Being the bigger person: It's best to consciously choose your own response because yours is the only one you have any control over.

Recently I found myself having to take every ounce of patience and willpower I had and bite my tongue. I had to choose me instead of choosing that person’s behaviour or what they might have expected out of me. This is what some would refer to as ‘being the bigger person’ where we forgo the temptation to retaliate at that person’s level or to let our ego rule and instead choose a course of action that reflects who we truly are. We choose to slow down enough to be conscious of what’s really going down and where we can be pulled into a dynamic that will not serve us.

Inwardly, we might have to rein in that part of us that wants to:

It’s tough, especially when somebody has crossed our line, to not respond impulsively. If like me, you spent most of your childhood and some of your adulthood defending what shouldn’t have really needed defending and feeling confused, there can be a temptation to make up for lost time and unleash. It’s easy to say, ‘Eff it. They’re not playing/fighting fair anyway’ and then go down an old path that essentially takes us away from who we truly are.

The trouble is, it’s often those moments where we go ‘off message’ that we beat ourselves up for, and we judge ourselves unfairly and decide that that moment represents who we are in the main. We can end up feeling ashamed for having taken a detour due to feeling provoked or just feeling that we had no choice.

This whole being the bigger person or more, choosing to stop engaging and/or choosing our course of action based on maintaining our integrity, can be especially hard with what we tend to regard as people who ought to know better – family, especially members who are older than us. It seems as if everything is back to front when we experience these problems with, for example, our parents. We wonder, How can they not know that this is unhealthy and hurtful? We might slip into a child role where they are deemed to be right, just because. Actually, this is even more of a reason to stop engaging.

Giving people the reaction they’ve come to expect or even feel entitled to, just casts us in the role that we’re expected to play. We fulfill our part in the story they’ve already written and then feel diminished afterwards. In accepting who they are instead of making a last ditch effort for the gazillionth time to attempt to change them, we can choose how we want to respond.

Stop engaging

Sometimes though, we get sidetracked and mistake being the bigger person for being a doormat. Is is really the ‘right’ thing when we attempt to do a white flag, reconciliation, and even people-pleasing thang, with someone who interprets this as code for, Poor boundaries, reset button has been pressed? What’s the point if we do this and then feel the repercussions within for weeks or even months on end and drag our self-esteem down?

On the flipside, sometimes people will tell us to ‘be the bigger person’ without being truly aware of the ins and outs of the situation. Ever been told to forget about something really big because it’s family or you you’ll be regarded as ‘immature’? Choosing not to engage in an unhealthy dynamic doesn’t mean whitewashing the past because then as soon as it becomes apparent that we can’t just forget (especially if the issue is still happening), we’re going to feel ‘small’.

Being the ‘bigger’ person has this inherent association with the other person being ‘smaller’. This in itself can trigger fear and guilt about coming across as superior or shame around not having the memory of a goldfish. This is why we have to choose our responses based on what we would be and do in the main so that we don’t get sidetracked from our values. We have to consciously choose to stop engaging in dynamics that will only result in a battle for supremacy and/or feeling diminished and we also have to listen to ourselves – it’s easy for people to tell us what we need to do to be ‘bigger’, but they’re not taking our journey. It’s not them who has to live with us after we marginalise ourselves in the name of keeping up appearances.

In my situation, after becoming exasperated due to explaining myself a few times, I came back to earth. I’m thirty-six frickin’ years old and getting dragged into other people’s episodes of Dynasty just isn’t my bag. The whole saga had nothing to do with me but I also recognised that their reaction was not about me either. They weren’t really ‘there’. They were in their own fight. In recognising this, I chose the response that would give me peace (after initial gritted teeth…) because I knew I’d feel worse if we’d gone toe to toe. Was a part of me going, “But I could have said ___” and did I do a few re-runs in my mind? Sure, but that’s the whole wanting to have the last word and we all know how this can have us going down a path that prioritises being right over peace.  No matter what each of us said in that situation, we’d each have to deal with our end of things regardless. Sometimes, you’ve got to know when you’ve said your piece or have flogged that donkey till it collapses. As soon as you experience that sense of exasperation from trying to convince a person of your position and trying to control the uncontrollable, halt and stop engaging. Regardless of what you do next, you still cannot control their opinion or their behaviour.

Own your own. Let the other person choose their response. It doesn’t make you ‘bigger’ per se but it does allow you to feel in command of you.

Your thoughts?

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80 Responses to On being the ‘bigger’ person: Why it’s time to stop engaging – choose how you want to respond

  1. Juliette says:

    I can relate to this professionally, Natalie. I recently had to politely distance myself from a client who was becoming emotional and irrational due to many other things going on in their life. It became clear that their plate was full and it was straining our professional relationship. It wasn’t easy making the decision to cut “bread and butter” loose for a while but my spouse encouraged me to do so. I feel much better and of course, other work has come in. It’s important to put yourself first.

  2. happy b says:

    “Sometimes, you’ve got to know when you’ve said your piece or have flogged that donkey till it collapses. As soon as you experience that sense of exasperation from trying to convince a person of your position and trying to control the uncontrollable, halt and stop engaging. Regardless of what you do next, you still cannot control their opinion or their behaviour.”

    This brings me back to the idea that when we recover, we do our actions for us, not for the other person who isn’t respecting us – it can appear to the other person that we’re behaving in the same old way, if we stop challenging them, but WE know that our motivations and expectations have changed, and that’s all that matters, it must no longer be our concern what they think.

    I realised recently how much a close relative has mistreated me over time, despite my efforts to explain my side and stop it. But I don’t want to fall out because it would mean losing other family at the same time and causing a whole load of new drama. Life’s too short! So he recently sent me some photos of his great life, looking for my validation. I could have ignored it (passive aggression) or told him he might show a bit of interest in my life too, but instead I gave myself seconds to respond and wrote ‘great photos’.

    I came away thinking, he won’t even realise what he’s doing, I’ll appear my old de-prioritised and eternally supportive self. But then it dawned on me that over time, my change of behaviour will become apparent, and what’s more important, I spent little time thinking of it before acting, gave little of my time and energy away, I don’t care if my actions are pleasing (now the opposite), and I’ve done the right thing by me. I’ve said everything I could say in the past, and since that didn’t work, the consequences are my disengagement and I’ll save my writing for people who have earned it. Little change on the outside, but so much difference on the inside.

  3. selkie says:

    This is awesome advice. I went a little overboard when I first discovered the concept of boundaries and tried to police people who crossed the line with me. Most times, it became a struggle of wills, and honestly, it feels shitty to try and force someone to respect you. I call it forceful begging. You end up feeling as Natalie said, “small”. And it’s damn tiring. I learned over time that having boundaries doesn’t have to be a struggle. I CAN choose who gets space in my life, time in my day, or any amount of my heart. If they choose to treat me with disrespect, then that’s their choice, but I don’t have to stick around for it. They soon enough figure out I don’t play that game and I am gone, have no time, or don’t engage. I have already wasted too much time struggling with these kinds of folks to get nowhere but exasperated and beat down. More of my energy is spent just being me and being okay with it. Being secure in myself made a huge difference.

    • ljsrmissy says:

      BOOM! Right on the money Selkie. Especially on the begging for respect part. I feel as a adult, as God’s creation, I have a right to dignity. I should not have to in some way or another convince ANYONE else of that or ‘earn’ that from another human being who has to meet the same maker that I do. I don’t subscribe to that. For the longest I would wait for others to hold up their end of the golden rule to be confused, stupefied, sad, mad, you name it, time and again. I came to realize that not every one shares the same principals. Even though 10 times out of 10 the get/would get upset when/if the same things they do is done and said to them. I decided to take my ball and go home as it related to an individual I interacted with (owned a bar I would go to) last year. I felt that even addressing this guy would be too far beneath my sensibilities. The best way to deal with some people and situations is not to deal with them at all. This guy was one of them. He was how he was and he had a right to be that way. It was just too far beneath my sensibilities. No matter what I said or did, it would have been a fools errand on my behalf. I’m just not into abusing, hurting, jabbing people, and I am not into crap slinging contests neither. I don’t get anything out of that behavior. But I realize enough people do. Now I just refuse to deal with people that are too far beneath my sensibilities. Children and special needs people are one thing, but grown, able in the mind, and able in the body people who feel like they can dish it out but how dare you put them into a position where they have to take their own bad energy, no way!

    • Gina says:

      Thanks Selkie, your learning is spot on for me also. Keep continuing in your wellness and security :)

    • Elgie R. says:

      Selkie, I’ve come back to your response to this post so many times in the past week I feel I owe you a shout out. Thank you for your insights. “Forceful Begging”. “Demanding Respect”….I saw myself in those words….feeling “cheated” when my doormat behavior did not win kindness from the receiver and then feeling confrontational with the receiver.

      I remember one user/ BFF saying to me “You’re not going to BEAT an apology out of me, Elgie!” She had called to cry on my shoulder about her BFF who disappointed her by standing her up for an outing, something my BFF had done to me and expected me to just “get over it”. I angrily pointed out the similarities and asked her to tell me the difference.

      And a recent encounter with NPD coworker left me feeling *small* – I now understand I was demanding she respect me…when that is the last thing she ever intends to do. Such an ugly nasty woman. I can sense coworkers “handling” her, to avoid her wrath. I relish every social nicety she ignores when dealing with others – she calls coworkers “stoopid”…in that elementary schoolyard way…”You stoopid!”…..no one ever laughs with her. When she dissed me, it was only the two of us around,….it took me about 10 minutes to let the humiliation I felt die out. I knew it wasn’t that I wanted her to like me, but now I understand, I was begging for respect.

      I don’t find it as hard to walk away with no discussion from AC men, but I am still a little high school in believing female friendships are different. But I have not ONE female friend. I try, but I swear I turn most females off. And I am not Sofia Vegara, but women of my race have never warmed to me for any extended period of time. I am so convinced that my attempts fail that, if I find friendliness with a female, I do not try to broaden our relationship for fear of losing the pocket of friendliness we do share.

  4. AngelFace says:

    I hate having to tell a person something twice, and I don’t do it anymore. And I just blocked a guy I had started to date as he was NOT the person he tried to imitate. BuhBye, I’ve forgotten him already and didn’t give him the satisfaction of a fight he seemed to be staging. Yellow and red flags flying in the breeze….For a reason!

  5. Sparkle says:

    All day long, I have been furious with the exAc for cutting my electrical wires. The 4th installment of harassment since NC last year. Ive turned a blind eye, ignoring the childish BS. But, the recent incident was borderline dangerous and busted my budget to repair. How much more of his ninja style attacks am I supposed to accept? I remain NC, but a big part of me wants to break and rage at him. Should I get a restraining order and risk retaliation? Or just wait it out, suffer in silence until he returns? AARGH, I keep the high road and pray he gets bored and finds another victim.

    • Diane says:

      sparkle, my advice is restraining order without a doubt before he does any serious damage to your property (ie,starting fires) or even shifting it on to you personally, at least you would have something in writing and if he continued his AC behaviour you have your back covered with the authorities. Just my thoughts, Sparkle, good luck.

    • Noquay says:

      Sparkle
      You need a restraining order NOW. If nothing else, having it in place, calling police when it’s violated, provides a record of what he is doing. This kind of vandalism also endangers your neighbors as well as yourself.

    • lizzp says:

      Sparkle,

      I am really sorry to read that your Ex has deemed himself entitled to harass you. You say that this cutting of your electrical wires is the fourth “installment” since you went NC last year. Were the the other three incidents similar in nature? Like other readers who’ve responded I immediately thought… restraining order. Cutting electrical wires may not simply be motivated from a place of “childish” revenge/antics. If done at night then it leaves you vulnerable and in the dark. If you go out to the fuse box and touch a severed but still live wire you are at risk of electrical shock and even electrocution. Granted, you know your Ex but at the very least cutting wires is a supremely stupid, careless and dangerous act. Perhaps ask yourself if his behaviour has been escalating or if he is unpredictable. Can you know with absolute certainty that he will not physically harm you? Either directly or indirectly? I would think that you cannot and his actions ‘speak’ loudly of instability. This leads me to what you say about risking ‘retaliation’ were you to successfully apply for, and have him served with a restraining order.

      In Aust three breaches of a restraining order now results in mandatory jail time. This is made absolutely clear to the offending party when the order is first served. If you mean by “retaliation’ the Ex turning up at your home or work or approaching you on the street then, depending on the laws in your country, as long as you report the breach (and as long as you do not break the restraining order yourself by voluntarily approaching him)there will likely be legal and real consequences for him. If you mean by retaliation you fear an escalation to harming you directly/bodily and/or further damage to you home I would ask yourself whether that risk is not already present?
      If you are able to accept it is (and to me his *actions* say that there is risk)then you serve your own best interests in taking necessary precautions that could include informing trusted and caring others of the situation, having neighbours’ and emergency numbers handy ‘just incase’ and…app,ying for a restraining order. Usually when you do, you are given plenty of info and support regarding how to take care of yourself, including basic protective behaviours and having a plan of action should the served individual breach the order in any way.

      • lizzp says:

        p.s. I meant to add that when it comes to being harassed or stalked my view is that, if applicable at all, being the bigger person does not equate with giving the other person the benefit of the doubt. From one angle, that could well be the equivalent of continuing to ‘engage’ in the new post NC dynamic. Actually, Natalie says the bigger person chooses their course of action based on “maintaining their integrity” and that just so concisely captures the bottom line IMO.

  6. sam says:

    Wow.. talk about perfect timing. I ask my bf (on and off of 2 years) if he loved me and pictured a future with me. No answer. So that is my answer. Tomorrow I’m going to pick up my things and had wrote a card with my thoughts. But as the hours pass, I think I’ll go, pick up my things and just say good bye. Short and sweet. No drama. No talking for there isn’t anything more to say. He doesn’t love me so nothing I can say can change that. Let’s hope I am strong enough to follow through with me plans. In and out, short and sweet.. hello, thank you and good bye.

  7. Tired out says:

    This really hit home tonight Nat. My youngest son (33) sent me a very cruel text and picture of my granddaughter that a dog of mine bit last year. I put the dog down because the bite was pretty severe, he being startled by my granddaughter. This happened a year ago and we were and are still all devestated. My grandaughters scars have improved tremendously and will probably only need some laser work. He and his wife are suing me for $5 million dollars on behalf of their daughter. I don’t have barely $5K but the point is that I didn’t respond right away and after a couple of days I called and left a voice mail asking him to call me so we could just talk. No call, no nothing. I could have a lot to say in a response to him but have decided to let it be and show him that I am not going to be a party to his cruel actions towards me. He sent this text to me after I emailed him and his wife that I just got a new rescue puppy. I guess they feel it was wrong for me to get another dog and won’t even discuss the issue with me. Sorry for all the detail, bottom line is I’m not responding to something I don’t think I deserved. I tried being the bigger person but no reply. at least I’m not responding back in a way I think he deserves.

  8. Noquay says:

    I have learned, when having been disrespected or hurt by another, to first step back, even walk away, let a bit of time pass, then engage, or sometimes not. If the perpetrator is someone I need never deal with again, if the offence warrants, its total NC. A few years ago, I was horribly and
    very pub locally humiliated in front of colleagues. Turning my back, walking away from the situation was the only dignified thing to do. This person later wanted an explanation, again at a public meeting where he knew there was no way I could confront his behavior; again, I walked away. Later, I sent a well crafted and thought out letter explaining the situation and how I saw it with a lot of “in my shoes, how would you have felt”, “can you see how seemingly contradictory your actions appeared on the outside”. I wrote in such a way that was non accusatory, yet would make him look really bad should he try to ever show it to another. Maybe soneday I will get over the hurt; all my efforts to see others, get out there, have pretty much been utter failures but I have learned much in the process. My people-reading skills have improved ten fold. Never before has my red flag detector worked so well. I may continue to feel the extreme loneliness that arose, in part, from that horrid situation, but I know I handled it with total dignity. There are folks out there, deliberately or not, will hurt us. They may be unable to or may not care about our pain. Not everyone does consideration, empathy, no amount of explaining is going to make them “get it”. Some folks just dont. Our own actions are all we have power over.

  9. espresso says:

    I am still struggling a lot with this because I have to think a lot and be more deliberate in inevitable reactions with my ex and not engage because been there, done that but I feel awfully close to the plcating self I often was in the marriage. I know it is the best way to react but I feel I am giving him permission to continue to make things more difficult whenever he can. The other day while discussing the logistics of theend of our business relationship he got all glowy faced and said how much we had worked together to build our business while I sucked up my truth which was that he was obstructionist, didn’t assume responsibility for decisions which made it all fall on me and was inefficient and never took initiative which made more work for me. I know I can expect nothing and don’t want to give him the opportunity to blame, guilt me and then play the victim but I don’t feel that great about being totally nonreactive and focusing on my future although I do. Any tips on how to emotionally handle this dilemma? I do not want to betray my truth or create a mess for myself.

    • Nigella says:

      Espresso,

      From what I gather, your dilemma has two things going on at the same time. I hear you saying: “I know giving examples to the ex of his irresponsible & inefficient behavior is pointless. But remaining silent is making me feel that I’m (1) compromising my integrity by not saying what I think of his *past* behavior as my business partner and (2) “giving him permission to continue to make things more difficult whenever he can” through his *present* behavior.

      Regarding his past behavior, I think it would be better to save your breath to cool your porridge than to waste it on him. Conveying anything critical to people like him is like pouring water through a sieve or telling a sieve that it has holes. Being emotionally hollow, he is not going to retain anything you say. Just as he didn’t appreciate all the support, patience, and affection you poured into the marriage, so too he won’t absorb any critical feedback you might be tempted to give him. This man has spent years stone-walling you & disowning responsibility for his poor behavior. Bringing up the past & talking things through with such people is like beating your head against the wall. Nothing is going to happen to the wall. But your precious head might take a self-inflicted beating. So, I suggest, continue taking care of yourself by applying your mind to things that matter to you.

      I can imagine how frustrating it must be to hold your tongue in response to his self-exonerating account of things. But choosing not to challenge his account is not the same as betraying your truth. Opting for silence in this case means saving your energy for better things. Had you been doubting or denying your truth, then you would be betraying yourself. Unlike him, as long as you don’t cling to illusions about him that is what counts – it is unnecessary to express to the stonewaller what you think of him. If you do give him a piece of your mind, what could be the best or worst response he could give you? Could his response set you back on your journey away from him? Plus, what do you hope to achieve by revealing your truth to him? Even if he is truly penitent, does that really do you any good? Sobbing & saying sorry is easy. To get things off your chest and to travel with minimal baggage, it might be useful to (continue to) put down your thoughts about him on paper. Purge on paper. Let the idiot cling to illusions about himself.

      Regarding his present behavior, I think it might be helpful to put limits on the extent to which you accede to his demands. You may choose not to bring up the past but as far as current circumstances are concerned you could speak up for yourself. Say “No” when it feels right to you. Negotiate. Do not settle for the short end of the stick. If you feel that around him you have to put up your dukes all the time, be clear about high-stake versus low-stake things so that you can conserve your energy to stand up for things that matter a lot to you. To determine which battles to pick you might also want to keep in mind your short-term & long-term goals because sometimes it is better to remain silent in the short-run in order to look out for ourselves in the long-run. I think 8 out of 10 times it is better to check out emotionally or walk away physically from stonewallers instead of going on a warpath for each and every thing. However, picking some battles is important especially if you do not want to be treated like a sitting duck & do not want to be fed things that undermine your priorities & values. In case you decide to speak your mind, then it will help to be *mindful* of the extent to which you want to engage with him. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine when to disengage. But listening to our instincts, keeping an eye on time, and redirecting attention to things that matter to us can help us disengage. Speaking to a stonewaller is as silly as speaking to a wall. By remaining silent on certain things, you are not “sucking up” your truth. Rather, you are ensuring that he doesn’t suck up more of your time & energy. Ultimately, as long as you *do* what you want to do & don’t accede to unreasonable demands, it doesn’t matter what you say to him or what he says to you. This is easier said than done. But it can be done.

    • Noquay says:

      Espresso
      He will never see reality of what the situation was. Nigella pyt it eloquently; why beat your head against the wall? I would tell him firmly “that’s the past, let’s move on” until he shuts up. No more engagement on the subject than that. Hope you are healing well.

    • Elgie R. says:

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with acknowledging things were not that great…I think it helps to stay honest, makes it easier to get past it. For example, while he was waxing nostalgic about the “shared struggle”, I would have said “Well, it really wasn’t all that much fun for me, lots of lessons learned, things I will make sure are done differently in the future.”

      That way you aren’t giving the mistaken impression of agreeing that his experience of events is the same as your experience of events.

  10. Diane says:

    Natalie, I feel you wrote this piece just for me, It couldn’t have been more timely especially after my weekend, I have been seeing my EUM off and on for the last six years and this weekend was the last straw for me, after him telling me that a reply was not needed or wanted to a text he sent me two weeks ago. I was the bigger person as always and said “I was home if he wanted to talk” it took him over two weeks to reply with a one word reply of “Why” after reading it I lost it and replied a few choice words of and for once it felt good not being the bigger person, but a pissed off person, a person who is sick and tired of being a doormat, So I say sometimes being the bigger person gets you no where, just give it straight from your heart and let them do with what they want with it, why consider their feelings when obviously yours don’t come into their equation of that field of thought..

  11. camille says:

    When you say “stop engaging” do you mean don’t say anything back? Sometimes if you’re at a family get together when different clashing personalities are all together and things get said in that person’s style – belittling/manipulative/negative etc – you can’t always say nothing and walk off. So being a doormat is the only option if you want to keep the peace. I can’t see how you can ‘not engage’ if you’re expected to engage in social conversation at a social gathering. If ‘not engaging’ is how we should respond to stuff we don’t like then we’d surely all end up being hermits living in lonely isolation because most people are full of some level of BS.

    • happy b says:

      Camille, I see this as not emotionally engaging and not engaging in the dynamics – this can be done without drama. At a family gathering, it might mean that when the person belittles you or is negative, you let it fall like water off a duck’s back – look through them, say ‘hmmm’ and change the subject, or a peaceful, ‘I’m not sure what you mean’? ‘Good for you’, etc. End the conversation and whatever cycle it was. This doesn’t leave us like hermits but allows us to focus on the people who don’t cut us down, what we’re doing is isolating the person, not ourselves. In my experience, most people are not full of BS but i’ve given the most importance to those who are.

    • Tundra Woman says:

      camille, You said some really important phrases in your comment. What jumped out at me was, “…being a doormat is the only option if you want to keep the peace.”
      If you’re laying on the ground (a doormat) in an effort to “keep the peace?” If you’re in this position, think of how much you’ve already sacrificed to “keep the peace?!” I don’t think there’s anything left of YOU if this is the price you’re willing to pay for “peace.” Is it worth it? How are you benefitting from being a “doormat?” You’re not. None of us ever does. Feeling like a doormat when you engage with anyone is a hellacious price to pay to interact with others-no matter what the DNA relationship. Boundaries that are treated as Targets of Opportunity by others is IMO a huge Red Flag to Disengage. GTFO. Vamoose.
      The “Price of Peace” is never worth the price of your personhood. If people can not or will not (doesn’t matter which, actually) treat you with dignity and respect as a human being, obviously they don’t even value you or even view you as one. Consequently, you’re ALREADY alone-even if you don’t realize it yet, you most certainly ARE.
      camille, you’re worth much, much more than THIS. “Family” is NEVER a “Get Out of Jail Free” Card despite what you’ve been trained to believe over the course of your entire life to date. If you have some sort of Family Bully running the entire family dynamic, it’s a perverse, unhealthy system for everyone. It’s not up to you to change the dynamic-we don’t control others. It is both your freedom and responsibility to decide what YOU are willing to tolerate before you walk away and stay away until you have the time to re-examine/re-evaluate “What price Peace?” for YOU.
      camille, I’m truly sorry but some “Families” simply AREN’T anything more than a collection of DNA-related individuals. Some are more screwed up than others. It’s never entirely safe to swim with sharks-even *with* a cage, OK?
      Best wishes-
      TW

    • Lilia says:

      Camille,

      The way I see it, the thing is to stop engaging in the dynamics that bother you. For instance, when someone brings up a subject that is aimed at upsetting you, you can choose not to give them the satisfaction of seeing you upset about it.
      You can very calmly say something like “You know, I don´t really feel like talking about that now” and when they insist or reply with more stupidity, you just insist “yes well I´m not going to talk about that subject” or even “this conversation is over, I already told you”. And be firm about it.

      I´ve tried this myself and it leaves evil-doers completely bewildered, especially if you remain calm and firm. It doesn´t make you a doormat, on the contrary, it shows them you won´t put up with BS, and that you have enough dignity to come up for yourself. And of course, it puts an immediate stop to several forms of aggression.

      • happy b says:

        Lilia, sometimes I feel like we’re all talking about the same person.
        This post and the comments opened up some wounds, something I find completely necessary for processing and preventing future pain. I was thinking a lot yesterday about similar conversations to what you mention, where I would calmly say, I don’t want to discuss that, I respect you have your own opinion, I would never try to change that, and you must realise that you’re never going to change my opinion (er, because you’re deliberately arguing against something that’s extremely important to me!). Then he would so aggressively argue with me, once I broke down in tears and he still wouldn’t drop it.
        It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. He once said the whole sector I work in should be abolished. That wouldn’t be good for human progress, as I work in education. These crazy efforts to undermine me without having the guts to tackle his issues with me head on.
        I feel so much anger and tell myself it will pass. I remember when I finished with the AC, I had similar bouts of anger, but it passed. I have a strong feeling of betrayal, that family should be on your side. The silver lining is that I completely forgive myself for assuming that and trying too hard to cling on to something that was gone. I can love myself, I just need to let go of the anger.

  12. Tangerine says:

    Loved this line, “We have to consciously choose to stop engaging in dynamics that will only result in a battle for supremacy and/or feeling diminished.” This resonated with me, as I started NC last night. I know these first few days will be the hardest. Any insight on how to get past that feeling of always waiting to hear something?

    • happy b says:

      Tangerine, you have so much support and info here. Fill your schedule as much as you can and give yourself missions and new things to do, like knitting, finding new music etc. If you can’t stop thinking about it, take time out and write an unsent letter with all your feelings and a pledge to let go and do right by you. This gives you more power over your feelings and a better idea of where you’re going. Don’t berate yourself, be kind and learn from it instead. Enjoy your freedom!

    • Pauline says:

      Tangerine

      Take it one day at a time.
      One day where you have peace of mind, your boundaries are not being busted and your dignity is intact when you go to bed at the end of the day.

      I discovered that meant more to me than the ongoing drama of trying to cope with people who have no intention of treating me with love, care or respect.

      That’s who they are, I didn’t do anything to make them that way and I could talk until I was blue in the face trying to get them to change their attitude or opinions and it was a total waste of my time and energy and an exercise in futility.
      You don’t need people like this in your life and you already know it, you don’t need to do or say anything more to them.

    • no_more says:

      Tangerine,

      Going NC is tough at first. You’re probably going to feel weak, undecided, weepy, and uncomfortable. You’re USED to talking to this person. A therapist likened it to “unwiring” your circuits to someone. It takes time, patience with yourself, introspection, strength of conviction and yes, more time.

      Funnily enough, it is usually right when you’re starting to feel better, that most of these AC’ s will reach out with some half-as*ed contact. And the whole cycle can start all over again.

      Stay strong, be good to yourself, use this board for support, and keep reminding yourself: it DOES get better.

      xx

    • Lynn says:

      Tangerine – it takes a while. The first few months of NC are hard. The things that helped me were reading all the time on BR, reading the book Getting past your breakup and I am now reading The Journey from Abandonment to Healing. I was 8 months NC until my ex-Eum contacted me last week and I gave in to seeing him. It ended in us sleeping together and did I mention he just moved in with his gf? I think is some weird way though it helped me know that I do NOT want to be with him anymore. I miss things but thats normal. He is so selfish and if we were still together I am sure he would have eventually cheated on me. anyway – all that to say – its hard. You will be going through symptoms of withdrawal. I was addicted to my ex. You just have to feel your feelings, journal, hang out with friends and treat yourself well. You need to focus on you now.

      • Tangerine says:

        Thanks, Lynn. I will check those books out. NC is really hard. Before I decided to do it, I was okay with not reaching out, but not so good with responding to his texts. I am not he fence a bit about blocking his number. A part of me wants to know I can ignore him. Another part of me knows I may not be so great at ignoring him. I am glad you were able to grow and gain some perspective after reconnecting with your ex. The lessons aren’t easy sometimes.

    • Lynn S. says:

      When I started feeling that I missed hearing from my former assclown, I reminded myself that if I did hear from him it would only be more lies and the usual bullsh*t, and that’s not anything I should be missing.

  13. camille says:

    Or is the the message here simply “observe, don’t absorb” which I understand and find easier to remember.

  14. brenda says:

    Your too close to my slip ups lol! Definantly guilty of unleshing all of the past demons in my mind to just piss me of off more than I would have been had I spoke my mind at the times I should have, and too many times thought playing the doormat was being the bigger person, it was actually I guess a yes and no thing.. I was the bigger person until I stuck around too long always, leaving much sooner would been my answer …not sticking around to see if what I already knew anyhow was the truth. Thieves will steal from you if the intent was to steal rather the location was city or county or suburban in a sense.

  15. Tangerine says:

    Happy B and Pauline,

    Thanks so much for your encouragement. I read posts here and the comments so often. It is nice to have a community of people so will to share their insight and experience.

    Happy B, I will definitely be using writing as a way to help move through this. I also want to practice the best self care I can. It is hard when the low times hit, but I know doing those things that make me feel good will help me.

    Pauline, you are so right. I don’t need people like that in my life and I certainly can’t change them. I am trying to keep the focus on me, even though it is hard not to over analyze and wonder what they are thinking, and trying to figure it all out.

    Ugh.

    Thank you

    • Pauline says:

      Tangerine

      Even if you did figure out what moves people in their minds, what is that going to prove? It wont change one little thing, they will still be the exact same person they were before.
      All you will do is expend a lot of brain power and energy for nothing.
      A friend psychoanalysed her ex boyfriend, read lots of books and worked out exactly what (she thought) was wrong with him, weeks of reading and she hit the aha! moment, that’s his problem – and when I pointed out that was great work but what has it really proved, he’s still the same emotionally unavailable guy and nothing you have worked out is going to change him, you’re still not going to get the relationship you think you want from him, so what next? She couldn’t answer the question and didn’t realise there was nothing more to know, it was over and time to walk away.
      As Nat says, you get to choose your response because you can only control you.

      • Noquay says:

        Pauline
        True, you are not going to change anyone. Whether its a case of garden variety assholery or a diagnosed disorder, you have to bail, period. However, sometimes knowing the person who has hurt you was indeed disordered helps you in your own healing. During one week, I had walk away from a narc and cut off a friend who is bipolar. Reading up on both, especially the narcissism, really helped me to understand the dynamics of what was happening and also why I having a hard time healing;almost felt like a sort of PTSD. Nope, you can’t fix them but it can help you understand what you are feeling and why so you can begin to move on.

        • Pauline says:

          Noquay

          I agree with you that finding out why people are acting they way they do can be a big help in setting one’s mind at rest and helping you to come to terms with what’s going on, either during or after the fact, especially if you know or see signs of serious mental issues.

          In my girlfriends case her boyfriend was your common garden variety of EU/AC with no intention of ever giving her the relationship she wanted. He got sex, money at times and an ego boost. It was pretty obvious after about 3-4 months that he wasn’t interested but still hanging around for the fringe benefits and why wouldn’t he, it just too easy.
          I still can’t see why she went looking for a reason to explain his behaviour as something other than it was, and what she found in a book is only conjecture on her part as she has no qualifications of any sort on diagnosing mental disturbances. I can look up my medical symptoms on the internet and find I could be suffering from multiple issues, but I go to a qualified doctor instead and let him do his/her job.
          She found a way to rationalise why he dumped her, “it must be him and not me, see, I have the proof here”. It didn’t fix the problem and for all her CSI detective work, it hasn’t changed anything, there really wasn’t any more know, he dumped her and found his next victim. Period.

  16. Stephanie says:

    My belief is you have to pick your battles! Sometimes some people and situations are just not worth engaging because you know at the end of the day all you get it people trying to justify or trying to get a rise out of you. Sometimes, you have to call a spade a spade and leave it alone.

    When the ex AC/EUM tried to engage me and do things to bust my boundaries, I didn’t argue or discuss. I just removed myself from the situation or didn’t respond at all because all he was looking for was a reaction. He wanted to feel like the victim and I just didn’t have time to deal with that deluded man.

    As far as family, I stop engaging with my brother because he and his wife were trying to cause problems with me and my hubby. Mind you, I don’t talk to him that much anyway, but now I really don’t talk to him. I feeling is until he apologizes we have nothing to say to each. I love him because his is my brother, but I don’t like him very much and have no problem not communicating with him, unless its necessary.

  17. no_more says:

    This post hits home right now. My sister is borderline psychotic. She is always late, paranoid, and basically mad at the world. Right now she is angry at me again for something, and sends passive-aggressive texts (” oops- didn’t mean to write that last text- sorry!”).

    I have stopped responding, reply only to positive comments, and do not wait for her. If she’s not on time, I leave. I don’t explain myself, nor do I feel the need to be her punching bag.

    It’s working. And I feel like I am in control of what I need and expect. If someone doesn’t fit that bill- I’m out.

    This last 6 months have been such a learning curve- difficult at times- but a fantastic new view on life.

    Thank you NML!

    xx

    • happy b says:

      No_more, I share the brilliant feeling of asserting your boundaries, the strength that comes out of not waiting around for people who don’t treat you with respect, and not apologising for not waiting around or explaining why. It gives a whole new perspective on life, that of choice and not passivity. It’s helped me to change the record, that inner voice that tells me people walk over me and I always give in. Now it tells me nobody f*cks with me!

  18. Clare says:

    It took me a looooong time to get over that need to “resolve” things, and it’s something I still battle a little with at times.

    When you understand your own position so clearly, it’s hard to overcome the temptation to keep explaining to them, and you’re sure that if you could just find the right words, they would understand or “see”. Meanwhile, it’s as Natalie said, they are going down their own path and having their own fight that has very little to do with you. No matter how beautifully you choose your words, you are still flogging a dead horse.

    I recently saw this very clearly with an ex-boyfriend, who didn’t like my “attitude” towards his harem of female friends. Nothing I said could convince him that I didn’t have a problem with or dislike any of them personally – what I had a problem with was the way the dynamic of our relationship was set up so that I was very little of a priority. But try as I might, it was no use. I was the villain for questioning a situation which was obviously working very well for him where I felt like there were five of us in the relationship. It also became clear that he had his own story and his own version playing in his head which had nothing to do with who I really was. He started listing my “crimes” which had to do with me not welcoming the little posse of female friends unquestioningly into my bosom, which made me go, “huh?” (Such as wanting to leave a social event early, or not wanting to go one get-together after another… which purely had to do with me having a long week at work and projects to do for a course, and needing alone time).

    Finally, I simply told him that if he was so intent on his own point of view, I was not going to spend all my energy trying to convince him otherwise, and I disengaged.

    But this situation played on all my fears like Natalie said – feeling like I was in the wrong for having needs and concerns, wondering if I was being “unreasonable”, the temptation to try to paint myself back into a positive light and make them all “like” me again.

    But, this situation was what finally made this pattern conscious for me. There was nothing I could do – this group of people were intent on their very own episode of Dallas and drumming up a bit of drama to restore the status quo, and they really didn’t have the same values as me anyway. So, I just decided to leave the pieces exactly where they were on the floor and walk away. It was a bit painful, but it taught me a lot.

    • Debra says:

      This was incredibly well written. I especially related to the addiction of needing to resolve things. I am soooo guilty of doing this and I end up frustrated and empty.

  19. Peanut says:

    I love this because it really touches upon the idea that maybe it’s not about being “bigger” per se but rather what is most beneficial in the moment.

    I know to stay away from my family, not because I am being the bigger person, but because they are violent.

    I struggle with this with my peers. It’s hard to know sometimes. I did recently tell a friend to back off when she started in on criticizing my involvement with blogs and lack of reciprocity toward her new age spiritual practices (not my thing).

    She said she did not like conflict. I said that that doesn’t absolve her from dealing with it. She kept trying to sugar coat things because she didn’t want to feel the discomfort of disagreeing and realizing she had seriously overstepped some boundaries.

  20. Tangerine says:

    no_more….thanks for your insight. You have hit all the nails on the head so far…I have been weepy, uncomfortable, and weak. I know this too shall pass. I find the biggest challenge is to break those thought patterns that focus on HIM instead of me…

    thank you for the support

  21. Spinster says:

    Perfect timing for a mental refresher. Had to bite my tongue a lot yesterday at work and it was goddamn hard, but it had to be done. :-| Excellent post. Thank you.

  22. Umbrella says:

    Hi, I’m an avid reader but not a commenter. However, this post just came at the right time for me, so I thought I’d share my story.

    It’s been 3 months after my break-up with my boyfriend. We had a 9-year relationship, of which he was most of the time financially unstable (and irresponsible). Emotionally however, all was perfect for me: he was emotionally available (no AC) and always supported and inspired me to pursue my goals. He made me a stronger, more self-assured person.
    His financial instability never was a big problem for me in the earlier years, but we grew into our thirties, so time was ticking. Slowly we developed a coach-pupil relationship in which I was helping him to get his life on track, to get his goals clear, do sort out his administration, etc.

    It ended in us having a conversation concluding that he needs to get his sh&*%t together on his own, build his life from the ground up and start being a person, instead of relying on me and our relationship. So he moved out. We had elaborate phone calls thereafter and saw each other a couple of times. We further discussed the how and why of our break-up and build a shared story. That was great, though an illusion since we were at the same time desperately trying to hold on to our shared past. We even agreed upon getting back together when – 3 years from now – we are both still single. Wishful thinking indeed. We are still in love, but we are in totally different tracks, our lives do not align anymore. It feels horrible, since I completely understand and accept our decision rationally, but emotionally my body just doesn’t grasp this idiotic move.

    So, as you are probably are now all whispering, yes, I am finally into the NC zone, since one month. I have informed him that I need space an time, and he understood this. However, almost every 5 days he tries to open the door through short messages. And man, it takes a great effort not to reply. But, as stated in Nathalies’ post, I am going to continue to be the bigger person. I need to.

    What saddens me is that I hoped that after these 3 months, I would be already in an easier place, not thinking about him day and night when nothing else occupies my mind. Not crying spontaneously in the evenings when I am alone. I am trying to fill my brain with other input, but it desperately seeks for empty spots to fill with thoughts about him. I do write in my journal a lot, but the thoughts keep on creeping up. Any ideas how I can get rid of him camping inside my head?

    • ThreeDLife says:

      Umbrella,

      I feel your pain. It is so hard to get someone out of your head, especially after a long-term relationship. Nine years is a long time.

      My best advice is to FEEL your feelings, sit with them, let them envelop you, and be sad for a while. Then, try to get your brain focused on yourself, and what YOU need to heal.

      Sometimes it helps to make a list of all the things that didn’t work in the relationship, and re-read the list periodically to keep yourself grounded. He was financially unstable. He didn’t step up to the plate. He had an inability to accept responsibility. Perhaps you two had a co-dependent relationship?

      I just had to get out of a relationship I thought was going somewhere, but he is too commitment phobic to be able to go there. It’s hard. But I know from experience, it will get easier with NC and the passage of time.

      Hugs to you,
      ThreeDLife

      • Umbrella says:

        ThreeDLife,

        Thank you for your kind words, they help.

        Ah, the list you suggest! I made such a list right after we broke up, better have a good look at it again and maybe add some new items as well :)

        How are you doing now? Have you broken up recently? And are you strict on having NC?

        • ThreeDLife says:

          Umbrella,

          I have been NC with the AC for a year and I am now indifferent to him. If anyone had told me I would ever get to this point, after obsessing about him, being addicted to him, and enduring all those looping thoughts, I never would have believed them. But the good new is if you stay NC, it gets easier as time goes on.

          I have had one attempt at a relationship since the AC, and, alas, the guy was commitment phobic (though not an AC). He was a “nice guy” but couldn’t progress the relationship to a higher level, so I ended it recently. It hurts, but I am NC and plan to stay that way.

          I give Natalie and BR lots of credit for helping me get sorted out so that eventually I can choose the right person for me.

          Best wishes to you on your journey toward healing.

          ThreeDLife

  23. Shay says:

    “In my situation, after becoming exasperated due to explaining myself a few times, I came back to earth. I’m thirty-six frickin’ years old and getting dragged into other people’s episodes of Dynasty just isn’t my bag.”

    Haha… that made me laugh because it is so true.

    At 27 years old I live with my mother and choosing not to react to her ‘crazy’ is working. I’ve noticed that this ‘crazy’ is just a way of getting attention and guess what, any attention will do. This verbal abuse and bullying was something that I use to react to in order to prove I’m right or defend myself against someone who clearly knows nothing about me, clearly thinks I’m an extension of them and spends too much time assuming. Now they speak, I don’t respond and I shall not be until something of respect leaves their lips. Engaging makes me feel like I’m 13 years old again and I’m not, I’m 27 and I can decide how I respond which is no response.

  24. Rosie says:

    This weekend was difficult. I went to a small family reunion at my mother’s. My sister, mother, and I were discussing an incident where a man talked a woman into allowing her child to be put into child porn. My mother raged at the thought of it, exclaiming that she didn’t know how any mother could do this to her child.

    Already feeling sick, I had to hold back wanting to vomit on her shoes for saying this. Granted, I wasn’t ever put into child porn, but my mother did low my father to beat me up while she made excuses for him. When my tennis coach tried to molest me when I was a teen, I told my parents and they did nothing, treating the behavior as unimportant, even gave me the choice to continue lessons with the coach or fi.d a new coach. Unfortunately, I was confused, doubted myself and my reactions to the incident, and, thus, continued lessons with this coach.

    I’ve already had countless confrontations with my mother over this and she has already said that she wished she were much stronger in those days. I have forgiven her. Yet, it seems that I need to re-forgive as the reality becomes clearer and clearer that she really doesn’t seem to understand the bigness of what she did by allowing all this and making excuses and then forgetting all about it while she’s raging over others doing the same/similar things. Being a caregiver presently, I have to re-forgive her because there are no excuses for making excuses for someone who hurts your child. None!!! Babies have no self-regulation. Even though he only ate a couple hours prior, he cries and cries as if he hasn’t eaten in days and I’m rushing to be sure he is fed as soon as possible because I want him to be healthy and emotionally secure. He’s not even my child and I do this. How much more does a mother love her own child and yet…Oh my gosh! Yes, I have to re-forgive my mother.

    Anyway, all this is related to the topic because my mother’s raging at the other abusive mom really did raise my own anger but I did keep quiet. It wasn’t due to people-pleasing as much as trying to keep the emotional level low for the sake of my sister and her family who came quite a distance just to visit. My nrphew is still quite young, not interested in crossing my sister’s boundaries regarding what her son knows or ought to know, ya know? ;)

    I’ll let my mom have her selective memory and I’ve got mine. No more confronting for me as sometimes the wall is going to stay up no matter how I wish it would crumble and how I wish my head would stop hurting by banging against it.

  25. espresso says:

    Brilliant and helpful response Nigella especially about how not speaking up is not betraying my own truth. My problem is that I sucked it up in my marriage so much more than I thought and it just feels so BAD to have to keep doing it while I finish up these details. I am really amazed the degree to which he has “revised” our history to make it seem we worked together and he was so collegial etc. I see everything totally differently. I really get your point about not wasting time on him and I don’t….but it all just irks me…like somebody taking credit for something they do not deserve.

  26. Karen says:

    When my seedlings of self esteem started sprouting, my boundaries became more sturdy and consistently enforced. My sister discovered how convenient I had been as her doormat and she did not appreciate my telling her recently that I needed a break from dealing with her for a month or two. Not only did she refuse to recognize that I had a right to make such a boundary, she commandeered my one or two month boundary and issued her own six month boundary, then she called me “exhaustingly needy.” When she gets into one of her high strung drama festivals, it is easy to be the bigger person. All I had to do was ignore her crazy, incendiary email and avoid the urge to reply with, “Let’s make it a year of no contact, you old battleax.”
    I can’t find fault with sometimes having to be the bigger person. With some people, it’s hard not to be.
    Everyone these days says they don’t like drama, especially the biggest drama queens you know. I don’t like it, so I run from it the moment I see it coming on. They can call me chicken, weak, a little punk ass bitch, or whatever they want, if being the bigger person allows me an escape from someone’s drama, count me in.

  27. Mike says:

    Thanks for the post Natalie. It’s been a long road for me, but I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be — not sweating the small stuff.

    I’ve learned in my 36 years that I can try to convince a person until I’m blue in the face, but if they’re not listening, it’s not worth it.

    I have a general rule: Ask once, tell you once — there will never be a second time. It saves me a lot of heartache and energy.

  28. Lochy says:

    I really enjoyed this article because it is something I struggle with immensely, (wanting to verbally volley expletives and the like! lol) I completely understand and see the point so I can get as far as holding back and not engaging…however, what I have yet to master is what to do with all the emotions and thoughts that have not been expressed. They tend to just loop around and stay with me. I have started practicing some mindfulness based meditation practices which, even after a short time, (less than 2 weeks) I can notice make a difference. I am starting to be able to ‘sit with’ some of these thoughts/emotions and be OK with them without trying to ‘fix’ or ‘do’ anything. I hope this leads to a better way to disengage in the long run as otherwise, I am stressing out internally, feeling utterly powerless with unresolved energy running around while the ‘other’ goes on their merry way!

    • happy b says:

      Lochy, I share those looping thoughts, had them for much of yesterday and today. I think they’d still be there whether or not they were expressed to the person – in my case, and by the looks of it, many on here, engaging doesn’t resolve things and the issue can’t be closed with dialogue, only with our own resolution.
      Writing unsent letters fills some of that role. I like the way you say you sit with the thoughts. Similarly, I try not to be too critical, I will say to myself, ‘really, this is going on too long, you need to stop thinking about it’, but sometimes we have to accept it and recognise it’s all part of the process.
      I go for jogs to expend some of the energy and will often come to solutions in this time, while my thoughts tend to get at their most intense and looping when I’m walking, for some reason.

      • Lochy says:

        happy b – good point about the looping thoughts continuing whether they’re expressed or not – I completely agree. It’s a habit that my mind has gotten into so with work and attention, habits can be altered. The other point you made which is really important is that about the criticism or judgement of your thoughts. Ultimately that’s where I find the internal conflict and stress arises…the thoughts and emotions come and go regardless of whether I want them to or not!
        I also write things out but I’m becoming more aware that this another form of attention that can keep me locked into the loop. I’ve found it difficult to find a ‘kind’ way to tell myself ‘enough is enough’. I also feel almost addicted to this way of being and find it hard to tear myself away. But what has helped is that I have committed to this particular mindfulness programme so I do 2 types of practice a day, (a sitting meditation and a body scan which draws attention to the physical sensations you experience in the moment). So the rest of the day I just allow myself to get lost in my loops if I want to. But without realising it, the daily practices are already filtering in everywhere without me even trying! So I guess it is re-wiring’ my brain somehow!
        Interestingly, walking meditation is something that will be introduced in this programme later, and I understand it’s quite a common practice used. I’ve not tried it yet but believe it’s about being completely aware of your physical experiences as you go (like the body scan)…so your attention is there and not being drawn into other thoughts. If you’re interested, the book I’m using is ‘Full Catastrophe Living’ by Jon Kabat-Zinn and there are CDs you can download to accompany the book. It’s really interesting :)

        • happy b says:

          Lochy, that makes complete sense to me that it would start to rewire your thoughts outside the meditation time. I once went to a 1-day workshop on body scan and mindfulness meditation and learned so much – I remember one person being quite troubled when he realised what his thoughts actually were, and how he couldn’t help drifting away from the present. We just don’t realise. Since then, I never seem to have time to pursue it but know that’s counter-productive. How much time do you spend on it per day? Jon Kabat-Zinn looks very interesting and will follow it up.

          It’s walking to/from work when I often start with the imaginary scenarios where I’m expressing my anger/feelings to someone or just raking over things from the past. I get lost in thoughts and it annoys me, not always but at times like this where I’m in conflict with someone. I have learned to be kind to myself, I just imagine the 7 year old me getting too anxious about something, and telling her the feelings are understandable but there’s so much to be happy and excited about and thankful for. But the thoughts just keep coming back.

          The streets are too busy for walking meditation but a quick and effective refocusing would be a good habit. I did take a breather today and look around, and spotted 2 famous comedians, a valuable lesson there, I think!

  29. Unlike says:

    oh, i have to bite my tongue as we speak…the AC has reappeared creating a huge drama involving several others where I live, where he also used to live, where he continues to revisit (i always find out after the fact). He was circling the bldg in his truck yesterday looking for a neighbor of mine and pestering those in the little community here over an issue of something he feels justified about and entitled to-that this REALLY irks me after what he put me through. He moved far away with new replacement g’friend, my neighborhood is way out of his way and he has no business being here, it’s been a year so why keep coming back? like, go away and STAY there already, have some respect and consideration for my feelings and life…nope. Keeps returning looking for adoration and accolades for his HUGE ego from others here, he knows he’ll never get it from me again. The good news…his recent actions have just exposed his true nature to those around here who continued to believe he’s such a ‘great’ and ‘nice’ guy. Now they finally get to see a glimpse of Mr. nice guy’s true a**holery and guess what? I didn’t have to do or say a thing. Let ‘em dig their own grave! I am smiling! How’s that for holding your tongue and being the bigger person? It paid off!

  30. Wiser says:

    I just want to mention that I’ve been doing Desmond Tutu’s 30-day Forgiveness Challenge and it’s been one of the most incredible healing exercises I’ve ever done. This fits right in with the “being the bigger person” theme – or perhaps a better phrase is that it’s about “being the healed person.” Both of these themes are inextricably linked. You don’t start with trying to forgive the person who has hurt you the most, whether it’s a lover or parent or friend, but you begin with a lesser hurt so it’s not such an emotional roller coaster. Anyway, for those who want to forgive someone and are struggling with it, I highly recommend this process.

    http://journey.forgivenesschallenge.com/

  31. Peanut says:

    Sooo…this is timely. I recently had someone say some hateful, albeit humorous, things to me via the interwebs and I didn’t even have to bite my tongue.

    I got a good, good laugh and just let it be.

    I had the option of responding, but I did not.

    :) :) :) :)

  32. IWokeUP says:

    I had 4 years with my AC and it was beautiful the first 8mths then all the red flags started to fly high. I hung in there for another 4 years on a rollercoaster with him. When he was good, he was great and when he was bad,he was horrible. In my mind, at that time, the good outweighed the bad. I see now that I ignored a lot of flashing lights. I would break up with him constantly, every few months was another break up but I always felt bad because I tried to explain away his behavior and found a way to blame myself for it and even if I didnt he would never allow me to leave his life. He would bombard me with poems and calls and declarations of love. He cant live without me etc. He always lied to cover up what he did and then I would remember all the good things he does for me on a daily basis and let it slide once again giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    Its only recently that I realize that he doesnt love anyone but himself. He recently asked me to have a threesome with a woman that he knows I dislike because of some things she did to me and him in the past. I couldnt believe that he would even ask me to do that and with her. I told him via text in no uncertain terms how I felt about what he asked me. Why I felt the way I did about her, (she had at one point tried to slander my name and his) and I asked him via text, “do you see where I am coming from”. His response verbatim was ” I really dont care where you are coming from,I want what I want but I will respect your wishes and not ask about it anymore”. That sealed his coffin. I called him and told him I was done. I could have done it via text but dumb me thinks after 5 years its better to pick up the phone and say what you have to. Because I have broken up with him so many times and taken him back he doesnt take it serious anymore. But that text says everything. Doesnt it? A day later he texts me “Hi baby, how is your day going” classic lazy text. Not once addressing the issue or what he had done to hurt me. Its been a day and I have not responded. We work in the same circles and its inevitable that I am going to run into him and sometimes I have to communicate with him for work. I dont know what to do about that part of it. I will respond respectfully to any communication regarding work and not respond to any on a personal or intimate level. I dont know how else to handle it. I think my finally taking off the rose colored glasses and seeing him for what he really is is helping me heal and anytime I start thinking about our good times I say out loud to myself “Dont forget he is an Assclown”. This has helped. I have started to lose all feeling and respect I had for him and this makes it easier to not respond to him or ENGAGE at all. I am finally certain that I have had enough.

  33. Tired says:

    I wish i had this post to hand . I got involved with a guy whos wife had just left him . He used me for a ego stroke and then as he puts it mugged me off . He said sorry and said hed leave me alone , five weeks later up he pops having looked at fb . Talks to me about new puppy with a hint of flirting thrown in , i ignore it but replied big mistake . He comes into eland makes conversation. He then mess again and suggest belling me when his ex has kids . I tell him no thanks you mugged me off remeber not being used again . He makes some exscuse about if he doesn’t reply its because his wifi plays u so hes deleted my phone no and can only make contact through fb. He comes in shop today a week later and i get a hello thats it . Reality and clarity hit me in face , guy mess u up girl for a who stroke somthing had made him feel crap. So i blocked him on fb to protect myself from letting him use me again . Im learning but slwly and it was my fault for engaging with the arsehole again !

  34. Camille says:

    I’d love to stand up to or even cut ties with those people in my life who don’t treat me right, but that would leave no-one left. My parents brother and sister aren’t interested in me, despite my frequent efforts to get arrange get togethers. It’s true I want a sense of belonging. I have 2 friends and they aren’t really friends at all, they take a lot if I give, but they don’t give back, and they’re often two faced and don’t care about my feelings. Again I try and arrange social things but I am always sidelined or forgotten about even with things that were my idea and all my hard work. Basically they’re not interested in including me either. My relationship broke up in February and whole sense of belonging has gone. I so want to be part of something and am always thinking of ideas for socializing. Even trying to get a group of people at work to go bowling came to nothing! I know that if I stand up to these people I will have less than nothing. They will all walk away. It’s bad enough as it is but total self imposed isolation because my family and friends don’t value me…gulp. Natalie says that you shouldn’t give yourself the message that other people’s behaviour means you’re not good enough, but I retreat from people when they’re not good enough, so I guess they retreat from me because I’m not good enough in some way. I do my absolute best to be kind and cheerful (I realise I’m being miserable in this comment, but I’m not normally)and fun and up for things, but I guess people sense my unhappiness and desire to belong and then they just run away from me or do the treating me like a doormat thing etc etc. I just don’t know what to do to make my life better, happier, and to have love and a sense of belonging. Two fundamental things. Yes I can be the bigger person and not engage, but then I often let things go unsaid and brush stuff under the carpet because if I don’t (as in the past) I get a reputation for being a troublemaker and then judged and ostracised again. Now I just get plain old indifference from family and my two “friends”. I feel like a lonely teenager wanting real friends and to find love, but I’m over 50 and this is how it has been all my life – very lonely.

    • happy b says:

      Camille, the only thing that isolates us from others is that without having care and concern from family, we have low self esteem and a lack of boundaries. People who have more emotional support have a stronger idea of what and how they should share and what’s different people’s roles are in their lives, while we give things away with ease and hope for boundless love and support in return – but only our family owes it to us, no one else.

      There is a void where family should be, but friends can’t fill it, only we can. Friends don’t have the answers, they’re not there just to give us guidance or to stop us from feeling isolated, they have their own needs and concerns too. We can’t find belonging in others’ worlds until we properly belong in our own lives. If we follow our own journey instead of trying to join others’ journeys, we’ll have an even footing when we cross paths and build real friendships instead of dependency. We should be prepared to walk away if people can’t/don’t want to be the friends we deserve.

      It’s a nice irony that since having these seemingly brutal realisations, the quality and quantity of my friendships is much stronger.

      Everyone has events that fall through. Lots of people are unrealistic about their existing commitments or just flaky, people will say they want to do things but not follow through. Take a ‘softly-softly’ approach to organising things – only go ahead when you’re certain some key people can make it, and only organise something if you’re emotionally prepared for it not to work out, or there is a vicious circle of isolation and rejection.

      I believe that you really are kind, cheerful and fun and it’s the expectations you have of friends and the world that is a barrier – a change of attitude will change things like you wouldn’t believe.

      • happy b says:

        By the way, I might have got this wrong and if so i’m sorry, I’m just saying it as someone who identifies with what you’re going through and so hope my experiences help :)

        • SoulFull says:

          camille, I have at this moment of time, left a group that was nice, but I didnt feel part of. I took time and reviewed how I felt…I didnt feel connected to them or close and the hobby was good, but…I value myself so much that I dont feel right being involved with people who half heartedly dont mind having me around, but dont enjoy me there either. It was quite a decision, spesh as exEU keeps trying to keep the door open as friends (I shut that) and yesterday I made a decision to not engage with a faux friend that was blossoming at my expense, so this group really was the last form of socialising with others, and of course the realisation of “OK, thats everyone gone now”

          BUT….

          I can now focus on myself and my wonderful career that is now on track

          And I will make new, true friendships that are on the same page with me, because Ive got my values in tow.

          Put it this way…say you peel back your living room carpet, and the floorboards and joists werent as healthy and strong as you thought. They werent totally rotten, but you dont feel secure with all your furniture and that big cosy sofa you just bought, and you realise that you need to replace it all. In order to do that, you have to take it all away. Your house wont fall down, but its a big job, one that yes you could do without, but when its done, with all the new solid, wood joists and floorboards, you can put the carpet back down and have security knowing that your support is there, and your own space is stronger, even though it goes unoticed…its just there.

          We are not just fixing broken windows, we are doing it all. And with any renovation (cue Grand Designs) theres alot of times you wonder if its all worth it, but then when youre cosied up in your newly renovated home, there is a comfort and a peace.

          I am excited to not have to deal with so-so friends, and excited to focus on me and my goals, and to rebuild a circle of friends, maybe even a man, that reflect who I am now…not the Soul-notso-Full gal I have been all my life.

          Dont be afraid ;) x

          • SoulFull says:

            LOL…I must just add…I have thought “but what if I dont meet any new friends” (old pattern ego reaction)

            and my instant thought was…”So? I have great hobbies I can do on my own that take me closer to Source. I am my own best friend and I like my own company”

            Such a turnaround ;)

            I think it is no coincedence that us on here are experiencing similar situations and feelings. Ive said before we are on a journey, and one that is transformative to say the least. Some people dont get to work through their issues, and stay in pain all their life. Despite the rebound from our comfort zones, this truly is a blessing to us all. Thank you Nat for laying it down the way you do.

            x

          • oona says:

            i am now finding it a relief just to notice when toxic’s are around and stepping away from them. When you realise that you can actually do something that actually does make you feel better – being on your own is not so bad – its your chance to actually see and do all the things you want to and have some surprising results. Like I found out I love clay??? Go figure? Who would have known? Nobody because for years I starved myself of the things that REALLY made me a happy, joyful and fun person. Try going to a group that is already set up – as happy b says – be prepared for a group you don’t connect with and look for plan b’s – you’ll be amazed – if you look hard enough it starts coming to you.

  35. Mirror of My Faces says:

    After I read this post, I decided to “talk to ME about it, ” but I couldn’t converse because I immediately felt ashamed of my related transgressions. Functioning on three hours of sleep, I couldn’t block the subsequent flood of emotions: I felt shame in my heart, seeking it’s way out of my body; I felt shame in my upper back and neck, leaving ME; I think I felt it leaving my brain. Sure, I was groggy, but I felt it, and it felt good to release it, feel it, identify it, and face it. I’m not afraid to face my feelings of shame, for one, because I understand their origin. I sat there and allowed them to pass through my nervous system.

    It was a good day. ~~ *smiling* ~~

  36. camille says:

    Thank you happy b and soulfull. Your comments are so generous kind and insightful. You have renewed my strength and resolve. X

  37. Camille says:

    Oh and I love the joists and floorboards analogy – it’s such a good image to help me remember.

  38. Debra says:

    Can I ask opinions on subtle scapegoating. I feel that I have been unjustly characterized by my husbands daughter-in-law (she is the 2nd wife) and has filtered to his son and his granddaughter. I know I can’t confront this situation because it promotes denial and turns the problem back on me, my husband’s daughter-in-law is a certifiable manipulator, really almost like an art form in her case. I have disengaged as much as I can but I still want to be included in gatherings just to “stand my ground” if not verbally then by presence alone. My husband has noticed the change in dynamics as well. Doing research on this topic brought me to this site and I feel a kinship with things that are being discussed. I most definitely refuse to “beg for respect” as someone aptly put it. Thanks for any incite you can offer.

    • oona says:

      no 1 protect yourself – do NOT put yourself within situations that are abusive to yourself. ie anything that makes you feel more pain/ potentially make you feel pain.
      no 2 do not engage with someone else’s twisted game – that is their reward – any and every action or reaction you show whether you attempt to hide it, surpress it , be right or not – will be seen – and used to boost the original reasons for the person to continue with their ‘manipulation’ and/or bullying tactics – if they get any rise from you they get a result. They get the attention they are sub-consciously trying to provoke in the first place.
      The only thing that starves this behaviour is basically engaging with yourself and your true feelings. It is the only thing that will make you strong and take the oxegen out of any fight. Answer this question – Upon meeting a poisonous snake in the room that you have no power to remove – would you stand your ground? or get the hell out of the room?…last thing – beware others trying to drag you back in to bear the brunt of any attack…they are trying to save their skin by sacrificing you to the snake. Good luck with it.

  39. oona says:

    Blimey – true words of love! To step away from the ‘battle for supremacy’! :-) – I am smiling so much – thank you Natalie – another precise and accurate observation….

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

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