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When we get too cocky, our strengths become our downfall. — 11 Comments

    • Joyce, what a no-nonsense prose, and your last paragraph says it as well as I’ve seen it, anywhere: “I must take responsibility for my own life, my own behavior, and set my boundaries in such a way that I eliminate those dangerous relationships no matter how smart or capable I am in other aspects of my life. There are just some things we can’t accomplish no matter how hard we work, and changing someone else is one of those things.”

      One of the things that I struggled with in my recovery was MY responsibilities for my own choices, etc. Yes, yes, yes……..I had been targeted and victimized, repeatedly, by various nefarious individuals and partners, but that did not mean that I could blame every bad choice, decision, and reaction on THEM.

      In my recovery, I have been able to connect the proverbial dots in how my behaviors were a direct result of my childhood traumas. By carefully processing the traumas and discussing my choices, actions, and behaviors with a strong counseling therapist, I have come to the point where I can forgive myself for my frailties, and open space for a stronger, wiser Self to grow.

      Recovery is not easy. It’s not simple. And, it isn’t painless. Some of the most painful moments of my life have been in recovery. But, what happens after that is balance……..and, it’s very unfamiliar to me to experience balance. So, I’m just becoming acquainted with this and I am looking forward to being calmer, wiser, and centered.

      I never have to live the way that I once did, again. I can choose to go back there, if I wish, but I have no desire to be that angry, frustrated, resentful, and anxiety-laden person, again. Ever.

  1. Truthy, there are a MULTITUDE of things that go into what we “become” or don’t become.

    Childhood trauma is part of it of course, but we can’t “blame” everything on our childhood traumas.

    DNA is part of it, maybe a BIG part in whether we are prey or predators.

    Culture is another big part in how we think and behave.

    And on and on, I could name so many different contributors but you know…the thing is the very BOTTOM line is that WE are responsible for our choices, no matter WHY we made those choices.

    I don’t like the word “blame” but I DO like the word responsible and we ARE responsible. A lot of victims, and especially pseudo-victims get really up set if you tell them that THEY are responsible for their choices even though someone else did them wrong.

    I don’t blame a rape victim for being raped, BUT if an underage girl goes to a party, takes drugs and passes out and the highschool foot ball team gang rapes her and puts it on UTUBE then she bears some RESPONSIBILITY for what happened. That doesn’t mean the rapists should not go to prison, no matter what she did it was no excuse to rape her. But again, the PEER PRESSURE that young people are under today encourages this type of behavior.

    A survey of college men asked them if they would rape an unconscious woman if there would be NO CONSEQUENCES and the number that said YES is 30% THIRTY PERCENT—wow, that is a staggering number.

    I know a bunch of the reasons “why” I made poor choices and you know “why” you made some poor choices, but we must be responsible for those choices and the subsequent results, but we do NOT need to “blame” ourselves.

  2. Joyce,
    You’ve addressed several of the issues that create our victimization by abusers. Most important, I think, are the things we believe. To the degree that we are disconnected from reality, we become vulnerable to liars and manipulators. Narcissism is a form of disconnection from reality so that our degree of narcissism is what makes us vulnerable, as you said.

    Also though, keep in mind that abusers will “train” us to believe what they need us to believe. They will “train” us to think that our people pleasing behavior is having an effect on them so that we keep it up. This is very much like the casinos which let the players win some of the time so that they keep playing, when in fact, everyone knows that “the house always wins” in the end.

    Being smart isn’t always enough to protect ourselves. Abusers can have very low IQ’s and yet still be very talented at manipulation. It’s a different kind of intelligence. I don’t want to call it an Emotional Quotient because there is nothing Emotionally Intelligent about abusing and manipulating, perhaps the best phrase is EQ for “Evil Quotient”.

    Sadly, being disconnected from reality can occur for many reasons and I don’t know the answer to why or how to fix it. Being able to believe in lies can have short term benefits, while the slot machines are letting you win, but eventually there is a price to pay. All gamblers know this — they really, really do know this, but it doesn’t stop the addiction and it doesn’t stop them from feeling that the next payoff is just around the corner.

  3. A psychologist did some early research on this “intermittent reward” being very addictive. And it is. I use it with my dogs and donkeys in training. At FIRST (like a love bomb) I give them a reward EVERY time they even approach doing what I want them to, and they get better and better at the desired behavior, then when they have it learned, I give them a reward only every other time, but each time they do it they think “Oh THIS is the time Ii will get the reward” and then I gradually slack off the rewards until they are never getting it and they still live in HOPE. They are bonded to me. LOL Trauma bonding is the same way, the abuser gives you UNCONDITIONAL LOVE for a while until you fall for them, then they start the abuse and it is interwoven between abuse and “love” so that you are like the animals, TRAINED and ADDICTED.

    Slot machines use the same thing. Intermittent rewards.

  4. Joyce and Sky, the interesting thing about this immediate discussion is that they are techniques to TRAIN – I used similar techniques with the horses that I worked with, and the sooner the foal began training, the better for everyone involved.

    ****Please, note that my use of CAPS is for emphasis, only. LOL!!!****

    I learned how to train a foal by watching other trainers and handlers. So, abusers and users must have learned in the same manner. Certainly, the propensity for genetics is a factor – certain genetic information is GOING to produce a human being that is MORE PRONE to predatory behaviors. But, they aren’t born with the intricacies and nuances that abusers and manipulators employ! Intermittent rewards! If I had not watched handlers and trainers using that method, I would never have sorted that out, myself.

    I think that there are many factors involved, including victim profiles. The second exspath would NEVER have chosen someone who was confident, self-sufficient, and emotionally healthy. Just as a duck hunter isn’t going to choose a pup to train that is shy, or skittish, the second exspath TROLLED for his targets.

    And, I agree that personal beliefs played a huge factor in how I made my choices. Well, that’s not written in stone, anymore – I can change and alter my beliefs at any time to better protect myself and my own best interests. I didn’t know that I had that option BEFORE the second exspath! LOL!!!!!!!!!!

    With Victor, the “unconditional love” was just as you described, Joyce. For a while. Once the marriage was sealed and the contract was binding, that began to change and it was a very, very insidious route. It began with the emotional dismantling, and ended up with the physical and s-exual abuse being primary. By the time I got OUT of that marital contract, I was hollow and terribly broken, which is precisely how the second exspath set me up using my own vulnerabilities and strengths to do it.

    Having typed ALL of that, I want to reiterate that I am actually grateful for these dreadful lessons. I’m no longer the person that I was 3 years ago, and even 9 months ago. My levels of anxiety aren’t constantly crippling, now. I’m taking tiny, tiny steps to address the agoraphobia, as well as my physical/medical health. I’m finally – at long, long last – CARING about MYSELF, which is something that I never, ever did prior to 2011. And, I’m grateful for all of it. I don’t LIKE it, but I’m grateful for it. LOL!

  5. Truthy, I think under great stress we ALL neglect ourselves. Many people who are depressed do as well. For the first year after the aircraft crash that killed my husband, my son Michael (who was in the plane and badly burned) were in total SHOCK. We sat and stared at the wall, only moving to feed the dogs and occasionally feed ourselves…I don’t know how long I went without bathing. Holed up with our pain. I can definitely relate.

    Some events are pretty terrible but we can none-the-less take lessons from them. I don’t wish I’d never had these things happen I can’t wish them away, but I am darned sure going to find that there is a lesson in there. Self neglect is not the answer. We must find the strength (however slowly) to come out of the funk and start taking care of ourselves FIRST. We have choices even if it didn’t seem like we did.

    • Joyce, I think that it’s so vital to realize that there are, indeed, always options, even if none of them are pleasant.

      Separating one’s Self from harmful associates or family members is SUPREMELY unpleasant……….nobody wakes up and thinks, “Today, I’m going to go ‘No Contact’ with my family member,” and looks forward to it. Going NC is one of the most challenging hurdles to personal recovery and healing that I know of, especially if it’s a loved family member or friend.

      But, self-care requires me (personally) to make difficult choices, and I have finally begun basing my choices and decisions upon information and facts, rather than the knee-jerk feelings and emotions that were previously in charge.

      Having typed that, it doesn’t make it any easier, simpler, or at-all-pleasant to come to a difficult decision like going NC with someone that I care about. I still grieve. I still feel sad. I still wish that things had turned out differently. The difference today is that I “accept” that things COULD NEVER be different, and that I made whatever decisions that I did for my own benefit and well-being, instead of basing them on what other people might think.

      Now that I’m concerned about my own well-being, I’m taking tiny, tiny steps to get hold of my overall health. From emotional to spiritual to physical, I’m taking steps, even if they are wee, tiny steps. I didn’t get to where I am all in one great LEAP, so I cannot and will not expect myself to get better in one great leap, either.

      Step one is saying to myself, “Okay, this is this and it is what it is – I cannot force it to be any other way, no matter how I try to negotiate or bargain.” Without that one, monumental step, I still would believe that I am not worthy or deserving of concern and care, and that I can administer care to and FOR myself.

      What a long, strange trip it’s been…………

  6. Your comment about not “getting this way” over night made me think about losing weight. NO one gets “fat” over night, and there is no way to LOSE IT over night. We have to lose it one calorie at a time. I think that is why many people find dieting so difficult. There is always the temptation in front of us, and no “VISIBLE” progress if we skip the pie and no visible weight gain if we eat it. It is only through the “day to day grind” that we make progress and it is one millimeter at a time. And of course there are “back steps” which we may beat our selves over the head with, and then say “Oh, to heck with it, I’m never gonna improve, so I’ll just go back to the (“easier”) way I was and not put out all this EFFORT and spend all this time working on examining my life, I’ll just “forget” about it all.

    • Whether it’s about losing weight, losing toxic relationships, or gaining self-confidence and self-worth, it takes time.

      One step at a time has been maddening, at times, because I wanted to be recovered and healed, YESTERDAY. But, I didn’t “get like this” in one fell swoop, and it’s a complete mind-body-spirit emergence for me.

      I am sorting out the “mind” aspects, and I’m getting a handle on the spirit, and I’m finally taking time to sort out the “body” approaches. In all ways, it’s a matter of caring FOR myself because I’m worth caring ABOUT. I didn’t believe that this was true for most of my life, so it’s a lifelong journey to keep learning, keep improving, and keep caring about myself.

      For me, any attempt at self-improvement was exactly as you described, above. And, I finally “get it” why I was so black-or-white about every aspect of my life. Knowing that most of those beliefs and perceptions were flawed has given me tremendous courage and desire to replace the flawed beliefs and perceptions with HEALTHY ones that are positive and based upon truth.

      Yepper………..the effort is tremendous, at first, but I’m feeling (actually feeling it) the inertia of forward momentum. Sure, I’m going to stumble and, sometimes, fall – but, being human does NOT make me a failure, nor does it make me a “bad person.” And, that has been the greatest blessing in my recovery – to be OKAY, even when I make mistakes. 😉

  7. Truthy, the mind set of “i’m not okay” (and even VERY successful people may feel that way) gives rise to a lot of toxic behavior being allowed to descend on our heads by abusive people.

    Also, the poor choices we make can lead to horrible consequences. I’ve been watching that Vanderbilt rape trial. WOW what horrible choices on everyone’s part….the girl for getting blind drunk in the first place, and the young man’s for thinking rape was a joke (and also being blind drunk) and videotaping it as well…They were convicted, but now their lawyer has raised a question about one of the jurors having been sexually assaulted as a child, so guess they will have to retry them again, but I have no doubt that they will use the juror as a lever to try to get the DA to make some sort of lesser sentence than the 20 years they were expected to get before the deal about the juror. I personally think the attorney found out about this during the trial and kept it secret, because if he had disclosed that information, an alternate juror could have been used to replace that juror and whatever the verdict would be would stand. Legal tricks! UGH! Not about guilty or innocent, just about legal tricks. UGH!!!!

    Our bad choices, regardless of the reasons we make them, are not going to bode well for our welfare or our lives. So we should strive to run our lives more by logic than by emotional cues….but who among us can say we are “Mr. Spock?” LOL

    Our emotional needs are important, and we need to strive to meet them IN A HEALTHY WAY, but so are good sense items…such as not drinking (or doing anything else) to excess that will harm us….young people as they are emerging from youth into adults frequently test the boundaries (I know I did) and do stoooopid things, but sometimes these things pass from being stooopid to being CRIMINAL the young lady at Vanderbilt was stoopid, but the young men were CRIMINAL, and yes, I think the college/atheletic culture was part and parcel of this event, but the bottom line is we are all responsible for our own behavior and choices and the consequences.

    As for the young men’s parents…I grieve for them at the loss of their son’s “shining future” because no matter what happens, junior is going down in firey flames one way or another. I can definitely IMAGINE their pain because I too was in such pain when Patrick killed Jessica, because I knew no matter what happened it would not go away, but even then I didn’t give up “hope” Maybe these young men were high in P traits and the alcohol being added in fueled the thing turning criminal, but the parents are having to process what they know to be true, and what the consequences are for their beloved sons.

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