It Takes All Kinds

I used to work with someone whose anxiety came out in the form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). On really bad nights, she’d actually walk up to the bridge on the roadway, on the dotted yellow line, because to her way of thinking, encountering a 4,000 pound vehicle was vastly preferable to walking on the germs of the sidewalk, or stepping on the places where tires had touched the roadway (because, she reasoned, most tires had gone over road kill at some point).

I felt sorry for her. I really did. It must be exhausting to live under the weight of such stress. Her world was full of illogical rules that she absolutely had to follow, or disaster would surely strike. For example, under no circumstances could she wear her glasses into the bathroom. And all her dirty dishes must soak in bleach for at least 12 hours.

I also worked with someone who was a compulsive hoarder, which is also considered by many to be part of the OCD spectrum. To see the way he lived was heartbreaking. I’d say 90 percent of his home was full of garbage and useless junk. And he’d come to work and just take the place over. He wasn’t comfortable unless he was surrounded by possessions. In fairness, though, he’d take all his stuff with him at the end of his shift. That must have been tiring, too.

It was always scary to see him walk into the roadway to retrieve something that had fallen off a passing vehicle. It didn’t have to be anything of value. It just had to exist. If it existed, he had to have it. That bridge had the cleanest roadway on the face of the earth, despite what the OCD lady thought.

Actually, that’s probably not true, because for some reason I’ve worked with quite a few bridgetenders who were OCD and/or hoarders in my career, so there are probably quite a few picked-over bridges out there. I have no idea why these types of individuals are attracted to this job, but it seems to be very much the case.

Maybe it’s because as a bridgetender you tend to have more control over your environment than you do in a lot of other jobs. You work alone. You have your own way of doing things within a narrow field of requirements. And the job is, for the most part, predictable. (Except, of course, when it isn’t. But those are stories for other days.)

And maybe there’s another way of looking at this. You actually want bridgetenders to be all about the rules. The safety of the traveling public depends upon bridgetenders not cutting corners or getting too complacent. And if you have an anxiety disorder and yet still have to earn a living, it’s probably better for all concerned that you work alone.

I’ve never met a bridgetender who wasn’t unique in one way or another. The same could definitely be said about me. As the saying goes, it takes all kinds to make a world.

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MAKING America Great

I have no idea why, but I’ve known a lot of ex-cops in my lifetime, and have had some disturbing conversations therewith. I strongly believe that certain jobs attract certain personalities, and I have to confess that I’ve always been sort of creeped out by the cop culture, as much as truly I appreciate that thin blue line. I’m hoping that the attitudes and/or actions that I describe below are the reason these individuals are ex-cops, but who knows.

Many years ago, I worked for the Florida Department of Transportation. I was standing outside my office with an ex-cop, watching one of the prison crews load their equipment onto a truck. (FDOT contracts with prison crews to do minor work such as landscaping and pothole repair.) He said to me, “Man, I wish we still had the hot box for when they act up.”

When I asked him to elaborate, he said that right there on that very spot they used to keep a tiny metal shed, so tiny that you had to squat to get into it, and when one of the prisoners on a crew would misbehave, they’d stick him in there for “a day or so”. Every once in a while someone would go by and hit the metal walls with a stick “for fun” to make the guy jump while he was in there sweating and dehydrating and cramping up beneath the brutal Florida sun. “They’d behave after that,” he said with a hint of nostalgia in his voice.

I was horrified. Shades of Cool Hand Luke.

Another ex-cop posted a picture of a flattened human being with tire tracks across his torso on her Facebook page. She thought this was hilarious. It actually made me feel kind of sick.

A third told me he wished the city cops had as much “leeway” as the county cops when dealing with vagrants. “See, the county cops will just beat the hell out of them and they’ll leave and never come back. Whereas the city cops have to be all polite.”

And just the other day I heard about a trick that some cops supposedly employ when they want to pull someone over but they have no valid reason. It’s called a wrist rocket. Apparently that’s a slingshot that they use to take out a person’s tail light.

I can understand the desire to make America great. But when your idea of “make” is to “force upon” rather than to “bring about”, you’ve crossed the line into very scary Donald Trump territory. Not all of us have the same definition of great.

Is there any wonder why some police have such public relations issues? And as a friend of mine commented on Facebook, “Is no one being taught the Constitution anymore? No one?”

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Academia

Recently I had the pleasure of walking through the gorgeous campus of the University of Washington here in Seattle. (Go Huskies!) It gave me butterflies.

Not only did the stately brick buildings make me feel like I’d stepped into Hogwarts, but also I got that old familiar feeling. Call it academic fever if you like. The sense that there was information all around me, and I was on the verge of being let in on the secret. The heady sensation that I was a part of something much bigger than myself. I was flooded with feelings of possibility, potential, and opportunities for the future. People were learning in this special place.

I thrive in academia. I always graduated top of my class. It’s not that I’m smarter than the other students (although I’m pretty darned smart), it’s more that school is an environment that appeals to my sensibilities. The rules are clearly defined. You are told exactly what you have to do in order to be successful. If you choose not to do those things you have no one to blame but yourself. You are also encouraged to ask questions and seek explanations. Help is there when you need it, and friendships are readily available and extremely intense. Bullying, for the most part, is a thing of the past. Who has the time? Everyone should go to college at least once in their lives.

Would that the real world were the same way. Here, the rules frequently change and are often illogical. Success is usually more a function of personality, connections, and being in the right place at the right time. People in positions of authority often become irritated when you ask questions, and explanations are regularly withheld. Help is not something you can count on, and it’s harder to make friends because people are busy, and/or have already established lives, families and routines.

As I walked through the UW campus, I felt like I was coming home, even though it’s not my alma mater. And I also felt kind of sad, because I know that aside from the odd community education pottery class, my school days are over. Three worthless degrees and their subsequent crushing student loan debts are more than enough for me.

I wanted to grab every single student I saw and shake them and say, “Savor this. Take advantage of every opportunity. Take nothing for granted. You’re never going to have this again. You may feel stressed out now, but you’ll miss it later, and for the rest of your life.”

[Image credit: staff.washington.edu]
[Image credit: staff.washington.edu]

Lessons I Should Have Learned Way Before Age 50

This has been a year of great change and great learning for me. I’m starting completely over at 50, and that creates a unique set of challenges. It also allows for a unique set of insights. Here are a few things that I’m finally starting to figure out this year that I wish I had understood a long time ago.

  • Not everyone is going to like your pets as much as you do. This was a hard lesson for me to accept, because I know for a fact that I have the best two dogs on earth, but hey, what are you going to do?
  • You can’t force people to like you. It would be great to get along with everyone, but some people just aren’t going to like you. They may have made that decision before even meeting you. They may genuinely find you irritating. Or there may be some negative chemistry going on that defies explanation that neither of you can do anything about. Oh well.
  • You can’t convince people to love you. People will either love you or they won’t. Behaving differently or trying to act charming won’t change that. So stop worrying about it. Let whatever happens happen.
  • There’s no point in worrying about what other people think. In fact, it’s quite liberating when you stop caring. I’m not saying you should throw the Golden Rule out the window. I’m just saying you shouldn’t twist yourself into a pretzel to obtain some stamp of approval that you may or may not get.
  • You’re most likely not going to radically change in the most fundamental ways. I’ve always had this fantasy that I’d become this person who dressed in artsy clothes and wore a long thick braid over my shoulder. Yeah, I could do that, but the truth is, I’m too lazy to invest in clothes and I’m a wash and wear hair kind of girl. And that’s okay.
  • People may want you to change, but that’s their problem. I have wasted a lot of time feeling guilty that I haven’t lost the weight other people want me to lose, or been this outgoing social butterfly who likes to join groups. But you know, screw it. Screw them. I’m me.
  • Rules are made to be broken. The older you get, the more you can get away with. Take advantage of that. It’s fun.
  • It’s great to learn from other people’s mistakes. Let someone else do the heavy lifting for a change.
  • Just because you’re craving something doesn’t mean you should eat it. As time goes on, more food disagrees with me. I may want that meatball sub, but I know I’ll regret it. That’s not going to change.
  • Take chances. If there is something that can change, and you want it to, you’re going to have to take risks. If you don’t, you’ll gather dust. What a waste of life!
  • Don’t let others decide what is important to you. Your priorities for my life do not automatically constitute my game plan for my life.
  • People love it when you’re curious about their lives. Pull your head out of your behind and ask questions about others. They’ll enjoy being in the place of expertise, and you might just learn something.
  • Never stop learning. Read. Discuss. Travel. Ask questions. Be okay with the fact that you don’t know everything. Then life will always be an adventure.
  • Look in the opposite direction every once in a while. I’ve discovered that when going about my daily routine, I tend to look at the same things. But there’s stuff behind you, and to the left of you, and even overhead, that you may not have noticed before. And often it’s beautiful.
  • Get over yourself. If you’re holding on to old baggage or regrets or disappointments, what does that achieve?
  • You only have so much energy. Don’t waste it on stupid shit. It’s okay to not participate in the drama or tolerate the crap. In fact, when you draw firm boundaries, not only does it reduce your stress, but others usually wind up appreciating it, too.
  • It’s easier to live without secrets. I was living with a doozie for a while there, and when I finally admitted it to my friends and family, it turns out that they didn’t care! I spent so much energy and time guarding that stupid secret that I could have used on something else that was more productive. Just get it out there.
  • It is so much fun to be able to laugh at yourself. Be silly. Delight yourself. Have fun. Don’t take yourself so freakin’ seriously. Life’s too short.

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Family Norms

One spring break in college I went home with a friend. Half Catholic Italian, half Jewish, hers was a noisy, welcoming household. Neighbors would come and go without knocking on their door, and help themselves to whatever happened to be cooking on the stove. The house was full of light and crackled with energy.

And forget about sleeping in. If you tried to, her father would kick open the bedroom door, shout, “Time to get up!!!” while throwing himself headlong into our bed. Then he’d bounce for a second until he was sure we were awake, kiss us both on the forehead and say, “Breakfast is ready.” Alrighty then. I guess I’m getting up.

For the first time in my life, I realized that not everybody grew up the way I did. Mine was a very quiet, reserved Congregationalist Waspy New England household. No one came to our door without giving about a week’s notice. For the most part, no one came to our door at all. Silence ruled. Calm and routine was what you strived for. The loudest noise was probably the hum of the refrigerator.

And for the most part, that’s exactly how my home is now. I have no idea why I bother renting a place with a living room. It’s not like I ever have guests or eat at the table. For me the living room is simply what you have to walk through to get from the bedroom to the kitchen.

I’m not saying that one lifestyle is superior to the other. It all depends on what you’re used to. I think living in my friend’s home would have made me a nervous wreck, but it was fun to visit. When it was time to go, though, I was a little relieved. I looked forward to getting back to what, for me, was normal.

Our families can probably trace their styles back for generations. That fascinates me. In essence, the way I live my life is strongly influenced by ancestors from hundreds of years ago. The way I do things and what seems comfortable to me was laid out long before I was born. I walk down the heavily trodden path that total strangers, who just happen to be related by blood, have followed for centuries.

And I’m actually kind of okay with that.

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Is a Puzzlement

I tend to spend an embarrassingly substantial chunk of my life doing jigsaw puzzles on my laptop. Even when I’m watching movies. I have to be doing something. For some reason puzzles bring me a great deal of comfort and reduce my stress. But why is that?

After thinking about it for a day or two, I believe I have the answer. Puzzles have defined parameters. The rules never change. There are boundaries. Working on them is a way of bringing order from chaos. And as you make progress, the job gets easier and easier because you have fewer pieces from which to choose. With a puzzle, you know that if you just stick with it, everything will be all right in the end. You will succeed. And what you end up with will be pretty.

If the rest of my life were like a jigsaw puzzle, I’d be queen of the world.

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[Image credit: besttoysforkids.fdicenter.org]

Why is this Important in Life?

In every bureaucracy there are rules that probably came about for a very good reason, but they have become obsolete over time. No one in a position of power seems to have the courage to make changes, let alone rescind rules, so what you are left with are a bunch of absurd policies that you are forced to ignore with a wink, until some rigid a**hole makes an example of you.

For example, I knew someone who worked for a company that was located on a dock, and it required that they keep semaphore flags and that each employee was familiar with semaphore signaling, in case they had to communicate that way with passing vessels. In this day of marine radios and cell phones and bull horns you would be hard pressed to find a vessel captain that knew anything about semaphore, so the training kind of fell by the wayside around 1950, and no one knew where the flags had gotten to.

Then one new guy was hired as a supervisor and he had a major stick inserted into his behind. He read every single policy and procedure and decided to test everyone on semaphore. When no one knew it, he wrote everyone up. Then his boss pointed out that even he (the boss) didn’t know it, and after much general uproar, the whole situation blew over. But the rule remains on the books.

There seem to be two types of people in this world: the rigid type who abide by and enforce every single rule regardless of how absurd it is, and the flexible type who only adhere to the rules that actually make sense in the modern world. Apparently I fall into the latter group, because the former group seems tense and overly earnest to me.

I tend to think of them as people who are more interested in getting people into trouble than in having a rational and steady work environment. These are the types who won’t even remove mattress tags in the privacy of their own homes. Do they think they’re going to be raided by the mattress police? Rigid people give me the shits.

When a rule takes on a life of its own, and the only reason for it is that it’s the way it’s always been done, it’s time for change. If you cannot make that change, then you have to ask yourself why you would put so much energy into enforcing that rule. Do you, perhaps, simply delight in causing drama and conflict? If you are about to enforce a rule, first ask yourself if the breaking of this rule will in any way impact the health, safety, profit margin, productivity, reputation or integrity of the staff or the company involved. If the answer is no, perhaps it’s time for you to get over yourself.

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Thoroughly modern, Millie…

[Image credit: gopixpic.com]

 

Captain Justice

I have a dear friend with an IQ of 170. He also has a heart as big as all outdoors and is generous to a fault. I love him to pieces. But as with many geniuses, he is lacking some indefinable something in the social realm. He doesn’t seem to see things as they are.

He has a childlike sense of justice. He reminds me of me when I was 8 years old. I’d whine, “But that’s not fair!” and my mother would say, “Life isn’t fair.” That would drive me insane.

Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t fully evolved past that little 8 year old inside of me. When someone gets after me about the unfairness of life, it still makes me grit my teeth. I have a well-developed sense of moral outrage when I see someone’s human rights being violated. I absolutely hate it when a good person gets taken advantage of. And woe betide the individual who abuses an animal in my presence.

But my friend takes it to a whole new level. He actually thinks that since he works hard and does a good job, if he reasons with his boss he’ll get a raise. He’s certain that he can’t be replaced and that his value will be recognized. He’s sure that if someone breaks the law and you are the victim, some lawyer whom you can’t afford will step up and volunteer to help you. All you have to do is ask. He believes that if you need assistance in one form or another, some social worker will magically appear and completely set aside his or her entire caseload to solve your problem. Being ripped off by an unscrupulous landlord? Simply call the housing commission, tell them your story, and they will swoop right in and straighten her out, and you can go on living on her property, happily ever after. She’ll even bake you a cake on your birthday. If he were the boss or the lawyer or the social worker or the landlord, all would be well. But he can’t save the world, as much as he’d like to.

I would love to live in his world. Everyone would play by the rules and go above and beyond for you, and the trains would always run on time. Politicians would actually give a shit. Old ladies would always be helped across the street, no one would have to lock their doors, drivers would never run red lights, and there would be no stray cats.

It sounds wonderful, but it must be exhausting for a 60 year old man to expect the universe to function that way and have to face constant disappointment. I’d much rather hope for the best but leave room for delight if it actually happens. It’s a messy, unruly, out of control planet, but at least the sun still shines equally upon us all.

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There just never seems to be a super hero around when you need one.

[Image credit: wallsave.com]

“We Accept the Love We Think We Deserve”

That is one of the main messages in the movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and it really hits home for me.

My whole life, I’ve had a problem with boundaries, or, actually, a lack of boundaries. In essence, I’ve allowed people to step all over me because I was obsessed with being a nice person. Even if someone was unspeakably rude to me, I was never rude back, and I certainly didn’t call them on their behavior. I’ve allowed myself to be ripped off, stepped on, and emotionally abused. As a child in school, when I was bullied or beaten up, I never fought back. I’ve always found it amazingly difficult to say, “No,” “Go away,” “Leave me alone,” or “F*** off.” In short, I’ve taken massive amounts of crap in my lifetime because if people see an opportunity to take advantage, they will do so, and I practically had “WELCOME” tattooed on my forehead.

This lack of boundaries goes hand in glove with accepting the love we think we deserve, because when your borders are kind of fuzzy, you begin to think you deserve the intrusions you suffer as a result.

Ah, but the universe is a wonderful teacher, is it not? It often seems as though the very type of person who needs to be put in your path so that you might learn and grow will be dropped there like an obstructive boulder, and you will be forced to go over, under, around or through that person to get to the other side.

I have to say that being in a relationship with someone with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be brutal and devastating, but it can also be an opportunity for growth like no other. When someone in your life knows how to push your buttons and doesn’t hesitate to do so, you learn exactly what your buttons are, and that gives you the opportunity to explore the reason behind those buttons. That can be quite useful.

When you are essentially living with a big old bully, you either learn to stick up for yourself or you cave in under the pressure. I decided to stick up for myself. And now, I must say, I don’t take crap from anyone. I am a woman of steel.

At first I was a little militant about it, a little rigid. I can see how it would have been easy to become a bully myself. But with time I learned to tone it down, and now I don’t push, but neither do I allow intrusions on my boundaries. I’m not afraid to establish my very reasonable rules, and if someone doesn’t like those rules, well, there are plenty of other people out there to play the game with.

The other day one of my coworkers said that she needed me to go through all our grocery bags that we use for trash bags and throw out the ones that had holes. Five years ago I might have done it. I’d have resented it, but I’d probably have done it. On this day, though, I just looked her square in the eye and said, “Uh…no. If you have a problem with bags with holes in them, simply throw them out when you come across one.” And that was that. It was a little thing, but for me it was a triumph, and a hard-won triumph at that.

But all this boundary drawing has had a delightful effect. Many of the people I love are actually behaving much more courteously, and it actually seems like it’s a relief not only to me, but to them as well. People actually like to know where the limits are. It makes it that much easier to travel through life without bumping into stuff. And having boundaries of your own teaches you to respect those of others as well.

So the trick is to determine the kind of love you want, and better yet, the love you don’t want, and then apply the restrictions accordingly, and you’ll be amazed how well your personal frontiers will be respected.

Peace in the kingdom. Maybe it’s not that hard after all.

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How to Become a Battered Woman

My whole life I’ve looked at battered women with sadness and pity, but I have to admit that I always viewed them with a certain level of disdain. I’d never let that happen to me. Never. How do you get in that position? How do you let someone disrespect you like that, harm you like that, and yet not walk away? I could never put up with that from anyone.

But I learned a very hard lesson recently, one that makes me look at battered women in a whole new light. What I’ve never realized is that it’s a quiet, creeping progression. It’s not like a woman gets beaten on the first date and decides that she’s going to live with that person happily ever after. No. You start off as one person, and somehow, slowly over time, you change. Then one day you look up and you say to yourself, “How did I get here?”

You see, it starts off so well at first. You are swept off your feet. You are charmed. You think you’ve found “the one”. You feel loved and protected and cherished and more attractive than you’ve ever felt in your whole life. Your heart is overflowing with happiness, and you dare to dream that you may actually have a bright future to look forward to after all. It’s like winning the lottery when you’ve never even had the confidence to buy a ticket.

That honeymoon stage can go on for a long time. Long enough to really get you hooked. And then one day he breaks through the first boundary. He loses his temper. But not like a typical couple’s quarrel. It’s epic. And all the more so because you never expected that he was capable of such behavior. What happened to the guy you fell in love with? You are kind of in shock. You don’t really know what to think. And the next day he acts as if nothing has happened.

You almost wonder if you imagined it. You make excuses. He was tired. You really were wrong. Everyone has a bad day now and then. Maybe you’re making too much of it. But there have been warning signs. He has spoken of other friends or relatives with anger, and he seems to hold on to that anger without ever moving on. But up until now, it was never directed at you.

Things settle down for a few days, maybe a week, and you really start to think it was just an anomaly. Then it happens again. Only this time, he says something that really, really hurts you. He picks something you’re vulnerable about and he sticks an emotional fork into it and twists. Boundary number two.

This time you’re pretty sure that you did nothing to deserve this. You didn’t realize he felt this way about you. You start to wonder about him, and how he can be so cruel. He saw you cry. He knows he hurt you. You wait for an apology, but it never comes.

The next few days he’s really, really nice to you. He gives you compliments. He makes you feel like you are the most wonderful person in the world. In the back of your mind you try to reconcile this with the cruel things he said earlier, but you can’t.

You tell yourself that he’s being really, really nice because he feels horrible about his behavior, and this is his way of apologizing. Not everyone is good at coming right out and saying things. Men, particularly, are not known for communicating feelings. So maybe this is how he does it. And as he showers you with compliments, you think this is good enough.

But over time, he shows his temper more quickly and more often. You find yourself thinking ahead so that you can avoid things that are likely to set him off. He hates the way you drive, so you let him drive. He wants the towels folded a certain way in the linen closet, and really, is that such a big deal? So you fold them his way.

As you start to accumulate more rules, your ability to function effectively becomes more and more compromised. For instance, he hates to be reminded of things as he’s heading out the door, so even though you know he’s going to forget something, you are hesitant to remind him. But then, he also hates forgetting things, so you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Another item on your decision tree is, “Has he started drinking yet?” If yes, abort inquiry.

Don’t misunderstand. You are no shrinking violet. You are not passive during his rages. When he shouts, you learn to shout back. Maybe you even kick him out of the house. But eventually you take him back, because the good times are so good. And he misses you. And maybe you feel sorry for him. You definitely feel sorry for yourself.

It doesn’t help that he can paint such pretty pictures of what your life will be like together. If this one hurdle can be jumped over, everything is going to be so great. The implication being that now he’s under a lot of pressure, but once things get better, he will get better too.

But his behavior is changing. He’s starting to learn from you. He begins to know what things really cause you pain. Do you hate to be considered stupid? Then brace yourself, because he will certainly make you feel stupid when he’s angry. Do you love your dogs more than life itself? Then he will hate your dogs and everything about your dogs and he will imply that you’re stupid for even having dogs.

Then one day he rages about your housekeeping skills, and your first thought is, “Great, now here’s a whole new set of rules, and I’m never going to be able to keep track of them all.” You look forward to a lifetime of desperately trying to keep everything neat as a pin to avoid conflict, and the concept exhausts you.

And the worst part is you watch him behave decently to total strangers, so you know he’s capable of decency. He just chooses to not behave that way with you. Why? What did you do to deserve this? He’ll be happy to tell you. This is all your fault. Nothing you do is right. You aren’t trying hard enough. You are hypersensitive. You’re crazy. You’re the one. And you start to wonder if that may be true.

Unfortunately, by now you can’t talk to anyone about it. You’re too embarrassed and ashamed. You don’t want to scare off your friends, and your family won’t understand why you don’t simply walk away. So you’re completely and utterly alone without any positive validation.

Then one day, finally, he loses it in front of a witness. Boundary number three. Maybe he shouts at you in the driveway in front of the neighbor. And you see the look of shock in that neighbor’s eyes. You remember that look. You used to get that look at first. And suddenly you realize that you are no longer shocked. You’re used to it. You have come to expect it. It has become the norm. When did that happen?

In between all the bad times, though, there are still very good times. And those become all the more precious and poignant because you don’t know when the next bad time will come along. You cling to those good times. You never want to let them go.

Therein lies the problem. In order to hold on to those good times, you have to hold onto the man, and unfortunately the bad times are also part of the man. You feel a thick blanket of depression descend upon you, because you begin to twist yourself into knots trying to figure out a way to accentuate the positive and avoid the negative. You convince yourself that if you can only come up with the right combination of…whatever it is, maybe you’ll get to keep the good guy and the bad guy will go away. But you can’t find that combination, and you therefore feel yourself sinking down into a depressing status quo.

And then one day he crosses boundary number four. A chair gets thrown. Oh, not at you. You’re probably not even in the room. And thank God your dogs aren’t there, either. But you hear the crash, you feel the fury, and you are terrified. Terrified in your own home. Because what happens when he crosses boundary number five?

It is easy to imagine what boundary number five would be like. I will never know if that boundary would have been crossed, because I chose to end things. I’d like to think that it wouldn’t have been crossed because he had no history of ever doing so, but the fact that I couldn’t be sure is what gave me the strength to walk away.

And even though intellectually I know I did the right thing, the insane thing is that I still feel as if I’m going off heroin cold turkey. I miss the good stuff. It was better than anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. I’m in mourning for those pretty pictures of a future that I’ll never have, I’m terrified about how I’ll make it on my own, I practically have a panic attack when thinking of facing the holidays all alone, and I’m lonely to the point of physical pain. I feel lacerated, and I wonder if I’ll ever heal.

I have been to the rim of the abyss and I’ve looked down into it. I didn’t like what I saw. Because of that, I will never ever look at a battered woman with disdain again. Even though I’ve never been beaten myself (thank God), now I understand. I get it.

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[Image credit: narcissisticabuse.com]