Life | Relationships

Life – It’s Short

By on February 24, 2018
life is short

Life is short, fragile and is balanced on a knife-edge.

Life is short, it is fragile and fleeting.  Nothing brought this home to me more than the death of a friend last week.  She was not an old woman.  I had seen her 2 weeks prior to her death where a group of us enjoyed a slap up meal in the local Indian Restaurant and had a really good time, then suddenly she just…stopped.

We all say it constantly, ‘life is short’, but never seem to do anything about it.  Sometimes you really do need a kick up the proverbial to really ram home the truth of the matter: On average our lifespans may be on the rise but that is no guarantee that you personally are going to live to a ripe old age.  You need to live right now.

How often do we go through one of these awful situations and then go back into our ruts and the drudge of day to day life?  Stay stuck in a job that doesn’t value you, where you are treated badly?  Or in a relationship about which you could easily say the same?  We stay on our rails and follow the same old sequence of events because, why?  Maybe fear of change but also because it is easy.  You might be bored rigid but hey, it is easier to just stay in a job you can do with your eyes shut than it is to make the effort to find and learn a new role.  You might feel undervalued or even abused by a partner on multiple levels, but change is scary, and it is often so hard to get the help you need, you stay put, the years drift by and so it goes on.

How many of us try and try for a partner who shows us no appreciation or value?  How many of us knock ourselves out for a job where you know full well your employer would replace you within 24 hours if you dropped dead tomorrow?  Is it really worth it?  We all need money to live and we need to work to get the money – but we need to start working to live instead of the other way around and focus on our personal relationships with others – the ones that make us happy!

At the beginning of this year, I promised myself that 2018 would be the year when I would work less, travel more and spend really high-quality time with those closest to me and who I care about deeply.  I planned to remove as many negatives as I can…so far I have pretty much failed.  My friend passing really has given me a kick up the arse – and I am going to make changes.

People who know me ‘in real life’ will be aware that I never sugar-coat the dead; we are all just people, good and bad, and this doesn’t change when we pass, but this woman really was exceptional and when I say she was one of the nicest and most genuine people I have been fortunate enough to meet, I actually mean that.  We knew each other I guess for just over a decade, we were never exceptionally close but she is going to leave a huge gap in our little group, in my life and the world will be poorer without her in it.

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When A Narcissist Threatens to Self Destruct

By on January 29, 2018
suicide

The Narcissist, Suicide and Manipulative Control

This is a blog about suicide, or more specifically, people who threaten suicide in order to get what they want. Now suicide is not a trivial matter – if someone is obviously distressed and talking about killing themselves one is quite correct to be concerned and try to get the relevant help for that person.  If this is you or someone you know, get help, do it now! Genuinely mentally ill people will talk about killing themselves, it is a commonly held misconception that most of those people who threaten it won’t go on to do it, in actual fact most people who commit suicide have mentioned it more than once before doing so.   That is what makes the use of suicide threats in order to control others or to gain their sympathy even more abhorrent.

I have lost count of the number of people who have come to me in the course of my life wanting to leave a relationship only to have that person threaten to top themselves.  Now, I’ve been on the receiving end of that myself so I know it is really unpleasant and as much as you may try to rationalise it out, you still think, ‘what if’? And wonder if you would have blood on your hands.  I actually had someone stand at the edge of a cliff once and threaten to jump off.  I left him there.  He didn’t jump.  After this all further threats failed, I  mean, I knew he wasn’t going to do it.  Why kill yourself if you won’t be around to gain the benefits of manipulating and controlling the other person? And even better, get what you want, play the victim and get lots of sympathy from those around you.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are great places to watch people and I am an avid people watcher, I also love to figure out what is motivating others (I even turn that insight on myself occasionally too, although some would say not often enough!)  If someone threatens suicide on social media there will be a huge flurry of attention.  The problem is that people only ever see what is in front of them and they don’t really look for trends.  This is a real boon to someone intent on manipulating others and on appearing to be a victim.  And they do it over and over again.

I have literally had people on my social media feed who threaten suicide on an almost bi-monthly basis, and always because someone has given them a boo-boo on their feelings by not doing what they want them to do.  This is particularly the case with interpersonal relationships, where one person kicks over the traces and then gets pissed off because the other person finally has enough – cue whining about how hard done by they are and threats of suicide.  And then all the usual people chip in with what a wonderful person they are,  how they deserve so much better, and what a complete cunt the person who has upset them really is.  Even if the object has distanced themselves, they will use any means possible to get the news through that they *really are* going to do it this time.

So what did I do?

Initially, I took the suicide threats seriously.  I took the person to get help.  He got help.

The suicide threats continued, so I looked for a trend.  Sure enough, when I tried to break free, the old suicide was back on the cards.  So eventually I stopped responding.  I gave him the number for the Samaritans every time he did it.  When I stopped responding, he stopped doing it.  Obviously, he could have topped himself and harsh as it sounds ultimately that was his choice, and there was little I could really do to stop that.  Frankly,  from their viewpoint, there really is no point of not being there to see your attempts to manipulate and control pay off.    I honestly believe that most of these manipulative dickheads are far too full of themselves and far too selfish to put themselves out of our misery.

So I look at these repetitive, ‘oh, someone has been mean so I may as well kill myself’ posts and fight the urge to ask if they want a knife, a rope or some arsenic.  But that’s because I am a bad person and probably a narcissist’s worse nightmare.

 

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The Forgiveness Delusion

By on December 30, 2017

To Err is Human, to forgive Divine

 

I thought I was pretty good on forgiveness. Even my brother who was pretty savvy with people once said to me (regarding a decade-long argument with a family member), ‘I wish I could forgive it but I can’t, I haven’t got the grace to do it. I wish I had your grace, you manage to forgive people, even for the most awful things’. At the time I would have agreed – now I am not so sure.

I would say that I am mostly pretty good on forgiveness. If someone gives me an apology for something I usually take it and mean it. I also believe I can recognise flaws in my own interactions with others and will apologise readily and mean it.

But what if someone has done something so bad, so terrible, with such long-lasting effects that you simply cannot find it within you to forgive?

“To err is human, to forgive divine”, said Pope in his poem An Essay on Criticism. On one hand, I would agree – we all make mistakes and we could all use a little forgiveness. Sometimes our behaviour is understandable, there are real and valid reasons why someone acts in a certain way. It could be upbringing, it could be mental illness, a traumatic event, it could be a lack of social skills. Oftentimes the knowledge of these things does indeed allow us to forgive because we can understand the reasons why something happened.

On the other hand, a reason is not the same as an excuse. Repeating the same behaviour over and over again when one could have dealt with it the first, second or even third time, pretty much negates the reason as an excuse in my book. Systematic abuses of people over decades, being repeatedly left as a result of this and still not looking at oneself, still blaming someone else, anyone else, again removes any possibility of using any reason to excuse yourself.

ForgivenessSo I repeat:  Yes, there are reasons, but having a reason is not an excuse, it does not excuse it or exempt one from the responsibility for or the consequences of that action, and we still need to atone or make good for what we have done, if indeed that option is still open to us.

I’ve tried, I really have. I actually believed for a long time I had succeeded. I maintained polite relations with this person. I accepted a half-hearted apology. ‘I must have really hurt you and if I did I am sorry’, all the time looking confused about what one could possibly have done that was so bad, despite having been told probably hundreds of times over a decade.  This is a half-arsed apology in my book and merely becomes self-seeking and irrelevant when used to precede an attempt at reconciliation. But that said, I thought I’d accepted the apology and moved on. I was wrong. I’m still angry and the fact that they thought I was so stupid that I was going to give them another go at destroying me just makes it worse.

Some things I can remember as clear as day (mostly things I don’t really want to) and others I cannot recall at all. This is distressing because my children will remind me of things and I genuinely have no clue what they are talking about. It isn’t that they can expand and I go ‘oh yeah, I remember now’. It simply isn’t there in a place I can get to it.

I know I could go and see someone, get these memories back but if I have repressed good memories I have obviously repressed them alongside something not so good. What if the stuff I can’t remember is actually worse than the stuff I can? Do I want to deal with those and the inevitable fall-out that would occur?

What makes it worse is watching them come out of every situation smelling of roses, twisting the truth so they are the perpetual victim. So I cut the ties as far as I can and I try to remove them, expunge them from my psyche.

I’m not even sure why this is all coming up at a point where I have been away from the situation almost as long as I was in it. I want to cry as I write this but tears just will not come.

And so, forgiveness is just not in me for this particular person.

I hope it comes soon, I’ve had enough of them.

 

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On Being “Crazy” – Gaslighting 101

By on November 15, 2017
Gaslight

I was having a look at some old writings of mine and I found this from 2013 on the subject of Gaslighting and I thought it was worth re-blogging here.

Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception and sanity. Instances may range simply from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

 

Ingrid Bergman Gaslighting
Ingrid Bergman from the film ‘Gaslight’ (1944)

Gaslighting as an experience is devastating to your sense of sanity and self-esteem. It can creep into a relationship early on in such a mild form it is imperceptible. By the time it becomes entrenched as a way of interacting the victim already believes the abuser is probably right. It is hard to explain to others because the more you try to explain it the “crazier” you start to sound, even to yourself. Eventually, you believe that maybe you are mad, so mad in fact, you need this other person around to help you keep your tenuous grip on reality.

Gaslighting is essentially a form of manipulation and control, and it is not exclusively perpetrated by men against women despite what the media may have you believe. It is a form of domestic abuse, but one that has only relatively recently been taken seriously by medical professionals. social services, and law enforcement authorities. Despite this, in my opinion, it is often still perceived as a poor relation of “real” abuse such as physical and sexual violence.

Before everyone starts picking over the last row they had with their significant other and wondering if his/her shouting “you’re a fucking crazy bitch/dickhead” counts as serious domestic abuse; it probably doesn’t. Sometimes a row is just a row. It’s not nice, but real gaslighting is much more subtle and is not something that exclusively happens when one person is angry at another. Although this can be the case, in my personal experience it tended to be a more normal part of the daily communications.

Many years ago I started to write a book on recognising when you were being gaslighted. I may resurrect it but in the meantime a few of my own experiences of gaslighting in a very small nutshell were:

    • Minimising my personal concerns: Always on the basis of a “caring” discussion, this would start with “What’s up?” and end in “You’ve got a bloody screw loose”, or “It’s all in your head”, and also for good measure “Well, with the history of mental illness in your family, and your depression, it’s not surprising you are so irrational, there really is no hope!”.

 

    • Ensuring compliance: If I ever objected to anything within the relationship eg, where the money was spent; sexual issues I was left in no doubt that these were my issues either with my parents (?!) during childhood, my own personal repression/hang-ups and so on. Not legitimate concerns. Really I should have been in the loony bin. Eventually, you just do what they want you to do because what happens if you are really mad? They will come and take you away….

 

    • Giving Instruction: On every little thing. Nothing you do is ever right or good enough, in fact, you are so stupid you even need to be taught the “right way” to cut vegetables or load a dishwasher. The subtext: If you can’t even do that right, you obviously can’t function in the real world without me can you?

 

You can often start to do ‘crazy’ stuff to try to prove you’re not crazy: In one particularly toxic relationship, the man was being unfaithful. He swore blind that the affair had stopped. I could see all the evidence that it had not, but of course I did not trust myself to be able to process information accurately by this time: Obviously, I was imagining it all. In fact, I was constantly being told it was all in my head. On one occasion I was literally acting crazy and got myself driven round by a friend (so he wouldn’t recognise the car!) to check where his work vehicle was parked. Lo and Behold! There it was where he said it would be, so obviously I was completely mad after all. Except I wasn’t. I just couldn’t see it, and then I felt guilty for doubting his word, and that maybe I was just mad after all. Even reading this makes me think “OMG bunny boiler!” and that is completely not me at all. I was literally being driven mad by someone who wanted to have their cake and eat it and had no concept of anyone else’s needs but their own.  I found out later that he was doing this to the ‘other woman’ and to his ex-wife.  And apparently, I was the crazy one!

Often the manipulation and control are accompanied by standard “passive aggressive” communication techniques to make the victim feel bad, that they are in the wrong, and that they are actually the one who is abusing their partner. This is easy to recognise once you know what you are looking for, sadly during the worst of the gaslighting style of abuse you tend not to see what is in front of you; instead you supply them with the required platitudes to soothe their “hurt” feelings and end up feeling really bad that you “made” them feel so unhappy.

It really is only after you are not in the relationship anymore you start to look back and realise the extent of what was going on and how the warning signs were there early on. For example, in one relationship at the very beginning, I said I had no interest in a subject which the other person did. I was subjected to hours of sulking – the result being I caved in because I felt bad and then ended up being bored shitless by these endless ramblings for over a decade.  At the time I didn’t realise, being young and incredibly naive, that if my needs were not important right at the start this did not bode well for the future.

I ended another relationship after 3 months because passive aggression seemed to be his standard form of communication. Sadly for him, I had learnt to say “no” by this point and mean it, so it was pretty much doomed from the start!

My experiences (and this is a very brief overview) were unpleasant and I would not wish it on anyone but it has served me well and I am pretty much impervious to passive-aggressive forms of manipulation. Having lived with masters of the technique, everyone else seems pretty amateurish after that. I am not saying that they were “crazy” but I do think they had some pretty serious issues they need to deal with in terms of their attitude towards other people in general, and women in particular. Sadly, they are so wrapped up in their own sense of self-importance I doubt they would ever feel the need to examine their own psyche to the extent to which they would realise this.

For my part, I just learnt to make better decisions concerning who I do and do not allow into my life. My gain.

 

Reproduced from the original here
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Relationships

Can a Dream Help us Mend?

By on September 14, 2017

Following on from an earlier blog I got to thinking about our experience of dreams as a way to heal ourselves from psychological and emotional traumas.  This was inspired partly by conversations with numerous women all of whom have experienced some form of gas lighting/abusive situation and all of whom seem to have a similar set of dreams once they are free of the relationship concerned.   I wonder how many people out there (male or female) experience the same sort of recurring dream.

I realised a few months back that I do actually have  memory issues – both false memories (where I believed I did something that I actually didn’t do because I was constantly told I had done it) and also huge gaps in my memory throughout the period from around 1987-2001.  People say that something or other happened, I really have no memory of it at all.   Considering a lot of what I can remember is pretty hideous I have no wish to go delving into these bits of my brain.   Perhaps this is where the dreams come in.

The worst of these (worst as in I feel awful all day afterwards) is what I call the ‘nothing has changed’ dream.

In this dream I wake up in bed, look over and realise I’ve gone back in time. Somewhere inside  I know that I have a new life, but suddenly here I am.  Was that new life just a dream?   I feel sick to my stomach thinking I still have to extricate myself all over again.  The other party carries on ‘business as usual’ as if nothing is amiss yet deep down I know that I should not be here.  Worse thing is I also know that they know it too and are deliberately acting as if it is all a fait accompli, this is what is ‘real’, and in doing so they succeed in perpetuating my imprisonment in this new reality.

I can actually feel the helplessness of feeling stuck in a situation where essentially I am monitored and controlled and living at the behest of another individual.  I have a ‘dream hangover’ which lasts all day.

In the early days of freedom these dreams would occur at least once a month, nowadays I may have one every 9-12 months.  This is a vast improvement but considering I have been out of the relationship almost as long as I was in it and I still have some processing to do it is a real testament to the mage level gas lighting skills of the other party!

I am quite happy to let my dreams continue to repair any residual damage and have no wish to pick at the scab ‘in real life’.  There is something about the process of ‘the change’ and moving forward into my crone years that has given me time and space to really ponder a lot of this unresolved ‘stuff’.   I find writing these  blogs strangely cathartic and liberating and I hope they are of help to others who have been through similar experiences.

 

 

 

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The Long & Winding Road….to Avalon

By on September 10, 2017

Following on from an earlier blog on where ‘home’ is, I started to think about how I finally ended up here on the Isle of Avalon and not on the Isle of Wight where I started out. It is a bit of a convoluted journey which started in 1982 and continued until I finally moved here in 2009.

In 1982 a 17/18 year old me arranged with my older brother Nikki to take a journey to Glastonbury on his flash black 1100cc Yamaha. It was a pretty cold early spring weekend and back then it was a lot easier to just head off on a whim and pick up B&B accommodation on the way than it is now so we just hopped on a boat, left the Island and started off on our journey. We stayed over the first night in the New Forest, visiting Burley and a few other places and then hit the road the following morning for Salisbury, after lunch we almost got as far as Stonehenge before the sleet set in so hard we were forced to turn back.

So, I never made it.

Fast forward to around 2004, 9 house moves, one failed marriage, 3 children and a failed engagement later and I am not very blissfully single at this point. In fact I’m having a really bad time emotionally and I am spending a lot of time meditating and after subsuming myself into 2 pretty abusive relationships, trying to actually establish who I was/am/would be.

So with all the hideousness going on around me I wake up one morning and decide for no apparent reason that I’d really like to visit Glastonbury. Quick call to Nikki and an hour later I am on the boat and heading off up to Somerset. This turned out to be the first of many, many visits. I started to make connections in the area and pretty soon we were up in the town about twice a month on average.

During this time my relationship with my fiance was very on and off. One of my earliest memories of being here was visiting with people who would later become rather good friends and sitting in a wood around a fire, they were all having a great time, I was the rather silent, miserable cow by the fire. But no one actually seemed to mind, I was just left to get on with it and fire gaze to my heart’s content. They told me later that they could see I was having a hard time, and thought I could use the space. It was pretty refreshing not to have people constantly trying to cheer me up and stepping back to let me process all the stuff I really needed to get my head around.

As it turned out I kicked him into touch shortly after this and it was one of the best decisions I think I’ve ever made. Although it is easy to dismiss him as a waste of air and skin, I learnt a lot about myself and others from the mess of that relationship. I definitely grew as a person, and hopefully he did too although judging by his track record I very much doubt it. Maybe he just caught some awful STI and have his cock rot off. Either scenario works for me.

I was finally totally free to pursue my rediscovery of me, of my pagan beliefs and develop my own sense of self. I was excited to be able to take part in many pagan community celebrations for the first time in my life, including the raising of the Arch Druid of Glastonbury at Stonehenge, where I got to stand inside the stones for the first time since I was a small child. It was a truly magical time for me.

I continued to travel to the town and spend time with friends here for the next few years during which time I had occasionally considered moving to the area but there was still something holding me back. At a Lammas picnic in August 2008 I met the man who was later to become my husband.

Interestingly, despite the fact that he had lived here for decades our paths had never once crossed, this may be an interesting story for another time. I finally arrived moved into a small cottage in West Pennard late summer 2009.

Coming here changed my life in all manner of ways – that is another story for another time – and although my relationship with the place has definitely change I still feel this is where I belong.

 

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