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blackbird

Chapter 3

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blackbird

Okay, I've clearly been treading into "Nice Girl" territory lately. Time to jump back into the book!

So, how messed up in the head am I feeling today? Let's find out...

THE TEN FALSE BELIEFS THAT SET WOMEN UP TO BE USED AND ABUSED

False Belief #1: Other people's feelings and needs are far more important than my own

Do I believe this? Of course not! Then again, if I analyze my actions. Well, um...

I think I've always been very careful to consider the needs and feelings of others. That's a message I remember hearing from my parents at an early age. I don't recall them ever suggesting that the needs of others were more important than mine, but they raised my sisters and I to be kind and considerate.

Then I met ex.

With every encounter, I found myself growing more and more apprehensive of expressing my honest opinions and sharing my feelings. He made it unsafe to do that.

A stronger person would have left, but there I was feeling badly for him, feeling terribly that he didn't have my supportive family or happy childhood memories. I didn't want to be the next person to disappoint him.

So, I stayed. I swallowed up all of that misery and pain and continued to try and support him the best way I knew how.

Hmmmm... Remained married to an abuser for nearly ten years? Yeah, I guess I believed this one.

This passage troubles me:

Beverly Engel wrote, "In other families, particularly those where parents are self-absorbed or even narcissistic, the message is: My needs are more important than yours, or anyone else's for that matter. Self-absorbed and narcissistic parents teach their child that his or her needs do not matter."

This is what I worry about with my own children. I need to be VERY careful about establishing my own boundaries and respecting theirs, as well. I need to be the super-ultra role model on this one.

False Belief #2: If I am nice (and fair) to other people, they will be nice (and fair) to me

Definitely this. I watched this belief magnify a thousand-fold during the divorce. I believed that if I was honest and forthcoming throughout the legal process, that I would be protected. And that if I followed every order to the letter, ex would have nothing to bring to the judge...that it would protect my reputation.

Ah, not so.

My life lesson? The world rarely punishes the liars and cheats. Be smart and protect yourself and your children at all costs. I'm not saying violate orders, but there is clearly some room for interpretation.

False Belief #3: What other people think about me is more important than my self-esteem, my health, or even my safety

I acted on this belief every day I was with him. Right down to setting aside basic medical and dental care to appease him (which resulted in MAJOR dental work when I was finally out), and sitting in a car next to him as he (drunken or not) would drive recklessly to frighten me into submission.

To this day, I just can't understand what I was thinking. Oh, wait! That's right. I was thinking that what HE thought about me was more important than my health and safety!

False Belief #4: If I am good and perfect, I will be accepted and loved

I think this belief feeds my actions to a certain extent. I sometimes go out of my way to do nice things for people, like my attorney and her staff, yet don't do those same things (as often) for my immediate family. Almost like I'm trying to win them over or something? And I think, as much as I should extend those courtesies to my family, I do less frequently because I know they already love and accept me.

False Belief #5: If I act naive and innocent, people will take care of me and I won't have to grow up

I don't know if this rings quite true for me, but if I'm being honest, there's a part of me that's always wanted someone to come to my rescue, so that I'd have the freedom to care for myself if I CHOSE to...not because I HAD to, yanno?

False Belief #6: I don't have the right to stand up for myself or act on my own behalf

I don't think this one quite fits for me. Do I stand up for myself? Not as often as I should. But it's not because I don't believe I have the right to do so, it's because I'm afraid of confrontation or don't want to hurt someone else's feelings.

False Belief #7: Anger is a destructive emotion and shouldn't be expressed, especially to those with whom you are angry

This was a new one to me. I think that, for the most part, my family was able to express anger in a pretty healthy, constructive fashion.

But, boy, was that not EVER okay with ex. How dare I EVER take issue with his treatment of me! I deserved it, don'tcha know. And when he raged at Twin1 over something really stupid and I dared to stand up to him? He slapped me across the face. Hard. You don't forget lessons like that.

It was not safe to be angry.

Sadly, this is a lesson that Twin1 has learned very, very well. He NEVER expresses anything more than mild frustration. When he had to write about his angriest moment as part of an autobiographical writing assignment, he became incredibly anxious and insisted he didn't have any angry moments. He asked his teacher if he could write about something else; he wrote about his most nervous moment...of which I'm sure he had a vast array to choose from.

False Belief #8: It is better to avoid conflict at all costs

Deep down I know this is not the case, but conflict makes me nauseous. Despite being out for 2-1/2 years now, I hate confronting people. No matter how softly I express my opinion, no matter how much I love or trust them, I feel just downright awful about it.

I need to work on this one.

False Belief #9: There is good in everyone, and if you give someone enough chances, he or she will eventually show it to you

Meh. Pretty sure ex beat that belief out of me for good. >.<

New belief?

Some people have no redeeming qualities; they are rotten to the core. It's better to just walk away and focus on the people that bring something positive to your life.

False Belief #10: Women need men to protect them and support them financially

Did I believe it? No. Did I want it? Yes.

Not anymore.

Now, I want to make scads of my own money, so as to make ex and his measly child support irrelevant. That will take some doing, but the relief of not relying on the person who hates me most would be incredible.

Anyone else? It's looooonely in here. :D

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Aurora

Wow is all I can say. You've dug really deep. I have to pick this book up again. I know I need it but I'm scared again.

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blackbird

That, and I was bored out of my gourd. This being confined to the couch thing is driving me batty...

Yes, grab your book and jump in. The water's fine! :P

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FreyjaKatt

I read this a while back, but this chapter was really important to me.

#1 was pretty big. I learned young that my needs (as determined by adults) were met well enough and to want more was selfish. Shut up and be grateful.

X-hole snot gave me crumbs and I tried to just be grateful while I died inside.

#2 I really REALLY believed. So I tried to be SO good so others would teat me the same in return.

No, the truth is, people will treat you like a doormat.

#4 for me was more like If I am good and perfect, I will be accepted and TOLERATED. I never really felt loved.

Numbers 5 &10? I should never expect anyone to take care of me. I was not to be a burden.

6 & 7, I did not have the right to stand up for myself nor to be angry. That would be selfish again. Other's feelings mattered more.

#8? My mom hated fighting. We didn't learn conflict resolution, just don't fight. Conflict was fruitless in my marriage. I never won. I gave up.

#9 I REALLY believed. I waited a helluva long time for snot to show me he had a soul. To think otherwise shattered my whole spiritual belief system.

Some people are broken and unfixable. We are NOT responsible to take care of them. That does not make us unchristian or unloving, it is self preservation. Protecting our God given gift of life.

Nearly everything on this list held me down. How many of us learned these lessons at home, in church and from society? Ugh!

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Aurora

1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9 and 10. I grew up with all of those. Wow its soo hard to even think about some of the memories and how they translate so strongly to those beliefs and how they followed me into my marriage.

#2 and #9 I am still struggling with now. I don't want to believe that all people are evil. I like your new belief BB. Focus on the people that are worth your energy and time. I'm going to try that one on for size.

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blackbird

I like your new belief BB. Focus on the people that are worth your energy and time. I'm going to try that one on for size.

It's part of the reason I spend so much time here! :wub:

Yeah, I think I learned lesson #9 too well. Not my parents' intention I'm sure--they were trying to teach my sisters and I to be kind and compassionate, regardless of a person's background. I guess I just took it too far...and didn't learn the lesson of self-protection.

I'm sure I'll stumble along the way, but I'm slowly learning to recognize the difference between true kindness and superficial charm. I've mentioned here before that there are some people I've worked with through the divorce and through the schools that have this sort of unflappable calm about them and this aura of undeniable kindness. It's really attractive to me. Not in any romantic sense, but rather, that I feel safe with these people...and for good reason. I'm trying to surround myself with people that I know I can be open with. It's pretty freeing.

(((((Aurora)))))

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blackbird

#9 I REALLY believed. I waited a helluva long time for snot to show me he had a soul. To think otherwise shattered my whole spiritual belief system.

Some people are broken and unfixable. We are NOT responsible to take care of them. That does not make us unchristian or unloving, it is self preservation. Protecting our God given gift of life.

That is such a tough one; I still struggle with it from time to time. Most days, I can let go of what he's doing to me through the legal system, because I know it has nothing to do with me. He's a fundamentally flawed person and I just happened to be the unfortunate target. If it wasn't me, it would have been someone else.

But sometimes I have those moments where I'm despairing, wondering why on Earth any person would invest that kind of time, money, and emotion into driving someone else into the ground. That's when I have to step back and remind myself who he really is and that viewing this situation through the lens of two angry, but otherwise normal people is so disorienting. It's not until I think...oh, yeah--he can't help himself, he has no soul...that's when I can let go again.

Love that, btw. "We are NOT responsible to take care of them." How many of us stuck it out, feeling like it was our job to rescue them, believing that we could love them out of the abuse?

Crazy.

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elanorelle

I think i would love to start reading this

Ellie

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FreyjaKatt

I felt responsible to stay. I felt responsible to do the right things even if he treated me like carp.

I didn't think my love would fix him. I was so dead inside. I hoped somehow he would get a clue. I had tried so many ways I was exhausted and had nothing left to try.

I didn't think I deserved better. I could not break the marriage and disappoint so many. To take what I wanted and needed was 'selfish'. Everyone else's comfort was more important than mine.

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KittyVictim

Oh my. A book! I will certainly read. I too was you and yes. There are people that are not like us. They are unredeemable. They prey on the innocent and laugh when they cry. We don't get this abusive quality which is why it takes months (sometimes years) to escape. Hitler thought he was a good person and I am sure Eva Braun saw many good qualities in him turning a blind eye to what was right in front of her face. But, Dear Reader? You are now free and still the same person just wiser. "Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing"...

Who didn't know that verse yet still believed.

New to the Forum and *love* the Book Club! I am going to read it. Reading is saving me one paragraph at a time.

Cheers.

Kitty

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KittyVictim

That is such a tough one; I still struggle with it from time to time. Most days, I can let go of what he's doing to me through the legal system, because I know it has nothing to do with me. He's a fundamentally flawed person and I just happened to be the unfortunate target. If it wasn't me, it would have been someone else.

But sometimes I have those moments where I'm despairing, wondering why on Earth any person would invest that kind of time, money, and emotion into driving someone else into the ground. That's when I have to step back and remind myself who he really is and that viewing this situation through the lens of two angry, but otherwise normal people is so disorienting. It's not until I think...oh, yeah--he can't help himself, he has no soul...that's when I can let go again.

Love that, btw. "We are NOT responsible to take care of them." How many of us stuck it out, feeling like it was our job to rescue them, believing that we could love them out of the abuse?

Crazy.

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