Posted by: Judy | November 3, 2014

The worm turned…

Actually, it’s more of a last straw.

The following quotes were posted over a month’s time on the Positive Outlook blog:

Stop trying to change someone who doesn’t want to change. Stop giving chances to someone who abuses your forgiveness. Stop walking back to the place where your heart ran from. Stop trusting their words and ignoring their actions. Stop breaking your own HEART. ~ Unknown

There will be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved and being respected. Always pick being respected, that love without respect is always fleeting — but that respect could grow into real, lasting LOVE. — Unknown

You don’t need anyone’s affection or approval in order to be good enough. When someone rejects or abandons or judges you, it isn’t actually about you. It’s about them and their own insecurities, limitations, and needs, and you don’t have to internalize that. Your worth isn’t contingent upon other people’s acceptance of you — it’s something inherent. You exist, and therefore, you matter. You’re allowed to voice your thoughts and feelings. You’re allowed to assert your needs and take up space. You’re allowed to hold onto the truth that who you are is exactly enough. And you’re allowed to remove anyone from your life who makes you feel otherwise. — Daniell Koepke

Don’t waste your time on people who see you as you were instead of as you are. It they can’t let go of the past, let go of them. — Unknown

There’s only so many times you can allow someone to let you down before you will no longer tolerate being disappointed. When things go wrong between two people, something has got to give. You get to the point where you get tired of being the only one trying to fix things, it’s not giving up, it’s realizing you had enough. You’ve got to do what’s right for you, even if it hurts.  — Brigitte Nicole, Lessons Learned in Life

Let go of relationships that do not serve you. That means negative people, dishonest people, people who don’t respect you, people who are overly critical and relationships that prevent you from growing. You can’t grow as a person, if you don’t have people in your life who want to grow with you.— Unknown

Learn how to lead your heart; start recognizing when something isn’t good for you and be strong enough to let it go. A person can only waste the time if you give them an opportunity to waste. Stop trying to open doors for people who constantly shut you out. Make sure the interest is shown in the effort, the talk is supported by the actions, and the trust is earned through the consistency. — Robert Hill Sr.

Everything you do is based on the choices you make. It’s not your parents, your past relationships, your job, the economy, the weather, an argument or your age that is to blame. You and ONLY you are responsible for every decision and choice you make. Period. — Unknown

This all led up to a decision… a quiet determination.

My parents know I take care of my BIL’s dog between 11am and 1pm 3-4x a week.

They weren’t home by 1pm one day last week. No phone call. Nothing. I walked the 3/4 mile, not feeling well. EF arrived at 2:15pm to drive me home. Such a little thing.

I heard the usual “I’m sorry. We hoped we’d be home sooner.”

“You didn’t think to call at let me know?”

“We kept hoping we’d make it home.”

“You knew by 1pm you weren’t going to make it home by 1pm. Why didn’t you take 1 minute to call?”

If I had done the same thing, I would have been on the receiving end of a Scotch Blessing (scolded and punished).

I don’t know why it settled on me this time, but I knew without doubt they didn’t respect me. This wasn’t the first time this kind of “oops” has happened and won’t be the last. I am expected to forgive and forget. “I’m sorry” has become a “get out of jail free” card. Say it and everything goes back to normal like nothing happened. Nothing changes. I hadn’t realized I still trusted them, to a certain extent.

The trust is finally and utterly shattered.

It isn’t a crying, tantrum, raging, realization. It simply is.

I don’t trust them. They’ve proven themselves untrustworthy over and over again. I finally believe it. It’s a relief to release the expectation.

EF continued to apologize, unwilling to understand that words mean nothing.

Emerging From Broken posted: Sorry is a verb. If it isn’t accompanied by action, it doesn’t mean anything.

I like to believe I learned these lessons long ago, but my little optimistic self lives on. I didn’t understand that I could be optimistic and, at the same time, accept that some people are not trustworthy…

I know, reading through the past few years you’d think I’d figured it out by now. There’s a difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge. I’ve had the head knowledge a long time. I’ve been learning the heart knowledge. I’m finally tying it together.


  1. Not every epiphany is painless, but they do help put things into perspective so we can more effectively move on with our lives. Like you said, there’s a big difference between knowing something in your head and knowing it in your heart. Here’s to a better day. Peace.

    • Thank you. I think a better day is possible with one more lie exposed.

  2. “There’s a difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge.” That is a big struggle for me as well. I understand the concepts, its often understanding it emotionally and then executing that I find difficult. Here’s to the tying it together process.

    • Hear! Hear! Go us!

  3. Those are terrific quotes.

    My problem is that the child in me will always want and need to trust my parents, but the grown me has to protect that last bit of innocence within myself. Which is why I finally walked away from the relationships. I would always feel that internal tug, the wish. I can’t say I don’t still fell it for my father because I do. I think that wrecks me worse than my mother who I feel very detached from right now. Because it is a hope that is crushed over and over. It was like I would lay myelf down on train tracks hoping that the train would see me and stop in time.

    Sorry — rambling a bit here. I guess there was only so much poison I could subject myself to so long as I needed to breath. I had to get out of the toxic air so I could think more clearly.

    • Your rambling was clarifying. I’m in a similar situation; my dad is the “healthier” of the two, but they’re still a pair. Thanks for the perspective.

      • The symbiotic relationship sure puzzles the heck out if me. I imagine that my dad has a lot if cognitive dissonance going on. But i feel like he makes the choice to treat me as he does. My mother is more like the scorpion or alligator in the allegory with (i think) the frog in which the predator simply hurts because it is its nature.

        • I know the story, and yes, that was one of the things going through my mind as I made my conscious decision to not put my trust on the table again. EF doesn’t say as many of the hurtful things that NM does. He doesn’t constantly harp on how he wants hugs. I suppose what confuses me is that he knows NM is hurtful, but he still chooses her, supports her, buys into her lies… so who is really the mentally ill one? I suppose they share in it. Looking at it like I’m dealing with toddlers gives me a whole different perspective. I wouldn’t trust a toddler with anything I felt or needed done.

          • It’s much like that witg my parents too. It’s really not in sync with how nature is supposed to work with parents and their offspring :-/

  4. Great quotes. Much easier said than done. No such thing as a clean break when family is concerned, in my experience. Patterns are established early on, they are so familiar they become invisible yet so insidious.

    • Very true. What I’m learning to do is change how I respond so I’m no longer playing the role assigned me: Scapegoat… actually, I’m still painted in that role. So what’s different? I know they lie to themselves and others about me. Because they say it doesn’t make it true anymore than their “sorrys” are true. I choose to not follow the path of abuse laid from before I was born.

      • Ultimately, responding differently is all you can do and that is so good because it affirms and strengthens inner convictions. Hard because it takes a lot of conscious effort not to fall into that unhealthy comfort zone and play the role. You’re so right, lying doesn’t make something true but it is so frustrating and hurtful. Somewhere the question is always being asked, “why?”. Becomes a matter of getting knocked down a thousand times and never giving in, just keep getting up!! Maybe at some point it is actually possible to be strong enough not to get knocked down…..I want to believe it is

        • Me, too, Cynthia.

          • Cheers for both of us!!!!

            • Woohoo! 🙂

  5. I think letting go of that trust, or finally admitting that you can’t trust them, is one of the hardest things. If you can’t trust your parents, who can you trust? I hope your epiphany makes things easier for you in the long run, even if it hurts right now.

    • I think in the long run it will be healthier. No longer looking for trust with them, I’m able to open my heart to others, others who are healthier. Thanks ((Jessie))

  6. so much here … will have to come back again later, but for now, I just wanted to say that letting go of the expectation, rather than being a cause for sorrow, can actually be a cause for celebration. It releases you from ever having to experience broken expectations, at least in regard to any sort of trust, because from this point forward, your expectation changes. Now you know that you can expect disappointment and empty apologies, so when that happens, at least you are already expecting it to happen.

    more later when I have a bit more time, and when my brain is cooperating.

    • It is freeing to acknowledge what is reasonable for me to expect and what isn’t. One day at a time.

      • “Don’t waste your time on people who see you as you were instead of as you are. It they can’t let go of the past, let go of them.”

        This reminded me of something my therapist talked to me about way back when I was wrestling with the idea of having to go through a separation (and possible divorce) with my husband. When I entered into therapy, I did it with the intention of becoming a more whole person, and becoming a healthier version of myself. I recognized that I was struggling, and parts of me were broken, and because I was now a wife and mother, I wanted to be the best version of myself that I could be, so that my family wouldn’t pay the price for the baggage I was carrying. Obviously, my abuse issues impacted my family anyway, but as I slowly became healthier both emotionally and psychologically, they also began to reap the benefits. It seemed I had a natural ability to make people feel heard, and could play a pivotal role in resolving disagreements. I went from being the biggest liability within the family, to being the key component in maintaining peace and showing love in a healthy way.

        Wow. I never actually put it into words in that way. Don’t think I realized at the time how much I had improved. In many ways, I really did go from the back of the class, to the front row.

        Anyway, back to what I was saying.

        As I got healthier, what I wasn’t expecting was that it could actually end up having a negative effect on my relationship with my husband. He was more comfortable with the old me – the one that was scared and uncertain and always hiding and apologizing. It turned out that he became less and less comfortable with the new me – the one that was confident and forceful and moved with strength and certainty and demanded respect. The equation in our marital formula had changed, and he wasn’t willing to be flexible and grow in order to compensate for how I had grown and morphed into this new version of me.

        In fact, the healthier I became, the more he became angry and distant. This new version of me threatened him in some way. In our old dynamic, he was the hero; in this new equation, I was my own hero. My therapist talked about his need to rescue me, and at some point I even finally managed to convince him (reluctantly) to attend some therapy sessions of his own, so that he might have a chance to recognize that there was no turning back the clock. I would never go back to being who I had been when we first met and married, and he kept waiting for that to happen. Rather than embrace who I had become, he faulted me for “changing”. Yes, it was true. I had changed.

        When I married, I married for life. I truly believed and expected the whole “until death do you part” portion of the vows. So after a few years of trying to work through this malfunction in our new dynamic, my therapist finally asked me a question that made everything fall into focus. She asked if I was willing to go back to being who I had been when we first married. Obviously, the answer was no. There is no going back. Then she asked me if I was willing to accept that my husband simply didn’t have the ability to grow with me and embrace this new version of myself. Would I be willing to be in a relationship with him, if he NEVER managed to embrace the new me? If he continued to always be disappointed in me, because I couldn’t be who I had once been?

        It had never occurred to me that we weren’t working towards a solution. That we were stuck in a broken dynamic. I thought we were trying to find a new way to embrace the changes in our lives, so my expectation was that we would discover a new way of being together. His expectation was entirely different. He thought I would finally accept that I needed to change, and I would go back to being who I was when we met. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I heard “I want you to be like you used to be”. Both of us were working towards a different goal, and neither one of us was happy with the end result. When he went into those therapy sessions (reluctantly), he was hoping the therapist would tell him how he could make me go back to being who I had once been. He was looking for a different solution; one that didn’t include him having to change.

        What began as a seed of thought in a therapy session, (the concept that I might have to accept that he would never have the ability to grow and move into embracing the new version of me), ended up becoming the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. My husband vented his frustration in many unhealthy ways, one of which was to always show disapproval, and then even disgust, every time I did or said anything that reflected my new confidence and strength. We had always been loving partners, and now, because he was so frustrated that I wouldn’t revert back to being who I used to be, he became adversarial, constantly challenging me and testing me. When he extended how he showed his displeasure by treating the kids in the same way, always being disapproving and critical of them, I finally had no choice but to wake up to the fact that maybe I would have to finally answer that question the therapist had once asked me.

        Was I willing to accept that he would never have the ability to change? That he had no interest in making any changes within himself, or that he would continue to believe that the only solution to our dilemma was for ME to change back to how I had once been? Could I live with that indefinitely?

        Well, I had already been through about three years of struggling to help him embrace the new dynamic in our relationship, and by then, it had finally become clear that he was just not capable of making this growth spurt. The fact that he lashed out at me and the kids as a way of venting his frustration became too much. If he had only attacked me, I would probably still be married (even though that would not have been a healthy way to live). But when I saw the impact it was having on the kids, I couldn’t allow it to continue to happen. In one last desperate attempt, I begged my husband to go back to therapy again, so that he might find ways to work through his frustration that were healthier and less damaging to the kids. He refused. He stated that he already knew what would fix this, and it wasn’t about him going to therapy. He blamed me completely, because I had changed.

        Yes, I had changed. Enough that I finally realized that the healthiest thing I could do for myself and for the kids was to allow my husband to leave the marriage. I would NEVER have said the word divorce, but finally, when I had grown enough in my own strength that I intervened every time he attacked the kids, he brought the word into the conversation. So, when he said he wanted a divorce, because I refused to change (back), there was no longer anywhere to go for us, and I (reluctantly) accepted that he simply did not have the ability to embrace change.

        One of the things I really loved about my husband when I met him was that he was predictable and steady as a rock. He was one of the most dependable people you would ever meet. He could be counted on to do the same thing, every time, never deviating from his course. So when we finally reached that place in our marriage where his inability to change course became the thing that ultimately caused our marriage to end, there was no way I could fault him. I knew when I married him that he was always going to move in one direction. Predictable. Steady as a rock. I was the one that changed. But, obviously, I couldn’t go back to being who I had been when we married.

        Thankfully, despite all the negativity and animosity the situation stirred up, we also shared a very deep sense of humor, and a genuine love towards one another. When he realized I was incapable of changing (back), and I realized he was incapable of changing (forward), we both agreed to disagree, and part ways.

        The moral of this story? You can’t divorce your parents, but you can accept that they are simply incapable of embracing this way of being with this healthier version of you. When my husband and I were going through this very difficult transition in our marriage, my therapist used to tell me to think of him as a pouting child in the corner, stomping his foot and shaking his fists in frustration. He wanted the old me to come back and play, but the old me had gone away. Permanently. So rather than spank that crying child in the corner, I should try to embrace the child, and soothe away his pain. Hug him, and pat him on the head, and say quiet things to calm his spirit, in the hopes that his temper tantrum might abate, and he would settle down and become more complacent. Having that picture in my head really did help me during the last year of my marriage. I actually felt sorry for that pouting child, because he had no idea how his own obstinate behavior would end up impacting his life.

        Obviously, the same tactic does not apply when dealing with your own N dynamic with your parents. No amount of coddling or cooing will have any effect on their behavior. Other than perhaps it sucking all the life out of them getting their expected pay-off. If you were to react with smiles and hugs or happy conversation instead of annoyance or aggravation and irritation, they wouldn’t know what to think. They would be so confused. Can you imagine the stunned looks on their faces?

        However, even if that were to happen, the chances are that they would become even MORE invasive, and that’s really the last thing you need in your life, right? Maybe now that you’re at that place where you’re beginning to truly understand that they are incapable of changing, you can embrace this new truth. They will never be who you wish they could become. It will never happen. They will never give you what you need from them, and they will never honor your boundaries. Every time you catch yourself becoming angry or frustrated or annoyed because they repeat some behavior or another, it might help if you repeat this to yourself quietly: they are behaving like that petulant child in the corner. Silly child. Always throwing a fit. Always screaming for attention. Always whining and carrying on. Silly child.

        I don’t know if it will help in your situation, but it really did help me during that last year of my marriage. It took all the anger and disappointment out of the equation, and I really did (honestly) begin to see my husband in a different way. Not as someone who didn’t love me enough to embrace the change in our dynamic, but rather, as the petulant child in the corner who simply didn’t have the ability to understand the complexity of how to embrace change. Poor silly child.

        Sorry it took me forever to get it said, but I had hoped that maybe by giving it to you with some sort of context, you would be able to imagine that it might help in your own situation.

        p.s. Even today, I’ve managed to let go of almost all the anger and disappointment (more than fifteen years later). He was simply incapable. It was a mistake to believe that his inability to embrace change was the same as him not loving me (or the kids) enough to learn how to embrace the changes in our relationship. He was simply incapable. Poor silly child. 🙂

        • They don’t want me to go “back.” They want me to finally become the fantasy they always envisioned, and they won’t be happy until I am the “something” they believe I should have always been if only I’d listened to them. Crazy making when you consider that they often gave me contradictory instructions. I’m finally accepting my counselor’s evaluation: “You can do this with any reasonable person, anyone but your mother.” I’ve tried to think of them as toddlers who will never grow up, but I know toddlers who are far more reasonable. Instead, I’m learning to see that I will never be a real person to them; I will always be an extension. I can’t change them. I can’t help them see I’m my own person. I can only protect myself from their chosen insanity. Knowing I can’t trust them is a huge step in better caring for myself. There are lots of people I don’t trust, and it isn’t traumatizing. I’ve simply added two more to the list. It helps me to see more clearly who I am able to trust. It doesn’t reduce my world; it expands it. I’m no longer wasting emotions and energy in attempting to reconcile with people who don’t want reconciliation but capitulation. I’m not the only person living in a hostile environment. Others survive and thrive; so can I.

          • I realize that without full insight into the N dynamic, I probably miss quite a few ques along the way, and can only hope that whatever comparisons I draw between your situation and where I was at one time doesn’t sound as if I’m oblivious to the huge differences. I do understand, now, that it isn’t about going “back” for you, and I don’t think I got that until I read your response, so thanks for making that distinction.

            It’s probably somehow freeing to have a picture of where they think you should be, and to realize that no matter what happens, their vision will never be satisfied. You have no obligation to join in their fantasy. It really is encouraging to hear you so clearly define where you are today, and how you view this as a way your world is expanding, rather than shrinking. Good point.

            • You actually helped me clarify a couple of things I’d been thinking about. I never thought about “where” they wanted me to be. Reading your response, I knew it wasn’t back. My sister and I have also made jokes about me dealing with toddlers. Again, I realized this perception was wrong. I’m dealing with grown adults who are so certain of their rightness that anything else is wrong. They admit they aren’t perfect, but their vision of the world as it should be is the only one that exists. Again, anything is wrong. ((ntexas99)) Thanks for the conversation.

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