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Spring cleaning and self care — 19 Comments

  1. Truthy,
    It’s been 5 years since I found out that I needed to do some serious cleaning in my life. Since then I’ve been cleaning out more and more “stuff”. Basically, that stuff is the lies that I was told and believed.

    Just like there are different ways to clean different parts of my house, there are different ways to clean different erroneous beliefs. And being brave enough to look behind the fridge is the first step!!

    I like your analogy about spring cleaning because another step is learning to love ourselves enough to remove ourselves from emotional contagions. Emotional boundaries are the key to that. We can learn to recognize contagions: DRAMA. Then we can choose not to respond to drama – either physically or emotionally.

    As Joyce said, we can turn OFF our empathy and create that emotional boundary. It’s not that hard to do once we have the courage to admit that not everyone is worthy of our emotions. Some people are emotional vampires, with no real emotions of their own but who want to feed off our empathy. Loving ourselves means listening to our gut instincts when we meet those people. If they make us feel bad, then they ARE bad for us.

  2. Sky you also make some great points in your reply to Truthy’s article.

    I’ve actually BEEN doing physical spring cleaning around my yard and in the house, and I’m not sure if it is because spring IS finally here or what, but my energy level has gotten much higher and I’m less depressed and ACCOMPLISHING things feels really good.

    That “overwhelmed” feeling we get when we look at the MESSES in our lives, or our spaces, and then it just seems to BIG to even tackle is I think universal to some extent.

    I’m so happy that I have accomplished so much in the yard and in the house, my space is organized and clean and I want to jump for joy!!!!

    My life is more organized and “clean” as well, I have swept out the TRASH (on two legs) and that leaves more room for those people in my life who do love and respect me.

    • Joyce, there were a number of inspirations for this article. The physical act of moving furniture, sweeping up all the cat hair, throwing things out, etc., etc., is an actual activity that is positive and progressive – once the cleaning starts, it typically continues.

      But, I have a friend who has been doing some EMOTIONAL “spring cleaning” for quite a while, and it’s been a very, very painful process for her – more painful than I can remember it being for me. Yeah, I went through the same gambit of emotions, etc., but I also had a number of online resources and friends that helped me through the cesspool.

      Recently, this gal examined a long-term relationship that seemed to always leave her feeling badly about herself, physically exhausted, and without any positive “feelings” or affirmations. And, she would go to this person for support and guidance, and it was never, EVER forthcoming. So……..it took her about a year to clean this person out of her life – and, there is a WHOLE lot of information about what this negative pile of person did that isn’t important, at this point, but it did involve outright lies, betrayal, and what appeared to be deliberate sabotage to “keep her (my friend) in her place as a VICTIM,” rather than helping her move into the status of being a Survivor.

      Yeah……..emotional cleansing is an ongoing process, just as much as doing dishes and laundry is. There will always be dishes to clean and laundry to get done, unless we buy clothing, wear it, and throw it away when it gets dirty. Same goes with our emotional recovery and healing – there will always be something to attend to, but it isn’t impossible and it doesn’t have to continue piling up if we refuse the temptations of avoidance.

  3. Good points Truthy and you know you mentioning that this woman went to the VERY person who had injured her for consolation (which of course was not forthcoming) brings up a point I noticed a long time ago when my very first “love” broke my heart. I was 21 and devastated he had broken my heart, but then I realized I only wanted HIM to comfort me. LOL Even though I NOTICED that tendency to seek comfort from the very person who has injured us, I didn’t learn the LESSON for many decades. LOL

    Too soon old, TOO LATE smart! Ain’t that the truth!

  4. I so enjoyed this article. My own healing is always sabotaged by me. I always had to try one more time with my daughter, to look for any sign of empathy, but there is nothing, just that dead eye reptilian look.
    Funny thing is it really doesn’t hurt anymore, she doesn’t love me, her father or brother. She married a guy for his parents money and things don’t seem to be going her way so she is now convincing others that she is BPD, Schizoid, Depressed, a victim of childhood sexual abuse, etc.

    • Johana,
      You sound like you’re on the road to healing now. I think that, once you can see through the mask, it stops hurting so much. Then, when we accept that these are people whose emotional life is so shallow that they simply don’t feel or exist on the same plane as we do, we heal some more. All these little baby steps add up to healthier boundaries too. Keep your guard up though, if she burns the bridges with her husband’s family, she’ll try to come back for the old family supply.

  5. Truthspeak,

    I love this article! I love the analogy…the whole thing is so spot on.

    Pulling out the fridge and looking at the piles of crap left there is so important. But the one thing you said about those personal traumas and false self-beliefs, is that we have to examine them and then ‘nurture’ ourselves through the process. For years I looked at them, and bemoaned them. But I never nurtured myself through them, or let myself off the hook for them.

    This self-nurturing was something that turned the tide for me. Finally. It was the hardest part of the self-care process. Almost making everything I had done before feel a bit shallow. (not that it was, it all lead me to the place of self-nurturing).

    I posted on another site that I reached a place where I saw myself (and it took me going to a VERY dark, lonely, shame-filled place first) as a very soft, tiny, vulnerable, suffering thing. A baby maybe? Once I connected with that, and wanted to help that part of me come to terms with all the grief, betrayal, and loss- by FEELING it, and assuring myself I wasn’t going to die from these painful feelings…..then my healing accelerated, and self-care became, over time, natural.

  6. Slim, thank you! It has been a rough winter for sure, but I AM enjoying the spring. There is a favorite book of mine I first read 30+ years ago called “Come Spring” about a young girl living in upstate NY in colonial times when the Indians were attacking, the snows were deep and the weather cold, and no matter what was going on or how hungry she got she kept thinking “everything will be okay COME SPRING” and that book made an impression on me, and spring does make me rejuvinate in many ways emotionally and physically as well.

    All around me in this country which is pretty rural, in the spring you will be driving along and out in some farmer’s pasture surrounded by cows you will see a large patch of jonquils blooming. I have often thought about these random patches of jonquils because they show where someone’s old house sat at once time, and the woman would wash her clothes in a big iron pot, and carry water from the well, and bury half her children from disease, but yet that woman, poor as she might be had taken the trouble to plant the bulbs in her yard to give that first bloom of spring. She was so hungry for color after a grim and brown winter of work and want. As I drive by these patches of jonquils I smile thinking about how that woman from long ago was happy to see spring arrive.

    I dug jonquils out of my grandmother’s old front yard, which is now a pasture and moved them back in the woods near by house, but no matter how many I dig up, there are always more come up there each spring..

    Without being FALSELY optimistic I think it is important that we look to the “little things” of life to cheer us on and appreciate the good things around us, however simple. Things are ALWAYS BETTER, COME SPRING!

  7. It is always good to clean out the old and open up the space to something new. That old beat up chair thats an eyesore? Rather than hang onto it while waiting for something new to come along that you want to replace it with, ditch it and don’t look back! Look at the open space as if it is inviting something new & better in. It will come. There’s space for it now.

    Same as to be said with a lot of things in life. The longer we hang onto the clutter, junk, trash and scum, the longer we prevent clean, peace, organized and beautiful from entering our lives. I know which one I would rather look at and surround myself with.

  8. Amen, Phoenix, and my son and I have been going at it like crazy—-and it really feels good even though we both get really physically tired…cleaning out the barn, cleaning the yard, and it is also a GOOD FEELING to walk into a space that is now clean and organized and makes you want to keep it that way.

  9. I brought this article up because I thought about the “spring cleaning” albeit in late spring, that I’m doing today and yes, we do need to clean out the cob webs of our lives and organize our environment rather than be overwhelmed by the “big mess” and we CAN do it…not all at once, and not in one day, but we can do it just (as my grandfather said about “How the cat ate the grind stone”—ONE LICK AT A TIME.

  10. This post has really spoken to me. ”They are emotional cannibals and consume our strengths and vulnerabilities to feed their envy, hatred, and rage” this is something I’d really like to talk through with Truthy or anyone who has commented. Why do these disordered people want to feed / nourish their own negative, destructive tendencies?

    Last week, as I told Joyce today, the disordered person (I refer to him as this rather than spath)I broke free from sent me a parcel. I’ve been no contact for well over a year, after the first year I stopped counting the days as I had. The harassment seemed to have stopped six months ago. But, then this last week. I was REALLY irritated, not afraid, just …”what? really? you must be kidding!” kind of reaction.

    Inside I found one of those cases of those CDs that you copy files onto. The case was full of a stack of these CD’s. The top one had written on it the name of a place I had told this person at the start of the ”relationship” / abuse that I had always longed to visit. The DP mirrored me intensely to seduce and con me. If I mentioned a place I wanted to travel to, he’d go into intense raptures, about how he, too, had always wanted to visit that place.

    I threw this package away. But it looks like he visited this place and took, I guess, hundreds? thousands ? of photos of it and put them on these CDs and sent them. I had forgotten how much he envied my enthusiasm about the things in life that interest me. He pretended to share my interests but there was no evidence of this at all – just a shallow theatrical performance, mirroring my genuine interest.

    But, going back to Truthy’s point, why do these people feed their own envy, hatred and rage? Is hate always at the bottom of their interactions with others? In the case of the DP I am talking about, I know categorically that he hates me, so why won’t he just quit, and stop seeking contact for once and all? It can’t give him any satisfaction, as I never respond.

    • Rhiannon, we cannot truly “know” why disordered people behave the ways that they do – we only know that they all share (literally) a set pattern of behaviors that they use to bait, lure, and snag their targets. We don’t “know” why, because we don’t live in their Universe, and trying to wrap our heads around WHY they do these things can be an extreme distraction from our own recovery and healing.

      You asked why this man continues taunting you and stalking you, even though he hates you, and the answer is this: because he NEEDS that perception of control. That’s all.

      ****Note: my use of CAPS is intended for emphasis, only, and not to be construed as “online yelling,” under any circumstances.****

      These disordered people do not “feel” in the same ways that empathetic people do. They experience SOMETHING, but it’s not the same type of “feelings” that we do. Typically, they only “feel” envy for those things that they will NEVER have – whether they are tangible, or intangible. It might be a Bentley vehicle, or compassion, but they are not going to ever possess those things, so they envy anyone who has anyTHING that they believe that they are entitled to. Then, they bear hatred towards those that they envy – it’s often open contempt that we observe, or “glib” remarks, where they exhibit this intense hatred. Then, they rage when they don’t get what they want – whatever it is that they believe that they are entitled to: sex, money, adoration, power, control, real estate, elevated employment, etc.

      We don’t live in Their World, and we should feel very, very grateful that we have no concept of how empty, dark, and void Their World truly is. We cannot, in our wildest nightmares, wrap our heads around WHY they have these “needs,” but what we can do is to recognize their behaviors, and to cut them off at the knees. We do this by learning more about our own strengths, qualities, and vulnerabilities and how to protect those priceless things and hold them close.

      What begins as “all about THEM” evolves into “all about ME,” and I’ve been astounded at how much my childhood trauma experiences prepared me to be The Perfect Target for any disordered or toxic person with an agenda. I’m working on those traumas and personal issues, now, and it’s one heck of an amazing journey.

      So, I hope my response is somewhat helpful to you. In fact, to avoid any future presents from the DP, I would strongly recommend securing a PO Box, and never opening another package from him, again. EVEN if you don’t respond to what he’s sent, you’re still playing HIS game if you see what it was that he’s sent. Send it back, or throw it in the trash, unopened, if there’s no return address on the parcel.
      That way, you aren’t being harmed through the back door. 😉

  11. Rhiannon, I think it is about CONTROL….they just can’t stand it when they lose control over you and their manipulations enrage them.

    Look at the OJ/Nichole thing,….I have no doubt that he killed her and Ron, but it was because he had LOST CONTROL of her and that she didn’t invite him to their daughter’s dance recital pushed him over the edge. nichole knew how to push OJ’s BUTTONS and she kept on doing it. Does that mean she deserved to die? Of course not, but when we play with fire with them we may be the one who is burned, as Nichole was.

    You told me earlier that you “signed” for the package….next time, do not sign for one of his packages or letters, let it be returned to him. It gives him pleasure to think you got it and then looked at the CDs, if it is returned, he will know you did not even see it. It takes time for them to get the message, but in the meantime, I’d watch my back and lock my door. Not trying to scare you, but “people like him” are not thinking logically and they are trying desperately to get your attention. As Gavin DeBecker the expert on stalkers and psychopaths and how to disengage with them suggests that even the LEAST attention (like signing for the box) gives them attention and makes them try again. Read DeBecker’s book “The Gift of Fear” it will explain a LOT about the stalker’s mentality. DeBecker gets it, he was also a victim of a psychopathic abuse.

  12. Truthy, I’m still “hard at it” with my physical spring cleaning, taking each room totally apart and cleaning, shampooing, mopping waxing, organizing it. About half done, but the feeling of accomplishment in having my space clean as “spiffy” is actually very satisfying.

    I even cleaned behind the fridge and I’m not gonna tell you what all I found…LOL

    But now I remember why it has been several years since I have done this much “spring cleaning” behind and under everything. Lots of physical work, sore muscles, etc. but in the end it will be worth it and when my son comes home from camp in about 6 weeks, he won’t know who if he’s at the right house!

    Funny thing too, I guess, I’m feeling better emotionally than I have in a LONG time, and that gives me energy. So caring for ourselves FIRST is great advise, because otherwise we become so bogged down at the huge amount of stuff we “need to do” that we end up doing nothing.

  13. Joyce- That’s the road my spath took. He just “Didn’t know where to start” so he just never started anything. Period. If his enablers paid him to do the job rather than pay someone else… he did it. Maybe not the best job of it, but he did it. If they paid someone else to do it, he supervised, or maybe observed is a better word. He’s definitely one of those delicate flower type people that are allergic to their own sweat. Why do the work when you can watch someone else do it?

    Rhiannon- the spaths, DP’s or those who shall not be named (lol) are merely looking for a reaction. Any reaction no matter how big or small is still a reaction. Mine baited me into fights just so I would speak to him.It was usually in front of the children so as to upset the entire applecart (household) because we all know how they thrive on disruption. Nothing can go as planned, nothing can go smoothly and if it does or is, they have to do something to screw it all up.

    Think about this- If sending you the box even remotely upset you in any way, raising anger, fear, sadness or caused you to even take pause? Mission accomplished. He bothered you and upset you. If he ruined your day? Bonus points. Had you called, emailed, text, tweet or FB messaging to tell him to keep it, leave you alone or go away- Bonus points On. Top. of. Bonus. Points.

    My guess about him sending you the box is this. He may have moved on but the one he moved on to- wasn’t a ‘good enough’ target. They haven’t captured his interest, didn’t have anything of value or worth to him, wasn’t easy enough to schmooze and he is back on the hunt. He is looking for new prey and fresh blood, but until he finds it- he will taunt you for the time being. I would bet he might come back around again and again, until he is in his grave. Some of them never give up. You don’t have to be afraid, but just be alert and observant. Better safe than dead.

  14. Rhiannon,
    The things that motivate spaths can be understood, but only to a very limited degree.
    Your exspath simply envies you. He needs to compete with you so that you can lose and he can win. That helps him feel more complete, at least for a while.

    Exactly why he envies you, is really hard to pin down. That part makes no sense but I think it has to do with mirror neurons and what Rene Girard calls “mimetic desire”. I think it’s mirror neurons in the brain that have stayed immature and caused this infantile reaction in the spaths.

    There are a few things that I’ve noticed about spaths: they particularly like to target their family members and also other people who have formed an intimate relationship with them. Maybe that’s where the saying, “familiarity breeds contempt” comes from? I remember watching “Silence of the Lambs” and when Clarisse asked Hannibal Lector how the serial murderer picked his victims, Hannibal replied that a murderer would begin by choosing someone that he saw every day.

    It’s so bizarre.

    I’ve recently had another spath encounter. Though I’m currently not doing well (healthwise) and I look like death warmed over, this spath has exhibited extremely envious behavior. The envy takes the form of competition, except that he is the only one competing. Sadly, I didn’t gray rock well enough and I got slimed.

    My point is that even when you think that there is nothing to envy about you, the spath will find SOMETHING that makes him feel ashamed and he will attack in an effort to spew slime all over the place.

    It doesn’t make sense, it never will and there is nothing you can do to “fix” these “people”.
    All we can do is go back to the drawing board and keep practicing gray rock so as not to inspire their competitive envy. The less they see us, the less they will envy us — hopefully.

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