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

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.

Healing… healing… we’re gonna heal.

This is what healing looks like.

This is me not talking about what the narcissist did or said to me.

On my walk yesterday I stopped to swing after a wonderful hour long massage and a great night’s sleep.

Healing from this doesn’t come from posting memes all over your FB page about it. And it’s not in narcissistic abuse groups where people are in different stages of processing.

You’ll find true healing in your therapist’s office. In actively pursuing reputable sources of information regarding narcissism and nowhere else.

You’ll find it when you get outside in nature and outside of yourself.

Of course, I had to slide down the slide too. Lol!

I deserve to live my one and only life and so do you.

Be happy. Life is too short to spend it crying over those who didn’t deserve us.

You are loved,

Robin

You can purchase my memoir Steel Town Girl on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

Lessons of the Motorcycle Man and the Man Next to Me.

motorcycle in the rain

Yesterday we were driving down the highway in a rainstorm. I was excitedly chewing my husband’s ear about all my dreams like I’ve done so many times over seventeen years, and… as it usually does… the conversation turned to my heartache.

I turned to quietly gaze out my window at the gray, rainy day and the trees whirring by. My eyes were getting wet.

A motorcycle came up beside my window, then quickly passed in front of us and over and across into the fast lane. He revved the bike as fast as he could and was off like a light.

“What an idiot!” I said.

“He must really have to be somewhere to be driving like that in this,” my husband said.

It got quiet again.

The word “idiot” rolled around in my head. Who was I to judge?

I thought about it.

“Yeah. Maybe someone’s sick and he’s trying to get to them,” I said. “Or, maybe he’s gotta poop!” I giggled.

Knowing life speaks to me every day, and that there are lessons in the ordinary if we listen, I looked out my window and put my ear to the world.

For me, the lessons were this:

When we stop to criticize someone else and their choices, we’re out of your own business. When we’re out of our own business, it’s usually because there’s something too painful to process right now and we think we’ll deal with it later. But, I know all too well, if we don’t deal with our pain, our pain deals with us. It comes out in bitchy comments, mistreatment of others, name-calling, judgment, joking, over-helping, acting as if we have it all together and busyness in order to forget our own problems. Too much of that, and soon we have physical ailments, and even diagnoses of dis-ease.

The motorcycle man also shared his lesson with me about perseverance, determination, and courage. He told me if we want something bad enough, we get there any way we can… which for him, was on a crotch rocket barreling through a rainstorm. Some get there by the skin of their teeth, some much too late to even matter, and sometimes not at all. But, “the choice is theirs to make.” I was reminded.

My gentle, unassuming husband didn’t assign a negative assumption to the man’s actions. And, it dawned on me that the man sitting next to me was sharing a lesson too. This is why he’s usually blissed out happy on any given day. Because he doesn’t assume bad intent and he stays in his own lane. My judgment of the man on the motorcycle took me out the process of dealing with my feelings because it was too painful. Not an excuse in any way, but people from narcissistic abuse backgrounds, no matter how good life gets, seem to be lacking something. We struggle reconciling then with now. We’re all too often missing a family member. Grappling with negative feedback loops. Or we’re just not all that sure we even deserve happiness?

The heartache that misted my eyes were now tears of gratitude. “Thank you. I hear you,” I said to the sky. “And thank you too, for my husband.” I squeezed his hand.

Back at my window, I hoped the man on the motorcycle got to his destination in time and everything was o.k. “I’m sorry for judging you Mr. motorcycle man, I’m still an imperfect work in progress and I falter sometimes,” I said to him in my mind.

I hope that where ever he was going, he was going to feel his life and listen for the answers that usually come when spent in quiet reflection. Sometimes, if we listen hard enough, even while we’re sitting next to someone we’ve too many times disregarded in the way we always do with people who’ve been in our lives for a long time, we may get the chance to stay in our own business, have the determination to explore what the day is saying, and see people closest to us a little louder. May we don our uniforms of courage to drive erratically into the fast lane and disappear into the thick, gray ominous rainstorms of life before it’s too late.

Because hunkering down against the winds of change, sometimes over a screaming engine and a half-empty gas tank, holding on for dear life for the ride of our lives is the only way I know how to go through heartache.

Hopefully, while squeezing onto someone’s hand.