Monday, October 9, 2017

Reflections on giving advice

I was pondering today, that we are sometimes called upon to critique or give advice to a friend or family member, to point out where they have gone wrong or where they could do better.  What we have not been taught is how or with what intention to approach this delicate task.  All too often the advice or critique comes across as implying one of two things:
  • You are a bad person and you need to change to become acceptable.
  • You are not good enough and you need to change or I won’t love you.
When this happens we teach and / or reinforce the false notion that one earns love and acceptance through our actions.  We reinforce the false core belief of “you are not good enough unless ….”

I was reading recently that almost everyone grows up with false core beliefs around the area of being acceptable, good enough, and lovable.   This is the source from which all our dysfunctional behaviour patterns arise.   To compensate for this feeling of “not enough” patterns of behaviour emerge to try to ameliorate the pain of insufficiency.  There seems to be basically two paths.
  • The first path leads toward doormat / people pleasing behaviours.  Here the emotionally wounded person learns the pattern of pleasing others to try to gain acceptance and love.  They are basically screaming; “See me!  I am a good and kind and loving and generous person, I want to be loved, I need to be loved, SEE me and validate me and let me not feel this pain of not being good enough” 
  • The other path leads toward dominating and controlling behaviours.  Here the emotionally wounded person strives to elicit from others behaviours that allow them to feel superior, catered to, and having their needs met.   
And because these two opposing coping techniques are like Yin and Yang, unsuspectingly we two polar opposites are drawn to each other.  The givers attract the takers and the takers seek out the givers both do so in an effort to meet the emotional needs of feeling sufficient, feeling like they are enough and that they have value.

I am not even addressing the core of the issue or that basic fact that we should be loved and accepted for who we are not for what we give nor for what we expect to receive.  Emotionally healthy people live in this place.  People (most frequently the givers who have burned out) who have learned of these core lessons through emotional healing understand and strive to live in this place also; fighting the tides that would tug them back into old unsuccessful behavior patterns.

Most people don’t even realize that they fall into these two categories because so often in benign situations it seems to function and the glue of friendship seems to hold things together most of the time.

When this balance falls apart, as is the case when turbulence or trauma arrives, whole relationships can be shattered.   When the neediness cycle becomes very apparent and the takers try to take more and the givers are demanded to give more without any regard for the “emotional well” being empty, the bounds of friendship and even family are severely tested.

How much better it would be if we could learn in times of emotional calm, healthy ways of communicating our needs for love and acceptance and appreciation!  If we could learn what our false behaviour patterns (some people call them coping mechanisms) are and then work toward changing them so that we no longer cause harm.  If we could learn boundaries and learn to express those boundaries and hear those boundaries from others then there would be fewer tensions that are created by the overstepping of those boundaries with unkind behaviorus or comments.

One of the critical areas for learning is how we express criticism or give corrections.  This is especially critical when we are entrusted with the care of children.  But if we have not had the wisdom given us in our youth we need to learn first how to heal ourselves and then hopefully how to apply these lessons to our future communications.

Often I hear this comment (especially from the takers who have gotten used to their behaviour patterns getting what needs they have met); “this is how I cope and I don’t want to change”.    That is not conducive to building or repairing or reconnecting with others.  In fact when dealing with past codependents; this attitude will actually drive the newly recovered doormats away as they strive to build and maintain new healthier boundaries. 

In my experience talking with recovering doormat type people; when people pleasers burn out and learn boundaries, the takers in their lives get very anxious as they realize their source of “feel good” has dried up and is no longer available for exploitation.  The critique gets very cruel and the emphasis is on trying to coerce the people pleaser to go back to their old behaviour patterns and thus relieve the takers of the pain of changing their patterns (patterns that gave them so much success in the past).

From all of my studies and learning I have come to the understanding that it all comes down to communication.  Communication is the glue that brings us together in compassionate understanding and even in striving to become better people.  Refusal to communicate, or even harsh manipulative or controlling communication patterns on the other hand rupture the fabric of family, friendships and relationships.

This is the guideline that I have evolved in the course of my healing journey, something that helps me stay on track when giving advice (which I now only do when specifically asked for) and helps me try to understand those offering unsolicited advice, so that I can determine if my boundaries have been breached intentionally or inadvertently and gives me permission to respond in a boundary preserving manner.

  • When offering critique be aware of your intentions.  Are you asking the other person to change to become a better person, or are you asking the other person to change so you don’t have to change your pattern of behaviour.
  • When listening to critique from another person, ask yourself “What are their intentions?” Are they giving me loving advice to help me become a better person or are they implying that I am insufficient unless I comply and change myself to accommodate their needs?”
These questions have become very important for me as they are like a roadmap to help guide me along a path where I can remain emotionally safe from the bullies and abusers in my life, while at the same time keeping me relatively on track when I am in the position of critiquing or giving advice to others. 

Conscious awareness of behaviour patterns and communication techniques is critically important and I believe neither of these are well taught in our families, our schools or our societal structures.

Excellent sources that I have found very useful:
- Peter Gerlach and his work on “break the cycle”.  What a great online resource that had given me countless hours of healing work guidance.
- Marshal Rosenberg and his work with Non-Violent communication. Great youtube videos of his learning presentations are always a source of inspiration for me 

Renate Dundys Marrello
2017 – 10 – 09

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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Post Estrangement - Learning to find my Voice

Speaking my truth has always been hard for me.  I tend to say what I think people want to hear so as not to cause disharmony.  The net effect is that I am left voiceless, unheard.  I still struggle with this.  One of the reasons I started writing, first in my journal, and later sharing with others in my reflections; was to practice voicing my truths in a format where I could not be interrupted. 

My experience in the past has been that when I did dare to express myself I was:

  • told I was wrong
  • told I was over reacting
  • told that I did not know what I was talking about
  • told what was wrong with me
  • told what I ought to do to fix me
  • given the "looks" that said I was boring
  • interrupted at the first opportunity so the other person could talk about themselves and their experiences
My healing journey has followed many convoluted pathways because surprisingly; "what we don't know can in deed harm us greatly".

My knowledge of people and understanding personality and character was extremely limited and flawed.  I had also been taught to ignore or distrust my "gut feelings", that what I felt was wrong.  I was taught to distrust my instincts.  All of this ended up with me being too trusting, and lacking effective boundaries, and thus putting up with things simply ‘because’, not for any good reason.

My healing journey has been about learning things I never had been taught and unlearning false things that I had been conditioned to believe.

I sometimes now speak my truth, to a very selected few that I sort of trust.  I say sort of trust, because my track record has taught me that when I speak my truth I get rejected.  I am not yet able to fully trust.  I hesitate to become vulnerable and so far I continue to hold in much more than I share.

Recently, in the aftermath of being excluded, I felt hurt.  I dared to be brave and asked, "why did you exclude me?"
In reply I was told it was my fault for not calling them enough.

Of course with all the healing work under my belt I should have said; "are you telling me that rather than calling me and including me you choose to blame me for not calling you often enough to suit your standard, as your reason for excluding me?  Do you realize this is typical manipulative behaviour?"

Instead I froze (my typical reaction to "danger" situations in relationships) as they went on to call me names (selfish and narcissistic), and even while I realized I was being projected upon, my throat closed and I was left speechless.

I did however on this occasion feel thankful.  I was thankful that with my new knowledge this person’s personality / character was clearly revealed to me and I understood much more deeply exactly what had transpired.  Instead of addressing that fact that they had treated me badly by excluding me they decided to play the victim card and blame me for the choice of actions.  I believe that in the process they convinced themselves that they did nothing wrong, that I deserved what I got and being excluded was my fault. And in convincing themselves of this they don't feel any need to apologize for treating me in a disrespectful hurtful manner.

This scenario has been typical in my experience.

This was mostly because I did not have the skill set or knowledge to see the actions / comments for what they were. It was my ignorance that kept me silenced even when in my gut I felt that something was wrong.  In my ignorance I was encouraged to continue to believe that the something wrong was me.  It was only when I started to question the truth of that self-diminishing thought; that I started to gradually change and the biggest change I made was to ask questions about what kind of person is it that treats me this way and thinks it is okay?

The techniques that others use so smoothly to silence me still have a measure of success on me; this is a clear indication that I am still on a healing journey, getting closer, but not there yet.

However there is one important change; before I would quickly forgive them (even though no apology was offered) and allow them back into my life.  Now, I withdraw from the conflict and I am quite happy to wait and see if they ever notice that I am gone, to see if they ever consider that their actions / words may have something to do with why I am gone from their lives and if I will ever get a sincere apology from them in an effort to have me back in their lives.

The change is that I am happy to be without those kinds of relationships.  I am no longer willing to do anything, to beg and plead or try to buy my way into their affections.   Mostly I have become aware that no matter how much I try it will never be enough, my insufficiencies will always be pointed out and used as the excuse for any and all failures.

So many believed that my role as scapegoat was so secure, so ingrained in me; that I would never have the courage to question my status, that my voice was forever silenced by my insecurities, that I would never be able to free myself from the false core beliefs that held me captive.

I do believe I have caught them unawares.  While my need to feel loved is probably as great as ever, I have learned that it is only by loving myself that I can attract the kind of relationships where loving caring actions are reciprocal, not a bargaining chip for inclusion. 

So I no longer wait for others to change in response to my healing changes,  I no longer expect them to recognize that has transpired and see that I have boundaries.  Instead I am cultivating new relationships and strengthening those old relationships where I am heard, where my voice is valued and where my throat chakra, my inner truth is allowed to flourish and grow.

I take tentative steps each day, toward becoming more courageous, more truthful, more assertive, having more faith in my right to be heard.  

 I try hard to balance my willingness to listen with an equal expectation to be heard. 

I am striving to balance clearly stating my displeasure as well as clearing sharing my pleasure.

I am discovering that my power lies in taking that awareness of what it feels like to be unheard and instead of freezing in silence, learning that my need to express my hurt when I am unheard is a right that I will no longer be denied.

As I continue to learn to have a voice in relationships that have succeeded only because of my reluctance to speak my truth in the past; I share my learning with others.  What I share with my readers here and on my Reflections page on Facebook, is a way for me to have a voice that will be heard by those who recognize themselves in my stories of healing and personal transformation.  People who can relate and say, yes that is how I also feel.  Maybe you too have stories to share of how you have felt silenced or unheard?

Renate Dundys Marrello
2017 - 08 - 24

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

My daily reflections: Character is Revealed by Behaviour during the Difficult Times

“It is during the worst storms of your life that you will get to see the true colours of the people who say they care for you” ~ unknown

Sometimes I wonder what it says about those who abandon you when you need them most?

It is when you face this question that you realize that those who abandon have deep, deep issues and their lack of compassion is only a symptom of the things that are wrong with them and in their lives.

I was abandoned. 
Not only was I abandoned, I was called crazy and told that they wanted nothing to do with me until I got help and was better.  In other words, that while I was in mental distress I was a persona non grata.  They had no interest in standing by me while I healed.  After all that I had done for them; they could not stand by me while I was weak and needed help to survive the abuse being hurled at me. 

The abuse that was causing me to “act not like myself” was considered acceptable; while my reaction to the abuse was not!  

The message I received was that I did not have the right to defend myself.  By their non-support, I was being told that I should just accept the lies and the slander that was being told about me without reaction.  They even went so far as to tell me that my anger about how I was being treated was a sign that I was crazy and in need to mental health intervention!  

In their mind there was never a moment of doubt that the lies were truth and that I was the crazy one.  I ask you, is that how you treat a friend?

  • Do you turn on a friend and assume the lies being told are the truth without verification?
  • Do you assume that a friend is at fault based on gossip without asking said friend for their side of the story?
  • Do you side with those who tell the stories to condone their actions against the person you say is your friend without any desire to know more?
  • Do you withhold support and love and respect and then turn around and say this shunning was done from a place of love? 
  • Do you gang up on a loved one telling everyone that will listen that they are crazy, having a break down without making a single attempt to find out what they are feeling / thinking about how they have been treated?
  • Do you attempt to isolate the person from all social connection by telling everyone who will listen that they need to also shun this person?

I ask you again, are these the actions of a friend?
I think most would agree that this is not how you treat a friend.  
Is this how you treat a family member? 
Is this type of behaviour right?

Yes it was during the worst days of my life that I learned to see the true colours of those I thought were family and friends.  And it was through healing myself; for the most part in isolation, that I learned that those who abandon have much deeper emotional issues than I. 

A huge difference in the outcome is that I have faced my own shortcomings, while they still hide from their short comings by blaming me, I am their scape goat.  I become the symbol of all they don’t want to face about themselves. 

In choosing to side with the oppressors and the bullies, they became just like them, just like to bullies and oppressors.  

In rejecting and shaming me they attempted to hide from themselves how their values are skewed toward dominance, control and power. By not standing by the underdog they proclaimed that they care more about their image than for what is right.  

I am told that everything happens for a reason.  Being attacked and slandered has led me to learn about those who thrive on attacking and bullying and controlling and manipulating others.  I have become much more people-wise because of what I have survived. 

Every day I strive to find compassion in my heart for those who abandoned me out of their own weakness of character that allowed them to be swayed by the glib words of a sociopathic liar.  I am not successful every day I try, but I repeat the exercise daily none the less. 

Every day I pray that they will wake up one day and see the light.  That they were party to the oppressor’s agenda and that their ignorance led them to make thoughtless and hurtful choices.
Every day I pray for my heart to be open to atonement when or if it comes.

And yet I still search for the answers to the unanswerable questions.

  • What kind of person abandons a friend / a family member based on hearsay?
  • What kind of person has so little faith in the fundamental goodness of a friend / family member that lies are so easily accepted as truth?  
  • What kind of person allows a loved one to suffer alone in the aftermath of a bullies attack?
  • What kind of a person does not stand by a loved one that is emotionally distraught and needs support and care? 

The only answer can be someone who carries within them deep issues, something very wrong with their own moral compass or their ability to treat others with compassion. Something is very wrong with their understanding of how one treats friends and family. 

Remember it is easy to do the right thing when the going is easy.  It is when the going is tough, when there are lies and attacks being made, that we are asked to make the tough calls.  It is how we stand up to the bullies in defense of our loved ones that we show our character, or our lack of character. 

Even if unknowingly we become the pawn of someone’s twisted end game, we are ultimately responsible for how we treat our loved ones. Being used is not an excuse for lack of moral fibre to do the right thing.

And so I come full circle, someone who lacks such moral fibre suffers from deep character issues and their lack of honour in doing the right thing is only a symptom of the things that are wrong within them and the things they have yet to face about themselves.

Renate Dundys Marrello

2017 – 08 – 16

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

My Daily Reflections: Pondering Suffering

"Suffering is a treasure, for it conceals mercies;
The almond becomes fresh when you peel off the rind.
O my brother, staying in a cold dark place
And bearing patiently the grief, weakness, and pain
Is the Source of Life and the cup of Abandon!
The heights are found only in the depths of abasement;
Spring is hidden in autumn, and autumn pregnant with spring.
Flee neither; be the friend of Grief, accept desolation,
Hunt for the life that springs from the death of yourself."
- Jalal-ud-Din Rumi

Sometimes we receive the message that suffering is to be avoided at all costs, that we must always seek out the positive and the happy. This is a misconception and why it is perpetuated I don’t quite understand. 

Now I am not saying we need to “seek out” suffering, but rather that we must not allow our suffering to lead us to despair. For in suffering, and especially in overcoming and growing through the suffering is where we learn some of life’s deepest lessons. Dig into the hardships, do the work of becoming a better person because of what you have experienced. Learn from the experience what you don’t want to do (or continue to do) unto others which causes them needless suffering. Learn also that sometimes suffering can’t be avoided and that there is a lesson that THEY must learn which only can be learned through that path of suffering soul searching.

I used to accept horrible disrespectful behaviour towards myself from others; I made excuses for them and tolerated their behaviour. Then slowly I started to realize they were in fact causing me unnecessary suffering. When what they really needed was a "shot of reality", they needed to be told that it was unacceptable to treat me that way.

What I needed to do was cause them some conscience suffering!

I needed to let them know that their behaviour was a problem and I needed to let them know in such a way that they could face their conscience and have a moment of possible growth toward becoming a better person.

It took me a long, long time to learn this lesson. In an effort to not remove “happiness” from others, I ended up suffering needlessly the stings of hurt and abuse and disrespectful behaviours. Sometimes the best gift we can give others is for them to feel the sting of our withdrawal from them in disapproval.

There is much to be learned from suffering.
It is not always easy learning.

But sometimes our greatest breakthroughs come after we have suffered greatly.

And sometimes we have to be the instrument of suffering in others. For example, sharing a truth they don’t want to hear causes suffering to someone who has a cluster B personality trait. But it is only in suffering that they have an opportunity to change. Not that change is guaranteed by any means, but by offering them an opportunity to face something about themselves we can give them a glimpse that change might be needed.

I have been coming to the understanding that sometimes it hurts you, your self-esteem and your self-worth to be eternally kind to others that have shown by their actions that they don’t appreciate or deserve your kindness.

And sometimes the greatest kindness is a truth most resented or an action revealed as being unacceptable. Even if in the short term there is resistance and suffering.

They may walk away angry and spiteful that you dared present such a truth, they may even seek revenge. But the truth is, they have been given a wondrous gift; an opportunity to look in the mirror, to see themselves from the perspective of the person they have harmed, or to see how a grandiose outlook is preventing personal growth and the opportunity to improve. Whether or not they learn from the insight is totally up to them. 

Many won’t learn!  

Many are blind to the lesson they have been given. They don’t want to feel the pain of suffering through personal transformation, or they simply have such an inflated ego they think they are so superior that they can do no wrong.  Many will turn around and use excuses or judgments or even blame, guilt or threats to exonerate themselves and preserve the delusion that they are too perfect to be in need of change.

Another lesson in life that I have learned is that to remain silent when being verbally abused in the effort to be perceived as nice does not work. The net result is that you are perceived as an easy target and the abuse escalates.

I also have learned, through some really tough life lessons; that I can't stay silent about speaking a truth to facilitate someone else's comfort. This is especially imperative when their level of comfort is based on ego and illusion but not on actual fact.

My wish for myself and for others who are traveling a similar path toward self-discovery and self-awareness is this:

May you learn that in suffering there is learning and that in learning there are new beginnings. Don’t shy away from suffering because it is unpleasant, instead seek what lesson has been presented to you and how you can learn from the experience and how you can become a better person in the process.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2017 – 08 – 12

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Monday, July 31, 2017

My Daily Reflections: Recognizing Toxic People by How They Make You Feel

You recognize a toxic person by how you feel when in their presence. Their actions trigger your most primal negative responses.

People who make you feel this way often say they love you, but their actions show that they really don't care how you feel.

These actions are not loving actions.

Loving actions make you feel worthy, accepted, cared for. 

Toxic actions make you feel guilty, ashamed, not good enough.

Use your feelings about yourself as a guide to whether you have been in the presence of a toxic person.

Here are some Signs that you have been in the company of a Toxic Person:

1. You feel that nothing you can say or do is good enough
2. You feel that your smallest flaw or perceived imperfection is always being pointed out to you. Your past mistakes are used against you to prove your unworthiness.
3. You feel that you're not allowed to be different or that you are expected to conform to their standards.
4. You feel second best or defective when around them because they act like they are fabulous and never make mistakes
5. You feel guilty and ashamed of who you are and the choices you have made
6. You feel criticized, or that your needs don't matter or that you are being manipulated into believing your are the problem and that you need to change.
7. You feel beaten, wounded, battered, bruised and torn after spending time with them
8. You feel that your boundaries have been disrespected and your "no” is turned around to make you feel selfish.
9. You feel un-cared for, that your feelings don't matter, and even that they enjoy seeing the suffering they cause.
10. They leave you feeling that everything is about them, what they think, and want and feel.

Toxic people can be older than you, the same age as you or younger than you.

Most often we forget that people younger than us can treat us toxically.

We usually think of toxic behaviours coming from our peers or those older than us. (The typical bully is portrayed as older). This is a fallacy.

Even those younger than us learn that toxic behaviours create a sense of power and they will use this to get what they want from those of us who tend to be kind, forgiving, compassionate peacekeepers.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2017 - 07 - 31

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

My Daily Reflection: Resolving False Core Beliefs

False core beliefs cause turmoil in our lives.  The greatest problem in eradicating false core beliefs is discovering that we even have them.  I have been working on this in my healing journey for some time now and I am constantly surprised when a new false core belief crops up.

I have been working on an Oprah and Deepak 21 day meditation series called “desire and destiny” and unexpectedly came face to face with a false core belief that I was totally unaware I had!  I think I had warning signs, moments of discomfort but they were not enough for me to pinpoint the problem.

Then there was the exercise that asked the question; “what was the difference between a dream that came true easily and one that you struggled to make happen?” and it hit me like a ton of bricks, I have always struggled to make my dreams come true until recently.  

What changed?  

The trauma that I experienced is what changed.  

Before the trauma all of my dreams were altered or postponed or shrunk to accommodate other people in my life.  

In my younger days my parents influenced my dreams by often pointing out how unpractical they were.  

Later pressure from parents and in-laws to have a family put my dream for traveling in the trash.  Later still my children and their welfare meant putting aside my dreams to make sure theirs needs were met.  My dreams were always less important than other people's expectations of me!

Finally in my retirement years I resurrected my dream to travel.  I have been traveling quite frequently and for the first time I felt free, like something that had great meaning and value for me was becoming reality.  For the first time in my life I was dreaming and planning something that came from my heart of desires.  And the projects and plans came together effortlessly, and I experienced the joy of numerous adventures until…

That “until” almost destroyed my dream.  I was called selfish for going after my dream of travel.  This was done by someone very, very close and dear to me.  Someone I never expected to rob me of my dream! But she did, she called me selfish.  Told me I was a narcissist for traveling (my dream finally come true).  For a full year my love of travel was destroyed.  I started to question my right to fulfill my dream!  I postponed making any further plans to travel.  I made excuses not to travel and the short outings that I did take were filled with fear and anxiety.

Then I did this course and I had that “ahha” moment when I realized what my gut had been trying to tell me, my dream was almost lost because I lost my belief that I deserved to have a dream come true.

I allowed the words and actions of another person once again to influence me and reinforce my false core belief that I am unworthy of having my dreams come true.  I almost repeated the same action that I have repeat for my whole life; that of giving up my dreams because I had been taught that my dreams are secondary to everyone else’s dreams and everyone  else's happiness.

I wrote this statement in one of the answers to the questions in the course:  “I am grateful for the knowledge that I am allowed to be true to my dreams and my goals and that I don’t have to put them on hold to please others. It is neither my job nor my responsibility to make others feel good by giving up on my dreams.”

What a revelation!  All my life I have given up my dreams to allow others to feel good.  I never put my need to feel good first.  It has taken me to my 65th year of living to finally figure out that it is neither my responsibility nor my job to sacrifice my dreams so others can feel good!

I learned that just because that false core belief made me sacrifice my own happiness so many times in the course of my life I do not have to continue to do so.  I am not the problem here!

The problem is the false core belief that was instilled in me and perpetuated in me by others who benefited from me giving up on my dreams. They used guilt and shaming and bullying and name calling and reminders of obligations and responsibility to get me to give up on my desires; to follow their vision of what they thought my life ought to be. 

They never thought to ask what I might want my life to be, because they assumed they knew better than I or they had something to gain by me fulfilling their dreams rather than my own.  Or maybe they just assumed that I had less right to happiness than they did and that if I fulfilled my dreams I might be happy or God forbid, happier than they are!!

I am going back to my travel and adventure dream projects with a lighter heart. 
I have exposed the false core belief! 

I DO deserve to go after my dreams and I DO deserve to make my dreams a reality and I DO deserve to be happy. 

And NO, it is neither my job nor my responsibility to give up on my happiness to ensure that they feel good.  If they love me, like the say they do, then their feeling good should come from seeing me happy and fulfilled!  If they say they love me but want me to give up on my dreams because it makes them feel bad, then they don’t really love me for me, they only love me for how I make them feel when I give in to their wishes and they are only happy when they see me sad or unfulfilled over giving up my dreams. 

That is not love; that is control and manipulation.  That is something the new healthier, self aware, self compassionate I, is no longer willing to tolerate.

Calling me selfish in an attempt to get me to give up on my dream is unkind, mean-spirited and yes selfish, because what it really demonstrates is that you are more interested in guilting me into making you feel good than in feeling happy for me for going after my dreams and feeling content and happy. You are being selfish when you claim that my happiness makes you feel bad. Insinuating that I need to be punished for going after my happiness is a very mean spirited thing to do to someone you claim to  love.

My new awareness of boundaries helps me to understand that this use of guilt (telling me I am  neglecting my duty and responsibility to them) is a deliberate attempt to overstep my boundaries and my right to feel good about myself. And my new awareness of boundaries has taught me that I too deserve to protect myself from the envy and jealousy of those who try to take away my happiness by invoking my well trained tendency to put others ahead of myself.

A well trained lifelong doormat responds quickly to implied wrongdoing and guilt is an easy target for emotional manipulate in a codependent personality.  

However the sleeper has awakened! 

Renate Dundys Marrello
2017 – 07 – 29

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Friday, July 7, 2017

post estrangement: healing encompases much learning

Obviously, anyone who is struggling to heal from trauma goes through many stages and steps toward recovery.  There are many ways we learn to make changes within ourselves, our thought patterns, our responses, discovering false core beliefs etc.

However one of the most valuable tools that I have discovered in healing is learning about the bad behaviour patterns of others.  The more I am aware of the types of actions used by Character Disturbed People (that is people who lack character and to some degree actually gain pleasure from using and hurting others) the more I realize that being proactive in recognizing these traits and categorizing them as "bad behaviour" and then making choices for my own defense the more "safe" I feel.

One of the aftermaths I experienced post trauma was a fearfulness.  For a long time I did not recognize what was holding me back, I just resisted virtually all social situations. I felt great anxiety or panic when forced to face such situations.  Now, as I have learned so much more, I have come to realize that this is my "flight" response in anticipation of being rejected and exposed to more of the same trauma.

I never learned about bad character in my life and so I was not prepared for encounters with bad people.  Most of my life the manipulators and controllers went under the radar!  Their jabs so subtle that that vague sense of un-ease I felt was my fault, I labeled myself as too sensitive.  Oddly enough this was often reinforced when I did dare to voice my opinion that I was feeling hurt!   You know exactly what I mean;...the well meaning advice "oh you are just being too sensitive". 

How many unkind words are spoken, how many put downs uttered, how many times are we made to feel inadequate and when we complain we are the "overly sensitive" ones; or we have no sense of humour; or we misunderstood.  And when the events of unkindness are small ones we tend to ignore our inner warning signs.

Here is an example from my past.  I redecorated a room. I put in hours of research, found pictures that spoke to me and made me feel good.  I was excited about creating this room and worked hard finding the colours and patterns to create my vision.  When done I was incredibly proud of what I had accomplished.  When completed, most people enjoyed the results.  However one person looked and said "I would never do a room like that!"  Now this was not a direct insult but it did imply that my room lacked appeal.  I ignored the warning signs that this was not a nice person. I continued to be friends with her. 

Years later when our children were teens and I confided in her my challenges with my son she blamed me for his behaviour.  It was my fault because I was not strict enough.  Now that of itself hurt, but she then went on to make sure my children knew that she felt I was an inadequate parent. She continued to undermine my parenting because my children started going to her for advice and ignoring mine.

Here is a classic example of how a "gut feeling" ignored early in the relationship led to this person remaining in my life to cause me harm later on.

The small warning signs should NEVER be ignored. First of course we need to know that they are in fact warning signs.  And sadly that is not something I was taught and I presume that there are many "nice, people pleasing" types of people around who fall into the same category of lack of knowledge, as I did.  We brush off the small slights maybe with a cringe, but we forgive and forget too easily.  For this reason a vital aspect of healing is to learn to recognize  these warning signs. That requires learning about what makes manipulative controlling egotistically full of themselves people tick! 

The second thing we need to learn is that we do not have to tolerate such behaviour!  We do have the right to respond with boundaries and limitation setting retaliations!   In the past my "I am a nice person" persona did not allow me to do this.  So my next step in healing is overcoming my fear of responding!

I can recognize bad behaviour, my "gut" always warns me.  If I feel bad I know I have been treated bad.  But now I also have the vocabulary to define what the bad behaviour is!

In the process of healing I have gotten good at removing myself from the presence of people who exhibit bad behaviour.  I call this my coward approach, but in my fragile state of recovery it was all that I was able to accomplish.  If you do or say something that is derogatory or harms me, I reserve the right to remove myself from your presence.  That is called "flight"

Now I face my next challenge, when I recognize bad behaviour to confront the person immediately with a response about how I feel about their behaviour and that I won't tolerate it!  That is called "fighting".

Most of my life I have used "fawning", doing things to try to get people to like me and treat me better, or "freezing", trying to become invisible, insignificant not worth picking on.  I never felt I had the right nor the option to flee or to fight. 

Healing has taught me that I do have the right!  

As always, dear reader, I love to hear your thoughts on what healing has taught you.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2017 - 07 – 07

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