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Who Is the Steel Town Girl?

I was asked in an interview recently, “Who is the Steel Town Girl?”

 

“This is an interesting question because we are just now finding out who we are. As a child, the Steel Town Girl is a vulnerable, confused, silly girl at heart, who just wants to be a kid, and longs to be loved and seen by her family. But, because of dysfunctional family dynamics and abuse, she doesn’t get to have a childhood. She’s a wounded child by night, and an extra, super, do-gooder by day. Many Steel Town Girls are just now, in midlife, waking up to what they really are without all the conditioning of “never good enough,” “who do you think you are?” and confronting the fear caused by being told, “You’d shut your mouth if you knew what was good for you.” Some of us have empty nests now, and others are years into retirement, wondering where our loves and lives have gone? And for as much compassion, time, and energy we’ve given to raise up others, we are left alone to pick up the pieces of our fragmented selves. We’ve given up our lives and our identities to our families who somehow have taken us for granted and look at us as if we are somewhat unhinged. So, we turn to stare at a face we no longer recognize and realize in the end, after all this, we are alone. We pull the capes we wear from under us and sit down at our computers to sew together the pieces of our lives that make us who we are. We read our stories and we can’t believe we are just now realizing that we’ve had empathy for everyone but ourselves. We’ve forgiven everyone but ourselves. And we’ve kept everyone’s secrets for far too long. We’ve stayed strong for so long and the magnitude of staying silent for one more second is crushing us. We’re learning to stand up for ourselves once and for all. And as we do, we weep for the little girls we realize we left, lost, without a voice for their pain. So, we do the work even when we don’t want to, and when we’re done, we show up with our stories in hand and say, “Of course, I look unhinged. This is what my life has been like, I hope you understand why I didn’t tell you this before.” We are the women trying to find the strength to love ourselves through the difficult chapters of our lives all while taking the risk of being judged and ridiculed for feeling anything about it at all.”

 

We’re girls who go on to break the chains of abuse. —Pow! 💥

Girls who Adult Hard because their kids are worth it! —Boom!💥

Girls who Smash Stereotypes! —(Take that!) 💥

Destroy diagnoses! —(Splat!) 💥

Extinguish excuses! —(Zoink!) 💥

And Let go of Labels! —(Pop!) 💥

We needed a hero, so we became one! — Boop! —We’re girls that muscle through and get shit done! And now, we are here to green-light ourselves because no one’s gonna do it for us! We make our own girl-hero figurines because we are just crazy enough to do it. —And, we NOW… have some things to say about our experiences here on planet Earth!

If you’d like to know more about Steel Town Girl as a child, you can buy my memoir in paperback or Kindle on Amazon.

 

If you’d like to know more about Steel Town Girl as a woman, stay tuned here on my blog.

#STG Stories Told for Good

 

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Steel Town Girl!

Die Trying: Say No to Learned Helplessness

My parents didn’t teach or model these behaviors to me, but I was able to go on and teach my own kids self-trust, self-love, and self-acceptance because I learned how to do them for myself.

This meme is written to encourage parents to teach and model these behaviors to their children and that’s great. We need parents to parent the kids they choose have. But, for adults who weren’t taught these things from their own parents, this can sound as if they aren’t able to source these things for themselves. And sadly, if they have kids at home they may just think, “I wasn’t taught this, so I can’t teach it.”

Yes you can. By remembering what you wanted and needed as a child.

Don’t let memes like this keep you in learned helplessness and excuses. Therapy, reading, writing, thinking, and feeling are your friends for life for all things healing and working to find yourself under the rubble of a fractured life. Everything we need to surpass our own raising is right there within us. It’s a choice.

I was a young mom and learned to parent myself while parenting my son. I read parenting books as we grew up together to find out what we both needed. And I still made mistakes.

I allowed my son to stay home from school too many days in a row for mental health days because I wanted to cuddle him and missed him while I worked. I also spanked him, yelled like a lunatic, and cried. A lot. I spoiled, gave in, held firm, led by example, failed and fell on the floor in a heap of exhausted flesh. I laughed and played, lectured and raved and showed up completely imperfectly, 150%.

So, decades later, when my relationship with my adult son fell apart, I was confused and devastated. My therapist said that mothering him was where I found my own secure attachment, and I was lost without it.

I’m mothering just myself these days. Unlearning what needs to go, owning what I did I right, admitting my wrongs, and relearning a new way of being in an ever-changing world. It’s a big job again. Most days I’m confused and exhausted, because the world is the biggest narcissist of all. The closer to kicking a goalie you get, the more they move the posts. But, I’m still here: trying my best.

What I’ve learned by writing memoir is that what we do today in the parenting department will be considered wrong two generations later by parenting experts and sometimes even our children. And regardless of the advice we follow, or don’t, sometimes relationships get strained and we need to take a break once children become adults. But, none if this is an out for not doing the job today. Right now. Right in front of you.

So, do your best and be ready to throw yourself under the bus about your own parenting mistakes because I can assure you, you’re making some doozies. You’ll read about mine in my second memoir.

You’re also doing a remarkable job. I commend you for showing up for your kids when no one showed up for you.

Perfection doesn’t exist. Just doing the best we can, showing up, connecting and thinking; “What did I need at this age?” is just about the best anyone can expect.

Growing up is a hard job — and if we’re doing it right, we do it all our lives. Be engaged enough and aware that all of life is for learning about ourselves and caring for others. Don’t give away too much of your power on the healing path. Try not to be too serious, but seriously show up.

We can go on to learn to trust, love and accept ourselves as we are, through parenting our own children— without permission, teaching and modeling of these behaviors from our own.

When we use our awareness of life as a teaching tool, our feelings to guide us, and our brains to think for more than just this moment, we’ll have given our whole hearts to our roles as parents.

I wrote this little poem today in my morning pages:

Life is about patterns

Until it’s not

And what breaks patterns

Is thought

Remembering then

Showing up now

Living in the middle

is the only how.

Say no to #learnedhelplessness #dietrying

Looking at Old Photos: An Exercise to Help You Reconnect To Yourself When You’ve Forgotten Who That Is

My 2001 interview with Oprah, Lol!

I’m going through old photos while working on my second memoir and found this memory today.

This one is from a trip to Las Vegas in 2001 where I visited Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. I am a huge fan of Oprah, so when I ran into her that day, of course I let her interview me for my upcoming best-selling book. Lol! 😂

I was writing my memories out by hand back then for the book I wanted to write someday and was filing them away in my 3-ring binder.

I used to sit and watch The Oprah Show every chance I had at 4pm and still have the notes I took on the episode where she interviewed authors of memoir on how they approached their writing process.

This exercise of looking back at old photos is helpful for reconnecting to our old selves to see how far we’ve come, and to see how much further we have yet to go. It’s also helpful for abuse survivors who have endured decades of psychological abuse to help us reclaim who we’ve always been at our core, before toxic people projected who they are onto us.

This photo reminds me what I’ve known all along. I’ve lived authentically and genuinely from my heart. I’ve approached my big, convoluted, noisy, messy, busy life with a huge sense of humor, a love of life-long learning, the strength and dedication to keep my word to myself and follow through on my commitments, while showing up for my roles and responsibilities and continued to dream big!

And here I am. Still smiling and laughing. Still learning and growing. Still strong and doing. Still keeping my word. Still showing up. And still dreaming big!

I’m also still very realistic about what a long way I have yet to go to go to get to where I dream of being. But, the most important thing about this is I kept my word to MYSELF to write that first book! How is that for learning self-trust, self-love and self-acceptance on your own?

Don’t allow the community that teaches about narcissistic abuse tell that you don’t know how to teach yourself or can’t. If what you see is good and you’re happy with that, keep doing that. If it’s not, have the guts to change it.

Dream big or go home, baby!

And, don’t let narcissistic family project onto YOU who they think you are, or should be, in order to make them comfortable and to keep you in learned helplessness. Be defiant! Be a force to be reckoned with! They’ll get over it. Or they won’t. It’s their choice to make.

This photo reminds me that I’ve approached my big, convoluted, noisy, messy, busy life with a huge sense of humor, a forgiving heart, the love of life-long learning, the strength to follow through on my commitments, the dedication and audacity to show up for my roles and responsibilities all while continuing to dream big!

Dream big or go home, baby!

projection #protection #dream #do #create #laugh #learn #grow #loveyourself

Mask Madness: Some Perspective from the Middle

This sign was in an elevator that was only 5’11”, but if it makes you feel secure, great.

In 1995 I had just graduated nursing school and was hired at a nursing home as a charge nurse. The resident doctor who did my pre-hire physical that August warned me that although I would be protecting myself with Universal Precautions and PPE, I would probably get sick on and off for months, or get one really big flu that lingered that fall/winter. (Flu shots weren’t discussed, because they weren’t pushed yet, nor would I have taken one.)

In November that year, the nursing home was hit with the Asian flu— (that’s where it originated, so that’s what it was called) — and twelve of my elderly residents died as a result.

By December I ended up getting it, and got sicker than I’ve ever been in my life, missed two weeks of work as a single mom, and got three months behind on bills as a result. Not one person cared. No one called me a hero for doing my job. No one shut the country down. And no one helped me pay my bills.

I love that the world is trying to become more compassionate, considerate and caring, but the blame game and the extremes that go on in society in order to feel superior about absolutely everything is so old and exasperating, I can barely stand it anymore. If you view everything we’re seeing on the line that is narcissism like I do, you see just how quickly both the left and right side of that line can become toxic.

If your mask makes you feel safe, by all means wear it. I’m not going to ever try to talk someone out of their fear and I can’t know what underlying issues they may have that puts them at risk. I’m not going to demand they do anything different than what they’re already doing. And, if someone else chooses not to wear a mask, I’m doing more harm to my immune system by getting angry, irate and superior about it than if I just minded my own business and stayed away from them.

We can never, ever, ever, control what someone else does or doesn’t do. If we embrace that concept and understand that what others do or don’t do has nothing to do with us personally, our immune systems won’t be as run down, our adrenals won’t be jacked up with cortisol, and we’ll be healthier as a result.

Growth from Toxic Relationships Is Not About Building Walls

We can learn everything there is about toxic people of every kind and know something about every kind of personality disorder — and still get duped.

We can prepare in every way possible to never allow ourselves to be used, abused, or manipulated again, but that’s not real life. When we’re keeping our hearts open, living our lives and not isolating ourselves for protection behind impenetrable walls, those things can and will happen.

Believing that everyone who hurts us is purposefully toxic or disordered, and that healing from them is a one and done, is both naive and harmful. Harmful to us to think we should never be duped again if we just learn these simple rules. And harmful to others for pigeonholing everyone as “toxic” or “narcissistic” who may hurt us.

The world has gone crazy with all this narcissistic 101 crap. Everything I see is about it is from one extreme to the other: all good, or all bad; with no in between. That’s called borderline personality disorder. So, whatever you do, learn to see shades of gray.

I’ve tried all my life to walk the midline of life and have still hurt others inadvertently, or been harmed by others. I’m not going to stop living my life and trying again with new people. Making everyone we meet pay for the sins of another is not growth. It’s just another form of superiority.

Yes, we need to learn our boundaries, yes, we need to learn the signs of toxicity in others — and then— we need to liberally apply some common sense to the whole situation and realize that each time we engage with others there is a possibility that we could get hurt. Anything other than staying open is not living.

Learn to Discern What You’re Listening to about Narcissistic Abuse on YouTube.

I wish videos on narcissistic abuse didn’t go straight to NPD when discussing narcissism. Because there are healthy levels of narcissism with a little “n” that we all have in order to forge ahead and make our own paths in life. Healthy narcissism is how we get our needs met. It’s how we get out of bed and try again. It’s how we rise above. It’s how we speak up and out against injustices and stand up to be counted. It’s how we are able to put ourselves in others shoes and put our own needs on hold for another.

This kind of narcissism is full of compassion for others, takes ownership of self, takes responsibility for one’s own actions, self-partners, fulfills self from within, is authentic and genuine, isn’t afraid to look imperfect, and has empathy for self and others.

As someone who has two narcissistic parents, and is married to a man with a narcissistic mother, narcissism that comes in the form of capital “N” Narcissism, as in the personality disorder NPD—we can tell you it is completely unhealthy and void of anything that resembles empathy. They present with an inability to ever be wrong about anything, can never have faults, be responsible for their actions, don’t take ownership of self, don’t even try to understand others feelings, can’t ever look imperfect, can’t show any vulnerability whatsoever, apologize, or have remorse and empathy for others.

The video I watched today went on to talk about how “sad” it is for victims. And while it is, I also wish videos that discussed NPD didn’t pigeonhole victims of it as somehow doomed to never prosper or succeed in life. Nothing could be further from the truth! I’ve been living this life, all my life — and I’ve never thought for a second I was sad or doomed.

Telling people this or even hinting to it, is just another type of conditioning and grooming going on in the narcissistic “expert” community that wants to educate people about it, yet have us heavily relying on their products, classes, books and more to heal from it.

It’s like dumbing us down while building us up to need them. It feels opportunistic and it feels wrong to me. I don’t begrudge anyone from making a living, but I do take offense to showing pity and pandering to a group of people looking for healing, while simultaneously keeping them stuck and sick and reliant upon their content to heal by using degrading words that push people back into the pigeonholes they are trying to escape.

Don’t believe anything that pushes you back in life! And don’t listen to people who use negative language to describe your life. Only grow forward and make your own path in life with your small “n” narcissism in tow.

We are not victims, nor are we sad. We are victorious and more powerful than they want us to believe.

#nowyouknow #notsad #notavictim #justsayin