This is my first default post for one of my many new blogs. The following posts hope to inform and entertain.
This is my first default post for one of my many new blogs. The following posts hope to inform and entertain.
I keep returning to that snap back. It’s a painful reverb that has yet to be tempered. A ringing, not in my ears, but in my heart. I remember all too well the last time she told me, “You expect me to believe you?” Why wouldn’t you believe me when I say the cats are fine? SNAP! Reality…I had to get back to me. In the narcissistic (Abuse/Victim) cycle I had become very distant from my true sense of self. I got away from any sense. When your idea of love includes the feelings of anxiety, withdrawal and frustration it’s time to take a look at the situation.
Something I had learned about myself is that lesson learning comes in threes. After two times of my ex telling me, a statement that still shakes me, “I don’t believe your feelings”, I understood it to be truth the third time she said it. She was using her words. This conflicted with what I had in my mind How could you not believe someone’s feelings? This conflicts with my idea of avoiding conflicts , avoid conflicting ideas and feelings. Now, I know that feeling of being conflicted. It means something is wrong. I still can’t imagine not believing someone’s feelings, their truth.
It’s going to be many years and a lot of personal work to come back to romance. I don’t even know what I am coming back to since my view of love is so screwed up. Being a late bloomer like I am, it is overwhelming to think of the prospect of the work I need to do on myself before even peeking into the possibility of dating and romance. I reflect on the therapy that has gotten me this far. The nine years of comfort, or better yet, complacency left me at a deficit, emotionally.
This deficit created a void deep in my core. It’s so deep I can feel the cavern inside of me. I don’t think I have ever felt this empty. At the same time, I am completely aware of what I might feel in any situation, but I just don’t. I definitely can sympathize, but my empathy is truly lacking. There was a time in my youth when I was bursting with affection. This wasn’t just the at the end of the night at the bar when taking last shots we entangle arms and shoulders and confess to our best buds how much they mean to us…I was prepared and waiting for love.
I have a bit of joy. I can experience joy. It’s just that I am almost completely depleted, exhausted. How can I ever look at pictures of us ever again? We were very different. They say opposites attract, but how do they stay together? How can I honesty look back and not be confused about the reality and nostalgia? Memories reveal more that I can handle at times…What about her and that FB memories that pop up? Does she even look through them? Do any of these memories bring a smile? Does any image serve as a background for the moment? Is the moment the same as the person, can they be separated? Does the person in the picture make or break the moment? Will the whole picture taint the ‘snapshot’? Can it all be revised?
There have been a lot of comments and questions about what the hang up was in our divorce. We didn’t own property together. We had a tiny bit of debt on a credit card. In the end the issue was about money, my money. I received a monetary gift before leaving her. Without getting into the details of the dispute, I can honestly say this where I dug in. I felt conflicted because the first month after I left I went to divorce seminars, spoke casually to other divorced people. Divorce can get as crazy and expensive as YOU make it. I didn’t want it to be a difficult process, but I had to dig in.
I had to dig in because I make less than a third of what SF poverty level is. I had to dig in because I left a rent controlled apartment in the center of San Francisco, to a market rate apartment in Berkeley near CAL, incurring an $8 dollar day commute. I had to dig in because I now had to pay for expensive Covered California, and insulin is outrageous. I got better coverage under Health SF. Reflection was never her strong point…but come one. She makes 40K not including bonuses more than I do. I wish she had, you know counted her blessings before coming after something that was legally separately mine. In the end I settled for a fraction of what the court calculator determined to be fair. For me, I just wanted to leave. Her lack of reflection has made it difficult for me to let go, because when I reflect on all the times I did let things go, I have a lot of regret.
Since leaving my ex, I have had to re-evaluate what is real for me. I had to rediscover tastes. Certain things didn’t have the flavor she claimed there to be. I had to re-evaluate things life the type of effort things actually took. Certain things were actually easier than she made them out to be. I had to re-evaluate the worth or value I put on things. Some of my things are worth way less than she told me. Each time I didn’t question reality I had a stomach ache. Something was upset in my core. I’ve been trying to really listen to my feelings. I have been working on putting my own value on my own thoughts and opinions. All of this is to regain that sense of self I had to attract people in the first place. People can’t see it, but there is a deep dark hole. The circumference isn’t the issue…it’s the depth.
For some reason this past weekend I started thinking about my ex. It wasn’t as loaded with hate as it once was. It was kind of nostalgic really. There is a particular photo I shot of her while she was watching the Vietnamese country side from out soft sleeper car. She appears to be in thought. She’s quiet and there is no cell phone in her hand. She is in wonder. This is the memory I have chosen to remind me of the good times. The woman in that photo caught in that particular moment is when I loved her the most. I didn’t believe I was going to have any good memories of her.
I went through my day giving this memory in my head, this photo, this snap shot in time good energy. I pushed down the many many negative things that came up as I held onto this image. I fought to keep it precious. I came home to find in my mail copies of the sign divorce paperwork that had been filed with the Court of the County of San Francisco. Another reminder of how real it is. A reminder of how sad it is. I remember that day. I felt so light. I remember how light I felt on the train. How can two totally different things brings such feelings?
I think another reason for the feelings is that I am returning to South East Asia, where we spent a lot of time traveling around together. I also spent a lot of time in S.E.Asia in 2011, when I first tried to work abroad. Facebook is also posting memories on my timeline about those times.
You know what though, even though there is a lot of energy and emotion surrounding this move, there is one thing I know for sure. I know I can get through anything. In the past year I did things for and by myself that hadn’t been done in 13 years or ever. I went camping at a music festival on my own. I went through the holidays on my own. I brought in the new year with friends and crashed and burned on Valentine’s Day…but, once I was freed on my birthday I just knew things can’t get in my way and I am stringer than I have been lead to believe.
So…I am moving out of the country. This is something I wanted to do before there was even the threat of Trump becoming president. First, it was for the adventure of being in another culture. Then, it became about the police indiscriminately shooting black people. Now, it’s about the economy and other sorts of civil liberties that are being taken away for fear of an equal country.
My initials plans are to travel to Taipei for a few days and visit with former students. I hope to eat until I pop. Afterwards, I will spend a few days in Chiang Mai. I’ve never been to this part of Thailand. I know a few people to visit with and I want to party in baby Bangkok. From there I will get to Ho Chi Minh City to settle in for five weeks in a CELTA program. I haven’t made any definite plans from that point. If I like it in Vietnam I will stay.
The covert narcissist sets his victim up at home. They create triggers to set off their partner when in public knowing that the partner will not risk a scene. The victim clamps shut as the narcissist strokes each trigger tempting a scene.
As the narcissist is confronted about their behavior they begin to overtly manipulate or lash out when the manipulations no longer work. They will say things like.
I didn’t realize how much I was isolating until I came out the other side of this divorce. It’s not uncommon for these situations to happen. In order to keep up appearances sometimes it meant that you don’t go out at all. I didn’t want to go out because of the eggshells I had to maneuver over and around. Measuring each sentence that came out of my mouth became too exhausting to deal with. I eventually retreated into puzzles and podcasts. I made excuses like, “I teach and talk all day with people. The last thing I wanted to was talk to more people.” That was actually her excuse for staying home and I just grabbed that line.
I thought that the past nine months of isolating would be healing, but, instead, it created a dome of anxiety and shaky footing. I did nothing to move on. I basically set myself up to hold on until the divorce decision was made. Now that the decision is in, I must steam ahead. I don’t know if I ever would have been able to use the nine months any more wisely than I did. The realizations of dynamics, friends and family, and work have been overwhelming in some instances.
Now I am stronger. I am stronger for doing it without anti-depressants. I’m stronger for getting back on the path to me. The words still echo in my head. I’v heard them and similar from more than one set of lips. The personalities that insist that these words hurt no one are feeling some kind of hurt themselves. Void of their own emotions and unable or unwilling to recognize this, they will insist they are the victims. Now I know I no longer have to languish under their words anymore.
Shit in my life is beginning to feel real. Things I’ve wanted to happen are becoming real in a way that is frightening, but that good frightening. I was caught in a dynamic that made me feel very fearful, but now I feel embolden to live. I am honoring my feelings and moving forward in my life without questioning myself.
Recently, I was laid off of my teaching job. Listen folks, times are going to get rough for everyone and every industry. Something is either going to give or snap. It wasn’t quite the way I wanted to leave. I kind of slid out of there quietly. It was one of the hardest things I had to do. Leaving Stafford House and my coworkers was more difficult than deciding to get a divorce. I truly loved my work life.
THE TEACHER’S ROOM…this is a sacred spot. It was once expansive and difficult to connect with each one. The move to a smaller space, I think, brought us closer together. We were in each conversation, rant, critique, joke and resource giving. You know, it all was like my morning radio show. Certain personalities needed to walk into the room say their piece in order for me to have a complete day. We all noticed when someone was absent.
I had been planning to leave the country for a while, but of course I needed to finish that divorce stuff. Once that was done I wanted to clear up business and make my way out in my own style and fashion. The universe must have believed I was taking too long. I was hesitating. With the loss of my job I have had to switch those gears and speed up my process. Let’s get it done.
I’ve put in an application for a CELTA program in Vietnam. I love this country. I recently scheduled a SKYPE interview and I look forward to moving to Ho Chi Minh and living there while I complete the course. I decided that if I can feel comfortable on my own there then I will try to stay on and find a job. Otherwise, I will consider the other countries I have on my list…Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and even some Middle Eastern Countries like Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Looking back on my marriage, as I do often these days, I knew I had the words for it back then. I knew exactly how I felt. I had no problem expressing them. I was kind in the beginning, but toward the end…I couldn’t tolerate the total disregard any longer. To no avail…all the therapy, books, patience, and eventually isolation, did it solve how the dynamic, or rather cycle played itself out. It was the last time I was reminded of these words that the devastation rolled through anew. How could I forget. I played into it again. ‘Cause really, I just want to be a good person.
Within a month of the marriage something was seriously wrong. We went into couples counseling. I took away from it that we had different communication styles. I wanted to be a different type of guy and be able to be patient, be available, use my words, adjust my tone. She always reminded me of my tone especially when we were in public. It didn’t matter what we talked about tone was very important for her. I continued to do some work on myself. Sure, I need to soften some edges. About nine months into the marriage I picked up this book, The Gaslight Effect. I read it completely and saw my relationship with my mother play out on most of the pages. It was too familiar. A lot of the feelings I was having with my now ex-wife were playing out on the pages. I wasn’t sure if I was perpetrating it, but knowing how alike I am to my mother I became hyper aware of my actions from that point on.
I was five years into transition, intending to be a different kind of man. Have feelings, express them, be more patient than others, anticipate needs…I defaulted to her decisions. Well, I finished the book and then promptly gave it a friend in hopes it would help them.. We had stopped going to therapy because of the cost. And we would go through cycles. I would hold out longer and longer tolerating the emotional stuffing down and rebuffing when expressing the emotions. After reading the book I tried my hardest to not to create that dynamic over my ex. Why didn’t I recognize it was actually over me? Was it because I gave away the words?
As I walked out the door it was clear what was happening. I was appalled at my life at that moment. Weeks later I fell into old programming. I had to be careful. I was defending her. I lied to my parents about her claiming their gift to me. The process of divorce and the struggle withing that process is just so…I’m going to quote a friend’s message to me…
There is a splitting apart of the self when two people part ways because so much of yourself is wrapped around the other person – memories, experiences. It’s like trying to half a piece of caramel. You pull and all these stringy messy bits get all over the place. It’s a hot mess. But in the end, you’re holding piece of caramel in your hand and if you can get past the discomfort of it being messy, you realize the caramel is still delicious and you savor the taste of it even more.
In the end I just couldn’t do it her way, I had been doing it her way from the beginning. She couldn’t bear to compromise. The words came ringing back like a huge temple bell. Third time is a charm for me. I became more active…I found more words…Narcissistic Abuse.
On April 18, 2008, my ex-wife and I got our marriage license at city hall way too easily. We just showed our I.D. and signed a paper. I also celebrated my 35th birthday. On April 18, 2017, I signed a marriage settlement agreement and finalized my divorce in my head and my heart. I also celebrated my 44th birthday. It was an extraordinary gift to myself.
YOLO…’Treat yo ‘self’