Tag Archives: Abandonment

Bullied as a Child: How Can I Trust in Intimate Relationships?

Dear JoyDiva,

As a child, from ages 6-12, I was bullied first physically and then mentally.  My parents never openly advocated for me, and teachers turned a blind eye.  As a result, I advocated for myself, and have learned to be strong in that sense.

However, as I grow older, my childhood haunts me.  I feel like I will be left holding all the bags at any moment.  I have issues with trust and intimacy, and this wrecks havoc for relationships that I am in.  I question all the good things that come to me because I was told by everyone that I did not deserve it.  I feel hardwired to think this way, and it feels terrible.  I feel that it would be irresponsible to find someone who could handle all of this baggage, so I desperately try to solve my own problems.  However, this drives a wedge between my partners and myself as I will seem moody and distant simply because I cannot express my feelings in a constructive way.

What can I do to get rid of this ‘baggage’ that prevents me from becoming intimate with another person?

Thank you for your time.

The Bullied & The Beautiful

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Dear, “The Bullied & The Beautiful,”

Thank you for your heartfelt note. I’m going to do my best to give you something concrete to work with through what I offer here, and at the same time, it is clear to me that these thought patterns that feel “hardwired” to you at this point are going to take time and TLC to re-wire, and the most effective way to get clear on and release the blocks and blind-spots keeping you from deeper intimacy is for you to partner with a coach or therapist to help. I can absolutely help you unpack that emotional baggage and support you in taking the scary and ultimately, rewarding steps on the path to trust. I can help you gain the confidence to ask for what you want, believe you are worthy of having what you want, and to open up your emotional world to someone and allow yourself to be supported.

Some resources: I highly recommend the Work of Byron Katie as a simple set of tools to help you question the thoughts and stories that are creating your suffering and open you up to your life NOW, rather than being led by your past. Another experience that could be quite powerful for you might be to participate in the Landmark Forum—the experiential learning there would also support you in the breakthroughs your are wanting. Psychodrama group therapy could be a powerful experience to help you process, re-frame and let go. Brené Brown’s latest book, Daring Greatly would also be a helpful resource in helping you strengthen your shame resilience so that you can open yourself to being vulnerable in all of your relationships.

The work that I encourage you to start moving through is to start differentiating between what happened in your past and the stories that you created around those experiences that are now shaping your future. The past is truly in the past. As painful as it was, it is now over, gone, never to be as it was. Even the terrible, nasty things that people said to you are in the past, over and done with. What is living NOW is the story you created, the meaning  that you added to those experiences in your life. Stories like, “I don’t deserve to be loved.” “I can’t trust anyone but myself.” “Love isn’t safe.” “If I’m vulnerable you will hurt me.” “I’m a victim and you are the perpetrator,” “I will be left holding all of the bags at any moment.” As a small child, you couldn’t help but buy into these stories. You were doing the best that you could to protect yourself and survive. As scary as it is as an adult, you don’t ACTUALLY need these stories to protect you, anymore, and the most powerful place to be is in the heart of your vulnerability, rather than gripped by the fear that these thoughts of mistrust create for you.

And if you were to go back and get really clear on what actually happened in your past, (ie. My classmate called me fat, ugly and stupid) and then the story you may have created around what happened (ie. My classmate hates me, she said that because there’s something wrong with me, everyone hates me, I really AM fat, ugly and stupid, people think I’m undeserving of love, etc.)…the more you separate out the story from what happened, the more you will be able to take responsibility for the meaning you added to those experiences, and set yourself free. The wonderful thing about life is that all kinds of stuff happens, and WE get to be the ones who make meaning of it. At any time you can choose to shift your reality based on how you are choosing to perceive it. At anytime, you could choose to open up your heart and know that no matter what the other person does or does not do, you will never leave you, you will always be there to love and support you. (another one of my posts that has great wisdom in it for you: https://askthejoydiva.com/2012/01/18/why-is-it-so-hard-to-accept-that-my-boyfriend-loves-me/)

So, my love, like I said above, this kind of letting go and thought-shifting may not happen over night and will best be addressed via the support of a professional to hold up the mirror and help you with this process of differentiation. You most certainly do not have to do this growth work on your own, and truth-be-told, as someone who has also built quite a wall of self-reliance through the years due to former abuse and bullying—it doesn’t really work to do that kind of growth work on your own.

I’m always here if you should want to take your healing to the next level and you don’t want to go it alone.

Much love to you. dear heart.

:)Melissa A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2013 Melissa Simonson

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My Husband Left and I’m Devastated…What Do I Do Now?

Dear JoyDiva,

I’m in a relationship for 13 years. My common law husband migrated to Canada and though he is far, our communication is constant. We have a daughter and allowance and support was never a problem. And we agreed that after he saves up enough money, he’ll come home and marry me so that we’ll be together as family in Canada. For no reason at all, last December 2012, supposed to be our 13th anniversary, he suddenly stopped replying to my calls and texts. Then, two weeks after, I saw a picture in his Skype account with another woman. And my world crashed. I have no idea what happened. I never saw it coming. There’s no indication that he already had found someone new. Now, I’m so depressed and down. I don’t know what to do. He was my world and my future. I love him more than myself up to now. What should I do? How long do you think can I move on? What’s the best thing to do for me to move on cause I’m really having a hard time to let go? I still don’t want to burn my bridges with him and his family. Should I still hope that there’s still hope for us even just for our daughter cause I really want her to have a complete family? Please help me. Thanks.

Rose

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Dearest Rose,

Hi, Sweetheart. I’m sending love to your tender heart, right now. I’m so sorry that you are in so much pain as you try to make sense of this confusing situation and scramble to pick up the pieces of your shattered dreams. I know this pain very, very well, and there is no other pain like it. Let’s take some deep breaths together, right now. Take a nice deep breath in, and let it out. Though it may seem simple, remembering to pause and take deep breaths is going to be an important part of moving through this transformational journey.

I can’t speak of him or your relationship, what he is or isn’t doing because there are too many gaps in information for me—I hope that if it hasn’t happened yet, that you are able to address what you saw and receive an honest answer from him. Whether he has or has not been in communication with you at this point in time, what I can speak of is how you can nurture your relationship with yourself, and support you in picking up the pieces. What I’m going to say is not going to take away the pain—grief is a fire that has to burn a new path through your life right now, and there will be days that seem unbearable, and then, day by day, as you take gentle care of yourself, the pain will start to diminish, and freedom will be born in its place.

I want you to know that you are loved by every process unfolding in your life. Even this time that has you raw and on your knees is being offered up as an opportunity for you to discover what it means to really love yourself and pursue a life that fills you up and makes you come alive. Your statement that you “loved him more than [yourself] up to now” is telling me that you have not been pursuing yourself and your own life with the passion you deserve. Sweet Rose, despite the false messages we ladies receive through the years, it is not noble or even healthy to love another more than ourselves, to be so consumed in our loving that we neglect ourselves and our own unique expression in the world. Know that your loving is a tremendous and beautiful gift to the world that has not been in vain. It’s just time to focus that tremendous loving on yourself and your daughter now.

There is no magic formula to make your grief go away, and there is no set amount of time for the process, either. Ways to nurture yourself right now:

1) There are 5 stages of loss that are a natural part of your journey right now: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. You will find yourself swinging among these with each day that passes. Allow yourself to feel it all—journal, cry it out, purge, write down everything that you feel you have lost and are losing—revisit this process as often as you need to and make good friends with those intense feelings, as hard as that may be. I’d encourage you to be aware that you may want to lash out on the days that the anger phase comes up and you may also be incredibly angry at yourself, at times. These are days when it’s important that you write, and do not send letters to your former partner because, as you wisely mentioned, burning bridges may not be what you want in the long term. That doesn’t mean that there may not be a moment of clarity when you need to speak your mind with him—by all means, you have a right to be pissed off and hurting! It just means that those intensely emotional days are going to be days when you want something from him that he may not be able to give.  Be aware that the bargaining phase is often one of the most difficult—this is the phase that I call “I’ll send you my left arm if you just take me back” phase. In your devastation and the deep sense of rejection that you feel it can be so easy to be willing to sacrifice all to make the pain go away. Those are the days when you need to keep yourself busy—take good care of your body, as hard as it is–pursue things that you normally enjoy, pour your heart into being present for your daughter, and my next point:

2) Surround yourself with friends and loved ones as much as possible, right now. Reach out—go out to lunch/dinner or have them over. Make sure that you don’t have too many days to get trapped in your head and that you get out into the world. Allow yourself to receive support as much as possible, to feel uplifted and surrounded in love. This means being honest with yourself and your loved ones about what you are feeling and experiencing day-to-day and having support systems to uplift you with words, time, deeds when you cannot do it yourself. One of the greatest gifts of grief is its ability to bring us close to the people who truly matter in our lives. There is so much magic there—allow yourself to rest within that as much as possible.

3) I don’t know how old that your daughter is, but it’s going to be really important that you are also being real with her about your tender heart on a level that she can understand, right now. This does not mean bad-mouthing her father or making her responsible for your happiness—you can share your feelings without making him wrong or making her feel like she needs to make it better. This means showing her the strength that lies in vulnerability by sharing your feelings and communicating with her the ways that you are taking care of yourself, right now. This means letting her know why you might be cranky or sad or needing some alone time. No matter how old or young she is, this is a wonderful opportunity for her to learn about how to cope with life’s inevitable loss and what it looks like for a woman to love herself. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if it weren’t for my mother sharing her growth journey with me and being so real with her feelings and what she needed following my parents divorce when I was 7 years old. I remember thinking that she was so beautiful and strong when she let herself cry, and it was a great gift to me as she shared her learning.

4) When you have a reprieve from the bring-you-to-your-knees level of pain, when you’ve really purged and come face to face with the weight of what you’ve lost, I want you to start thinking about what you want your life to look like (beyond your partner). What are some things that you couldn’t do before that you now have the opportunity to do? If you could craft any life for yourself from this point forward what would you like it to look like? Do not rush yourself to this point before you are ready—it’s important that you be with the experience of loss as it arises. With that said, many people spend so much time looking at the closed door that they intensify their suffering and ignore the abundance of opportunities that lie before them. When you start to feel ready, I want you to start exploring what kinds of seeds you want to plant in your new garden. This chance to build a whole new beautiful life will ultimately be the extraordinary gift of this great loss.

As far as whether or not you should hope for the relationship: Now is a time to focus on you and your daughter and not on your relationship with him. I would absolutely hope that he will continue to be a father to his daughter, but that does not mean that you should or need to be in relationship with him in order for him to be in her life.  Also, as I mentioned above, you now have the opportunity to show her a strong woman who loves herself and a NEW kind of completeness. I understand that you want her to grow up with her parents being together, and that may not be possible or a healthy choice for any of you in the long run. It is not healthy for her to witness her mother pursuing a man who is not acting in integrity. You, my dear, deserve a man who will cherish you for all that you are, and abandoning yourself and chasing after a man who is not cherishing you is not teaching your daughter how to be the strong woman that you want her to be someday. Now is the time to start pursuing yourself, your own dreams, your own beauty with the passion that you were pursuing your relationship with him. Cherish yourself in all of the ways that he could not, and you will feel loved in a way that you may have never before.

You deserve to have  and to give yourself everything that you’ve ever wanted in life—I know that you thought he would be part of that picture, but there is a much better life awaiting you on the other side of this grief. One foot in front of the other, right now, and know that you are so very loved every step of the way.

All my love,

Melissa A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2013 Melissa Simonson