my original thread seems to have been closed. Heres the repost.
THIS IS PAST TENSE, simply shared for some BS's who asked me for it long ago.
I posted this here for the LTA group, this is a repost because I think it worth rebooting. Get popcorn. Snuggle down. Read.
""How have you gone about "reframing" your needs and expectations for personal validation?"
"How have you separated out the "real" needs from the "unreal" in a way that is healthy but still satisfying for you now?"
the questions are really two sides of the same coin. And so I'll try to answer as best I can.
I think it is important to understand that "validation" is a fuzzy concept for me. It isn't specific enough.
I told you all yesterday that I was numb to the good and alive to the bad. And that is true. It's like a monkey who goes for cocaine and ignores food. That is a good picture of it. And the "need" is not really a need at all. But it does feel like one. Boy does it.
I was stuck, miserable. I wanted a whole life and not a life and a half. I kept saying that. xOM's response was "Well go see if you can love your H and if not, then leave him."
I don't think he expected me to actually do it. He knew i was an addict. We used to JOKE about it.
I didn't know how.
I'd go NC and withdrawal would start and I would be screaming in agony and go running right back to him.
so I prayed. I had no where to turn so I prayed. I prayed a lot. I mean... I spent DAYS in my room, locked in there. or in my office. doing nothing but praying and crying. Asking for answers. Afraid.
the answer that occurred to me made no sense at first. "The truth will set you free." I heard that in my heart over and over and had no idea what it meant. So I started to think on it. And then I made a decision. I would just start telling the truth. To myself. To my H, to xOM. Eventually I got to his W, that took a while. Problem is, it was hard to know what the truth WAS. I had lied to myself for so long and I had two realities in my heart, two to resolve. And they could not coexist.
I did not want to confess. i knew it would mean possibly losing my family. Definitely losing xOM. A chasm stretched before me, yawning. It terrified me. I argued with myself for days...weeks... about it. I felt if I didn't want to end things, then I would be dishonest to do so. I wanted to do nothing from duty because I was afraid I'd just end up revering back again and failing. I wanted my actions and decisions to be genuine. Real. And then one day it occurred to me that the most perfect of men prayed and told God He didn't want to do something painful. I didn't have to want to. And not wanting to wasn't necessarily horrible. I could ask for help wanting what was right even if I didn't want to and just be HONEST about it... and do what was right whether I wanted to or not.
So I confessed to my H. I started telling the truth. Drunk off my rear end. Don't think I wasn't.
now a practiced liar has issues with turning that habit, learning to not hide anything or to shade or exaggerate or whatever... that took time. i wasn't perfect.
but that was the beginning of "reframing"
as I started to do that I started to see myself.
eventually I confessed to his W and total NC happened. and I was exploring stuff on a support board.
the next idea came when I understood the concept of using people vs love. Now I had some concept of this before, but it was more mental than something i practiced. But I came to see that everyone including God... everyone in my life, had been someone that I'd used. Not constantly. But a lot. And so then another piece of the puzzle fell into place. And I came to understand that just as my husband wanted me to truly love him from the heart, and to do good and kind things for him out of that love, so my God wanted me to love Him from the heart and to obey out of that love, not for the blessings I would receive as a result of obedience. And I didn't like God much less love Him. I didn't think He was good. I thought heaven was boring. I thought He was harsh and judgmental and mean. I thought He didn't love me. I felt rejected by Him. I didn't know what love looked like. And that affected everything I did.
but see, my husband was kind to me, understanding of me. Good to me. Even when I didn't love him back. I saw love. He loved me for who i was...or maybe in spite of who I was...
I was still numb to my H, but I could see love. I recognized it. I wanted to give and receive it. And I've always felt it was a verb, I practiced doing love when I didn't feel it. I read the Five Love Languages and worked on that. I studied all I could about love. Trying to understand. Song of Solomon.a John Gottman book on marriages that make it. The Four Loves by CS Lewis.
now this is important.
I was so unable to understand my own feelings and heart, I literally didn't know what was true for me. I remember being in the IC's office and he'd ask me something and I couldn't answer. I didn't know. And I'd tell him that. I'd tell him, "I don't know what is true."
and he told me something that helped me.
He said to say a statement aloud. and if I felt a twisty feeling in my stomach. ..if I felt funny. ...then the statement wasn't true.
So I tried it.
"I love my H."
no twisty feeling.
"I forgive my H. for his anger at ____"
big twisty feeling.
so that helped me. I know that may sound nuts but when I tell you that I literally didn't KNOW the truth and so couldn't stop lying, I mean it. I would change stories about how I felt about things or even about things that had happened...events... because i'd twisted the truth for myself so much I no longer knew what it was.
so that was important. Lies and truth are big. Ongoing. You can't tell what your needs are when you can't touch them.
then a new idea came... this one i heard on the radio, listening to Focus on the Family. It haunted me pretty much.
"To a starving man, even what is bitter tastes sweet."
the story told that night was of a man who'd been sexually abused as a child by a man he loved and admired. And as he talked about his journey into homosexuality and that lifestyle and then his eventual turning away from it and his new life... he gave that quote. It's from proverbs.
and I looked up a lot of stuff on temptation and overcoming it. And I came to see that the way to overcome temptation is not to deny myself. That sounds funny. okay. The thing is, somebody who is full, who is not hungry, doesn't want cake. The words used in the original bible text for overcoming a temptation convey that idea. Unhealthy things have no allure for someone who is whole. Their needs are met.
but I had been starving my whole life. and I'd gotten used to bitter things and thought they were all that was out there. (a lie) So I dealt with the roots of that. and I accepted that the bitter things i was using to meet my needs....no matter how sweet they might seem, weren't as good as what I -could- have. And of course I'm talking about xOM.
because I still felt haunted. His presence was still palpable to me all the time. It's like a year later and I'm still wonky. I have made progress but I still feel connected.
you all need to understand, that feeling is the addiction. And it is a misdirection but I did not know that then. But I need to tell you what it feels like so that what I say later makes sense.
CS Lewis described it as a sense of autumn. you know, the feeling, the echo you feel when you look at the hills and leaves are changing, the sweet pain of a sunset? it is a sense of presence with you, sweet, music you can almost hear...a strain of it so beautiful it makes you want to weep. I felt like xOM was with me all the time. It was difficult not to speak aloud to him, I thought if I turned around he'd be there ...making wisecracks. and I got angry. I'd be driving down the road screaming and crying "GET OUT OF MY HEAD."
and I'm still numb really to my H at this point. I'm still behind a wall of glass, separated from what SHOULD be filling me, the life I should have. I see all this stuff but it has no weight. I am acting on it but I feel like a BIG faker. My heart is still divided.
I was desperately seeking the lightbulb moment that would transform me, the magic wand to change everything. I hated myself for still carrying xOM in my heart. For feeling this way, constantly. I very nearly despaired.
and I prayed. And an image came into my heart of a plant. A seed. Buried beneath the ground in winter. And it is moving and sprouting and one day it will bloom. And I understood that this was process, that it was small steps daily taken that sculpted the landscape of change.
So I kept going.
so let's recap shall we?
so far I'd been taught to
1. not lie, tell the truth
2. understand my own heart and its truths.
3. learn the difference between truth and lies.
4. understand that I had needs and that they were real and that the way I was meeting them wasn't really right. there was more and i could have it.
5. I learned about using vs loving
6 I saw love in action through my husband.
7. I did not have to want to do what was right to do what was right. and that was okay.
adding one more
8. understood the concept of being full as the way to overcome a "hunger"
whether you share my faith or not, those are the basic lessons I had learned... and when I tell you that my LORD spoke to me I am being honest. I am describing to you the events. So when I tell you that my answer is Christ, that is why. not trying to push you.
I'm going to stop now and will give you the rest of it after you've had a while to digest all of this. There is much much more. Yes my heart did fully change. This was the groundwork laid. But reframing my needs and expectations and separating real from unreal happened through a process... it was as I learned to practice and live out these lessons that it happened.
okay, so round about the time I started to see some of these things, around the one year mark and a few months later... I also decided that my actions fed my emotions.
So in order to work on my emotional restoration I began to root out any habit that kept me connected. I'd already stopped reading tarot. I added other things to my list, stupid things to anyone else, but they were significant to me. Like not looking in my rearview mirror and talking to myself, changing my playlist and radio stations, changing routes, changing grocery stores, shutting out anything that gave me a sense of connection. I also started trying to develop good habits. Prayer was at the top of the list... not for myself but for others. The point was to practice some selflessness daily. and to get prayed for...yeah LOL.
and then something significant happened to make me see that my issues were not xOM.
I was messing about on my comp one day ... thinking, avoiding work, feeling sorry for myself, and I started thinking about my high school/college xBF.
I spent the next couple of hours trying to find him.
not going to excuse that. I'm just saying I did it.
Now. After a couple of hours i realized something...
this xBF had been horribly abusive to me, to the point of assault and selling me as a prostitute for gambling money. In the 6 years we were together I tried to commit suicide 13 times. He gave me STDs on 3 occasions. He told me stories, bragged about, his violent sexual escapades with strangers. This guy was a sicko.
and I was thinking of him like a fairy tale prince. For those two hours i'd romanticized him.
I snapped out of it, horrified at myself.
but that was the first clue I had... my issues were not xOM, they were me. I could believe lies EVEN WHEN I KNEW BETTER. And I'd had that same feeling for those two hours. The almost-joy.
So I had to look at all of my relationships in context. And ran smack into some ugly truths. I'd already seen the role of Envy in my own heart and how it fed my thinking and actions and was working on changing that...
There was a lot of raw, wounded, scarred soul in me. I was bitter, envious, unforgiving and angry... and I used sex as a weapon. I used everyone. I had seen that I used people but it soaked in more deeply as I explored sexual addiction and what it meant. Power was very important to me. Control. I wanted desperately to reverse deep rejections I'd experienced. I wanted someone to save me. I wanted someone to tell me I was worth something. I'd AGREED with them you see. The people who had abused and rejected me. And it wasn't just men. It was the accusing rejection and nastiness of the girls in my sorority and the accusing rejection and unforgiveness of my former church. And admitting that I indeed did not think myself worthy of love or normal life, that was big.
So that someone who would save me had to treat me like shit first. Or be totally out of reach in some way. or better yet, both.
I wanted to change someone, take someone who didn't love me, make them love me.
that was my redemption. that was my validation.
that would make me worthy and normal and whole. it would undo all of the pain I had. That was my solution, the one I'd cooked up for myself.
xOM kicked this off in me in a lot of ways I can't fully get into here. But basically it made any action by my husband ...who was mostly good to me (though he did have anger issues that triggered me in other ways)... but it made his actions almost invisible to me. He didn't count. So I couldn't even register the validation from him because he was nice.
Seeing it really helped me....but this stage took several months. Post from this period to help you understand:
My therapist said that on some level I don't believe that I deserve to be happy. Which I snorted at. Honestly. Because I like me. Ego is not my problem. If anything, I suffer from pride, not low self esteem. Honestly assessing, I know I'm pretty (need to lose weight) but pretty. I know I'm smart, talented, witty, funny. I like myself. So the issue was filed into the " that's psychobabble" file that I have ...and forgotten. Much like my initial reaction to abandonment. Ha.
I got a couple of books for Christmas. Not the new Robert Jordan I wanted...but C.S. Lewis. I've a hankering for logic and wit and British phrasing. And in "Screwtape Proposes a Toast," a speech written by a high-ranking demon to a graduating class of Junior Tempters, I read this:
"Democracy" is the word with which you must lead them by the nose....it will never occur to them that "Democracy" is properly the name of a political system, even a system of voting, and that this has only the most remote and tenuous connection with what you are trying to sell them. ...you are to use the word purely as an incantation; if you like, purely for its selling power. It is a name they venerate. And of course it is connected with the political ideal that men should be equally treated. You then make a stealthy transition in their minds from this political ideal to a FACTUAL BELIEF THAT ALL MEN ARE EQUAL. Especially the man you are working on. As a result you can use the word "Democracy" to sanction in his thought the most degrading (and also the least enjoyable) of all human feelings. You can get him to practise, not only with a positive glow of self-approval, conduct which, if undefended by the magic word, would be universally derided.
The feeling I mean is of course that which prompts a man to say "I'm as good as you."
The first and most obvious advantage is that you induce him to enthrone at the centre of his life a good solid resounding lie. I don't mean merely that his statement is false in fact, that he is no more equal to everyone he meets in kindness, honesty and good sense than in height or waist measurement. I mean that he does not believe it himself. No man who says "I'm as good as you" believes it.. He would not say it if he did. The St. Bernard does not say it to the toy dog, nor the scholar to the dunce, nor the employable to the bum, nor the pretty woman to the plain. The claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only by those who feel themselves in some way inferior. What it expresses is the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept.
And therefore resents. Yes and therefore resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it, wishes its annihilation. (tries to beat it ...this is me... note by Maia)
..Now this useful phenomenon is in itself by no means new. Under the name of Envy it has been known to the humans for thousands of years. But hitherto they always regarded it as the most odious, and also the most comical of vices. The delightful novelty of the present situation is that you can sanction it ...by the incantatory use of the word "democratic"
Under the influence of this incantation those who are in any or every way inferior can labour more wholeheartedly and successfully than ever before to pull down everyone else to their level. But that is not all. Under the same influence, those who come, or could come, nearer to a full humanity, actually draw back from it for fear of being "Undemocratic"
.....the basic principle of the new education is that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be "undemocratic" These differences between the pupils - for they are obviously and nakedly INDIVIDUAL differences - must be disguised. This can be done on various levels. At universities, examinations must be framed so that nearly all the students get good marks. Entrance exams must be framed so that all or nearly all, ciyizens can go to universities, whether they have any powerto profit by higher education or not...the bright pupil thus remains fettered to his own age group throughout his school career and a boy who would be capable of tackling Aeschylus or Dante sits listening to his coaeval's attempts to spell out "A cat sat on a mat"
okay. Now here we get down to it.
There is a difference between honest self-assessment and negative self-talk. You can't beat an addiction until you admit you HAVE one. And self-esteem. If your character and life have been marked by consistent moral failure...is it not best to admit that rather than to bury it and say, "I'm a good person"???
I've tried consistently to therefore face my own darkness. I've done it here a lot. I can't change what I do not recognize.
that said...my goal in life has always been to be Normal.
Not "democratic" exactly. But close to the same idea. "I'm as good as you."
It's a by-product of years of wearing ill-fitting clothes, having a mother who was unconscious most of the time, a dad who was absent ... being obviously a misfit and feeling an outcast among people who had clean homes and real parents. And later, real husbands who actually cared for them. Feeling that on some level, everyone else's life must be the Cosby Show or a beer commercial.
Love not the world.
Have you ever been pitied? In me it raises a burning anger. A defiance almost. "I'm as good as you, dammit." The pity of others is something I lived with for nearly 30 years. Try being the family that gets the charity donations at Christmas. I was grateful. But angry.
This attitude has marked much of my life and driven me to excel. And it has driven me to despair. And it has driven me to search for validation ... that I'm as good as you. I never said it. I've called it a quest for Normal. For Blah. And if I felt like I couldn't achieve what in my mind was the goal at that point...whatever I'd set up as Normal, I'd stir up drama so I'd have an excuse for not making it.
Reading this made me see that.
And more than that...I've seen that abandonment ... the rejection of my church, my friends, my family, xMM, a horde of boyfriends, my xH ... it has all raised in me this defiance to be "as good as you." Or better if I could be. I'm not saying it is rational, it is not. But did I make xMM a goal and refuse to let go? Yes. Why? Because he was my ticket to normal. My validation. My Savior, if you will. And if he would just LOVE ME then it would take away all the stings from all of those who didn't think I was good enough. And I set him up as that because he was a person who TOLD ME HE COULDN'T LOVE when we dated. What a trophy, to get him to love ME.
And I did achieve that in a twisted sense. But it wasn't enough. I wanted all that went with it. I wanted the beer commercial with HIM. He and I in starring roles.
seeing all of this put me in a REALLY bad mood yesterday. I tried to deny it. And I couldn't. This is envy and a weird sort of pride, make no mistake. And I know it.
I admit all of this to you. And in accepting it, I am asking my Lord and God to change me and remove it from me. This attitude.
I don't want to prove anything to anyone anymore, and especially not to myself. I'm not normal. But I'm me. And I'll be whatever God sees fit to make me. And I'm sorry I've been this way. More than that...there have been times that the rejection and abandonment were a result of my selfishness. And there were times when it was the result of failure on the part of others, not a reflection on ME. And I can now understand the difference. And I can confront and change myself. Courage to change what I can. Wisdom to know the difference.
xMM didn't love me, not in the "till death do us part" sense. We dated and then broke up and then he married someone else. Chose someone else over me ... and it is finally okay that he didn't choose ME. And I am sorry for what I have done to him. Actions motivated by this attitude were not...love. It was selfish pride.
and yes, my therapist was right. I believed the rejection of others meant i should not accept myself, be content, be happy. More than that, I viewed those rejections as affronts, accusations, to be squarely proven groundless. And I could not rest until I did that.
I'm not doing that anymore. I'm going to just accept myself as I am, and make every effort to improve when I am shown an area that needs it. But the validation? it has to come from within. And from God. And...He did all that I needed when He died for me.
anyhow, that's all.
I know the prayers of a lot of people helped me to see this.
as i studied SA, I learned about ritual chains and used that whole idea to unravel the ones i still had that would lead me to act out. Acting out for me now was mostly in my mind. Fantasies. But it was there. And I saw xOM for what he was... a fix. The haunting started to fade...not completely but it got a lot easier to deal with.
but I wasn't done yet.
I saw the need I had... but how to convince my heart that I was worthy of love? after all I had been and done? I hate myself a lot still and have a lot of anger still....I'm thawing some now toward my H but still have big issues.
and I'm mouthing Christian ideas but I see with all of this that I'm living as a practical agnostic. I'm starting to understand now that the "hunger" I have isn't for xOM at all. It's for approval, for a redemption, for acceptance, for yes...validation of a type that is on my HEART, on my SOUL... I want to prove them wrong, all those rejectors. HOW?
and how to heal my view of sex?
okay so recap...
new lessons were:
9. I wanted redemption and had cooked up my own salvation plan that involved someone who had rejected me being turned around and made to love me...all by my own awesomeness.
(self-worth issues usually have a lot of pride in them)
10. I based my self-worth on approval of others and performance or a mix but it was never enough.
11. I really didn't believe I was worthy of Normal. or Good. So I sabotaged it.
12. I used sex as a means of getting power and control.
13. I had developed ritual chains that led to compulsive behaviors.
14. I was living as a practical agnostic. I did not believe or live in the light of the love and redemption of God or the faith I (now) professed.
one important thing for the rest of this to make sense is to know that I was reading Joseph Campbell and had found that was discovering truth and insight in weird places. I was looking at mythology and what it said to see recurring themes in the human psyche. But what I found was a story of death, burial and resurrection, over and over and over. I found that the Hero Quest in literature was a universal journey.
and then I heard John Eldredge on the radio.
John Eldredge talked about the hunger I felt. He talked about a religion of tips and techniques that causes you to petrify and causes your heart to wither... and then he talked about romance, and the burning hunger in my heart. He talked about yearning, the sense of joy...
that was something i still lacked. I was still hungry. dry. withered. desperately yearning still. filled sometimes, but still...limping. Growing, but yeah...shaky. I was still scared deep down. Afraid. I wrestled with doubt.
and I went nuts trying to find info and then went and bought the books.
and that is when I saw the rest of it. The Sacred Romance. Pieces of it had been coming to me throughout this journey. But I saw all of it now, all of the whys got answered. And the hole in my heart got totally filled. And the wounded places got healed. and the view of sex I had got transformed. and the wall of glass ...which had been shimmering and sometimes was gone... it shattered for good.
because I finally understood with my heart the love of God and what I meant to Him. And my worth got totally based on that. I'd understood it mentally before, like someone who knows Europe exists. Now I lived there. And I fell deeply and wholeheartedly in love with Jesus. and that was just before Christmas... not so long ago. But the shattered pieces of me fused with those books. well... not with the books, with the Person in them.
I know I had to go through that long process to get to the final healing.
and it was a process. I've written here about the truths I learned, but you cannot underestimate the work of putting these ideas into practice or of time in bringing about sanity. and this isn't ALL of it but it is the major stuff.
so there you go.
I think people can just move on without all of this. But I also think that like a bone that has to be rebroken and reset to heal... if you do that you risk further pain down the road.
We look for ourselves, our true selves, in the stories of others. And that is a good thing.
I read something this morning that I believe sums up what God was telling me in the image of the seeds.
I wanted a magic wand waved, an instant fix and balm for the pain.
God is a God of process. If you ask Him for an oak tree, He hands you an acorn.
I read that this morning and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I see all of the pain and writhing here and feel it anew, and want so much to give immediate help.
But God is a God of process.
looking at it like physical therapy helped me. I looked at the A as a train wreck where we were both damaged deeply. Anyone who has been to physical therapy knows the exercise and consistency and time needed to heal and return to full health.
that is very much a picture of the process.
achievement unlocked. you read the whole thing ;-P