Filed under: Relationships | Tags: FORGIVENESS, FORGIVING, FRIENDSHIPS, HATE, REPAIRING RELATIONSHIPS
“If you want to forget something or someone, never hate it, or never hate him/her. Everything and everyone that you hate is engraved upon your heart; if you want to let go of something, if you want to forget, you cannot hate.”
― C. JoyBell C
I’d like to say that I have never experienced the emotion of hate. But I have, as I am sure many of you have.
Keely gets upset and is quick to say “I HATE (insert name, activity etc…). At age 12, HATE is easy to conjure up because it is pure emotion. She may hate Noodles the pig because she peed on her rug, but in fifteen minutes she is snuggling with her. Emotions between friends are volcanic at that age, I just listen to her and know that the person she never wants to see again will probably be at our house next weekend.
I did the same thing. When I was younger.
As I got older, circumstances and actions had to be pretty severe for me to even get close to that emotion of hate. Once I got there, it was really hard to get over it.
But over the years I learned some things:
I learned that I really don’t like the dark and negative emotion of hate.
I don’t like the fact that hate puts me in someone else’s control.
I don’t like that giving in to hate takes away the light and happy that is my life.
There have been a few people in adulthood that I have truly hated. Except for the most recent, I felt a righteous and justified anger at their actions. I was the victim! They were evil! Since I don’t have any contact with them it has been relatively easy to let go of that hate. As I write this, I can honestly say that I don’t wish the plague on them anymore, and hope they are doing well.
I have struggled over the last few years with my feelings about someone. I have to be honest and say that she is the injured party. I was sorry that she had been hurt. There are all kinds of whys and wherefores for what I did, but her anger was justified. The thing is she never stopped being angry. For years.
She attacked. She crafted comments to my blogs, which I never posted. She either made up names or used someone else’s emails to continue blasting me when it became inadvisable for her to comment under her own name. This went on for years. I got tired of being attacked. I got pissed. I got angry. It became very easy to feel justified for what had happened, and I certainly didn’t feel sorry for her anymore. I never emailed her, I never responded. But boy did I have some conversations in my head! It was easy to hate her. But it wasn’t an active hate. The only time it reared its head was in response to one of her attacks.
Last year it happened again, but this time I responded and I confronted her, we had a flurry of emails back and forth and then it was done. I blocked her email and went on with life. Getting the chance to respond directly to her was cathartic.
I’ve seen a side of her that I imagine very few of her friends or family have seen. What I saw was the angry and vengeful side of her. And that is all I saw. I didn’t see funny. I didn’t see helpful. I didn’t see loving or loyal or all the other things I’m sure she is.
A few days ago I got a friend request from her on FB. Well that was a shocker. Was this a mistake? I thought about it for a bit, and yes curiosity got the best of me. I accepted the request, but I also sent her a message asking if it was a mistake. I took the opportunity to look at her FB page.
She is in a relationship. She loves her kids and grandkids. She has friends. She does a lot of outdoor activities. She cares about the environment, she likes beautiful sunrises and sunsets. She felt pain when she lost her dog.
She responded to my message pretty quickly, yes it had been a friend request made by mistake.
But I’m glad it happened, and I’m glad a took some time to see her as perhaps closer to who she really is, rather than the person I made her into in response to the hate and anger in her emails.
Now I know FB is not a real picture of our lives. But I took ten minutes to get a glimpse of her world, and you know what? I was really glad to see that she is happy and doing well. I hope that she is able to fill her life with good and healthy emotions now. Sometimes doors have to be closed in order for others to open. I would venture to say that all of the parties involved are happier now.
So what is my point?
Hurtful things can be done and said. I’ve got a couple of friends that are going through this right now. It’s very human to react, and then it escalates. There is a strong need in us to have the last word, to tie all of the hurt and anger into a neat package, deliver it, and to walk away.
But it NEVER happens that way. The recipient ties up their own vicious package and pretty soon it is game on. Even if the direct communication stops, there are conversations in your head. Admit it. How much time are you investing in that failed relationship? How much time discussing with friends? How much time have you spent looking them up on the internet or Facebook? And what could you be doing with that time? You will never get it back. Think about that. Think about all that time spent on something negative.
I’ve said this many times. No one is all bad. Or all good. Take an honest look at the other person and realize that God put them on this earth for a reason and He loves them. They are not all bad. They hurt, and fear, and love. Maybe they don’t share your core values. Maybe they lashed out at you and said or did deeply hurtful things. You don’t have to love them or even like them. But don’t hate them.
Perhaps they were put in your life to teach you some lessons and allow you to grow. So absorb that lesson learned and move on. And yes, I know this is much easier said than done. Sometimes it takes years.
Filed under: Life | Tags: Charles Ray, Kira Sharkey, rita sharkey, shoulder replacement surgery, Steve Cox, Tina Heffner
The other shoulder replacement surgery got moved up a week.
At first, I wasn’t really happy when I got the call that the surgery had been moved to December 23, and now it just happens to be two days before Christmas.
However, after thinking about it a little bit I realized this date works out better.
I’ll be ready to resume riding and other activities one week earlier.
Steve will be off work a lot for the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Keely will be out of school.
My first call was to Steve, we talked about the pros and cons of the date change, but in reality I didn’t have much choice.
I hung up the phone and read my email. There was a message from Charles saying that if the weather cooperated he would drive up to spend Christmas with us and do all the cooking. Well that could not have come at a better time, because I was about to call my friend Tina and tell her she would be doing ALL of the cooking at Christmas.
So I called Charles, told him the date had been changed and that it was great he was going to be coming.
“Well, it sounds to me like you would not want me to be there. You won’t feel well, and you won’t want to do anything for Christmas”
“Charles, I’ll be fine on Christmas day if I don’t have to cook.”
“But you will only get home the day before, you won’t feel like doing anything”
“Charles, when I had the other surgery we left the hospital, drove to Canon City, dropped off the pain med prescription and then went to lunch. I got home four hours after being released from the hospital. Kira and Rita came to stay for a week, arriving two days after my surgery. We went to Breckenridge and came home on a very bumpy Shelf Road four days after my surgery. I will be fine. If I don’t feel like socializing all day, I can go to bed and you won’t get your feelings hurt. But the one thing that you really have to understand is that Steve. Does. Not. Cook.”
There was silence for a minute.
“OK. I get your point. We can plan out the menu later, but I’m coming”
And it works out really well because he can fly in and use my truck for the time that he is here, because I don’t think I’ll want to drive that first week or two.
Today was my last day at PT until December 29. I’ve had eleven physical therapy sessions and I could not be happier with my progress. I can raise my arm to 120 degrees in the front, 110 on the side. There is no pain. It’s fairly functional. I’m doing some really ugly yoga at home to get more flexibility and strength in my arm and shoulder. And I have another week for it to get better before I lose the use of my right arm.
So yes, it will suck to be me for a few weeks. And then every day I will see range of motion and strength returning. That is what I am focusing on, the relatively quick return to full function that I will have in the next few months.
I’ve been practicing driving with the operated shoulder arm. It works.
Filed under: Life | Tags: Kira Sharkey, rita sharkey, shoulder replacement surgery, Steve Cox
1. It really sucks to throw up after surgery. However, it is not so bad if you are still on pain meds.
2. When they tell you to bring a large shirt for after surgery they mean a LARGE shirt because that sucker has to go over a very large padded sling.
3. There is this thing called a “party ball” that is supposed to do a slow drip of pain meds directly into your system via a catheter inserted into your shoulder. It is supposed to last for 72 hours and slowly deflate. If it has not deflated after 48 hours it is not working. Therefore you missed the party.
4. Percocet is given with the warning that you must not combine with a Tylenol product. Percocet gives me a really bad headache. So bad that I couldn’t even think about my shoulder because my head hurt so much. When I called the nurse hotline I was told to take, you guessed it, Tylenol for the headache.
5. The nurse said day 3 and day 4 would be the worst because the “party ball” would be wearing off. Since the “party ball” never worked I spent time dreading a worst day that never occurred. The pain really wasn’t that bad and next time I’ll go on Tylenol much sooner.
6. It is very good to have a husband with a good sense of humor when it is time to get dressed or undressed when wearing a sling.
7. Do not EVEN consider putting on a sports bra.
8. It is physically impossible to put your hair in a pony tail when one of your arms cannot be raised above waist level. Getting your head down to the hand at waist level does not work.
9. Do not plan on going out in public if your husband has not had previous experience putting your hair in a pony tail.
10. Forget makeup. Forget blow drying your hair. For weeks.
11. If you put an onion or a potato on the blade of a chef knife and whack it, the vegetable will be cut in half.
12. Someone will have to cut your food for you at first. This is less embarrassing if you wear your sling in public as you are supposed to.
13. You are not supposed to lift ANYTHING . I DONT KNOW FOR HOW LONG BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT LET ME IN ON THAT SECRET YET.
Do not try to go grocery shopping by yourself for several weeks. You may think you can lift those long packages of chicken breasts with one hand but you can’t.
14. You know those plastic bags in the produce department that you roll down and then tear apart? You can’t do that with one hand. So you roll all the way down to your waist and place the bag in your hand which is in a sling. Be ready fir some strange looks.
15. Do not take Percocet before your first physical therapy session if pain meds make you nauseated. You will spend the hour with a ice pack on your neck and worry more about throwing up in front of everyone than how much your shoulder hurts.
16. Having a shower large enough for two people is a good thing. Having a husband that will wash your hair for you while in the shower is a very good thing.
17. You are told to keep your elbow close to your side at all times if you do not have a sling on. If you have a sling on, your arm is already in this position. This means that you sweat. It is very very difficult to wash under your arms when one arm cannot be moved. Try it sometime.
18. Sleeping in a recliner is recommended. It keeps your head elevated. Being in a recliner discourages rolling over while wearing a sling and messing up your shoulder and experiencing excruciating pain. Being in a recliner by yourself can make you lonely and sad.
19. Having a husband that loves you enough to sleep with his head at the foot of the bed so that he can touch you while you are in the recliner is awesome. Having a husband that will get up several times in the middle of the night to pull the recliner lever so you can get up and go to the bathroom is priceless.
20. Think through every action before you start it. (See number 13). Making pies and then realizing it takes two hands to put them in and out of the oven was not one of my better moments.
21. If your husband does not cook, it is good to have friends that come stay with you and cook for you. Thank you Kira and Rita Sharkey for cooking and cleaning, driving me to PT in the snow and listening to me whine.
Three and a half weeks after surgery I can say that while not fun, this has not been as bad as I thought. Next surgery on the right shoulders is in three and a half weeks and the left will not be up to full speed by then.
Pray that Steve and I can keep our sense of humor.
Filed under: Abusive Relationships | Tags: abusive relationships, how to know if you are in an abusive relationship, Steve Cox, what is emotional abuse, when to get out of a relationsip
I’m having text and phone conversations with my friend S as she waits for the books she ordered to come in. (“Why Does He Do That” is one of them.). She is doing what I did, getting angry at him, then bringing up the good traits that he has. She mentions the kind gestures, the words of admiration and love. Then the next text comes in, and she is hurt and angry. I’m seeing the maze of my Rabbit Hole time reenacted before my eyes.
I don’t know her husband. I’ve met him a few times but I don’t KNOW him. I’m only getting her side of the story, but her story seems very clear to me. I’m sure if I had confided in my friends about what was really happening to me the problem and remedy would have been very clear. Maybe that is why I didn’t confide in them, I had to work my way through the maze on my own to make sure I was doing the right thing.
It was easier for me because we weren’t married.
What I told S today was:
“I made lists. I kept notes of conversations and my feelings so that I could review them and see the pattern of how often and what really occurred. I would put so much hope into the good times and want to pass over the bad.”
The thing is these men (and women) are masters at pushing to discover your boundaries. A little more each time. A little more hurt, confusion, anger. Then when you reach your limit and they sense that you are starting to see them clearly they pull the smokescreen down again.
There were periods of peace. Laughter and fun. Hope that the problem was really solved. Then boom, right back in that horrible hurt and anger place.
I found that the bad times seemed to fade with time. Because my mind veered away from them. I wanted to build on the positive not the negative. But I had to finally admit that they were getting worse. Which is when is started making notes.
That is when I was able to recognize the pattern. I could see in black in white the lies and posturing. I could see the frequency. This was the time when I sought help at Barnes and Noble and got the book “Why Does He Do That?” Then there was no more maze. I knew what I was dealing with it was just a matter if how to end it safely. As I mentioned before that took months.
One of my friends from Little Rock commented today “Those of us that knew you during the abusive relationship all knew that you were in the wrong relationship and that you were miserably unhappy. We were all relieved when we knew you were starting to mentally end the relationship.”
There was a great sense of relief. It wasn’t all my fault, it wasn’t a lack of communication skills, it wasn’t a deficiency on my part that made the relationship fail. I could stop stressing. I could stop laying awake at night going over the conversations trying to figure out what I should have said.
When he sensed the change he really kicked into high gear. He bought books on anger management. He talked about how he was going to change because I could make him a better man, he was going to do this for me.
I didn’t care.
His actions and words had killed whatever affection I had for him. I went from an emotional mess to being very calculating. I had no desire to hurt him, no desire to extract revenge of any kind. I could look at the span of our time together and acknowledge the good times as well as the bad. I did then, and do now, look at him as a flawed human being just as I am. But it wasn’t my job to fix him, or to stay with him.
I’m not saying that he was un fixable. I’m saying I was not the person to do it. At the end of the day those balance sheets of pros and cons showed me that the bad outweighed the good.
I believe people can change and grow. I’ve seen that in the five years with Steve as we worked through how to live together. We meet in the middle, we sometimes give more than the other, we don’t keep score. I know that the man I’m married to is not the same man he was in his previous marriage. I’m not the same person from five years ago, or twenty years ago for that matter.
The good of what we have together completely overwhelms the little hiccups in our relationship. I see progress in how we communicate. I see our love and respect for each other grow daily. We have built on love, honesty and trust. What we have clearly is worth whatever work we have to do to keep it.
I didn’t have that in the Rabbit Hole.
He is married now. From all appearances they are happy and I am honestly glad. I never wanted him to hurt or be alone. We have had several conversations and while we will never be friends there is peace now.
So as my friend S formulates questions and evaluates answers I have urged her to to make lists and make notes of conversations and her feelings. At some point she will have to see how the balance sheet works out for her.
Filed under: Abusive Relationships | Tags: abusive relationships, emotional abuse, Steve Cox
Thank you everyone for all of the comments and messages about my blog yesterday
“Down The Rabbit Hole”
There are so many women out there that have gone through much more difficult times than I did. So many of my friends, and I never knew. My friend R is so young, younger than my oldest daughter and she is coming out on the other side of an abusive father and an abusive boyfriend. And as she said, the shame goes away with time and talk.
Steve and I were talking about it last night on the deck after dinner. Keely had left for church with friends, there was a beautiful sunset and the weather was perfect. I showed him the emails and messages, some of which brought me to tears.
Several thanked me for my courage and honesty. Well, I’ll admit to being honest but I don’t think writing that blog took much courage. I’m far enough away emotionally (it’s been five years) that it almost seems like it happened to a different person.
I also had a strong foundation for what a good relationship should be. Although we are divorced, I still consider Charles a good friend. Steve and I stay at his house when we visit Little Rock, he stays with us when he visits Keely here. We never had loud arguments or fights, we treated each other with respect and used logic and reason when we had a disagreement.
Charles and I never raised our voices with each other. And then in the Rabbit Hole I found myself actually screaming and slamming doors. I remember becoming so very angry that I could hardly speak. I told him I was going to lose control and I needed a time out. I went into the bedroom. He followed me, never stopping with the combative words. I went into the bathroom, locked the door and he stood on the other side, talking and arguing. It was a verbal assault, vicious and he would not stop. I truly understood in that moment the desire to hit someone in anger. I have to confess I don’t know what I would have done if he had been able to get in the door. I huddled in the corner in a fetal position, my fingers in my ears trying to escape his voice.
In the beginning I was slow to anger. I’ve grown up thinking that showing anger and especially losing control was immature and childish. But by the end of our relationship I went from 0 to 100 in nothing flat. There was so much pent up resentment, desire to hurt, desire for revenge that I could get to a flash point very quickly.
Now don’t get me wrong. I was not “Saint Michelle”. Well, I might have started out that way, but I got pissed and angry and I fought back with everything I had. He told me many times that I was “not being very nice” and I’m sure he was right.
The one thing that I think protected both of us is that we knew if it got physical it would get very very ugly. I’ve been a martial artist for over forty years now, and I am a fighter. So was he. I was not stupid enough to think that I could beat him in a one on one fight. But he knew me well enough to know that if he physically assaulted me there would be hell to pay, one way or another. It didn’t hurt that my sister is a cop.
So I had an advantage that many women do not have. It’s also why I would spend hundreds of hours over the course of my career teaching free self-defense courses.
I brought this point up with Steve, that one of the things that saved me was knowing that the relationship I was in FELT wrong. Which is when he made the comment that really smacked me between the eyes “when you are in a bad relationship long enough, your perception of reality changes”.
If I had stayed in the Rabbit Hole for thirty years, my perception of what a relationship was supposed to look and feel like would have been very different.
I remember early on when Steve and I would have a disagreement, and I couldn’t understand what I perceived as Steve’s extreme defensiveness. It was learned behavior, deeply ingrained after years of fighting , grudges and confrontations.
We had to learn how to argue and disagree without the situation becoming a big blow up. During the course of our relationship there have been misunderstandings that we allowed to grow because we were having little conversations with ourselves in our head. Both of us are opinionated and strong willed. And then when we would finally talk about it and understand the facts or what was really meant, and it all seemed pretty stupid.
We made a big breakthrough when I told Steve “You have to understand that I will never do or say anything to hurt you on purpose. I may get frustrated or angry, but I will not purposely do anything to wound you. And I trust you to do the same”.
I guess the thing is that I trust our love. We both feel respected and wanted. We know that we have something valuable, and we are going to do whatever it takes to keep what we have. We appreciate the fact that we are different, and we don’t try to change each other.
We found that if we are discussing a difficult subject, it helps to touch. We hold hands, sit close, or touch legs. Whatever we need to do to let the other person know that they are loved and valued, communicated through physical contact. It lets us calmly discuss differences without feeling like the other person is withdrawing from the relationship. It’s what works for us.
Filed under: Abusive Relationships | Tags: Domestic Abuse, Domestic Violence, emotional abuse, personality traits of abusers, Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft
When you combine two imperfect human beings in a relationship, there are going to be some challenges. There are going to be ups and downs, good and not so good times. I think we all understand that.
How do you determine if you are going through the normal growing pains in a relationship vs an emotionally abusive one?
My friend “Shelia” is my age, and has been married less than a year. She is very confused, doubting herself, and having doubts about her marriage. This was not one of those conversations about “He drives me nuts when he leaves the wet towels on the floor”.
My conversation with her today led me to tell this story.
While my experience was very painful, I have to say I am so thankful that it happened, and that I lived through it. It allows me to understand what women are going through if they are in an abusive relationship. It allows me to guide them to the realization that it is not all their fault.
I’m using the female pronoun because it’s easier. I know that many men are the recipients of emotional abuse also.
This is not easy to write about. I like to think of myself as relatively intelligent and strong. This story does not portray me as either of those. But it’s the unvarnished truth and if it helps someone see what is happening in their relationship then it is certainly worth telling.
I sailed through a lot of red flags a few years ago and found myself in what I can only describe as a toxic and emotionally abusive relationship. It didn’t last very long, but I will tell you that I felt like I had gone down the rabbit hole for those few months that we were together.
That relationship started my research into abusive relationships. It’s very easy to quantify a physically abusive relationship. If you are hit, choked, pushed or forced to have sex, that is physically abusive. My experience never moved into anything physical. I think he knew that I would fight back. Bullies don’t like to be hurt.
Emotional abuse can be very subtle. There is give and take. The “give” may be compliments, praise, gifts, or mind blowing sex. The “take” may take the form of criticism, anger, control, and lack of empathy.
I remember conversations where I would say “When you did this, and said this, it hurt me.” His answer would be “I didn’t do that. I didn’t say that”
At first I had no doubt that I remembered correctly. But as we had more and more conversations like that I would start to doubt myself. Finally I started making notes in my phone. With dates and times.
I thought that if I could communicate with him he would understand. If I could find the right words, he would change his behavior. I thought I could use logic and reason.
If you love someone, you don’t want to hurt them, right? So if I said “you hurt me and this is why” I thought he would be contrite, apologize, and try to change.
There would either be denial that the situation had occurred, or disbelief that I was feeling hurt. Total dismissal of my feelings. No apology, no attempt to change.
And then the list of everything I had ever done that offended him would start. I misplaced my phone. I left the lights on. I didn’t put the lid on the toothpaste. None of which had anything to do with the topic at hand.
He would get angry about the smallest things. I found myself not doing or discussing things that would anger him. It brought back memories of tiptoeing around the house when my dad was on a rampage. I didn’t like that feeling at all.
I had a big birthday party planned for him. He was agreeable to the idea until the day of. Then “it’s too much work” “I want to play my guitar and you have all these things you want me to do on my birthday”
I gave him one thing to do for the party. Go to the store, get the ice, and ice the drinks down an hour before the party.
He left two hours before the party. Arrived with the ice thirty minutes after the party started and the guests were already there. Afterwards there was no explanation other than he went driving around for a while and lost track of time. No apology. No understanding about why I might be upset.
The thing is, the trick is, it wasn’t all bad. He would tell me that I was the most important thing in the world to him. That he was changing because of me. We would laugh until we cried. Those good times would make me think there was hope, that there was enough good to build on. That is what kept me trying.
I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I was too embarrassed.
Eventually I got tired of the rollercoaster. I started to realize that the words didn’t match the actions. I knew that love was not supposed to make me feel bad about myself. I got tired of feeling like I was in a foggy maze when I tried to communicate with him.
I went to Barnes and Noble and got the book “Why Does He Do That. Inside The Minds Angry and Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft. As I stood in the bookstore and looked through the book I recognized phrases and patterns of behavior. I bought the book, took it home and started reading. I underlined sentences, then paragraphs, then circled whole pages.
What I read made me realize that I was not nuts, that I was not somehow “wrong”.
That was the night that I realized I was done. I couldn’t fix him. And if I didn’t get out, I was going to lose the person I was.
Leaving wasn’t easy. Especially since he was living in my house.
I had listened to him talk about having the head of the person that was responsible for him being fired in the sights of his rifle for a week while he considered whether or not he should shoot her. I had laid in bed while he chambered a round in and out of his pistol, not knowing if he was going to shoot me or himself. I knew what he was capable of. I knew he would never accept any responsibility for the failure of the relationship.
It took months to get out. During that time I met Steve, and he was my lifeline.
I was in Hawaii when the final straw hit. Angry phone calls and emails demanding I help him get the electricity turned back on. He wouldn’t try to find the breaker box. Seriously, this was a fifty year old man pitching a fit because it was hot, he was trying to sleep, and there was no air conditioning.
I sent him and email telling him I was done and to move out. He blew up my phone. A couple days later we talked calmly. He asked if he could stay in the spare bedroom for a week or two.
Stupidly I said “yes”.
That was in July. He didn’t move out until the day before the lease was up December 31.
There were confrontations. Telephone calls and emails. I would copy his emails to my sister Tracey (a police officer) and Steve so that if anything happened to me they would have evidence.
I got out.
My story is not as dramatic as many. There are so many stories where women go down the rabbit hole and never come back up. Many take years to make the break. Children and money are used to control them.
My self-defense classes always include a segment on abusive relationships. Many of my friends have lived through something very similar to my experience. Some of my friends may be in an emotionally abusive relationship and not even realize it.
So that is why I tell this story. Is this you? Someone you know?
Filed under: Noodles the Tea Cup Pig | Tags: pot bellied pig, teacup mini pig, teacup pig, teacup pigs and dogs
Noodles joined the family a month ago. She is a teacup mini pig that we got from one of Steve’s coworkers who raises them. She has endeared herself to everyone except Mojo and Zoe. They do not understand what the pig deal is about the noisy little thing and wonder what in the world we were thinking? . She is a bit of a drama queen and can really throw a fit if she doesn’t get what she wants when she wants it. She is affectionate, independent, curious and makes us laugh a lot. I love her.
Here are a few videos of Noodles first month with us.