A Re-emergence

Five months is a long time to disappear and I must apologize. Not that anyone really missed me, as evidenced by the visits but I don’t blame you. I changed my email address and believe it or not forgot all about my blog. That and life just got in the way, albeit with my permission. So here I am, re-emerging once again. And as a stronger, more confident version of myself. Much has changed in the last five months.

First and foremost, I underwent therapy from February until July twice a week for an hour each session. That’s 48 sessions and 96 hours of therapy. I rarely missed a session if I could help it, even going so far as to do a couple appointments over the phone. We made some great progress and I dealt with some really important issues.

In May our lease was up and we had to move. At the same time, school ended for our two kids, my real estate business was in full swing, and my stepdaughter decided to move back home with her mother (and back into an abusive situation). At 19 that was her choice and to be honest, we were relieved to see her go. We were relieved to be free of the drama, and her verbal abuse of us and the kids.

We moved into a hotel for two months while our rental town home was being renovated and then in mid-June, an uninsured driver rear-ended me on the highway. To say life came to a grinding halt would be an understatement. I was so injured that I couldn’t function for the first week after the accident. My fledgling real estate business fell apart and then was put sort of on hold. I entered physical therapy for neck, back, and shoulder injuries. Two bulged disks, a spine twisted in three placed and a messed up hip kept me very occupied.

Due to pressing financial concerns from the car accident and being unable to work combined with an opportunity so good I would be stupid to turn it down, I started a new job on July 20. That’s restored a lot of balance and stability to life and is part of why I’m able to write at all. I don’t write well under stress and financial worries will kill that in a heartbeat. Now, thirty days into my new job, two real estate closings under my belt, and physical therapy progressing, I’m ready to dive back into all things writing related. I will soon start working with a writing coach on my novel and can’t wait to get started.

So that’s all for now. Hopefully I’ll pick this back up again on a regular basis. Right now though I’m off to pick up hubby-to-be from work. And eat. And go to bed to get up at 6 a.m. for work tomorrow.

Living Life Fully

Not too long ago I received a beautiful comment from one of my readers who was struggling with some family issues surrounding abuse. It made me realize what a long way I have come in my life, in only 35 years total. My journey toward living life fully started when I was freed at eighteen by my father who kicked me out on my 18th birthday. And I am going to share some of the pivotal moments as well as a nostalgic look back from where I am now. The journey has been long, but it has been so worth it.

Yes, it was the cruelest thing in the world to be kicked out at 18. I was a junior in high school, with no job and only a $1,000 CD as my savings. I became homeless and overnight had to begin taking care of myself in a way that I wasn’t ready to do. But looking back, 17 years later, it was the first of many steps toward breaking free of the abuse cycle. It called upon an inner core of strength that had been tested my whole life and was strong enough to handle it. Today, I look around me and I see many other young people today who are completely unprepared for life, let alone the many trials you will face along the way. My eighteen year old stepdaughter is in almost the same exact situation I was at her age yet she is completely incapable of figuring things out for herself. I realized recently that I have more than just a core of strength, but resilience and a willingness to just get it done. It’s a unique combination that includes a bullheaded refusal to be beaten by life or by anyone else.

Another pivotal moment happened shortly after that, when I realized I was not learning anything from high school. Up until that point, I had just done what I was told, and breezing through high school. It wasn’t that I was a genius but I am definitely smarter than the average. I could pass almost all my classes without studying – everything just came easily to me, with the exception of math. I was, quite frankly, bored. Fortunately my guidance counselor at my new school recognized that intelligence and encouraged me to enroll in a co-op program and computer classes. I was instantly fascinated. By the time I dropped out of high school my first week of my senior year, I had marketable skills that were heavily in demand. I took and passed my GED without even studying (I was naive enough at that time to not realize I needed to).

This set the stage for me to pursue education and learn new skills in unconventional ways.  As a result I self studied for my securities licenses and developed even more life skills in addition to a new career. My unconventional career has given me the courage to pursue an entrepreneurial career, affording significant freedom. Where my peers agonize over whether to leave their comfy desk jobs and stable pay checks, I manage to combine both which has the added benefit of giving me the variety and challenge I thrive on.

The one area I have struggled with until recently is relationships. Of all the the areas of my life, relationships have confused me the most. I have spent countless hours in therapy trying to understand people. In that process I have learned some really 

Lessons I Learned (or Remembered) in 2014

Today is my 35th birthday and for the first time in a long time, I’m both humbled and grateful for my life. Nine months ago I made the difficult decision to tear my life apart, which is by far one of the scariest things I’ve ever had to do. In the last nine months, as I’ve worked to rebuild my life from the ground up, I’ve had moments of doubt, fear and pain that brought me to my knees. But it has also helped me to learn and remember some wisdom, which I’m going to share with you now.

Fight with All Your Might For What You Believe In

In this difficult world, it can be hard to know what to believe in. I have learned to believe in myself, to believe in love and friendship, the innocence of children, and the future. Why? Because I will never let myself down, love and friendship heals all hurts in the most miraculous ways, children have a way of looking at the world with fresh eyes, and the future is always unknown and full of hope, even if the present and the past are dreary and filled with pain.

You May Have to Give up What You Thought You Believed In

We all make mistakes. We fall in love for the wrong reasons, trust when we shouldn’t, make mistakes and poor choices. It’s part of being human. And sometimes we have to step back and realize that in order to move forward.

Pain of Growing and Overcoming Is Always Worth it

I have worked so hard in the last nine months. There were times where the pain seemed overwhelming and insurmountable but everyday I grow stronger and better as a result. If you’re faced with making a truly difficult, life-altering change, know that it will be worth it in the end.

Married to a Narcissist: Prologue (Draft)

So I wrote the prologue to Married to a Narcissist the other day and thought I’d share the first draft with you, dear reader. It’s likely to change in the future but I’d love to know what you think. Would you want to read more? If so, why? If not, why not?

Married to a Narcissist

Prologue

Getting started is always the hardest part of any project. The truth is, I’ve probably started this project half a dozen times in my lifetime. It’s taken the form of a memoir so many times I’ve lost count. I wrote over 180 pages when I was in my early twenties and then set it aside as being too melodramatic. I was still working to develop my writing voice.

Now, over fifteen years later, I’m still working on my voice but I seem to have found it for the most part. While my voice is still evolving, it’s pure and honest and clear. It’s free and unflinching. And in this book, my goal is to share that voice with you as clearly and as unadulterated as I can. Most importantly, this book is to share hope.

“It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader.” ~ Paul Gallico, Confessions of a Story Writer

I’m thirty four years old as I write this. I am not sure where this journey will take me. I’m not sure how long it will take me. All I know is I want to lay my soul out on the page for all the victims out there in the world, so they may experience peace, love and freedom from the shackles of abuse. I’ve endured far more than my fair share of abuse in my lifetime. I don’t say that out of self-pity but to be quite frank, because it’s true. My life has been full of pain, tragedy, sorrow, and heartache. It’s taken me almost my whole life to this point to understand and accept the truth of that statement. It’s taken years and hundreds of hours of therapy and self-analysis. If I can save even one person from that, lessen it in some way, or give someone the strength to start their own journey, then my suffering will have all been worth it.

I have overcome over thirty years of abuse. And you can too. The power is within each of us. And maybe sharing my story will help someone else find the strength to take that first step toward finding themselves. I was fortunate to have a lot of help along the way. This isn’t a book about using God or faith or spirituality to give you purpose. This is about looking within, doing the hard work to overcome what’s keeping you from being who you truly can be. This isn’t about religion or twelve steps. This is about my journey to find myself. It’s about doing the hard work, the sweat and the tears that go along with tearing yourself down and starting over.

For me, I suppose it started simply enough. But first, you have to know where I’ve been before you can understand how I got through and how I’ve gotten where I am now, which is happy and healthy for the first time in my life.

November 20, 2014, Euless, Texas

It’s been eight months and two days since I sat down at our dining room table and told my husband that we were separating. I said it matter-of-factly but in a gentle soft voice. In fact, my husband didn’t react at all, probably because I was so tightly in control. It had taken a year and a half to reach that point and the gravity of the situation was not lost on me, even then. Now, I look back at the scared, timid, frightened woman I was and I smile. How courageous she was! How courageous she still is!

Inside, I was shaking and terrified. I was a complete, utter wreck. I had spent weeks visualizing what I would be doing to my family, this family I valued more than life itself but was coming to realize was all an illusion. I had sought counsel from a few select, trusted advisors: a Christian and fellow writer, my surrogate father, and my husband’s former best friend. To say I was on a slippery slope would be an understatement.

I was going to singlehandedly dismantle everything I’d built over the last four years and it would require some impossibly painful choices. I was filled with dread, grief, panic, and a sense of impending loss, yet on the surface, all was calm. I knew I faced the very real risk of losing my thirteen-year-old stepdaughter who I loved as though she were my own.

For months I considered staying in the relationship until she was eighteen, in the hopes I might keep my relationship with her. I realized how selfish it would be to do so and that in the long run, I would be modeling the wrong behavior for her. I knew I could lose my home, my car and a significant amount of my possessions, not to mention current and possibly future income. I would once again be a single parent, this time of a seven-year-old first grader.

My future was completely uncertain. I had no job, no financial resources, and no family. My car was repossessed five months earlier and my husband had borrowed money from a family friend to get it back. I had spent the last seven years as a stay at home mom and part-time self-employed for whatever work I could find. I had gone from a self-sufficient confident single mother to a burned out, exhausted shell of my former self. I had completely invested 100% of myself into this life.

All I knew was I desperately needed out of the relationship I was in. We would have celebrated our second wedding anniversary in a month but I knew that if I didn’t end the relationship and soon, I might not even be alive that long.

I was suffering a slow, horrible, internal death. My strength, which had seen me through countless tragedies, was gone. My will to live was a small flickering flame, dangerously on the brink of being extinguished. The emotional vampire sitting across the table from me was slowly consuming all the things that made me who I am – my very identity and soul. I contemplated suicide on a daily basis. I fought to find my will to live. It was a gargantuan effort to get out of bed every day. I spent most of my days doing everything I could to find an answer to the problems of my life. I was taking 200 mg of Zoloft every day just to get through it.

Why was my marriage falling apart? Why was I so miserable? Why did I feel so lost? What was the point of life? What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just be happy for once in my life? I had everything I thought wanted but suddenly it wasn’t good enough anymore. These questions plagued me every moment of every day. I stopped functioning entirely. My business began to falter and then outright fail. My depression grew worse with every passing day.

At the time, I was a somewhat successful fiction and nonfiction writer who had just won a major fiction award the previous September. I’d finished my second book tour and done pretty well for a new independent author. On the surface, I had the perfect life with a husband who, by all outward appearances, adored me and who I adored, and a blended family that seemed to have nothing but bliss. Under the surface, was an insidious darkness that I had never even considered. Moreover, it was slowly but surely destroying my spirit in ways nothing else could have. I had been abused almost my whole life, raped, beaten, molested, mugged and more but this man, who I had married and trusted with my whole heart, and who had never lifted a hand against me physically, was almost my complete undoing.

I married a narcissist. And I had no idea he was one.

I was completely fooled, caught unaware and flat-footed, despite over three years of intensive cognitive behavioral therapy before meeting him. I didn’t even know what a true narcissist was, other than my mother was one. But on that fateful day of March 18, 2014, I demanded more for myself and my daughter. My life would never be the same again.

Afraid of Marriage

My fiancé has been talking lately about our wedding and for some reason it has just made me really weird. I get nervous and discombobulated. It started innocently enough, with him mentioning possibly getting married this summer. Everything seems so wonderful as is, I am loathe to change it. I tell myself that being married would only make our relationship deepen, that it’s a level of commitment that we both deserve but in the back of my head is the thought, what if he changes? What if HE becomes the monster under the bed?

Logically I don’t think that will be the case but the reptilian part of me, the instinctive part of me just wants to run and hide. The fear is very real and I don’t know how to deal with it. He has asked me hundreds of times if I would marry him and I know in my heart I want to but a part of me is still scared of it.

This divorce has really cost me a lot, mentally, emotionally and financially. I don’t know how to move past that. It isn’t marriage that’s the problem – it’s the people involved. People are what makes a marriage succeed or fail and I believe that my fiancé and I have what it takes. We are both people who have been deeply wounded and yet care a great deal for each other. We are the best of friends and there is no one I would rather spend the rest of my life with. Even during all the crazy stuff we have had to deal with, he has stayed strong and steady. He is helping me to be a better person and to become the person I have always dreamed of being.

I know marriage is a leap of faith. You sign on the dotted line and promise to do your best, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. You will never really know until you try. And what an opportunity you will miss if you don’t try.

So I talked to our oldest daughter about doing an emotional wedding ceremony and dedicating ourselves to each other before doing a legal marriage. Kind of like a trial marriage to see if it will work.

I just spent the last few hours talking to my daughter and am exhausted so I’m going to bed and hopefully will have time to post more tomorrow. One topic I really want to write about is sexual abuse in Hollywood, especially as it relates to the Bill Cosby mess.

Til tomorrow,

The Rambler

A Really Great Day

Today was a great day. For the first time in a really long time, I feel like I have myself together. I am moving forward a little at a time and today really showed that I am finally starting to gain some velocity toward my goals. If my life were a train, then I have been struggling up one big mountain and I think I have finally topped the crest of it.

I paid for my real estate exam and set an appointment for my fingerprints. My fiancé recently took a second job as a driver for Uber so I also signed up as a driver for Uber in my local area, which will hopefully give some additional income to get us out of this rut we have been stuck in for the last eight months. The nice thing is we will net $450 in referral bonuses because he referred me.

If you want to check out the program for yourself and earn an easy $250 (after your first 20 rides), just go here to learn more and sign up. My fiancé made $200 his first week for about 10 hours of work and he didn’t know what he was doing. It’s a great secondary income if you have a decent vehicle. We are even considering leasing a vehicle with them. We expect to bring in about $1,600 – $2,000 extra dollars a month, in addition to other revenue streams. It’s not for everyone but it’s going to get us on track with our financial goals.

I ran errands much of the day once my fiancé got home, including getting a Thanksgiving turkey and ham for next week as well as some other supplies we really needed. It felt good to be able to get what we needed for once. There weren’t any extras but after having so little for so long, it feels like abundance. Even scrimping and saving as much as I can, our grocery bill topped $600 this month (including food stamps which only covered 45%). Feeding a family of five is not easy. Feeding three people with metabolisms like horses is an incredible task.

Three of us are gluten sensitive or intolerant. I am allergic to a wide variety of spices (any kind of dried pepper essentially). Our nine year old son (P) has ADHD so we try to limit his sugar and he is growing like a weed! He eats the same amount of food as his father who is 6’2! Our oldest daughter (A) is 6 feet tall and only in the last month discovered she is severely gluten intolerant. It has put her in the hospital ER twice in the last six weeks.

Fortunately, thanks to a great digestive health specialist and the help of the internet, we have A finally on the mend. But trying to keep us stocked in vegetables and healthy proteins is a tall task. And expensive! I am sad to say I had to go to a couple food pantries for help this month because we just couldn’t keep up with the prices. Fortunately I was able to donate almost as much as we received in stuff we couldn’t eat.

One major issue we still have to deal with is getting P gluten free meals at school. I am not confident in my ability to pack him a healthy, filling lunch every day, especially with our financial pressures currently. I will soon be working as much as 50 hours a week as we try desperately to bring in enough money for Christmas. Fortunately, our oldest will be watching the kids for a while to make things work smoothly.

We didn’t eat badly per se but to make meals stretch further, I would buy cheaper meats in bulk and include a lot of pasta. I also learned that for ADHD children, protein is even more critically important. Now that we are feeding our son the right foods, and supplementing his meals with protein bars, his behavior has become completely compliant and we have our sweet boy back.

Last night I spent a few hours working on Married to a Narcissist and wrote over 2,000 words without stopping. It’s definitely hard to open up that way but at the same time it feels really good to analyze my life from a different point of view. I find myself including details and finding new insights as a result. I wore out at almost eleven, and fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. That’s the first time I have done that in years. I was up again at six a.m., bright eyed and ready to take on the day. My optimism, hope, and strength is surging back and I am honestly relieved. I am by no means miraculously recovered but I have definitely turned an important corner.

I find myself looking forward to the hard work ahead instead of being overwhelmed by it. My spirit has brightened and my soul feels lighter than it has in months, years even. The darkness is receding and being replaced with light.

Our oldest daughter A is just starting her recovery journey. She moved in with us when she turned 18 and graduated high school. Her bio mother is a narcissist and her step-father is abusive. She is starting to open up to our help and learning to trust and accept our love. It’s taken six months of hard work but she is taking the first shaky steps and I couldn’t be more proud.

I see so much of myself in her. The pain and uncertainty. The fear and the desire to be strong through it all. The need to be in control and not rely on anyone else yet yearning for love and acceptance. Her PTSD is starting to really manifest itself and we are working on getting her counseling at a local women’s center. Since we both need it I told her I would go with her so she wouldn’t be alone.

I don’t fully understand why but I love this young woman. I was drawn to her the very first time I spoke to her on the phone. We talked for almost two hours while I was in Costco. I must have walked that warehouse ten times as we talked! Meeting her was like meeting an old friend again.

Maybe because the child within me recognizes a kindred spirit and wants to help heal her wounds. I see so much potential in her if she can overcome the pain. She is a beautiful woman who doesn’t realize it yet but I see it clearly. It gives me tremendous joy to watch her start her journey toward self-love and acceptance. I am witnessing the healing between her and her father as they come together and it is beautiful. Seeing these two people who I love grow in trust and friendship is incredible.

I am so very grateful for these gifts. I have a loving amazing family and our future is so bright together. I am so excited for the future. Considering where I was eight months ago, that’s a huge step forward. I would tell any victims who are struggling to just keep moving forward. Sometimes it’s two steps forward then one and a half steps back, but with time and perseverance, you CAN get there. I am living proof. Don’t give up and have hope!

Til next time,

The Rambler

Time for a Fresh Start

Well, it would seem I’ve finally hit rock bottom. My vehicle is gone, repossessed last Sunday. I turned in the keys on Wednesday. If not for my roommates, my daughter and I’d be homeless. I’m letting my marketing business go for anything other than marketing my own businesses. I’m slowly finishing projects and letting clients know. I still can’t believe I’m yet again starting over. When will it stop? I’m sick of rebuilding my life over and over again. But I’m going to let all that shit go and focus on the future starting today.

Time to focus on my real estate business and a brand new future. Time to rebuild with a solid foundation. Time to work toward a brighter future.