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Author Topic: The Art of Disengaging  (Read 12572 times)
gertrude
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« on: September 05, 2009, 07:30:58 AM »

Disengaging is an art.  You paint the layers or begin sculpting the wood, little by little until you have achieved your masterpiece - A commitment to your own health and happiness.

If you really think about, disengagement begins early in the relationship, when we know that there is something terribly wrong.  We try to ignore it, but if we are honest, we know it's there and we spend time trying to figure out how to work around it.  Hope is always a factor, especially in the beginning.  And hope can take a long time to fade.  But things are eating at us - especially in the wee hours of the night when truth is hard to deny.

We must fix in our minds, somehow, that we are in the midst of a very unhealthy relationship, with a very unhealthy person.  When we cognitively accept this, we can begin to disengage.

Then, we must accept that, for most of us, things will not change.  That without recognition, acceptance and commitment to treatment, our so's are not going to get better.  In fact, they will likely get worse. 

Next, we must admit to ourselves how truly unhappy we are.  The scraps of occasional affection we receive do not begin to compensate for the pain the relationship causes us.  The pain is realized not so much by the abominable way they treat us, but rather, through the loss of ourselves, our self respect and dignity, and the loss of the people we love, because of the isolation that is encouraged by our so's. 

We must admit that if we voluntarily stay in an unhealthy relationship with little possibility of change, then we, too, are unhealthy.  This is the layer where the artwork really begins to take shape.  Now we know we must leave the relationship in order to save ourselves.

Ending the relationship is very very difficult.  Our hearts have not caught up to our intellect, and I believe that some kind of emotional and mental manipulation keeps us stuck in the relationship.  It is a great deal to overcome and the commitment to leaving must be strong. 

The best way to go is to go NO CONTACT.  Most of us will fall back into the relationship if the opportunity arises.  If we do accept re-engages, all we will do is enhance our pain and prolong the point in time when we can become healthy, whole individuals.  When you end it, mean it.  If your so ended the relationship, somehow try to consider yourself lucky, and still stick with no contact because re-engages are very likely.  You will find yourself secretly hoping for a re-engagement.  Resist at all costs.

The best way to resist a re-engagement is to transfer your feelings of pain into feelings of power.  It doesn't matter if you are drawing your strength from a pure desire to make your life the best one you can, or if it comes from feeling that you are now exacting some revenge on your so by firmly standing your ground and refusing to communicate with them.  For me it was both.  I knew for my own health I had to stay strong.  But I must admit I also felt like - aha!  you see, my dear, you actually cannot control me anymore.  I have the final control, and that is to keep you out of my life altogether.  There was some good satisfaction in that and it did help to keep me strong. 

Go with your emotions.  Do not fight them.  They will be erratic and powerful.  You will be sad to the point of contemplating suicide.  Your anger will boil up to the point of explosion.  THen you will feel sorry for your SO, and you will have feelings of relief, and then you will be miserable again, and angry again.  You will feel confusion and you might suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.  It is a roller coaster of emotions.  Be prepared for it.  Tell yourself that these emotions are a normal reaction to a very abnormal situation and tell yourself that over time they will even out and you will be alright - the pain and the anger will be behind you.  Make it your goal to survive this one day at a time, and tell yourself at the end of each day that you are that much closer to healing.  Realize that it is a process, and that it takes time.  Your healing will move up and down.  This is alright.  We damage ourselves more by over analyzing our feelings and judging ourselves because of them.  That accomplishes nothing and just make us feel worse.  Accept your feelings.  Know that your healing will eventually come and begin to move on.

Keep busy.  You need to get to know yourself again.  You need to revive your passions and your interests.  Keep moving, even though you don't really want to.  Healthy distraction is a good thing.  See your friends, go to the movies, do charity work.  In time, you will find yourself actually enjoying yourself and feeling that your life is worthwhile.

Keep a journal - if you haven't already, begin with all the objectionable behaviors your SO has exhibited.  This should fill your book in no time.  When you feel weak, refer to your journal.  It will help  keep you on track.  Write about your own feelings.  You will be able to see your improvement over time by rereading your entries.  It also serves as a good catharsis. 

Keep telling yourself you have no choice.  Because you don't.  We couldn't get out because we were stuck.  Now we need to feel stuck in our commitment to our own health and healing.  Keep hammering that into your head.  You have no choice.  Put your own welfare and happiness first.  When you do, you will truly accept that you have no choice but to be out of the relationship.

Stay here at bpdfamily.com.  Knowing we can share our experiences with others who truly get it is invaluable.  The support and information are incredibly helpful in getting us healthy again.

I am one year and four months out.  I can finally see him for what he is - a very sick, mean spirited child in a man's body.  I have no desire to have a relationship with him any longer.  I think about him less and less as times goes on.  He truly has become a distant memory for me.  I am still healing however.  I still carry a bit of sadness -  most of the time it is buried in some small corner of my heart, but it doesn't interfere with my life any longer.  I am still working on getting back at least the person I was before him.  Maybe somebody new and improved will emerge.  My passions are coming back, little by little.  Events can occur that trigger an emotional reaction, but that occurs less frequently over time.  I have accepted that he came along and changed my life in profound ways - some of them good, but mostly in damaging ways.  I am rebuilding.  I am making progress.  There is still more to go. 

Perhaps my masterpiece shall always remain a work in progress.  But as long as it keeps getting more interesting and aesthetically pleasing, I can continue to do the work.

I wish all of you the best.  I know what you are going through but I can tell you with your own commitment, you will be alright.  Carol
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MtnClimber
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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2009, 08:21:20 AM »

A great post.  I just left her yesterday and filed in court.  Since we have the house and belongings to still figure out I can't go completely NC but will be limiting access for certain.  After 12 years together I'm sure I have a lot to figure out.

Thanks again,

MC
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« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2009, 08:30:55 AM »

Hi Mtn - everybody - congratulations that you left.  I know it must feel gut wrenching for you sometimes.  Keep your contact to the minimum necessary to conduct your business.  emails and texts would be better than phone calls and try not to see her at all, if possible.  You will figure things out.  Give yourself time.  Maybe you won't figure things out, but you will find satisfaction in your life anyway.  There are many things about BPD, my ex, and myself that I don't think I will ever understand.  I am working on just letting go of it.  Understanding everything is not critical to me improving my life.  I am so glad my words have helped all of you.  Carol
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« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2009, 09:19:14 AM »

Thank you, Gertrude.  I am two days on from sending a 'final closure' text to my ex.  We split up two months ago and there has been the odd text and occasional telephone conversation since but I know cognitively the way forward is NC. I have been feeling all the emotions you described and it has helped me a lot to know that this is a normal part of the disengaging process. Just need to sort out my heart now. Thank you!  x
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« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2009, 09:32:21 AM »

Thank you, Gertrude.  I am two days on from sending a 'final closure' text to my ex.  We split up two months ago and there has been the odd text and occasional telephone conversation since but I know cognitively the way forward is NC. I have been feeling all the emotions you described and it has helped me a lot to know that this is a normal part of the disengaging process. Just need to sort out my heart now. Thank you!  x

I would suggest that you don't send a final closure text. 
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jd+jd
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« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2009, 10:21:05 AM »

Hi Carol,

I so agree with your post and your insights.  Your outline on the art of disengaging is so on target and I hope all who read it will follow your advice.

I have always identified closely with your experience as my relationship was of the same duration ... 2 years ... and I have been out for about 1 1/2 years also ... I've lived through all the stages you describe ... but it works ... NC is the ONLY WAY OUT.

My ex is also in his 60's and so I know that even if he could acknowledge his problem and seek the therapy he needs ... which he will never do ... time is just not on his side.

I ... on the other hand ... could not bear to lose my self-respect and the respect of friends and family who were beginning to see incidents of his disrespect and abuse ... though most of his acting out was behind closed doors ... I started to feel ashamed at being perceived ... by myself or anyone else ... as a woman who would tolerate abuse ... it is just not me ... so I have to admit it was my pride that made me end it.

I found the most difficult thing ... but most effective ... was to force myself to get out and do things that I once enjoyed ... to socialize with people ... to paste on a smile even when my heart felt like lead ... hard to do when you just want to crawl on the couch and wallow ... but it works ... in time I realized I was enjoying myself for real ... and thoughts of the ex faded more and more.

Now ... like you Carol ... I have my life back ... and life is so good.

Joan

       
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Kenneth
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« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2009, 10:49:39 AM »

Thanks for the post, Gertrude/Carol.

You describe the process of disengaging and its discontents so well. And we have to keep in mind that at the other end of all this pain lies something much, much better and more satisfying.
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JoannaK
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« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2009, 11:08:49 AM »

Wow.. thanks, Carol.

I'm going to put a link to this thread in one of the Workshop boards, as it is such a good description.

I will say that disengaging from my exh was similar in many ways; different in others.  For those of us who were in very long relationships, usually long marriages involving children, the process of disengaging emotionally is somewhat easier.  It's often taken years at which the essence of our love for the other has been ground away by consistent subtle or not-so-subtle abuse.  I did feel sad that the fun of the early days of our relationship were gone, but it wasn't the same kind of misery that I would have felt had we broken up in year 2 or year 4 or even year 10.  I knew I wanted him gone because I was ready to restart my life.  Life after we separated was full of drama and chaos as we worked towards a settled divorce, but I didn't experience that pain and misery that so many here describe.

Thanks again for such a great description of the disengaging process!
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« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2009, 11:15:26 AM »

Solid advice, Gertrude. 

It's been >2 mos. NC for me.  Still, I find myself thinking, "Oh, maybe a year from now if we were to meet we could resume from the happy place we once had".

Uh...I don't think so.  Where is that other silly voice coming from? I know I have to squash it. I think I'll keep your post handy to remind me.
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« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2009, 11:26:31 AM »

Thank you so much Carol for your post.  After time away from my uexBPDbf, I never thought the roller coaster of emotions disengaging were normal, but now I know they probably are.  You described exactly how I feel!

You are so right that it is an art, and for me, I guess it started shortly after I met him and saw how ill he was.  But I kept going with the hope that the undying love he professed was real and would overcome his problem. 

Now it's less about him, as I see him for how sick he is.  It's more about me now, getting back what was lost and growing self esteem again.

Thank you so much, I am going to print your post/thread and keep it.  It really helps.

x
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« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2009, 11:32:25 AM »

Hi everyone

jd+jd - your words could be mine.  Exactly the same experience.  He was too old to really change, unfortunately.  That is, even if he were to acknowledge his illness, which he couldn't.  I also did the same thing- pasted a smile on my face even tho I was in PTSD shock for the first few months.  Friends had to literally lead me by the hand - and yes, I would have rather stayed on my couch, eat ice cream and watch lifetime movies and cry - which I did indulge myself in a few times.  And yes, my pride was a huge factor.  What am I doing with someone so abusive and sick?  It became embarrassing to me.

Joanna - I understand what you are saying.  If you stay long enough, their behavior eventually does chip away at your love and the emotional pain of leaving is not so great.  I also understand that when you are entrenched with children, and financial issues, it is much more difficult to leave.  That's when coping tools come in handy - to be able to stay and maintain one's sanity.  It is not the ideal situation, but I do believe one can hold on to themselves in the midst of a BPD relationship with proper guidance and support.

I thought when the emotional turmoil was pretty much finished, I had completed my healing.  That turned out not to be so.  There are still gaps that need filling and I am working on bringing the joy back into my life.  It sparkles every once in a while so I know the possibility is there.  Given all the alternatives available at the time I ended my relationship, I knew being on my own, even if lonely, was the best choice so that was the one I took.  I am busy expanding my alternatives now.  Hang on everyone.  You can survive this.  Carol

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gertrude
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« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2009, 07:57:37 AM »

Good morning everyone - we are all now one day closer to recovering and healing our wounded souls.  You have added another small layer to your masterpieces.  You survived the night.  Now, let's do one more day.  I know we can all handle this. 

bkay - It's like a hit over the head with a sledge hammer when you finally realize it's not about them - it's about us.  My therapist drilled that into my head.  I think that that is a critically important step in recovering, one which I failed to mention in my post above.  Thank you for bringing that up.

Sashasilver - I have learned never to say never.  But I, too, imagined he would return a normal human being.  But the way I feel now, I don't think I would interested anymore even if that were to happen.  These is too much water over that dam, too many hurtful memories.  Besides, I don't think I could stand the scorn and derision I would get from friends and family.  And a double besides - I have come very, very far.  I would not want to take the chance of having to start this process all over again.  The stress chips away at you, physically and mentally.  In this case, it is certainly best to leave well enough alone.

Need sanity - you are at the beginning of your journey.  You will be measuring your feelings every minute of the day.  You will be delighted and hopeful when you are having a few good minutes.  Then you will be devastated when the pain suddenly returns.  This is normal.  Just be prepared for a lot of different emotions.  They will emerge from you without warning.  Ride the roller coaster.  Try to step outside of yourself and tell yourself "That's interesting."  I learned that from a motivational speaker.  Just the act of saying "Now, that is interesting" can help defuse some heavy emotions a bit. 

htl67 - It's a strange feeling.  The more tightly we become bonded, the more that little part of us is screaming for help and for disengagement.  I'm pretty sure that after the first time he walked out on me for some incredibly innocuous thing I said, I knew that this wasn't going to last forever.  Of course, as soon as that thought would come up, I would push it down again, and bury it.  I'm sorry that I had to wait for it to get worse and worse before I made my move - but I did it, it's over and that's that.

Everybody - you know the expression - "If I can do it, you can certainly do it."  That is the truth.  Do something nice for yourselves today.  Take a walk in a beautiful area, go see a good movie, have a meal with family or friends.  Buy yourself something that will give you some pleasure.  Make sure whatever you do, you get up, get out of bed, shower, and get out of the house - even if just to walk around the block.  That's important.  It helps change the gears in your brain for a little bit.  Tomorrow, you will be that much closer.  Carol
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Kenneth
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« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2009, 08:06:02 AM »

have learned never to say never.  But I, too, imagined he would return a normal human being.  But the way I feel now, I don't think I would interested anymore even if that were to happen.  These is too much water over that dam, too many hurtful memories.  Besides, I don't think I could stand the scorn and derision I would get from friends and family.  And a double besides - I have come very, very far.  I would not want to take the chance of having to start this process all over again.  The stress chips away at you, physically and mentally.  In this case, it is certainly best to leave well enough alone.

I've been NC since Tuesday, but I already feel like this, Gertrude/Carol: too much has happened, the betrayal opened too wide and painful a wound. My friends and family would not support me. I don't think that even I would support me. And starting the process all over again would bring more anxiety than I'm dealing with now. I forgave her again and again, yet she still betrayed me. Now I have to work on forgiving myself.

Meanwhile, thanks for your recent, encouraging posts.
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« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2009, 09:35:16 AM »

Hi Kenneth - As you well know, you do not need someone like your ex in your life.  She is cruel, childish, and dishonest and disloyal.  At the end of the day, we all want to be able to look at our so's and know that we have a good man or good woman in our lives.  We want our families and friends to recognize that we have a good person to partner our lives with.  I could not even begin to say my ex was a good man - In Yiddish, women want a mensch - which is a good man.   He was a horror, instead.

Why do you feel the need to have to forgive yourself?  I know I had to forgive myself for the pain my relationship caused my children - and I couldn't forgive me until they did - which I think they did.  Even when they were angry, self recrimination was so useless and just escalated the stress and hurt.  Nevertheless, I couldn't help feeling that way.  I was wracked in guilt.  That made things much, much tougher.  So, whatever happened, forgive yourself for being a human being, somewhat fragile and apt to make mistakes throughout your life just like most humans, and move on.  Take the lesson and grow. 

And keep posting.  It really helps.  Carol 
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« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2009, 10:06:22 AM »

Everybody - you know the expression - "If I can do it, you can certainly do it."  That is the truth.  Do something nice for yourselves today.  Take a walk in a beautiful area, go see a good movie, have a meal with family or friends.  Buy yourself something that will give you some pleasure.  Make sure whatever you do, you get up, get out of bed, shower, and get out of the house - even if just to walk around the block.  That's important.  It helps change the gears in your brain for a little bit.  Tomorrow, you will be that much closer.  Carol

Day two for me since I moved out.  Each hour is a victory.  Thankfully she drove me to finding my own entertainment and interests years ago so having to do things by myself isn't that bad.  I am also going to the bbqs of friends and associates that we normally would of declined as a couple for her insecurity.  I might go catch a movie today that of course she wouldn't want to see.  Thanks Carol.  Well thought and worded advice.  Peace!
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« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2009, 10:10:50 AM »

Hi Kenneth - As you well know, you do not need someone like your ex in your life.  She is cruel, childish, and dishonest and disloyal. 

Why do you feel the need to have to forgive yourself?   So, whatever happened, forgive yourself for being a human being, somewhat fragile and apt to make mistakes throughout your life just like most humans, and move on.  Take the lesson and grow. 

Why do I feel the need to forgive myself? This is a great question and one, I'm sure, I'm be grappling with for awhile. I think I've yet to fully come to the conclusion that I cannot help her, and I feel guilty for not being able to help her. I feel guilty that through my NC I feel I am abandoning her. I feel guilty for the things I've said to hurt her even though I was speaking truthfully about her betrayal. I feel guilty for being envious of whoever she's with now. I feel guilty for still wanting her--even though I know that being so suddenly broken up with and being deceived revealed the truth about the unhealthiness of the relationship and f-ed me up emotionally.

Still, I realize, I did very little wrong in the relationship--and that I'm dealing with quite normal reactions to having been treated so horribly.

Maybe I need to forgive myself for feeling guilty about the feelings I'm going through?
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« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2009, 10:30:19 AM »

Hi Kenneth - As you well know, you do not need someone like your ex in your life.  She is cruel, childish, and dishonest and disloyal. 

Why do you feel the need to have to forgive yourself?   So, whatever happened, forgive yourself for being a human being, somewhat fragile and apt to make mistakes throughout your life just like most humans, and move on.  Take the lesson and grow. 

Why do I feel the need to forgive myself? This is a great question and one, I'm sure, I'm be grappling with for awhile. I think I've yet to fully come to the conclusion that I cannot help her, and I feel guilty for not being able to help her. I feel guilty that through my NC I feel I am abandoning her. I feel guilty for the things I've said to hurt her even though I was speaking truthfully about her betrayal. I feel guilty for being envious of whoever she's with now. I feel guilty for still wanting her--even though I know that being so suddenly broken up with and being deceived revealed the truth about the unhealthiness of the relationship and f-ed me up emotionally.

Still, I realize, I did very little wrong in the relationship--and that I'm dealing with quite normal reactions to having been treated so horribly.

Maybe I need to forgive myself for feeling guilty about the feelings I'm going through?

for me it would be the guilt I'd have for inflicting pain upon myself for longer.  It's the guilt of having done it to myself.  Having had a choice to make and for the choice I made being the wrong one.  Relying on feelings and hope rather than the facts.  Always stuck with 1Corinnthians13. faith hope and love. 
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« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2009, 10:45:14 AM »

eeyore - it doesn't make sense (as emotions often do not make sense) to feel guilty because you prolonged your pain.  Then you are just prolonging your pain even further.  We were stuck - it seems that this is quite normal for the tens or hundreds of thousands of people who have had trouble extricating themselves from a BPD relationship.  If you talk about people who are stuck in all kinds of abusive relationships, the numbers are millions.  If we have acted in ways that millions of others have, then I would say our behavior was normal under the circumstances.  We became enmeshed - baited by a skilled craftsman who knew who to build a really alluring web.  Who could have resisted.  We stayed in the hope that it would return to the fantasy it was in the beginning.  We couldn't leave b/c there was too much mental and emotional manipulation going on.  We were stuck and it wasn't our fault.  We eventually found the tools and the courage to become unstuck and move on.  We should be proud.  There are those who can never get away from an abusive relationship.  I try to look at it as a big experience in life's journey.  I don't always succeed.  There are times I still feel anger.  But it is not pervasive. 

Let it all go.  Chalk it up to being human and wanting to be loved.   There is nothing wrong with that.  Love yourself, tho.  It really helps.  Carol
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« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2009, 07:44:37 PM »

Gertrude, I am reading this thread, and have several times now, and I sense a terrible amout of confusion and hurt in you. The first post that you gave, and the last post above me have several contradictions in them. You seem to be ebbing and flowing in your thoughts. Lets see if we can help you reach an equalibrium here.

Disengaging is an art.  You paint the layers or begin sculpting the wood, little by little until you have achieved your masterpiece - A commitment to your own health and happiness.

Disengaing is a process, and its a hard one. The "Art" is at the end of the process when you can look back and see things without the emotions, and can see the input and choices that you made in that emotional state, that you would now have done differently.

If you really think about, disengagement begins early in the relationship, when we know that there is something terribly wrong.  We try to ignore it, but if we are honest, we know it's there and we spend time trying to figure out how to work around it.  Hope is always a factor, especially in the beginning.  And hope can take a long time to fade.  But things are eating at us - especially in the wee hours of the night when truth is hard to deny.

We must fix in our minds, somehow, that we are in the midst of a very unhealthy relationship, with a very unhealthy person.  When we cognitively accept this, we can begin to disengage.

Then, we must accept that, for most of us, things will not change.  That without recognition, acceptance and commitment to treatment, our so's are not going to get better.  In fact, they will likely get worse. 

Next, we must admit to ourselves how truly unhappy we are.  The scraps of occasional affection we receive do not begin to compensate for the pain the relationship causes us.  The pain is realized not so much by the abominable way they treat us, but rather, through the loss of ourselves, our self respect and dignity, and the loss of the people we love, because of the isolation that is encouraged by our so's. 

We must admit that if we voluntarily stay in an unhealthy relationship with little possibility of change, then we, too, are unhealthy.  This is the layer where the artwork really begins to take shape.  Now we know we must leave the relationship in order to save ourselves.

Gertrude, think back. Did you really start the process of disengagement when you realized this is the wee hours of the relationship? No, my dear friend, this is called dancing. We all knew there were problems, and something amiss, but we went forward, despite all of those red flags we saw. We started dancing, not disengaging.

Ending the relationship is very very difficult.  Our hearts have not caught up to our intellect, and I believe that some kind of emotional and mental manipulation keeps us stuck in the relationship.  It is a great deal to overcome and the commitment to leaving must be strong.

I knew for my own health I had to stay strong.  But I must admit I also felt like - aha!  you see, my dear, you actually cannot control me anymore.  I have the final control, and that is to keep you out of my life altogether.  There was some good satisfaction in that and it did help to keep me strong. 

This is the start of the disengagement of the relationship. I agree with everything you said above. You have to see that you need to get out for your own reasons, and not stay in because of theirs. The manipulation exists, because what they want is still tied to what we want. It is that tie that must be broken.

Go with your emotions.  Do not fight them.  They will be erratic and powerful.  You will be sad to the point of contemplating suicide.  Your anger will boil up to the point of explosion.  THen you will feel sorry for your SO, and you will have feelings of relief, and then you will be miserable again, and angry again.  You will feel confusion and you might suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.  It is a roller coaster of emotions.  Be prepared for it.  Tell yourself that these emotions are a normal reaction to a very abnormal situation and tell yourself that over time they will even out and you will be alright - the pain and the anger will be behind you.  Make it your goal to survive this one day at a time, and tell yourself at the end of each day that you are that much closer to healing.  Realize that it is a process, and that it takes time.  Your healing will move up and down.  This is alright.  We damage ourselves more by over analyzing our feelings and judging ourselves because of them.  That accomplishes nothing and just make us feel worse.  Accept your feelings.  Know that your healing will eventually come and begin to move on.

Emotionally, you will be dysregulated, and need help. Trusting your emotions is not the best thing to do at this point, because you will be in pain, and the first thing you will want is releif from it, meaning, either jumping back in it, or jumping off a bridge. Either choice is not a good one, so please, dont go with your emotions. You should, however, brace yourself, because the rollercoaster isnt over, its just shifted into the self phase.

If we have acted in ways that millions of others have, then I would say our behavior was normal under the circumstances.  We became enmeshed - baited by a skilled craftsman who knew who to build a really alluring web.  Who could have resisted.  We stayed in the hope that it would return to the fantasy it was in the beginning.  We couldn't leave b/c there was too much mental and emotional manipulation going on.  We were stuck and it wasn't our fault.

We all acted in ways that millions of others have, simply because we didnt know better. We didnt have the tools for a healthy relationships with ourselves, much less, with anyone else. Whos fault is that? Noones, it is what it is. We can point the finger at our parents, who in turn will point the fingers at their own, and we can all wrapped up in trying to assign blame, and guess what? It doesnt matter, because blaming is not fixing. Education, learning, tools and application are fixing.

The BPDs are extremely emotionally driven people. They arent master manipulators, they are human beings driven by fear, pain, and emptiness. Manipulation is a tool, not a trade. They dont hone their skills, they just are trying to relieve their own hurt.

We eventually found the tools and the courage to become unstuck and move on.  We should be proud.  There are those who can never get away from an abusive relationship.  I try to look at it as a big experience in life's journey.  I don't always succeed.  There are times I still feel anger.  But it is not pervasive. 

Let it all go.  Chalk it up to being human and wanting to be loved.   There is nothing wrong with that.  Love yourself, tho.  It really helps. 

Gertrude, there are millions out ther that will encounter a BPD, see it as not healthy, and will turn away quickly. There are also many that will see the emotions associated with it, and try to fix it. It is those people that will become entangled in "the web" because we value their emotions over our own. It is a great lesson for those of us who didnt learn it from our parents, or our life. We can now use that tool, and hopefully have a better life, including a better relationship. Anger, my dear friend, has no place in the detatchment. It only keeps us in it.
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« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2009, 09:45:33 PM »

Oh PDQuick - how to respond to your post.  I am thinking hard about what you said and trying to understand.  I must admit what I just read made me feel defensive and I'm trying to figure out why.  I think you are bringing a lot of your own very personal situation into the analysis.  I don't know whether there would have been millions who would have walked away.  I don't think there is any data and that that is speculation on your part.

I also did admit that I was a work in progress.  I did let go of the anger - and then something happened, just recently, that was a direct result of my BPD relationship.  That did revive feelings of anger because it was huge - and it wasn't about me, it was about my daughter.   Is it possible to feel detached from the person - not wanting a relationship with him, not feeling any pining or sadness or yearning - those horrible feelings we feel in the beginning of our disengagement, and yet feel anger when something horrific happens that is a direct result of the relationship?  I do not think they are mutually exclusive.  And fortunately, that anger was short lived.

I know that there was some disengagement going on after the first couple of really bizarre things that he did.   Even tho I was mad in love with this man, I knew after the first year, deep down inside in my heart of hearts, just like I knew so many other things with regard to the relationship, that it was not going to last.  I knew I would reach my limit and that it would end.  Yes, I danced the dance, but it wasn't a marathon.  I even mentioned to my friends that sooner or later it would end because I would finally reach my limit.  YOu might be right in that all the while, up to the last minute and the very last things that we said to each other and while I was trying desperately to find some way to tell him to get out of my house and out of my life, I held out hope that that light bulb would turn on and he would see what was happening.  I hoped - but I knew it wasn't going to happen.    I knew that if I kept him in my life, it would be a life without my children and future grandchildren, and that weighed heavily on me every day.  I knew I would opt in favor of my children - I knew it and I did it.  I knew I would opt in favor of my self respect and dignity - I knew it and I did it. 

I do not deny that this relationship left a hole in my soul that I am trying to fill.  I said that my art was a work in progress.  I also owned up to the fact that even though the devastation of the relationship, and ending the relationship, are long past, there is still more healing to do - I know I haven't gotten all of myself back yet.   I recognize that maybe I never will.  All I can do is build the best life for myself now of which I am capable.

I agree that we absolutely should not trust our emotions.  My statement means that we should not fight them, overanalyze them and criticise ourselves because of them.  Our emotions are abundant, strong, and erratic, and what I am saying is that we should just go with the flow.  Cry when you need to, be angry when you feel it - and don't worry about it.  We really have little control over our emotions anyway.  It's our behavior that we can control.  PD - when you say that we should not go with our emotions - what exactly do you mean that we should do?  I found fighting my feelings generally prolongs them.  Own up to the sadness to the emptiness to whatever - but at the same time, we should never lose sight of our goal - which is to disengage completely.  The Buddhists talk about embracing our pain and our feelings.  Accepting them and finding the good in them.  I agree.  Pain is certainly a part of life - more for some than others - but everyone has pain - everyone has anger.   This is not to be denied.  It is how we act upon them that is critical.  We can feel pain, without jumping off a bridge or going back into the relationship.  All of us who have succeeded in ending our relationships and are here to talk about it today, have certainly succeeded in not allowing their emotions to control their behavior.  I can feel pain and not consider shooting myself at the same time.

I also think that many people with BPD - including my own ex, are extraordinarily manipulative - because they have so much at stake.  I think that their survival required them to be manipulative - to learn how to handle the people who were their abusers, in order to save themselves.  They had to develop survival strageties from early on.  Those of us who were raised without fear and in loving situations don't need to learn those strategies.  We grow up with trust and innocense.  My ex was profoundly manipulative - but of course, I allowed him to be.

So, in conclusion, I did come to realize that relieving myself of the pain and most of the anger did not necessarily mean that it was "over."  THere is still healing and growth to come.  But I believe that with the end of the pain and the trauma, most of the hard stuff is behind me.  I have said, many times, being in a BPD relationship is a life changing experience, and we will never be the same people we were before the relationship.  We have come head to head with a powerful mental illness and have been seriously damaged because of it.  I do believe that we can become better people.  But it takes work.  I am working - believe me. 

I also want to say that there might have been millions who might have walked away.  I know that for me, I fell so strongly in love with this man before I knew there were issues that I really had to be wary of.  The feelings were so strong they did rob me of will and reason.   I did not eat or sleep for the first eleven days after the possibility of a relationship became evident, which was early on.  Would it really be so terrible, PDQuick, if I gave myself a pass on all of this?  When I realized that staying with him would mean giving up so much, and would mean that I was unhealthy, that's when I ended it.  It took about two years too long, I will admit.   But I chose to go, and stuck to it.  That makes me feel very healthy and very strong.  Carol
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« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2009, 10:32:25 PM »

Well there certainly was a lot of meat to PDQuick's post.  I too was at first defensive for you Carol when I read it.  I beat myself up more than I deserve to. I have a feeling you are like me in that respect.  Loving, caring, forgiving to others but so hard on ourselves.  I take feedback and it becomes criticism of myself. 

Given the recent threads concerning your d I can understand that you would have had a flare up and felt angry.  But you didn't wallow in it by any means.  Part of what I have read in your posts was watching you work through your feelings.  I can only say thank you for all the compassion you have shown to me since the first day I got here.  Giving me your thoughts and allowing me to do my very best to move forward. 

Anyway I hope you aren't hard on yourself.  I really do see you working your stuff. 

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« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2009, 10:57:49 PM »

Carol, If I may call you Carol, I am not here to judge you. I am not here to score your performance, your healing, nor your path. I am not here to say that I am right, or you are right. What I am here to do is to help challenge you into a slightly different perspective that enables you to be able to launch from a state of power, rather than try to crawl out of a pit of victimization.

I have watched many people discard my ex, and others that I know that are mentally disordered, in a hurry. It is a matter of self love, and self respect, and not one of rescuing. There are many on this board that talk of all of the men and women that their exs go through. But, really, that doesn't matter here, for it isn't anything we can change, or affect, its just an observation designed to understand the dynamics of the dysfunctional relationship. We don't have to speculate, because we have our own personal experiences to draw from, not just here say from others.


I appreciate the fact that you felt defensive, and I respect you and thank you for telling me that. We are all a work in progress Carol, and none of have the answers, just different perspectives on the same dynamics. Perception is my favorite subject, and I have studied it tremendously. The ins and outs of why two people can see the same event, and come out of it with two totally different perspectives, and views of what they both saw in the same moment in time. Its fascinating, this phenomenon.

Excerpt
PD - when you say that we should not go with our emotions - what exactly do you mean that we should do?

Seek help, and use it. It doesn't matter if we see a therapist, which is highly recommended, and what I did, or seek advice from people we trust and respect. This board is a good example.

Our emotions will be on the rollercoaster, and that is what we are trying to get off of. It doesnt make any sense when you are in it, but does once you understand it, and are out of it. Thats why it is referred to as the fog.

I apologize if I hurt anyones feelings. Its late here, and Im gonna hit the sack, but I will expand on this in the morning.



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« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2009, 11:15:21 PM »

PDQuick,

Your comments are always appreciated.  Even when you are stern you have valid points. 
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« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2009, 11:57:36 PM »

Carol, your post was inspiring to me, and I think you nailed it. These people ARE master manipulators, they depend on on it for their existance!

I had been involved in 3 long term "normal" relationships before meeting my BPD wife at about age 40, and I had been "hooked" by her for about 12 years, the last three years knowing something was wrong.

Your'e post was very consice and realitive to my situation, I'm in the the process of leaving and it inspires me to continue, you are spot on.
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« Reply #24 on: September 07, 2009, 06:55:33 AM »

This is turning into a very interesting dialogue, PDQuick.  I appreciate the time you are taking to respond to my posts.  I, too, am a student of human behavior.  As an attorney I really have the opportunity to see how people see the same event in such disparate ways.  And when they are being honest about their feelings and beliefs, it is amazing how far apart they can be in what they perceive to be the truth.

I honestly was not aware that I was crawling out of a pit of victimization.  In the past, I sometimes did the "Oh poor pitiful me, thing."  I imagine most of us who have had our hearts broken have felt that way from time to time.  But I truly thought that I was attacking this monster from a position of strength.   I ended my relationship with G not long after my youngest daughter left for college.  To say the least, the experience was for a time exruciating.  But I am a fighter and I honestly believed that I was doing all the right things to recover.  I felt I was moving on with my head held high and not crawling.  I am wondering what you are perceiving that is different from the way I feel and how I believe I have handled this.

PDQuick - I completely agree that therapy and support are very important post BPD relationships.  Actually, they are just as important while we are in the midst of a BPD relationship.  But even with therapy, emotions run at their own speed.  We can hurry them up or slow them down somewhat by the way we handle our situations, but emotions generally have to play themselves out.  Therapy helps us to understand them, and not be ruled by them.  It doesn't make them go away, at least not very quickly.  That is my experience. 

What I was trying to say, and I will repeat it here because I think it is very important, is that sometimes this is what happens - we feel our emotions - sadness, anger, guilt, whatever.  That's the first layer that we must deal with.   This layer is what I call the "pure" layer in that these emotions are just there.  If we are relatively normal, healthy people, these emotions are a reaction to some external event.  These emotions obviously make us very uncomfortable and instead of just saying, Okay - I feel anger right now or I am really sad - we start analyzing our feelings and generally, we try to reject them because they feel so awful.  We then criticize ourselves for feeling these emotions - in fact, what we do is try to reject the part of us that is absorbed by our feelings.  This is the second layer - and in my opinion, this is the layer that does the damage and impedes recovery. 

I believe the way to handle it is to be able to feel the emotion and just accept that it is what we are feeling at that moment (hour week or month, however, long) and ride it out instead of fighting with ourselves over it.  For example, we can simply say, I feel very sad.  Or, we can say, I feel very sad.  What is wrong with me?  Why am I like this?  Why can't my life be more happy?  These last questions create more damage as they make us feel inadequate and responsible for our feelings.  Naturally, when we feel an emotion, our intellect is trying to hook up with the feeling and discover its source.  If we can say, I am really sad because my dream of a happy future with ex is now over - and then if we say, it's okay to feel sad, it's natural -  I think we can get over it that much sooner than if we start with self recriminations over our feelings.

Let's face it PDQuick - once you are on that roller coaster, you cannot get off till the ride is over. 

If I were to look at myself as crawling out of a pit of victimization, it would ultimately make me feel much worse about myself.  Maybe I am operating under the delusion that I am working with strength and conviction, that I am a survivor.  But that delusion, if that's what it is, has helped me to advance beyond the pain, and to a life full of activity and good challenges.  Yes, there is still loneliness for companionship.  I am keeping myself open to all possibilities, while at the same time working at enjoying and feeling satisfaction with the life I have.  We have all changed because of these relationships.  The disappointment is probably the last thing to fade away.  As each negative element fades, it leaves room for new things to take its place.  It's our job to work to fill the space with positive things.  We all spin life much of the time PDQuick.  Attitude is about 95% of it.  And attitude is under our control.  I'm trying to have a positive attitude and can accomplish that more easily when I look at myself from a position of strength and power.  They were lost in my relationship.  I know that they have come back to fill the spaces that were left. 

I am doing some spinning, PDQuick.  It's better to let me spin in the direction I am comfortable with.  Carol



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« Reply #25 on: September 07, 2009, 07:05:58 AM »

I believe the way to handle it is to be able to feel the emotion and just accept that it is what we are feeling at that moment (hour week or month, however, long) and ride it out instead of fighting with ourselves over it.  For example, we can simply say, I feel very sad.  Or, we can say, I feel very sad.  What is wrong with me?  Why am I like this?  Why can't my life be more happy?  These last questions create more damage as they make us feel inadequate and responsible for our feelings. 

That is what I do.  Thank you for pointing it out in this manner, now I have identified something for me to work on.  That's what I appreciate about this place so much positive growth happens because of sharing and learning from others.  I mean why reinvent the wheel?
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« Reply #26 on: September 07, 2009, 07:47:14 AM »

Hi Mtn - You sound strong and full of resolve.  Those are important allies.  As Joanna pointed out, for some, the emotional aspects of leaving aren't that difficult because if you stay long enough, most of the love has been eaten up by their behavior.  I am not sure where you are exactly.  But even through the initial pain, which admittedly was quite intense, there were those feelings of relief - not to have to worry any longer about what I say or do.  I was exhausted from having to develop strategies for protection from his rages and other hurtful behaviors.  In retrospect, I wish I would have just said to him - you want to leave - there's the door.  Actually, I did say it a couple of times (he walked out on me numerous times - he still had his condo so he would leave for two plus weeks when he was in his moods).  And he did go.  And then I would feel awful.  But at the end, I wasn't playing anymore.  I probably wasn't playing because I knew it was over and I was searching for the opportunity to make that happen.  When he started yelling at me, I would just stand my ground and answer assertively.  I think he found that shocking.  From where I am now, a year and four months away, I cannot understand how I allowed him to enslave me the way he did.  I admit I wonder how it would have played out if I had just been true to myself and handled my life that way I thought appropriate.  But in any event, it is so wonderful not have to walk on eggshells anymore.  That was just too debilitating.  And besides, he was a nasty, critical, judgmental person.  It was often not enjoyable to be around him.  I would wait for him to start yelling at a waitress or a sales clerk.  I was always on edge. 

Enjoy your life Mtn.  Trust yourself and hold out for a kind, loving person.  There are millions of them out there.


11years - good for you.  It sounds like you have turned yourself into your new direction.  You just need to take that step on your new path.  I know it isn't easy.  Even if your feelings have dissolved (I am not saying that this is so in your case) it is difficult to change our lives.   But you are making a choice in favor of your own health, and your own life.  That is as it should be.  Stay with us - we will help you make the transition.  I am really so honored that my posts have helped.  I'll be on the lookout for your posts to see how you are doing.

Kenneth - By no means am I an expert, but it seems like you are stuck in that second layer of emotion that I posted about above.  You cannot fix her.  You intellectually know this.  And I wouldn't worry and that it seems from what I've read here that people with BPD have an uncanny ability to find a new companion.  The next person who thinks he can rescue her is probably on his way.  She cannot be rescued and all that will happen is that she will pull you under with her.  That is what happens when they do not try to fix themselves.  Please try to let the guilt go.  You have nothing to feel guilty over.  In fact, you probably gave it your best shot. 

eeyore - you are such a kind and compassionate person.  You know you are too good for his nonsense.  I have not had the ability to test my new resolve but I don't think I would allow another destructive, self absorbed person to be a part of my life.  The one lesson we should take from all of this is that we are better than that.  I feel a real bond with you.

PDQuick - I am eagerly awaiting the next segment of our dialogue.  Carol


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« Reply #27 on: September 07, 2009, 08:21:44 AM »

Good morning guys!

PDQ - I have to admit - I normally find your posts quite insightful, but in my opinion, you are way off track on this one. You ARE judging her - and questioning HER own perspective on HER healing...not fair at all. You know yourself that everyone follows their own path of healing, and everyone gets there at their own pace. Carol's story is one of a person that took back their power. She doesn't come off as a victim at all. I'm not sure why you chose to 'critique' her message - which seemed to be intended as an inspiration for those of us that are still having a hard time. Maybe you didn't start disengaging at an early period in the r'ship, but I did - I totally get what she is saying there. Just because her experience is different than yours doesn't make hers any less valid or believable. Just my humble opinion, but I think your post was highly unfair to Carol.

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« Reply #28 on: September 07, 2009, 09:41:35 AM »

Kenneth - By no means am I an expert, but it seems like you are stuck in that second layer of emotion that I posted about above.  You cannot fix her.  You intellectually know this.  And I wouldn't worry and that it seems from what I've read here that people with BPD have an uncanny ability to find a new companion.  The next person who thinks he can rescue her is probably on his way.  She cannot be rescued and all that will happen is that she will pull you under with her.  That is what happens when they do not try to fix themselves.  Please try to let the guilt go.  You have nothing to feel guilty over.  In fact, you probably gave it your best shot. 

Thanks, G. I believe you're quite right.
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« Reply #29 on: September 07, 2009, 10:05:08 AM »

I love and appreciate a good discussion, and I think this is a good one to have.

Anyone who has undergone therapy, with a good therapist, is generally disillusioned at first, because we go in wanting the therapist to tell us what to do. A good therapist doesn't answer our questions, but directs us to find our own answers. A therapist is similar to a GPS device, knowing where we want to end up, and giving us council on how to get there. If we miss a turn, they will generally redirect you at the next turn.

I am glad that you have experience in the legal field Carol, because this is going to make alot of sense to you. A man that is shot on the street, while just walking, is a victim at first sight. That is the first perception of the event. Upon further investigation, we find out that he walks the streets, in the worst part of town every night, looking to sell drugs to anyone. Somehow, he was shot in this scenario. Then, we find out that he was involved in a deal gone sour. Is he still a victim, or the product of his environment and experience? If he hadn't been trying to get over on someone, he would probably not have gotten shot. If he hadn't walked the worst part of town, trying to sell drugs, he probably wouldn't have gotten shot. If he lived a different lifestyle, he never would have wound up in the back of an ambulance. Is he a victim? Yes, in a way, but not of being shot, he is a victim of himself.

When something happens to us, and we are true victims, the first thing we want is justice. We want restitution for the crime committed upon us. We are angry, we are bitter. We want the person who did this to us to pay. We have been violated, and stripped of our rights. Needless to say, it is a very unsettling experience and not good for our mental health. We are severely uncomfortable.

As long as that justice is not inflicted, we remain bitter and angry. It builds into anger at the police for not catching the person, where it once was only for the perpetrator. If left unanswered, it builds into animosity for the town, the county, the state and the country. Its a vicious circle this anger.

Now, we, in these relationships, saw the potential that existed in our significant others. They showed us the vile behavior. They treated others around us without respect, or fairness. We all knew the potential was there for a toxic bite to our souls, yet we stayed put in that relationship. We were snake charmers, and thought we could control it. Then we got bit. Snakes bite, pure and simple. BPD's massage their own fears and emotions without regard to anyone else's feelings, pure and simple. What we did, was make the mistake of thinking that because we loved them, we either were going to be spared from being bitten, or we had the antidote for the bite. Neither was correct. We were like the man walking the streets in the worst part of town, with a load of drugs in our pocket. We were victims of ourselves. What we need to do is to realize this, and act on it. Laying anger and blame on the BPD does nothing more than keep us waiting for justice that will never come.

Is it normal to have anger? yes, of course it is. Did I have it? Hell yes I did. My wheelbarrow was overflowing with hatred and anger for my ex. I was a victim of epic proportion. I spent an entire therapy session telling my therapist just how bad she was, and just how good I was to put up with all of the behavior, and still stay. I had done the right thing. I loved her. I was willing to do anything for her. I has been arrested twice for things I didn't do, I had been cheated on, slapped around, cussed, used, milked for money, pulled down into the gutter, and left for dead, and I was still willing to go through with it. Wasn't I a saint?

The second therapy session started, and I started going off on all of the things she had done to me, and my therapist stopped me and said the magic words. It wasn't her that did these thing to you, it was you that allowed them to happen. Of course, I argued my stance, but the more I argued, the more I fed her logic. Same events, now with a different perception. Instead of wondering how I could fix her, I was faced with the question of why did I allow all of this to happen to myself? Funny how a different outlook can change the scenario entirely. I went from being a victim, to being the perpetrator on myself. So really, who should I be angry at? Her for doing everything she showed me she would, and could do, or me, for not seeing it, listening to it, and putting myself in the position to be bitten by the toxic snake? Now we are onto something here.

When I am mad at her, I want justice that I will never get, and I will continue in that anger until either she is brought to justice, or I am consumed. Now that I am mad at me, I can give myself that justice by learning what happened, and finding out why I let myself be in that situation for the time I was in it. I can change my behavior to rehabilitate myself into never doing that again. There is the satisfaction, and the justice, not to mention the thing I need to let go of my anger.

Carol, there is no doubt that you are a strong woman in my mind. These things are tough, and it didn't consume you. Be proud of that, lord knows I am. We are strong people, with a huge capacity to love someone. That is a great thing to be. What we need to do right now, is get your perception to a place where you can release your anger towards your ex, because there will never be any justice. With your anger, and the lack of justice, it is a recipe to keep you bitter and resentful with him, the relationship that transpired, and the outcome.

As I sit here before you, I am extremely thankful for the experience with my ex, and I am thankful for her being as bad as she was, because it took someone that bad for me to open my eyes and see that happiness does not grow on the tree of another's soul. Its is in the leaves of our own branches that it exists, and I never watered my tree, because I was too busy trying to water others.

Htl67, I am sorry you perceive me as judging Carol here. I think what you see is me relating to her, and trying to love her enough to get her to go down the only road that leads to peace and tranquility, not resentment and anger.

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