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The only three things necessary for life — 23 Comments

  1. Joyce, this is a fantastic article, seriously.

    Any type of trauma can really muddy the proverbial waters for anyone.

    I believe that “acceptance” is the most difficult to achieve. Once “acceptance” takes place, whatever is causing the confusion is finally laid to rest, regardless of what it is or how much we may not “like” it. Only then can the other two endeavors amount to anything healthy.

    Gratitude means that I look to whatever has caused my distress in a different light – as an opportunity to learn more about myself and grow from the experience(s). Even the most random traumas (natural disaster, etc.) can result in some sort of personal growth, oddly enough.

    I think it’s very important to understand what “altruism” really is. It’s a simple act of kindness, not writing a check for $2500.00. It’s also important to recognize when altruism turns into something unhealthy – sort of like “doing for others” in a desperate attempt to be a “good person.”

    With regard to altruism, I was in discussion with someone a while back, and this person was almost refusing to help themselves, literally. This person needed to complete paperwork and talk to case-workers so that they would receive some help. What was so interesting about this individual was that they would gladly and willingly drive another person to the offices that they needed to visit LONG BEFORE they would drive themselves to get help. THAT is not “altruism.” THAT is what I would term, “avoidance.” We cannot help others, effectively, if we refuse to help ourselves, first.

    What a terrific topic of discussion, Joyce. Healing and recovery ARE possible with these three things at the forefront.

  2. Truthy, as far as altruism goes, it is the NOT EXPECTING anything back, NOT EVEN GRATITUDE, from the person you help.

    The avoidance as you term it is an unhealthy sign that this person is NOT TAKING responsibility for themselves, not doing for themselves what they must and need to do. We cannot take responsibility for other’s behavior, but must ALLOW them to do for themselves what they CAN do. That I think is the “trick” between altruism and enabling.

    On a wall in front of my desk I have a sign stuck to the wall with these three words to remind me that a healthy life is DEPENDANT on them being in my life.

  3. Great article Joyce, and such a good reminder for me to help me focus on these three things.

    It’s true that many people get a good feeling from altruism. So we do random acts of kindness expecting to feel good because we make others feel good.

    If, by some chance, we happen to expend our kindness on a psychopath, we will only be repaid with evil. I think that this is okay too, if our expectations are realistic. If we accept that not every kindness is repaid or even appreciated, then we can choose to be kind because we want to, because it is our nature and we don’t want to suppress it, not because we expect anything at all.

    Acceptance, I think, is part of that. We learn when our kindness is repaid with evil. We have to accept the price of the tuition.

    • skylar,

      Your words are so true. There are people (I know quite a few) who amazingly do not recognize (or appreciate) the times that you’ve gone out of your way for them, gone the extra mile for them, etc. You don’t hear thank you from these people.

  4. Skylar, when Jesus healed the ten lepors, only one stopped to thank Him, so I think that is an illustration that many or most people dont’ really appreciate what we do for them, however, if as He suggests we do not EXPECT anything in return for our good deeds, then we are not disappointed.

    Enablers “help” others but do EXPECT, even DEMAND “gratitude” for what they do for the other person, and enabling ALWAYS leads to bad feelings on the part of the helper and the helpee as well.

    So when we truly GIVE and do not expect return, then we are not disappointed when there is no gratitude or appreciation on the part of those we help. If we give the homeless man $5 and he buys liquor with it instead of food, that’s HIS CHOICE and it’s OK…we have no right to demand he spend it according to our wishes or ideas. Free GIFTS have no strings attached.

  5. Joyce, Sky, & Blue, the “Three Things” in this article have become far more poignant to me, personally, in the past 2 years.

    “Acceptance” began when I realized that my son, Mike, was lost and gone – I didn’t “like” this fact, one little bit. I had “expected” that my son would have recognized and appreciated everything that I had sacrificed for his benefit and made choices to reflect that he wanted to be a “good” human being. This was not the case. And, the truth wasn’t pleasant, but it could not be re-negotiated.

    The gratitude was something that I never really expected to feel, at this point. I’m actually grateful that I survived all of these experiences because they have been a catalyst in my seeking my individual Healing Path. This only came after a series of spath encounters and entanglements. And, no….I would rather not have had these experiences, but I did – there must be SOMETHING for me to take away from them, aside from destruction and ruin.

    This is an important discussion for healing and recovery.

  6. Guys, I have a memory from years ago when I met “Joe” my first husband….and he took me to visit his elderly widowed aunt, a sweet lady about 80-ish, living alone. Childless, because her single child, a little girl of about 3 or 4 had died. The death of that child was never accepted, and continually mourned for the rest of her life. She showed me the photo of that little child in a dress of another area, the sepia tone portrait sad and pitiful. That poor lady had never accepted that her child was gone.

    I have heard that the mother of my son’s victim, has never been able to heal and move on from her daughter’s death, her only living child’s death became her emotional death.

    When my beloved husband died I thought my world would end, I fell into the “spin cycle” of grief that felt like there was no ending, but than God it did end! I finally came to acceptance and now I ahve the good memories, the sad memories, the times we fought, and yet I can smile about them all…there is a PEACE that comes with acceptance. I have a photo of him taken a few months before his death on my office wall, and each time I look at it, I think about the evening it was made. We were at a country dance with friends, and my step father who was at that time dying with cancer, but we went to a DANCE and there are good memories. Sometimes I cry a sentimental tear or two at a memory but it is nothing more than that.

    GRIEF is a journey, with several components, as outlined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her definition of these terms and processes, denial, bargaining, sadness, anger and finally acceptance, that is if you successfully complete thesse processes. But they are not a 1,2, 3, 4 process but a 1,4,2,3,1,3,5. etc. and we may actually come to “acceptance” and then LOSE IT AGAIN, but then work and find it again, until eventually, if we grief in a healthy way, come to acceptance and stay there….unless we get side tracked and “blow it” again and fall back into the abyss, just as I did this past year as I worked on the parole protest for Patrick. I LOST MY PEACE….I fell into fear and had no acceptance that I couldn’t control what happened…which is true. Ii do NOT control the parole board and I can do my best and they can STILL let him out, but I have a PLAN B now, and if that doesn’t work, then I’ll still ACCEPT that I can not control.

    Reaching acceptance or feeling gratitude or being altruistic is not a ONE AND DONE thing, we must continue to REINFORCE these feelings on a daily basis else they will be swept away like leaves in fall. Grief is the process of dealing with LOSSES, and as humans we continually LOSE THINGS WE VALUE…someone dies, someone betrays us, our health starts to go, we lose a job, we become financially distressed, we continually lose things, and so must work each day on maintaining our PEACE amid these losses.

    As I have aged and my health which had always been fairly good has had some problems I have grieved over this, seen and dealt with my own mortality. Wondered about the future of my health, even my life…but the thing is that from the day we are born, each day we live is one less we have to live. None of us know exactly when we will die or how, except maybe a condemned man who knows there are no other appeals….not knowing can cause ANXIETY, which tears our PEACE apart, but then we must go back to the ONLY THREE THINGS and reestablish them in our hearts.

    My own spirituality, not “religion” but SPIRITUALITY, my connection to God as I see Him, to the principles in the Bible, was what I think turned me around, that and Dr. Frankl;’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” which he wrote after his years in a Nazi prison camp. Dr. Frankl was not a religious Jew, but during his time in captivity and afterwards, he became a SPIRITUAL man. So yes, there IS or CAN be “meaning” in our trials and tribulations as humans who know that one day we will die, and that each day we live is one less we have to live….

    When my step father received his news of his terminal cancer he was 82, had aleays been healthy, never had an operation, never spent the night in a hospital, was an independent man. Our family and he grieved over his impending death together, in what I think was one of the most positive death experiences I have ever had the privilege to witness and I’ve been involved in many people’s deaths. Over the 18 months that he LIVED each day, he and I became closer than we had ever been and Ii realized just how much he loved and trusted me. I still carry with me his great faith in God and the peace he came to feel on that last few days when he knew it was going to be soon over.

    I am so grateful for those 18 months that he and I spent together during that time, and they sustain me still. It was his last and best gift to me. And being able to care for him was my last and best gift to him.

    Dealing with any offender, especially one we love dearly with every being of our hearts, is painful, but does not have to be an unending pain for the rest of our lives, we can still heal from that wound, and accept it. We can still experience gratitude for what we do have, even if it is only our survival, and reach out to others, expecting nothing in return.

    Psychology calls it “self actualization” and Mazloff thought only the “great” in this world every achieved it, such as Mother Thresa but I do not believe that, I believe that anyone who has the THREE things can achieve self actualization, but we must work to maintain it, work to keep ourselves feeling PEACE each time something comes up that we must accept even if we don’t like it.

    • Joyce, your remarks above are so poignant. “Acceptance” is the most important part of healing and recovery, IMHO. Without “acceptance,” we simply cannot move forward and away from whatever traumas occurred.

      I “knew” that I couldn’t alter things that had happened. I would never recover the money that the second exspath took from me. I would not be able to heal either of my sons from the abusive influence of their father. I do not HAVE the power to do these things, no matter how much I want to do them. I cannot CHANGE Mike into my vision of what he “should have been,” nor can I undo the damages that my own actions created – I can’t. No matter how MUCH I want to, I can’t.

      I think that self-actualization is that moment when I will put all of the pieces together and finally be “at one” with my past, present, and future. The past will no longer have the impact that it does, the present will be all the sweeter for the lessons learned, and the future will no longer be something to fear.

      Yeah….I’m looking forward to that moment.

  7. Keep in mind, Truthy, that is a JOURNEY not a destination…”being all that we can be” varies I think from day to day as well..sometimes minute to minute. LOL

    Just living in the moment, the “now” and enjoying that to me is PEACE…because there is no anxiety, no fear, just PEACE within myself.

  8. Truthy,

    Your words (past and present) are helpful. What I learned from you (concerning reality) is that I may not like something, but that’s the way it is – acceptance. I think that you, Joyce, skylar, etc. are teachers, having been seasoned by life’s experiences. Come to think of it, we’ve all been seasoned by our past.

  9. Joyce, you are 100% spot-on about living in the “now.” This is something that I’m working on, daily. Prior to the exspath reveal, I literally lived in the past – carrying my past traumas on my shoulders like bags of sand. And, the future was always looming – dread, despair, and catastrophe were NEVER far off as per my past experiences. This is a concept that I was also trained to accept as a a core belief: living in the moment was selfish and indulgent. Rewiring and retraining my brain and thought processes is a daily endeavor – literally.

    Bluejay, anyone who has experienced trauma and/or betrayal becomes “seasoned.” It can go the ways that Joyce outlined with V. Frankl’s observations with each individual. It’s the people who have an inner determination to survive that make it through the traumas as wiser human beings with strong boundaries.

    I’ve always been one of “those people” who refused to give up – even when this quality was 100% toxic to me, personally. Example: refusing to give up trying to “fix” other people turned out to NOT be an attribute, but a screaming indication of my own personal damage. There’s a universe of difference between “giving up” and “acceptance.” It took me over half a lifetime to “get this.” And, even having understood the difference (at long last), I STILL find putting this truth into practice. LOL

    Journey, indeed……..and, I’m okay with it, finally.

  10. Truthy, the pointing out of “acceptance” versus “giving up” is very good. A super good point in fact. I didn’t “give up” on Patrick but ACCEPTED he is what he is, ACCEPTED he isn’t going to change, etc. and the same way with others that I have cut out of my life…I ACCEPTED.

    Ran into a woman today that I’ve known off and on for years, she went over fool’s hill, threw away her marriage, her life, her kid, and got on to drugs, etc. and led the “wild life”—she told us that she had been in jail a few times, but that she was in a rehab program now and living with an older man (apparently a fairly well off one) and that she does NOT want to go back to jail ever and that she is clean, no drugs or alcohol. I hope for her sake she makes it, but I would not “bet the farm”—she has gotten clean before and fell off the wagon, so only time will tell.

    While at one time I was fairly close to her, back when she was a young mother and married and taking care of her responsibilities, I thought I “knew” her but apparently didn’t. She’s 35 or so now and had a pretty rough life the last 10 years or so…I hope she makes it, and maybe she will, but again, I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. Enjoyed seeing her for a few minutes in a store, but don’t want her back in my life.

  11. Truthy,
    acceptance is giving up –giving it up to God to do as He sees fit.

    Most of my progress has been when I gave it up. I’m not sure how.

    I remember, right before I discovered what the spath was, telling God that I was just going to give up and let Him handle it because I could not. I was tired of trying to fix things just to have them blow up. Unbeknownst to me, the spath was sabotaging EVERYTHING: My health, my cars, the house, the pets, our business. I was tired. It was right after I gave up that it all came together and I understood. The two events didn’t seem connected in anyway, but it was coincidental.

    Knowing what it’s like to be involved with a psychopath, it really is miraculous that anyone survives it. All of us are lucky to be alive. So many didn’t make it.

    • Funny you should say that you gave up and turned it all over to God. I did too. Or maybe I rather threw it all in his lap? It was all part of something I had heard on forgiveness. When I decided I couldn’t forgive him yet, I decided to pray for him.

      Dear Lord, He is a sick individual and he needs your help. I can’t change him and don’t know why I thought I could. You created him and this mess, if anyone can “fix it” You can. Who better for the job, right? Well if you want this marriage to last, then You had better get to work. I’m done and just can’t deal with this anymore. Amen.

      I pray for him daily and twice on Sunday . I completely understand about “giving up”. You wouldn’t repeatedly bash you head against a wall and this isn’t much different

  12. BlueJay,
    It isn’t just my experiences that have taught me, yours have taught me as well. Every time I read another story about life with a cluster b disordered person, it puts another piece of the puzzle into place. Even the repetition of similar stories, just cements the pattern for me.

    I think this is why the psychopaths isolate us. They don’t want us to compare notes. Well, it’s too late now, the internet is revealing their sick patterns of behavior everytime someone blogs or posts about their encounter with evil.

    • Sky, it’s more comfortable for me to define it as “acceptance,” and the reason has two concepts. “Giving up” is what I was raised to believe that “losers” did. “Only a quitter gives up, and quitters are losers,” is something that I often heard. Today, of course, I don’t believe that. But, “giving up” suggests that more could have been done or explored.

      “Acceptance,” on the other hand, is something that cannot be renegotiated or bargained into something better. Acceptance is that point when my personal control is done, finis, and gone. Regardless of what I might try, nothing will alter the facts.

      And, I’m glad that you brought up the fact that you learn from others – I do, as well, and I’m so grateful for the knowledge that is shared and the experiences that are recollected. Each person that escapes and tells their story as they heal and recover is a beacon of hope and validation: “bad people” most certainly exist, and these “bad people” don’t always end up behind prison bars. The hope is that recovery and healing really do happen for survivors that seek it and refuse to roll over and die from their experiences.

  13. Truthy, you are right, each person who recovers, who recovers after dealing with an offender in whatever capacity large or small, is proof that every survivor is validated.

    Sometimes when I get to feeling like John the Baptist “crying into the wilderness” and no one is listening, I remember that Jesus was perfect, His message perfect, and yet HE was crucified by the people egging on the crooked politicians for telling these people how evil they were, for confronting evil head on. So…*.I * should expect to be listened to? LOL ROTFLMBO

    You are right, bad people don’t always end up behind prison doors, many end up behind the doors of high offices in public “service” or “rich and respected” and because of that are allowed to continue their bad behavior. Jerry Sandusky comes to mind when I think of this kind of person, though he FINALLY fell very publicly it makes you wonder just how many Sanduskys there are out there who have NOT fallen into the public eye.

  14. I had an e mail today from a woman whose brother is a pedophile (among other things) and she asked me “how do you reach acceptance”? You know, that is a difficult question to answer, because there IS NO EASY ROUTE to reaching that point.

    I did tell her that the road was long and difficult and that we had to work on OURSELVES and our attitudes that we were duty bound to protect or fix the offender. We must stop any enabling behavior (and that in itself is not an easy task)

    She also talked about her mother having problems letting go of trying to fix their offender. There is no way to force someone else to “get it” even when you do, and unfortunately, many times if you do reach acceptance of an offender and cut them off with no contact, those people inside the family who are STILL enabling the offender will turn on YOU as well.

    My mother’s protecting of my Uncle Monster after I cut him off is a perfect example. She cried and screamed at me, fumed, tried to guilt me into going along with her protecting of the poor baby. LOL Now she is protecting poor Patrick from me.

    Looking back I realize now that enabling has been a family tradition for a LONG time where the women in the family for GENERATIONS have protected the family bad boy and groomed their daughters to take over the job when they are gone. Well, the BUCK STOPS HERE with me. When I refused to go along with the family SCRIPT I threw a monkey wrench into the family DRAMA-RAMA and the play was changed when I refused to play my part in it. And you know…that’s the thing we MUST realize is that we can’t influence someone else to heal, or heal at the same rate we do because it may be programmed into them to protect the bad boy/girl in the family no matter what.

    I wish there was a “magic” wand that could help us see the “light” but unfortunately there isn’t and where our EMOTIONS are concerned sometimes it takes a bucket of cold water in the face to wake us up. My “Ah ha” moment was when Patrick bragged about his crime, and I realized he was proud of his crime, it did hit me like a bucket of water in the face and from that moment I started to wake up and smell the coffee, but even still the PAIN of that realization was intense, but eventually I did reach acceptance. PEACE.

    • Joyce, “acceptance” took me a long, long time to reach and I would say to the emailer that it just takes time and patience. If she is inclined, trauma counseling with a specialist who deals specifically with childhood and family trauma might help her find her individual healing path. But, only if she’s inclined to do that.

      The definition of “acceptance” when it comes to emotional healing is as follows:
      * realizing that the facts are simply facts that have no agenda and are neutral, regardless of content
      * understanding that the facts cannot be altered
      * understanding that the facts cannot be bargained or negotiated INTO a more comfortable set of facts
      * realizing that I have no control over the facts or over what anyone else chooses to do, think, or believe

      “Acceptance” isn’t easy and it lies within control issues for me, personally. I came to understand the points above, and I still remind myself of these terms, daily. I cannot change the past, I cannot predict the future, and I do not have the ability or power to control what someone else might (or, might not) do. That’s it.

      I am not OBLIGATED to ***like*** or “embrace” the facts as they are, by any stretch of the imagination! In fact, I may rant, rave, and rant some more over the facts, but I will come to a point where I get that out of my system, and that’s when the facts aren’t a “friend” OR an “enemy.” They just are.

  15. Zen, I definitely agree that acceptance is not an easy place to reach, but it makes all the difference in the world. Acceptance is the final stage in the grief process which we feel when we lose something or someone we love…losing a job, losing a friend or loved one to death, etc. or losing the fantasy that someone loves us when they don’t…we have denial, sadness, anger, bargaining and acceptance. We will go back and forth through these stages, but not in order, almost randomly from 1-3-2-4-3-4=1= etc and we may reach acceptance for a while and then “falll off the wagon” so to speak and go back to anger etc. but eventually if we work at it, we will reach acceptance and stay there…however, we can be triggered back to any one of the earlier stages if we are not careful to keep an eye on our emotions.

    I became totally ridden with anxiety the last time I had to prepare the parole protest for Patrick, I melted down into the spin cycle of anxiety…and I had to get it back together, and I went back to therapy for a while to help me.

    • Joyce, and it’s OKAY that we grieve and have our spin cycles as long as we learn something from those dreadful events. Each experience is an opportunity for me to learn about myself, and I take that very seriously given the fact that I could have lived the rest of my life in fear, anxiety, and self-loathing.

      For me, it was indicated that my own LANGUAGE contributed to my own anxiety, fears, self-perceptions, and judgements of others. To re-learn to speak without using negative connotations has been an EPIC challenge! “Stupid,” “foolish,” “ugly,” “fat,” “useless,” “helpless,” and many, many other words that I once used are being winnowed OUT of my vocabulary, even with regard to other people.

      “But, Truthspeak, that s/he IS a psychopath! What’s wrong with calling a spade what it is?” My answer to that is that I already know what someone is (or, isn’t) once I’ve spent the time and effort to observe. If anyone had told me that either of my spouses were psychopaths, I would have actively dismissed them and gone ahead with even GREATER determination to prove them wrong. So……….I don’t need to direct how someone else perceives a dangerous person. If they ask, then I simply respond with, “I wouldn’t trust that person any further than I could kick them barefoot.”

      What I used to do was to tell people what I believed that they needed to know because I am educated, intelligent, and I SHOULD know what everyone else needs! I no longer offer unsolicited advice and, even if I’m asked, I am very cautious with my words and the LANGUAGE. Negative language goes far more deeply than positive language does – this is a fact. So, instead of saying to an obese child, “You don’t NEED that, you’ve had enough to eat!” I’ll say, “Hey, take a look at this drawing I’m working on,’ to redirect their focus. It works wonders.

      For myself, I don’t say, “Truthspeak, that was SO stupid – you KNEW better than to do that!” I try to say, “Truthspeak, you just weren’t thinking this time. The earth is still spinning on its axis, and nobody died, okay? Let’s move on….”

      We are ultimately in control of our own perceptions, whether it’s to move into a space of “acceptance,” or to change the language that we use. By taking control of these two thing, I have taken AWAY the power and control that every bad or toxic person that I ever met once had over me and my self-perceptions.

  16. Zen, “self talk” is very very important to our psychological health. Dr. Eric Berne’s book “Games People Play” likens this self talk into “messages” that we received from our parents as children. some of it may be good “You’re a winner” “you are smart” “you are good” but there is also the messages of “you are stupid” “you can’t do anything right” “you are not good enough” etc. we “record” these messages during the time that our parents are “gods” and everything they say is spoken from “Mt Sini” and is carved on tablets of stone.

    So we go through life repeating these things, the good and the bad. Some parents give their children affirmations and praise for the most part, and other parents give their children “stupid” and “ugly” messages. These messages become our self talk and emotionally we BELIEVE them

    Of course some parental messages help us to remember to “always brush your teeth before you go to bed” or “the fork goes on the left side of the plate” but the emotional messages of we are “good” or “bad” keep us in that rut with our self talk.

    My own driving force in self talk was “you are not okay because you are not perfect” and the idea that I had to “forgive” (meaning pretend some one had not deliberately hurt me and continue a relationship with them)

    I read Berne’s book YEARS before I had IN-sight, and it gave me some good OUT-sight, but I wasn’t ready to tackle the IN part of sight. So when others we see or know are allowing themselves to be abused, generally they are not open to suggestions from us about what they are doing, I think because their “parental tapes” are running so loud they can NOT “hear” anything we would say. It is ONLY through IN-sight that they can change, and they are only open to changes in themselves when they are ready.

    Court-ordered therapy and “anger management classes” (or if you don’t take them you will go to jail) I think are worthless because those people who are court ordered for therapy are not ready or willing to actually ENGAGE in therapy, they simply sit in the therapy for the required number of hours, or they learn to SAY the “right words” but they don’t actually CHANGE..

    At a community mental health clinic I worked at once the clinic offered “anger management” courses for domestic violence offenders. I had to laugh at the LACK of success that those classes presented. And, when you think about the fact that 75% of domestic violence offenders are psychopaths to start with, it isn’t hard to see why there’s not much success.

    Unfortunately the PC idea that “therapy can cure anyone” is what makes people like the Affluenza teen get off with a slap on the wrist. I have little doubt that both he and his mother are psychopaths who believe that the law doesn’t apply to them. I hope the judge will send him when he is brought back here to the US to prison. I don’t think prison will change him for the better but it will keep him from driving drunk and killing another 4 people.

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