We’re taught to be “good girls”, “do as your told”……..if you grew up in a dysfunctional home, then the message is deep……your not good enough, not worthy, not pretty, not smart……..nothing is ever enough. Never, never enough. So you grow up striving to please everyone. You meet a man who echos back to you what you heard in your youth. You don’t ever even realize that you’re intelligent, capable or attractive. And you just continue to strive to keep everyone happy, to please everyone until some massive life event makes you wake up.
My first wake up was ending my many year marriage. I made the decision while pinned to the wall with a butcher knife over my head. I was terrified, beyond terrified, to be on my own. Even though I had run a successful business, that I hated, I was still terrified. I had never heard anyone say, “You can do it”. I struggled with an anxiety disorder and PTSD even then. And THEN, I got away from him. I realized, much to my total amazement, that I was capable. I was intelligent. I was even attractive. I never knew these things before in my life.
I escaped the marriage but deep inside my self worth hadn’t changed. The messages from my youth and also my (ex) husband stayed with me. I still believed I was not good enough. Not good enough to find a man who would treat me with respect. It’s not something we realize on the surface, it’s buried deep inside of us. If we were fully aware of and could fix it, I know we would.
So, the years passed and I had various relationships with men who cheated, lied, took my money, wouldn’t commit, and left me high and dry with two children to take care of. One guy even cleaned out the house. He took the TV, stereo, and (game) Play Station. I had paid for all of it on my credit cards. I later filed for bankruptcy, $50,000 dollars in debt and a single mom. (My kids were about 8 and 15 at the time.) Fortunately, none of these men were verbally or physically abusive to me. Even though I their actions were extremely abusive. (“I’m sorry, I really do love you” as they were taking all my stuff. What the fuck.)
Then I met a man who seemed to be really awesome. He was good to me. Until a family tragedy struck and his mother decided to hate me and wanted me out of her son’s life. Even though, again, I was doing pretty well, paying most of the bills and the dude couldn’t AFFORD to live on his own. He turned from a sweet, kind soul into a monster. I was excluded at all family functions, including holidays. It didn’t bother him that I was home alone on holidays as long as his mother was happy. I was told point blank that I would never be allowed to be around his family and that he would NEVER “stand up for me” to his mother. I sat at home on countless Sundays while his family attended church and then had “family and friend brunches”. I left that relationship 50 pounds thinner, sick and an emotional wreck. Was it abusive? Yes. Emotionally very much so.
What was I thinking through all of this?
THEN, I met the icing on the cake of life. (And that’s absolute sarcasm.) He was/is a narcissist/sociopath. Again, it started great, as all relationships do. But soon, very soon, I started to notice big things that were highly inappropriate. I let them go. Why? Well, because that program was still running in my head that said I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t smart enough. I couldn’t tell “normal” from “inappropriate”. Maybe I was just too stupid to know how “real people” act in the “real world”. Within 18 months, I was left with nothing that I started with. In the many years since my divorce, I lost everything that I had built over those years, thanks to this man. I lost all my friends, my professional standing/reputation in the community and my spiritual standing within the community. I was ostracized. Why? (And it took me several years and some therapy to understand this.) Because he was a sociopath/narcissist and when I started to tell folks that he was abusive, he went on an all out campaign to discredit me and make me look insane and abusive (to protect his OWN reputation). And he succeeded.
I was/am financially ruined. My career was/is extremely damaged to the point that I’m not sure it can bounce back in this same city. I have very bad PTSD. I cannot afford any more therapy and I do not do well on the medicines that they normally prescribe for it. When you combine all these factors, it makes a dismal picture. I’m not sure what is next, thanks to this monster who came into my life and made it his job to ruin it. Literally.
This morning I was reflecting on my past. Because I’m trying to figure out what to do for my future. I’m not sure how the bills are even going to get paid this month. It starts with the ex husband. He never paid child support in the amount that the judge ordered because I was too “people pleasing” and I let it slide. He never paid any child support at all during my eldest’s last year in high school and none at all during my youngest’s high school years and now his college years. Yet, I see that he and his new wife live in a high end house, they send their child to private school and they take frequent vacations to other countries. Why? Because I didn’t have enough self worth to stand up for myself and my children. I look at the man who took all my stuff and left me $50,000 in debt. I am sure that there was some kind of criminal charge I could have filed against him too. He had no right to remove items from my home that I had paid for. But, again, I didn’t pursue it. . I look at the emotionally abusive man that came after all that and I realize I should have walked away as soon as he chose to exile me from his life. Instead I stayed and “tried to make it work” and almost became very ill myself from the stress. And THEN of course, came the narcissist/sociopath. I realize that this man was so smart and so clever that there was nothing I could have done except for ONE THING and that would have been to walk away INSTANTLY as soon as I saw my boundaries were being violated. He may have still went on a campaign to destroy me, I guess we will never know. But I’m quite sure that a lot of the damage would have been avoided if I had left him during month one or two rather than month 18.
Finally, I know who I am. I know what I deserve. I know that I am worthy of the best. I know that I deserve respect. I know that I am beautiful. I know that I deserve to be treated with kindness. I know that I deserve people who are honest and have integrity. I finally know now what I do not want. I know what I will not stand for. I know what the red flags are and I’m healthy enough to see them and RUN away when they present themselves. I no longer care if I do not “please” other people by continuing to be their doormat.Frankly, I don’t care who “likes” me or not. This lesson was learned with much expense and sacrifice. I sit here, several years after the fact of the last Prince Harming and I STILL have not been able to rebuild my life. It’s been a very very high price to have to pay.
Many women who are in abusive relationships have the same issues that I did. They do not feel “good enough” or worthy. They grew up without affirmation that they were enough in every way: smart enough, strong enough, capable enough, pretty enough, good enough. Then when they met men who echoed the same things, they were used to it. They thought, that’s just the way it is. I must be “nice”. I mustn’t rock the boat. I have to settle for anything I can get, since I’m not good enough to attract someone better. I must keep all people happy. At the expense of my own soul and life with damage that extended even to the quality of life that my children lived. (They are adults now, but we’re still struggling with college expenses. With no help from “daddy”.)
No. No more. I am still alive to be able to tell you this: YOU ARE ENOUGH. YOU ARE ENOUGH IN EVERY POSSIBLE WAY. PLEASE DO NOT LET A MAN OR ANYONE ELSE TELL YOU OTHERWISE. YOU DO NOT OWE THE WORLD SACRIFICES. YOU DESERVE TO BE TREATED WITH RESPECT. YOU (AND YOUR CHILDREN) DESERVE TO HAVE WHAT IS RIGHTFULLY YOURS. RUN, don’t walk, AWAY FROM ANYONE WHO DOES NOT TREAT YOU WITH THE DIGNITY AND RESPECT THAT IS RIGHTFULLY YOURS.
I wish that I could teach this lesson to every young girl and young woman before they get to the place where they will allow a man to do it to them. I wish I could be the nurturing mother to these girls who never will hear these messages in their homes. I wish I knew at age 13 what I know now. But here’s the good news, the one ray of light, I will never, ever again repeat the same mistakes in choosing romantic partners and I hope you won’t either, no matter how much you think you “love” them. “Love” does not diminish or dismiss or disrespect you in any way at all.
Please share widely, especially if you know someone who may need to hear this message.
I love you~
Olivia Rose https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Journey-of-Olivia-Rose/1632375906981319?ref=hl
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