feeding the worry and the fear goldish

We have a pet goldfish, Sophie, who Em would overfeed given half the chance because it’s as if every time she rustles around in the bowl when she sees him, he interprets it as a sign to feed her. Goldfish don’t know when they’re full so they will eat and eat and eat and Sophie along with Yella and Goldie (rest in peace fishies – the girls sang Someone Like You for their funerals) seemed to know how to hustle for food.

Worry and fear are like goldfish – they’ll eat most or all of whatever you feed them and will keep coming back for more.

They don’t say ‘Thanks but I’m full mate’ and turn away, so you have to be the disciplined one and learn to recognise the emotional, mental and physical signs of signs along with what they’re impacting on in your life.

When you’re not used to backing you, fear and worry tend to have a bigger voice than you. You have to be the one to know your limit or you’ll overfeed ‘worry fish’ and ‘fear fish’ and possibly even ‘harsh critic fish’, ‘rejection fish’ and anything else you want to throw in that can detract from your self-esteem. There isn’t much room for love and happiness when you’re overfeeding negativity.

When you’re a worry and fear feeder, you chase the thoughts and feelings.

It’s the whole ‘I had this thought so I’ll attribute X meaning and chase after it with other thoughts’ and next thing minutes, hours, days or even weeks and months have gone by. Not all thoughts are facts so you have to be the one to do the working out and choose what to feed.

I’ve been a worrier most of my life but have learned how to wind my neck in because given half a chance, I can imagine all sorts of crazy scenarios in my own multi-series boxset of Dynasty. If I allowed myself to worry about every possible thing that could happen to my daughters, not only would I miss out on the present with them but I’d probably lock them in the house and teach them to be fearful at the same time.

When I talk to people who have been worrying about something for anything from months to years, that’s where the whole living in the past or spending too much time trying to anticipate what’s next (likely forecasting something going wrong) means that they haven’t been mindful enough to recognise that their concern is either unfounded, exaggerated, or genuine. With the latter there’s no acting on knowledge of what is happening in the present so of course their anxiety increases, especially if they’re trying to imagine out the future to the nth degree. Feeding, feeding and more feeding.

Whatever you’re worrying about – whether it’s actual or potential problems – you’re being put in the position of having to make a choice between dwelling and acting.

It’s not that you shouldn’t evaluate a problem but there’s evaluating by considering all known information and gathering any other additional information to fill in gaps, reaching a conclusion and making a resolution aka going through a thought process and making a decision, and then there’s just ruminating.

Being afraid is having an emotional response to a perceived threat. When we worry about this threat, we don’t stop to consider whether we are worrying about something that isn’t happening but we think could happen or whether we’re actually ignoring knowledge. Typical example: ignoring red flags while claiming that you’re afraid of what you’re ignoring or even afraid of something else that isn’t happening.

Feeding the worry and fear fish becomes a vicious cycle because you worry about making a decision full stop and then you worry about making a ‘wrong’ decision. Sometimes you recognise that the decision is ‘right’ now but you worry it might be ‘wrong’ in five years time – this is ignoring the fact that based on the present and the past you still need to act. Next thing five more years have gone by and your perspective hasn’t changed and you’re struggling with regret while still worrying but not acting.

All of this analysis paralysis pollutes your proverbial tank water while distorting your perspective.

Your fishbowl or tank has a limited capacity so you’ve got to choose who you want in your tank because trying to have your self-esteem in there along with worry and fear is a recipe for pain. They’re greedy and will deprive it of nourishment.

You’ve got to choose what you want to feed. In life, you’ve got to also choose who or what you want to hang about.

Learn to recognise what sets you off – cues (signals) or triggers (an event/something that sets you off) – along with your typical anxiety and worrying responses which may be ruminating, procastinating, cleaning, working, avoidance, discussing something to the nth degree, contacting your ex, drinking etc. Try to be specific – I go on a cleaning frenzy / My mind becomes super-busy and I can’t concentrate – because awareness of what sets you off, why and how you react starts to give you more control plus you can learn how to calm you. It’s amazing what calmly explaining to you a more accurate version of events or reassuring you can do.

I’ve found that a middle ground between staring at worry and fear and at the other end, trying to avoid the feelings and thoughts by feeding them with unhealthy distractions, yields the best results. Come back to it later. Take a break. Channel your energies into something else (healthy though). Think about the things that you know that you can do for you that will calm you, comfort you and lift your spirits even though the problem isn’t necessarily ‘solved’ – you will feel better equipped to troubleshoot and handle it though.

Maybe jot down anything that pops up so that you can address it later. You may end up coming back energised with a fresh perspective. Also try writing out the problem (real or potential) as it will help to organise your thoughts and hit upon what’s really bothering you. What you don’t have to do is feed the worry and fear with more worry and fear so decide what your limits are (back to boundaries again) and focus on how to manage the impact of these on your life so that you remain in charge.

Your thoughts?

PS Try Headspace (lots of BR school students use it) as it’s full of tips and tools (videos and an IOS and Android app too) for practicing mindfulness and a number of people have come back and told me how much better and in the present that they’re starting to feel.

***Updated 6am BST 20th April – Comments are now working on this post! Bloomin’ tech gremlins! Apologies!

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125 Responses to Are you overfeeding your worry and fear ‘goldfish’?

  1. still growing says:

    Nat youre ?the truth! As a life long anxiety suffer this is golden advice for me. I find I go “into my head” when there’s something I’m avoiding.now that I’m living in the present I choose to be here good or bad. Just know how much your words reach,uplift,inspire motivate women like me everyday! Xoxo from America Nat!

  2. Teddie says:

    Anxiety is always future-related; so what happens when one is in the “now”? Ha, this one’s easy!

  3. Tired says:

    There is a lot to be said for taking each day as it comes . We work ourselves up into knots .

  4. Tenneil says:

    I’ve been worrying about and fearing my future for years and you know what I’ve done about it? Nothing. I’m 24 years old and I’ve been fearing finding a job with my university degree because I didn’t think I was good enough and I’ve been too scared to take my driving test again for fear that I’ll fail again. Instead of actually acting on and facing my fears, it was easier to avoid them and distract myself with the Internet, TV and movies.

    Last year, I met my first boyfriend (an EUAC) and when things didn’t work out (he broke up with me even though I had been thinking about ending things too), I felt as if my whole world came crashing down. Not only because I wondered how someone could say things (future faking and fast forwarding) and be so cruel towards the end, but because after things ended, I felt like I had nothing.

    While he put me through a lot of pain in and out of the relationship, I realise now that I needed it. I needed to come crashing down to the ground in order to rebuild my confidence and self-esteem up. No guy and no amount of shopping was going to do this for me and fill up my life with love – I had to do this on my own. I’d never had a boyfriend before because I knew all the guys I had met weren’t right for me. I followed my gut and I was right. The first time I didn’t, I got involved with an EUAC. Somehow through all the future faking and fast forwarding, he had me convinced he was a decent guy. Sometimes I wish I could take everything back, but I can’t. I just have to remind myself that this was a negative experience that I learnt from and had I not gone through it, my life would still be at that standstill of worrying and fearing. It’s crazy how all this hurt made me look at my life differently, but it has forced me to finally grow up and stop avoiding my life and for that, I am grateful. I’ve been applying for jobs/internships, I got new glasses for driving (I had been scared about something as stupid as not knowing whether my eyesight had deteriorated, when in actual fact, it improved!) and I renewed my permit. Hopefully I’ll be starting lessons again next week!

    A part of me still feels a little empty – I can’t exactly pinpoint what it is – maybe it’s because I’m not exactly where I want to be just yet. I’ve also started reading, learning French and exercising – other things I’ve been wanting to do for years, but just never did.

    While I’ve gotten over the hurt of the ex-EUAC, I sometimes still cry when I think about him. I know my crying stems from my worrying about the future though. I worry about finding a job, whether I’ll fail my driving test again, wanting to move to a new city for better career opportunities, money and whether I’ll love again. It took me 23 years to meet the wrong guy, how long will it take me to meet the right one? I’ve talked to my friends about my worries and they’re probably right when they say to focus on one thing at a time and eventually everything will fall into place. Despite my worrying, I’m trying hard not to let it control me and I’m actually trying to face my fears instead of hiding behind them. It’s a slow process, but it’s all baby steps. I know there could more doing and less saying, but I’ve come a long way in the meantime. Instead of feeling bad about setbacks, I’m learning to feel positive about my progress instead and that helps me to keep going.

    “Replace the fear of the unknown with curiosity”

    • PurpleLily says:

      Tenneil,

      As someone who met her first EUM at the age of 23, I can tell you that at 29, I am so glad I met him (and the other 2 EUMs that came after). As heartbreaking as it is (and yes, I cried for months, even years after when a random thought passed by)it WILL serve you as a lesson, something you will always remember.

      They are masters at their game, they convinced us because they know their game. And we go in believing and hoping for the best. But you have learnt from it, grown stronger and are doing so much better :)

      Also, life does fall into place. At 29, I freak out about so many things but things that I didnt think would be ok at 23, are ok now..therefore no reason 39,49,59 wont be ok. Dont give up, have faith in yourself, know that you have your back and if something falls apart, you will be right there to fix it and take care of yourself.

      You seem like a lovely young lady who is working hard to build her life – it will be ok. Always remember that the life you live, is precious and in a lot of ways, it is a dream come true.

      Warm hugs and good luck!

      • Tenneil says:

        Thank you so much for your kind words, PurpleLily. I really hope I don’t meet more EUMs in the future, one was definitely enough! If I do, I can apply the lessons I’ve learnt and know when to flush. It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who is still scarred by the hurt. I’m mostly processed it all, but like you, there could be one thing that triggers it and I feel like I’m back at square one. These days, it doesn’t last long and I get over it pretty quickly.

        It really did serve as a huge lesson – not just in love, but in life. I guess you don’t really see how bad things are until you’re out of the situation. God, my exEUM even told me he had hurt girls in the past. Knowing I was a virgin, he only told me he had slept with 30 women AFTER he slept with me. I didn’t want to be judgemental of someone’s past, but now I know there were red flags. He was two years younger than me too.

        I think things will be okay, but I know I have a lot of work to do to get there.

    • B says:

      Tenneil, I know what you mean. I have been there a few months ago. The break up following my es’s betrayal was very difficult for me too.

      I was in that space of finding worthless distractions. Like you, I tried to exercise & stay positive but I would still cry. I was losing hope too about myself & if I will amount to anything after that. It spilled over to my new job, which I took to distract myself. It was unbearable.

      But I am telling you, be patient and continue what you are doing despite the emotional lapses. It happens, think of it as a protective shield – your body trying to recuperate from the effort of staying positive & restoring your bearings.

      It will be a constant decision but believe me, it will get better. It is awesome that you are very rational & grounded.

      Virtual hug to you xx

      • Tenneil says:

        It’s so hard, isn’t it? It’s incredible how a single person can have the ability to tear you down and you’re left on your own to build yourself right back up. I guess it’s a sign telling us that we’re stronger than we think and that life will go on.

        I’ve found that exercise is making me feel better about myself, it’s a positive new thing in my life. Instead of feeling like I’m not good enough, I finally do have that hope that I can achieve my goals on my own.

        There’s a quote I really like: “Be patient and tough, someday this pain will be useful to you” and I think it’s so true. The pain has helped me to get my life on track and helped me to stop putting things off. The emotional lapses are the worst. I feel as if I should be completely over it, but from what I’ve read, EUM experiences tend to hurt the heart the most.

        Thank you so much for your lovely words, B. :)

    • cc says:

      tenneil-
      brava!!! you are absolutely on the right path. yes: no guy, no BODY can fill our lives with love. we can meet the perfect person for us, yet, if we don’t love ourselves completely, still feel empty.

      just keep going. be gentle with yourself when you feel frail. view your fears with objectivity and loving kindness. i was so inspired reading what you wrote, and so proud for you.

      just keep going.

  5. Sheela Nandini says:

    This one’s for me, surely!
    Thanks Nat,this helps put things into perspective.
    Loved the analogy about the kinds of “fish” we tend to feed or overfeed…
    Great post!
    A big thank you!

  6. Tinkerbell says:

    Tenneil. You need to be really serious and proactive about managing your anxiety. It has impacted too many issues in your life. Have you considered professional help? Or, at the very least think about signing up for Nat’s Self Esteem E-Course. I’m concerned about your trying to sort things out and feel confident and positive about your future without help. Also, if I were you, I definitely would not add a relationship into the mix at this time. You have a lot of work to do on your own without getting involved with a man. Come out of the cyber world (except for reading BR) and examine your life and what you want to do with it. This excessive fear that you’ve described is very unhealthy and is a huge deterrent to your present and future accomplishments. 24 is still very young. You can have a bright future, but you have to do the work. Good luck and keep us updated on how you’re progressing. You’ve successfully completed college. Even though the job market remains tight, you’re still ahead in the game with an education. So be proud of yourself for that.

    • Tenneil says:

      I’ve never really considered professional help. What kind of guidance could they offer me than what my friends or even I myself have been telling myself? Don’t worry, I definitely know I’m not ready for a relationship and won’t be anytime soon. I have to take care of myself first and I want to move cities and only once I’ve accomplished my goals and gained a new support network, will I be ready.

      I examine my life every single day. Like I said, I’m finally looking for jobs and I’ve even had two interviews. Both unsuccessful, but hey, it’s a start. I will sign up for Nat’s Self-Esteem E-Course as all the blog posts I’ve read have been so helpful and a real eye-opener. I’m really trying hard to boost my self-esteem and confidence to finally believe in myself. I’ve really had enough of being scared.

      • Tinkerbell says:

        Okay, Tenneil. This sounds much better. Your first post sounded like you were in deep trouble being afraid of your shadow. Lif is hard and there’s always something to set us back but we have to STRONG AND POSITIVE, no matter what. Hopefully, you will be able to straighten yourself out thoroughly and effectively. And, remember, we ALL continue to be a work in progress. There’s no such thing as perfection. Good luck.

        • Tenneil says:

          I used to be afraid. I never realised I needed to make big changes in my life until I got hurt and realised I was left with nothing in and out of my relationship with the exEUM. It was my first relationship and through that, I’ve realised that I’d love to meet someone again, but someone who can give me real love. I know that starts me with first because if I don’t put in that effort, I know I’ll only attract more EUMs and ACs.

          I have a job in retail and through that I’m saving to move cities for better career opportunities and I know the city where I live now just isn’t where my heart is either. I’ve been offered to do volunteer work for four weeks, which isn’t much, but it’s a little something to put on the resume.

          Thanks for your comments, Tinkerbell. I really appreciate them. I do have that perfectionist side in me and I think sometimes if I can’t do it right, I won’t do it at all, but now I see how deep thinking that way has affected me. All I can do is try my hardest. When I achieve my two main goals, I can focus on other areas and know that I am finally giving it my all in my life.

  7. Melissa says:

    I used to be an insomminac, totally consumed with worry, especially when I was married. I divorced my ex 3 years ago and was doing really well for about 2 years. Having fun dating, had one guy who I saw on and off, who caused me a ton of stress and I felt strong by breaking it off with him. That was about a year ago.

    Now, I’ve been single for a year. Just dating. 90% of the men I’ve met online. Today….my self esteem is completely trashed. Again. The men have either been completely undateable (still really married, ex felons, missing teeth, DUIs, etc) or worse yet, ‘not that into me’. Gads. I had the ‘not that into me’ man twice in the last 6 weeks. Both were 10 years older, very well off, but….older.
    Turns out, despite the fact that I’m a size 6 and very fit…not good enough for them. The one guy started talking about how fat Scarlett Johanssen was in He’s Just Not That Into You and was practically gagging. Wtf.
    I’ve never had men think that I was too fat but here’s two in one month. Now I have to worry about this?? And about getting older (I’m 39)? And about the fact that my job will be intimidating? And about the fact that most men won’t like that I do comedy as a hobby? And and and??? It’s like I have a billion dings against me when it comes to men and what they find attractive but these qualities are all perfect for family and friends.

    So….I feel more and more worry and anxiety every day. My mantra is not working. I used to be able to say: ‘worry is like rocking in a rocking chair, sure gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere’ ….and it would stop me. Now I am having to take my Xanax more. It sucks, really.

    • A says:

      Melissa,

      Any guy who is worth your time will be impressed by your career success and interesting hobbies. Be grateful for moronic comments such as “Scarlet Johansson is disgustingly fat” that come early on, as they tell you what kind of person you’re dealing with from minute one.

    • Selkie says:

      Melissa,

      “Turns out, despite the fact that I’m a size 6 and very fit…not good enough for them.”

      First, Try not to focus on these guys lopsided and self indulgent opinions. If he is going on about Scarlett J’s weight consider that he is a shallow person. Then consider that Scarlett would tell him to fuck off without a second thought. He probably wouldn’t even get a FIRST thought from her. I am sure you are a lovely, wonderful, beautiful person, it doesn’t matter what size you wear. Don’t give these guys the power to make you question yourself. If they want the perfect woman, whatever that is, wish them luck finding fictional Barbie and never look back. Nothing is wrong with you. If you are not their type, so be it. Is a man who goes on and on about a woman’s weight your type anyway? Why not talk about her acting, her other movies, and the script….but on a womans weight and gagging? Flush that shallow floating turd. These guys are just two in world population of billions. Don’t focus on the clowns of the world.

    • Mymble says:

      Whether you’re size zero or 18, a man who is rude enough to say or imply that he doesn’t fancy you because of your size is a pig. It’s unnecessary and malicious.
      Gagging at Scarlet Johansson?
      What, is he having to beat her off with a stick? As if.

    • Rosie says:

      Hi, Melissa,

      These guys sound a lot like an ex-boyfriend who was an expert at projecting his insecurities on to me. I’m not a mind-reader but, if I were a gambler, I’d bet that these men were intimidated by you so pulled the whole “You’re not good enough for me” nonsense so that you wouldn’t reject them. You’re better off without these cowards.

      Wow! You do comedy as a hobby? That’s awesome! :)

      (Oh! I love Mymble’s response. How many times did Scarlet Johansson beg him to go out with her? Did he say? ;) )

      • Rosie says:

        Funny how low self-esteem messes with a person’s head…

        Sorry for another post to you, Melissa, just thinking about what you said about why you’re self-esteem was trashed the day you wrote your post. You mentioned how your self-esteem was trashed because of the kind of men who you’ve been encountering (men who aren’t worth your time and men who you thought were worth your time but were told you weren’t worth theirs). You’re beautiful, successful, have interesting hobbies, yet think that you’re still not good enough for morons’ ridiculous standards and this is why you’re not in a good relationship.

        Meanwhile, men of all ages and backgrounds have been approaching me lately. Yet, I see this as evidence that I’m not good enough. See, I’m thinking that they’re intimidated by prettier, more confident, more successful women than I am so they go for who they think they have a chance with–me.

        Wow! What a revelation! I thought my self-esteem had improved since I improved my character but apparently not. :(

        • Melissa says:

          Rosie-

          Oh, I get that 100%. The only guys who EVER approach me are completely undateable. Usually 65 year old biker dudes. And I always think…wait….this dude thinks I am “get-able”?? For him? A sure thing? Is this what he’s thinking?

          So, it goes both ways. It’s either I am intimidating to the guys in my age range or completely inviting to the Vietnam vets.

          Yes- I am bothered that I am not good enough for an unattractive 50 year old. Seriously, wtf. Wouldn’t most people be bothered? I am a good catch…at least I tell myself that all the time. I try to have good self-talk because I believe that negative talk causes manifest destiny. But, then I take hits like the last 2 guys and I start to wonder if I see myself with rose-colored glasses, you know? If I think “too” highly of myself, because clearly, I am really a fat beast with no redeeming qualities who is only attractive to 65 year old men with shrapnel lodged in their skulls. I am joking…sort of…

          This is what dating has done to me. If I just hang by myself and with my friends, I will always have good self esteem. ;-)

    • Tracy says:

      Melissa, I know exactly what you’re talking about with the on-line man. I can’t tell you how many future fakers I have met via online, how many ‘not over the ex’s’ I’ve met, how many EUMs I’ve met. I finally gave up and am just waiting till fall when I move out of this area and hope that I can start meeting people IRL.

      I think it’s such a case of ‘the grass is greener’, or that they enjoy the online aspect but not the real life part, the flirting and having multiple women to date simultaneously…I don’t know, I could be wrong. They SAY they want a relationship, a girlfriend, but when you voice a concern or aren’t willing to take their crumbs or establish a boundary, ‘you’ are too needy and they head for the hills.

      I recently broke NC with the last EUM, fueled by wine, anxiety, oncoming depression…he had wanted ‘a break’, a break with no end in sight, no rules for contact during the break, and while on this ‘break’ I realized I had been accepting a lot more crumbs than I cared to admit and that the last month really wasn’t ‘all that’. But I was feeling lonely, and wine can make everything seem different, no? He emailed me back ASAP, all chatty, but had somehow turned the story around that *I* cut things off ‘too quickly’ and it made him ‘so sad’. WTF? He neglected to mention that I had called him on trolling around online before he dumped me as well….

      A lot of these guys also have serious revisionist history, and I notice that this also applies to when they talk about their marriages and why they are divorced. To hear them say it, it was NEVER their fault, the exes are crazy, yada yada yada. These same men accuse women of being drama queens, yet I am finding more and more that THEY are the drama queens.

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks, everyone. I know you’re all right…but, I still take it to heart. This guy wasn’t even good looking!! He just had a LOT of money (and made sure I knew it). I thought I was making a bit of a concession going out with him because he was older and really not good looking. But, we connected via email and texts/calls. He had a good personality (so I thought) so I decided to give him a chance.

      I didn’t even tell you all what this AC did….we ended up kissing on his couch and I was in his lap, straddling him. This dude starts massaging and grabbing my love handles and then LIFTS MY SHIRT just to look at my belly. I should have run right there, I know, but I couldn’t even process it in the moment. It wasn’t until the next day that it really hit me that he must have thought I was as disgusting as ScarJo and that’s why he told me he “wasn’t feeling the chemistry”.
      Earlier in the night he also asked me what kind of bathing suit I wear and if I’ve ever stripped (like a stripper). Yeah, yeah, I know. How did I end up making out with him? Wine. Low-self-esteem-monster. More wine. The need to “win”.

      Anyway. I am going to quit dating for a while. But, it stinks because I feel like quitting dating is “giving up”…like cancelling all marathons means the terrorists won. But, I can’t take this. I can’t go back online. I don’t understand how there can be so many good women online but ALL the men are creeps, like Tracy said.

      • Tracy says:

        I wouldn’t say that all the men online are creeps, it’s just been my experience. I am super grossed out by the guy ‘examening’ you, then finding you not up to par. How dare he? My last LTR with the narc AC was very similar (met him online, too…) in that there was constant commentary about MY body, yet he was at least 50 lbs. overweight, yet he thought he was an Adonis and could get any woman he wanted, so his attitude was that I should be ‘grateful’ for his time and attention. But low self-esteem and loneliness, and the fact that my horrible ex husband could find LTR’s and he’s an ASS, but I couldn’t (however, I kept forgetting that I had the kids 24/7 and had to work three jobs, yet he had all the leisure time in the world!).

        Take the time off from dating, find good fun girl things to do and stay far, far away from the computer. After a little while, the loneliness kind of goes away.

      • Lilia says:

        Oh, Melissa. There are many men who believe having a load of money is the equivalent of owning a large penis. Which supposedly makes them a great catch. So that explains the arrogance of this particular old unattractive man.

        Anyway, as for your predicament. I´ve really come to believe dating is *the* best formula to completely destroy your self-esteem. Especially the online method. Nat has some posts about it, you could look them up because they´re really helpful.
        My experience with online dating has been pretty bad as well. I felt like I was constantly applying for a job, only I wouldn´t get paid if I managed to attain the position. And I didn´t even like the guys I met all that much (there was one I did feel attracted to but he was only interested in booty calls).

        My conclusion, for now, is that you just don´t meet The One (or some Significant Other) all that often in your life, so there is no need to go searching for him. He will show up when he will show up. I don´t think you can go out looking for him, because he isn´t a vacant job, you know? I know this may sound quite revolutionary but would it be such a bad idea NOT to actively look for a mate for a while? Maybe it´s better to focus on meeting people for the sake of meeting them, and if you happen to click romantically with someone it´ll be a lot less stressful than if you set out trying to get a relationship out of them.

      • runnergirl says:

        Melissa, taking a break from dating isn’t giving up and dating isn’t about “winning”. What would have won? Sounds like there may be some righting the wrongs of the past going on?
        As Natalie recommends,date when you can date with your self-esteem in tow. That’s winning in my book. I’m glad you made it off that guy’s couch safely.

    • Little Star says:

      Melissa, honey I feel exactly like you! My sister says that I keep meeting wrong men, because if they were nice, they would not treat me the way they treated me:( IT is not age/looks/size, it is all down to PERSONALITY. I do not have any problem of “attracting” men, I have a problem to be nice and kind to them, as all bitterness from previous experiences do not allow me to BE NICE TO MEN!!! I HATE them and want to *punish* them…

      By the way, I think you are very attractive girl and I am sure you will meet a right guy, you need time to *recover* and be happy inside yourself:)

  8. Stacia says:

    So glad I found your blog! Lovin’ all the good stuff you are putting out there!!

  9. B says:

    This post is just what I need.

    I have been reading BR and it had been one year. I remember it was this day when I found out about my ex’s lies. I never thought I would be able to transcend that episode.

    I am still working on myself but not living with the ghost of my ex anymore.

    Many thanks to BR & the support from all the readers.

  10. Magnolia says:

    I had another little breakthrough this week. I was quite worried about negotiating this contract with the network. Last time I negotiated a contract, I remember, I was at home and kept talking it through with my sister and family in real time; they were right there when I put down the phone. This time I’m on my own, had to work through nerves on my own, and sat down and did the conference call myself. (You will be happy to hear I thought it better to get out of my jammies for said conference call.)

    I was trying to stay in my feelings and all I could think was I’m scared; I don’t know how to do this; they’re going to use me; they’re going to con me; I don’t have the right connections to get a fair deal etc. I’d swing from that to aggressive scenarios in my head where I’d tell them off for lowballing me. Somehow I realized I was trying to protect myself. Somehow I managed to connect with the part that wants protection (worrying) and distinguish that from the part trying to do the protecting (angry tirades at imaginary network-folk).

    When I realized how much I wanted to protect myself, I felt for a moment that it was a kind of motherly thing, a wanting to make sure my kid / my self is never taken advantage of. And the words came into my head: “I wish I could protect you from every bad thing. I can’t always protect you. But I can watch you and tell you that I have faith in you and I know you’ll do okay.” My whole body relaxed at this, particularly at the admission that I can’t always protect me. There is such a thing as risk.

    My dad, as I’ve gone on about here, was basically tuned out to me and any risk that wasn’t car-related; my mother tuned out to many important things. But when my mom was tuned in, the way she showed concern and engagement was vocalized worry. “I just want you to be okay,” she’d whimper. “I just wish you would …” “I just hope you don’t / please don’t (insert whatever worried her here).” Most of the time we ignored her and appreciated the attention but found her plaintiveness unhelpful.

    As we got older, her attitude changed to (in a hard, dismissive tone): “Well. What can I do. He/she/you will do what you want. I can’t worry about you all the time.” This was a good thing, in some ways, because she knew she had to stop obsessing about our choices, but instead of learning how to share our risks, anxieties and fears and say, I know you’ll be fine (she didn’t know it, and neither did we) she just stopped asking and stopped wanting to know about our problems.

    Lately she’s much better; lately she would say, You’ll do fine. But what I learned in childhood/early adulthood was either hand-wringing or ignoring. I realized that I had absorbed her early ways, and that I was showing myself “motherly care” by worrying and anticipating the worst. Ignoring wasn’t an option.

    So only when I realized I was trying to be a good parent to myself, and that all the anger and ranting was about that, and that all the worry was about that, was I able to step back and ask myself what my ideal parent would do for me. And that’s when I saw I couldn’t always protect myself. Sometimes I have to take a risk. And just because the risk is about getting involved with someone new (new employer) doesn’t mean that growling-angry-bear-at-them fantasies are helpful.

    I said it a few times: “I can’t always protect you.” The worry disappeared immediately. Instead I had a feeling of facing a challenge, and the protective part of my watching, from the bleachers, as I stepped out into the ring. Anticipation, and a sense of risk, but not fear, not worry. Only the feeling of being very in my body and having to fully trust me.

    • Rosie says:

      Thank you, Magnolia, you’ve given me some good advice on how to parent myself better.

      Congratulations on your breakthrough!

      • runnergirl says:

        And thank you Magnolia, you’ve given me some insight as to how to parent! Sometimes parent and child have to take a risk. The description of “anticipation and a sense of risk” as she steps into the ring and I watch from the bleachers replaces the worry and anxiety. That’s a nice vision.
        I’m wishing you the best as you step into the ring. You will be fine and you can face the challenge.
        I’d worry about you but…

  11. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for this post. I worry and obsess over things a lot. I often turn to food at those times and I’m working on finding healthier outlets, but it would be even better not to have the thoughts at all :)

    Regarding what you said about your daughters, I have an older friend who confided that the main reason she never had kids was she couldn’t stand the thought of how she would worry about them constantly. I thought that was so sad, that she missed out on something so rewarding because of fears.

  12. Stephanie says:

    Worry and fear have always held me back. Meeting the EUM and falling out with a long time friend made me realise this. We were good friends but there were a lot of things she had done to disappoint and upset me over the last few years but out of fear I didn’t communicate them unfortunately I used a recent misunderstanding between us as an opportunity to show her how she had taken advantage of me in the past and now we don’t speak and probably never will. But I’ve learnt my lesson and I’m trying my hardest not to over analyse it and keep moving forward.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Hi Steph. It’s probable that she did not deserve your friendship in the first place. But, is it possible that when you finally “let go” that your reaction (overreaction) was out of proportion to what she had done? I’ve found that has often happened with me. I would hold back my anger because I didn’t want to fight, would worry about the result of not speaking, but then eventually this person would do something relatively minor and I would explode, anyway. Then I would have to deal with the embarrassment over my behavior and offer an apology for it, but not for what caused it. This, of course, gets me sidetracked from dealing with the root cause of my problem/anger over what that person did. Hopefully, in your case with your friend you have nothing to feel sorry for and can move on without much effort. The person I’m talking about is my sister with whom I normally have a great relationship. But, I often feel that she does not give me the respect that I give her and I’m the older one. This really pushes my buttons. During our last tiff I yelled at her saying, “It’s true! You teach people how to treat you!” She was totally floored not understanding what I was so angry about. Perhaps, my respect for her could use some brushing up, also.

      Sorry, Nat, for straying from the topic.

      • Stephanie says:

        Thanks Tinkerbell, I don’t think I over reacted I think it was not the right opportunity for me to use. She accused me of something that wasn’t quite right and she done this via text which really upset me. She is usually very outspoken but this time she chose to send a text message to tell me what she believed I had done without giving me the opportunity to explain. I was on holiday abroad whilst she asked me for a big favour and I didn’t reply back to her in time to help. However like Natalie says I’m really trying not to over analyse because it tends to lead to thinking about things that haven’t happened and probably never will.

  13. Brenda says:

    Had that for a real long time “severe anxiety” about men and dating again .. GONE.. ZIP.. I never liked my past heartbreakers much,.. I just wanted to be wanted and had ZERO boundries or a mind of my own or anything.. and the BIG fear was??

    “I was really afraid they would discover I was not really all that stupid and had a brain, and thoughts and ideas of my own, dreams of my own, likes of my own, PLUS sometimes I feel more powerful and more mascualine than some men I have known.” afrid to death of getting rejcted if I exerted anything that would challenge them.”

    Funny thing is.. after finding out my last heartbreak whom I thought I wanted to WIN over, is now getting married to someone he only met 2 times in person.

    I am suddenly on top of the world, thanking god of all mighty gods I am not the one he chose, if that is LOVE meeting someone a while two times? Then thank God I was NOT chosen, and same for all the others before that.

    They were NOT the ones for me, His rushing to get married made me realzide I am not ready to get married today OR that damn FAST ever.

    He’s not a terrible person, but he’s really really insicure and foolish to me now.

    I would rather find the right ME before I look for finding myself OR happiness in some quack that thinks “love and being serious” really happens overnight.

    I happen to know, and noone can sh*t me, love cannot even begin until the honey moon phase is over and you both discover things you don’t like first, and went through some test and trials!

  14. 2fearce says:

    So I’ve been reading BR since Feb. Funny enough as a woman who dates women, the dynamics of my relationships haven’t been much different from urs…. that is, assholes come in all genders. The pace at which I deal w my issues are accelerated though it seems– NC w my last ex for the past couple months. The emotion n fog has cleared (as a result of finding n reading BR posts n responses), my life will be fine without her. I’ve let the fantasy n any shred of hope I had go. Yup, really. Anyway, what I’m finding hardest to deal with are her residuals… U know stuff I let her do/ put up with but thought hadn’t really changed me….

    Low n behold, I meet someone n realize I had added some “protections” w the last that seem hard to shed. The biggest– thinking that what the person I’m seeing is lying n its my job to put the clues together Sherlock Holmes style to figure out what they meant. However, this one says what she means n means what she says…. And I keep asking the same questions in different ways to see if she trips up. Yeah, she’s getting tired of it. (And frankly, so am I!) But I can’t seem to stop… For her sanity and mine, How do I stop???

    • Natasha says:

      “…that is, assholes come in all genders.”

      TOO FUNNY!! And I’m also willing to wager there is nothing worse than an asshole that could totally borrow your favorite shoes and NOT RETURN THEM if she felt like it. No. Oh hell no.

      Here’s my advice on how to stop turning dates into inquisitions: Have fun. Seriously, next time you want to test her, make a joke instead. If you start feeling anxious and like you want to question her, instead say, “Want to go to a movie?” Since it’s rude to talk at movies, you will therefor be unable to question her and will have at least two hours to remind yourself that you like her, she likes you and you should just enjoy it :) Hope this helps!

  15. noquay says:

    I try and be more of a planner than a worrier. I always like to have a plan B, especially if the economy tanks and I have no job. No matter what happens next, I will always have a roof over my head, access to land, food, firewood and have the needed skills to obtain the latter. Very liberating. However, I do still overfeed the “I am never gonna ever find someone I am attracted to ever again and am gonna be completely alone for the rest of my damned life” fish. The last coupla weeks adventures on eHarmony really reinforces this mindset. Then I have to slap myself, hard.
    Melissa, if youre out there, understand that for us womyn, on line is a very uneven playing field. These dudes are cafeteria style shopping, always looking for better because they CAN while we awesome chix often have to wade through the manure. If you can, it is best to meet folks IRL as they truly get to see who you are. I understand that’s not always possible, that’s why I am on line. The paid sites are best as the worst guys are eliminated. I do not recommend eHarmony as they apparently cannot read a map and ignore your preferences. Do not take criticism about your body or any other aspect of you to heart. I run from size 4-6, have run 170 ultras so I am hardly out of shape, have a good income, good job, have been told I am not ugly, am well regarded by most all at work so I assume no glaring personality defects, and I STILL get rejected for having very muscular legs, small breasts, copper skin and leftie values. Its not you, they are immature a$$holes looking for absolute perfection though these dudes are hardly perfect themselves. Methinks they will be looking for a looong time.

    • Lilia says:

      Noquay, I also have one of those “I am never gonna ever find someone I am attracted to ever again and am gonna be completely alone for the rest of my damned life” fishes and I´ve let him become huge as a whale.

      I´m thinking that´s the reason I´ve accepted so much BS from unworthy ACs, it really sucks! Also, I probably attach a lot of my ego to being in a relationship, which sucks even more.
      Btw I love what you wrote to Melissa, in a sad way because it is so true.

  16. Peanut says:

    Nat, I love that you have a pet goldfish named Sophie, who wiggles when she sees your husband, because he overfeeds her, and she knows it. I love that your husband overfeeds her because she wiggles and you must remind him not to, and of her greediness.

    I have had next to no limits with myself or anyone else. I have let people walk all over me and I have used and walked all over people. I thought this was a normal way to relate, and that life was all about sampling everything and anything that you could before you die.

    Life is not about that at all. I am human. I am not a god, nor do I want to be. I just want to be me. But in order to effectively be me and have who I integrally and continuously unfold, I must understand and respect that I am but a small cog in this giant, infinite universe and I must respect my meekness in the large scheme of things.

    I can’t eat whatever I want. Lord, have I tried. It became blatantly obvious that an ingredient found in just about every Western dish, was making me violently ill. I never knew how bad I felt before, until I eliminated it from my diet. I have had to work hard at doing research, cooking and reading labels, and, yes, the hardest for me regarding food and this limitation/restriction: Saying ‘no’ to people when they offer me food. I don’t explain my condition or the circumstances either: It’s none of their damn business.

    So anyway, turns out I was getting sick off of food I didn’t even like that much, anyway. This new way of living, that allows me to actually live by eating how my body demands, has opened me up to so many new possibilities with food. I have been cooking amazing things.

  17. Peanut says:

    And, Nat, your artwork makes me feel good/warm/happy inside.

  18. runnergirl says:

    Dear Natalie, if I had a goldfish it would be dead from worry, fear, anxiety. My daughter decided to go back to Boston to finish school. The day of the Marathon before things went south, we were discussing plane flights. Thank god she is more rational than I am. The next morning, she booked our flight for mid-May. I think I managed to fake it. I’ve been glued to MSNBC live. It was like watching a really horrific movie. I know she is 23 and a full grown adult. She is hugely capable. I am filled with sadness, worry, fear, and anxiety for everything that happened in Boston. We don’t have 200 round shoot outs with pressure cooker bombs thrown out of car windows by a 19 year old kid in the middle of the night in the middle of the suburbs. We don’t have a 19 year old kid who allegedly killed and injured innocent people laying bleeding to death in a boat in somebody’s back yard. A major city doesn’t go on lock down in the US. So in a few weeks, I’m headed to Boston to find an apartment for my daughter. As though I wasn’t already filled with fear and anxiety that she will be living alone for the first time. My heart is filled with sadness for all of the people affected.
    It’s a good thing there are no goldfish around here. I turn off the news when my daughter comes home but she’s 23 and tuned in to social media. I started to unwind today. I’m taking things really hard.

    • Magnolia says:

      runner, it’s totally understandable that you should feel all those feelings at the idea of your daughter living on her own. add the horror of boston’s recent events to that and no wonder you’re stirred up.

      if you’re turning off the news, then you’re aware and doing your best to not overfeed. if you suddenly forbade your daughter to return to boston, that would be overfeeding the fishy.

      sounds as though you’re reacting pretty normally and working your way through – the goal isn’t no fear at all!

      sounds like your daughter is getting herself back on track, too, after her boyfriend woes – yay!

    • Natasha says:

      Runner, I live just outside of Boston, in the town adjacent to where they found the mofo…so I get it. I really do. Let me say that never once, in all my 30+ years here, I’ve never had anything bad happen to me. Even when I was a dingbat college student and thought I was completely invincible because my off-campus apartment was 20 minutes from my parents’ house haha! If you need recommendations or have questions about any of the areas you’re looking in, feel free to ask Nat for my email! :)

      • runnergirl says:

        Thank you Magnolia, Natasha, 2fearce, Noquay, and Elly B. I took Nat’s advice by taking a break from the news. I wouldn’t dream of forbiding her to go back to school. I haven’t written out my anxiety about her living alone but it’s similar to the anxiety when she first left with the bf. It’s about her being gone. She loved being in Boston, knows the area, loves UMass, her professors, and is looking forward to going back. She booked our flights the morning after (Tuesday)without any anxiety. Underneath all of my fear and anxiety and I managed to get my irrationality at bay. When I clamly sort through the facts, I’m excited for her too. I’m doing exactly what Nat is saying: feeding the worry/fear fishy. My trigger: Just about anything that has to do with my daughter sends me into worry mode. Then when I feed the worry fishy, it doesn’t die, it becomes a giant shark. A self-defense class this summer sounds like a perfect mother-daughter activity and I’m going to check out the Headspace site. A good common-sense talk about where she hangs out and with whom is a good idea too. Thank you ladies.
        Natasha, I’ll ask Nat for your email. Thank you. Maybe you can check up on her for me…only kidding. I am sorry about all you and your loved ones have been through this week. Thank you. I’m much calmer today.
        PS. I think I killed my daughter’s goldfish by overfeeding it!

    • Learner says:

      Oh runner, I feel for you. I really do! We worry about our children more than anything, I think. We can’t be there to protect them from every single boogie man that may be hiding around the corner. It’s a challenge just letting go and trusting them to the universe. Hugs to you as you get through this together xo

  19. Rachael says:

    I do indeed worry and fear, and “chase the thoughts and feelings” Every time fear appears, I dwell on it – guilty as charged. I want to recognise the price of worry/fear more often – they disempower me and reduce my confidence and self-esteem.
    Awareness of my triggers and my reactions (usually unhelpful) is a challenge.
    I concur with Natalie’s three tips:
    A. Taking a break and doing something I am good at is calming and increases my sense of self efficacy.
    B. Taking notes to consider later can provide a resource to help move toward a solution.
    C. “Writing out the problem (real or potential) .. will help to organise your thoughts and hit upon what’s really bothering you.” A more accurate formulation of the problem is helpful because fear tends to cloud my thinking. Why waste time on what is in fact NOT the real issue?

  20. Tabitha says:

    I did use to over feed my worry and fear goldfish. However, as I have made significant life changes over the past three years, this has diminished.
    I realised a lot of my worry issues which manifested in me overplanning everything, were caused by being trapped in a dead marriage. Since my divorce I have worried far less, even though my financial situation is more precarious. Odd but true.
    When I was seeing the ex narc, my anxiety levels went through the roof. I was a shaking mess of nerves. His ambiguity, hot and cold, confidence bashing ways really hit me hard and it has taken a lot of work to build myself back up from that.
    Finally, I realised that a big chunk of my anxiety and worry was caused by my toxic mother. She criticised me constantly, literally every aspect of my life. My house, garden, clothes, friends,diet, just everything.
    Since we are now NC, my worry is lower than I can ever remember. I feel so much more relaxed and able to let “the chips fall where they may.” I love that saying, very American!
    Since I feel less controlled myself, I am able to worry less about controlling stuff around me.
    Thanks as always to Natalie who makes all ths stuff so clear and accessible.

  21. 2fearce says:

    The “safety of that doesn’t happen here” is a facade. Regardless of where you live, “good” neighborhood or sketchy, there is always “danger” lurking. Unfortunately, crazy/ mean people live everywhere and they’re mobile; we haven’t quite worked out that foolproof identification thing.

    That said, don’t breed fear in your daughter that is attached to a specific location. Instead, teach her that human life in all forms is precious, teach her to always be aware of her surroundings and trust her instincts, and go to a self defense class with her. The latter will do amazing things for both ur self esteems.

  22. noquay says:

    Runnergirl
    2fearce has it right. You daughter needs to have both self defense and awareness skills along with a generous helping of common sense. The horror that happened in Boston is a rare event that no one except the perpetrators could have prevented. Mostly, when a woman is attacked, it is by someone she knows. She needs to be aware of her surroundings at all times, able to read the neighborhood she is in, walk as though she belongs there. Above all, she should never, ever, be at a bar or leave a bar intoxicated alone. This is when women her age are most vulnerable to attack. A small canister of pepper spray is a great equalizer. Btw, lots of horrid things happen in da burbs; drug dealing, domestic violence, women/girls being attacked, its just more hidden.

    • EllyB says:

      Noquay: I agree. I think the risk of being attacked by a toxic boyfriend/husband/lover (or even a relative!) is way underrated… while the risk of being attacked by some stranger is clearly overrated. As noquay says, most violent acts towards women are committed by someone she KNEW.

      I have lived in big cities for most of my adult life, I walk around all on my own nearly everyday (sometimes even after midnight) and I’ve never found myself in any truly dangerous situation.

      Of course there are limits. We need to know which neighborhoods are “safe” and we should stick to the busiest streets whenever possible (at least at night). Even more important: We should NOT walk around unless we feel entirely comfortable (because feeling uncomfortable does make us vulnerable). In case of doubt, it is better to hail a cab. I also agree about being young and intoxicated and being alone in bars because those circumstances can add to our vulnerability as well.

      • Tinkerbell says:

        No neighborhood is safe. Some may APPEAR to be moreso than others. But sick things happen in the best of neighborhoods. Sure, it can. Are you supposed to be exempt because you live in a half million dollar house? Then the residents say, “How could this happen here?” The best thing we can do is be aware and vigilant of our own personal space and make sure strangers don’t get too close. And still, you can’t really prevent a surprise mugging, etc. It’s sad what happens. I think parents today should go back to putting more emphasis on teaching family values. I know a couple of really decent young men, like around age 20. Both seem to be raised very responsibly.

        • EllyB says:

          I think it’s more important to teach children empathy and respect towards any other human being. Case in point: My own parents who put a lot of emphasis on “family values”, but to whom this meant: “We have every right in the world to abuse you (sexually and otherwise) because we are FAMILY!” They were also extremely racist, they hated handicapped people, the unemployed and any other unfortunate minority you could think of. Likewise, I think some fathers might emphasize their “family values” and still teach their sons to hate women.

          • Tinkerbell says:

            Suki. CBT is what my therapist is doing with me. My sister who had years of therapy suggested that I ask for that. (We had the same parents, LOL!) I’ve had very good results but, of course, it is not overnight. Any therapy involves uncovering layers of dysfunction. Thanks for recommending the book. I’ll check it out, also. It can’t hurt.

            • Tinkerbell says:

              Elly. The family values I was referring to is exactly what you mentioned in your first sentence. I think we all know I’m not talking about “better than thou”, racist crap.

  23. Suki says:

    I wanted to recommend a book: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Dummies. CBT is considered one of the most effective forms of therapy for anxiety in particular. This book has lots of exercises you can go through – e.g. replacing your worrying thoughts with more positive ones, countering your own thoughts etc. The aim with a book like this or with therapy is to stick to it over a few months. The changes in yourself are imperceptible at first so you might be tempted to give up, but a few months later you’ll suddenly realize that your mind is uncluttered, your brain is sort of rewired from practicing more healthy thinking, you are more in the present, and you are more likely to give a forgiving or calming interpretation to life’s events than a worry-inducing one. So if it isnt possible for you to get CBT from a skilled professional, try the book and work on it regularly for a few months.

  24. Lacy says:

    I just read the post of keeping the door closed, in all honesty I am not bs myself, I changed my cell cut contact with mutual friends, didn’t send him any texts calls emails have stayed off facebook we weren’t friends anyway, I never reques him he never requested me.But one thing I am at fault for is not changing my home line.

    The day he called me from a cell of his he caught me on the phone, I usually get randomn cell num for my daughter, friends who have changed there num, even my kids teachers call from their cells sometimes to my land line, especially when my cell drops service in certain areas in my house or at work, I work in a hospital.

    I could’ve changed my home line.I had the num. For 4 yrs now and I didn’t expect he would be so disruptive and constantly call, even after I blocked his cell.My service informs the caller that I’m not receiving calls from that num when a block caller calls my line.Also this Man is a big ladies man he has plenty of women, so I thought me stayi away from him he’d just bump up ond of the other women and leave me alone.

    Having my home num staying the same hearing him call from other num and me hanging up and even informing anyone who answers and its him to hang up, as much as I got a lil stonger moving on with my life a talking to a decent guy, it still kept my mind a lil stuck.

    But him calling isn’t what got me hurt again, not laying down the law to my daughter about the situation with him and that for no reason he shouldn’t be in my house.

    That is how he got my cell num.He was at the door when she walked up from school she said he had a bag of food he said he brought for us, he put it to her that he had talked to me, her not knowing anything but if he calls the land line not to answer she went along with it and let him in he told her since he know she was told not to give my cell away that he would leavethe food with her and if she could call my cell for him.

    She went along with this 15yr old girl, yes I have a problem its like sometimes I may need to say yes when I mean no to her, cause she does the total opposite and I’m always wrong.

    She asked me later after he left the house and I waited and came home at 10pm this all started at about 3pm she said he left at 8pm, I stayed gone longer just in case, but she asked my why I wasn’t talking to him?

    I was angry with her then realized she didn’t know they all had really loved him too.So I should’ve explained to them, I didn’t know it that it also affected them with the loss of his presence for several mths, even though we were not in a stable relationship he was at my house 3 to 4 times a week, and had belongings there even though, I never agreed to him moving in he basically did anyway.We hadn’t stayed away from each other this long for the pass 3 yrs.

    The reason for Nc is because we grew apart and if a man sends u through circles and u argue 90% of the time u have to move on, thats what I told her.

    The embarrassing hurtful stuff is the real reason, the lack of care, love, respect, the lies, the future faking, is what kills my thoughts and joy in my life, I recently found that half of apr and now just partiAlly this mth up until last week wed when he showed up to my house, I felt happy I met a decent guy , people notice I dropped 15pds some say may skin is brighter and I look rested, I been out with new friends to the bar, been being more in tune with my family, mom dad,enrolled my mids I. Swimming lessons, and I am this week fri set to enroll in a class at the community college.

    I thought I was doing enough work to move on,I am not perfect and from this story if someone sees this story as that I have bs myself please let me know cause I am all for constructive criticism or insight or info on how to begin to rebuild my thoughts off this issue , cause right now I am truly hurting, and yes now I am changing my cell again and my land line its no cost cause I let the providers know I’ve been getting unwanted calls.

    I’m confused lost and my mind feels unstead.

    • Suki says:

      Lacy, I dont think you did anything wrong, no bs on your part that I can see. You can also forgive your daughter, she didnt know, but you should tell her that you are trying to cut contact with this guy. Dont alarm her, just say that sometimes adults fight just like younger people do and its better to have distance from some people. She should also learn that some relationships are best left behind and how to move on.
      Yes its not good that this guy is pestering you so much – if you feel this shades into stalking, you should contact some knowledgeable friends who know the law, and ask for advice. Or contact a lawyer.
      And go easy on him too – what I mean is, the day you realize this man is just a loser, who has little self-awareness of himself, who is selfish, who acts out of his own anxieties and insecurities [why does he pursue someone that clearly doesnt want him?]… The aim is not to make excuses for him, or forgive him, but to realize that he can’t touch you. You’ve moved on. When he realizes that, he will stop pursuing and/or you will stop caring. [If he is actually a threat, then you must take steps to involve authorities].
      And, sometimes [though this is for you to judge], it is better to tell people slowly that your relationship wasnt so good rather than hiding the secrets and having to justify to people why you left him.
      No, you’re not perfect – and isnt that great! Who wants to be perfect. And you have moved on so much – lost weight, feel good, going out, doing swimming. Working on yourself doesnt mean that nothing will affect you ever again. Instead, just tell yourself ‘yes, clearly he has made me anxious’. Feel the anxiety but also feel yourself feeling the anxiety, name it, talk yourself out of it the way you might for a friend. Get some distance that way.
      Good luck! It seems you’ve done quite well at NC etc and moving on. Just keep doing what you’re doing while acknowledging that sometimes things will hit you and you’ll need a few hours to compose yourself.

      • Lacy says:

        Thank you so much for the insight, I’m gone pray on this one and ask God to place genuinely loving caring people in my life and remove those who add no value, I have faith that I will have peace, joy and happiness in my life, I pray the same for you suki and every woman going through difficult times in there lives.Huggs and kisses!!!

  25. BabySteps says:

    @Peanut,

    Yeah, it’s none of their damn business. I’ve started correcting myself on this too because I usually feel compelled to to bust my own boundaries and give people an explanation, childhood survival tactic, so now I deliberately decide what people do/don’t need to know, funny I still get that childhood niggling, but I like not having to explain every damn thing to everybody because it makes taking action and such so much easier.

  26. 2fearce says:

    Lacy– you left the door open a crack and he weaseled his way in. Close it with an old Hollywood movie leading lady slam and “hit the road jack” attitude. Then brick it up if you have to. Whatever you need to do to make it final. Seriously, what kind of creep waits for a teenager and uses deception to get into your house? (is it me or does this sound very big bad wolf??)
    Your daughter is not to blame (especially for the initial let in part ) but I think you two do need to have a convo about who gets let in your house period and how long they can lay in wait IN YOUR HOUSE. And he waited for 5 hours?! With a teenager?! Creepy von creepenstein!!!

    Teenagers can more than understand that people do not stay in your life forever. If anyone can… Teenagers would understand the easiest I think. Without going into too much detail, level with her (and make it clear you’re not mad at nor do u blame her) and USE THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO TEACH HER ABOUT INSTINCTS AND BOUNDARIES– Make it clear to her that a reasonable person wouldn’t dream of being in your house (without you!) for hours on end and that in your absence she has your permission not to let anyone in or let anyone stay that gives her the heebie geebies (which I’ll wager money he did several times over the 5 hours… let me say it again… 5 HOURS!!!).

    Turn his invasion into compost for the new life you have ALREADY started to build. Him invading your home does NOT undo all your hard work.

    You have shown that there are ways around what you say (moving in even though you said no). Consider adding some punctuation to your sentence. Call the police if/when he shows again. Better yet, get a restraining order!

    • Tinkerbell says:

      RESTRAINING ORDER. Lacy, a man that dishonest and cunning, is dangerous. You don’t give a person like that second chances. Think of your daughter. God forbid nothing unspeakable happened. But, with a character like that? Bett
      er to be safe than sorry.

      Of course, you should talk to your daughter, as mentioned above. But get that creep OUT OF YOUR LIFE, now!!!!!

  27. 2fearce says:

    Natasha,

    You mean there’s no magic potion…I just have to learn to control my “tick”???? Kicking rock…fine. I’ll try to have fun (its such an inconvenience… But if I must I must lol)

    Ps– the one time we were the same size… fun at first them sucked d big goose egg. I lost custody of more than a few items in that one but i was wiliing to pay that price for my freedom (and to get my heart and senses back)

    • Natasha says:

      Yes, my dear, you MUST haha! It’s one of the vexations of meeting someone normal…*SIGH* :). I think someone should do a remix of those Mastercard commercials:
      New shoes: $200 on Mastercard
      New purses: $400 on Mastercard
      Bouncing an asspile of an ex: Pricless
      And indeed it is!!

      • NCC says:

        LOL! Yep, that should be one of those commercials, maybe a BR commercial! I lost a 37″ flat screen TV. I take blame in allowing it back into his house, he threatened me and about money I supposedly owed him when I tried to take it (NO one owed that guy money, it was the EXTREME opposite). I told myself it was replaceable, I learned a HUGE lesson, and it’s just a TV, and getting out was so much more important to say the least.

  28. BabySteps says:

    @Suki,

    Thanks for the book referral.

    @Magnolia

    I like the way u nurture your inner children.

  29. Learner says:

    Natalie, I love how you deal with all of life and not just the part that involves EUMs/ACs. One year ago, all I could think about was the exMMAC and how I had allowed him to use me. This year, I am almost paralyzed with worry about my daughter. Before she was diagnosed with a new illness, she signed up t do volunteer work in a developing country. Se leaves in a few weeks. I am already imagining all the worst case scenarios. Se has a worsening of her condition while she is away and there is no appropriate medical care nearby. She is taken advantage of by someone she is trying to help. She is used by someone there who believes a pure young girl could cure him from an illness. The list goes on. I have been losing sleep for weeks already, while she plans her trip not worrying about her own vulnerability. I try to take cues from her and relax, but unlike her, I do not believe she is invincible!

    And then I have myself to worry about. Not only am I trying to pull my life together after making a mess of it, but I have my own health scare to deal with. I have been called back for a repeat mammogram after my screening. I can’t help imagining the what ifs. I know many women have these callbacks, but what if I have invasive cancer? Has anyone else gone through the whole mammogram callback? If so, any advice how to stop feeding the greedy, greedy mammogram fear fishy?

    • runnergirl says:

      Learner, it is like we are leading parallel lives. It is amazing how Natalie is in touch with so much more than just some guy who we can’t seem to ditch. I’m dealing with and feeding the same worry/fear fishy with regards to my daughter. She leaves in 90 days. We are headed to Boston next week to find a safe place for her to live? Talk about worst case senarios. I was already overfeeding the worry fear fishy, then this? Like your daughter, mine is foraging forward, with that invincible faith. I’m trying to take cues from her as well.
      And with respect to parallel lives, last year at this time, I had the call back for the repeat mammogram and went through the biopsy. Boy that sucked hard. As it turned out, I have dense breast tissue. The mammogram picked up on the density and it is read as a problem. It wasn’t cancer, just density. I’m hoping you are in the same boat. It was scary and damned uncomfortable since I don’t have a lot of breast tissue in the first place. Just be at peace that you and I have the means to have this checked.

      • runnergirl says:

        Oh and I forgot: Yes, I remember spending a ton of time feeding the worry/fear fishy with regards to whether the exMM was going to call, text, email, show up. That seems like nonsense with regards to what I’m worrying about now. I’m thinking I’ve got to stop this worrying gig. I’m bunched up with worry.
        The good thing, nothing about my worry/fear at the moment has to do with a guy. Is that progress? I think so!

        • Learner says:

          Runner, thanks so much for your reply. I feel a bit less fearful knowing that you, too, are going through the daughter-safety worry and have already dealt with the mammo-fear fishy. My initial report said something about a density, too. They want to do an ultrasound and then decide on biopsy after that. It seems we smaller-chested girls tend to the denser breast. No fair, since it hurts when they squish them! I was impressed with how much of a pancake they were able to create out of my little twins.

          Yeah, no kidding, it sucks to worry about kids and health, but makes more sense than dwelling on futile fantasy relationships! For your daughter, I am hoping they have Boston converted into a safe haven in response to the damage those two brothers have done. We will never be without worry as mothers, but have to trust that our daughters’ lives will unfold as intended. With gratitude for your support runner. Learner xo

          • Teddie says:

            I had a biopsy last year, was very scary, turned out the stuff was harmless calcite, a very unpleasant procedure nonetheless, had to wear the tight bandage for 48 h. It is just thatf these calcite particles can be a pre-form of some rare cancer, so the docs prefer to double-check just to be on the safe side. Good luck!

            • Learner says:

              Teddie,
              The tight bandage sounds simply lovely. Or not – sounds uncomfortable! Thanks for sharing what you experienced, and thanks for the good luck wishes xo

          • runnergirl says:

            Hey Learner, the statistics are on your side with regards to the mammogram fear fishy. Keep focused on that fact. Even though I can barely focus on the fact that I was completely on my own at 23 with two degrees and my first teaching job, I still imagine my daughter as an 8 year old in need of her lunch bucket and a jacket. That’s got to stop. As I’ve been focusing on my negative self-talk, I’ve also been focusing on my “worry talk”. I got a lot from Magnolia’s comment about our daughters entering the ring while we watch from the bleachers. One thing for sure, my daughter can’t claim she was abandoned. She can claim she was smothered!

            • Learner says:

              Thanks runner. Going to re-read Dr Mags comment now. Yah, 23 is definitely young adult age, but they never quite seem like adults from this side of 45 do they? My daughter is 18 now, but still looks like a baby when she is asleep! It’s a good thing their worry and fear fishies are so much smaller than ours!

    • Selkie says:

      Learner,

      I’ve had two separate call backs to repeat mammo’s or do additional ultrasounds after false positives. Both times it was a benign cyst or just a dense area. It was scary but I kept it in check and didn’t let the fear take over. The fear can do nothing for you so it’s best not to get ahead of things and think of worst case scenarios. Take it one appointment at time. I’ve considered trying breast thermography which detects tumors but has no radiation. Hang in there. With you in spirit.

      • Learner says:

        Selkie,
        Awe thanks. You are right about the fear doing nothing for us. I read online yesterday that women with dense breasts have a 4X higher chance of getting breast cancer than those with less dense mammaries. I have decided not to let that idea lead me to fear more. I will look into the thermography idea – that’s a new one on me but sounds great! Thanks again xo

  30. Lacy says:

    Suki Thank you so much for the insight, I’m gone pray on this one and ask God to place genuinely loving caring people in my life and remove those who add no value, I have faith that I will have peace, joy and happiness in my life, I pray the same for you suki and every woman going through difficult times in there lives.Huggs and kisses!!!

  31. Demke says:

    Not so long ago, when I was obssesed w my ex AC, and needed the attention and validation of men, regardless of their character… 6 months later, i feel the opposite. I dont need that validation. I dont care to notice if men are noticing me… Im almost turned off by a mans attention anymore. I need to find a healthy balance. Because eventually i want a healthy relationship. But i need to be solo, and focus on my career and kids, and myself. I just dont want ‘bad’ attention anymore. Its like i went from one extreme to the other. I am perfectly happy and content, i dont ‘worry’ about ‘finding’ a man. I used to. And relieved that i dont anymore. I have faith that when im ready and tge timing is right, i’ll have something great, and i’ll understand and be glad why all of those creeps didnt hang around.

  32. Ayr says:

    I needed to read this. I have serious self esteem issues to work on. I feel stuck. Ready to make a change. Thanks Natalie

  33. Espresso says:

    I have been caught up in a very difficult emotional situation here so have been out of sight – suffering- for a few days. My ex was at Boston and didn’t act responsibly and quickly in terms of letting us know he was alright even though he could and should have. My kids were completely panic stricken (and so was I)for hours when he had walked away from the situation but was clueless about finding a proper phone and I became involved and of course was worried too (I actually thought a lot about the people on BR who had an AC who later died) – what a hellish situation. I was very concerned about him but felt weird in the helping situation where people were calling me. I exhausted myself most of the day fielding calls with my children to finally get a call from him that really seemed pretty clueless about what was happening on our end. (This is a man who really doesn’t like cell phones so he never had one and when he borrowed one the lines were all down anyway but he never thought of that either). I was so upset that I had to trot back to the counsellor who said that is the way he IS! He will never be different – and no, you cannot trust or depend on him. What is hooking me into this still in some emotional way? Of course I WAS very upset and that was coupled with anger, rage, frustration, anger at self, confusion, feeling like a fake, fears of future blah blah blah. – in other words an upsurge of everything.
    And then realizing that perhaps I cannot swim at ALL in the same goldfish bowl as him because I simply cannot protect myself from his obliviousness and cluelessness which because he IS clueless he has no sense of – at all. I haven’t learned how to swim away- how to look at him dispassionately and say (under my breath) – what a jerk. I am just not able to detach in that way yet. It sucks. It detracts from all the hard work I am doing and for myself and the life I want to build. My friend told me today that she sees me trying so hard to have a “good” separation in the same way that I sucked up everything in my marriage and that perhaps it was simply a waste of time. I think that is true but emotionally I still cling to something. It was a bad, sad week and of course he is feeling so GOOD and bouncing around and I – am feeling like death warmed over…I can’t even look at him. Sorry for the rant but this post does apply particularly in terms of choosing who I want and can have in my fishtank. It’s actually a very good image.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Espresso. I’m sorry to hear of your plight. Is this your ex husband you are referring to? It must be terribly frustrating for you and even worse that you see how your kids are being affected. Since i have no experience even close to your situation, I’ll forgo offering advice. But, I will say this. You have to accept one very hard fact. YOU CANNOT CHANGE HIM. Either you learn to make yourself content with all his faults, or you take your kids and leave. Forget about trying to have a “good separation”. You are hurting yourself and your kids while he remains clueless and happy-go-lucky. You need to bring him down to earth, and quick.

  34. Tulipa says:

    I am over feeding the fish.

    I feel like my mind is over stretched and I have lost the ability to bounce back.
    I am feeding the fish of fear that I am not going to be able find a way back.
    I am feeding the harsh critic fish that is all my fault that I am in the position I am by making decisions that were not in my favour and didn’t help me.

    I feel that I will never find a way of the AC mess and find balance.
    I have been looking at my feeling during the times we were no contact and the times where we were in contact and they mirror each other I can feel high and low but become more low during times of no contact which is silly.
    He is gone now and I am feeding the fish that I can’t cope with this that I have no skills to cope with this. There seems to be so much unfinished painful business between us.
    I am feeding the fish that even my therapist can’t help me through this.

    I need to find some rational thoughts the fish have had enough food.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Hi Tulipa. You’ve been on BR awhile, now. Are you not learning how to care for yourself more effectively? Accept the general consensus of that blog. That we need to get rid of those AC’s, EUM’s and anyone else in our lives who are a bad influence. The people who make us unhappy and suck us dry in the process. You must sincerely want to change and act on it. Nobody else and nothing can do it for you. Not therapy and not BR if you are going to cling to old habits and bad people. I got better by DETERMINATION and a COMBINATION of things: BR, professional therapy, reading self-help materials, spending quiet time with myself thinking CONSTRUCTIVE thoughts. I don’t do meditation or journaling, but each of us finds what suits us best. The key is a flaming desire to change. I know you can do it just like so many others of us have done. Good luck.

      • Tulipa says:

        Hi Tinkerbell
        Yes, I do understand what BR is all about. Sure I have been slow to implement the lessons about getting rid of the AC and keeping him out and each time have come away more damaged than before.
        I really wouldn’t like to think about where I would be without BR.
        I think I have always been heading in the right direction since I started here but have at the same time been my own worst enemy if that makes sense. Bullshitted myself into thinking it was far more complicated than it was.
        I am my harshest critic believe me about how long I have been here and moved at snail’s pace.
        But I already have a lot more in place now to help me along and I am determined to stay the course. I had good reasons to be in contact the last few times but all of that is cleared now.
        Thank you that you believe I can do this it helps. I believe in me too those fish are on a diet.

  35. Melissa says:

    Hi all-

    Yes, I agree that taking the ‘not looking’ approach is best. At least for now. I am going to try to embrace it. But, it feels just as terrifying.

    I’m scared of ending up like my mom- she divorced my dad when I was 14, had one boyfriend and that was it. She’s 65 now and alone. She lived by the mantra “If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be”. She’s living proof (in my eyes) that if you don’t at least TRY…nothing happens.

    Also, I got my tubes tied a few months ago. Kept joking that my head stone would read “….and she never had sex again” because my life is rife with irony. And it’s HAPPENING. Like a voodoo curse that I cannot undo. I know that it’s all magical, irrational thinking…but isn’t a lot of fear/anxiety?

    So. Deep breaths. I am really latching on to the idea of just going out and meeting new friends, maybe something romantic will pop up. That sounds nice. Because in reality, dating for the last 3 years has been awful. This can only be better.

    Funny- I did read about keeping your self esteem intact just a couple of weeks ago. I thought, “Well, I’m good there” and then BLAMMO. Lol. Sigh.

    • Mymble says:

      Melissa
      I read some where (here?) that OLD requires the hide of a rhinoceros, among other things. Next time you do it, psychologically put on a suit of armour. That’s what I do when I go into court. (I am a litigation lawyer).
      My mothers story is like your mothers. She has been on her own for 30 years. And she is attractive, slim and with reasonable social skills.
      Still I’m not her, and you are not your
      mother. Whatever your life is or will be it won’t be the same as hers.
      And also, is your mother desperately lonely? Mine isn’t. She’s fairly content in fact. She has her health, her friends, her family and her hobbies. She does what she likes when she likes. Not so bad at all.

    • Lilia says:

      Melissa, perhaps your mother doesn´t want to have a romantic relationship.

      My mom is 67 and hasn´t been involved with anyone after she divorced my father about 15 years ago. Not for lack of interesting suitors, but because she wants to be alone (aw that sounds like I´m Greta Garbo´s daughter but no). The thing is, she is perfectly happy living on her own, and enjoys her life tremendously, even more than when she was married.
      Just like you, I find this hard to understand, but she has explained to me that after menopause the urge to mate diminished significantly for her. And then, having been through a marriage (my parents were together for 30 years) her expectations aren´t very Hollywood-like.

      Don´t worry about turning into your mother. I sometimes do that too, but then she herself tells me not to be stupid, that at 41 I´m still young, that I have a different personality and different needs and that I´m basically a completely different person.

  36. Revolution says:

    I seem to have an angry little goldfish with his middle finger up right now. Sad, but true. I just don’t understand how being a beautiful 35-year old intelligent, kind, fair-minded, happy woman can translate into too old, may look beautiful but her nose is about 1 mm too long for her face, etc. It’s hard to not feel like you’re auditioning for “American Idle” (pun intended)when you meet men. Even men 10 or 20 plus years older with no job, yellowing teeth, and reprehensible morals and hygiene snub their nose. I was actually raised with healthy self-esteem, had a cute little peppy goldfish who had a smile for the world, but then the piranhas came out (dudes that I’ve met, even “nice guys” who decided for some mysterious reason that I just wasn’t up to par) and now I’m practically floating in the fishbowl. Natalie, maybe your lovely girls can sing some Adele for me? Are they taking any requests?

  37. Revolution says:

    I’m piggybacking off of my last comment because I think the thing that’s getting to me lately is that I’m sick of meeting men and feeling like THEY look at me like I’M looking at THEM as my “last chance saloon” because I’m in my thirties and not married. It’s like they have some weird idea that because a woman is single that she MUST be desperate and on the prowl and wanting them. Ironically, the older I get, the less interested I am in marriage. Well, at least as a “solution” to loneliness. I take marriage very, very seriously and so I’m not going to run down the aisle with some dude. I will be taking my time to get to know him, if I find him to be a decent guy who wants the same things in life. But it just galls me that a lot of men tend to get the fear in their eyes when I talk to them (God forbid I say “Good morning” to them at work as I walk by, because that means, of course, that I’m planning my bridesmaid’s dresses, you know….Sheesh, REALLY?? You’re NOT that special, dude). Ahhhh…..I’m just frustrated. What’s WITH these guys? If anything, that type of behavior from men makes me want LESS to do with them. I mean, who do they think they are? As a matter of fact, a lot of the single friends in my age bracket are actually deciding NOT to marry because they’re so fed up with the arrogance of unsuitable men who have nothing to be arrogant about. If this keeps up, what does that mean for our civilization?

    How’s that for a goldfish? Mine probably needs its own freakin’ aquarium.

    • runnergirl says:

      Ah, Revolution, YES. I get it. As you know, I’m doing the online dating thing and it is amazing. Some guys have an inflated image and leave me with the WTF? They are so NOT special despite how special they think they are. However, good for them for thinking they are so special, right? I think, for me, that has to do with wearing my BR lenses and totting my self-esteem in tow. It doesn’t mean anything about our civilization. It just means that we aren’t falling for their crap! It is just crap whether they are 20-30-40-50 something. My 54th birthday is next month. I’m watching my 23 year old daughter going through the throws of ending a relationship with a Mr. U. while trying to get her life on track. It’s heartwrentching. Watching her has kept my life on track. Oh today was a complete melt down. He ditched her, her car is 60 miles away (for some reason I haven’t figured out), she had to register for her community service work or go back to court, she has to work tomorrow and has no car. We have plane tics to Boston for next week. I went to work and had faith that somehow things would work out. Don’t know yet. The dude she is trying to win doesn’t seem like a prize. He seems like a guy who is a guy who wants to get laid and she is jumping through hoops to get him to be reliable, commit, and be there. Sound familiar?

      • Revolution says:

        Runner,

        You’re a gem. Thanks for responding to me, and for understanding. And oh my goodness, your daughter is dating a douche. Let me guess: she’s gorgeous, sprightly, smart, sweet….and he’s greasy, no job, rude, and condescending to her? I don’t need to be Kreskin to figure this one out.

        Good luck with Boston. Get her out of here and find her a nice East Coast dude. Preferably one with ties to the mob who can obliterate the Summer’s Eve douche in Cali.

        • runnergirl says:

          One thing for sure Revolution, unavailables/assclowns come in all ages, all genders (although I think there are only two), and all combos same sex and opposite sex. Clearly it isn’t about us unless we feed the fishy. Just flush the who do they think they are guys. Although, I have to refrain from telling them they aren’t such a prize. Don’t feed the fish! I love my delete button. The “who do they think they are guys” have a special category for me, it’s called “not worth my time” (NWMT).
          Yup, my daughter is this gorgeous, brilliant, sweet sprite. And the guy she’s trying to right the wrongs of her past with is a 23 yro volleyball coach, totally in shape with a 6-pack of abs to die for, and an MBA student. A total dick to her, despite his charming appearance. I can hardly wait to get her to Boston now.

          • Revolution says:

            You’re so right, Runner!

            Yep. Flush the who-do-they-think-they-ares. Check. Why am I even wasting mental energy thinking about these guys? It’s like I have this compulsion, like you, to tell them, “Oh helllllll no! Get off your pedestal and join the rest of us down here.” But instead, I just need to walk away and leave them alone with their mirror. But damn, the urge to tell them all about themselves is STRONG. Like they’d listen. Who do I think I am? Professor of Assclown Studies?

            Safe flight to Boston.

  38. espresso says:

    Thanks Tinkerbell. I know this is true. I know I can’t change him – at least I seem to know that in my head…but I am still “learning” and “seeing” clearly all the ways that have been so destructive to me. So obviously in some ways I am NOT accepting this in a deeper part of myself. It seems that in a way, although I “knew” this in my marriage for many years I was not willing to “face it” completely because I felt I could not act. I don’t know if this makes sense…I see things in a much more clear way now and it is difficult to accept that I put up with this so long. When I get reeled back in (to keep on with the fish analogy) it is so painful and I am disappointed in myself and the fact that I haven’t been able to “neutralize” him which is my major goal. He still triggers me and in new ways.

    I still have to be involved with work projects with him (my livelihood) and my counsellor recently told me that just because my ex says sincerely he agrees with me and will handle things in a certain way I can NEVER depend on him following through. Wow..putting it in to words like this was so final and so TRUE. He often even forgets we have had a conversation (he has always done this). He is the man of “good intentions” and I actually believed him. I don’t think he is a bad person but I don’t trust him.

    I do think he was a tough person to really see. I know now that I don’t know how he can/will hurt me again but he will no matter how distant our relationship is. I also know that I haven’t succeeded in detaching. The past week has been discouraging and painful.

    The other thing I have been struggling with is that my contributions and suffering will go unnoticed by my kids and pretty well everyone else because I sucked up the s..t and am still doing it. I don’t want to expose my kids to conflict and my feelings even though they are adult. Sometimes I just feel so damned resentful that they will never know how much I put into the family and the work with so little support and so little in it for me. That came up this week too.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Aw, Espresso. I’m almost ready to cry. I feel so bad for you. You do seem to be in quite a complicated quandry. Just know that I’m supporting you and that you can always come here and let it all out here anonimously, but also to people who can relate and CARE. HUGS, Tink.

  39. Tinkerbell says:

    Rev. I so know exactly what you are talking about with these men who have no problem advertising that you should consider them God’s gift. That’s one reason I’m very glad that I’m no longer in your generation. I really hope someone worthy comes into your life. Being single has it’s perks, but so does having someone special to share your life with. In the meantime, you will know when he is right for you, at least initially, after all of your experience on BR. I’m wishing that your fondest dreams will be fulfilled.

    • Revolution says:

      Thanks, Tink. Yes, I do agree that singlehood has its perks. I am especially seeing that more and more as I get older. Not that I’m knocking married life (though I’ve never experienced it) or the good men out there (though I’ve not experienced them in my romantic life). It’s just these total douchebags that think they’re God’s gift that keep us women on our toes, isn’t it? I wonder if their ego would still be so inflated if they realized that some of us are choosing to be single and childless rather than having anything to do with them….Hmmmm….

      • Tabitha says:

        Hi Rev, if it’s any consolation, it’s just the same this side of the pond. I recently rejected a guy, as nicely as I could considering he asked me out in front of a group of people and was very agressive in his pursuit of me. I honestly tried to let him down in a way where he had no loss of face.He was only a year older than me, great job, fair enough looking. However, I knew enough about him and enough about myself that we were totally incompatible.
        His reaction was pure agression. He shouted at me ( in front of people) “Are you afraid of men or something?” and was clearly fuming that I had the temerity to prefer to be single rather than date him. He proceeded to tell me how much he earns (yuck)
        I agree totally that we are supposed to be GRATEFUL that a man wishes to court us. I have friends in their sixties who are happily man free and have been for decades. They have happy fulfilling lives, it honestly is possible!
        I do believe there are good men out there, it’s just that all the good ones in my current vicinity are taken, and my boundaries and values take care of that!
        I know I only know you in cyberspace but my gut feeling is that you, lovely Revolution, are destined for an AMAZING man. Really.

        • Revolution says:

          Let me guess, Tabitha…you’re now kicking yourself for letting such a charmer get away? ;)

          It’s unfortunate that the guy you so nicely rejected didn’t appreciate your ladylike response. You don’t find that often in this “Snooky”-filled world of 2013. I try to do the same, and I always think of Lao Tzu, who said, “Always respond intelligently, even to unintelligent treatment.” Even if these clowns don’t recognize a true lady in their presence, that doesn’t mean we’re not acting appropriately and kindly. And if that doesn’t work, we can always hold down the flush handle with our pinky finger up, eh? :)

          Thanks again for your encouraging response, Tabitha. *Picking myself up from my bootstraps* It ain’t over til it’s over, right love?

          • Tabitha says:

            Yeah, I could just see him muttering “Fucking Lesbian” on his drive home ( to his luxury beachfront apartment of course)
            And no, it sure as hell aint over!

  40. espresso says:

    THANK YOU so much for your support Tinkerbell. I just couldn’t get to BR in the worst of it last week but feel enormous relief at being able to talk here and know that people understand. I have learned so much from you and others. I like my counsellor very much and she is very helpful but BR is essential.

    On the good side despite the emotional setbacks I am always taking other steps to clean out the fishbowl. I met with real estate agents last week on my own (more good intentions from my ex ha ha) I also am exploring options of moving out of this town and have been exploring doing a doctoral thesis – started discussing supervision etc last week. It would mean a career change and scares me financially….But between the good steps I was a mess and the situation was hard. Even with my unhappiness IN the marriage I would not anything bad to happen to my ex and the situation in Boston was just so scary for awhile. I just wish I felt more at PEACE with myself more of the time and could by-pass these moments when I feel weak.

    • Tinkerbell says:

      Life is full of ups and downs. Each day is different and we go through highs and lows. As you stated BR is essential. My therapist is great but I need to log on here just as much for strength and clarity. Good luck and let us know how you’re doing. Hugs, Tink.

  41. NCC says:

    I can relate to all of this and certainly the last few comments on feeling like men, no matter what they look like, hold all the cards and have so many choices among all these beautiful women. (I say that with a sarcastic tone but it does feel that way.) I’ve been feeding a BADFISH for a long time now. I keep going over all the cruel things the ex- AC not only said to my face about my looks, but what I found out he said about me behind my back. Jabs, “teasing” , and out and out rude comments that for me only added to the fishbowl that has been filling up since I was a kid and is green and murky and slimy from ZERO cleaning. It’s the low self esteem tank. I’ve never felt so low and I have always had my own issues with my looks, then to meet someone who basically told me that I am ugly in many many various ways, including telling his ex I was ugly (his ex who he by the way described as his gorgeous flawless trophy wife) and them using me as a joke in their little games, makes me sick to my stomach and makes this moving on business really hard. While he was overweight, when I met him I really put myself to look past that and get to know him. Maybe that’s why he relied so much on lies and deceit, because who he really was wouldn’t keep any sane person around. Sometimes it’s easy to deal with him being gone BECAUSE he was such a bad guy, but the residual from how he treated me and how I went back for more, is unbearable. It’s so hard not to allow myself to believe that if I think those bad things about my looks, and HE thought those things, it just confirms that it’s true right? Hardest thing I’ve ever had to work on in my life. Time for the e-course!

  42. Melissa says:

    Mymble-

    Yes, my mom is happy. I think she saw marriage as a hassle and sex as a chore. I do not. I love sex and I am not the type to hook up or have one night stands…I need to be in a relationship. So, my anxiety comes from the notion that the clock is ticking on my looks (I’m 39) and damn, if I have 50 year olds grabbing my belly meat, what is down the line? I am probably not even going to want sex in 10 years! I’ll be a sweaty, hormonal B! Who hasn’t gotten any in 10 years!!!

    It’s these thoughts that ruin me and make me reach for the Xanax. Seriously anxious.

    You’re a lawyer. I’m an inventor. Question: do you tell men what you do right out the gate? I don’t any more…I used to, because I love my job and what I do excites me, but I think it terrifies most men.

  43. espresso says:

    Learner
    A huge percentage of women have callbacks after mammograms. The frequency of false positives is very high. This is the problem with inexact screening – it causes so much stress. Everything is followed up. And most of it does not result in a serious diagnosis. There are many experts who are now rethinking mammography guidelines partly for this reason. A false positive causes a huge amount of anxiety…screening itself may not save lives. Check out Breast Cancer Action..they have good information on this. And try not to stress. Remember the odds are in your favour..very much so! And don’t fast forward panic. If something bad happens you will have the strength to deal with it AT THE TIME.

    • Learner says:

      Espresso,
      Thank you for your reassuring reply. I will check out the website you mentioned. I know the odds are good that the repeat mammo/ultrasound will find nothing serious. It’s just that little fear fishy’s voice that I have to quiet (hmmm, I guess fish don’t have voices. You know what I mean, tho, right?)

      Sorry to hear you have been getting grief from your ex. I know what it’s like to have to suck things up for the sake of ones children. Your kids may never know what you went through to make their lives the best possible, but you know, and hopefully you feel good that you have done right by them. This motherhood gig is a tough one! Hugs and support to you espresso xo

  44. Melissa says:

    Random thoughts….

    I have to wonder if it’s always been this way with men? Or where along the line did men go ‘bad’? Or did we, as women, simply wise up to their shenanigans over time?

    Because, it’s hard for me to believe that all single men went bad all at once and that all the married/taken ones are ‘good’. But this is the situation that presents itself over and over. These bizarrely spoiled, rude, emotionally distant, entitled man-children are running amok. Maybe it’s time to reinstate the draft, send these boys to war so they can have an appreciation for a woman when they get home. I’m kidding. Sort of.

    Runnergirl- don’t worry about going to Boston. What happened there was not the norm. Obviously. That’s never, ever, ever happened. It’s safer there now than it’s ever been. Like Sandyhook….still have to send the kids to school. These occurrences, though seemingly more frequent, are completely out of our hands and totally random. I try not to worry about things that I couldn’t control if I tried…that’s my limit of worry.

    That’s why the dating thing is so infuriating. We are told such conflicting messages, “if it’s meant to be”, “you have to put yourself out there”, “love will find you when you least expect it”, “you won’t find love sitting at home, it’s not going to show up like a pizza”….

    Which is it? Do I have a little control or none? Do I just put the search out of my head completely (impossible)?

    Ps: how is it possible that most of us don’t know a single group of friends who have any decent single friends? I know a ton of great single ladies. 1/2 of all marriages end in divorce. Do the men just kill themselves off after?

  45. Melissa says:

    NCC-

    I get what you are saying, totally. We may have issues with our looks (most women do to a certain extent), insecurities, whatever. We might beat ourselves up from time to time. But, generally, we can put ourselves together nice, feel confident and pretty when we are looking in the mirror and walk out the door.

    Then BLAM. One jackhole makes a comment and we are destroyed. All the insecurity inflates and floats to the surface like a hate-filled balloon. We’re left thinking, “Omg, he SEES me. He sees how gross I am! I am gross!”

    When in reality? No one is really ‘gross’. We are just not everyone’s cup of tea all the time. And clearly, that AC who made fun of you is the world’s biggest, most insecure loser. You know that. His thoughts and words *should not* have any power. But they do, because they are the megaphone amplifying your own self talk.

    What I’ve decided to do on my dating hiatus, is to attempt to learn how to not seek validation from any external source. Meaning…if a man tells me I’m hot? Whatever. Cool. I know. If a man tells me I’m not? Whatever. Cool. I’m fine. Teflon.

    We don’t need men to validate us. We are not parking passes. We are wonderful human beings. We have friends, families, jobs, kids…people who love us, so clearly we are worthy of love. We cannot give men the power to accept or reject us based on their shallow expectations.

    I know…this is more easily said than done, but I am working on it. :-)

  46. PM says:

    “You’ve got to choose what you want to feed. In life, you’ve got to also choose who or what you want to hang about..” AMEN Natalie!.. bless you

  47. noquay says:

    Learner
    I too am one of the wee breasted fraternity. Mammograms don’t work at all for me, my cancer didn’t show up on a mammogram. Demand an ultrasound.

    • Learner says:

      Thanks Noquay. I am sorry to hear that you actually do/did have breast cancer. i am hoping your treatment went well? In my case, they will be doing an ultrasound right after the repeat mammogram. Perhaps I should request ultrasound every year…

  48. siena says:

    Hey all you ex fallback girls out there :)

    Today I was sitting in the park, taking in the sun after the long winter. I watched the children play and a an old man set down next to me. Everything was so peaceful. But THEN..the very familiar feeling of worry and fear hit me: I will soon be 29, I have no husband, no children and even my University is not finished yet(I started at a new profession with 25). What I have is this old EMU that is haunting me and had promised me a family and love and then left for his ex girlfriend. This is what I was thinking. MISSING the EMU….

    Coming back to my flat I had to sit down and breath in. I reminded myself that I have got all the time in the world and that things will be just fine. Yes. Some days the fear and worry just comes up so strongly. We all know this feeling.

    We all, me included, will be fine tough. And contacting the ex,well, want make my life complete. Even though I still miss him.

    • siena says:

      Wow…I have been reading more BR and it feels like this incredible cure!!I even had a pretty tough cry yesterday and today again about the AC but a few articles of Natalie always get me back on track and to myself and remind me of what is TRUE: That I have to adress my OWN issues and that he is an ASSCLOWN!! I guess we all do need to be patient with ourselves from time to time…after my “Im 29,want babies,no man ever in sight,still in (illusional)love with a mean,selfish,really unavailable AC person” self-pity round, I got my senses back and back on my feet!Lately I have recognized that we buy into a lot of BS just to stop ourselves from feeling bad and justify a quick fix. So, instead of taking time to think and feel through the grieve,put things right (yeah I can still have a child when I am 40 and I am not even finished with my education which I have to tell myself time and time again :D)we often take this feelings too serious or try to avoid them by reaching out to the WRONG SOURCE- HIM!I will not let myself do this EVER. I am staying strong and NC because I know deep in my heart that he truly wronged me more than once and that I feel ashamed about how I let him in again and again, till I knew for sure what game he was playing…
      So there is something really important about recognizing that our fears and feelings often want to trick us into poor,quick fix behaviors that will only destroy the success we had in holding our strength up and progressing in getting a better relationship with ourselves…Which in my eyes is the most important thing for me in the world to accomplish.

  49. Melissa says:

    Thanks, Little Star-

    It’s funny. I am one of the few women I know who is actually pretty content with my level of attractiveness …I never say, I look fat or I wish I had better________ or if only I looked _______. I never think these things. I accept myself generally, at home in the mirror.

    But, then, I get in front of a man and I doubt. He looks at my belly meat. Comments on my crazy hair. Says, ‘wow, your thighs are really muscular’ and doubt creeps in…what does he mean? Is that bad?? Is that a turn off for him??

    Why do I worry?? Why do I care? Either he wants me or he doesn’t, right? Ack. I give away alllllll this power.

    And yes, I get the bitterness end too. We’re like Pavlov’s Dogs of dating. We’re conditioned for the bell-rings of losers.

    Especially with the online dating. You know, men generally have good experiences? The ONLY thing they ever worry about is whether or not the woman will show up fatter than her profile. That’s it. I’ve had men show up still married but seperated, still REALLY married, toothless, felons, smokers, alcoholics, porn addicts, more kids than they said (like a lot), men who freely call women the C word…the stuff we have to face is really endless.

    But hey, so far, no dude has shown up fat, lol.

  50. EllyB says:

    I did it! I’ve finally accepted a new job… after several years of dealing with a horribly toxic deputy team leader. Recently things got so bad that I often came home shivering and crying uncontrollably. I think that because of my narcissistic mother, I had a real “trauma bond” with that toxic coworker even if I hated her.

    Today I’ve mailed my signed contract to my (future) new employer. Oddly enough, the last minutes before posting the letter were a nightmare. Suddenly I had endless second thoughts about why I shouldn’t be doing this.

    There was my mother’s voice in my head (despite several years of NC) telling me I was acting “extremely stupid and immature” by wanting to leave my current workplace. There were lots of other voices telling me the same thing. I felt a bit like Frodo in “The Lord of the Rings” when he had the chance to destroy the ring and felt unable to do it.

    I did it, though. I reminded myself that all those voices in my head weren’t “the voices of reason” but the voices of my trauma.

    Unfortunately, due to the particularly nasty contracts we have (and our employer’s habit of enforcing them) I probably won’t get able to get out before the end of this year. This means many more months of having to deal with that creep.

    Plus I think I’m going to feel empty from time to time, because this toxic environment had become addictive to me. I’m already bracing myself for symptoms of withdrawal.

    Also, there is no guarantee that my new workplace is going to be bully-free. I simply had to take a chance. If things turn out bad over there, I would have to leave again (and much faster this time). This is hard to accept because I think it would make me feel like a failure. Anyway, peace is so much more important than money and status!

  51. Learner says:

    EllyB,
    Good for you! Congratulations. I relate to the tendency to trauma bonding due to a narc parent. I hope your new boss and workplace are NON toxic, supportive, respectful, caring and trustworthy. Time to listen to your own voice. All the best!

    • EllyB says:

      Learner – thanks! Now I’m worrying myself crazy that the contract might not arrive because I had folded the large envelope to fit in my bag when I carried it to the mailbox (it was raining heavily – plus I was a bit out of my mind due to those “second thoughts” I was fighting at the time).

      Now I remember clearly that you should never fold important legal documents… plus, what if the sorting-machine at the post office won’t able to handle the envelope properly because of the fold? What if the contract doesn’t arrive (or arrives damaged) and my new employer choses to opt out because of my perceived “unreliability”?

      Intellectually I know my reasoning is quite crazy. First of all, I assume the post office will be able to handle folded envelopes somehow (and even crazier things!). Secondly, I don’t think my new employer would opt out even if the contract did get lost somehow. I have an excellent CV and both my interviews with them (including one with their CEO) went very well.

      Looks as if I’m overfeeding my own “worry and fear goldfish” here… On the other hand I think this is no surprise after growing up with a narcissistic, abusive parent. This kind of compulsive thinking is how we always tried to brace ourselves for their next attack (a strategy that never worked of course). Of course momster would have punished me horribly for folding an envelope (if she had felt like it at the moment…).

      • EllyB says:

        The weird thing is that if something REALLY went wrong I would probably feel way less anxious than I do now. If I knew there was a real problem to solve then I could take steps to tackle it. With (so far) only imaginary problems there is nothing I could do. I feel completely powerless.

        When I was a child and momster abused me, there was nothing I could do about it either. Back then I DID have ample reason to worry myself crazy (even if it didn’t help at all)! Now I’m still doing it not because of real threats but because it is part of my PTSD and my “repetition compulsion”. I have to work through my childhood issues fully and this takes time.

        • Learner says:

          EllyB,
          Ah yes, the narc-parent criticism, the gift that keeps on giving well into adulthood. Hopefully the post office will handle your folded envelope just fine. Let us know when you have sealed the deal :)

        • On Leaving Sugarland says:

          Oh my, I so understand what you are talking about…: I suffer from repetition compulsion as well, and I’ve been trying to free myself from a toxic environment at my job as well, and how strange; I just had a similar situation, where I was worrying about whether an important legal document was going to make it to its destination because I didn’t use the return envelope that ‘they’ sent me because I didn’t want to fold the legal documents, so I was taping the face of their envelope to the top of mine,…worried about the bar codes … worried the taped part would get stuck in the postal machine, sheesh,….

          Yes, it is a ‘tough one’ to overcome.

          Thank you for sharing and congratulations on removing yourself from that toxic situation!

          Wishing you well on your new job~~On Leaving Sugarland

          • EllyB says:

            Learner, On Leaving Sugarland: Thank you!

            I think subconsciously I also thought: Well, if they opted out simply because of a folded envelope then maybe they wouldn’t be the right employer for me anyway (plus I still have my own copy of the contract here, signed by both parties).

            If they turned out THAT picky and distrustful I guess working for them would be hell as well. In such a case I would have to resign from my current job ANYWAY (because the bullying has started affecting my health) and continue to look for something else.

            Yeah I wonder whether folding that envelope was some stupid little act of self-sabotage. On the other hand I’m sick of never EVER allowing myself to make even the tiniest mistake out of fear of getting punished for it… I think it’s no wonder that I sometimes feel totally confused. It’s the fallout of having grown up with a narcissist (and being exposed to another one at the workplace).

  52. sharing the love | simply stacia says:

    [...] **Baggage Reclaim.  Are you overfeeding your fear and worry “goldfish”? [...]

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!