Battles

We’re told to “pick our battles”

I didn’t fight about how many people I was allowed to invite to my wedding, because I was just so excited to have a wedding at all.

I didn’t notice how much I was giving in until I started to realize he wasn’t giving at all.

By then, I was so caught up in the lie that I didn’t deserve more and I was no longer able to ask for it. I knew what result asking would get me, I would have to defend my position. There wasn’t a whole lot worth fighting for anymore. It was easier to just do things his way. He was convinced (maybe I was, too) that I was just that easygoing.

But it didn’t stop the resentment.

He got away with everything. I was nervous to bring up any of my complaints because he would respond by minimizing my experience, “you’re overreacting,” and making excuses. He would claim ignorance, justify his position, and put me on my back foot constantly trying to defend my position.

In the end, I would be the one apologizing. I could never see how the conversation turned around. At the beginning, I had a legitimate complaint. At the end, I was crying and begging his forgiveness, feeling like a selfish ass for asking for (what I now understand was) basic human decency and respect.

I hated coming to him with a complaint. I knew it was going to end that way. I would try to prepare myself. I would rehearse the conversation over and over again in my head, hearing all his possible responses and coming up with counter-arguments, just like I used to in college speech and debate. He would never cease to surprise me. I would hardly get one thought out when he would question my reasoning, my resolve. Before I knew it, I was so confused I couldn’t remember what I was even upset about. I didn’t even think I had the right to be upset. He would be so offended by my accusation. I was suddenly defending my right to have feelings.

He never took responsibility for his shortcomings. He never made any mistakes. He never apologized. His story constantly changed, but it was my memory that was faulty. He had a “photographic” memory, said he (he did not, and I knew this, yet still I felt “crazy”).

Folks, this is what gaslighting feels like. It’s not a healthy relationship. Taking responsibility for your own shortcomings, admitting to mistakes, are the basic building blocks of an adult relationship. If you find your partner always seems to have an excuse (however valid it seems at the time) and you’re always defending your emotions and being told your memory is faulty, there is no going back from this. It’s only going to get worse, and it will eventually lead to physical altercations. It’s not worth it. Someone who treats you like this will never see themselves as the problem or even part of the problem, so no amount of therapy will ever get your a loving partner who values your contribution to the relationship.

Just get out, there is no reason to wait. Trust me, you don’t want to be hating yourself fifteen years later for staying so long (I am working on coming to terms with the decisions I made at the time). Talk to your friends. Tell them (really tell them. don’t minimize it) what you’re going through. There is someone out there that can help you. You’ll be surprised what people will say when you finally start admitting it’s not the paradise you’ve been pretending (to yourself and everyone) that it is.

#happinessinavacuum #wordpress #wordpressblog #battles #ptsd #abusiverelationship #emotionalviolence #recovery #anxiety #depression #mentalhealth #healing #validation #balance #self-care #gaslighting #minimize #feelings crazymaking #memory #defensive

Call

Voice calls. My mortal enemy. Makes me break out in procrastination. I hate making phone calls. Most of the time, when I finally get to it, they go okay. Customer service type calls usually go fine when you’re just a decent human being who waits patiently and asks politely. I know all this and I despise when I have to do business by phone call. It brings up some of the past trauma. I put it off, even when the task is calling a list of people I know personally, such as when a friend is running for office.

I mentioned my hatred for phone calls, to my mother, and she reminded me how much I was on the phone when I was a teenager. We regularly have multiple-hour long chats on the phone, and I’ll speak to close friends on the phone, people I love. But business calls, they really stress me out. I put off phone calls for days on end, often waiting until the last day something can be returned, for instance.

So my friend is running for local political office. I volunteered to help his campaign. Like many Americans, after the 2016 election, I wanted to become more politically active. I wanted to be a part of making the change I want to see in this country. I ran for a position on my HOA board, but I didn’t do any campaigning at all and of course I didn’t win. Now that I’m involved in a local campaign, I can see how important it is for a candidate to put themselves “out there” in the public eye. My friend stands outside of Costco almost every Sunday with a sign, waving at people leaving the store. He’s very good a promoting himself on Facebook and has an army of social media warriors (I am one of them) who like, comment, and share each and every post.

I want to help more, but I just can’t bring myself to make a phone call. I have the script, I know what I am supposed to say. I even practiced in front of a mirror and with a partner. I know the people on my list, many of them have been friends for a very long time. But I just plain feel awkward speaking about this on the phone. I had a similar experience trying to sell through an MLM. I’m just not that good at promoting myself. I can send texts, I can make posts on Social media. I even had no problem making a video of myself putting makeup on and sharing with a group of over 200 people.

But for some reason, I don’t like to pick up the phone. I know I’m not alone, many people also don’t like it. It’s awkward. Hardly anyone answers their phone calls anymore, so you have to leave a message and wait for someone to call back. They are more than likely going to call me back when I’m not mentally prepared for the call, when I don’t have my notes in front of me, or when I’m in the middle of something else. The whole thing just brings on a ton of anxiety.

I made a giant list of people I know who live in the community. People who may be likely to vote for him, donate to his campaign, or even volunteer. But I can’t bring myself to call them. I did fill out about 100 postcards and deliver them (I did it at 7AM on a Sunday morning so I was less likely to actually encounter a person).

I didn’t used to be like this. PTSD changed the way I interact with the world that surrounds me. I am aware my behavior has come out of self-preservation. It started out as a way to protect myself from further abuse. But my journey of healing has not meant I could go back to the way I was, outgoing and gregarious, unfearful of “what people would think.” Regardless of whether this change is for better or worse, here we are.

PTSD has changed me. I am no longer comfortable in crowds, and I get nervous before going out, even if it’s close friends I’m meeting and a familiar venue. This pandemic has only made it easier for me to become more and more introverted. Whether or not the world returns to “normal,” I know I am going to be very different on the other side of this. I just have to be more aware of what my new “normal” is. Activities I would have signed up for years ago, are a hard “no” nowadays. Being more aware of my feelings means I am not so quick to say “YES!” to an invite.

I am definitely appreciative of this new version of “me.”

#happinessinavacuum #wordpress #wordpressblog #call #ptsd #abusiverelationship #emotionalviolence #recovery #anxiety #depression #mentalhealth #healing #validation #balance #self-care #quarantine #COVID-19 #coronavirus #maskup #phonecall #self-discovery #awkward

Professional

I am aware this is about five years old. I found something I’d written in an unusual place, and thought I’d lost. The inspiration from the post may not be current, but my thoughts on this haven’t changed.

When I first saw the billboard, big as a building [it was on a building] on Sunset Blvd, I was struck by the image. There’s Amy, dressed in a man’s suit, holding in one hand, a cigar, and in the other, what appears to be a glass of scotch. The tag line, “She’s a lady,” brings the metaphor clearly together. 

The item struck me, because at the time, I was wondering exactly what it means to be a woman in business. 

I was doing some work for “a very professional office” in Woodland Hills. On the first day, I showed up in my “office uniform” of black trousers, black flats, white tee shirt, and black suit jacket. When I arrived to the office, I clearly stood out.

All of the men were wearing a similar suit of some type and a tie. Not unexpected. The women were dressed in a manner that made me question the very nature of a woman in business. I was surrounded by women who, regardless of their age or weight, were scuttling around in stilettos, short skirts, and sporting cleavage. The sheer amount of transparent tops was shocking, to say the least. These women were managers in the company. Vice presidents. Smart, successful business women presenting their bodies in the same manner as those that sell them. 

Alright, that was a bit extreme. These women were dressed in a manner that is considered “appropriate” and “professional.” For Los Angeles. [I’ve lived in other places. Trust me, there is no one in the world quite like an Angelino.] I’d been out of the “professional office” dress code for many years and I began to consider what women’s business attire says about us women. Take high-heels for example. We do not wear them for comfort, we wear them for fashion. We wear them to make our legs appear more toned, our butts more perky. It doesn’t matter if we dress to impress other women or men – we wear high heels to make us look more like the archetype of a “woman.” Those toned legs and perky butts are then showcased in short, tight skirts, often paired with a blazer. Underneath the blazer, a sheer, low-cut top exhibits heaving breasts carefully shelved in push-up bras. [You know you’ve seen it, if you don’t already do it]. Let’s not leave out the makeup. Lipstick is meant to colour and plump the lips to make them appear more youthful and sensual. Eye makeup is meant to imply “bedroom eyes,” or how a woman looks after hours of sex. 

The sexualized nature of women’s “professional” attire calls to question what it means to be a woman in business. How does a woman dress if she wants to be taken seriously? The alternative appears to be dressing in a more masculine way, as I was that day, As Amy Schumer is in her billboard. Do we, as women in business, need to dress as men to be taken seriously? What does it mean to be “a lady” today?

#happinessinavacuum #wordpress #wordpressblog #professional #ptsd #abusiverelationship #emotionalviolence #recovery #mentalhealth #healing #validation #balance #self-care

just

I’ve been thinking quite a lot about my language lately. Ever since I read this article.

I’ve been making a huge effort to remove “just” from my everyday speech. I find it easy enough to do in writing, as I can go back and edit it out before anyone reads it. I will occasionally remove it from my speaking, even after the fact: “I’m just going out for a toilet break… I mean I’m going to to the toilet, be right back.” 

I currently work with lots of women. I once did an experiment where I tried to count how many times I heard it in one day. I lost count. At least every woman I worked with that day used the word at least once. Many used the word more than once. In the same sentence. 

I recalled being in college in the 90s in Santa Barbara. I was struck by the use of the word “whatever,” which I found so common among my female classmates [as my mom would say, “college co-eds.” I won’t even go into a diatribe about the meaning of that phrase]. It seemed like every time a pretty girl raised her hand to answer a question, she would end her discussion [however intelligent a response it was] with “or whatever.” For instance, “Shakespeare was really a feminist… or whatever.” The addition was so commonplace I even found myself using it. Without an in depth analysis, I was subconsciously avoiding intimidating the boys in the room and incurring the judgement of the other women. I was a freshmen in college. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be liked. I still hated that I did it. I also wanted to sound intelligent in class. I wanted to impress my professors and do well in school. Despite my intellectual desires, the unspoken social conventions often won out in my psyche and I found myself stating “…or whatever,” punctuated by a flip of my long, blonde hair. 

Fast forward 20 years later, and I’m only marginally surprised that using “just” is a linguistically similar self-deprecating phrase used mainly by women to avoid sounding “too smart,” or “too aggressive.” 

Since I’ve been hyper-focused on my own use of language lately, I’ve also begun to be offended at how often I use “sorry,” and how blatantly obvious is to me now that I use it in the same way as “just” and “whatever.” Like many women, I find myself apologizing when I had committed no transgression. Yesterday, a co-worker tripped over her own feet while walking near my desk. I said, “sorry,” then we both had a rather good laugh about it afterward. 

Now that I’m a grownup and I succeed at “adulting”, I make the effort to scrub “just” and “sorry” from my everyday speech. I haven’t exactly used “whatever” for almost two decades [unless you count an exclamation during an argument…] but taking these words out of my speech does not solve the problem. Jessica Lawrence has brought the age-old gender divide issue back into the public debate. Women, men, and everyone: keep talking about the things you notice that affect they way you think about other people. Have opinions. Get into debates. Show off your brains. We’ve made lots of progress, but we still have a long way to go. 

Famous quotes the way a woman would have to say them

Woman in a meeting

#happinessinavacuum #wordpress #wordpressblog #just #recovery #minimize #mentalhealth #validation #balance #self-care #justwomen #womeninbusiness #speakupwoman #jessicalawrence #nastywoman

good-boy

Nice people can be manipulative, too.

I’ve had the kind of experiences that make it easy for me to spot a malignant narcissist. But you fooled me with your Midwest nice and your pathological care-taking. You told me your “people pleasing” behavior was not codependent, because you genuinely benefited from your service alone. But I soon came to find out that was just one of your destructive “white lies.” All the “nice” things you did for others came at a cost, and you became cranky when the cost wasn’t paid to your liking.

The cost of your service is attention and appreciation. You’re used to getting your way, and when you don’t, you actually stamp your foot and whine. I thought you were being ironic when I first saw it, but I soon came to realize it was part of who you are. You wore me down with your constant texts until I invited you over; “I miss you,” “want a massage?” “let’s get a movie and some takeout…” When you were here, you took over my space. I changed my established routines to make you feel more comfortable, because I didn’t want to bring on the whine performance. Being with you was exhausting, but I didn’t realize that until I finally got you to leave me alone.

We once had a conversation about white lies. You defended “harmless” white lies, like telling a partner they “don’t look fat in those pants.” But even small lies, or lies of omission, are harmful. I have enough trouble with trust, I don’t need to be constantly guessing whether or not you mean what you say. You may not even consider them lies, but when you “forget” to tell me something or “forget” we hadn’t finished coming to an agreement on something, you are lying. You chose to do what you wanted and ask for forgiveness after. It’s convenient the way your memory works. Its funny how your memory only has holes where my needs are concerned.

Looking back, I had a collection of red flags that I stuffed in my pocket and didn’t want to look at. I’d finally found the “nice guy” you were so convinced you were, and I believed the lies you told yourself. I kept forgiving because I thought you were just emotionally immature, I don’t want to believe anything you did was malicious, but in the end it doesn’t matter. Whether you manipulated me in all innocence, I can’t trust you.

I broke up with you citing my own problems: I was overwhelmed with the pandemic and work being so unfamiliar. I couldn’t tell you about the faults I’d finally seen in your personality, there would have been endless questions, and I would have had to provide evidence for every complaint. You would have disputed all my evidence, trying to convince me I was wrong about you and I when I can see that, we’ll finally be happy. I may have been exhausted enough to give in.

you told me you were impressed with how “self-aware” I am. I’ve been through a lot. I’ve done a lot of self-assessment and a great deal of healing. I know I’m not perfect, but I’m willing to do the work. You are the opposite in every way. You can’t see your shortcomings and you’re not willing to work on them even when you are provided with evidence. Instead of looking inside, you justify your behaviors and make excuses for why you are the way you are. What you called “humor” felt like insults from a bully, delivered with a sly smile and the catch phrase, “it’s only a joke.” I suppose you’re more invested in acting like a fool than maintaining a relationship. I’m just sorry I didn’t see it sooner.

It took me six months to see you for what you were, but I’m grateful it wasn’t longer. I fell so easily and so quickly in love at the beginning – that should have been my first hint it wasn’t what I thought it was. Every day I’m healing a little more, learning more about myself and the people I have in my life. I’m going to be OK.

#happinessinavacuum #wordpress #wordpressblog #ptsd #recovery #minimize #symptoms #whitelies #anxiety #depression #mask #gaslighting #mentalhealth #manipulation #healing #self-care #quarantine #COVID-19 #coronavirus

social

services, not media. One major flaw with this country is how incredibly hard is to obtain and maintain mental health care. This is a systemic issue. It is part of the systemic racism in this country, because those for whom mental health care is inaccessible or unavailable are overwhelmingly people of color.

Back in the time I was completing my internship and early therapeutic work, I was working in a community mental health clinic. Our clinic served people who had a yearly income that qualified them for state sponsored health care. Many of my clients did not have any co pays for visits or medication.

Then, there were others, such as my sister: a white, single mother. She has a high school education and therefore has difficulty finding a job that pays the bills. Barely making enough to both pay her rent and feed and clothe her kid; she also has to find the money every month to pay for her child’s medical insurance. Although she barely has enough money to survive, she doesn’t qualify for state sponsored health care. She has insurance for her daughter, but not for herself. She can’t afford dental or vision coverage.

When I fled my marriage and didn’t have a job, I was lucky to be able to qualify for free health care. I was desperately in need of therapy services. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had complex PTSD. I was suffering from panic attacks, flashbacks, anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder. I was directed to call the suicide help line and ask for a therapist. It took me a solid month of calling every day, crying and begging, to get an appointment for a therapist who was 25 miles away. I was lucky to have transportation at the time, I was able to get there. I had the determination to keep trying even though I was told over and over again there was nobody available. I can’t imagine someone who was less familiar with the “system” who would have given up at the first, “no.”

Police shootings, mass shootings, domestic violence, and suicide. One common thread in all these tragedies is mental illness. There is partially a continued stigma against mental health concerns, which prevents people with means from seeking care; but the main problem is those that need it do not know where to look or even know it is an option. My “free” sessions consisted of twenty fifty-minute sessions with an intern. She was very helpful, but definitely not experienced enough or given enough time to really support my needs. Five years later, I’m still in therapy. I’m grateful I now have a job that offers medical insurance, and I can afford the $20 copay each week.

If mental health care was readily available, if social workers were not overworked and underpaid, if community and social services were funded and appropriately staffed, maybe the people of this country may begin to succeed in the area of overall health. Right now, the pharmaceutical companies have lawmakers almost literally in their pockets: the politicians’ careers depend on the donations they receive in exchange for policies that keep people sick and in need of medication. Your vote matters. Vote for those who will support medicare for all. Our president calls us the “world’s greatest economy,” but people are dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor when they are sick.

#happinessinavacuum #wordpress #wordpressblog #ptsd #healthcare #socialservices #vote #anxiety #depression #mentalhealth #healing #self-care #quarantine #COVID-19 #coronavirus #stayhome

Teach

I am a teacher.

I am a survivor.

I have PTSD.

Going back to school this year is nothing like it has ever been before. Last spring, we were in crisis mode. I’m sure we didn’t do everything we could have, but let’s face it, we weren’t sure how long we would be “distance learning.” Now, it looks like we’re doing it forever.

Our union is negotiating hard with a district that seems to have very different ideas about what “success” means. Honestly, we just want what’s best for the kids. We realize distance learning isn’t the best thing for all the kids, but neither is mourning the loss of someone you love.

Keeping distance whenever possible, and wearing a mask in public spaces has been scientifically proven to reduce community spread. But not wearing a mask has become a political statement. A way to show off to the world that you are not scared, that you are not a “snowflake.”

I, for one, am scared. People I love are in venerable populations. This virus is not like the flu and many people have complications long after the infection has passed, that affect their vital organs. Yes, children are some of these people who have been affected. Yes, children catch the virus and spread the disease. Yes, you can be infected and not show symptoms, and be contagious for about two weeks without knowing it.

I admit there have been some conflicting reports. But all I can say to that is close your Facebook app and follow the science. Read news from more than one source before you form an opinion based on some meme your friend’s racist uncle shared.

Is it really helpful to keep passing the blame or accusing some person or another of this or that? Or do we need to start looking at real solutions and real change? Why are we the only “first world” country without childcare? without medicare for all? Without social services? Why are police responsible for responding to mental health concerns, instead of someone who is trained to diffuse, rather than exacerbate the situation? Why is our educational model still focused on only one kind of learner? Why is education undervalued? Why are teachers not respected?

This pandemic has caused the cracks in our system to show, and it’s now up to us to do something about it. But what will you do? How will you make this country what we’ve pretended it was for so many years?

#happinessinavacuum #wordpress #wordpressblog #ptsd #selfcare #recovery #symptoms #anxiety #depression #mentalhealth #healing #validation #balance #teach #medicareforall #childcareforall #blacklivesmatter #defundthepolice

Mimic

when I was a kid I so desperately wanted people to like me that I would frantically be excited about whatever it was they were into, even if I had no idea what “it” was. I pretended to be knowledgeable about a bunch of things I knew nothing about, so as not to be perceived as a “prude.” Knowing what I now know as an adult, it’s clear the people I was trying to fool could see right through me. My biggest and best trick is I basically copy people. I take on their mannerisms, their way of speaking. I effectively “mirror” people I like or want to get to know better.

It manifests in the most obvious way when I meet someone with some kind of accent. Almost immediately, I’ll respond in kind. I have more than once been asked where I was from, and left stuttering and explaining my habit.

It comes from being the shy kid who reads a lot of books but really doesn’t know how to relate to people. The people in my books behaved in a way I could predict. I could tell the heroes from the villains. I knew whom I could trust. In real life, people did not act like I expected them to. What brought me to fits of giggles drew blank faces from my peers. I didn’t know how to be myself and make friends, so I decided to just be like the people I wanted to be friends with.

This worked until about eighth grade when the group of girls I was spending all my lunch period with suddenly told me they didn’t want me around because I was “too phony.” (Maybe they didn’t use that word. It was a long time ago. It’s possible I was going for nostalgia). This rejection could have caused me to re-asses my procedures, but I don’t think I did. I was sad for a while, then I found some other people to mimic.

By high school, I was jumping from clique to clique during lunch, never staying long enough to get caught out, wearing clothing that was specifically identifiable to one group or another. I had also managed to find my tribe by high school: the drama nerds. I don’t know if there was crossover between factions at other high schools, but at this little school in a suburb of Los Angeles, California, there was a pretty big population of “audition-kids.” Attending high school like other kids, but also having an agent and a budding career in commercials or sitcoms. That meant there were audition-kids in every social group, and they all came to theatre. We were jocks, cheerleaders, drill team, choir, stoners, preps… Basically each archetype from the Breakfast Club was in my HS Drama club.

Did drama help me? It certainly helped me to learn how to be outgoing. I learned I had a voice and I was not afraid to use it. I could make people laugh and make them cry. What I effectively did was build more and more character on top of that shy little girl inside me that doesn’t really know how to relate to people. I think of it as the mask I wear. This mask protects me from other people’s opinions of me. As long as I continue to be interested and participate in things they like, they will keep loving me.

It took me the next 25 years after graduating high school to realize that’s not even remotely true. For fifteen years, I tried to be someone else’s picture of me. I internalized his criticism and acted how I thought he wanted. In the end, it wasn’t enough. It was never going to be enough. He told me “you don’t even have your own personality.”

I’ve spent so much of my life people pleasing, I’ve lost touch with what I want. Someone asked me about my fantasies are recently. It’s a question I usually avoid by reflecting the question, “What’s your fantasy?” This usually works, because if someone has asked me about my desire, it’s a pretty safe bet they have given this much thought. This time, I listened. I honestly responded, “I don’t know.” I’ve been a part of other people’s plays for too long. It’s time to get some of whatever it is I’ve been needing all these years… I just have to figure out what it is…

#happinessinavacuum #wordpress #wordpressblog #ptsd #abusiverelationship #emotionalviolence #selfcare #recovery #minimize #symptoms #anxiety #depression #mask #gaslighting #mentalhealth #manipulation #negging #healing #validation #balance #self-care #mimic

Responsibility

If you are not aware of your privilege and what it means, you are part of the problem. If you are not using your privilege to affect change, you are part of the problem. You say “all lives matter.” By that reasoning we are all equal… So show me where in this country we are equal. Show me where we all have the same opportunities. The same ability to own a home, attend college, finish high school,or to attend a public school that is well-funded…

Show me equality in this country, as it is written in our constitution, and I will believe you when you say “all lives matter.” We call attention to #blacklivesmatter because for 400 years, they didn’t. For hundreds of years after the owning of a human being became illegal, a section of the population feels superiority to another and believes them to be less-than-human and therefore treats them as such. Protecting their own, cops and judges carried out lynchings and made sure nobody paid for the death of a person they regarded as a dog.

This kind of behavior still goes on today. Close ranks, protect your own. It’s not a fairy tale that a weapon was planted on a body to cover a murder. Connected people know people. Others fear retribution and don’t speak up. The cycle continues. Legally, and under the radar. Some see it, but what can they do? What can they say?

But you don’t have to listen to me. I’m a white girl that grew up in suburbia and didn’t know about the microagressions perpetrated against the people of color I shared classrooms with when I was growing up. I know now, because I have learned to listen. I have learned to not compare their experiences to mine and state, “that can’t be.” If you want to know more, check out these two books:

So You Want to Talk About Racism, by Ijeoma Oluo

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibram X. Kendi

#happinessinavacuum #wordpress #wordpressblog #ptsd #BLM #racism #microagressions #gaslighting #systemicracism #racistpolicies #educateyourself #readaboutit #antiracism #antiracist #listen

Crash

“Today marks six months since I met you. Thank you for all the fun and love you’ve given me. I look forward to even more. (heart emoji). p.s. please be gentle with yourself. We got this.”

Your next text was in defense of whatever I’d been mad about. It simultaneously made me want to break up with you and stay together. Such confusing  thoughts. The things we were fighting about were small. I was having extra-large reactions to most things. I got to the point where I couldn’t tell the difference between my own needs and my perception of yours. I couldn’t tell the difference between being triggered and being justifiably angry. I don’t know how to deal with all this kindness and wanting to be around me. I’d learned to be manipulative during the time I was trapped in an abusive marriage, I couldn’t ask for what I wanted, he would prevent that. So I learned to get what I wanted and make him think it was his idea. It was the only way to operate with him. I’ve generalized those habits into “how I frame relationships” in general.

The pandemic has caused me to backslide in my recovery quite significantly. I am not as far healed as I was sometime in March. When I met you, I knew I wasn’t ready for a relationship. You said you weren’t, either. We figured we could learn together. Maybe we could have. At this point, I’m too stuck in old habits. Maybe cohabitation, even thought it was only one month, wasn’t such a good move. I’m letting you go right now so I don’t have to keep picking fights to get some space.

I can’t expect you to wait around for me. If you meet someone in the meantime who wants to be with you, I don’t want to hold you back. I can’t handle the emotional responsibility of being your girlfriend right now. I don’t know how not to be the emotional caretaker of someone I’m with. Maybe, if I had established the boundaries from the beginning, we would be in a healthy place right now. But instead, I chose to say “yes” to things I wasn’t sure I wanted, and now those agreements have turned into lies. Now, I don’t know how to scale back the amount of responsibility I have taken on for your happiness.

It’s hard to define what I want in a friendship. I’ve never successfully remained friendly with someone after we broke up. Maybe if I establish clear boundaries this time? We certainly can’t be the kind of friends that have sex. There is just too much emotion there. So what do we do? Continue to hang out together? Watch movies? Have a meal? I don’t know how I can quiet that part of me that wants to be your partner and invite you into my space as a friend. So I can’t spend time with you, not for a while. I don’t know how long. I know your extrovert soul will be touch-hungry long before mine will be. That’s OK. I don’t need you. I’ve learned how to depend on myself.

I’m sorry most of all that I lied so much… lies of omission are still lies. I didn’t stand up for what I needed. I didn’t give myself the time and the space to figure out what I needed because I was so scared of losing you. In my desperate effort to control my behavior and avoid losing you, I effectively pushed you out of my life. I promise you, I saw the signs in my behavior. I could see it was only going to get worse. Believe me, I could make you hate me if I just kept trying.

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