Wolf offended that little wolf doesn't want to blow down houses

It’s a pretty bemusing, baffling and sometimes downright annoying experience, when someone expresses discontent with who you are as a person by essentially claiming that who you are is ‘wrong’. It’s like, “You’re doing you wrong. It should be like this and this, not that.” Erm, who says? They’re not you.

What you can immediately learn in this situation, is that when person claims that you’re ‘doing’ you wrong, they hold beliefs that people ‘should’ be the same as them, or that they should at the very least be and do things that don’t rattle their outlook. They feel threatened by differences and may even perceive you being different or being reluctant to conform to their outlook on request (or demand), as you inferring that who they are is wrong.

What they’re really saying is that you’re not doing a very good job of being them. Of course you’re not – you’re you and that’s the only ‘role’ you’re going to do well.

Even when we’re related, that doesn’t make us clones. Sometimes family believes that blood equals conform and be directed. There’s a lot of safety in this, in that we can be protected from having to think too much and be vulnerable, but then it doesn’t leave any room for autonomy plus when we’re faced with adult choices that can’t necessarily be managed by consensus, we feel lost and scared. We can also end up feeling resentful that life-by-numbers isn’t offering us protection or even a great deal of self-knowledge.

In the past, a lot of the clashes between my mother and I were stemming from this idea that I was ‘supposed’ to be an extension of her and that not being and doing things her way was ‘wrong’. This induced a lot of guilt and each time I tried to tune in to my thoughts, feelings, needs etc, I’d feel guilty, as if my purpose in life was to either be a clone of her or to show gratitude by making my life a do-over for her.

I’m not alone in having felt like this and whether it comes from family, friends, or just people who seem to think that they have some sort of stake in who you are or a mistaken impression that you’ve accrued a debt where the only form of repayment is relinquishing your right to be you, time, some painful experiences and the growth that you gain from the insights, ends up teaching you that you have the right to listen to your own thoughts and feelings, and to ultimately self-govern based on your values.

You can also show ‘appreciation’ by living your life well. Anyone who says or implies that your misery is acceptable ‘repayment’, does not have your best interests at heart. Are they going to take responsibility when you do things ‘their way’ and it goes tits up? Are they going to give you back the years? Hell no.

It’s not an insult if you don’t want to be one or both of your parents, or if you don’t see liking / loving / pleasing a person, as allowing you to be determined by another, or as offering your time here as an opportunity for them to project themselves on to you and give them a do-over for everything that’s gone wrong with their life. All it means is that you’re trying to live your life and that regardless of what you share with others, only you know what’s going through your mind and ultimately what works for you. And yes, you can copy people but then you still have to listen to when it feels off message and become attuned to what truly works for you.

There’s no authenticity in copying.

Being you in the face of what seems like disapproval, can be challenging, especially when someone has aspirations for you. It can feel as if you’re disappointing them or communicating that they’re ‘wrong’, and that you’re killing their dream. It’s like, “What are you trying to say? That the dream / career / persona / life that I’ve chosen for you isn’t good enough? I know what’s best and I’ve already done all of the thinking on this and if you listen to me, I’ll spare you from hurt, disappointment plus, you’ll be pleasing me.” Of course, it’s one thing if what they want for you is what you want for you but if it’s not, what basically amounts to stifling your true self, will only lead to pain. While you may feel temporarily sated by making the ultimate sacrifice, when you discover that living someone else’s life is hard work and that you’re not spared from disappointment, conflict, criticism, loss etc, plus you don’t have the power to influence people’s feelings and behaviour with your sacrifice, you feel shortchanged. You also end up lost.

With all the best will in the world, you’re never going to achieve some sort of replication nirvana. We all share many of the same fears and motivations but our experiences, perceptions, habits etc, mean that we each result in an individual take.

The funny thing is that much as it can be hard for people, especially family, to accept that you’re going to have to figure out who you are and cut your teeth on life (self-knowledge and self-awareness), time and experience reveals that this isn’t a threat to them. Changing to appease them is also a false economy because each time you so much as put a foot out of place on their script, they’re going to feel insecure and threatened. You’ll keep thinking that the way to make them feel better is to to influence their feelings and behaviour via pleasing, when really, this is one of those classic situations that shows that even when it’s technically supposed to be about us, it’s really about that person’s perspective and insecurities – something that they need to address.

Sometimes people think that they’re protecting us by telling us how to live our lives – sparing us from failure – when that’s really about their own fears and not realising that if they’re truly invested in us being happy, seeing us stand on our own two feet even if we do it differently, can only be a good thing.

Trying to cater to everyone’s whims or even a few or one specific person’s ideal for you, is exhausting and futile, not least because on some level, you end up expecting that if you’ll do this for others, that others will do this for you too, and then you feel aggrieved when people won’t allow themselves to be influenced and directed to the extent that you’ve allowed you to be by others.

None of us can truly say that giving up the right to be our true selves is for purely altruistic reasons and so when you examine what it is that you expect to gain from trying to please others by morphing and blending, you will see that you’re setting you up for pain and that there’s more authenticity and less pain in being you. You won’t be perfect whether you’re impersonating or being you, but at least you will be participating in and investing in your life by being true to you.

Your thoughts?

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124 Responses to Being you is better than changing to appease someone who is threatened by differences

  1. Kathleen says:

    Yep!

    • HereHoldThis says:

      This is such a timely and helpful post. I’m no expert on relationships– the two-year swan dive I’m currently in is by far the longest relationship I’ve ever had. What can I say? I’ve been single parenting a teen, working, and going to grad school so I’m a little behind in the areas of maturity and experience in adult dating.

      The person to whom I’m currently engaged to be married is very black-and-white, all-or-nothing, I’m-never-wrong-even-when-I’m-patently-wrong. He has a schedule that he sticks to and refuses to call me when I have made it clear that I hate text messaging. He complains that his shift makes him so tired that he can’t see me after work; on the weekends, he’s busy running errands he didn’t get to run throughout the week, so … he can’t see me.

      In a way he reminds me of my other fiance, fifteen years and 10,000 stress wrinkles in the past. That man, so charming and together and responsible, that man beat me. Physically. I can’t pin down the uneasy ties my gut keeps making between them, except for this line they both use:

      “I know you better than you know yourself.”

      NO! No, you damn well don’t, mister! Red flags, folks? This isn’t a red flag, it’s a cape waved in front of a frickin’ bull.

      Old Fiance used to sing these stupid Uncle Kracker lyrics at me: “Follow me, everything is alright/ I’ll be the one to tuck you in at night/ And if you want to leave I can guarantee/ You won’t find nobody else like me.”

      At the time, that pap was used like daggers. Now I think, I SHOULD CERTAINLY HOPE NOT!

      Anyone that highlights your shortcomings and then tells you they love you despite them, well, that’s a one-two punch, isn’t it? A message that you’re flawed and deviant but– be ye stout of heart, wench! — for I shall love you no matter what other people are whispering about you.

      I’ve tried to change for my boyfriend, insofar as I thought the changes would be emotionally cosmetic. After ten days he reversed positions and asked why I stopped doing X thing. “Because you kept telling me it bothered you,” I said. He shouted, “Why did you listen? I want you to be you!” Well, dear, I listened to you because you brought it up so much I figured it was awfully important to you.

      Please don’t tell me what I like.
      Please don’t confine me to who or what you think I am. I am so much more than that.
      Please don’t tell me what I AM like, or SHOULD BE like, or COULD BE like.

      Cause when you do, all you’re really telling me is that you don’t know me at all.

  2. NBH says:

    One of the things I’ve discovered in life is that the more spectacular the balls-up someone’s made of their own life, the more insistent they are on telling others how to live theirs. Luckily I was in a position where I could get away from the influence and control of my dysfunctional parents when I was still young, and could get my life back on track. Though I’ll never forget the time when I told my mother – who was trying to tell me what to do in an area about which she knew nothing: “I think I ought to live MY life in a way that’s most advantageous to ME. I’m not terribly interested in what you want me to do!”

    Fair play to her, though. She’s never tried to interfere since.

  3. Kay says:

    Yes NBH, that was a great response. I recall a similar conversation with my mom, where I asked “Don’t you think I have considered this carefully and thoughtfully? I really do know what I am doing” – at age 33. I also used the same tact with my in-laws after years of unsolicited advice and opinions on how we spent money and time and even what we ate (MIL would tell everyone what to order at a restaurant too..)
    This is especially good to read: “…on some level, you end up expecting that if you’ll do this for others, that others will do this for you too, and then you feel aggrieved when people won’t allow themselves to be influenced and directed to the extent that you’ve allowed you to be by others.” ALL THE TIME!! Good insight, and an explanation for my exasperation..

    • rachael says:

      Kay,

      the degree to which reality differs from your expectations is the degree by which you will be exasperated :)

  4. Karen says:

    My best friend Susan is very good at business, and she’s made a fortune in house flipping, then lending other flippers start-up money, and from those proceeds she now owns the mortgages on about 80 properties.
    I am well educated and experienced in journalism, public relations and creative directing in advertising, so I have skills that are highly marketable. I don’t consider how much those jobs paid me over the years as signs of success. My body of work shows me all the success I need to see.
    However, Susan measures success and abundance primarily in money, and because I measure it in having fun, happy relationships, art, literature, and travel, she once told me I had a screw loose when it comes to money.
    I said, “You measure success by your bank balance and I measure it in serenity and happiness.”
    She cocked her head and looked at me like she was a Cocker Spaniel trying to understand human language.
    I am rebellious, in that I have never cared if others think I’ve got a screw loose, I’m batshit crazy, eccentric or whatever.
    I think a lot of people in society these days have started to look into ways to be “authentic.”
    For me, that starts with not giving a damn about what others think of me or my actions, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone.
    I’d rather be called creative and eccentric than ambitious and a good, solid earner.
    Anyone who feels forced to march in lock-step because they are worried about what family, the neighbors, friends, etc. think are putting themselves on a tight leash and missing out on creative opportunities and adventures.
    As usual, Natalie, you’ve pegged this topic. Thanks!

  5. Julia says:

    “In the past, a lot of the clashes between my mother and I were stemming from this idea that I was ‘supposed’ to be an extension of her and that not being and doing things her way was ‘wrong’. This induced a lot of guilt and each time I tried to tune in to my thoughts, feelings, needs etc, I’d feel guilty, as if my purpose in life was to either be a clone of her or to show gratitude by making my life a do-over for her.”

    Thank you for this, Natalie! It’s really helpful.

  6. pelikan says:

    Couldn’t say it any better Nat. No wonder I ended up with an idiot AC, he’s 58 and still taking orders from his mum. From knitting his jumpers to his choice of partner. You go girl! You’re doing a fantastic job empowering ladies all over the world. Thank you so much.

  7. Helena Hart says:

    Absolutely!! I love this: “Trying to cater to everyone’s whims or even a few or one specific person’s ideal for you, is exhausting and futile, not least because on some level, you end up expecting that if you’ll do this for others, that others will do this for you too..”

    I always tell my clients that anger and resentment build in direct proportion to the amount of energy and effort they’re putting out in a relationship. So if you’re putting out a lot of effort by giving to someone and hoping that they’ll “step up” or give to YOU – you’re going to feel resentful when you don’t get what you were hoping for in return.

    Also, when you put the key to your happiness in someone else’s hands – when they don’t do what you want – you can take that to mean you’re not worthwhile or lovable!

    I’ve found that it’s SO much better to be 100% authentic and true to yourself, and put that key to your happiness back in your OWN hands where it belongs. :)

    Love, Helena

    • rachael says:

      SO not religious, Helena, but the golden rule is Do unto others as you WOULD LIKE them to do unto you, NOT …as you EXPECT them to do unto you.

  8. pelikan says:

    Oh Yeh! one of the reasons he gave me when he cheated on me was that “I was too clean, too organised and too strict”. And that after 8 years together. He told me if I change maybe things would improve between us. What a ripper. Do I want him back, Hell NOOOOOOO

  9. Revolution says:

    Recently, I had a friend say to me, slightly irritated, “You say ‘no’ a lot.” I replied, “Well, you ask a lot of questions.” Now, she IS a good friend, but I notice that since she’s going through a stressful time, her “shadow side” (we all have ‘em, folks) tends to come out a bit in the form of trying to “corral” me in certain ways. Asking me a million questions is one form. But, to be fair, I was raised in a way that made me go out and get what I needed in life, so it’s a rather foreign thought to have someone ask if I want something or need something. In my mind, if I want or need it, I’ll go and get it. And if I can’t get it myself, I’ll ask. Probably messed up thinking on my part, and probably I’m doing exactly what this post is saying. Well anyway, Nat. Your beautiful post made me think of this. I have a special pet peeve in this realm. Nothing to call the executioner for, but still.

    My other pet peeve is when someone I barely know, usually someone with a need to put me in a “one down” position, uses crappy Facebook or Cosmo quizzes to try and “peg” my personality in a less than flattering way. Then MY shadow side usually comes out and I tend to make fun of them in a way that’s over their head, so they won’t understand it and it sounds innocent, but any discerning company will be snickering. Not my most cherished characteristic, but it’s in my quiver. I’m working on not reaching for it….

  10. happy b says:

    Life-by-numbers, love it!!!
    My father absolves himself of any responsibility for offering parental guidance, emotional support, encouragement, stability etc., by saying he’s doing what his parents did, they drank too and hid their emotions and that was ‘normal’, and he still supported them so he expects the same from his children. I still treat him with compassion but have detached myself emotionally, my brother’s extreme passive aggression leaves him devastated. It all seems so feeble to me when at half dad’s age, I’ve learned that I’m fully responsible for my actions and no one *owes* me sympathy for my past, it’s not a get-out clause.
    The difficult question for me, now that I understand better, is whether or not it’s ok to shake up his belief system by telling him these things too much.

    • happy b says:

      I just looked at this comment again and thought actually, I haven’t detached myself emotionally. I have a mixture of anger and pity, I can’t bring myself to call him even though I feel some guilt for not doing so. I used to ‘enable’ him on the basis of him having some kind of undiagnosed mental illness, but now I think, he could have got help.

  11. rachael says:

    “… conform and be directed. There’s a lot of safety in this, in that we can be protected from having to think too much and be vulnerable, but then it doesn’t leave any room for autonomy”

    Maybe that is why some women are attracted to controlling men… they offer protection, relaxation, security…. but oh, the trade off… being without autonomy!

  12. AMM says:

    Bang on, Natalie, as usual!

    I might add that the more you try to modify your behaviour to appease someone, the more demanding they get, the more “wrong” you are, and the less competent you feel.

    After a few years of that, you feel like a hamster on a wheel…You’re not sure how to get off, but you just keep spinning to look like you’re trying very hard to “fix” things (and you are).

    Ladies – if he doesn’t think you’re an awesome human being (warts and all), NOTHING you do to change your behaviour will convince him!

    Three long-term relationships and a long life have (finally) taught me that lessons.

  13. Karen says:

    Wow,you couldn’t of hit the nail more on the head of what my mother was like when I was growing up. The last quote from Rachel was spot on in reference to my mother’s relationship with my father!. She wanted me to be like a carbon copy of her…….. Er no thanks, I actually want to have a life,thanks,not just exist!. Thank you for a brilliant article Natalie :)

    • rachael says:

      Karen,

      It sounds as though you believe autonomy is within your reach. I am grateful for having this belief too :)
      With responsibility comes great power!

  14. Noquay says:

    The only time in my life that I have even given the appearance of confirming was as a pre teen and only because it was necessary to do so to survive among my alcoholic, abusive family. To this day, however, my dad thinks I am a sort of extension of himself even though I am outgoing, effusive, very proud of my native culture, not trying to pass as white like he does. The few times I see him these days, he winces at my bright clothing, how I publicly introduce my dark self as his daughter, my outspokenness about mining and other forms of land rape. He is reminded that I ain’t him and hates it. I refuse to be slotted into some other person’s idea of what I should be. I really have to come to terms with the reality that some folks, regardless of what one does, accomplishes, are not going to respect and may actually despise me. Since I am so very alone, each rejection becomes a lot more devastating especially those rejections that are at first well disguised as a show of affection. When I was happily married, back home fighting mines, protesting against wars, at tribal protests, at the WTO, folks rejected me all the time, to the point of shouting obscenities, threatening my life, even brandishing guns at times. I stood tall, proud, and did not care. Somehow, I need to get back to being that Noquay, although I am now terribly alone. Or even the very young Noquay who, when hit by her parents, steeled herself to not react, looked them in the eye and quietly said “hit me harder”. True, I too reject others, especially when I detect red flags, but I am kind, direct, do so quickly, and do not give any sort of mixed messages because while a person may not be someone who belongs in my life, they are deserving of kindness and respect nonetheless. Now that I am looking at do able options to my problems here, I am reflecting on my mistakes and how I can avoid them, if at all in future. First thing is how to detect/avoid folks that approach you while they are attached to someone else. This has happened to me three times here, the first and last time I walked away and cut all contact immediately, the second, the AC, I didn’t find out about for two years which has been both humiliating and devastating. I have also been approached my no less than three married men who I politely avoided. There’s also the problem of the down and out by choice meal ticket seekers. Don’t know if I am giving off some weird vibe. I am again, totally my kick a$$, highly active, outspoken self, am not provocative, sluttish in any way. Women friends say I come off as strong yet feminine, very confident, and smart. Just do not want to deal with these kinds of annoying/possibly heartbreaking situations ever again whether I wind up elsewhere or am still here.

  15. Tenneil says:

    Oh, Natalie, your posts are always so timely and so fitting with whatever I seem to be struggling with in my life. I recently had a bit of a falling out with my dad when I told my parents how I would love to play the flute like I used to in school. While my mum was nothing but supportive, but dad, as he always does, could only criticise me for having given it up. I was ELEVEN years old. How was I supposed know back then? Because he sure as hell wasn’t encouraging me.

    Oh, and he didn’t just stop there. He had to go on and on about my life, saying how I should be looking for a job with my uni degree because I have nothing in my life. Being told everything you already feel bad enough about yourself for to your face by your own dad completely broke my heart and I just cried. While I do have a job, it’s not what I want to do with my life and I am trying to find my dream job, but he just doesn’t know I am because he never bothers to ask or involve himself in my life. It’s not exactly easy to find a job for me in my city either, so as I plan on moving to a bigger one, all he can say is, “What if it doesn’t work it?” Well, what if it does? Don’t I owe it to myself to pursue my dreams? And if it doesn’t, at least I will have found out.

    Having gone through this, I see the stark similarities between him and my ex-EUM, it’s almost frightening. I was only with him for four months, but as a good friend told me, it doesn’t matter how long it lasts, they all teach you the same lessons. He’s my first and only boyfriend I’ve had and it took me so long to get over the hurt and I’m finally confident, strong and have my self-esteem in tact. A little over a year on, he is STILL trying to contact me though. I honestly thought he would’ve given up by now, but I guess he’s more pathetic than I imagined! Haven’t responded to any of his lame messages. Go me! I keep deleting them before I remember to block him!

    While I did initially cry over what my dad said, I’m over it. I’m still not talking to him, however, because I’m still trying to work up the courage to tell him how he made me feel. My mum says I should just forget about it, but I am not her and I will not take shit from anyone, no matter who they are. I went through enough of that with the assclown and I really do not want people in my life if they’re not going to love and support me. My parents are both EU, so it’s really hard to talk to them about how I feel and I feel so stuck. I know I need to talk to him eventually, I just don’t know how. I’d love some advice!

    I am a young one here, only in my twenties, but Baggage Reclaim has honestly changed my life. Not only have I learnt a lot about love, but I’ve grown up so much. I have a strong sense of self-worth even if my own dad puts me down, and I’m finally on the right track of who I am and where I want to be.

    • Allison says:

      Tenell,

      I’m so sorry how your father made you feel.

      You should speak up. If anything, it will make you feel better. He may change, he may not, but at least you will know that you are standing up for yourself. It is empowering!

      Good luck with the flute and your career!!!

  16. Tinkerbell says:

    When you love, care, trust and respect some one it involves completely accepting who he/she is. I am very different, externally, from who my mother was. However, internally, I have many of her qualities. I am fortunate in that even though she recognized this fact of how different I was, she always encouraged me to be ME, to live my life in a fulfilling way, find my truth and always live by it. Hopefully, it gets easier mentally and chronologically for all of us.

  17. Spring says:

    Thank you so much for this awesome site Natalie! and for all the great posts and comments to each other ladies. Really truly helpful and inspiring. and helping me get through a difficult time. I should be long since over this guy I met and dated briefly 1 year ago. We were together for 3 amazing months, followed by 6 weird months in which he pulled back and then forth and then suddenly he disappeared. I don’t think I’ll ever understand what really happened but it was so upsetting and I think that’s why it’s been so hard to get over.

    Now he’s dating a girl who is 10 years younger than both of us and is beautiful and I try not to be jealous and just get over this guy but it is so hard! I have been NC a couple of times but always waiver and I think he loves it. I need inspiration to just go NC hard and for good! WHat’s wrong with me?? what worked for others? I’m afraid if I go NC he’ll just forget about me though I know I really need to move on. I’ve almost given myself like an anxiety disorder or something stressing about this. Thanks for you help!!

    • Lynn says:

      Spring – I am guessing this guy is chasing a feeling…hence why it was only amazing for 3 months….he loves the honeymoon period then gets bored. It has nothing to do with you. You can compare yourself to who he is currently dating. And I am sure that won’t last long either. I know its hard not to compare…but he sounds emotionally unavailable and selfish. My ex is dating someone who was hardly separated when they met, she isn’t divorced yet, she is 7 years younger then him, has a 2 year old son and from what little I do know about her, sounds like she is a spitting image of him. But he’s also chasing a feeling…he wants passion ALL the time…at first I thought she was pretty, but then realized the first pic I ever saw of her was her in a seductive pose…and that’s what he goes for. I was an exception for awhile. I am too good for him in so many ways. This guy is just stringing you a long….and you are his fallback girl. I was a fallback girl for a loooong time….no more. You need to block him…and go cold turkey. I know its hard…I didn’t think I could do it. I thought I was going to tear into too…I invested 2.5 years into this guy as a friend and then girlfriend….and its hard to let it all go. But you have to start somewhere….your health is more important then him not forgetting about you. Besides he doesn’t care the way we do. Its all about him and his needs. You have to put yourself first now.

    • Allison says:

      Spring,

      The only thing that works, is going NC.

      You said you would be afraid that he would forget about you, but he’s involved with someone else. Your ex has moved on, its time that you did the same.

    • derby says:

      Spring,SHE will get tired of him. Then it will be over. Then you will get some satisfaction. But you will wonder why you even wanted the satisfaction. You will wonder why you spent so much time obsessing over him. He makes you think he’s all that….he’s not.

    • rachael says:

      Spring,

      If he forgets about you, then what?
      Just wondering what is getting in the way of you doing what you want :)

  18. Lauren says:

    I will be 28 in a few weeks and I’m thinking ‘who the hell am I?’ This is due to the fact I tried to be everyone’s cup of tea. In fear of rejection/abandonment I would just morph myself into who I thought people wanted me to be. Then I would realise my boundaries had been crossed and be unhappy with how someone was treating me. They would be confused and complain, I would feel guilty and resist who I am, thinking the way I am must be wrong. After all this, people often didn’t bother sticking around so I came to the conclusion that I must be really crap and no fun. I’ve reached the point where I really can’t pretend anymore. It’s lonely but I was also lonely trying to bend myself out of shape for people and it still not being enough. I’ll just be alone until I can find people who will respect my boundaries. I’ve also learned I need to accept who people are and not be hurt that they won’t change for me – that just sets you up to feel bad. Even though I’ve tried to change for others I haven’t been able to so how could I expect them to change for me?

    Love to all.

  19. Peanut says:

    Spring,

    You need to act as though he has already forgotten about you; he moved on.

  20. Peanut says:

    This makes me think of that guy who wears womens’ skin from Silence of the Lambs as a meme: He is in that kooky position holding his poodle and it reads: “I tried all these other skins and the only one that fits is mine!”

    If you are reading this and have not seen the movie, you are going to think I am insane. But every time I feel sad or scared for being vulnerably me, I can’t help but think of that meme idea. (And the movie, btw, is a cult classic which I love.)

  21. Peanut says:

    Okay, terrible meme idea. I was going to make it happen and near lost my dinner of Captain Crunch topped fro yo (terrible idea too; sounded good tho).

    But, really, it is so much easier to throw on a projected image of a cultural trend than to just be. It’s scary when you realize you don’t ‘fit’ because you are authentically unique, but then you can integrally relate with people from all walks of life and life becomes really exciting without all the drama because there is so much more room for adventure versus rigidness.

  22. Peanut says:

    Oh. my. dear. goodness.

    It is imperative that we forge on with the business of knowing ourselves and stick to that.

    Entirely too much trust can be given on superficial appearances. My meme joke lead me to read an article on the top 10 serial killers in world history.

    Interestingly, they were all males and they all had one thing in common–charm. Near all were quite handsome.

    Every synopsis read as–and he would lure them (usually with charm). I’m not saying all handsome men are evil–but when it comes to character looks are worth a grain of salt.

    You know I thought I just loved good horror, and watched a bit tonight. I couldn’t (quite literally) stomach it. It is so bizzare and different to watch those types of things as an emotionally available human.

    Right now in my career path there is a trend to sensationalize the sinister (it makes money). While I can appreciate the skill, it hasn’t been my thing.

    I have remained steadfast to keep making what I find worthwhile and refuse to jump on a trend to the waaay dark side that leaves the beautiful exploration of the feared and leaps to sadistic.

    What I like to do isn’t cool, but it’s me.

  23. Nigella says:

    Exactly a year ago, the ex (whom I made the mistake of dating) disappeared from my life after spending an evening with me on the beach, kissing and holding me in his arms. Up to that point, aside from behaving inconsistently for a week, he had led me to think that we were in a committed relationship: “I’m so lucky I found you. In case I haven’t made it clear before, I want us to be together. I hope you know I want this to be long-term”. Ten days later, he dropped the break-up bomb through email. I’m sad to admit that although I managed to appear reasonably in control of my life, the *method* of his break-up left me an emotional wreck. If someone has repeatedly disrespected you, it makes sense to bid them farewell through a text or email. But I had shown him care and respect throughout our relationship – for which he expressed (sincere? or insincere?) gratitude in the email. Eventually, I had to *accept* that there are no repercussions for people using callous and cowardly methods of breaking-up. This is the first time someone pulled the disappearing & e-breaking-up act on me – even if it may not be the last, it pushed me to learn how to respond to such behavior. It taught me I owe *nothing* to people disappearing on me, that is, choosing not to discuss their doubts or decision to end the relationship. Hopefully, next time, I’ll notice any shady behavior that might emerge. Instead of expecting the other person to come clean, depending on the situation, I’ll either seek clarification or end the relationship – and then *stick* to my decision.

    For 3-4 months after the break-up, I thought like a cherry-picker. Yes I did. Indulging in cherry-picking, I foregrounded in my memory parts of the relationship that shed positive light on him, and omitted parts that reflected his *limited* care and respect for me. I browsed his social media updates, twisted the knife, and ritually tormented myself with thoughts of him dating someone else, someone I imagined as prettier, smarter, younger, richer, and cooler than me. Then, denial gave way to anger, and bit by bit I got better. The anger, at myself and him, had an emetic effect, helping me purge a number of illusions, fears, and insecurities. It is my good fortune I found BR during this time. Like a scared, injured, lost child, I sought answers and remedies for the pain I felt. Recently, I turned 32. I am clearly not a child – it is time I took responsibility for my body and my heart because – as the Liar showed me – people can, unintentionally or intentionally, treat me in an irresponsible manner. If I do not cut the cord, they can string me along. If I do not set my boundaries, they can bust them. If I do not value who I am & what I do or say, they can manipulate and disrespect me.

    This post is about being true to ourselves and learning to accept differences between us and others – instead of trying to change others or ourselves to please them. In the break-up email, the ex claimed that he feels that he cannot “bridge our social and professional differences”. Though he expected me to cater to his whims, I think he realized soon enough that I’m not going to drop everything to meet his *unpredictable* expectations of me. I’m not going to (1) tolerate him ditching me for his friends or (2) jeopardize my work commitments to meet him at short notices. Since there are no universal laws governing the dating realm, I have taken some time to define my own *individual* rules & expectations. I’ll try not to be draconian about enforcing the rules I’ve created for *myself*, but some core boundaries and expectations need to be firmly in place before investing time in future dates.

    Regarding the *social* realm, I can’t date someone texting their friends incessantly or recreationally in my company or ditching me to be with their friends. Good friendships are important. But if friendships obstruct our ability to be in a romantic relationship, then I can’t participate in such crippling co-dependent friendships. Since I don’t use friends as a crutch or an escape from my partner or permit friends to (1) use me as a filler for their absent partner or (2) distract me from my partner, I expect the same *approach* to friendships from anyone I might date. Plus, if someone is in the habit of treating their gf as arm candy, trophy, or accessory – so that their friends might, enviously, think they’re dating someone attractive – then they can pay for an escort. Escorting someone for such show-off sessions does not excite me. My leisure time is preciously limited – I can’t spend it on someone treating me as a show pony or a pastime rather than a priority.

    Regarding the *professional* realm, I work minimum 70-80 hours per week. Given my goals and responsibilities, I don’t see this workload decreasing for the next eight years. Needless to say, I return to my home satisfied but also exhausted. My home is my sanctuary – it frightens me to think of returning to a controlling, unloving, and unhappy partner (sort of like my people-pleasing, hardworking father returning to my domineering mother). Because of my workload, during the weekdays I have no more than 1-2 hours of leisure time per day. On the weekends, I have at best 18-24 hours of leisure time. So on a weekly basis I have 23-34 hours of leisure time in total. My goodness! That is almost two days of labor-free time – I certainly can’t spend *all* of this time with my (potential) partner. But as my past record shows, I try my best to give adequate *quality* time to friends, hobbies, family, and my partner. I can give *undivided* attention and care to my partner during our leisure time together. But I can’t promise to cut down on my work hours. I also can’t pretend not to care about my work as passionately as I do. I can’t. I won’t. It’s not a crime to be ambitious. 23-34 hours is a lot of free time. I’m not sure what I’m trying to tame or tally up. I’m wondering whether it’s reasonable of me to expect to find someone capable of *accepting* and *loving* me with my workload.

    See, I can’t date until I accept myself as I am. I can’t allow some dingo to make me doubt my commitment to my goals and interests. If he couldn’t even discuss our professional differences, then that is his choice. I can’t date until I feel confident about being (1) a better judge of character and (2) a more resilient person. Now, after a year of *no* physical contact with him, I’m glad to say that I’ve seen the error of my dating habits, almost mended my broken heart, and learned lessons that should help me take better care of myself. Besides self-respect, the thought that enabled me not to contact him is the fact that I didn’t want him to be in my life against his will. I don’t see the point in begging or convincing someone to be my companion. Love is a *gift*: it is offered in deed and in word, rather than yanked out of someone through manipulation. It has taken a lot of time and effort to unlearn self-sabotaging habits that set me up in the past for disappointment and deceit. Neither my ego nor heart is made of glass – and although I’m not as emotionally fragile as I was a year ago, I’m not ready to *trust* again or navigate the dating labyrinth. Truth be told, I’m not resilient enough as yet. However pathetic this sounds, I can’t see myself being able to handle cheating or controlling behavior. How do people manage their fear of being controlled or cheated on? Staying away from dating makes me feel safe and free. Thankfully, since good looks, charming words, and professional achievements are no longer enough to grab my attention, I’m not feeling attracted to others as easily as I did in the past. I survived a year, without the aid of superficially exciting sex. This is astonishing – and a relief.

    • Allison says:

      Nigella,

      What a fabulous post!!!!

      You sound like you’re in a really great place, and will make the best decision to benefit you!

    • derby says:

      “If I do not cut the cord, they can string me along. If I do not set my boundaries, they can bust them. If I do not value who I am & what I do or say, they can manipulate and disrespect me.” – Brilliant.

      If I do not take responsiblity for myself, nobody will.

    • Mike from Oztralia says:

      Nigella, the story of your break up resonates – as does much of your post. The method of how someone chooses to leave a relationship is perhaps the most telling and important thing to observe. I’ve long held the belief that how people react in times of crisis – of any sort – is an indication of their character, strengths and weaknesses.

      “U”, as you named her, revealed herself in how she handled the break up. The responsibility was passed to me in an act of cowardice. Relationships end – but the manner in which it was done left me deeply distraught and hurt. For me it was about treating someone you loved – or at least once loved – with the same care and respect that had once existed between the two of you.

      What you wrote here is spot on:

      “…I don’t see the point in begging or convincing someone to be my companion. Love is a *gift*: it is offered in deed and in word, rather than yanked out of someone through manipulation…”

      As the relationship between U and I imploded over a series of awful weeks, I said to myself and her that I would not beg her to say. It was her choice, only she could make it. My thinking was this: if she stays, it is for the right reasons. If she leaves, then it will be for the right reasons.

      All I could do was state my love for her, my hopes on how to overcome the challenges we faced and that I was prepared to be patient and work with her.

      However I can see with much more clarity how I failed to place boundaries in the relationship: she refused to talk about what a future for us would look like; she struggled to form a bond with my child; she could also be rather harsh and judgmental, having very strong views on people should live. U was of the very progressive, far-left wing school of thinking. Anyone outside that very narrow and select cross section of society was judged harshly.

      I felt uncomfortable with all these aspects, but didn’t challenge or discuss them for fear of creating conflict. I people pleased. I compromised myself, a lesson I shall never forget. There is no guarantee had I raised them we would still be together. But speaking about them would have clarified things. Perhaps it would have ended sooner, and with less rancor and more dignity.

      Following our split we had some intermittent contact. I asked her if it was worth having a coffee, to talk and see where we both were. Her reply was polite, but of the “let’s be friends” school. At the very least I knew there was nothing more to be done. So I replied “I loved you and you loved me and it was good. However we had our allocated time. There is so much of us I take into my future. Be well. Travel lightly. Be happy. Be free.” And I was done. I’ve been travelling through the grieving process since then.

      I was angry at her, and to an extent still feel betrayed – but the intensity of my feelings is slowly wearing down. My thoughts of her and what happened are far less obsessional. Acceptance is fully settling in. We had loved each other, thus I did not want my final words to her and my own memories of our last pitiful email contact to be hurtful.

      I can see with much more clarity that the issue having children in her life challenged and confused her. She may have genuinely wanted that, but found the reality much more confronting. I can see know how in the final months the guilt and growing awareness of this consumed her. One of her views of herself was crumbling. She didn’t know how to manage her emotions. So she acted out, lied by omission on many things and began a campaign of relationship sabotage.

      Does this make her a “bad person”? At the very least, someone without a mature level of emotional intelligence and a requisite understanding of themselves. To know oneself is one of the hardest tasks we can undertake.

      My respect for her would remain all the greater had she been honest. I would have still grieved, still hurt – but her approach made it all the worse. Sometimes you just have to ripe the bandage off.

      When I ended my marriage I sat down opposite my ex-wife and calmly, respectfully told her the marriage was over for me. It had not been working for years, and to stay together would have been unhealthy for both of us. We’d tried to make it work but it became increasingly dysfunctional. Both of us were miserable, nor did I want my child to grow up in a home with a model of broken relationship influencing her later choices in life.

      But it was important for me to take responsibility for my actions. I knew the choice I was making was impacting her future and that of my child. It was, and remains, one of the most significant choices of my life. I had loved this woman very much, and we’d had a child together. She was still worthy of that basic level of respect.

      In the time that followed our separation and eventual divorce there were times of conflict. The ex-wife is a highly a successful professional, highly intelligent and competent. However I think the sense of humiliation, shame and anger of being left burned brightly in her. She was also a person who very few say “no” too. But if I was honest, I would get defensive and push back just as hard. I too have my pride, and yes I would sometimes let that get the better of me as well.

      Had we not shared a child, we have walked away and perhaps never spoken again. At least not for a long time. I wish I’d come across BR much earlier, for I had to learn a form the form of NC ex-partners with children need to practice.

      So where am I? Single and free. My sabbatical from relationships, dating and sex continues – and it is perhaps the healthiest thing I’ve done. I’m thinking and planning a different future.

      I’m focused on the time I have with my child, and with the friends I have. More importantly I’m increasingly focusing my time and energy on my own needs. I’ve spent a life giving to others, now I’m giving myself that same level of care.

      • Nigella says:

        Mike,

        Glad to hear the current dating hiatus does not feel as a prison sentence or punishment to you. Self-care is bound to bring better things into your life – says the incorrigible optimist in me! Obviously, I am not clairvoyant but I have a feeling that even if you encountered another woman – like U – overestimating her capacity to be in a relationship with you, then most likely it will take you *less* time to bid her farewell. Of course, only you can decide for how long you see yourself trying to make things work with someone.

        Personally, depending on the nature of the issue that needs to be resolved, I have set 3-6 months as a time cap for future relationships. For example, if someone is unable or unwilling to satisfy my sexual needs and desires, I can give them maximum 3 months to determine if they can meet my needs. Of course, I will not be declaring or holding this time-limit over their head as a guillotine. But it will be clear in my mind so that after a certain point I can bid them farewell instead of hoping *indefinitely* for things to take a better turn. Time is precious – and my time on this planet is *finite*. I cannot spend it waiting or resolving issues interminably rather than feeling fulfilled, nurtured, desired, and loved.

        Instead of behaving in a controlling manner, you did not try to impose your beliefs or expectations on U. You did not manipulate her to suit your needs or coerce her to be someone she is not. This takes substantial self-control and shows respect for the other person. However, as you say, due to your fear of conflict, you ended up second-guessing or suppressing your own needs. This has been my unconscious relationship habit as well. But now I am going for a different strategy: facing conflict head-on & living my truth.

        I respect mice and chickens but I have no intention of being mousy around a potential partner or chickening out of a conflict in order to appease them at the expense of my own needs. You put it well: a “crisis” or conflict tells us a lot about the other person (as well as about ourselves). So what do I now think of conflict? I see conflict as an *opportunity* to learn more about the other person and to save my time. Running away from conflict is like running away from the truth – it is a form of procrastination and self-deception. If anything it prolongs a *sham* relationship built on needlessly censoring and betraying oneself. To stay away from conflict is to stay away from speaking and hearing the truth. To avoid a conflict is to avoid taking responsibility for myself. By avoiding conflict in my personal relationships, I have been abdicating responsibility for my own needs and limits. This is what I expect to remind myself. Of course, this is not to say that I believe in being gratuitously belligerent or picking petty fights. I have no interest in sweating the small stuff. Or, as a mentor of mine says, there is no point in “making an issue over a tissue”. Do not sweat the small stuff, I tell myself. But some conflicts are necessary for us to seek clarity and to stay true to ourselves.

        Mike, it is great that you are gaining a better understanding of your needs & fears. Thanks for raising the topic of conflict-avoidance. It struck a chord with me.

    • Pauline says:

      Nigella

      ‘However pathetic this sounds, I can’t see myself being able to handle cheating or controlling behavior. How do people manage their fear of being controlled or cheated on? Staying away from dating makes me feel safe and free.’

      It’s hardly pathetic to want to look after one’s self and to avoid getting hurt, used and treated badly.

      The only thing I can say is to get your boundaries firmly in place before you start dating again. What you will accept from other people and what you place as boundaries on your own behaviour and actions.
      I have made some of my own boundaries as non negotiable, not to be broken or changed under any circumstances. This is my own personal list and will be different from someone else’s.
      I have come to understand a lot more about myself from reading Nat’s posts and I started my boundary list from that understanding of my previous thought patterns, actions and behaviours.

      You also need to get crystal clear on what you are looking for in the character and values of a potential life partner if that is what you are looking for.
      What do you value most in them and yourself. Superficial things like beauty and youth are all going to fade with time and once they are gone what will you be left with.
      I understand your career is very important and time consuming, but, do you think you may want to have a child or children somewhere down the track and would a potential partner want the same things?
      You’re a woman and the old biological clock is still ticking! Are you looking for a ‘good for now’ girl/guy or something more?
      I think you get the drift of where I’m going with all this.
      Once you get clear on who and what you are and what you want, the cheaters, controllers, AC’s, EUM’s etc, wont get a look in because you will recognise them quite quickly and roll back any interest you may have had in them and remove yourself from any more contact with them.
      Only you will know when you’re ready to date again and have more confidence in avoiding potential bad situations.
      Give it time.

      • Nigella says:

        Pauline,

        Drawing on a priceless sentence in your comment, I’m arming myself with the following triple-R approach to help me:

        1) Recognize cheaters, controllers (liars & bullies – the types I cannot tolerate)
        2) Roll back any interest I may have had in them
        3) Remove myself from any more contact with them

        Recognize. Roll back. Remove. That sounds doable, not at all daunting. Straightforward strategies are the best.
        Thank you.

        • Lilly says:

          Nigella and Pauline,

          Thank God for BR. I’ve just applied your triple-R approach! I gave the guy at university another go and we had a nice date (or at least I thought it had been), only to have him email me yesterday telling me he has been seeing someone else! This is the email:

          Hi Lilly,

          Firstly, I want to say that you are fabulous, but I need to be honest. I would never hide anything from you, so I must tell you that I have made a difficult choice and have decided to focus my attention on a wonderful woman I have just met very recently.

          I think the only way to date successfully is to be fully open about what you are doing. Many people are not, but I am. I am not someone who can date more than one woman at a time and, hence, one must make choices.

          With that said, though, I hope that we can maintain a friendship as I truly do like you, I enjoy talking with you, and I feel I have come to get to know you. I hope you would agree.

          I hope your day has gone well and thank you for understanding,

          Unbelievable!!I am now convinced that I have a sign on my forehead saying ‘ACs welcome;come and take a free kick’!

          I felt terrible after reading this, but I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself off and I absolutely refuse to let this idiot get to me. Recognize. Roll back. Remove. He is 100% blocked. No more dating for me for a long time.

          • Lilly says:

            I forgot to mention that during our date he kept gushing about how nice, cute, lovely, blah, blah… I was, what a perfect fit we were, that he could really see a future for us, etc, etc. No mention of the wonderful woman he was also dating. I did spot the fast-forwarding though and took everything he said with a pinch of salt. It just hurts a bit that I was relegated to second place which triggers all those self-esteem issues, but I’ll recover. Who is he anyway!

            • Chutzpelady says:

              What a jerk to take you out, without telling you before that he was already dating somebody else! He was cheating on her AND on you.

            • Wiser says:

              Lilly, it’s actually good that this guy decided to withdraw (PLEASE don’t think of it as you being rejected – don’t give him that kind of power or importance) because there are about 10 red flags here in just your short posts showing that he’s not a great guy.

              Look at his note again. First, he doesn’t have the guts to be honest with you in person and sends a self-serving note instead. He’s “fully open” about what he’s doing? A great guy wouldn’t feed you all the crap about a future together when he’s still secretly trying to decide which woman to “focus” on. He doesn’t apologize but congratulates himself on being a “good guy” who is honest and wouldn’t dream of dating more than one woman at a time. And hey, since I’m giving you all these compliments, can’t we be friends now?

              I had a couple of dates this past year with a very nice man I met online and the dates were exactly what they were supposed to be – a discovery period to get to know each other and see if there was a basis for moving forward. We had lots of nice talks, went out to dinner, went hiking together – NO gushing on either side, no future faking. Nothing untoward at all. He was seriously looking for a new life partner and was in contact with several women at once, but he went on respectful dates with those he thought might go somewhere, and respectfully withdrew when he felt that they wouldn’t. We had a lot in common but neither of us was the “one” for the other, yet I was very happy for us to remain friends and we have in fact become rather good friends. He had earned that right through his treatment of me. Now he’s found a wonderful woman and I’ve visited both of them in their new home several times.

              This guy is my model of how a good, high-quality man treats a woman on a date and I won’t settle for anything less.

              Lilly, I know this stings for you but I think you would be wise to refrain from dating until you can shrug off these kinds of experiences. Not everyone we date is going to be interested in us and that’s ok. It’s ok, it really is ok!! Doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to your worth or desireability and it doesn’t have to trash your self-esteem. Actually this is a great chance for you to practice everything you know from BR and from your therapy, and it sounds like you are doing just that: pick yourself up, dust yourself off and absolutely REFUSE to let this idiot get to you. (Because he is an idiot.) Good for you – keep at it!! Just thank God that sex didn’t enter the picture. The most hurtful kind of predatory man in my opinion is one like my ex, who used sex as a dating technique to figure out which woman he “really” liked. I learned that lesson the hard way. I’ll never put myself in a “checking out all the new car models” situation again. We live and learn. Take yourself out to dinner Lilly and congratulate yourself for having a dodged a bullet who was definitely not worthy of you.

              • Mike from Oztralia says:

                Lily,

                Wiser has some really good advice here. And her analysis is spot on: he does not recognise how you may feel, but it self-congratulatory. Protecting his own view of himself as “a good guy” is more important to him than your needs of feelings.

                And Wiser, it sounds like you have a very positive experience with this man. At the very least he was open, honest and respectful.

              • Lilly says:

                Wiser,

                Thank you for your thoughtful response.I’m a little bruised, but feeling much better today. In fact, I’m happy that I got to practice some of my BR skills! I agree about the sex thing and thank goodness sex didn’t come into it. He told me he had an STD. He apparently takes medication daily to prevent symptoms. He asked me if this was a problem and I was truthful and said yes, but if we decided we liked each other we could work it out in some way. Not my problem anymore and Wiser, I took your advice and went out with the girls last night and had the best night I’ve had in a long while. I getting stronger and stronger.

                • Pauline says:

                  Lilly, a good idea to put no sex on the boundary list until you fully trust someone and know they don’t have any STD’s.
                  Good for you for making that a deal breaker and telling him.
                  It sounds to me like you got that email because you flipped him off again and now he’s trying to make out what a great guy he is and … Oh dear Lilly … You’ve just missed out big time on wonderful ME ME ME!
                  Really!
                  Would you send someone an email as distinct from actually speaking face to face with them about anything? He said nothing about this other woman to you did he. I’m not surprised, she probably doesn’t exist.
                  I went through some of this rubbish with the ex AC who would be one man with me in person and another man who sent stupid texts and emails saying the opposite of what he would to my face. It confused me at first, he was like Jekyl and Hyde until I called him on this behaviour and he didn’t have too much to say about why he did it. All part of his AC game.
                  A great idea to go out with your girlfriends and to also date yourself first. Go out with friends who like you and want to see you happy and having a good life.

              • Pauline says:

                Wiser

                We forget that most men we meet aren’t going to be a boyfriend or husband.
                It has nothing to do with us or our worth or who they are either.
                I’m fairly social and go out a lot and most men I meet, I wouldn’t want any sort of relationship with them apart from being friends only.
                It really is ok being single, it’s not a disease or handicap, in fact it leaves you free to be and do what you like.
                It’s working out for me.

          • rachael says:

            Lilly,

            I would have to question any guy who uses the word ‘fabulous’!
            What a weird email! I got one similar last year, but mine simply proposed we be f_ck buddys rather than have a relationship. Since then I have found this is HIS issue… he cannot commit to ANY woman. IT WASN”T ABOUT ME. There are some very odd characters in this world.

      • Nigella says:

        Pauline,

        Some more thoughts, prompted by your helpful suggestions and questions.

        “Good for now” relationships might work for others. From what I guessed after the break-up, the ex was approaching me as a “good for now” dating candidate, but never bothered to make this explicit to me, and perhaps not even to himself. I prefer to be on my own, rather than date someone on a “good for now” basis, knowing in advance that the relationship has a time limit. I see this as an “exclusive yet casual” arrangement that does not appeal to me. If necessary, I’m also prepared to be single for the rest of my life – single & satisfied. Being (1) single & satisfied is as good as being (2) paired & satisfied and, according to me, better than being (3) single & dissatisfied or (4) paired & dissatisfied. I was beginning to feel *paired & dissatisfied* with the ex, as he with me. So, even if in a callous & cowardly manner, it is good he ended our relationship sooner than later.

        Two of my well-wishers think I might be over-estimating my capacity to be happy on my own, or deluding myself that I can be content on my own, or delaying the option of dating in order to protect myself from heartache. I understand their concerns. Perhaps they are correct. Maybe I’ll rethink things. But for now, as I said in a previous post, I think of a mutually fulfilling romantic relationship as a luxury – rather than a necessity – for me. This is my truth. Just as I can happily live without a Rolls Royce, so too I can happily live without a romantic relationship. But just as I’m interested in being able to afford a Rolls Royce, so too I’d be interested in investing my time & effort into a romantic relationship, depending on the qualities of the person I might meet someday.

        Despite my age, I’m in no rush to date or find a partner, not only because I don’t feel painful or prolonged pangs of loneliness, but also because I’m not interested in birthing a child. I’m fond of most children – their sense of wonder, warmth, forthright attitude, playful energy, positive and creative thinking are things I cherish. I want to be a positive influence & source of support for my nephew, but I’m comfortable being childless by choice. For this reason, I hope to be with someone – man or woman – who is not looking to raise children. In case I decide to date someone, I’ll put this truth on the table before becoming seriously invested in them.

        The work Audrey Hepburn did with UNICEF for children in the poorest nations has been a source of inspiration to me. In the next few years, I’ll be setting aside a percentage of my salary to support impoverished children. I’m a part of the corporate world, and hunger for more and more money, because I see it as (1) a source of my independence, and (2) an instrument for helping those in need. UNICEF statistics tell me that approximately 29,000 children under the age of five die *every* day from preventable causes. If I can help prevent such deaths, and provide financial support to children in need, I’ll find satisfaction doing so. Please see, in sharing these truths & goals, I don’t mean to pass judgment on people for having children of their own – not at all. I’m saying I don’t feel lonely or guilty for choosing not to have children of my own, and I know I’m not the right person for someone interested in raising children.

        My mind is clear on this matter.

      • Nigella says:

        Pauline,

        You are right: I need to get clear on who I am, and what I value in a person, before I date again. I’m still learning to understand and accept who I am. In light of my attraction to the auditor, it is apparent to me that I’ve not brought my desire for sex under complete control. Had the siren, looking like Eva Green, not been a part of my professional circle, I’m certain I’d have slept with her by now, thus acting against my own idea on not having casual sex. Yup. I need to *give this time*. Need to resist temptation. Cannot invite chaos and confusion into my life.

        For now I’m clear about the qualities I look for in a long-term partner, someone whose actions & words show that they are (1) honest, (2) respectful, (3) devoted, (4) reliable, (5) healthy, (6) empathetic, (7) co-operative, (8) independent, (9) optimistic, and (10) ambitious. Of course, all of these adjectives are open to interpretation, and can take on different meanings in different contexts. Still, I find it helpful to have this handy list of qualities that I value in a person.

        I also updated my list of deal-breakers, based on which I’ll set my boundaries. Here are some of them (followed by the primary values that are compromised in brackets):

        1) Lying, drip-feeding, dodging questions, avoiding discussions, behaving passive-aggressively (honesty, integrity)

        2) Shouting. Struggling to accept our differences. Name-calling, belittling my interests & goals. Trying to control or change me, subtly or overtly (respect, acceptance)

        3) Cheating, flirting with others. Ditching me, treating me as an option. Treating me as competition. Undermining or resenting my achievements & goals. Devaluing, betraying me (devotion, commitment)

        4) Disappearing, distancing acts. Failing to deliver on promises (reliability, availability)

        5) Not exercising. Eating poorly. Being over or underweight according to BMI calculator. Drinking or smoking in excess due to stress or depression. Having low sex-drive (good physical & mental health)

        6) Stone-walling. Refusing to see things from my perspective or meet me midway during a crises or conflict. Withholding or providing crumbly encouragement & support (emotional intelligence, empathy)

        7) Taking more & giving less. Failing to operate like a team-player on equal footing with me. Choosing not to find win-win solutions. Being self-centered & solo-driven (co-operation, fairness)

        8) Making poor financial decisions & depending on others for help. Staying in toxic or co-dependent relationships (independence)

        9) Thinking negatively about plans and people. Spending too much time worrying, gossiping, blaming, resenting, and shaming others (optimism, positive thinking)

        10) Showing limited interest in growing as a person and as a couple. Having no clear goals, no set schedule for the fulfillment of aspirations. Building castles in the air (ambition)

        One year ago, I understood none of this about myself. Despite being as cerebral as I am, I never bothered to *think* about what I value & want in a partner. If needed, I’ll keep revising these lists as I grow older and, hopefully, wiser & clearer about who I am and who I want as my companion.

        Complacency is not going to get me what I want. Clarity might.

        • Mike from Oztralia says:

          Nigella, thanks for your replies,and the thoughts above.

          I now very much appreciate that first, and foremost, having a better understanding of oneself, values, and boundaries is fundamental when starting and/or being in a relationship.

          And I am heartened to hear what the journey has been like for you. Time is what is needed. As I write this today marks the third month of my split with U. And yes, I struggle with foregrounding the highlights. But the reality is more clearer.

          I like your thoughts on being clear on what to expect in a partner. And I know appreciate and expect it will take time to both heal and then find a worthy relationship.

          For the first few months after the break I was punch drunk, shocked by both the suddenness and cruelty of what happened. Yes, cruelty. For this person was silently judging me and my child while with holding their thoughts back, letting a distorted narrative build and build. I had no idea U would bring such dismissive and awful words forth. My trust was shattered along with my heart.

          Thus may sound strange, but I recentlyperformed a ritual to “cleanse” myself of the memory of the words that haunted me and kept me awake so many nights. So at the risk of embarrassing myself let me describe what I did:

          I got a blank piece of paper and wrote down all the words and phrases that had been flung at me and my child the night of the break up. I then tore up the paper, placed the pieces in my mouth and chewed on them. The paper was dry, and tasted awful. I sat and chewed and told myself the bitterness and bad taste was not mine, but I had made the mistake of swallowing them. I then spat out the paper – and in effect the words and cruelty. I them told myself that night had passed, and that was it.

          It was wonderfully effective, I find myself no longer dwelling on the night and those words. I’d purged myself, and it has been wonderfully liberating. Yes I still grieve, but I have lessened the burden.

          I am resolved to live a reflective life, one that allows me to flourish. I remain committed to finding a life partner, but that will also take time. I too have a list of what I’m looking for. Put simply I will expect and demand a partnership in which both individuals flourish and that is built on trust, intimacy and openness.

          • Nigella says:

            Mike,

            I am glad the ritual you performed helped you purge (rather than absorb) the BS that had been fed to you. U did not deserve the care and attention of a person like you.

            Both your experience and my own teach me that we cannot stop others from “silently judging” us or the people and things that matter to us. U judged you and your daughter. The Liar judged me for having different “social and professional” commitments than him – differences that he chose not to discuss with me. You and I could not have read their minds – maybe they also did not fully read or understand their own thoughts. If someone refuses to be *transparent*, then that is their choice. If someone has limited self-awareness, then that is unfortunate – and their problem. I am not interested in bearing the consequences of their muddled or limited self-awareness.

            I remember at age 15 I had written a piece on the superpower I would like to have: I wanted to have mind-reading powers. Obviously, this fantasy remains a fantasy. But now I do have the power to (1) read my own feelings and thoughts more accurately that I did in the past,(2) question people more effectively in order to understand them, and (3) assess people more effectively on the basis of their actions & words.

            Interesting to note that the Liar fled from me after I started to ask him more questions in an effort to gain a better understanding of him. Even if we ask appropriate questions at a suitable time and place, people can always *lie by omission*. They can silence themselves and hide their actual thoughts. Or, they can distance themselves from us to avoid answering questions. I accept these facts.

            In future I do not plan on putting people through inquisitions. But I think respectfully raising some questions is better than silencing oneself and going with the flow. By doing so, I will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that I made an effort to get to know the real person – instead of making *assumptions* & buying *illusions* about them. If someone refuses to answer some questions, that is their choice and right. Some questions might justifiably seem intrusive to them. But then it is up to me to decide if it is worth continuing a relationship based on the limited information provided to me. If I prolong a relationship by asking only minimal & shallow questions, then I am at least semi-responsible for participating in a sham or shaky relationship.

            I am not in the habit of cross-examining people but now I am also unwilling to trust strangers as easily as I did in the past. They will have to earn my time and trust. How to earn my time and trust? Show me – consistently – you *respect* me for who I am. Show me you value me and want to share yourself with me. Show me you want me to flourish with you.

            Mike, you and your daughter deserve respect – and deserve to flourish.

  24. chutzpelady says:

    I finally startet writing “unsent letters” to my mother and father. It is liberating. My parents are long gone. Somebody posted here, that her father is highly critical. I think, that writing unsent letters is a good way to address those issues. Nobody can put you down or tell you, that you are wrong. The letters belong to yours alone!
    I realised by writing letters, that my real issues with unavailable men are my unresolved problems with my late parents. I missed love when I was a child and I looked for it in the wrong places, as a mature woman.
    You cannot blame those guys or other people for not loving you. Yes, you can see their misdemanours, but you cannot change them by obsessing about them. It makes you bitter and unhappy and takes away your energy. And in the end nobody gives you a Nobel for telling other people what they should do or what they shouldn’t.
    @Noquay, I see that you have a difficult situation. Please consider new ways of thinking instead of blaming others for your “misfortune”. It does not help! Did you consider therapy?

  25. Noquay says:

    Chutzpahlady
    I am not blaming others so much as trying to understand what all went wrong, how to avoid mistakes, if any, in future. My flaw is probably really wanting another equal as a life’s partner. I do want to be unpartnered, human contact is a good, positive thing, especially when one has no real family to speak of. I am a very competent single but have zero desire to be one at this stage of life. Therapy would be great but not as a means to con myself into accepting single hood or to con myself to lower my standards. My comment wasn’t about blaming others although, yep, the issue with the AC has been devastating, it is how to recognize potential problems in men I am attracted to so as to avoid going thru that extreme pain ever again. Therapy would be great to deal with the depression because it is keeping me from getting work done on my home, making it harder to keep weight down, accomplish enough but not to dupe myself into being someone other than me. Plus, this is not the first time I have sought out other employment; I am old for the teaching market and may well still be here next year. Nope, not everyone will love us, that’s a given; we too aren’t going to love everyone but hopefully we have the integrity and character to not act into someone when we are not, a huge difference. Had a major anxiety attack last night and it was thinking hard. In 7 years here, and despite doing everything possible to get out there, I met a grand total of 8 men that appeared sane and suitable meaning that they support and take care of themselves and share some core values. Most approached me, two were on liners. Of these, three had another rship that they were hiding, soon as I found out, they were gone. One was married, kicked to friend status. One was racist/unethical; gone. One had serious redneck values; flush, and one turns out to have been literally wounded and can only be a friend. I feel I have done everything possible to change the situation, have recognised red flags, discovered cheating, and acted accordingly though yep, it hurts. Most other single women in our system are facing the esame thing; we serve underserved communities; hazardous driving distances and rigorous schedules make travelling to the city nearly impossible 3/4 of the year. Quality dudes in the cities have quality options there and won’t come to our towns. Most single chix in our system do not last nearly as long as I have, many marrieds don’t. Yep, maybe I have a fundamental flaw that makes me attractive to cheaters and deadbeats; I’d like to find that flaw and pound it out pronto. Whatever may be wrong with me is somehow related to being out West as this never happened elsewhere. However, I look back and think about how I’ve taken acres of trashed, raped mining land and revegetated it, built buildings solo, installed a stove, cabinets, taught myself some wiring, learned to use power tools, cut/split my own wood, put on salons so we have options other than bars, give and volunteer extensively to community and pushed my anemic self to finish some 50 ultramarathons in my 7 years here, these are not the actions of a victim; I cannot think what more I could’ve done to improve things.

  26. Noquay says:

    Whoopsie Chutzpah, that was “I do want to be partnered”. Will apologize for any other typos now, am not illiterate, tis the phone.

    • Chutzpelady says:

      Sometimes you have to let go. And forget about: but. Yes you can! Regards from far away Switzerland ;)

      • noquay says:

        A tryin my best. Go for a hike in the mtns there for me, willya? My ex went to Switzerland years ago, incredibly beautiful place.

        • NoMo Drama says:

          Reading about your situation, hoping that some better alternative than what seems to be available will turn up. It seems as if you’re doing everything you can as well as you can. You never know what the next day will bring — hopefully a positive change.

  27. Camillah says:

    Avicii – Wake Me – UP

    Feeling my way through the darkness
    Guided by a beating heart
    I can’t tell where the journey will end
    But I know where it starts?

    They tell me I’m too young to understand
    They say I’m caught up in a dream
    Well life will pass me by if I don’t open up my eyes
    Well that’s fine by me

    So wake me up when it’s all over
    When I’m wiser and I’m older
    All this time I was finding myself
    And I didn’t know? I was lost

    So wake me up when it’s all over
    When I’m wiser and I’m older
    All this time I was finding myself
    And I didn’t know? I was lost

    I tried carrying the weight of the world
    But I only have two hands
    I hope I get the chance to travel the world
    And I don’t have any plans
    I wish that I could stay forever this young
    Not afraid to close my eyes
    Life’s a game? made for everyone
    And love is a prize

    So wake? me up when it’s all over
    When I’m wiser and I’m older
    All this time I was finding myself
    And I didn’t know I was lost

    So wake me up when it’s all over
    When I’m wiser and I’m older
    All this time I was finding myself
    And I didn’t know? I was lost

    I didn’t know I was lost
    I didn’t know I was lost
    I didn’t know I was lost
    I didn’t know I was lost

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcrbM1l_BoI

  28. Wiser says:

    I continually try to be comfortable with “who I am,” which is often a struggle especially in the face of rejection by men. The terribly negative ‘Story’ I keep telling myself is that if I really had something to offer, the recent ex wouldn’t have dumped me so easily, and my ex-husband would have fought harder to keep our marriage together. He said he wanted a divorce because, among other reasons, he wanted someone “less cerebral.” That stinging dismissal has stayed with me to this day because being a cerebral person is who I am and I’ve always liked that about myself – so I felt utterly rejected at the core. Now it’s a fear that the deepest and truest part of myself is somehow a turn off to men, and is not a lovable asset but a major, unfixable flaw. The fact that no one has been genuinely interested me in almost 10 years leads to the awful and frightening conclusion that my Story is in fact the Truth.

    In addition, I know I have become somewhat eccentric and self-absorbed from nearly 10 years of living alone, and almost all that time (except for the brief debacle with the recent ex) without a relationship, without sex, without companionship, without someone thinking I was wonderful, and -more importantly- without an ongoing experience of being able to give and be loving to another person on a daily basis. Now I’ve been alone for so long that the thought of being with someone seems odd and awkward. The notion of sharing my life again, as much as I long for it, seems utterly foreign. I doubt myself, I’ve lost confidence. I catch myself having weird, warped thoughts. I sometimes find myself drifing into strange, hermit-like behavior. At age 55 I’ve become the proverbial wallflower.

    In all other ways I like myself and I’m proud of myself, and I have many wonderful loving friends as well as colleagues who greatly respect me. I am capable of strong, lifelong friendships, in fact you would NEVER find a better friend than I am. I am accomplished, I am successful in my work, well-read, well-traveled, smart and I’ve led a very interesting life. It’s this theme of rejection from men (which has been the outcome of about 85% of every romantic relationship I’ve attempted in my life) that gnaws at my sense of self.

    I’m not really looking for advice – it’s just a comfort to be able to admit this somewhere.

    • Revolution says:

      Wiser,

      “nearly 10 years… without someone thinking I was wonderful”

      For the record, I think you’re wonderful, Wiser.

      • Wiser says:

        Awww,Rev… thanks. I have to remember that there are many people in my life who think I’m wonderful. I’m just having a low week. Time to start practicing telling myself new Stories.

    • noquay says:

      I am glad you did state this, Wiser. Regardless of how centered we are, rejection really hurts and especially when it is allegedly about something at the core of our being. Keep in mind that often when a woman is rejected due to being “too cerebral” tis because there is actually something else going on or the other person knows darn well that you are a lot smarter :)

      • Lilly says:

        Wiser,

        I second Rev.I think you’re wonderful too and I completely agree with noquay — he knew darn well you are a lot smarter and for some reason, all about him, couldn’t handle it. Be proud of your ‘cerebral-ness’ it’s a wonderful quality to have, hugs, xxx.

        • Wiser says:

          Lilly, thanks for your encouragement! My cerebral-ness, my love of language and ideas, my curiosity about consciousness and spirituality, my need for rich conversation… this is who I REALLY am and I need a partner who cherishes these traits in me and isn’t threatened by them. I will have to go where such qualities are celebrated and valued, which is not where I’m currently living. It’s time.

          Hope you are doing well!

      • Wiser says:

        Noquay, it’s hard for smart women like us who move to small redneck towns to find intellectual equals. Like you, the only man here I could really talk to and who I thought I had so much in common with turned out to be a womanizing creep. A huge disappointment. And like you I’m going to have to leave here for a chance at finding a life partner again. I’ve decided. I’m not ready for permanent singlehood either…

    • Pauline says:

      Wiser

      I think it’s the competition of a woman who holds a University degree/s, has an excellent well paid position in business, is intelligent and well spoken that men find difficult to deal with.
      They aren’t intimidated by women who are better educated, earning more and smarter than they are. They see women as competing with them for the same jobs, status and benefits and they behave the same as they do with other guys who are trying to get that top job or top sportsman in the club thing, kind of kill or be killed (metaphorically speaking) and that’s what happens to a lot of us girls today. We get killed off because we are competition.

      Ever been in direct competition with a guy on anything? I have. I used to play squash with my brother and he always used to beat me when we first started playing. Fast forward a few years when I had played competition squash and improved out of sight when he asked to play again. I beat him easily in every game, his response was to throw a hissy fit (not helped by the girls in the gallery who cheered every time I won a point), belt me across the arm with his racquet, yeah it did hurt, and storm off the court. What a baby, my Dad laughed when I told him.

      Men love to compete all the time, throw in a smart competitive woman and we get treated the same as the other guys do but they wouldn’t want to go out with us.

      • Wiser says:

        Pauline, that’s an interesting perspective. I don’t know if “competition” has played a role in my history of rejections. I think I’m terribly un-threatening in that department as I am not a particularly competitive person. I know that my ex-husband was never really happy when good things happened for me and I had my red-letter days. When my first book was published I was ecstatic. He only seemed mildly pleased. When I ran my first 10K, I was so excited to finish and exceed my time goal – he barely could show any interest at all. I think it was a jealousy thing. Or lack of empathy. Or smallness of heart.

        The recent ex confused me by saying I was the best person he knew, and the “richest” person. Told me how happy he was I was in his life, how much I had enriched his life, etc. I thought, wow he must really value me then, and will want to stay with me. But that wasn’t the case. Somehow he got scared off or was uncomfortable. Or never meant what he said in the first place. I’ll never know what happened or why. But it doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve made up my mind that the only kind of man I will be with now has to be bursting with pride over my accomplishments instead of feeling threatened.

      • rachael says:

        Pauline,
        concerned ur dad laughed. my father would be angered by such an abuse toward his daughter. perhaps i have misunderstood

        • Pauline says:

          Rachael, I didn’t word that correctly.
          My father laughed because I did beat him easily, not at him hitting me which he didn’t like and said he shouldn’t have done. I was also really enjoying beating the pants of him along with all the girls watching which didn’t do his ego any good, poor guy (cough cough). There were a few cat calls flying around the court when he did hit me on the arm.
          I did get an apology from my brother when he calmed down but I never played squash with him again.

    • Nigella says:

      Wiser and Pauline,

      I could relate to your thoughts on competition and jealousy between men and women. I remember sensing that the ex – like some of my former gfs & bfs – could not participate in my joy or success. Even though he temporarily pretended to dote on me, admire me for my accomplishments, he struggled to manage his *negative* emotions in response to some of the things I told him, regarding my social support system and professional success. He (as a lawyer) and I (as a management consultant) did not have to compete for the same jobs or for the goodwill of the same people in positions of power. Still, I could tell that it bothered him that I derived satisfaction from my work, received hard-earned support from some people, and achieved success in most of the goals I set for myself. Despite having his own set of strengths, successes, and sources of support, the ex could not feel happy for me.

      I don’t think I’ve achieved enough in my life. In comparison to many people, I’m an under-achiever. But, although I expect a lot from myself, I think of myself as a *creative* rather than a *competitive* person. In whatever I do, my aim is not to outdo someone else, but rather to create something that is of excellent quality and value to others. From what I could intuit, the Liar is one of those people living under the fear of dating a person who might outshine him. Thus, for people like him to feel secure or superior, they need to dull the shine – undermine the success & caliber – of their partner. Or, they need to date someone much lower than them on the pecking order in terms of professional or financial success. If they see their partner working hard, feeling motivated, and receiving recognition for her efforts, then perhaps, due to their own feelings of inferiority & insecurity, they feel threatened & troubled by her success rather than interested in celebrating her success.

      Wiser,

      First of all, congratulations for the publication of your book. How many people can take credit for such an accomplishment? Not many. I imagine it takes great skill, concentration, imagination, and discipline to author a book. If it were not for the wise words of *cerebral* folks like you, then I (and many bookworms or blogworms like me) would be painfully lost. Because of the quality of your thoughts, I gather so much from your comments that help me grow as a person. Thanks for Being Cerebral.

      Like you, the term “cerebral,” as well as its close cousins, “analytical” and “intellectual,” have been applied to me as barbed, backhanded compliments or outright putdowns. Initially, these did sting. But unlike my former easy-to-sting self, I no longer care to receive acceptance or praise from dimwits, who are unable or unwilling to appreciate me for who I am. Clearly, they have not taken the time to get to know me.

      Jokingly, the ex at one point compared me to Sherlock Holmes, and claimed that like the sleuth I allowed my head to govern my heart – something that I, according to the ex, should stop doing. Oh really? How come? So that people like him can *easily* fool me, use me, and dump me through email? No Thanks, Sagely One. If using my mind and heart helps me protect myself as well as help others, then, amongst other things, I’m going to be cerebral, analytical, and intellectual. Take it or Leave it. Either way, you can’t treat me like a piece of shit.

      Once and for all, I understand that while I cannot extract empathy, encouragement, and enthusiasm from someone for my accomplishments or pursuits, I can opt out of a relationship in which I am treated less as a partner, and more as a competitor. I can opt out of a relationship in which my individual qualities & strengths are dismissed or judged as my shortcomings.

      • Wiser says:

        Nigella, I think of you as a kindred cerebral spirit and I look forward to your insightful and intelligent responses to people on this site. I always get some nugget of wisdom from everything you post. Wisdom is my goal these days. I am learning to be less ‘easy-to-sting’ myself and like you will opt out of any relationship when who I truly am is not valued and respected.

        Hope you’ll keep posting here for a long time!

    • rachael says:

      Wiser,
      Following ‘rejection’ (a negative perspective on another’s CHOICE) you wonder if you are ok. The ‘Story’ YOU keep telling YOURSELF is that another’s actions have a bearing on the definition of yourself. He wanted someone “less cerebral.” Maybe he did want someone easy going or less likely to deconstruct things etc, but YOUR label of him ‘rejecting’ you is not helpful. We all are different and attracted to all sorts of qualities in others. It is ok that he does not like that quality you have. The real question is, Wiser, do YOU like your qualities? It seems you do.
      “I’ve lost confidence”… means you once had it ? Listen to yourself!…
      You say you like yourself and are proud of yourself… have many wonderful loving friends etc … capable … “you would NEVER find a better friend”… accomplished… successful … “well-read, well-travelled, smart and I’ve led a very interesting life”
      That no one has allegedly (how do you know?) “been genuinely interested… in … 10 years” has no bearing on the truth. You seem hell bent on putting together 2 and 2 and coming up with 8!
      “ rejection” gnaws at your sense of self … I hear you, Wiser.

      • Wiser says:

        You’re right Rachael, I need to go back to math class! How I think often does not add up, I’m aware of that. My therapist introduced the idea that what I told myself about my situation was nothing more than a Story, when I kept insisting it was the Truth. Telling the two apart continues to be my ongoing struggle. I have always had confidence in the important areas of my life and I think I see things pretty accurately – except for romantic relationships. Each failure pushes that button of irrational self-judgment a little deeper, and the recent ex was kind of the last straw. He carelessly said some hurtful things while dumping me that went straight to the core, confirming what I always feared about myself. Or at least that was the Story I told myself. I know I need to close that book and find a whole new library. Hopefully one without gnawing rats.

        • rachael says:

          Wiser,

          move to the non-fiction section!
          you must be tired of the story where ‘rejection’ is a personal attack on who you are. burn that book!

  29. Mymble says:

    Noquay
    You may indeed live a life un partnered, as may I. In fact that’s looking increasingly likely, in my case. But we have to find our peace with that, life owes us nothing. Most women do spend many of their later years alone, through being widowed, divorced or nursing a chronically sick partner.
    In part we find ourselves here through choices we made, which seemed for the best at the time. We prioritized career and personal freedom and life experience. We did not want to marry young and raise families, and at the time that was the best choice given the information that was available. I don’t regret any of it, but I recognize that the present situation is largely a consequence of my actions.
    You can spend your remaining years feeling angry and sad because you don’t have the thing you want, or try to enjoy what there is for you. Which is a lot, a career, health, energy, independence,personal freedom and financial security, things that most people on this planet don’t have.
    I was reading today about the huge numbers of homeless people in America who sleep in cars.
    You say you don’t want to be “conned” into accepting singlehood, but it isn’t a con, no-one has cheated you, its a fact. Maybe men do have more options. so do beautiful people, rich people, have more “options”.
    Why compare yourself to them?
    All we can do is try to live with grace and make the best of what we have.

    • noquay says:

      Mymble
      I do not think life owes us a thing, I do think in some way when we do our very best to be the best we can be that just maybe some good should come our way. I may well be alone, I understand that. My comparison to others seeming to have a multitude of options stems from the fact that they are my near equals in income, looks, age, education. I was thinking alone is inevitable as I became older, like 80, not now. I know there are homeless, hungry, etc as I do a lot here to try and help them. Been trying for years to get help for my mentally ill neighbor for years. I think I have done a lot to make this place better. Not raising a family, educating myself, was, in my case, a very wise choice given my non-nurturing, abusive background and some serious opinions about overpopulation. The breakup of my wonderful marriage was not, it was imposed by circumstances that included threats on my life and, by extension, my spouses life too. Yes, that was a result of my insistence of continuing my research, telling truth. I understand that I am very fortunate compared with most of the planet; not to sound like a conservative, but what I have is a result of working my butt off, rising above circumstances of birth, raising and going way beyond what was expected. I was the malnourished kid in an inner city ghetto until age 10, In my 40s, have been in near homeless situations where I wasn’t sure I was going to eat. I did live in my car as an undergrad at times after my brother was gone in order to save money. I also understand that the loneliness and pain that I have been dealing with for a long time has become intolerable via extreme nightly anxiety attacks, heart issues, etc. We are social creatures, we need good human connections. I will not spend my remaining years bitter and sad, I’ve seen too many women here go right down that path, most are/were colleagues. If I must finish out life alone, it will be on my terms, perhaps by leaving society entirely, and definitely not here.

      • Mymble says:

        Noquay
        My grandmother was widowed in her late 40s. My mother has been unpartnered since her late 30s. Not her choice, but no-one suitable presented themselves. Her sister was widowed at 68, after spending the previous 10 years caring for her (same age) late husband as he was gradually brought down mentally and physically by the degenerative disease that killed him. All three very intelligent, attractive hardworking and loving women. Something better *should* have come along for them too but it didn’t.
        But they were/are not tragic figures at all, they are living good lives, involved in their families, friendships, communities and interests.
        If I live as well as they have/do I will be proud of myself.
        Look around you, there are many women like them (like you, like me). You/I may find someone, who knows, but if you expect a man who is equal/above you in age, income, education, looks, height, interests, and values, then you are setting the bar high. I am not saying you are not “entitled” to want those things, but recognize that it does make it unlikely you will find someone.
        I should add, I feel the same; I have my “must haves”, but I do recognize that this will make it difficult, and less likely to find a partner. So be it.
        I just feel that we must find love, emotional connection, and meaning in our lives that isn’t dependant upon a relationship with a man. It sounds like it is killing you but there really are other ways to be happy and fulfilled.

        • Noquay says:

          Yes Mymble, I do want an equal. Being with someone who wasn’t in terms of ambition, “cerebrality” as it were, never worked, indeed all attempts on my part to “date down” were disasters, situations that were borderline abusive and I needed to end for my own well being.. Ironically, while here, colleagues, friends, etc have put tremendous pressure on me to settle. You are right; I may well be alone for good but I believe if that’s what is in the cards, again it will be on my terms, and my terms alone. The current situation seems to constantly cram into my head that I am somehow undesirable, plus the work situation where the person who hurt you horribly gets to do half his job while simultaneously, my work load/expectations of me increase. Would be a lot easier to be alone in a more equitable and nurturing environment. For now, I am applying for the Eastern job, hoping to hell that I can swing the financial aspects and figuring out if plan B , bailing at 55 rather than 60, is an option. In the meantime I am working on my own perceived damages and flaws, and working hard to make mi casa an upscale vacation rental as the market is too depressed to sell and not loose my shirt. Thank you for the examples of strong, indy, women in your family. Unfortunately, the wherewithal to have a supportive, nurturing life that is in accordance with my values is not possible here. Ironically, I had a male friend as houseguest this past weekend; he gave me some not exactly kidding statements about my extreme independence; finally said; “excuse me, what other choice do I have here?!”

  30. Mike from Oztralia says:

    These recent articles on self esteem and accepting oneself have been terrific.

    They really drive home the point that healthy relationships and boundaries begin with having the confidence to accept who you are.

    It also highlights the origins of our inner critic (the voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough) are all too often family and those charged with our care as children.

    • Lilly says:

      Mike from Oz,

      Your post triggered some thoughts. That’s exactly what happens when I think about the exAC – that awful inner critic pipes up! The voice in my head that tells me:

      “you’re not good enough for him, you were never and will never be good enough for him”, “no wonder he treated you that way; what did you expect”, “you had an affair with another woman’s husband, you are a terrible person so you deserved everything you got” it goes on and on.

      I’ve realised that this was exactly what I felt as a child when my father disappeared, the clear message was “you are not good enough for me to stay and take care of you so I can discard you without ever looking back”. Basically “I am flawed”.

      This type of thinking is so damaging so I need to change it. The first thing I need to do is try to forgive myself for entering a relationship with a married man in the first place; this just confirms that I am a ‘flawed’ or ‘bad’ person. If I can forgive myself then maybe I will stand a chance. It seems flimsy to say I’m a human being and I made a mistake. I did make mistake, a huge mistake and I paid the price. He fooled me, but most importantly I fooled myself. I won’t ever make that mistake again and I need to start to try to value myself more. Somewhere deep down there is a voice that is trying to say “you are good enough Lilly you are”.

      • Mike from Oztralia says:

        Lily, the best you can do at this point is accept and forgive yourself. I didn’t learn that “skill” until four or five years ago. Still, the inner critic will pop up when tired or feeling vulnerable.

        Yes, you’re human and you made a mistake. Every one deserves to be happy.

        And yes, as time passes I will more than likely fully forgive Miss U. I know enough about her past to see how a fear of commitment could have developed – how her life before she meet me was quite tumultuous relationship wise.

        In hope she has learned something and is taking time to heal herself, but I think it unlikely from what I know of her. During the part 10 years she has changed jobs, city, men and careers nearly every 12-18 months.

        My mistake was a classic – I thought that if I just loved her enough, and was a decent partner then that would Be sufficient. Poor reasoning on my part, a mistake all too many of us have made. Perhaps all I got was all she was capable off. I kick myself for this thinking. But I also have to forgive myself for that mistake.

        These past few weeks I’ve been beggining to make some significant changes in my life – at least planning them. It gives me hope and a deep sense of satisfaction.

        I’m resolved to live a much more flourishing life – that choice is mine. I’ve been writing lots and getting more involved some environment stuff, a real passion of mine. Of mine. Started attending so meditation sessions. And I’m seeing my wonderful friends. I still feel the ache in my heart that is her absence.

        But I think I’m a better man for having my heart broken. It has forced me to pay real attention to what I want and my core values.

        I also forgive myself for people pleasing and not speaking up. I have to I orde to learn from it and not repeat the same mistakes.

      • Mike from Oztralia says:

        PostScript: I would add, the work I’m doing is on my one sense of commitment.

  31. Amanda says:

    You always speak to me Natalie. Somehow you know when to put something up that I can directly relate to. I have issues with being told to be a certain way. Especially from authority figures. Something I am working on and was caused from my mother berrating my every move through out my entire life.

    I have just gained a new manager and he called me into his office the other day and said ‘I appreciate you are an extrovert and all but I am worried when you speak to me that others will hear it or perceive it in a certain way and I would appreciate if you kept all correspondence with me to a minimum or via email from now on’

    I nearly died. What? you first incorrectly label and judge me negatively as an extraovert and then you basically tell me to shut up?

    I have been in fear of this boss ever since. On slipping up, talking too loudly, saying something else that obviously doesnt ‘agree’ with him etc. Thankfully I have since learnt I am moving desks shortly ane wont have to put up with him for much longer.

    But yes, the pain and agony of being told NOT to be yourself is horrible and I have forever questioned wither i am good enough ever since.

    Reading this makes me feel sooooo much better. Will he change for me if I come in and say ‘I know you are a shit manager and all but can you learn to be nice?’ No… he wont. And whatever rubs him the wrong way about me, well, he ha no right to tell me NOT to SPEAK to him, Especially when he is supposed to be manager, my support, my guidance.

    I have since ignored him and pretty much just listen to my ipod all day, having minimal talk/communication/contact with him as he requested but I cannot help but feel very hurt that someone was more than happy to snub me out like that and tell me how to behave. But as I said, only a couple more weeks and then I will be reporting to someone else, someone with much more modern leadership skills rather than the old school mentality of ‘my workers should be seen working and earning money but not heard’

  32. Antsy says:

    Hi, everyone, I don’t comment a lot, but everyone’s stories, and insight along with Natalie’s has helped me grow tremendously over the year.

    I’ll diverge from the topic & circle back, because my MM issue is related to the problems I have with my FOO (family of origin).
    Yesterday, I pleaded for you to encourage me to not respond to the text by my MM, but I had posted it on an older article in error. So no one yelled at me. However, I did not respond. I deleted it on my own & blocked him. He had been blocked on a previous phone, but I switched phones since then. It was rough but as it turns out I just remembered the wisdom from the column & got the strength to continue NC.

    MM is by definition a problem. I was trying to figure out, why do I not want to hurt his feelings by not responding? He’s married, hurting his wife (and I’m participating), most likely seeing yet another woman, yada yada yada. However, I felt, “oh, I should respond to him. He’d think I was mean if I didn’t. After all, he is friendly.” WTF. Background, I’m 30 years beyond being a teenager. I know the way I felt was insane. It’s like his text pushed a button in my head. “Be nice, Antsy, be nice! Don’t be mean.”

    However, the last time he texted, I sent the last text and he didn’t respond at all until yesterday. I had already been NC for several months, then responded to an email, and then texted back and forth – avoiding the meeting up talk. When I didn’t bite on a meeting him for a boinking – crickets. Then he texts me and me, “Oh, no, I can’t be mean to him and not respond.”

    But, folks, this was how I was trained. My family treated me like shit for years. I was the family outcast, ignored, uninvited, made fun of, and my only response has been, “Hey, I’m here for more.” At least my MM was offering me a good shag, which true, I enjoyed. My family just f’d me over because I was different from them. I don’t really know in what way I was so different. I guess I was the runt that was pushed out of the litter. It had been this way since I was really little. Cinderella makes sense to me, except for the prince and fairy godmother.
    (not in my family). In any case, I’ve been 2 years NC from my siblings.

    However, turning off that “Hey, hit me (figuratively( again sign” is really difficult.I know it’s absolutely insane and when I’ve seen other people with that same issue I think, “That’s batsh#t crazy.” And then, ohh, wait, what about me.

    So, even now, I still feel bad. “Oh, I hope he doesn’t hate me or think I hate him.” I’m trying not to think this way, but it’s rough. I thought the same way when I stopped contacting my siblings. “Oh, I don’t want them to hate me.” Even though, really, they would never ever initiate contact with me to begin with. I have lots of work to do.

    Sorry for the long-windedness and not being able to offer words of wisdom. I don’t really have any.

    Here’s some excellent & funny advice from Bob Newhart -

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow0lr63y4Mw

    • hand_turkey says:

      Antsy, maybe you want to check out M. Scott Peck’s “People of the Lie” to shed some light on why you feel your family colluded to scapegoat you.

      As for finding strength to stay NC with the man you mention, I recommend Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He Do That?”. Bancroft is a great resource because he has worked therapeutically with abusive men for a long time. Basically this man is interested in controlling your time, emotions, and attention – NOT in giving you anything but the opportunity to jump through his hoops and grasp at a carrot that he will never give you.

    • Lilly says:

      Antsy,

      Congratulations and keep it up! I also had a relationship with a MM that has a lot to do with my FOO. I became hooked on him to try to right the wrongs of the past and not unsurprisingly it ended in disaster. I know just how difficult it is trying not to respond, but please don’t otherwise it keeps going on and on and you continue to feel hurt. I should know I did it so many times, and each time he did ‘hit me’; complete self-torture. You’re not being mean by not responding; you are being sensible and looking out for yourself. I can’t offer any words of wisdom, other posters do that, but I can offer you encouragement from someone who has been where you are. Keep up the good work and don’t contact him, hugs, xx

      • Antsy says:

        Thanks – excellent advice. I did the try out where I gave in once several months ago. We had a nice shag, then crickets. Well, duh, he’s married. He can have two pieces of cake. Then when it’s convenient, always on his own terms, he would contact me. We haven’t seen each other since last August and it’s been over a month since I had responded.

        The thing is, before he sent me the last text, I was fortified. I said, “Ha ha, just you try to contact me sucker. I will so delete you.” I was cocky. When he actually did contact me, I forgot all his sketchy behavior and thought, “Geez, I can’t just not respond.” Wow! What a mindf#ck. I see other people, usually women respond like this and I say, “Oh, she’s crazy. She should flush.” But when it happens to me, I become a cowering fluffball.

        NC is not easy for those of us who jump when others call. We’re like puppies who need to be retrained. Where’s the slap with a newspaper I so badly need?

    • A says:

      Antsy,

      Every time you feel guilty, think it through. Is this MM considering your feelings? Does he feel guilty when he uses you and then goes silent? Does he wonder how that makes you feel and then strive not to hurt you? Does he feel guilty for cheating on his wife? No- he does whatever he wants without regard for you or anyone else. So why does someone who is without consideration for you or your feelings deserving of your empathy when you decide not to let him continue to treat you badly?

      • Antsy says:

        You’re absolutely right! And thanks for your encouragement.

        I do know my reaction isn’t logical at all. When I see other women do the same thing, I think they’re being crazy. It’s training. I’ve been trained for years to try to appease those who mistreat me. I know he doesn’t care or deserve my attention. And yet, I was trained that I have to at least try to change his mind. I think, “I can’t just give up!” When really, why am I wasting my time?

        I am aware of this now & have to change my behavior – go NC now & never get involved in such a relationship again. Rebuild those boundaries that have been breached.

        In any case, after a couple days, I’m feeling better about not responding. It’s going to take sometime to fully work it’s way out.

        • A says:

          Antsy,

          I know what you mean – even when you know it to be true, it can take a while to really sink in. I would just remind yourself of the facts each time you feel a pang of guilt. Why do you owe anything to a person who isn’t considerate of your feelings?

          I’ve found that reading BR has re-wired my way of thinking about all kinds of shady behaviour. It just takes some time. The AC I dealt with tried to guilt me when I was phasing him out (even though he had broken up with me long ago and was just stringing me along). Part of me felt like I should have had a conversation with him, but then again, he didn’t deserve an explanation (it’s not as though he had ever been honest with me), and he probably would have just been a dismissive jerk anyways.

  33. Peanut says:

    Lauren,

    Hang in there. Sometimes I have a really dreary, Wednesday Adams-esque personality (especially when I’m stressed). And I’m pretty naturally clumsy/cranky. Somedays I swear I walk around grumbling and running into things looking like Mr. Magoo with giant glasses.

    I am a very warm and loving person to who I choose to love, but I value authenticity more than anything.

    I learned at an early age girls who giggled and were sweet got what they wanted and that girls (me) who scowled and told the adults when they were being crazy got punished.

    Somewhere along the lines I too decided nice was the way to go. And I had friends and plenty of them. Now?

    Mmmm, not so many. But this way isn’t any worse and I get to be me so I’ll take it.

  34. Peanut says:

    “you have the right to listen to your own thoughts and feelings, and to ultimately self-govern based on your values.” *eyes roll back in head in ecstasy*

  35. Lilia says:

    Just today I told my mom she has been too critical of the way I raise my kids and of how my house looks. In the last couple of weeks I´ve found myself feeling very uncomfortable with all her opinions, and giving so much explanations that she herself ended up telling me “No, you don´t need to excuse yourself”, which was really weird because why would she criticize me then in the first place?

    I felt extremely guilty after telling her I was hurt by her criticism. She just ended the conversation (this was over the phone) very soon afterwards. I thought it would´ve been easier just to pretend nothing was wrong.

    But then, going over all the things she has said, I realized anyone would´ve felt bad about them. Worse, I noticed I´ve always lived with this criticism in the background, pretending it doesn´t bother me, trying to adapt to her opinions and resenting her for it, or just convincing myself I don´t really care what she says when in fact I do.

    Also, it suddenly dawned on me that I do not ever express any opinion about the way she does things. I know some daughters who will go to their mother´s house and criticize everything, but I´ve never been one of them. I wouldn´t do that because I would feel disrespectful and unkind. So this struck me as so unfair! She can say anything she wants about me but I can´t do the same.

    A few hours later she called back to apologize. I was completely taken aback, I don´t think she has ever apologized to me. Is this the result of me taking myself more seriously, of not trying to adapt to her? It really is a strange feeling. I wish I wouldn´t feel guilty about standing up for myself, though.

    • hand_turkey says:

      Fun isn’t it – to discover that our self love, self esteem and self worth soar NOT when we make ourselves into another’s image of success and look for approval from parents and lovers with our begging bowl – but when we no longer do their pointless dance.

  36. NoMo Drama says:

    It has always disturbed me the extent to which me being myself, not bothering anybody, has threatened people all my life. Even as a child, however, I reached the conclusion that pretzeling to try to please others takes energy away from accomplishing what I really want and need to get done. Also, whoever these people would have me be is LESS than who I know I am. For example, I was told not to “act smart” or use “big words.” Boys didn’t like it — I find that (most) men still don’t. Or they say they want an “intelligent” woman but run screaming if they think she might be more intelligent than they are. As someone above said, many men are really competitive; they may still relate in those ways even if you’re not actively competing with them, which is confusing.

    It’s also a boundary problem, somehow — I fail to understand how something I am or that I do can make you feel one way or another, especially if I’m just living my life and not making it your business or problem. So I shouldn’t read a lot of books or study whatever I feel like because it might make you feel “inadequate”? Not having it.

    I was scaring the boys off with my “SAT words” in English and found I had a talent for languages, so now I speak several fairly well. This terrifies some people, for some reason, or makes me a curiosity in a vaguely dehumanizing way.

    If you add in the often not very subtle subtext idea that people of color are “not supposed to be” able to do this or that intellectually, then the discomfort with my existence has a layer of insult or condescension added to it that makes things especially awkward.

    Then lately — and I would appreciate comment from some of the academic and other highly accomplished people who post here — I am running across this idea in articles and such: “It’s not that people are “intimidated” by you, it’s that you really have a terrible personality and nobody dares to tell you the truth.”

    • hand_turkey says:

      No Mo, I think a lot of us Ferdinand the Bull types (a classic beloved childrens’ book character) attract sadists with their tidal wave of mindf&*$ery garbage because our very existence is challenging to their one-up, one down ponzi power scheme theory of life. It would be an ego death for them to consider that they may have been wrong this whole time, and the things that they scratch for are silly and worthless in the end.

      • hand_turkey says:

        …and by “things” I mean scraps of narcissistic supply. You know, correcting peoples’ spelling and grammar, giving “helpful” advice, trying to control their partner or kids, and all manner of taking someone down a peg trying to make others feel inadequate (so that they don’t) etc. I think it’s called microaggression.

        For example I sat down for a meeting with a woman who complimented my belt. It’s a cool belt – my mom’s vintage 1970s belt. I said “Thanks, I was thinking of selling it on eBay.” That was all I said.

        She said with a “catty” tone (though I dislike that word) “Hm, you know that’s not something I’d picture eBay selling but anyway getting on with things…”

        eBay literally sells any and everything, but gotta get that pointless dig in right? It’s amazing how often this happens, and it’s totally unprovoked.

  37. Noquay says:

    NoMo
    I have read many of the same sort of blog posts etc. I did wonder for a long time; “am I socially inept; am I ugly and too clueless to realize it”. Yep, many men hate the thought of their female counterpart being smarter, one of the reasons I now avoid under/uneducated men or even educated men with ego issues; was tired of some dude always trying to cut me down. Race is also a concern. As for your latter paragraph, I applied the good ol scientific method to determine whether it was me that was the problem, my surroundings, some combination thereof.
    1. Did you experience the same issues with men or others before or is it unique to the current situation?
    2. What are the experiences of similar aged/educated women in the region, especially those not of color?
    3. Are you going on many dates that only last one date, then the man evaporates or breaks it off or do men only seem to want you for sex?
    4. Are men seeing red flags then rejecting you or is it the other way round?
    5. Are you always rejected by men you are attracted and can envision a future with or is it the other way round?
    6. Have you been in stable, long lasting rships before or has it always been a problem?
    7. Are you able to maintain friendships with both men and women?
    8. Are men approaching you or do you have to chase them?
    9. Can you be yourself and speak your truth and it’s OK?
    10. Do folks seem to avoid you or are you encouraged to join in?
    11. Do comments about your smarts, complements about looks, whether you come off as strong, intimidating, whatever, come from men, women, students, community or only from very few; is there consistency there?
    12. How do you stand economically, values-wise, education-wise, interest wise vs. any potential dating pool?
    13. How do your life’s goals match up with those around you?
    14. Are you attracting only problem men where there are plenty of healthy men available?
    15. If you feel you have been terribly hurt in a rship or while still just dating; is this unusual behavior for this person or was it part of a pattern?
    Methinks there are lots of other indicators that the awesome chix of this site could add to this list. One last thought about those who resent folks for being “above themselves”: “if we’d never got above our raising, we’d all still be walking around on all fours”. “Better living through brain usage” ; that’s this ol lady’s motto.

  38. TakingoffRoseColoredGlasses says:

    Oh wow…. Had been with the love of my life and highschool sweetheart since I was 15… one year after his death from cancer I was pursued by a much younger man… who was also active in his alcoholism (hello Daddy this feels comfy and familiar!!??) ugh. Pushed every boundary I had and I have to recognize I let him. Within 3 mos he was moved in, at 5 mos asked me to marry him and I accepted… He told me everything I wanted to hear and was wonderful to my two boys who a the time were 12 and 8. At 6 mos he entered rehab (yes I paid) and let him quit his job (yes I’ll support you while you focus on you get your GED and start college and not have to work and go to all of your AA meetings you want to go to)…. things began to change – barely spent time with the boys or acted like they even mattered much, was verbally abusive screaming at and swearing especially at my 12 yr old who kept looking at me like “really mom??!! you’re going to allow this??” and then yes he wanted a baby while I was 42 I said ok… over time I realized how controlling, dominating, disrespectful, correcting me about how I disciplined my children IN FRONT of my children tarnishing my credibility with them, calling me names (over sensitive, insecure, overweight, don’t spend money right, don’t eat right, don’t keep the house clean enough, don’t parent the boys right, and started being gone all the time leaving 2 hours before his AA meeting or class started…???? Then I found a hint of my voice and started to need to talk to him about issues I had with him… he left when our baby was 1.5 yrs old, wanted nothing to do with my two very hurting boys going through grief of loss AGAIN after losing their dad… I was devastated thinking I thought this was for life. It sometimes takes people a while to unfold and boy did that self absorbed it’s all about me nature unfold!! After he left us thankfully he still spends time with his son each week but he was in a relationship with a 20yr old he went to college with within 3 weeks of leaving. While with her was trying to get sex from me and tell me he messed up and flip flapped for four months until I finally said ENOUGH. We are done. He broke up with her about 4 months ago and those four months his a pursued me hard and fast and pressuring me to consider reconciling. It has been so hard because we share a child I can’t go NC but thankfully had been in counseling and reading this site daily for months I have been focusing on me, building my life with my sons and finding peace and contentment in just that. Not giving up on men or hate men or anything like that but realized there was something in me from my childhood of an alcoholic EUM dad that was drawing me to men who were basically… EUM and these self absorbed dominating types. I was so quick to put them on a pedestal and build them up and put all my needs, wants desires in a relationship under the rug. One blog that reallllly helped me was trust points…NOPE not any more. I am starting to really see that there are these type of men out there…. my glasses were so rose colored from the absolutely wonderfully healthy dating and marriage I was in with my husband that died, I really had no idea. Wow thank you for this site and thank you to all of you and your comments that educated me as well. I know I deserve another healthy man and healthy relationship and do not need to settle feeling I am damaged goods!!!

    • rachael says:

      Rose coloured glasses,

      I was touched reading your story. Thank you for sharing it. I am sorry you lost your husband and your children, their father. Although, obviously he is still with you all in your hearts.
      The road with the ex alcohol user was a tough one by the sounds. I admire that you moved forward through this and came out the other side. Keep it up… you are inspiring :)

  39. Lauren says:

    Peanut, thank you…you sound just like me haha! I learned at a young age that I am not like others. I am very deep, sensitive and emotional. I’ve had trouble accepting myself and finding people who accept me as I am. I can be very fun and bubbly but if someone crosses a boundary I go back to feeling awful about myself. I haven’t come across many people who are like me. Some of my friends have been really superficial. I used to really want to be like them because they seem to hurt less than I do. I’ve realised that I can’t change myself and I have to take myself out of situations that make me feel bad. I need to get better at letting go. I’m used to blaming myself, busting my own boundaries and clinging on. I hope that I find people more like me and that I can somehow make a relationship work with someone. I would really love a family!

    Rosetintedglasses…wow. You’ve been to hell and back and you’ve come out the other side. You should be really proud of yourself and all you’ve learned. You are an inspiration.

    Love to all x

    • LovefromNel says:

      Lauren / Peanut

      I related to both of your comments too! Lauren, the year of being 28 is not so bad (so far) – I turned 28 in January. I think it’s because I’ve finally realised it’s time to be myself and not morph or adapt for anyone. I too am sensitive and emotional (my Mum and my sisters are too!).

      I have recently just returned from overseas. I went to a good friend’s wedding. The sister of the bride was the most ungenuine and fake person I’ve ever met. I had to share a room with her one night, and it was really difficult maintaining a conversation with her (that is, when she wasn’t on her phone, on Facebook, or Instagram, or playing candy crush and the like).

      Peanut, I think I remember you writing something like – it feels like you can see through people to their bones? That’s what I felt with this girl. I could see through the fakery, whereas everyone else saw a ‘sweet’ girl. When she said ‘thanks sooo much’ in her over-the-top fake voice, I cringed. We both didn’t click, and I felt that she didn’t like me either. In the past, I would have cared. I would have gone out of my way to be sweet and funny and – well, bending myself in all sorts of directions to just appeal to someone else.

      But it dawned on me, finally, that I actually appreciated being me. I was happy to be honest and genuine and real.

      Hugs to you both.
      Nel
      xo

  40. TakingoffRoseColoredGlasses says:

    Awe thank you Lauren… It’s been five years since he died and I am just starting to see the light – I have A LOT to learn and look forward to Natalie’s posts each and every week and still read her blog everyday!!! I am very deep, sensitive and emotional too, I am here to tell you there ARE wonderful men out there that will value that and not take advantage of it or try to change you. Never lose hope! Learn from life’s lessons and keep working on you and valuing you! It’s a daily effort for me this I know.

  41. Peanut says:

    Natalie, I am so glad my life circumstances lead me to you.

    Life has been a real struggle internally. Easter is upon us in my Texas town and I have been flooded with memes, ideas, and arguments about religion.

    I’ll spare the gritty details but I have felt like an alien for my agnosticism. I am staying strong though.

    Also, as I can’t be around family (violent uncle), I will be going at it alone tomorrow and I’m really happy.

    I have promised myself time with my pup, snacks and relaxation.

    In all honesty I’ve never looked more forward to a holiday in my life. And I have recently made the decision to not celebrate religious holidays as it feels way silly given my stance.

    It feels awesome to say no thank you this isn’t for me when most just go with it. If I ever have children, I am going to have some very cool kids.

    • Furry White Dogs says:

      Hiya Peanut and happy chocolate and hot cross bun holiday to you :-)

      I’m an avowed and considered atheist that loves Easter holidays (we get a four day weekend here in Australia!). I have my Easter traditions that are simply about me and taking what I like, hot cross buns, one Lindt bunny and playing the ’92 Australian cast recording of Jesus Christ Superstar up very loud.

      This year I too have spent most of the holiday with just my dogs and felt very indulgent to have some lovely time alone. I’ve made chicken stock, done some gardening, played computer games and watched some good TV.

      I can imagine it would be very difficult to be non religious in many parts of the USA. My impression is that a lot of social life revolves around church activities.

      I do think you’ll have some cool kids because you’re doing the work to be healthy and love yourself, and you’re a creative thoughtful person who’ll bring that creativity and thoughtfulness to parenting :-)

      Anyway here’s a couple of little holiday pressies that I think you’ll appreciate (thanks to my fabulous daughter for pointing me to these!)
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1qzJiWfrgU&feature=youtu.be
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbAJp1YarfU

      • rachael says:

        Hi Furry,

        I too am Australian. I spent easter with Jim Beam and some rather disgusting lime n pepper chips. Also tried to hit on a much younger neighbour albeit unsuccessfully, Failure? Nooooo… an opportunity to practice not taking things personally. He probably is a giant di_k anyways :)

        • LovefromNel says:

          Hi Aussie gals Furry & Rachael

          I too am from Australia and now back at work after three weeks’ leave. Although it’s hard being back at work, I was incredibly happy to be home. Perhaps I’m just a girl who likes her homely creature comforts.

          Although I’m not religious at all either, I ended up eating my weight in hot cross buns. Layered in butter, of course.

          Furry, yep, I just spent the weekend with my Border Collie too! Rachael, I wish I could have attempted to hit on a neighbour but I don’t seem to have any of those. I loved the story though!

          xo

    • LovefromNel says:

      Peanut, did you get your dog back from your grandparents’? I am so pleased if that’s the case! PS I liked the sound of your Easter – a bit tipsy, some cigarettes, and a Happy Meal!

  42. teachable says:

    My heart goes out to you Wiser. I ‘get’ it. Even though I have never married (which is even worse in some ways if we take someone ‘wanting us’ as a measure of our self worth; I don’t btw but society I think very much does). I have been single for long periods of a decade also. This creates a different way of thinking about relationships and ourselves in them. I have so much to give but am reminded today, that I am still not ready, hence still not dating. This latest episode of this has been for three years now (as this period of great life upheaval in all areas has been complicated by illness).

    I’m feeling a little down about this today but aware that feelings are just emotions that come and go. I will feel better another day (hopefully). Experience tells me this.

    I am too busy just trying to be the best version of myself to worry about being what anyone else might want me to be. I don’t think any of my partners have felt particularly threatened by me (except for the mummy’s boy whom I moved on from as he was an adult-escent). Our work endeavours were always in different areas. When I was a professional musician I did not date other musicians. Many years after retirement from this area I dated a few and realised they’re not good long term partner material for me. They spend a lot of time on the road touring (as I too, once did) and many (although not all) are not educated in areas outside of music (if that). In contrast, I am formally educated in a number of areas (including music).

    When I was working as a musician I did have a non musician partner who envied the fact that I made a living out of music. He was moreso envious of my musical ability though. Years later he admitted this. I’m not sure if this would count as someone being ‘threatened by me’. Maybe. Maybe not.

    The same happened in reverse years later. Now I was working in policy and research. He was the mummy’s boy who didn’t understand why him living at home at 36 yo (had never moved out) and working cash in hand wasn’t OK by me. I quite happily moved on when I realised his position. No match there. No matter how talented he was (and he was indeed very talented) as a restorer of classic cars this guy wasn’t in my league. At the time I was considering buying a second property. I thought that if I met the right person in terms of a long term relationship we might end up doing this together. Mummy’s boy was never going to fit the bill (and can you believe he was also deliberately keeping himself in debt – whilst inappropriately tight with money. Go figure! LOL) I guess in a way this guy was threatened by me. I think I was the first to ever tell him the frank reality of his position. Specifically, that of course he had money to spend restoring old cars (he had four beautiful ones for himself) and wearing hip clothing because he had never paid board (bills only) rent, or a mortgage. I pointed out there was no way a bank would ever loan money for a mortgage either. That didn’t bother him. He’s an only child with only one remaining parent alive. He’s waiting for that parent to pass away so he can then very easily inherit all assets. He didn’t like it that when I pointed out these facts to him. He preferred people to think he lived with his Mum because she was elderly and needed him to look after her. She was not infirm. I (respectfully) moved on.

    Getting to now I was asked out for a coffee date yesterday. I declined as the fellow was a smoker of 30+ years. He’d never even tried to quit but said he ‘wanted to’. I go by actions not talk. Didn’t wash with me. I explained I am a relapsing smoker and not dating until I am confident that I have quit – for good this time. I also explained that I will not date a smoker for health reasons.

    Today other events occurred that has caused me to wonder if in the future my current (all be it meagre but at least enough to survive) income would remain stable. I am feeling nervous and like a loser for not being able to work atm. Or study.

    I know I am not a loser – intellectually at least. Emotionally I still feel like one. It’s just one of those days.

    Having had a stern talking to myself about the reality of my situation, which is that I am doing the very best I can under difficult circumstances and very much looking forward to the day when I can work again, it is time to get on with the days tasks.

    Trying to be gentle on myself. There are more than enough people in the past who have abused me (amoung other ways) psychologically for reasons known only to them. I point blank REFUSE to do the job of my past abusers. REFUSE.

    I am Teach and I am ok. :)

    • Wiser says:

      I’ve admired your strength Teach, and your resilience. I want to tap into some of your ‘warrior’ energy! Because you’ve clearly got it, even when you’re having “one of those days.” You’re right, life is hard enough without adding to it with self-abuse. I don’t practice it as well as I’d like, but I am a firm believer in self-compassion. I think this allows people to tackle their difficulties head on without running away and without beating themselves up. My favorite new quote is: ‘Human beings come to consciousness and wisdom through struggle.’ I’m convinced you will come out of this challenging period stronger and wiser than ever.

  43. teachable says:

    Thankyou Wiser.

    You only ‘see’ my worrior woman spirit though because it is also in you.

    You at 11 yrs older than me, are my not too distant future, so I am paying attention & trying to learn from you because you are ARE indeed ‘Wiser’ by virtue of yr greater life exp. I admire your success with your book immensely. I too am a published writer, however, I’m yet to tackle a whole book & have authored instead just articles for peer journals & a book chapter.

    Here are the lyrics to Worrior Woman. I write them as a gift to remind you of the power I see in you as you navigate your life journey.

    I’m struggling to compete in this world
    Where the women we are told
    That we shouldn’t fight
    For the gladiator’s arena
    Is one of male domination
    History tells the story of the conquerers might

    (CH) Woo, ohhh, Worrior Woman
    Dance your sacred dance reveal your mysteries
    Woo, ohhh Worrior Woman
    Cast out hatred, restore the harmony
    Worrior Woman claim your power
    And set your spirit free

    For the ways of the wise old crone
    They are mine
    And the power of the Goddess, she cannot be denied
    Through centuries of ritual
    For which we have been BURNED
    Are passed on down to us
    Through the ancient passage of time

    Now armagedden sisters, it is here
    But no longer must we live our lives
    Paralysed by fear
    May the walls of our opression
    Crumble meekly into dust
    Break out, speak up, fight back
    You know we MUST

    (CH) Call YOUR OWN, Worrior Woman
    Dance her sacred dance, reveal her mysteries
    Woo, ohh, Worrior Woman
    Cast out hatred, restore the harmony
    Worrior Woman claim your power
    Set your spirit free

    This is a sacred song for women especially Wiser. May you feel it’s power & the spirit of Worrior Woman who already shines brightly from within you.

    Teach xx

  44. teachable says:

    I wrote the song Worrior Woman, 23 yrs ago, when I was 21 & in rehab. She has been with me, ever since. ;)

  45. Peanut says:

    Well, the no-fam independent (non) celebrating of Easter holiday went good. I got drunk, smoked some cigs, listened to depeche mode, and ate a Happy Meal.

    I’d say—Success!!

    For some reason I often sound facetious (but I’m not/I liked the experience).

  46. Peanut says:

    *just a bit drunk* I have no patience for myself sloppy.

  47. teachable says:

    ‘Human beings come to consciousness and wisdom through struggle’ is a lovely saying Wiser.

    It reminds me of Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived the Nazi death camps. He wrote a book chronicling his harrowing experiences afterward, called ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. It’s one of many in my home library.

    Viktor said, ‘what is to give light, must first endure burning’. Having worked in the helping professions as well as overcome my own issues, I hold this quote dear to my heart.

    He also said, ‘everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.’

    The latter, I think, is a lovely adjunct to Nat’s message in this post. :)

  48. Thank You Natalie! says:

    Every post I read, all I can is AMEN! and THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

  49. Really tired says:

    So true ladies. But I have learned to laugh at myself and not relive the pain of past mistakes. I just downloaded this book a few days ago, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Grown-ass Woman. If you really want some good humored advice you should read this book. Fun, quick read. I don’t have time to be somebody I am not.

  50. Paula says:

    How can you be so brilliant Nat, loved the article

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!