it's not about you

Before the summer of 2005, I made ‘everything’ about me – that’s anything that went wrong that I could find even the most minuscule of reasons to take the credit for. Something great happening? Even if I acknowledged that I had a part in it, I’d be waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Absorbing the blame for stuff and wondering what the hell was wrong with me fuelled 28 years of believing that I’m not good enough. While being a Florence wasn’t my M.O, at the heart of most of my relationships was a need for the other person and ‘things’ to change, or even changing myself. I must have thought I had capabilities that veered between being a Transformer, Inspector Gadget, and a Messiah with healing ways.

I’m clearly not alone because millions of people seem to claim the credit for other people’s behaviour with the ease of breathing.

If you have low or even zilch self-esteem, despite not loving and liking yourself enough, you have ‘inverted’ ego issues. Just like getting an ego stroke, collecting attention, serving your own agenda at the expense of others, and at the extreme end of things, being a narcissist are ego issues, so is low self-esteem.

If you spend your life being a blame absorber, feeling ashamed over crappy things that other people have done, wondering “Why me? Why wasn’t I good enough for a jackass or even an abuser? What was wrong with me that I was turned down in 1983?” and other such things that basically say “I know there is something wrong with me why all of this stuff is happening”, you’re on the flipside of the ego issue – you make everything about you to persist in an identity that says “I’m not good enough.”

‘Everything’ is made into a confirmation of the fact that you’re not a worthwhile valuable person.

‘Everything’ points in the direction that you weren’t and aren’t being and doing enough.

You see a dark side in ‘everything’ – you just can’t believe it hasn’t got something to do with something being wrong with you.

You take full responsibility for the failure of the relationship while also taking full responsibility for trying to make the relationship a success.

You take responsibility for other people’s actions while blowing smoke up their arses on a pedestal.

It doesn’t matter who and what a person does; because you’re in the picture, you wonder what you could have said, did, and been for it all to be different.

When it’s an exes birthday or a major event happens, you ruminate about getting in touch with them because you’re worried about how you look and what they will think of you if you do or don’t.

You worry about being the Good Girl/Guy so much that you do stuff that completely erodes your own boundaries and become a doormat.

But do you know what focusing on others, absorbing all of their actions and making everything about you does? It completely avoids accountability and responsibility. By you taking responsibility for their actions, you unwittingly imply that others act because of others, hence anything that you’re being and doing that detracts from you in the process, isn’t because of you but because of them and the situation.

Not everything is about you.

While you may not like or love yourself, you’re letting your own ego not only rule and blind you, but completely obscure your interactions and the other person.

Do you know what’s about you? YOU. Your actions, or lacktherof.

Do you know what’s about them? THEM. Their actions or lackthereof.

You can go up, down, and round about it but their actions have never been about you. Their actions are about them. You can only enable existing behaviour and character by offering yourself up as a doormat and staying instead of walking.

When you have inverted ego issues, you persist not only in trying to be the exception to the rule but also in pursuing love against the odds. For you, love has to come from an unlikely source for it to feel like it’s love and that you’re worthy.

That’s like saying: Only someone that’s had to change from what I recognise as inappropriate or downright dangerous is capable of loving someone like me.

It’s like you’ve gone to the Pity Shelter and said “You in all your broken down dysfunctional glory that I recognise as being someone lacking in character, are gonna love me. No person that likes and loves themselves is gonna want someone like you. You could try but it wouldn’t last. Now while we’re not the same, I’m a decent person that doesn’t like and love myself a lot – we could strike a deal and if you change, and love and validate me, which will help me realise my potential, I’ll make you into a good person.”

That’s why I don’t believe in trying to force people to change and knowingly taking up with people that have code amber and red behaviours and feeling like it’s your right to impose your values because ‘no person should want to be this way’.

It’s not about you. The only person that has to be and do anything because of you is you. In fact the only person that is being and doing anything because of you is you.

Anything that anyone else is doing is because of their own personal agenda. Unless you have a mutually fulfilling copiloted relationship, which in itself means including stuff like commitment and responsibility, until then, you’re both doing your own thing for your own agenda. Even in that relationship, by having shared values, you put two personal agendas together that share common ties, commitment and direction and co-pilot the relationship. You’re still independent, valuable entities.

It may surprise some of you to know that everybody’s boundaries get crossed – great self-esteem, low self-esteem, we all experience it, it’s just that how you feel about you governs how you’ll deal with it.

It doesn’t matter what you say or do, if someone is unavailable, they and only they can change it. If they hang around dipping in and out of your life, getting an ego stroke, shag etc, after they’ve said that they couldn’t give you what you want, their lack of commitment isn’t down to you. What is down to you is the fact that they can still do it with you.

It’s not about you. To continue to make it about you is like having an incredibly strange codependent relationship with the universe while having delusions of blame-absorbing-grandeur. Your personal results from your actions are the mirror that you need to hold up to yourself.

If you’ve ever blown a gasket and told someone all about themselves and how their actions impact on you and been greeted with a blank face, it’s because they’re likely thinking:

“Er HELLO! I’m being who I am because I’m about ME. I didn’t do this stuff because I think you’re not good enough. I did this because I can, it’s who I am and I would’ve done it ANYWAY”.

I remember being told that my parents aren’t infallible and not everything they were and did was about me – they had their own problems going on. My kinesiologist was looking at me like I was on crack for carrying that burden and suddenly I saw it through someone else’s eyes. I walked out of that room thinking “Jaysus Natalie! Get over yourself! Not everything is about you!” and I looked at my whole life differently from that moment onwards.

Yours could be too if you put the overactive ego on the backburner and get some balance. Own your stuff – leave everyone else to own theirs.

Your thoughts?

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171 Responses to It’s Not About You

  1. Laila says:

    Excellent article, Natalie…nothing like a good dose of straight-talk with no B.S to wake us up!
    Also — I laughed so hard at this, “I must have thought I had capabilities that veered between being a Transformer, Inspector Gadget, and a Messiah with healing ways.” — Ahahahhahahahaaa!

  2. colororange says:

    If you’ve ever blown a gasket and told someone all about themselves and how their actions impact on you and been greeted with a blank face, it’s because they’re likely thinking:

    “Er HELLO! I’m being who I am because I’m about ME. I didn’t do this stuff because I think you’re not good enough. I did this because I can, it’s who I am and I would’ve done it ANYWAY”.

    I remember this very fact when I have the urge to “blow a gasket” on someone and tell them just who they are! It’s pointless and me losing it on someone rarely gets them to change (I have spouted off a few things to my dad and probably will again to release some steam as I am in a place where I’m tired of holding it all in when it comes to him. I don’t expect him to change though).

    If I have spent enough time around people to figure out they don’t feel good for me, I back away from them. I don’t sit around and talk it up and carry on like they’re my best friend. I have to remember this about my dad too. It doesn’t matter how many times and in how many ways I say “Dad you’re a son of a b$$$h and the most selfish person in the world and la la la ….” He may apologize (he has mmmaaannnyyyy times then goes out to do it again), feel his version of guilt but that doesn’t mean he’ll change that behavior. And that means I stay away or only spend small amounts of time around him because HE. IS. TOXIC. I feel crazy around him. I feel confused around him and almost a responsibility to “help” him because he’s my dad. So I stay away as much as possible. If he wants help bad enough he knows he can find it. I’m no savior. And it helps to remember that he was like this way before I came into the picture. It has nothing to do with me.

  3. Natasha says:

    “You take responsibility for other people’s actions while blowing smoke up their arses on a pedestal.”

    I just almost shoked on a cracker. Too funny and too true!! I spent yeeeeeeears doing this with an assclown. It was the most useless, unproductive thing I have ever done. Literally. It would have been more productive to drive my car repeatedly into a fence and then start cursing the fence out for scratching my bumper while blaming the car for not willing the fence out of it’s way. Which brings me neatly to:

    “If you’ve ever blown a gasket and told someone all about themselves and how their actions impact on you and been greeted with a blank face, it’s because they’re likely thinking:”

    “Er HELLO! I’m being who I am because I’m about ME. I didn’t do this stuff because I think you’re not good enough. I did this because I can, it’s who I am and I would’ve done it ANYWAY”.

    So THAT’S what that’s all about! Seriously, I can remember saying to my ridiculous former assclown, “You hurt me so much when you did blah, blah.” The response I got wasn’t, “Well, I did it because you, specifically, suck and your magical sucky powers turned me from Prince to cockroach .” It was, “I have too many problems, oh woe is me, I still need to do x,y,z before I settle down.” Notice that sentence was all ME, ME not YOU, YOU (weren’t good enough to make me not act like an asshole).

    Awesome, Nat, just awesome :)

    • grace says:

      And the flipside is:
      If WE can change other people, then OTHER PEOPLE can change us. What kind of crazy world would that be – everyone moulding everyone else to their own agenda. Even Gadafi hasn’t managed to do it!
      Everyone, please, stop the craziness of finding a man who is marred/addicted/ EU/ and trying to make him unmarried/ unaddicted, EA. Because that means HE can take YOU and turn you into what HE wants. When you flip it on its head you see it’s disrespectful. He is the person he is, he existed before you came along, with his history, his habits, his friends, his wife, his personality, his job, you don’t have the right or the power to change any of that. Even if he is an idiot.

      • Natasha says:

        Aaaamen Grace! If he was all, “I’m going to change her into a user/jackass/person who hates on other people’s religions to slink out of a relationship/raging drunk.”, we would say (to quote Nat), “Say what the WHAT now?!”

        It’s interesting, because he’s been trying to get in touch with me (full reset button treatment, of course) and it makes me straight up furious! I think a large part of it is, “Stop trying to turn me into a woman that has so little self respect that I’d even consider starting up with you again. I also don’t plan on developing amnesia to accomodate you.”

  4. RozB says:

    I think this is a really important post. A lot to absorb here. This is something I went through in therapy and it was a real eye-opener. People don’t do this for no reason. I was able to trace a lot of my feelings that “it was all my fault” to me as a child trying to understand why I was being treated so badly. Oh, my mother’s a nutcase full of rage? I MUST HAVE DONE SOMETHING WRONG. That is how a CHILD thinks. That is how a CHILD processes an abusive parent or situation. They blame themselves.

    • Magnolia says:

      So true. Children think it because they’re vulnerable, because they don’t fully get social interaction and b/c they also often get blamed by parents who don’t have boundaries. Look what you did! or I smacked you because you’re driving me nuts!

      My father always told me I was getting bullied because I was too smart. Talk about making someone else’s behaviour about me. Strangely, I never actually believed that. I believed it was about me, but not about my mind.

      Part of the great thing about being an adult is being able to see when someone else is doing that and KNOW that it isn’t about us.

      It can take some convincing of that inner child, but eventually she’ll begin to believe that other people being douches isn’t about her.

      • EllyB says:

        @Magnolia: Oh yeah, my mother… sorry, wrong word…. my momster always told me I was being bullied because of who I was.

        She also told me it was only because of me that she “had to” drink hard liquor every morning. She claimed to be the greatest, most moral, most religious and most disciplined woman in the world… but because I was such an awful, unbearable child, she had to drink that stuff anyway. There was no other way to cope with me than by drinking, she claimed.

        Of course, I believed that crap. Are you surprised? Well, I guess I can explain it. My mother managed to almost completely isolate me during my childhood. She told me not to talk about anything personal to anybody and grilled me everyday like a policeman to make sure I complied. She also made death threats, almost daily. Did I mention she was a monster?

        No matter what some people say, I AM NOT TO BLAME FOR HAVING BELIEVED HER LIES.

        It took me more than a decade in adulthood to come to terms with my childhood (at least a little, still way to go), but that’s the way severe emotional trauma works. This was not my fault either.

        I’ve started to fight her when I was 15. I’ve done what I could, and I’m still working on it. I think I can be proud of myself for having made it that far already.

        Parents like that ought to be in prison. At the very least, they should not be allowed to get any closer than 10 miles away to any child.

    • AdrienneBytheSea says:

      Yes, RozB, I’ve just been coming to terms with this also — through therapy — that the 8 year old girl in me sometimes runs the emotional show a bit too much. I am beginning to work on this and see how I can begin to respond to situations as an adult, and not as this child who blames herself for the other person’s behavior. It has been an important breakthrough for me to see this although it’s a hard thing to look at.

    • Lia says:

      Wow, so true about children blaming themselves. You’ve gotta wonder why some people go through life with this sense of emotional arrested development and continue to see the world through this one perspective…

      • outergirl says:

        ‘Wow, so true about children blaming themselves. You’ve gotta wonder why some people go through life with this sense of emotional arrested development and continue to see the world through this one perspective…”

        –It’s because we were abused and emotionally traumatized. Gee, why does that person who was burned in a fire have scars all over their body?

        • EllyB says:

          @Outergirl: You are so right, severe childhood trauma has its own dynamics. Even if I was an “A”-student throughout almost 20 years of education, I believed most of my narcissistic mother’s horrible lies. This had nothing to do with stupidity, laziness or naiveté.

          It takes a lot of effort to dig oneself out of this deep hole, but one also needs to be ready for it. I think in my twenties I wasn’t yet ready.

          Plus, I never heard about narcissism until recently. It’s easy to believe all childhood abuse (especially all the emotional stuff/gaslighting that isn’t illegal) is your fault if you don’t know anything about personality disorders and the HUGE impact they can have on your parents. I believed I was the one who was mentally ill (after all, she told me this everyday for decades!!!). It never occured to me it might be HER.

        • EllyB says:

          Just one (horrible) example: While I was little, to silence me, my mother used to threaten to hit my head with a mallet. She did that almost daily, and always with a “loving” (!!!) smile on her lips.

          Once, she even told me using the mallet would be a wonderful way to help me relax, but that I was so mentally ill and my head was so “blocked” that I didn’t see the truth in this (the truth that I “deserved” the mallet and that it would do me good!!!)

          Honestly, do you think any little girl could live with the truth? The truth that her mother was a monster, and that she would be completely dependent on that monster for years to come???

          No, I had do go deeply into denial! It takes a lot of energy to maintain that kind of denial throughout your childhood, but it also takes a lot of effort to (finally) escape from it.

          • Outergirl says:

            OMG EllyB,
            I hear you and at the same time I understood how all the poison our parents fed us on; sounds coming from another adult survivor of child abuse. We were doubly punished, they set us up for a lifetime of abuse in our relationships or
            in my case; lonely isolation to avoid being hurt. But..
            We broke the cycle! Remember that! Hold onto that like an amulet! ((hugs))

      • Sunshine says:

        You’re doing the same thing by saying you can only see through your perspective and can’t understand “theirs”.

  5. Mika says:

    Oooh! Another good post, Natalie:)

    This is a great reminder that the ONLY person you have control of is YOURSELF and trying to control someone else’s feelings, desires or thoughts is just a waste of energy and completely and utterly futile.

  6. Movedup says:

    So very true Nat and it not only applies to “love” relationships but ALL relationships really. I recently made amends to my alcoholic brother. For years I enabled him, I lied for him, made excuses for him, accepted bad behavior from him until the day I painfully drew the line – stepped away and let him fall. Something I should have done so long ago. Another example of betting on potential, staying in a relationship too long, trying to be good enough then maybe he would stop drinking. Me Me Me I would be his savior then everyone would love me for it. Thanx to this site and all I have learned about having boundaries and enforcing them – reaching for help when you need it AND not making it all about me – I stepped away. He fell – it was harsh to watch his world fall apart but in reality it already was. Today he is a changed man – through rehab and is an active member of AA. More clean time than he has had in years. I have my brother back and more importantly I have me back too. Its so exciting to see him happy smiling sober and involved in life. If only if only I had stepped away sooner comes to mind time to time and then I remember – nobody does anything because of you. His time would come when it would come and that was not up to me. What was up to me was what I was going to do – as painful as it was – when faced with a choice – choose you. I did and am forever grateful for that. One lesson I have learned is that – I am the master of my destiny or my destruction – its my choice – I choose destiny and where ever that might take me. Thank you for all the lessons you have taught me. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without your guidance – one thing is for sure I am not THAT woman anymore LOL!!!

  7. I’m so glad you wrote this. I only just started dealing with a sexual assault that occurred in high school at the hands of my-then boyfriend (20 years ago). I never acknowledged the event, continued dating him for six more months, and never told anyone about the rape throughout my adulthood. When I finally began to release feelings about it in therapy, I found that I thought it was my fault, that I deserved it and had brought it on somehow (that reverse ego you were discussing). I’ve always believed when things go wrong it’s my fault, not only in relationships but all areas of life. I’ve begun to realize, too, that I’ve never had a man treat me nicely – not for the long-range anyway, and that I never felt I deserved to be treated any better. I hope that dealing with this issue will set me on the road to renewed self-esteem and a healthier relationship in future.

  8. That took me a LONG time to learn, Nat. It is so true!

    Their actions are about them, and mine are about me.
    It is very clear now.
    That is why having healthy boundaries, healthy self-esteem, and knowing what your values are is so important.

    In the past, I would ALWAYS think it was my fault.
    Now I make better choices. See, that IS about me:)

  9. Fearless says:

    I need to read and re-read this…tomorrow. But what I want to know is: is this all why everytime I told the ex EUM all about how he hurt me and what he did and how shitty it felt for me, he would just respond back (in one liners and if he even bothered his arse) with how HE felt (very sick, very depressed, guilty, even once ‘suicidal’, ‘hopeless’ and the like – but he always exaggerated!). It always made me mad cos I’d be thinking ‘everything is not about YOU!!’ But actually I was making everything about me? And it was actually not about me, so he was kind of right, on these occasions?! (enter quizzical emoticon here!)

    • SM says:

      Ha, thanks Fearless. I am the same way. I would tell the last eu about the things he did that would hurt me and he would go on about how his life was going down the tubes and how he wasnt the man he used to be and I would just take it all personally. You know what, his life really was going down the tubes, he made very bad financial choices so he was losing everything, he also had taken unemployment money while he was working so had gotten arrested for that and charged with fraud. So he really was in a pickle. All that wasnt a reason for treating people bad, which I suspected he had always done even when he thought he ‘was good’. But the point is, I internalized his behavior feeling I wasnt good enough for him to treat me well, when he didnt treat anyone well. He even told me that he was known as an a-hole at work. Imagine, like Nat says, my super powers would make him change. Not!
      Anyway, I really need to work hard on not internalizing others behaviors because I tend to do this in all aspects of my life. Wow, all that therapy, workshops on this stuff and I still have a lot of work to do. But I have hope. My friend is getting married today to a good guy. She dated many eum/ac’s and went through all the work I did when she realized it was her chosing these men. I am so happy for her because I know she didnt have any easier time than I have had trying to overcome this stuff but all that work finally paid off for her.

      • grace says:

        I’m actually laughing out loud. He felt sorry for himself for committing fraud. Brilliant.

        • SM says:

          Grace, yea and he blamed it on his exgf. there’s no way that was even possible. Anyway I actually didnt find out about that until after we broke up and he kept calling me to cry on my shoulder. Finally I started NC because it just became a drag listening to him and I wanted to be happy.

          • RadioGirl says:


            “Finally I started NC because it just became a drag listening to him and I wanted to be happy”.

            I can really identify with you on this. I started NC with my ex for *exactly* the same reason. We had still been in sporadic contact 2 or 3 months after we broke up (he wanted us to be “friends” – what a surprise!). He sent yet another moaning text, this time about his pension scheme going down the pan – whose pension scheme hasn’t these days, even if they had one at all??? Something in me finally had enough of hearing all his depressing sorry-for-himself-victim-mentality cobblers, where everything that went wrong in his life was always someone else’s fault and never his own. Now, 3 months after I asked him not to contact me any more, he’s just broken NC two days ago with a reset-button-pressing text wailing about how he’s been feeling ill lately – obviously seeking sympathy and a shoulder to cry on. Do these guys all work from some pro-forma script that they download off the internet or something? Oh, and my ex’s life is going down the tubes too, SM, with poor financial choices and massive credit card debts. I used to feel really down that there was nothing I could do to help him, but I can see even more clearly now that his financial choices were his alone to own. And crucially, they were not the choices that I would ever make or own about money. So we would certainly not have been able to travel in the same financial direction with integrated agendas in a healthy, committed, co-piloted relationship. It simply wouldn’t add up.

    • AdrienneBytheSea says:

      Fearless, I think some people think they are being empathetic when they tell a story about their suffering after someone has spilled his/her guts about his/her feelings. But the emotional tit for tat or emotional brinkmanship really comes across as insensitive, at the very least, and narcissistic at the very worst. I think it’s challenging for some people to simply listen to another’s feelings without inserting their own agenda in response. And for an EUM, he’s going to want YOU to shower HIM with understanding, ‘cos he’s the one that’s so *great* and *more important*. ha! not!

    • Bonnie says:

      Right Fearless, he did not do the crappy things to you because you are a bad person and you deserve them, he did them because he is an assclown completely out for himself. These men are not invested in any kind of relationship because we don’t make them be. If we did and they didn’t participate fully we would have been long gone. We condition ourselves that it is our job to make everyone happy, take the brunt of what goes wrong, and make it be our fault because we feel like failures. But in truth it is their actions that cause these failures, something I have had to learn the hard way and over and over again.

      • Fearless says:

        Thanks Bonnie and Adrienneattheseaside,

        I do know what you both mean. I think his responses to me were a kind of oneupmanship thing as adrienne says. Like I’d tell him how hurt I was about something shitty he’d done (which was invariably “nothing” – I was always hurt by what he didn’t do more than anything he actually did.) hoping he’d understand something and ‘change’! (basically that was me flogging the three legged horse)But he always would just tell me in various ways (he had a menu he choose fom) that he felt even worse, and what he felt so worse about I’ve no idea – cos no-one was being a total shit to him! I guess I was to assume that he was “riddled with guilt” or feel that I’d been giving a “sick” man hassle, so he then gained my sympathy – to varying degrees.

        Yes, Bonnie, I always put his ‘happiness’ way before my own – I thought if he I could see how happy I made him he’d get both feet in! Anyway, I failed to make him happy!! (don’t all jump on that, I’m being sarcastic! I know his happiness is not my stuff!) I wanted to make him happy so that I would reap the benefits – so that was all about me as well! I doubt I really cared if he was happy. I certainly did not think he deserved to be! So I was a tad self serving and not entirely genuine in my motives!… even as I write this though, I’m thinking it’s all just a lot of bull anyway… who cares! Sometimes I really can’t be bothered even thinking about it all – that’s the best place for me to be in. What I do know is that my very worst fears about him have been fully confirmed (he has all the emotional capacity of a toddler) and so too my worst fears about myself: that I was easy prey and behaved like a doormat.

        I tried to take on his stuff and make him happy so that I could win him, win him over and then I could be happy, supposedly (!) while not remotely dealing with my own stuff – my doormat behaviour. I just blamed *him* for all of that – not me, so I gave him the hassle… it’s all a circular mess, going round and round – lather, rinse, repeat. repeat. repeat. Really once you’ve done about 4 months with the EUM it’s just Groundhog Day after that. It doesn’t get better, it doesn’t get worse, you both just go round and round playing out the same old script and the same old tactics endlessly until one of you gets bored and gives in.

        • RadioGirl says:

          Or until one of you starts noticing a pattern in their relationships, Fearless, and seeks out insight and help to stop their Relationship Insanity.

          • Tulipa says:

            Didn’t even realise it was EUM behaviour to tell you their woes. I fell for this a few months ago (we hadn’t been in touch for a few months) then boom a text all about how he was down. Despite good advice not to engage I did respond .
            I was then sent a text thanking me for my friendship and support, and he would be in touch when back up. Weeks passed and silly me was concerned so I asked him how he was going ? He was still down blah blah and was cancelling his overseas trip, haha I became more concerned (in my world who cancels a trip??) I rang him (dumb I know) he didn’t even have the decency to call back (why am I so surprised?) I get a text saying he is insanely busy (navel gazing no doubt) and will call me the following week, but I cracked and procreeded to tell him off bad manners etc and why tell me hes down and not be bothered when I show concern? (still a little puzzled over that one).
            So yeah at the end of the day you are undoubtably just one in a long long list of people they moan to and I will now be putting that care and concern into my own life. It is good to know it is just EUM routine behaviour.

          • Fearless says:

            Yes Radiogirl,
            I was being flippant with the “bored” – it was a cover-all. Thing is I noticed the pattern many, many ears ago with the exEUM. Once it became apparent to me I was always in one of three places with him: 1. having “one last try” to change the pattern 2. doing Faux NC or 3. trying to accept the ‘relationship’ for what it was and stop hoping for more.

            As things trundled on the faux NC became the default position. Mostly, in the end up, really, we were barely seeing eachother and *on top* of all the insanity, I was just bored with it all – bored half to death!! I was spending 95% of the ‘relationship time’ by myself! – waiting for him to come see me or in faux NC! It was truly insane!

            Even when I was with him, in the end, I was horrified to realise that I was actually bored! – or maybe just utterly *unfulfilled* – that’s a better word for it – unfulfilled (and frustrated); I was having faux conversations with him because I couldn’t speak about what I wanted to speak about – no, *needed* to speak about. I was bored and frustrated and stifled and terribly lonely! There was an elephant in the room with us the whole time and I got angry and bored with trying to ignore the elephant. Even the elephant was bored and frustrated! Finally the elephant stood up for itself, stamping its feet and waving its trunk about, so I walked out and took the elephant with me! I’m getting more sense out of the elephant!

            That’s maybe what our ‘stuff’ is? The elephant in the room. Time to start ignoring the EUM/MM/AC and start talking to the elephant, ladies!

          • Fearless says:

            Tulipa. I relate so well to what you’ve said. My ex EUM was fast enough to tell me he how unwell he felt (usually when he was on a disapearing act – but it was common thread) but when I asked for details and showed concern, he somehow was never really ‘that sick. Once I made “concerned” enquiries into the “two days” he’d just spent in hospital. He couldn’t explain what tests they had done, why they had done them, why he’d had to take up a hospital bed for two days to have blood taken(!)… I was accused of ‘interrogating him’! I was. I didn’t believe him! They are like children: ‘I can’t come out to play because I’ve been bitten by a deadly poisonous Chilean red spider that came here on a banana boat and crawled into my shoe – the doctors think I could be dead by morning. But I’ll talk to you soon. Bye bye.’

  10. Freyjah says:

    You are so wise. For years I had the most incredible “superpower” of being able to find a way that I was at fault for every situation, and that my faults “caused” other people to act badly. In the past few years, I’ve started to see how ridiculous that is, but I wish I had discovered your wisdom sooner.

    • Lia says:

      LOL @ you calling it a superpower, but I used to think I had it too I guess. But isn’t it odd how at the end of the day such a “power” could make you feel so powerless?

  11. Rawan says:

    Loved this! That is completely true, this reminds me of my mother she takes everything my siblings and I do as a reaction to her parenting, whenever we would break a rule she thinks we’re being disrespectful to her and wonders why, what did she do to become a bad mother, when in reality why we do what we do has nothing to do with her, we make our choices bad/good because of our own desires at that moment. Whenever she tells us that what we did was disrespectful to her and her teachings to us I think “mum do you know I never thought of you when I did x you never crossed my mind I only did it because it suited me back then”. I’m sorry mama, I love you!

    This also explains a whoole alot in relationships, I really think if couples learned this rule alot of their problems would be solved. My exs behavior was very shady, he blows hot and then cold, disappears every now and then and I thought ALL his actions where a reaction to things I did/said, that completely distracted me from seeing him for who he is, a coward assclown who doesn’t know how to treat a woman. I can’t believe I never saw that, I can’t believe I never thought of him and his actions in that way, I didn’t accept him for who he was, I tried to make him something he’s not I tried to make it about me so I could control it. This makes so much sense to me Natalie :) thank you! YES I think that was it, I tried to make it about me so I’d control it.

    • Lia says:

      Oh wow, my mom does the exact same thing, only it’s even worse now that I’m an adult. I understand that, to a certain extent, we do kind of reflect things about them, or at least what they were capable of teaching us, but at a certain point they really need to just cut the cord already and realize that we are entirely separate beings from them. Our brains function just fine on their own, they are not cars that need to be jump started every morning by mommy or daddy. We must truly live for ourselves now, and they must figure out that we never really lived for them in the first place…If I had a dollar for every time I was/am told that I do/did something just to spite her or I’m “rebelling” against what she taught me, I’d be a rich woman who would use some of that money to get her some therapy…I’ve had a couple of issues pop up in my life where I needed to vent, that only had anything to do with me, but lo and behold, somehow she ends up making it all about her and how she feels about the situation. Like seriously, WTF???

      One time in particular, she called me a few days later telling me how she had lost sleep over a conversation I had with her in which I revealed that I was postponing college, for financial reasons, for a semester. She told me that she knew that I waited to tell her intentionally, pretty much saying that I was hiding it from her when in actuality I wasn’t hiding anything. She wasn’t paying for my education so there really wasn’t any reason to involve her and it never crossed my mind to do so, I only told her because she asked and I had no need to lie. The funny thing is, all the while she’s revealing the span of emotions she was feeling over a course of 8 hours, never once did she ask me how I felt about having no choice but to make this decision, and having to come to terms with it over the course of 3 months. She made something that was hard for me all about her, she made my decision all about her…it sounded so ridiculous, I literally screamed “this is my life, not yours! and this has nothing to do with you…”…lots of similar situations throughout my life…and each and every time I would literally sit there in disbelief how this person could manage to somehow connect herself to my actions and parts of my life that had absolutely nothing to do with her. It really pissed me off and I’ve learned just not to involve her at all.

      When I look at it that way, I realize just how insulting that way of thinking really is. It’s pretty much telling someone that they do not know how to think act or feel on their own. How rude is that?!! I like to think that I have the first and last say so in the matter in how I think act and feel, so I can imagine that other mature adults would like to lay claim to theirs as well…

      Maybe this immature line of thinking has been handed down by parents to some. Maybe it’s simply a matter of the cycle repeating itself…makes me wonder where it came from in the first place…

  12. Karina says:

    Once again…you hit the nail on the head! I have been blaming myself over and over for what happened between my ex and myself. Blaming me and thinking hi new gf is way better than me, but the truth of the matter is…itt’ not about me. He acted like an ass because that’s who he is and she’s a backstabber because that’s who SHE is. I just failed to ignore my own gut when it told me something was not right. You sound just like my therapist.

  13. Donna says:

    Another well written article that I needed to read RIGHT NOW! I’m recovering from a Mr. Unavailable that I discoverd has been lying to me for years. Duh! I should have figured that out sooner. I kicked him to the curb and now he is blaming me for everything, calling me names and telling me how much of a wreck I am and that I am the one that used him. But for the first time in my life, I could care less what he,or anyone else, thinks of me. I have been a doormat for most of my life. It’s time I sent people to wipe there feet elsewhere. He will no longer control me. And whenever I need a tune up, I will re-read this article. Thanks, Natalie.

  14. Lia says:

    “You in all your broken down dysfunctional glory that I recognize as being someone lacking in character, are gonna love me. No person that likes and loves themselves is gonna want someone like you. You could try but it wouldn’t last. Now while we’re not the same, I’m a decent person that doesn’t like and love myself a lot – we could strike a deal and if you change, and love and validate me, which will help me realize my potential, I’ll make you into a good person.”

    Wow, that used to be me in a nutshell. I used to engage in these “relationships” with fixer uppers that I wasn’t genuinely interested in, kind of like pet projects, in which I used to think that I could positively influence these men into being better people. These were men who I thought were basically decent human beings “on the inside” that no one had given a chance, no one had shown them any real love. So I would do that for them, and the trade off was that I didn’t have to be by myself. But the funny thing is how in the beginning I never really took them seriously, but in the end they kind of grew on me. So when things didn’t work out it used to piss me off as I would think that another woman would be reaping the benefits of my hard work. But each of those men that I did this with are exactly the same people now as they were then, so eventually I learned that I really did not have that much power over another human being. And while I do believe that people who are positive influences can rub off on those around them, you do have to be dealing with people who actually want to change for themselves and recognize the need for it. But why put all that energy into someone else when I could be putting it into myself, or someone who doesn’t need to go through a metamorphosis to be with me…

    Great post!

    • GoldieGirl says:

      “These were men who I thought were basically decent human beings “on the inside” that no one had given a chance, no one had shown them any real love. ”

      Lia, this sentence really hit home with me.

      I thought my ex EUM could be ‘loved’ into changing. Didn’t occur to me then, that what I actually wanted was for him to change into a person who would love Me. So, it was all about Me – not Him. I believed that it was Me who was a “decent human being on the inside, that no-one had given a chance, shown Me any real love” I believed if I found that one man who could do this, I would develop into the wonderful human being, who wasn’t the horrible, stupid person that my mother had always told me I was. Yep. All about Me!! Still working on this one.

      And Nat ” When it’s an exes birthday or a major event happens, you ruminate about getting in touch with them because you’re worried about how you look and what they will think of you if you do or don’t.”

      Nail on the head here! I was already planning on sending ex EUM a Christmas Card in December and Birthday card in January, so that he thinks I am a ‘good’ person. Even after he dumped me by text a few weeks ago, I sent a nice ‘good girl’ reply so he wouldn’t think badly of me. Jeeze!!!

      Uh, oh. Now I am thinking….. no wonder he dumped me if all I was thinking about was Me? Maybe he did have a lot of stuff going on in his head and I was was unreasonable to expect more from him?

  15. debra says:

    Wow. What a bitch-slap in the face, in the best kind of way. What this post, and this site in general, helps do is make me think about the way I think, which is something I never did before. I have caught myself falling into some of my old bad patterns and then stopped, acknowledged the thought and then required myself to think about it another way, see it from another side.

    What this post forces me to see is that – for all my supposed desire to “help” and fix them, it was really always about me. Somewhere around the age of 5, we are supposed to learn that we are not the center of the universe. Some of us really didn’t learn that. As a result, every rejection, disappointment and bit of bad stuff gets accumulated and given insane meaning, instead of developing the proper coping mechanisms.

    Its is humbling and embarrassing to have to “grow up” at age 46, which is exactly what I have been doing this past year. And to think I ever thought this was just about the narc AC that didn’t love me. Wow.

  16. Magnolia says:

    First, @ MovedUp: Inspiring!

    Next, magnificent post, Natalie. So many ways to absorb and apply this thought.

    Today I’m in a good place around the subject of this post, i.e. what one does and doesn’t have control over. This week I just attempted a new risk with work (proposing a joint project, with the hope of getting it picked up by media), and it went super well.

    I have been walking around saying to myself: I did that! I made that happen!! That good thing – it is about ME. These thoughts are strange and new and cool.

    Part of the shift, in my case (I think), is knowing where to apply one’s energy to spark change, or to take a leap of faith on someone (ie. ourselves instead of a dodgy relationship partner). I have put so much of my “change the world energy” into guys.

    I went after EUMs wanting to change them, trying to bury the knowledge that you can’t change people (that old grief over my EU father). So in my denial, unconsciously wanting to learn whatever trick it was that made men change and value a woman, I first tried to shout/argue/criticize my dad into changing; then, thinking that his behaviour was about ‘us’ (my mom being ‘unattractive’, me being ‘too mouthy) I ended up repeating the pattern with men I couldn’t ever be pretty or docile or accomplished or convincing enough to satisfy.

    In any case, I believed I could somehow effect these changes in others. Accepting that I can’t has been a process of grief and relief. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change!”

    But boy: I just got a little taste of “courage to change the things I can!” My whole life has been about looking at the world and seeing what is wrong and thinking – I have to fix that. Wish I didn’t have to be a good girl and try to fix that. Etc.

    But this new small action wasn’t like that. It was seeing a potential, and acting on it, and simply bringing something positive into existence. That is still “changing things,” but it is a totally different way for me to experience change.

    • Movedup says:

      Thank you – it took years to get to that point. Been up and down the street over the ExEUM/AC but never thought to take a good hard look at my “other” relationships and how this same behavior was affecting every area of my life. Boundaries need to be across the board not just reserved for whomever you happen to be sleeping with… Serenity prayer a part of everyday – even with co-workers, stuck in traffic or the checker at the grocery store. Getting closer to my inner core – to thy own self be true. Progress not perfection.

  17. Gina says:

    Great post Nat,

    Both my parents were hot messes. Mom was mental disturbed for most of her adult life and dad was a verbally and physically abusive alcoholic who use to be my mom senseless. In spite of this, she always forgave him and kept allowing him into our lives even though they were divorced. I was caught in the middle of their drama (both told me that I was stupid when I was growing up). As a child, I believed this and grew up with an inferiority complex.

    However, I was blessed with a resilient spirit, which enabled me to transcend their abusive behavior and live an adult live that has exceeded my own expectations.

    My only problem is that I have not been lucky in love…

    However, I am working on myself and would rather be alone and happy than with someone who doesn’t value me and makes my life a miserable hell.

    • grace says:

      You’ve done well but I hesitate at “unlucky in love”. It may be that your parents have made you unlucky in love. Possibly by making you extremely tolerant of crap behaviour so your alarm doesn’t go off. Or if it does go off, you don’t do anything about it.
      The most longlasting effect of the abuse of children is difficulty with adult relationships. To the extent we don’t even realise we have a difficulty. To us it’s just normal, or “bad luck”. That’s what I’ve learned about me . May or may not apply to you.

      • Gina says:

        Hi Grace,

        Yes, thinking that I’m unlucky in love can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Therefore, I’ve decided to take a step back from dating and and just focus on me. I’ve been going to church, bought myself a little house, spending time both on my own and with my friends. Although I do have my lonely moments from time-to-time, overall, I’m happy with my life.

        Interestingly though, my ex sent me an email a couple of days ago (seems as though he’s been developing a pattern of finding excuses to make contact every three months or so, even though we have been NC since last February), informing me that he’d found some books of mine that I’d left at his place, and if I’d like for him to mail them to me. Three months prior, it was some clothes he’d found in his closet. I haven’t responded yet. When I do, it will be in a brief email, like the last time, and I’ll simply tell him to go ahead and ship the rest of the stuff to me in the mail.

        Funny how when you move on with your life, and actually do well in spite of not being with them, they try and get back in touch.

        • grace says:

          Cool, I bought a flat and I’ve been going to church too. I like to chat to the old ladies – the spinsters and the widows. They seem happy enough and if I end up like them it’s not so bad!
          I live on my own and get lonely too sometimes but I am 100% sure that every married woman, even happily married, would just LOVE to have the occasional day off on her own. So, whatever life you choose, it’s not going to be perfect all day every day but it can still be yours and still be very good.

          • Gina says:

            Hey Grace,

            Congrats on buying the flat! Great that you started going back to church too! What I like about the elderly ladies is the fact that they are very nurturing. It reminds me of how loving and nurturing my grandmother used to be :) I think that it is important to fill our lives with all the love we can get from sources other than men. Oh, let me add that the loneliness that I’ve felt as a single person, pales in comparison to the loneliness that I felt being unhappily married.

  18. snh says:

    I have recently walked away from an exhausting relationship after a year. This post is so dead on because if I look back and take responsibility for my actions, or lackthereof, I knew by week 3 that this person was not, in any way, shape or form, ready for any type of relationship that required him to be present, let alone…behave like he was in a relationship.

    But the feeling of being NEEDED blinded me to the danger of a relationship with this person, even though in my gut I knew he was hanging on to the bottom rung. I mean no one is going to say outright: “Thank God you’re crazy enough to be willing to be my life vest for a year,” are they? No, they say things like “I love you” and “You’re perfect” within the first week, because the fact that you didn’t up and run screaming for the hills tells them that you will, quite literally, believe anything to be love.

    While it was NEVER my fault that he cheated, and lied, and deceived later on – it was MY RESPONSIBILITY for not leaving when I absolutely knew I should have. Which speaks directly to what you said, Natalie:

    “It’s not about you. To continue to make it about you is like having an incredibly strange codependent relationship with the universe while having delusions of blame-absorbing-grandeur. Your personal results from your actions are the mirror that you need to hold up to yourself.”

    That’s why building healthy robust self-esteem is so important because it’s the only protection against being involved in any dangerous or unhealthy relationship. It gives us the natural instinctive ability to simultaneously KNOW what to do and DO what we know to do. It’s the DOING part that I feel many of us get paralyzed by…

    • Melinda says:

      @snh: It’s the DOING part that I feel many of us get paralyzed by…

      Oh so very true! This is the problem I’m having in finding a therapist who will guide me to charting healthier self-esteem and respect. I have insights about my “issues” and the patterns I keep repeating regarding relationships. But what can I DO about these insights? It’s one thing to know the WHAT, but then what do I do with this knowledge? The therapists I’ve seen want to point out the obvious, but then don’t give me help in how to deal with the emotions!

      • grace says:

        Therapy is not a a magic wand, the person who really does all the work is YOU. I’ve not had a bad therapist as such. The least helpful was a trainee one who suggested I call my ex as I was crying and wailing in her office. Even in my state I remembered thinking “That’s not a good idea”. I did call him anyway, a while later so even though I knew what to do, I didn’t do it! They aren’t there to tell you what to do. The best way I can describe is it having the space to tell a stranger (so I mostly didn’t care about impressing them) the real you and your real feelings and experiences. He/she then listens and weaves it into a story that makes sense, presents it to you and says something along the lines of “that’s what you’ve said, what you going to do about it?”. they also knock your denial on the ahead “you said x, but now you’re doing y.”
        As for the obvious I think we all know you can believe a thing on two levels. “I don’t have low self esteem. I’m attractive blah blah blah (I can’t even bring myself to trot out the cliches)” but our actions say “I believe I deserve to be treated like crap cos here I am an adult, financially independent woman freely allowing x,y,z to walk all over me”. So, it may be obvious, but it still deserves some inspection.

        • Melinda says:

          Oh I know therapists don’t wave a magic wand that dissolves all the pain. I do see therapists as guides, though, which is why I phrased it that way. I have plenty of introspection (even the therapist says I’ve got a good handle on my situation) but my issue is DOING something about it! I’m thinking a good therapist can provide tools, techniques, etc., for getting through and over the rut that obsessions and depression can create. But Natalie’s post is thought-provoking, and your comment about challenging behavior and thinking when we’re in denial is dead-on. Thanks.

    • Lia says:

      “I mean no one is going to say outright: “Thank God you’re crazy enough to be willing to be my life vest for a year,” are they? No, they say things like “I love you” and “You’re perfect” within the first week, because the fact that you didn’t up and run screaming for the hills tells them that you will, quite literally, believe anything to be love.”

      Or how about this one: “I can’t see myself being with anyone but you.” Or when they pull reverse psychology on you by telling you that you are too good for them, and they know that one day you’re just gonna up and leave them. My best friend’s emotionally abusive closet alcoholic of a boyfriend uses those quite often on her. All the while I’m sitting there rolling my eyes every time she tells me, because I know that she eats it up like cake every time. I just wanna shake her and say:”Of course he can’t. What would he do without you? I mean, after 3 years he’s trained you to his liking and beaten down your self esteem so low, why would he end it with you just to have to start the process all over again with someone else? He would have to search for some new poor unsuspecting woman who he senses weakness in, then go through the process of figuring her out. That would take way too much work. Nope, he’s sticking with you because as long as you do what he wants he’s happy, and when you don’t he knows what buttons to push to get you to do so. You are a means to an end for him, that’s it. It’s not about you.”

      You’re right, it stresses the need and importance of healthy self esteem in our relationships. And while everything is not about us, people do need to start focusing on the things that they can control and get with it…until then, those who don’t will continue to hold their own selves hostage in dangerous/unhealthy situations…

      • PhoenixRising says:

        @ Lia – my ex EUM/AC pulled the exact same line. “I’m damaged goods and you are not going to be able to ‘save’ me”. He is also a raging alcoholic. Like a fool it made me want to save him/help him. What I learned? When someone tells you they are damaged goods – believe them and run for the hills. Don’t ever look back.

  19. anoosh says:

    oh boy, this post is a really big one! at this moment I’m frantically packing up my home to try to escape Hurricane Irene in the US, but I wanted to check in with Baggage Reclaim for a bit… in short, almost 2 weeks ago my exEUM phoned me from an unfamiliar # after 6 months of NC. I caught him in a big lie within 1 minute. we had some awkward & uncomfortable chat, and he was ending by saying “I’ll call you in a few days”. I clearly responded, “Please don’t. You said that to me literally dozens of times over the past year without following through, and it’s really NOT good for me. Just send me my stuff back please.” anyway, I thought that was the end of it. maybe I didn’t spell it out clearly enough — Thursday evening I received this email:

    “Hi, I know I said a few days and I am def not “in the zone” for that criteria much longer, but things are v busy & I am not getting much sleep. Can I call you tues pm? Pleeze?”

    OK… first of all, I did not respond. second — how does a week & half equal “a few days” anyway? ridiculous. he did this kind of stuff all the time during our “relationship”.
    anyway, I don’t know what he’s trying to prove, I really don’t want to find out. it’s just so unbelievably bizarre to me — how, why is he doing this right at the very moment when I feel that I FINALLY have turned a corner? I know — it’s not about me. it’s really not. that’s so beautifully simple and clear. but it really is just very very weird to me!! so much time has gone by. I’ve never seen any man I’ve been through a big breakup with behave this way, so long after things are over. don’t get it.
    OK, I guess I don’t have to “get it” — because it has nothing to do with me. nothing I have done or said caused any of his antics, including this latest nonsense. yes, great post :)

    • grace says:

      What did you do to cause a hurricane? HA HA.
      As for him – you shut him down and it piqued his interest. “OOh Anoosh is getting fighty with me, I’m gonna see if I can win her over with my awesome male power”. I’m not even kidding.

      • EllyB says:

        @Grace: anoosh
        What did you do to cause a hurricane? HA HA.

        Oh my. I managed to escape “Irene” (not sure about my belongings at home, though), but it’s the third horrible storm I’m going through within a short period of time. I started to think: “Is God trying to punish me for fighting my abusive parents? Is he trying to tell me there won’t be any happiness for me ever in my life?” I didn’t even think I’m that religious, but apparently I still am.

        But this is crap. I have to remind myself that those storms affect millions of people and many of them are worse off than I. This has nothing to do with me! Absolutely nothing! And I managed to save my own ass! This is all that matters!

        Good luck to everyone else out there!

    • Natasha says:

      Anoosh, that ridiculous email made me burst out laughing. The nerve! Mine did something similar, i.e. I said I didn’t wish to speak with him again and he said, “I’d like to speak with you soon if that’s okay.” Assclown Logic is somethin’ else.

      p.s. I spent my Friday night dragging deck furniture into the garage, so I feel you on the Hurricane Irene prep! Stay safe sister!

    • Ria says:

      Well, it could be million of things, or nothing at all, but l quess it goes smth like this in his head: “OMG, Anoosh, REALLY does not care no more, let me try to see, if things are as they used to be (as in l can reel in whenever l want IN MY TERMS) and right now lm playing the pity card, cos it used to work with her, and my life is a bit of a nutshell at present, so it could be just cool to feel good ABOUT MYSELF again, but OMG, she has probably realized what an AC l really am…no *** really…let me see if my email to her works…no *** she is kickin´me out…whats got into that girl out of a sudden…god l need a beer!”

      lol.keep ignoring and not analyzing!

    • snh says:

      @anoosh: first, be safe over there! Second, your post was profound for me because I would also qualify all my statements with either explanation about why I was behaving or feeling a certain way toward him, or give my ex an insight into myself hoping for understanding – which I never got of course. And perhaps this is what happened with your ex when you qualified a very powerful: “Please don’t. …Just send me my stuff back please” with the “You said that to me literally dozens of times over the past year without following through, and it’s really NOT good for me.” With healthy people that’d be a clear way of drawing boundaries. But in our situations it’s giving these untrustworthy users a blueprint of how to manipulate us. They don’t deserve an insight into what’s good or not good for us. They don’t care, clearly. And then the backlash for us is that we analyze and try to understand why they didn’t get our clear communication of boundaries. They don’t care about our boundaries so explaining them is futile. I’m reminded of something a friend shared with me once: the most intimate thing you can share with someone is your thoughts. He doesn’t deserve to know what is good or not good for you, and especially how what he used to do makes you feel. He has no right to any access to you, whatsoever. Of course this isn’t to say that he would go away or be any different had you done or said anything differently right? I mean he is who he is. But that qualifying middle sentence might just be your “tell”. I saw my “tell” for sure!! :) Thanks anoosh for sharing inspite of all that’s going on around you – really hit home for me. :) xo

      • Lia says:

        “With healthy people that’d be a clear way of drawing boundaries. But in our situations it’s giving these untrustworthy users a blueprint of how to manipulate us.”


        @ anoosh, hope all is well out there. We get the earthquakes and fires out here in California, so I can’t say that I know what you’re going through. But I pray that you and the rest of the east coast make it through…

        • Bonnie says:

          I agree with the other posters Anoosh, I know it feels good when they contact you and you feel like you have all the power. But you don’t have the power because if he starts doing what you ask even once it will suck you back in. Stay strong, stay safe, and stay away from that MAN! You deserve better, like someone you don’t have to explain that when they say they are going to do something they actually do it!!!

          • grace says:

            we have the power to ignore them, get on with our lives and forget their sorry asses. YAY!

          • anoosh says:

            @Bonnie — ya know what, it didn’t make me feel power or good at all. I felt just awful, anxious, sad. here was a man I loved so much, more than anyone in 15 years, who just flat out lied within minutes, after not talking to me for 6 months. it was good I started thinking about this “it’s not about you” concept. there’s nothing I did by loving this person to cause him to act like such an AC, just now and also over the past year. I guess he has been showing me who he really is, and it’s not the Prince Wonderful & Charming who swept me off my feet.

      • anoosh says:

        @snh — that’s a very interesting insight! yes, providing an explanation about my feelings etc — what does he care? he so obviously doesn’t. with just that little sentence, I was sharing of myself and my heart, which gives him another chance to manipulate. thx for this, it’s great food for thought.

        • SM says:

          Anoosh, you know what? I cant even imagine having my own thought of calling up an exbf and then lying about where I’m calling from just to get an ego stroke. I mean, I dont call people that I dont want knowing where I am. Its just crazy logic. It’s assclownery at its best. Like this blog says, its not about us. And I dont want it to be because these people are just foolish.
          I’m glad you are safe.

    • anoosh says:

      wow, thank you all for the great feedback! very much appreciated! everything turned out OK w/hurricane, thankfully. today I really see the wisdom and necessity for No Contact. by engaging with the exEUM in that phone call, instead of hanging up, I set myself up for disappointment. it is not possible for me to not have feelings triggered by even the slightest interaction, and it causes thoughts of the past to resurface. today is Tuesday, so I guess I’ll have to screen all calls just in case. still trying to wrap my head around “it’s not about me”. going to try to take extra good care of *moi* today, and meditating on the whole letting go of the past thing. I think I saw something the other day on BR’s facebook page, about welcoming the good into your life. need to do more of that.

  20. shattered says:

    I’m recovering from a 2 year non-relationship with an AC. He will always be incredibly selfish and self centred, so I understand that it wasn’t that I could have changed him. But, although I’m really trying to build up my self esteem and self respect again, it still rankles that he had an ex (among the many!) before me, who he did treat well (although he cheated on her at times) with holidays, presents, flowers, more time together and even asked her to move in with him. He never did those things with me – although he asked me to marry him once, then changed his mind. So a part of me still thinks ‘if she was good enough, why wasn’t I?’ Was there something about me that made him think I wasn’t worth making an effort for, that I’d always be there no matter what? That’s what I find myself thinking about and that’s hard for me to come to terms with.

    • NML says:

      Shattered one thing that becomes apparent aside from having a heavy disregard for cheating, being materialistic and competitive about the superficial is that you’re so busy making it all about you that it hasn’t occurred to you that she may be sitting around wishing *she* got a fake proposal…

    • grace says:

      excuse me for yelling but if you think that’s being treated well you must seriously rethink what constitutes a good relationship or you’ll get run over again (metaphorically). I used to think I’d been treated well by the Returning Childhood Sweetheart until I saw the baffled expression on my counsellor’s face as I described this “good treatment”.
      A good start may be to observe the healthy relationships around you. Or even on TV. I enjoyed One Born Every Minute set in a maternity ward. The spouses were so supportive and kind even when their wives were in full labour and screaming murder – and I don’t think it was just for the cameras!
      While I don’t want to climb into your ex’s head, maybe his thinking was “Wow, you really can treat a woman like shit and she comes back for more. Next time I’m just gonna kick back and forget all this holiday and presents nonsense.” In any case, as Nat says, holidays and presents don’t mean anything. They are a nice add-on to an already good relationship, if you can afford it. We’re not in Sex and the City!

    • Lia says:

      Girl, obviously he didn’t treat her well if he cheated on her. But aside from that, how do you know how he treated the women before you? Did he tell you? I hope you’re not going off of his word alone, because anyone who would cheat on a significant other is seriously lacking in the honesty department. Just remember there are two sides to every story, and you might end up finding out that you can relate to the exes far more than you’ve been led to believe that you could. I highly doubt he was doing all that he said, and even if he did, it had nothing to do with her and everything to do with him and some sort of reward he imagined getting by doing so. Or it could simply be a case in which you accepted far less than what the other women were willing to, but that within itself would scare me because that would tell me something about what kind of man he is. When left to his on devices he has shown you how he would prefer to treat you. And while a man will only treat you as badly as you allow him to, it’s also true that a good man has standards for himself. Your ex obviously had very low ones. A good man knows how to treat people because that is how he himself wishes to be treated as well. And a good man damn sure would not go from treating women like queens to trash, that’s just not how he operates. Good people don’t operate like that. No matter what the case may be, you did not have a quality man on your hands, and he would have never been capable of giving you the love and care that you deserve. It was not about you.

  21. Fearless says:

    “Own your stuff – leave everyone else to own theirs.”

    I don’t think I made my parents problems about me (particularly my dad’s – binge drinker – abusive and angry when drunk). Maybe if I’d been an only child I would have but when there’s seven of you it kind of dilutes the situation – I suppose you figure, well, if it’s about me it must be about the other six as well – and it can’t be about all of us! I could be way wrong of course.

    I’m also seeing that what I “am made to” feel is not anyone else’s fault either. It’s my own fault. I am in charge of me. He is in charge of him. No-one can make me feel inferior without my permission. In many ways it’s great comfort to appreciate that his relationship behaviour wasn’t about me. It was about him / And my poor reationship behaviour was about me, not about him. Own your own stuff! Yes. That’s v good advice.

    I flogged that three legged horse and blamed the horse for not being able to stand up on four legs (stupid, obstinate horse, just get up why don’t you!) while simultaneously blaming me for not being good enough for the horse to want to get up (just get up you obstinate horse and show me I am worth it!) Put down your whip and step away from the horse, Fearless, before someone calls the RSPCA! If you want a horse to be different – get a different horse.

    • Bri says:

      Fearless, awesome analogy with the horse. That is exactly how I’ve been feeling! I was mad at the horse for not standing up and mad at myself for not being good enough to make him do it. It never occurred to me to just get a new horse. So much wasted blood, sweat and tears. To mix the metaphor, a tiger can’t change his stripes…no matter how badly we wish for it to happen, or try and endow ourselves with magical stripe-changing powers. Life isn’t a Disney movie, I’m learning.

  22. Brenda says:

    God was too funny and too true all at the same time, this especially hit home becasue what I had done for so long.. “You worry about being the Good Girl/Guy so much that you do stuff that completely erodes your own boundaries and become a doormat. ”

    And you know ass clowns encourage that thinking as well, with things like holding back and being withholding, whenever you attempt to correct it. And the sad thing is if it’s all you’ve ever known on one hand you’ll be frustrated about it, on the other hand not even know how to describe what is happening, I went through that for a long long time.

    Until just snapped and finally decided better to go through the loss of them them, You can loose yourself so much I think to where a day comes when there is only ONE other road to take.. Yourself, becasue maybe from experience I had learned you can do the other deal for years and your still gonna end up alone anyhow, so to hell with it.. lets just speed this process up anymore I say, hell yeah.. Let me be alone and have my self respect, cause it sure as hell beats trying to love you without any, And then what I really got to offer you? Some 1/2 assed version of the me that I am and want to be, and a ass 1/2 love from a me that is only 1/2 way there becasue your too damn chicken to take the whole package, right?

    The conclusion had I finally reached after finally saying what the hell I really wanted to say.. Then be gone and dump me, I’ll heal .. So I can be whole for once in my life, seriously.

  23. Karen says:

    Every BR post has opened my eyes. This one is off the chart. COuld go on and on about all the crazy I have tried to fix (hear the collective moan …”oh please don’t”). Learned from the master as mom married my alcoholic dad, divorced him when I was two only to follow up w/ remarrying a whole other kinda crazy.
    Magnolia; putting “your change the world energy into guys” OMG. Brilliant. CAn u imagine what kind of world this would be if women put all that energy into…well, changing the world:-) or, like you making things happen that create emotional and mental well being for ourselves.
    snh………..your comment about “hanging from the bottom rung” and then loving them into becoming the men we know they COULD be , etc. described my last LDR to perfection. Thank u for that. Loved it. I occasionally smack myself upside the head and wonder “what was I THINKING.” Did I really think I could get a 54 yo male to grow up, do what he says he will do, quit being a stoner, work consistently, and just get on board with me and create a great life together? ROFLOL.
    This post explains it all
    God bless NAtalie and all you ladies

  24. SM says:

    Another great post. I had one of these moments this morning to someone elses behavior. I internalized it but it took me about 15 minutes to work it out and realize it was their own insecurities that made them act the way they did and had nothing to do with me personally. Luckily I had read this post before that episode, thank you NML!

  25. AMD says:

    Great post Natalie! I read somewhere that when you find something that speaks to the heart it will be difficult to absorb. This post was like looking into the sun. I had to read several parts a few times because they were so blindingly accurate and spoke directly to my soul. I’ll be reading this one for days to come. Thank you Natalie

  26. Michelle L says:

    Great post and I think the last sentence says it all: “Own your stuff – leave everyone else to own theirs”

    This site is a lifeline and I have read it every day since breaking off a relationship with an MM 5 weeks ago. This week he sent me a “let’s be friends” email and I finally took responsibility for myself and said, no that isn’t going to work for me. This last relationship has been the epiphany relationship of my lifetime (forty decades and some!) and I am changing in ways I could never have imagined thanks to Natalie’s posts and the comments from all the supportive people here. Thank you so much. I will be here for a long time to come.

    We cannot control what other people do and we must accept what is. But when we take control of our own lives, our self esteem grows, and we are too busy caring for and loving ourselves to worry about what EUs and ACs are doing.

  27. AdrienneBytheSea says:

    This is so excellent, NML. This realization that the MM’s lying, cheating, EUM behavior was simply *who he is* has helped me put the whole six years into perspective. He would have continued on hitting the reset button as long as I would allow it, because that’s who he is: a selfish, lying toe rag. And who I was: a FBG with an inverted ego that thought I would be the exception to the rule because our sexual chemistry was so intense. “You can go up, down, and round about it but their actions have never been about you. Their actions are about them. You can only enable existing behaviour and character by offering yourself up as a doormat and staying instead of walking.” And boy, was I an enabler because my agenda was about trying to *make* him love me and *choose* me — why wouldn’t he, when we had such a heavy sexual connection? Then my agenda shifted to trying to be “cool” and just accept him and the relationship for what it was — dial-a-lay. But in the end, as you say: “It doesn’t matter what you say or do, if someone is unavailable, they and only they can change it.” And the MM didn’t want to–as I wrote in an earlier post, he is hung up on a dead woman, his college girlfriend, who he believes was his “soul mate.” When I said to him, “You choose to believe that there is only one ‘soulmate’ for you. That is something you are choosing to believe,” he didn’t argue. But that also didn’t stop him from being who he was and trying to get what he could from me (and I gave it). Finally, it comes down to this: “Own your stuff – leave everyone else to own theirs.” Amen to that. There is no “victory” in getting someone else to change; there is only a victory in changing yourself and being responsible for you. Self-respect and holding your head high in doing right by you is way better than trying to convince someone else of your worth. Other people will do what they do. Better to know what WE are doing and WHY and being real with ourselves–and walking away when we need to. I am done distracting myself from myself — “Your personal results from your actions are the mirror that you need to hold up to yourself.” The cracks in the mirror were ugly, but now I have a new mirror (and it’s pasted up with wise words of wisdom from BR!!)

    • grace says:

      How convenient, a dead soulmate that allows him to treat every subsequent woman badly. It’s just a more extreme One Time In Bandcamp story. I bet that somewhere in the spiritual realm, she is saying “Really? That’s not how I remember it”. He can’t be that cut up about it if he was able to get married and then find someone for an affair. It’s totally hypothetical but I’d be pissed if I died and someone used it as an excuse to crap over other people.
      Did you feel sorry for him? That’s a recurrent theme here – we feel sorry for them while they’re screwing us (in more ways than one). That’s a variation on Making It All About Us. He doesn’t need our pity and he doesn’t need us to make allowances for him!

      • AdrienneBytheSea says:

        Grace, Thanks for your comment. No he didn’t trot out that story until this past June when I came *this close* to ending it with him for the umpteenth time. He admitted he had a problem (EU although he didn’t call it that) when we were discussing our “relationship” and how pissed I was that he wasn’t there for me in May when I had outpatient surgery. So when he told me this story, it annoyed me b/c he was using it as an excuse and not keeping the focus on the discussion of OUR relationship. Classic EU behavior. (Perhaps if he had shared this story earlier in our six year association I would have felt sorry for him, absolutely, in order to prove my *love* for him…ugh). And he said that the SoulMate left him (after multiple back and forth togetherness/breakups)– no surprise there–she had the good sense to leave him. (If we believe what HE says, and that you never know since he’s a liar.) So yes, if I were the Dead SoulMate, I’d be pissed, too. Yes, obviously he was able to get married, but as I said to Fearless in a previous blog posting, the wife and I apparently said the same thing to him: that we didn’t want to compete with a dead woman for his affection. What I am more angry at is the fact that he thinks he is a *good guy.* He actually said that to me, all sad faced and earnest: “I’m not a bad guy.”–even though he betrayed his wife, his teenage daughter, and gave me an STD on top of it (which caused me to end it, nearly four weeks ago, screaming at him). His level of denial and delusion is epic. But I have to own my behavior here, and I let it happen because of my own delusions and denial. I made bad choices and I am understanding more and more why I did. I don’t want to screw *myself* over any longer. This has been the most difficult, eye-opening lesson I’ve yet to learn in my life, sadly. (What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?)

        • Bri says:


          Such classic EU/MM behavior – avoiding all responsibility and deflecting. When my MM ended it and I went on the offense, he said “You can make me out to be a liar and the bad guy if it makes you feel better.” What?! You ARE a liar – I just pointed out multiple lies you told me!

          I know we have to own our behavior too, but it’s very important to note why we got into these relationships. I tried SO hard to make myself the exception by extracting love from an unlikely source – a married man with three young children (who has plenty of issues of his own). I thought I’d be a champion if I could win that battle, and thus be worth it.

          When Nat wrote “It doesn’t matter what you say or do, if someone is unavailable, they and only they can change it. If they hang around dipping in and out of your life, getting an ego stroke, shag, etc. after they’ve said that they couldn’t give you what you want, their lack of commitment isn’t down to you. What is down to you is the fact that they can still do it with you” I immediately copied and pasted into an email to myself. While he did lie to me probably more times than I’ll ever know about, I allowed him to do it – when he told me he wasn’t sure of the future or said “I’m doing the best I can” when I questioned the crumbs, I still stuck around and hoped for more.

          I’m just now realizing I have to stand my ground not only with him, but with myself. I saw this quote yesterday: “It’s amazing how strong you can be when being strong is the only choice you have.” He’s not an option for me anymore, and now I have to work on not letting ME be an option for him. I’m working on realizing that it’s not about me or my failures or not being pretty/smart/funny/stable enough for him. I’ve blamed it on timing (if only I’d met him before he had kids, if only this, if only that) but all I have is NOW and all I can do is go forward.

          Thank you so much for sharing your stories, they’re freakishly similar to my own. This has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever experienced too, and while I wish none of us had to go through this, at least we’re not alone.

          • Fearless says:

            “It’s amazing how strong you can be when being strong is the only choice you have.”

            Yes, I heard my mum earlier tonight in conversation with someone using this phrase: “must is a great master”.

            I thought of BR and my struggle and my journey. Sometimes we don’t look for the answers until we realise we *have* to. I know I didn’t. But when I realise I *have* to do something, I tend to do it. I am the world’s greatest procrastinator and that’s something I really have to do something about – tomorrow (!)

          • AdrienneBytheSea says:

            Hi Bri, Glad that my stories are helping. It helps me, too, to share them. I spent longer than I care to remember steeped in the emotional muck of this situation you described: “While he did lie to me probably more times than I’ll ever know about, I allowed him to do it – when he told me he wasn’t sure of the future or said “I’m doing the best I can” when I questioned the crumbs, I still stuck around and hoped for more.” I did this dance for six years, Bri, and that is A LOT of wasted time that I will NEVER get back. As I’ve written before to you, my hope for you is that you save yourself from wasting more of your precious life on this MM loser/liar. Read Nat’s article on “not being that woman anymore” and in not being an “option.” Those are very empowering and definitely help in those moments of wavering and doubting yourself and your decisions. I’m glad too that you used the trick of emailing to yourself the messages you need right now. I found that very helpful, too, to pull it up on my smartphone when I need an immediate reminder to sit on my hands and stay NC. The more you read here you realize how similar the MM/OW/FBG/EUM situations are and that we are not the exception, we are the rule. I am realizing that I must break the cold comfort of my habitual way of making choices in relationships if I ever want to have an exceptional relationship (with myself first, of course! :) It’s getting into the groove of making different choices that takes some time, but we can do it!

          • Fearless says:

            Your liar story made me laugh Bri – I was asking my EUM by text (naturally) about a specific ‘lie’ we both knew he was telling. I never used the word liar tho’. He textd me back: ‘either stop calling me a liar or stop talking to me’. This is the kind of hostility I got when I even tried to question him. I was gobsmacked at the absurdity of his answer. 1. I hadn’t called him a liar and 2. he HAD lied and we both knew that to be the case.

            Talk about not owning your own stuff! EUMs/MM/ACs never own their own stuff. We do that for them so we can concoct some reason to stay invested. They don’t try to own our stuff – no reason to. They own no-one’s stuff, least of all their own!

          • runnergirl says:

            Okay now I’m firmly convinced, there must be one cheating MM out there and he was having an affair with all of us.

            Hey Bri, it sounds like you are turning a corner? Isn’t it amazing when the fog starts to clear and we can look at our role? “Do you know what’s about you? YOU. Your actions, or lacktherof. Do you know what’s about them? THEM. Their actions or lackthereof.” Congratulations to you and keep the focus on YOU.

            Thank you Adrienne for your comments about his lying, cheating, EUM behavior. It helped me get perspective as well. However, I am accountable for my lying, cheating, EUW behavior. He took whatever I was giving. I’m sorry about your health issues.

            The agenda section of this post really got me thinking as to the difference between two people coming together and pursuing their own agendas vs. combining two agendas with shared values, committment, and responsbility in a co-piloted relationship. I love reading about what a healthy relationship would look and feel like. A shared relationship agenda. What a novel concept, particularly because I’ve spent a good portion of my career developing agendas for meetings. The first thing you do in a meeting is adopt the agenda or make amendments or sometimes walk out. Natalie, you have such a gift. I’m going to work on a relationship agenda. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if two people could simply present their agendas and upon a motion and a second to adopt, proceed?

            A co-piloted relationship with a shared agenda would not result in flogging the three legged horse while simultaneously flogging myself for not getting the three-legged horse to stand on four legs. Fantasic visual Fearless and it re-created a negative physical feeling. I’ll be in tune with that feeling should it ever rear it’s ugly head again. I walked out of those meetings. Now I know to walk out of those relationships.

          • Lessie says:

            Hello Everyone (and especially to Bri),

            I have been (and still am) so very thankful that I somehow managed to stumble upon this site a couple of months ago. It (and the lovely Natalie) have been “virtual” lifesavers for me and I can never say “thank you” enough for that.

            The words that Natalie writes and the words of the other ladies here both inspire and humble me and I have been reading it all and taking it all in most avidly every day and for what it is worth: all of you have helped me tremendously, both by sharing your experiences and struggles and also just by having the courage and emotional bravery to be so very forthright.

            In trying to adhere to the posting requirements here, I will briefly tell my story of, to quote from the Verve song and Richard Ashcroft (the singer) History…”I’ve got to tell you my tale of how I loved and how I failed”…and yes, even though I myself am not British I am a total Anglophile :)

            Which leads me to my tale…I was involved with a married but separated man with three children. He is very accomplished (Oxford graduate, lawyer) and I was swept off my feet by him, quite literally. Things did not end well with us, at all and without going into all the many specifics I will say this: he was extremely contradictory in the things he said to me, ie., “If it were just you and I we could work through these complications” and then, “I don’t love you enough, or to the exclusion of others” (meaning his wife).

            Reading through the many insightful things Natalie has written I have discovered that (a) he was “future faking” with me; ie., asking me to accompany him on a business trip to China in October and (b) emotionally unavailable (not just in being “married but separated” but also in being disconnected, or, at the very least, in avoidance of his emotions and feelings and (c) very opposite in the things he said to me, ie.,”I need to let you go” and breaking down and sobbing saying, “I can’t cry like this in front of my wife”…

            He broke things off with me but not before telling me that he had the most intense orgasm of his life with me AND making a grand display of “money”…Veuve Cliquot champagne, cooking dinner, insisting on stopping in the florist shop to buy me flowers, and presenting me with house warming gifts (I had recently moved to a new place)…oh, and he also did the dishes…he also asked me later to please bring the sunscreen as remarkably, he still wanted us to hang out together, even after “breaking things off” with me.

            And, oh, I just realized that apparently everything I else wrote here did not translate into the proper format and yikes! Well, if all of what I am writing does not end up getting posted, I just wanted to say a heartfelt gratitude to all of you who have posted here and especially to Natalie who has helped me more than words can ever truly say :)

          • Michelle L says:

            Ughh! Your MM sounds so familiar it sickens me. They say all these lovely things but are completely emotionally unavailable because they can’t commit to the wife (by being faithful) or to the OW (by leaving the unhappy marriage). Yesterday I had this ah hah moment when I realized how extremely lucky I was to be out of the relationship with the MM. What ever made me think I wanted to be with someone that couldn’t set things right, move on, make the tough choices, etc.

        • Fearless says:


          What a dreadful time you’ve had, so I am trying to think of something meaningful and helpful to say. How about this:

          That guy is a total dobber. Let him own that. You don’t have to. Yay!!

          • AdrienneBytheSea says:

            Thanks, Fearless. Being American, I had to look up “dobber.” Urban dictionary is the best and so are you! Now I have a new word for him and he can just OWN it. ha!

      • Fearless says:

        “He doesn’t need our pity and he doesn’t need us to make allowances for him!”
        Yep!! Somewhere down the NC road I seem to have stopped pitying him and making allowances for him – not sure when that happened, but it has. Progress seems to creep up on you!

        We pity them and make allowances for them so that we can feel better about ourselves really. Even my pity and allowances *for him* were all about me – about how I felt about myself, i.e. if I can make allowances for him and can pity him then I can excuse myself for ‘loving’ and spending my time with a go-nowhere time-wasting EUM. We make a whole lot of allownces for ourselves in order to stay stuck, such as: but I miss him so much, but I need to feel loved, but I am so lonely, but I miss the sex, but I love him so much, but he might change for someone else, but I can’t live without him, but I need to keep trying to get him to love me, but there’s nothing else out there etc. But when I stopped pitying and making any allowances for myself I think I then stop pitying and making allowances for him! Hence I began to separate myself from him, own my own stuff and think that maybe he should too! His stuff isn’t my stuff and I shouldn’t hijack his stuff so that I can exuse myself from my own stuff!

        Such great advice here Nat. So great! I think I’m getting this now. I so hope I am.

        • Ria says:

          In my opinion, the biggest reason and cause for an anger is that MM/or EUM somehow “knew us better,” put us into category of “having fun and getting THEIR needs met, but knowing when to opt out,” at the same time knowing our vulnerability and kindness. They KNEW exactly what they were doing, and that´s the biggest crime. Not lost love, or “connection” or “soulmate of the year,” or whatnot.

    • PJM says:

      EUUUWWW – I went on a first and last date with one of them; his pregnant fiancee was killed in a car accident some 10 years earlier, but this hadn’t stopped him being unfaithful to her when she was alive, and then shagging everything that moved since then.

      What utterly freaked me out was that he introduced this story on the date as a pick up gambit. It was so obvious, and so icky – yet he was one of those ‘intelligent’, sensitive, articulate, academic types.

      EAAAAUUUWWW again – just remembering it makes me want to go and have a shower and a shampoo and exfoliate and brush my teeth and quite possibly have an enema as well …

  28. Cheryl says:

    Self-sufficiency in a nutshell.

    This one will be printed and kept under my pillow.

  29. Paula says:

    Awesome. AWE-SOME.

  30. Carrie says:

    I just started reading this excellent book called “Getting The Love You Want” by Harville Hendrix and already so many things I’ve read have been great a-has! If you’re wondering why you keep choosing the same type of person, I HIGHLY suggest this book. It talks about how our unconscious minds will pick someone who represents our parents, or caretakers, in both the positive and the negative. Apparently our unconscious doesn’t distinguish between past and present and we choose similar because we’re trying to heal whatever we missed out on as a child, even to the smallest degree. So when we say things like “I feel like I’ve known you forever” or “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know you”, it’s our unconscious blending the new person with our parents who we have known our whole life. It’s a pretty incredible read.

    • AdrienneBytheSea says:

      Carrie, Thanks for this; I will check out this book. When I met the MM, he came into my office from another part of campus, just wandered in to ask how to spell a word for a note he was writing to leave with a department secretary. I had never seen him in my life, before, never ever. When I looked up from the papers I was grading and full on into his face, I had the HUGEST feeling of deja vu, past lives/reincarnation, don’t I know you? Being the romantic idiot, I chalked up this feeling to kismet, to finally meeting my SoulMate because the feeling of recognition was so STRONG. I mean, crazy strong. (not the sexual chemistry, that came the second time I saw him). I now realize, in discussing with my counsellor, that this MM was the “karmic jackpot” (as she said) in terms of being a blend of BOTH my father and my mother; my MM represented/triggered ALL the issues I need to work on from my childhood — I just didn’t know it way back when. In an odd way, I am grateful to have met him even at the emotional and physical expense of learning these lessons and finally looking at myself and owning my behavior. I also recommend Carolyn Myss’s “Sacred Contracts.” I listened to this and it was an eye-opener in terms of how we “contract” with certain souls/people before incarnating in order to learn certain lessons. The contract has been made before we came into this world in terms of what our relationship would be like with this person, what lessons we would learn, and no wishing/hoping that *things would be different* will change the contract. It’s a more spiritual approach, but one that I have found illuminating as another piece of the puzzle of life.

      • Ria says:

        I could not help but thinking (how, how sex and the city that sounds) that those MM and EUM ooze some kind of irressistible carisma about them that makes “their job in getting it” way easier than some nice guy, who tries hard to win heart. The most realistic thought would be this: the moment you feel that fatal attraction, its worth to think its not you he is choosing out of a sudden, but its his “carisma on action!” (Think of MANY woman falling into this).

        • grace says:

          I agree, they are practised in seducing women. It’s not about you. They just knock on doors until they gets a yes.

      • Fearless says:

        Carrie and Adriennebythebigbluesea,

        Thanks for posting that. I had never thought about it that way. Love the “karma jackpot” description. This makes a lot of sense to me now.
        I don’t think I blame myself for my parents problems – I don’t blame me for anyone’s problems as far as I know – but I was an undemanding child and teenager at home. I thought that some of my siblings got more attention and more things from my parents because they were better at pushing themselves to the front of the queue! I said nothing, but I resented it deeply and I often felt ‘invisible’. So I felt great and boosted when one or other of my parents did give me attention – just for me – positive engagement and attention, not a telling off or pointing how I was failing in some way.

        But I expected people (my parents and the EUM) to ‘notice’ my needs – emotional and otherwise, I have never expressed my needs to anyone or ever openly asked – in words – anyone for my needs to be met – not my parents, not any man, not the EUM. Never. I don’t tell people what I want. I have expected them to notice what I want and give of their own volition. It’s the ‘own volition’ that was always important to me. If I had to gripe and groan for something I then saw getting it as ‘grudged’, so worthless. Some of my siblings didn’t see it that way – they just girned and whined till they got what they wanted.

        I don’t believe that either of my parents willfuly with-held their affections from me – they just had a lot on their own plates and a lot of children; but they did withhold. It’s clear to me now that they both love(d) me very much. I can see now that waiting and hoping for some decent love attention is what I learned to expect; it was normal to me – and the boost I got when I did get some was enough to keep me wanting and hoping for more.

        Sorry for the navel gazing. I have never expressed this to myself, or to anyone else ever before – this is first time, but I think it may be at the root of my problem. The EUM and his with-holding of love and attention to my needs was what I recognised. I knew him. I expected him. I was used to him. I grew up with him.

        • runnergirl says:

          Hey Fearless, are you my sister? Eldest of five, never recieved any attention from my father, although I did everything right. I ignored the attention I recieved from my mother. “The EUM and his with-holding of love and attention to my needs was what I recognised. I knew him. I expected him. I was used to him. I grew up with him.” Yup, my string of AC/EUM/MM was some version of my father. But I hit the perfect daddy reincarnate with the ex MM. I’ve read the Hendrix book and it is amazing. I’d highly recommend it as a companion to Natalie’s FBG book. The ex MM and I always said it was like we’d known one another forever and couldn’t remember life before we met. We did know one another. We hit the karma jackpot.

          ” I can see now that waiting and hoping for some decent love attention is what I learned to expect; it was normal to me – and the boost I got when I did get some was enough to keep me wanting and hoping for more.” That’s it in a nutshell for me Fearless. Thank you for articulating it.

          Adrienne, I was there: “Being the romantic idiot, I chalked up this feeling to kismet, to finally meeting my SoulMate because the feeling of recognition was so STRONG. I mean, crazy strong.” The recognition with the ex MM was so strong when we met, my colleagues warned me about him 10 YEARS before we finally hooked up. It was electric.

          • AdrienneBytheSea says:

            Fearless and Runner, I was wondering the same thing: are you my long lost sisters? I’ve been in such a maelstrom of mixed emotions this weekend (blame the hurricane). Trying to stay positive, have been dwelling a bit on the negative (as in the anger I feel — and self-pity)–a real BLEH (sticks tongue out and retches) feeling. Many times I felt invisible when I was young–I resonate with much of what you wrote, Fearless. Coming to terms with all that stuff is tiring–I’ve been sleeping more this last month (don’t feel depressed, just grieving). I am also struggling with dwelling vs. processing — there is a fine line between both. Then I come and read here and feel better. I am doing my best not to blame and to own my stuff, and there have been many times (too many) when I was “undemanding” and did not ask for what I wanted. I did not speak up about my needs (when I was in touch with what they were). The irony is that I thought I was at least trying to get my need for physical connection met with the MM–it had been ten years of not being with anyone–too long a time–and I wondered if I had forgotten how! I definitely felt I was in the last chance saloon (I am 48) and with the intense chemistry and my overly fanciful nature (politically correct way of saying rose-colored glasses delusional) it was easy to lie to myself and cheat myself–and that is much worse than any lies the MM told me. Fearless and Runner, I don’t drink, but if we were together in a pub sharing stories, I would raise a glass of hard cider to you both and to NML. You all have helped me keep my head up during this time when I just want to lay down and cry. Cheers!

          • Fearless says:

            Not wishing to digress from the topic of the blog but I am very curious about this from runnergirl: “my colleagues warned me about him 10 YEARS before we finally hooked up.” What were you warned about – was he known for philandering?

          • runnergirl says:

            Hey Fearlesss, Ria, and Grace,

            Fearless, to answer your question: He wassn’t known as a philanderer. My colleagues warned me because even a decade agao there was that “electricity” (or fatal attaraction) when we were together and, apparently, others could sense it. I didn’t listen, obviously. To be honest, I really didn’t give it much thought because he was married, extremely conservative, preached about familty values, and he was the ring leader of the enemy camp. After we hooked up, he did admit to always trying to get me to notice him.

            Ria & Grace: You are so right about the seduction and oozing charisma, not to diminish my role one drop. That is what triggers my anger at him and at myself. He probably would have had an affair with someone. It wasn’t about me. Although he did tell me that he wasn’t looking to have an affair…it was just me he found irresistible. The sucker that I was, I bought it hook, line, and sinker. It was all about me, according to him. It was always about him. I guess the only upside is that it took over a decade for me to be seduced.

        • Carrie says:

          Preachin to the choir fearless! There was only my half-sister and I, but I feel like I was constantly overlooked. Probably started after she was born when I was 8. I never felt like I was being heard.. by anyone. Being the good girl (undemanding like you said) is the only thing that gave me a sense of doing the right thing, even if it was only coming from me. I guess for some reason I paired being a good girl with deserving of love. Mom would say to me “It’s okay you’re an airhead – the most intelligent people usually are!”. Wow way to backhand compliment me mom. She’s a master at it. My mom never ever asks to this day for what she wants. She dances around it and expects everyone to “finish the sentence” so to speak. But always quite polite! Like you’re expected to read between the lines.

          One thing I’ve strived not to think about is the physical resemblance between my ex and my ex-stepdad. Both known for their “beautiful eyes” (one deep green, one bright blue like my sister) and both complimented on their good looks pretty regularly. Both slender and with dark hair, though my ex shaved his head bald long ago.

          I wonder how much my doubt of myself stems back from after my sister was born. She’s been constantly complimented on her eyes and how cute she is since she was a baby. Typical California girl. I love her, but I wonder if something about the amount of attention she gets for her looks played a part in my lifetime desire to have good-looking people as friends. I knew when I said that to my therapist it sounded very strange. But my ex was extremely good looking (darn narcissists) and I took a lot of validation in such a good looking guy wanting me. All my life I’ve been attracted to attractive people for friends and I’ve commented and thought in my past that it curious my friends are all pretty. And not like supermodel gorgeous, but just attractive in my mind. It gave me the sense that maybe I was too if they were willing to be my friend. And I am a reasonably attractive person but I’ve obviously never thought so deep down. Dang this is some straight up shit to take to my next therapy session! lol.

    • Lia says:

      Thanks Carrie! Might have to check it out…

  31. mirelle says:

    I am not a constant writer here, but I do read the blog every day. My story is an ordinary one- I had a “relationship” with a married man. It all started in 2007, when he was not married. He told me sweet lies about a “crazy old girlfriend” he couldn’t escape of, then he became unavailable for days/weeks. I realized soon that I was involved with an unavailable man, but as I am an EUW myself, this was my comfort zone. I was still in recovery from another ex-EUM, so the fact that he appeared only once in a fortnight was convenient for me.
    I felt in control, everything was OK, the sex was increasingly good, and so a year passed. Then I realized that he was my only “friend” I could confess to, I needed him for companionship and comfort, and I became anxious when he didn’t call. It was time to stop, so I gave him an embarrassing ultimatum he didn’t comply with and then I saw him holding the hand of his “crazy” ex. They were together and that was the painful truth I was not able to cope with. The following year passed with him telling me about the multiple attempts to break the relationship, all finished with him giving her another chance because she was about to commit suicide. I kept seeing(and having sex with) the ex EUm and the guy with gf. Our relationship then was almost wonderful, without the little “detail” I never wanted to be aware of. I preferred to live in denial, although I always somehow knew the truth. I thought he was my only option, and maybe that was the truth , because I have not met anybody for years. Then, one day, I saw him on her hi5, in a groom suit, with his wonderful bride. I was devastated. I cried all night. I felt so ashamed, so stupid. He was sleeping with me a couple of days before his wedding, telling me all I wanted to hear, making plans for a holiday together!!! He phoned, he stalked me, he begged, lied, did everything a cheater can do, and, after three months, I was again in the same story, again sleeping with him, stepping on my pride, my opinions, my strength. That was the moment when I realized how weak I am, when my self esteem was really low. He managed to keep me interested by feeding me with crocodile tears, roses, boxes of chocolate, wonderful sex, a shoulder to cry on. He told me stories about how great I am, I told him I was sure that he , even if he was going to get divorced, he would marry to another woman, not me, because this is the typical ending. I knew he was a liar, but I thought that he can make me feel great sometimes, and I couldn’t refuse some sparks of joy in my life .Time passed, I always tried to broke up with him, always failed. I think I never truly wanted to broke up, as I never truly wanted him to be entirely mine. I was just angry that I couldn’t have my own man, so I had all the reasons in the world to screw somebody’s husband. All this years were just pain, even when he told me lies, even when he said he loved me, when he disappeared, when he stalked , when he brought me roses, when he promised me he wanted to marry me, to have children, blah, blah.

    • Carrie says:

      Wow sure sounds like the other MM stories here.. I’m sorry you went through that. Are you still seeing him?

      • mirelle says:

        No, I cut contact in April, but broke the NC in July. I saw him once in July, when he tried to kiss and touch me. I refused him and, since then, I went NC again.

    • Ria says:

      l was imagining for a second myself in his shoes (l know its a bit funny, and odd) and l could not help but thinking this: if l was about to marry one woman in about a week, having sex with another, then divorcing a wife alter, then shagging some more in the office space with some colleaque, then again coming back to woman from past, then deep down l am not a happy person on the inside. In fact, when l look in the mirror – lm not satisfied with my life, its an unhappy rollecoaster adn lm trying to catch that “blue bird” but its not there.

      Belive me, Mirelle, it is a curse.

      • grace says:

        Yes, I knew someone like that, he left his wife for me, then dumped me (thankfully, saved me a job), then wanted me back, then met someone, then she dumped him, then he proposed to me, then he fell out with me, then he got married, then he got divorced, then we made up, then he fell out with me again, then he hunted me down, then we became friendly again. All this over the course of 20 plus years during which he was always telling me how wonderful I am, how marvellous I am, how he will always love me.
        He cancelled a meet up last minute after I hadn’t seen him in years. That was the last straw, I instigated NC. All that over two decades and he can’t even show up for pizza?!
        He tried to get back in touch just a few weeks ago.
        Is he happy? I doubt it!
        And, no, it was not about me. I was just foolish enough to put up with this craziness.

      • mirelle says:

        He certainly was not happy, his only delight was the drama he caused to himself and other people. As Nat described, his behavior was not about me, it was about him. He cannot live without drama, tears, stalks, break-ups and make-ups, cheating, begging,beating (he beat his wife before getting divorced),lies, etc. He was delighted when I treated him badly, liked complaining and putting himself in humiliating positions just to demonstrate how much he “loved” me. I thought, at that time, that maybe I was the one who caused him to act this way, but had nothing to do with me. He will never change, he won’t be able to do it because he is not able to look critically at himself and acknowledge that he might have a problem. He thinks he’s perfect. Luckily, I escaped from the roller-coaster. I must learn now how to live with both feet on solid ground.

  32. mirelle says:

    I knew that all these things were never supposed to happen, I tried to keep busy, I went to the gym, I dated my ex EUM (I did not have sex with him, I was not attracted at all anymore) , I went out a lot, nothing worked.In January I started to see another man. He instantly fall in love with me and kept talking about marriage and children. I was dying inside. My parents wanted me to marry him, all my friends ( who knew that I am single for ages) kept congratulate me,my MM was crazy about me and told me he wants the divorce. He really divorced that month. He kept complaining about his crazy wife, about her crazy habit of stalking one of his co-workers, a single woman. I started to think that he had an affair with his co-worker, as he mentioned her in our convos before. I broke up with the new guy(not entirely because of my MM, but also because my new man was sexually immature, better said impotent and I realized I could never live with a man like him, I even started to think about suicide), and then.. silence. My MM went cold turkey. I got upset and when he appeared again, I did not answer. I went NC for a couple of months. When I saw him after three months, I realized that I lost all my passion for him. Three days ago he posted a pic with him and the co-worker his wife accused him of having an affair with. They are now happy and probably getting married. A month ago he tried to kiss me , telling me he is OK and having fun, not looking for a new relationship. I am not stupid, I think I have always suspected him about it. But I feel empty, girls. I know I did not love him enough to want him as my husband, I know I might have been cold or disrespectful to him ( but he was worth it). I feel empty, I have no illusions about him, but I have a weird feeling that I will never find another man. I feel old, bad and miserable. Please, tell me what can I do? I read your blog , but I just can’t imagine the picture of an Available man ( not boring, not a nerd, not a weak , girly boy). I just can’t imagine what kind of man should I look for. I know I have issues, I just don;t know how to solve them. For me, now, all men are monsters who either want to marry me, make me a housewife with three babies I feed while they’re out with their mistresses, or EUM who can give me a sort of cheap good time. Nat, I need help. I feel life is not worth the effort.

    • Magnolia says:

      Hi Mirelle (bonjour? Mirelle is a French name, no?)

      I’m glad you decided to post, and am sorry to hear you’re feeling so low. I have, more than once, sunk to levels of feeling “life isn’t worth it” after a bad breakup and no support around me. I hope you are not really saying you don’t value your life?? If you are at all at risk of hurting yourself, please put off that thought and call someone.

      Assuming that you are not at risk, but still feeling very hopeless and dejected, I want to say there is the possibility of enjoying life. I too have had periods of my life where I was not dating anyone, where I went to work, did well there, went to the gym, looked hot there, but felt no joy in any of it and came home and cried myself to sleep every night – for years.

      You absolutely MUST focus on addressing that feeling: how you feel when there is no guy around. If you had asked me, for most of my life, I would have said something like, what’s the use of living if there is no one to share it with?

      It CAN be different. You are feeling an emptiness inside that hurts. But a man will not fill that emptiness, he can only distract you from filling it, or try to fill it (which also can’t be done). If you did not feel an emptiness, you would not accept an MM, or an EUex. (The MM you describe sounds like a total ass, btw).

      Once you discover how (aren’t you curious how? BR has tons of clues) to fill your own emptiness, and start experiencing your life from a standpoint of feeling whole, a relationship with a man won’t be about filling a void. It will be about something else (mutual enjoyment, teamwork, companionship).

      But filling the void comes first. Attend to that first. I’m sure others on here will have much to say to you as well. In any case welcome and hugs!

      • mirelle says:

        Thanks for the wise words. Sorry for my last phrase. I am not at risk, I just can’t find any kind of pleasure in anything. I don’t want to die, I want to live but I am not capable of making myself happy. I don’t miss the MM, I don’t want a man in my life and I am OK with being single. I am just so upset that I filled the emptiness in my life with a jerk like him. When I said “life isn’t worth it” I was thinking that I am going to live my whole life doing the things I am doing now, feeling empty, stuck. I am angry that my life is so dull. I feel that years pass quickly.I don’t even look for a man to fill the void, as I said, I came to the conclusion that no man can make me happy. I don’t date and I don’t want a man near me right now. I read Nat’s posts about everything related to self esteem, but I suck at making myself happy.

        • grace says:

          You did only see him last month, I think you don’t recognise how hurtful it is to see them.
          You can’t carry on like this (well you can if you really want to). You say you have a problem, we offer solutions, then you say you can’t do it. Nat’s right. “I can’t” is the mantra of those with low self esteem. I can’t give up smoking, I can’t lose weight, I can’t find a job, I can’t exercise, I can’t leave him, I can’t quit drinking, I can’t make friends, I can’t be happy … If you say you can’t then of course you can’t! It would be wonderful if someone would swoop into your life and make you happy, but it isn’t going to happen. However, hard it is, and yes some of us do have it harder than others, the only person who can help us is ourselves. Yes, there are professionals and charities and friends/family who support us but you have to do it yourself.
          And I do know how you feel. None of your feelings are unfamiliar to me. NC, time, patience, effort and a little faith.

    • Michelle L says:

      others with more wisdom than me will give you good advice, but please don’t think that life is not worth the effort. There is always a life to be lived, it’s just that you have been beaten down by a cruel man (but you are not beaten!). He has cheated on everyone he has been with, and to be rid of him is a blessing, though it is hard to see it now.
      I guess the only thing is that I would be careful of labeling a man as boring without really getting to know him. Sometimes the ones we perceive as boring are the ones who will be committed and loving–in other words, the kind of man that we need, even if we think we don’t want them. I think sometimes it is easy to caught in the excitement of the drama of these kinds of relationships. Better to find adventure and excitement in healthy ways, like sports or travel.
      Keep fighting for yourself and your life.

      • mirelle says:

        To Carrie- No, I don’t see him, he’s out of my life.
        To Magnolia, Michelle, Grace-Thank you, girls. Unfortunately, I am not able to become happy with my life. When I said “life is not worth the effort”, I was thinking about what life has offered me so far, and, if this is all I’ll ever get, then, it’s not worth the effort, the suffering, the pain, the hopes. I was not thinking about suicide, I was thinking about living this life till the end and looking back to what I have lived and come to the conclusion that it was useless.
        And it is not all about the fact that I don’t have a man right now. With or without one, I know I would feel the same emptiness. That’s why I don’t date. I find dating useless.
        I know all the theory, I read a lot about how to love yourself, but right now I am not able to do it.

        • TeaTime says:

          Mirelle – I experienced a big change in my life about a month ago. It wasn’t related to a relationship with anyone (the xEUM has been out of my life for nearly 9 months now thanks to this site). But what you describe above, the feeling of emptiness and this feeling that even with a relationship it just doesn’t seem to be worth it, so no use in trying to date? You basically ripped out a page from my journal over the weekend.

          I had worked very hard to build my self esteem. I was improving and getting there. But this big change that happened – it changed the way I’m living my life right now, and I feel like I’m back at zero. I’ve been feeling down, and my thoughts appear to be echoing yours.

          What advice I have for you is what I’m saying to myself everyday – Stay positive. Yes, life seems like it isn’t what we want it to be right now, but we do have the power to make changes in our life to get us back on track to where we want to be. For me, I have some constraints I can’t get past right now, and I’m rattling my brain looking for a way to overcome these obstacles to me living my life and being happy again. For you, maybe there are some obstacles too, but we must find the way.

          Spend your free time doing the things you love, seeing good friends (and if you don’t have any good friends go get new ones!), and just keep busy. This is my plan so far. And yes, most of the time I’m feeling too lazy to get up and do it, but I HAVE to. Let’s push ourselves and make an effort to make our lives better. *Hugs*

        • EllyB says:

          @Mirelle: Seems as if you are currently suffering from a mild form of depression. I feel for you, but consider the following quote which has helped me tremendously in the past:

          “Don’t wait until you feel better to do the things that will make you feel better . Depression causes a decline in motivation. To get over it, you have to do things to pull yourself out of the dumps even if you don’t feel like it.”

          (from “Am I the only sane one working here” by Albert Bernstein)

          You might not believe it right now, but you are going to feel better once you start treating yourself better (going out, buying things you really like – but no binge shopping! – working out, whatever). It works that way much rather than the other way round.

          • mirelle says:

            Thanks, girls, for your support. It helps a lot reading your posts. Be sure I’ve been trying all the “classics”, from shopping, friends, working out. All these keep me busy to some point, but it’s only temporary. I guess it takes time to build a new “me”, a happy one. Happiness and self love do not appear overnight. I wasted four years -from 26 to 30 -on a MM, so I can allow myself the privilege to take my time now.

  33. PhoenixRising says:

    Its amazing how these guys are cut from the very same cloth. My ex AC/EUM had a similar story. Every time I tried to explain how he’d hurt me, he would blather on with his woe is me BS – how so many women before me had “wronged” him, how he was depressed, how he had lost who and what he was. He also was skating on thin ice at work, having shown up reeking of alcohol. It was always someone else’s fault. Same broken record, again and again. Luckily now someone else has to listen to it and I do feel for her.

  34. Happy Girl says:

    I love this post. I think a lot of people have trouble realizing life isn’t all about them. I’ve watched my parents live in their own worlds of self made narcissistic misery and almost took it to the complete opposite level of inverted narcissism that Natalie talks about. I wouldn’t ever be concerned about anything that was going on in my own life (because I kind of didn’t have one), but holy shit did I take responsibility for everyone else’s stuff. It’s ridiculous how many situations I became involved in that had nothing to do with me, trying to project my ideals onto other people and spending hours listening to them moan and bitch about things they had no intention of changing. It kept me from ever thinking about having to change myself, for sure. It wasn’t until I became involved with the worst ass hat to date who told me ” Worry about your own problems instead of mine. I don’t even like to be around you anymore.”So I quit being around him, and his words have finally, truly hit home after a relationship with someone else. No one wants to have someone else constantly riding their ass about everything they do wrong. My ex was constantly on me for my smoking, my diet cola intake, and my lack of energy toward my writing. None of these things had anything to do with him, but the more he bitched, the more I wanted to spite him. We broke up, and guess what? I quit smoking, quit drinking soda, and started writing again. I did it because it was for myself, not because someone else made me feel like I didn’t love them enough or wouldn’t be good enough for a relationship with them. That’s a ton of pressure, and something I am going to make sure I remember for the rest of my life.

  35. grace says:

    Oof, everything you say is classic fallback girl, the MM, his “crazy ex”, the sexual chemistry, seeing a new man before you were over the MM, wondering why her and not me, internet stalking, going back and forth, treating every man as the last chance salon, seeing men as the only solution. Basically getting pushed about from pillar to post and not knowing which way is up.
    I think you should put yourself on lockdown – NC both these men and that includes not stalking them or checking up on them. And then concentrate on yourself, make YOURSELF happy. Your problems run quite deep, it’s going to take more than the gym and going out, but do carry on doing that.
    Get Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, and read it. Properly. Accept that it applies to you. And accept that you are not in a special category of your own – we are all in the same boat or have been. What works for us will work for you. And it’s not about coming to some kind of horrible compromise where you have to marry a boring man. You can actually be happy!
    If you are suicidal, see your doctor.
    If it’s any comfort, I’ve had recurrent depression, I’ve self-harmed, I’ve been suicidal and I’ve lived with an abusive A C. But I’m happier now than I ever thought possible. Courage!

  36. Magnolia says:

    Today one of the men in my 12-step group stuck around after to talk to me. We’ve been acquainted for a number of months.

    He really showed a lot of genuine interest in finding out who I am. And as we spoke, I realized that his interest comes largely from who he is: there have been things I’ve shared recently, and things he’s been working on recently, that made our conversation today interesting and timely.

    I felt that this person genuinely valued some of the perspectives I have on life, politics, relationships, etc – even though, or maybe because, I “earned” my perspective through being uniquely me, and having my unique experience, and responding to them with my real angers, disappointments, hopes and determinations. I also felt like an idiot when I tried to impress him by mentioning an accomplishment. That’s not the level we work at in 12-step.

    In any case, because this interaction happened during the space of this post, I was able to reflect on how who I am will attract all kinds of different people for different reasons. Even if someone is really interested in me, their behaviour and way of engaging, what they want out of me is about THEM.

    This person said that 10 years ago, actually more than that – he would have been more the type of guy (read: AC) I have described as having encountered in my life. I could see that he took it as growth in HIMSELF to actually approach me to talk about culture, writing, politics, self-growth, etc. I took it as an interesting example of how whatever relationships I bring in to my life will be about me doing something in my own interests, and that person doing something in their own interests.

    For me the growth is now practicing a kind of gentle self-care that is about not turning his interest into something harmful for me. He’s attractive, but he has mentioned before that he doesn’t want children. So we’re incompatible. I look forward to the day that such information IMMEDIATELY deflates my sense of excitement and validation from a guy, but if I’m honest, I still think he’s cute and have to be very loving to myself and turn my attention away from that old saw of trying to validate myself by getting an unavailable guy to be more interested.

    I turn my attention back to building trust and love within myself. It’s comforting to do so.

    • Movedup says:

      Keep stepping sister! One day at a time!

    • EllyB says:

      Thumbs up, Magnolia! Don’t worry too much about having such short-term crushes. I think it’s quite easy to get over them, if only you allow it to happen.

      In the past, after every little flirt, I used to cling to fantasies forever. If only XY could pay more attention to me… If only I could get over my doubts about that guy…

      A few weeks ago, I chatted some guy up during a ferry ride and felt somewhat frustrated by his behavior (a little interested, but not much – like I wasn’t good enough). Now I wonder whether he would have been good enough for me. Why did he matter that much to me back then? I don’t know. Anyway, no damage has been done.

      You need to be able to let go if things don’t turn out well. Everything will be fine!

      Correction: You ARE already able to let go. You just need to discover this skill!

  37. phoenix28 says:

    Amen to that! For a long time I had zero self esteem which led me to believe that when people misbehaved with me it was because there “must” be something inherently wrong with me. It took some painful realizations to finally see that we do the things we do because of who WE are and not as a reaction to somebody else’s value or how we feel about them.

    Thanks for another GREAT article Natalie. You continue to be a guiding light to me as I strive to build better self esteem and boundaries.

  38. MaryC says:

    ……”Yours could be too if you put the overactive ego on the backburner and get some balance. Own your stuff – leave everyone else to own theirs”.

    O MY GOSH, so true so true.

  39. jennifer says:

    I wish I understood this concept 2 years ago bc it would saved me the pain of calling out of work so much I ultimately got fired…..just bc I was consumed with what he was doing and with who. Unable to eat or sleep. Really believing I wasn’t pretty enough, didn’t make enough money or drive a nice enough car. There I was fighting for and degrading myself for a man who was obviously cheating on me with more than one person. Plus he hit me many, many times…..which made it worse. But still I stayed hoping it would all get better. ALL that damn time thinking it was me that was the problem. Now I KNOW it is him. And it WILL BE HIM no matter who he’s with. I didn’t “get it” then, but I do now. And for this, I am so grateful.

  40. jennynic says:

    Looking back, it seems that decent guys never gave me a second look while the bad boys and jerks were in endless supply, swooning around. I thought it was because I appeared challenging and aloof (self protection), so the good guys thought they didn’t have a chance and the bad guys saw it as a challenge. I got it backwards. The good guys probably saw the low self esteem I carried with me, saw the walls and smelled some kind of desperation. The jerks saw someone low enough to get on board for the shit ride. I saw the lies and cheating, the neglect or rejection as me not being good enough. So, I would contort to be more likeable, less difficult, more fun, and less demanding, which only made them treat me even worse. It’s hard to feel like someone isn’t throwing rocks at you when you get rejected. The idea that it’s their issue and not mine, and I don’t need to suffer because of it could be liberating if I could just make myself believe it. It is hard to change these negative beliefs while still making bad choices. Stop engaging with the kind of people who throw rocks and maybe you will stop ducking long enough to open your heart and mind to the right people. The rock throwers will be so far away the rocks can never reach you. The mind is a crazy thing, how we get hung up on destructive things. The way out is more than reading and understanding, its acting in your own best interest, even when its hard or breaking our heart at the time. Just like we learn to judge these guys on their actions along with words, we should hold ourselves to the same test.

  41. Tasha says:

    Since awakening from the confusion of the fog of “What gives him/her the right to treat me this way?”, I have began taking an inventory of the quality of relationships in my life. Anyone else marvelling at the lack of real connections with others? I have spent such an enormous part of my life trying to convince others of my value and making excuses for when they consistently treat me badly! I have many flaws, but I am an individual worthy of love, care, respect, and kindness. I am no one, but I am someone. Their loss!

    • Fearless says:

      “Anyone else marvelling at the lack of real connections with others?”

      Yep. Me. Especially those I’ve had with myself! And that comes as my biggest surprise – because I have thought, and still do, that I am more self-aware than many people I know (they are in a really bad way!); I hadn’t realised so much about myself had gone right over my head!

      And: “I have spent such an enormous part of my life trying to convince others of my value and making excuses for when they consistently treat me badly!”

      Yep, that’s what I thought I was doing but now I see it like this: I’ve been trying to convince others to value me so that *I* can be convinced of my value, so really I’ve been trying to convince myself – not them – and I’ve been making excuses for why I have consistently failed to take better care of myself (in relationships).

      The weird thing I’ve learned here on BR is that all the things I thought were to blame for the difficulties of my relationships can be flipped over and sent right back to me. For me, BR wraps up all the ‘stuff’ I am trying to unload in a brown paper parcel and addresses it: ‘”return to sender”. All my issues with the ex EUM (and other passed relationships) ultimately come right back to and right down to me. I got the parcel. I’m now going through *my* stuff! Might be crap but at least it’s my crap and not someone else’s, like that of an EUM. Ladies, let him open his own parcel – if he sends you one don’t even open it, just send it right back! :)

      • RadioGirl says:

        Fearless, you are truly on fire with your comments – really adding extra insight to Natalie’s blogs! I love the “return to sender” parcel analogy, and also your realisation that in trying to get others to value you, you’ve really been trying to get *yourself* to value you. The most difficult, squirm-inducing part of my journey (which still often has me procrastinating like mad as an avoidance/distraction technique) has not been getting over my ex-EUM and all his poor behaviour and stuff – it’s been acknowledging and dealing with my *own* stuff. Morphing myself into his life and his self-made “problems” and drama, and abandoning my own life while I was with him, was really just one *huge* avoidance/distraction technique. That’s one of the real reasons I felt so devastated and lost when our relationship ended. Thank you for sharing your realisations with us on here :)

        • Fearless says:

          Thanks. I’ve often said here that just when I think I’m really ‘getting it now’ I get it some more!

          “…abandoning my own life while I was with him, was really just one *huge* avoidance/distraction technique.”

          Yes! Well said. We need to take “us” back and go through our stuff – like clearing out your wardrobe of all the old and done stuff we’ve been hoarding for years and long forgotten we even own (most of it can be bagged up and sold on ebay to highest bidder! Lol.)

  42. Renee says:

    This article couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been trying to heal from a very toxic relationship which who I believe to have narcissistic personality disorder. For the longest time I kept thinking that he kept blowing me off and treating me as a convenience because (as he put it at the end of it all) I was “too shy and not outgoing enough.” I thought it was my fault, he almost had me convinced it was! Now I’ve had several wakeup calls and after reading this it is very clear to me that I DID NOTHING WRONG. His actions aren’t a reflection of me, but of his own disordered self. By me taking responsibility for his actions is ridiculous. I am in control of myself and I know that I did everything I could, but in the end he is an unavailable narcissist. Ever since I gave him the boot and kept NC I feel better…I do have days where I get upset, but I am stronger than ever because I have a newfound respect for myself and I’m working on getting my self-esteem even higher. He keeps trying to contact me though which is funny because I used to do the chasing after he “got me.” Well anyway, thanks again for this amazing article!!!

    • PeaceBaby789 says:


      Thank you! Thank you! God, I wish I’d had that lightbulb moment before I went so far down this crazy road! Now I feel like I stepped into a bit part role in some drama that he was in the middle of – this is not me! I just gradually assumed the role. Exit, stage right.

      • Natasha says:

        True story girl!! I couldn’t figure out why I was so livid when he got in touch with me that I was practically morphing into the Incredible Hulk (good thing I got off the phone quickly…green does NOTHING for my complexion). Then it occurred to me that if I could stop beating a dead horse trying to love him into being a decent person, he also had the power to stop trying to connive me into being someone who put up with blatant disrespect. I’d told him I wanted a better life for myself, without him in it, and it was up to him to respect that. Ahhh, but if they had that kind of insight and decency, we wouldn’t be calling them assclowns. These guys have an agenda that really has jack to do with us. The flip side would be something like us calling them up, disrupting their lives, telling them that they should be better people and FedEx-ing a case of wedding magazines to their offices. Single minded agendas generally equal disrespect and lack of thought into what the other person wants. Exit stage right indeed! If you haven’t read this already, it’s excellent and I think you’ll really enjoy it:

        • Mango says:

          Shazam! That was all kinds of awesome! Thanks for posting the link, Natasha.

          • Natasha says:

            Awwww thank you Mango :) That link is my fav – I’m glad you enjoyed!! Putting one’s foot down can be so very empowering haha!

  43. T says:

    Yes! Actually I’m writing a post about this exact topic tomorrow. It’s a tough pill to swallow because we ALL believe “it’s all about me”, don’t we?

  44. Miranda says:

    Renee, have you been seeing the same EUM as me! I had those lines fed to me too……”You’re too shy anyway”…..the line I get over and over is “You’re boring”…well I’m bored with him saying I’m boring!!! Anyway can’t be that boring, he keeps trying to come back. I know full well it’s not me it’s totally him and his issues, he just fails to see his own faults and likes to pick on other people’s so called weaknesses/issues instead. Well done for staying NC…I’ve broken mine recently and gone back….need to find that strength again to break away.

  45. Donna Lopez says:

    This was a great post, Natalie, and timely because I’ve been struggling with this since my relationship ended. I don’t want to bury my head in the sand and say that my ex was just an AC and did everything wrong. But I feel I’ve made everything about my behavior and my “stuff”

    We started seeing each other a year ago. He had just come out of a 6 year relationship a month before. (When I met him he told me they had broken up months earlier!) The first 6 months was on and off. Of course he couldn’t commit because he was still getting over his ex. The fact that I stayed is on me. I shouldn’t have.

    Six months into the relationship he told me he loved me and bestowed me with my “Girlfriend” title. I had so much invested in him already that I was more than willing to take the risk. We talked about a family, and how our kids would be raised since he’s Muslim. I thought he really wanted to go full steam. Just as things were really intense between us I got pregnant, lost the baby and his 9 year old cousin died. I tried to be there for him but my body was going through so many changes. Emotionally I didn’t realize what a wreck I was.

    It didn’t take long for us to start fighting about things he considered little. I was so frustrated, sad and depressed that I was really dramatic during our fights. One of our nastiest fights was after a really nice lunch one Saturday when he refused to let me meet one of his uncles because I was wearing a skirt to my knee and a t-shirt with a jacket . I had just gone through the pregnancy and everything that entailed and I took it so personally when he said I wasn’t dressed properly that I walked out on him. He was yelling and was so cold to me, I just didn’t know how else to handle it.

    I think about that day a lot because it demonstrates how we could go from getting along so well to being at each other’s throats in a matter minutes. There are at least half a dozen stories like this. I didn’t know how to improve things. I spoke to my therapist about it every week. He along with everyone else saiys that I wasn’t being valued or being made a priority. We almost never did anything I wanted to do. Most of our time was spent in my apartment or with his family (although he never introduced me to his parents). I tried to be understanding, he worked a lot, he lost a family member. It was a lot to take. But in a nutshell, I can’t release myself from the feeling that he left because I’m an awful person…

    • msblue says:

      If he has never introduced you to his parents6 months into the relationship but calls you his girlfriend, talks about marriage/children….that’s a HUGE red flag.

      I doubt that he wants marriage. He is lying.

      You should learn more about islam to see if this religion suits your values as a wife and mother. Does he expect you to convert?

    • NML says:

      Donna, I’m a bit confused by your extreme ending to your comment. Now this isn’t a competition however you lost a baby. Whatever the state of your relationship, you lost a baby which aside from the physical effects is emotionally devastating. If you’re not coming out and breaking into the last performance from Chorus Line, I think you can be more than forgiven. People fight about stupid shit when they are ignoring far bigger problems in the relationship or within themselves. It’s not about the outfit so if you think you can hang your entire relationship on a difference of dress sense, you can’t, so just stop. What I would also say is that even though you do have far deeper issues in the relationship, if you’re going to marry a practising Muslim man, you must respect his culture and what comes with it. One of those things is the dress code and I say this as someone who has a mother who was arrested for wearing shorts in the 80s in Nigeria… But before you get obsessed with the skirt again – it’s NOT the skirt – that’s a side issue that is easily resolved. Unless you BOTH learn how to deal with your grief by playing for the same team instead of dividing you both, your relationship will continue to flounder. You’re both on the same team. You have BOTH experienced losses. Unless you both begin to empathise with one another and truly understand and respect one anothers position instead of being in your own world, it will flounder. Stop making the all of the relationships issues about you – you’re just not that powerful.

    • grace says:

      I would love to believe that religion doesn’t matter when it comes to relationships but I think it’s the final frontier.
      I was brought up in a fundamentalist christian home and that did affect my relationships. I don’t know a lot about islam but I’m pretty sure that they believe the same as the fundie christians – no sex before marriage. And that, I think, is why you didn’t meet his parents etc. I kept my boyfriends a secret from MY parents. I know it’s hypocritical, but that’s how it was. I felt I was living a double life and it made me feel guilty and dissatisfied with myself and my boyfriends, even the decent ones. It’s not about you.
      A person can go against their family and marry outside their religion but it takes courage and commitment. I do believe that most parents will come round, especially when kids are involved but, in the end, it sounds like he didn’t want to risk it.
      Final point – I don’t know the details but six years is a long time for a religious person (or anyone for that matter) to be in a relationship and not get married. Sounds like his issues are bigger than you or anyone can handle. Despite the religious complication and the sad events this is still a classic EU situation. And therefore not about you.

  46. LL says:

    Grrreeeat article…..Wow, you hit the nail on the head. The thought that it was not all about me ran through my head a few times, but I was never able to make it stick. I was a doormat with a bigger ego than I thought.

  47. Magnolia says:

    Man, I am all about me lately and it is tuckering me out!!

    I think I lack organizational skills. I am trying to build some additions onto “me”: ie, invent a Magnolia who does more than just eat, work, work, work some more and go for the occasional walk! Realizing that if I want more activities and people in my life, I’m going to have to start scheduling them all in. Otherwise I just let work taaaaaaakkkkkeee over and that makes Magnolia a boring girl.

    When my self-esteem was where it was for 30-ahem years, I talked about my problems a lot and thought about my sadness a lot and was probably “all about me” in that selfish way. It’s that inverted ego thing you talk about, Natalie. Any attention, even bad drama attention, is better than nothing, one thinks. But what I didn’t realize was that I was avoiding (from myself or a guy) a real, sustained attention on me that might notice that I don’t take care of myself or like myself that well. (I use past tense because I am not that woman anymore!)

    I didn’t get what it meant to “focus on me.” I only knew how to navel-gaze. Still I was terrified of being self-centred! How we figure out the difference, I don’t know! The differences keep becoming more clear as I keep curious about the best and most active way to love myself.

    Now I see how much action needs to be taken to love myself, to love myself so much that I give myself every opportunity I possibly can, it’s like having to go into training or something! It has taken a long time to make the emotional connection between an active approach to life and loving myself. The two have finally begun feeding each other.

    But I have been a couch potato in terms of doing for myself. And every time I choose inaction now, I know I am letting myself down. (Different, this, from scheduling in needed rest.) I need to get in mental shape, because I want to have more fun, and I have to figure out how to fit that in NOW, not someday.

    But it’s a fun project!

  48. kitty says:

    Very true, with these type of people it’s not(never) about you because it’s all about them…lol

  49. Donna Lopez says:

    Thank you Grace Natallie and MS blue for responding,
    He may have been lying about marrieage and a lot of other things. Not only to me but to himself. I realize being with someone from another religion is tough. I was willing to make changes if he had ever had a conversation with me about expectations. But those conversations never happened. He just assumed I would go along with everything on his terms. I live and work in an area in Brooklyn that is largely Pakistani, that’s how I met him.

    He has a pattern of running from women which is something I should have been more careful about but I naively thought he would be different with ME. His 6 year relationship was with a Greek woman who wasn’t Muslim. He cheated on her 3 years into the relationship and they were apart for 6 months. According to him they broke up because her mother didn’t approve of the relationship. I have to think there was more going on there than he admits to. Before hert he was in an arranged marriage to a woman in Pakistan for a few months. He divorced her because she accused someone from his family of stealing her wedding jewelry. That marriage, incidentally, was arranged so he could “escape” a Muslim woman he was dating at home who he says was stalking him! Writing it down is making me see the craziness of it. Why on Earth did I think I was so special that he would be different with me?! I can only imagine what he’s telling his family and his next girl about me!!!

    I was willing to be part of a team and do the work necessary to get past our grief. When he first informed me (via text) that he wanted to break up I begged him to reconsider and to take time to think about things. I took all the responsibility for the failure of the relationship. I told him my sadness over the pregnancy made it hard for me to put things into perspective and I said I would change. I never held him accountable for throwing me crumbs.

    I went on a two week vacation that had been planned for months. When I got back he told me (via text again) too much had changed, he didn’t love me anymore and that he wished things “had been a bit easier”! I suggested to hin he could have made things easier by being a ittle more supportive of me after what I’d been through. I wasn’t asking for much, maybe take an afternoon off to go to the park or out for a beer. His response was “Sorry, I can’t,…

    • Fearless says:

      sounds like a lot of porkies to me from this guy. So, basically, all his past relationships went down the toilet because the women were either bad or crazy? Yes, we do wonder which of those you’ll be labelled with! But the common denominator here is him. He is just not prepared to own his stuff. Sounds like you’ve had a lucky escape.

      • Donna L says:

        You are 100% right, Fearless. Something about writing it all down here and staring back at it crystalized things for me. Funny how someone who likes to blame themselv es for everything (me) chose a man who can’t take responsibility for anything! It’s the worst form of opposites attracting.

  50. Spinster says:

    “If you have low or even zilch self-esteem, despite not loving and liking yourself enough, you have ‘inverted’ ego issues. Just like getting an ego stroke, collecting attention, serving your own agenda at the expense of others, and at the extreme end of things, being a narcissist are ego issues, so is low self-esteem.”

    Yep. That was me. Hell, it’s still me to an extent – better than a few years ago but still an issue sometimes. Again, it’s more of a struggle on a personal level and has the potential to spill over into any potential romantic relationships. And the one thing that I don’t want is a potential relationship that gets ruined because of my personal issues. I’ll never be perfect, I know that. But to throw my bit of baggage onto someone who doesn’t deserve it – No.

    (Besides, I enjoy not thinking about men all the time. Back in May I mentioned being boy-crazy for a brief moment, which isn’t like me at all, and I’m fine without that pressure.)

  51. EllyB says:

    One of my secret worries used to be: What if I meet a man who says he only wants a GF/wife who is on good terms with her family?

    What if he breaks up with me and marries another woman with nice parents because I’m NC with my horrible, abusive parents and grandparents? Wouldn’t this be another “punishment” for my childhood? Wouldn’t this confirm my belief that I’m doomed?

    Crap. I know my family is bad and I’m not. If a guy believes otherwise (or all he cares about is having a “perfect” looking family including his parents in law), this would be about him and not about me. Flush.

    • grace says:

      I don’t think most men make those judgements. Bless em for that.

    • Magnolia says:

      Elly! I hear you with those “secret worries”! Can you believe we spend time worrying about what some person who isn’t even there will someday think? I caught myself just yesterday imagining being in a new relationship and immediately started feeling bad about my lifestyle and my bum!

      There wasn’t anyone within 200m of me and I was worrying about what some imaginary man thought!

      I’ve done this so often it’s a very deep habit. (Is this one of those “bad love habits”? I dunno but it can’t be healthy.) I think it began as a kind of “prepare-for-the-worst” mentality, a kind of visualizing how I’ll handle a situation. But I have totally gotten into a habit of imagining the worst.

      Imagining someone’s reaction to my family is on the list. Like you, I have worried about whether I need to defend them from criticism or distance myself from them. I have only recently caught myself: I can prepare, but now I imagine the scenario and ask – what do I want to be able to say? what is my choice around this issue? And if I must imagine, then I imagine someone saying, however you choose to engage your family is fine – we all have our family stuff, or I imagine me walking if a person doesn’t like the full picture of me.

      I have begun countering this fantasizing with staying in reality and looking at real men every day and asking myself: do you want that one, Magnolia? Most of the time there is no interest at all in the real person right in front of me. If there is a frisson of attraction, then the answer must be: how should I know if I want them? I haven’t even met them!

      In fact, realizing how much negativity I associate with relationships (worrying about what someone else will think about my body, my family, my issues, my choices, etc) has made me feel lately that I don’t much want a relationship!

      I look at a guy and I notice the first feeling is: he probably wouldn’t like me. Shame, anger, memories: it all happens in that little flash of seeing someone I think is somehow beyond my reach.

      Now I’m like: huh! If that’s the feeling the thought of a relationship (or MY thought about a relationship) gives me, I’m going to stop thinking about them for a while! Maybe forever! If I’m meant to give that much mental energy to relationships that *might* be a certain way, the thoughts can come back when they are more positive and confident!

  52. jennynic says:

    Okay, having a small speed bump in my road. How many days do you wait before you flush, for a guy to call you back. The new guy I have had about 4 or 5 dates with went out of town and hasn’t called since he’s been back….only a few days but we were talking every couple of days before he left. Am I starting to make this about myself? Maybe it has nothing to do with me, but I get told that if a guy is into you, he will call and not wait to long. My gut is getting that feeling again and I don’t like it. We have called back and forth equally but the ball is in his court this time and I won’t push myself on him. I find myself analyzing our last conversation and wondering if I missed something , said something or just did something to put him off. Ahhhh…..making this about me. How long do you wait before you flush a guy who was seemingly very nice and polite. He doesn’t have a cell phone,so he doesn’t have a phone in his pocket all day. I haven’t slept with him yet, or even close. I catch myself wondering what I may have done wrong and jumping to conclusions. I am trying to reality check myself. I’m not freaking out or anything but am spending a little too much brain power on this.

    • Magnolia says:

      Hi jennynic,

      Sounds like the question is more, what do YOU, jennynic, do in a situation like this? We all handle ourselves differently and are comfortable or uncomfortable with various behaviours. What’s the way that takes you most fully into consideration?

      • jennynic says:

        Hi Mag, I decided it was foolish of me to sit in fear and wait for him to call, so I just picked up the phone and called him. Although we made plans for Friday, I did sense a shift in him and feel my gut was correct. Funny thing though, just acting on my fear and anxiety took away the power of the negative thoughts. He was a little luke warm on the phone and it made me lose interest. I will meet up with him on Friday if he follows through and see how it goes but am ready to flush if I feel he is luke warm. I am not up for games and inconsistency this time around.

  53. right on says:

    @EllyB I’ve just read your last 2 comments, I was totally impressed by your eloquence and insight. You sound so brave like you can conquer any difficulty, you may have already developed skills which enable you to recognise and avoid potential trouble. You sound ace!
    I seem to learn alot then forget most of it, but had a shake up recently (through an EU, nice but complicated & difficult,) so i’m learning to work on myself in the right way.

  54. Lessie says:

    Considering that my current job involves me working online sometimes I am a wee bit ashamed to say I did not realize there was a “character” limit to the postings, my apologies to all. If I may continue from the prior post…

    I was an English major, so “words” are very important to me, but again, as Natalie pointed out, “If the words and actions do no match up, then the words themselves mean nothing” and this is so very true! But yes, after my “Mr Big” did the dishes, he asked me to be sure and bring the sunscreen, since he apparently thought after breaking up with me we would still continue our “plans” for the day…and it was this request for the (now) damned sunscreen that rankled me later…he KNEW what he was going to say and he KNEW it would hurt me and yet, he was still thinking of himself! ARGH! How “emotionally cold” is that?!

    The entire month of July was an emotional and mental fog for me (I don’t even feel as if I have had a “summer” at all). But once I managed to dislodge my heart from my throat, I did three things: I blocked his email address, I changed my cell phone number, and perhaps the most difficult, I stood in line, trembling at the post office so I could mail back his “housewarming” gifts to me. It was one of the most wrenching things I ever had to do, but in doing so, I felt a great weight had been lifted.

    He was so very good at making me feel the center of his universe and it is very difficult to have no contact at all, even now. I still struggle with feelings of inadequacy, “Was I not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough” even though I know in my heart this is not true. I sometimes still have flash backs and feel as if I am experiencing post traumatic stress.

    I wanted to say this to all the wonderful women who have posted here: we gave our hearts, in good faith and honesty, we trusted and in return we have been hurt terribly and treated as no one ever deserves to be treated. But we did this out of a belief and a hope in love and we must remember that not all men are like this. I don’t want to become bitter and cynical and that in itself is a struggle too, but I will NOT let that happen to me.

    And neither should any of us. The heart is very fragile, yes, but it is also a muscle. It is resilient. And so are we. I would like to give each and every one of you the biggest hug!

    • Magnolia says:

      Hi Lessie,

      Welcome and thanks for telling your story. Sounds like you handled the break up really well, distancing yourself and cutting contact.

      When my exAC and I broke up, he called the next day wanting to go for a walk as if nothing had happened! It was that move – like your exMMs sunscreen move – that made me realize just how casually, how negligently he had considered me during our relationship. It smarts.

      But glad you’re here. Sounds as though you’re doing really well.

  55. Lessie says:

    Hello to Michelle L,

    Thank you so much for your words here to me.

    One of the many “a ha” moments I have had myself is in realizing how I had allowed myself to EVER be placed in a situation where I was “waiting” for someone to “choose” between me and another person! How could I have done this? WHY did I do this? But, alas, I did, and one of the many things I struggle with still is being able to understand and forgive myself for my own part in this horrid drama that has so greatly impacted me.

    And…I would like to be more “evolved” but I can’t help it: I want him to be miserable and unhappy. I can’t stand the thought that he had his “fun” with me and then returned to his life, as if nothing had ever happened and I was merely a blip on his radar screen. Yes, it is quite sickening to me.

    After the break up, I felt as though I had been discarded, like trash. That I had outlived my usefulness to him, and no longer served a purpose. One of the absolute worst things he said to me, the following day, after our physical intimacy was “I felt uncomfortable because I couldn’t say ‘I love you’ and I should have been able to say that. There are so many things that are right about you, and I should feel that way, but I just don’t”…

    And THIS comment was after months and months of him proclaiming his great and grand love for me, repeatedly, so much so that I myself began to feel a bit smothered by his intense attentions. As Natalie wrote prior, so many of us internalize all these nasty comments and turn it all against ourselves, when in fact, the real truth is that it was not about us at all.

    And, it probably never was. This is perhaps my greatest epiphany yet. I wish you the very best, I am glad to be sharing these “a ha” moments with you and the other ladies here, take good care :)

  56. Lessie says:

    Hi Magnolia,

    Thank you so much :)

    I do feel as if I am getting stronger but honestly, each and every day is a brutal emotional struggle for me. I try and stay busy, which helps, and I have talked and talked and talked about this with two of my dear friends which has helped a lot to and yet…just when I am starting to feel as though I will recover, I have a days when I am in tears, and dissolve into a massive puddle of insecurities, doubt, and intense self loathing.

    In sending back his “housewarming” gifts to me, I wanted him to feel repudiated in the same way that he had made me feel repudiated: ie., “You do not matter”…I thought long and hard about doing this but then I realized, “Why would I want any reminders of him in my environment”…and that’s another thing as well: I feel as if he almost “invaded” my physical space, my new home, which, at one time he had said, “I can’t wait to see you resplendent in your new home darling”…

    And now, yuck, all I can think is, “No, you saw me CRYING in my new home and YOU were the cause of that”…I think it was very important to him that he be seen as “the good guy”…gifts, champagne, flowers, etc…and it is my hope by returning his gifts that he realize this is not true.

    I hope you are doing better too, there is strength in numbers they say :)

    Take care!

    • Magnolia says:

      Hi Lessie,

      Don’t know if you’ve already gone through with the returning but do take care to ask yourself if it’s just another way of sending a message. You wrote: “it is my hope by returning his gifts that he realizes this is not true,” which suggests you do still have something you wish to communicate to him, ie. that he is a dinkus, which he is. Thing is, you will likely only communicate this: “You are still on my mind” and “the thought of you still has an effect on me; I am a mess over you.”

      Better if you want those things out of your sight to sell them on eBay! Make a profit. Or if you just want them gone, give them to the Goodwill or Salvation Army.

      • Lessie says:

        Hello Magnolia,

        Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me about this.

        Yes, I did return his “housewarming gifts” to me…all the way to Bermuda where he is currently living and working. It cost me quite a bit of money to do so, but, at the time (and still now, even, I think) it was worth it to me because, the way I was feeling yes, I did want to hurt him, because he had hurt me.

        It’s juvenile, I know, but when you’re in that moment, it is difficult to think rationally and logically, as you can only really do when you have both time and perspective to put it all straight.

        None of this is easy, at all, especially admitting to myself that I allowed all of this to happen, and that I was equally complicit.

        Sigh. Each day is a struggle. I hope you are doing well in your own situation. It’s so nice to know that others care.

  57. Tulipa says:

    When it’s an exes birthday or a major event happens, you ruminate about getting in touch with them because you’re worried about how you look and what they will think of you if you do or don’t.
    I have caught myself out making his b’day all about me and stressing over what he is going to be thinking when I don’t get in touch.
    How ridiculous I am being his b’day is about him and he has showed me over four years he doesn’t want me involved in his b’day and before those 4 years well he got on with his day without me.
    I also shouldn’t care about what he is thinking about me anyway.
    Thank you for what you wrote I will be reading it and repeating it constantly his b’day is not about me until the day has passed. I wrote a completely different post beofore re reading the post again and seeing the sense in it for this situation.

  58. Jo Jo says:

    I was so hurt my guy was a always going hot and cold with me until I finally learned the truth from his old friends and family. The man I fell for devoted himself to his ex-wives. Truly he did, at one time he protested the court system making national news in the 80s trying to get visitation by walking 300 miles the week of fathers day to see his then 2 year old daughter. His second wife left him for the bottle. He can’t commit not because he is an “ass clown” but because he had been crushed. Not in the same way as we allow ourselves too but crushed just the same. I think I had a part in my getting hurt because I had expectations and was not willing to accept that he was so broken in this area. I have a responsibility to chill next time and take is extremely slow and not have sex with any man unless I really know him. I love this man with all my heart and always will. But I moved on because I deserve a full and loving relationship regardless of his past baggage. I do respect him and love him, and I am healed of any ill feelings towards him, because I understand now. The below paragraph summed it up for me and was written by a man.

    The majority of divorces in the U.S are usually one-sided and it is the WOMAN who usually wants the divorce. Don’t think any independent guy wants to risk losing his kids, house, cars, love, emotions to such a petty human emotion we call love. (Although 90% of the time it is either lust, falling in love with the face you’re not alone or seeking male/female attention.

  59. LS says:

    I love this blog, and I’ve been a weekly reader now for some months, though I haven’t posted. Often, I have a feeling of connection and natalie’s words really get to me, but sometimes an article just doesn’t click, I don’t understand it. I read this article when she first posted it, but just today, just this morning I was talking about some weekly events with my counselor, and she said “you know, you say things are your fault a lot
    That must be a heavy burden to carry around, thinking its your job to make sure everyone is ok, and if anything is wrong its your fault…” and then it clicked. #1, it isn’t all my fault, and #2, why am I putting this burden on myself? I’m hoping this “release” of weight feeling will stick with me, and I can start to set aside taking responsibility for others’ actions, and raise my self esteem. I remembered this article and reread it, this is exactly what i’m working on. Thanks for the great words, natalie!

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.