.  At least for me.

Just some thoughts on words.

Trying to Find My Courage

courage vs comfort

I have so much to say this morning, and feel like I should just not say a lot of it, at least not right now.  Talking to Scott dredged up a lot of old stuff, that I’m hoping will settle back down where it was.  Not longing, but anger, disappointment, confusion.  My head is spinning, my emotions are a little raw again.  And I don’t want to write anything that can be taken wrong, that might cause pain to Betty, that will fuel a divide that is already huge.

He said that Betty told him I was still in love with him.  It sounded as though she said it not in a jealous way, but kind of as a revelation.  I told him, well that’s not news Scott.  I told you I will always love you, and I will.  But that doesn’t mean I can be with you, or accept your behavior, or would ever trust you.

He asked me what I wanted from him now.  I thought about it….but nothing.  I want nothing.  I want to move on, I want to fall in love with someone who can love me back as passionately as I can love.  I am happy that we talked, even though it came to no good end yesterday.  I hate cutting off communication with anyone, I don’t think that refusing to communicate ever eases anything. Not that I want to be communicating with him the way we used to, constantly.  It is just easier to know we can communicate, than thinking that  we can never talk.   Especially with this frigging connection that we have, or at least that I have with him.  Sometimes I feel compelled to let him know what I’m feeling, and it’s nice to know I can, especially when it has to do with his health.

I have to talk and write, to work things out.  I had to stay silent in my marriage for so many years, just to stay safe, just to keep the sleeping dogs sleeping.  If they woke they were vicious.  I refuse to do that ever again.  It almost killed me then, really. When I left that marriage I was diabetic, way overweight (I’ve lost about 40 lbs since then) and my heart was beating irregularly, pounding in my chest.  I prayed every night, literally, “Please God, don’t let me have a heart attack while I sleep.  I can’t leave my son with his father as his only parent.”  Thankfully, that prayer was answered night after night.  When I moved out, it stopped the very first night I was alone, and it’s never come back.

I started writing during that time.  I started writing down what I was living with because I just thought, “I have to write this down.  No one will ever believe this.”  I discovered the therapeutic benefits of writing it out.  My ex didn’t know I did this, though the journals weren’t hidden.  He went through my room a number of times, to see if I was hiding money, because once he found $85 I had squirreled away.  He had to see the journals when he rifled through my drawers and closets, but ignored them, because for whatever reason, he was not interested in my thoughts.  Until I brought them to court, and the judge showed an interest.  Whatever.  I wrote them for me, but they had a bigger benefit than I ever imagined they would.

I won’t go there again.  I’ve learned to have the hard conversations.  Scott asked what he could do now,now that he’s done all this damage.  And he apologized.  I thanked him for that, I told him it was a good first step for him to recognize and feel remorse for the damage he did.  But what could he do now?  He seemed genuine, as if he wanted to know.  I said, “next time you have a choice to tell a hard truth or a pretty lie, choose the hard truth.  Just choose the truth.  Practice it.”

I’d like to tell him to journal his day, to look back and observe his behavior, to see where he was selfish, and where he stood up for something.  But that’s my method, it’s not his.  Even though, I’ve read bits of things he’s written and he’s very talented.

All of this pain, every bit of it, could have been avoided by the truth.  Well, ok, I still would have been hurt and sad to lose him, but I wouldn’t have had all the other emotions around it.  I would have gotten past it, through it.  All of Betty’s pain, and his current pain, would be non-existent.  I acknowledge that the pain I would have had, I could have just looked at myself, and taken responsibility for it, because I dismissed 100 red flags because I didn’t want them to be true.  I loved being in love, I loved him beyond reason, and refused to accept anything that said to me, “NO, not now, Deb, not this time.  Don’t do it. Stop…..”  Because I thought he just wanted to be alone, and work things out, I thought too, that someday he’d not want to be alone.  If I’d known he was in love with Betty, I would have let go.  Quickly.  It’s the one boundary I will not cross.  It’s the only one I ever set.

Yes I’m a little fixated, as was said in a comment to me on my apology blog.  I need complete understanding to let go of things, or as much as I can get.  And really, I had it, I will have it again, I will gain clarity again, once all this stuff that was dredged up settles back down.  I have been moving away from it, in small, but steady steps.

I am looking forward to my lunch date today.  We’re going to a new Mexican restaurant.  It will be fun to meet this man that I’ve been talking to all week.  I have no expectation though.  It has been nice, so far.  Sometimes meeting in person makes it better, sometimes you find out there’s no connection.  But it’s a brave thing to do, to put myself out there again.  It’s a step in the right direction, toward where I want to go.  Brene Brown says that making yourself vulnerable is the most courageous thing you can do.  I think she’s right.

Love and light.

Adder:  My date is off.  It’s fine.  He had a what appears to be a valid reason, and said maybe we can meet after work one day next week.  But I knew when Scott’s energy got thrown back into my life that this date might not happen, it’s just the way it is.  I was not focused on meeting a new man, I’ve been, obviously, focused on still working my way out of this old relationship.  That’s the way the energy ripples out.  I have some work to do still, and until I get it done, nothing will work out the way I dream about.

 

“BRAVING” Trust

BRAVING-2I am a HUGE Brene Brown fan.  Also  HUGE Elizabeth Gilbert fan. (Not at all surprised they are good friends.)  One or the other of them always pops up saying exactly what I need to hear at the exact time I need to hear it.  It is amazing how the universe puts the people you most need square in your path when you most need them.

The day after S so thoughtlessly and cruelly dumped me, I saw Brene on SuperSoulSunday talking about her new book, Rising Strong, and I had it downloaded onto my kindle before the show was over.  I went on FB yesterday and one of the first posts was Liz Gilbert posting a new Brene talk on “The Anatomy of Trust.”

It is quintessential Brene, full of personal stories, making us laugh, and cry, just being so real, and teaching us what we need to know about trust.  I watched it, it’s only about 10 or 15 minutes, and then watched it again with a pen and paper to make notes.

Naturally, I was filtering my recent break-up as I watched it.

She created an anagram for building trust.  It is B R A V I N G.  Because when we trust someone we are “braving” connection, making ourselves vulnerable.  Here’s the down-low.

B – Boundaries.  For trust to develop between people, boundaries have to be set and kept by both parties.  With S, I had one.  Don’t have sex with anyone else if you’re having it with me.  Pretty clear.  He had a lot….and they weren’t clear, they were subjective.  Don’t ask too much, don’t make plans too far ahead, don’t expect anything, don’t demand anything.  You get the idea.

R – Reliability. Do what you say you’re going to.  I don’t think I ever broke this one with him.  I generally try to do this with everyone.  S did what he said he would, if he felt like doing it when the time came.  Thus the blurred boundaries….  If he talked about going somewhere, it didn’t mean he would.  If he said he’d call, it didn’t mean he would.  If he said he was open to a relationship, it didn’t mean that he’d feel like that next week.

A – Accountability.  Owning your story.  If you make a mistake, which we all do….owning it, apologizing for it, and making it right.  I have no problem with this, I apologized often and fully, usually for misunderstanding him or his actions. (And in hindsight, I was often right, and apologizing for it.)  S….apologized after the prison whore.  He came to me, he looked me in the eye, he told me the whole story, he felt bad, it was over.  It went a long way toward building trust.  Then, a few months later, began the HUGE voluminous deception of me, and Betty….and he still has not owned that to me, he still has not apologized for months of deception when all the while I was asking him to let me go.  Not accountable.  At all.

V – The vault.  What you tell me in confidence I keep in confidence.  And what others tell me I also keep in confidence.  I think I did that, still do that.  I have never told anyone the things he told me in confidence.  I don’t think he has either, told anyone anything I told him.  (However, my life is much more an open book, and no one knew me in his life, so there was nothing to tell and no one to tell it to.)  However, he was quite willing to falsely trash his girlfriend to me, to send me a naked picture of her to make me jealous.  So…I think that picture should have been in his vault.  But he didn’t keep it there.

I- Integrity.  I don’t think this needs any discussion.  Screwing two women, for months on end, who love you without them knowing you are doing it is a total lack of integrity.  Making up lies about his girlfriend, when she was his ex, is a total lack of integrity.  I know he wants to say I was with A when I was with him….but I was never with A physically when I was with S.  Never.  I met A after the prison whore, right after.  I went out with him, he was like a salve on a gaping open wound, but I wasn’t with him sexually during that time.   S can pretend I did what he did, but I didn’t.

N – Non-judgement.  I know I did not judge him for anything he told me in confidence.  I did, in the end, judge him for his lies and deception of me, and of Betty.  He also was fairly non-judgmental, although he at times disparaged me for some of the spiritual teachers I liked.  Ram Dass in particular.  His reasoning was that Ram Dass came from a privileged family in Boston, and S felt he was in it for the money.  I didn’t come across Ram Dass until a few years ago, when he was about 80 or so, and I felt he had a lot of valuable insight at that stage of his life.

G – Generosity.  When someone does or doesn’t do something you thought they would, having a generous thought about them, like, “I was hoping you’d do this, but I know you love me, and we’re ok.  I just want you to know I was thinking of it.”  I do this to a fault, and did it with him way way too much.  Gave him a lot of credit he hadn’t earned.   I don’t know if he ever did it, he seemed to love to find something to complain about.  He had the nerve to say, not long ago, after he dumped me but before I found out he’d been with her all summer,  that he was upset that I said in my blog that I “cuddled” with A before A left on his big adventure.  S and I were not not even speaking then.  He had refused to make plans with me Memorial Day weekend. Refused to go to Florida with me after getting me all excited that he would likely go.   Now I know why…because he made them with Betty.  It’s almost humorous that  he had the nerve to bitch at me for cuddling with A, while he was screwing Betty.  It was just a manipulation.  But it wasn’t generous.

Looking at this anagram, and filtering this relationship through it, I see and am filled with the knowledge that I gave away my trust to someone who didn’t earn it.  Period.  And I’m lucky to be out of it, without more scars.  It’s a lesson learned, learned well.

Trust is made up of seemingly small insignificant moments, Brene teaches, that build trust over time.  Not a few big events.   S shouldn’t have earned my trust simply because he apologized and owned his story about the prison whore.  There were so many small moments that I wrote off, because they were insignificant.  And really, those were the things that were telling.

This lesson is included in her book, Rising Strong.  This is the link to the video:

http://www.supersoul.tv/supersoul-sessions/the-anatomy-of-trust/