Confrontation

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Anyone who has read my work for more than a month or two can likely tell you basic things about my character. My friends can tell you precisely who I am and what I stand for.

My own brother has described me as, “The last person I ever want to disappoint because you’re scarier than Mom and Dad combined. I’m more scared of your reaction than I am anyone else’s.” I was surprised to learn this, but it explains his behavioral patterns around me because he knows I see through all the bullshit.

Whenever someone describes me, these are the key words used: Honest. Loyal. She says precisely what she means; there’s zero sugarcoating involved. She’s not exceptionally forgiving, and that’s because she knows the difference between a mistake and patterns.

One of my own physicians said he knows I don’t hold back and he respects that because he sees other people do it and wonders what they aren’t saying, but never wonders with me because I’m not afraid to be forthcoming and extremely honest about everything. When I hear myself described like that, I know I am a solid person, regardless of what the occasional idiot may think or be stupid enough to say.

In life, forgiveness is something people have to earn. Once you break my trust, will I forgive you? Or will I listen, merely because I prefer closure? I suppose it depends on the person, but I am now faced with this in my real life.

Early this morning, something popped up in my Facebook memories that pissed me off. I was so angry for a moment, I saw red. Red is a warning sign. It’s like blood spatter to Dexter Morgan. Anger fuels me to be a better person, but that moment where I see red? That’s dangerous.

A former friend who made plans with me and then texted, weeks prior to arrival, to say her boyfriend had scheduled a private tour of the zoo the day we intended to meet up decided to pop back up with apologies. In truth and fairness, I baited her because I was enraged by what I saw.

When she had originally asked if I could make time during the month of May to meet up because she couldn’t wait to see me and missed me, I set an entire day aside, and not for nothing, it was the anniversary of my mother’s death which is SO hard for me. Lesson learned; I will never do that again, especially not for someone who flakes on me.

Quite frankly, I am astounded that anyone over the age of twelve, or someone studying certain forms of biology and/or science, would desire a tour of a zoo. 🙄 It breaks my heart to see animals in captivity. The only thing I do appreciate is the preservation of big cats. Leopards, certain types of tigers, cheetahs, and some of the smaller exotic cats are becoming extinct. This is not news, though. I don’t want to live in a world where these amazing creatures do not exist. I appreciate the wild preservation of their habitats in South Africa immensely, especially all the work being done in Namibia. However, that’s not what angered me.

It was not a change of plans, as she seems to believe, but the disrespect of my time and not immediately standing up to said boyfriend and letting him know that she already had plans that day. You can’t text me and say, “Just FYI, he scheduled a tour of the zoo that day. He’s trying to change it, but…” But nothing. I replied by saying, “I don’t even know how to answer that, so I won’t.” That moment, right there, is when you reschedule or call me about alternatives. You address it in the moment. Especially since she’s here at least 2-4 times a year to visit him.

The post in my “memories” credited me for the friend I am to her, and after deleting my initial response from two years ago where I stated that I’d always have her back, I let it be known that real friends learn how to apologize so they don’t lose their ride or die support system. She immediately replied with an apology and wanted to get into it. 😒 It’s pretty sad when someone waits and waits before they finally get called out. My anger was my error at seeing this proclamation which feels faker than a three dollar bill, and feeling as though a nearly eight year friendship was a total lie.

When a person says they were ashamed and too shy to contact you because they figured you needed time to forgive them, I find that a mixture of pathetic and laughable. I’m not a rabid beast; you just have to communicate properly. All she had to do was reschedule and be respectful of my friendship and time. That’s how adults resolve things. I would also love to know why she thinks I’m going to forgive her, because if you know me, you know forgiveness isn’t a likely scenario. I’ve got boundaries and self-respect.

Also, and this is important: I don’t permit men to tell me who I can and cannot be friends with. Nor do I allow men to make decisions for me OR disrespect my friends and family. I’d sooner stick a fork in his thigh. I’m not someone’s mouthpiece or tool, and I do not suffer fools. I’m not some delicate little flower. I am a lotus.

If you’re in a controlling relationship, naturally that person doesn’t want you to be around friends who are loyal, honest, smart, make you laugh, and who, up until this occurred, I would have cheerfully shot in the leg and buried alive. I will never, EVER support a friend who chooses to remain in an abusive relationship simply because they see the abuse as a form of love. I assure you, I’ve lived it and witnessed it, and it’s NOT on the same plane of existence as love. Perhaps some beggars refuse to make the choice for themselves because they’re not strong enough.

An abusers’ ultimate goal is to isolate you from your friends and family almost entirely. The sad part is that so many people let the abuser win. If you confront that friend, suddenly you’re labeled as “jealous”. 🙄😂 No sweet pea, I feel sorry for you. No one sane wants to be in an abusive relationship, and I will absolutely give you credit if you have gotten out of one. By “you”, I mean whoever is reading this and nodding their head in agreement because they understand what I’m saying. They understand because they’ve escaped the madness and uncertainty of being in a relationship with a gaslighting, narcissistic, abusive, disrespectful jack ass.

Instead of letting this discussion become Facebook fodder, I replied by saying we should discuss it privately. I don’t do drama on my page at all. Also, I need time before I say anything, but I’m willing to hear the nonsense out. Perhaps I’ve already made my decision and DO want closure. I’m not entirely sure. In truth, I am still so angry that anyone thinks this is acceptable treatment of a friend who has been the highest quality friend one could have or hope for.

An old friend once said, “Lisa isn’t to be trifled with.”, and I think that sums things up nicely. People assume I’m nice, sweet, caring, kind, and a host of other things that nauseate me. Clearly, I have my moments and some good qualities or no one would ever be able to call me a friend, but the second you cross over the line, you’re going to meet the other side of me. The one I often refer to as “The Dragon Slayer”. When you meet that other person who is professionally icy, you might not know what to make out of her. That’s okay. She’s already seen you coming from a hundred miles away and she’s not in the mood to psychologically break you into bits, but she will, if necessary. Many women are as multifaceted as what I’ve just described. We can be your best friend, your biggest supporter, or we can be an enemy. The grey area is ambivalence. It always is.

When you call me your “sister”, that’s a fucking privilege. It’s not some cute word to throw around. Fact: I will always be someone’s sister. I was born a sister. I am a sister to my brother, and to several of my cousins. My best friend and I have basically grown up together, and she is 7000+ miles away. She is 100% my sister. 100% family. She wouldn’t dream of disrespecting our friendship in any way. She would never fly into town and NOT see me. She would never disrespect our friendship, our time, or our bond. I would never disrespect her, either. Alas, I now realize how one-sided this other “friendship” actually was.

I was the support system. The therapist. The one with a fully functioning brain. The one with the grace and maturity I’ve possessed for the majority of my life without truly seeing it until someone pointed it out to me recently. I got nothing out of this relationship, except the feeling that I was always on call, like a doctor. When communication stopped, I felt free. I felt like I hadn’t been able to breathe properly, and suddenly this drain on my life force was no longer present. I was relieved. I was done.

I don’t know if there’s anything salvageable here. The pretty words of apology and love are just that; they’re pretty fucking words that mean nothing to me. They are not the actions of someone who is truly sorry and apologized on their own. I forced it by calling her out, and she would have waited for me to make a move until she died if I hadn’t had that flare of anger. I can legitimately say nothing for the remainder of my life and be good with that. If you’re trying to play the silent treatment game with me, you will lose. It’s NOT a fucking game, it is real life. Friends are not expendable beings.

My closest friends often say, “You’re honest and direct, but you’re also supremely fair. So if someone has pissed you off or hurt you, they deserve whatever you dish out because they didn’t have any respect for you.” That acknowledgement and validation is like music to my ears because it’s pure and true.

I don’t do disrespect in my relationships. I don’t make plans and leave people hanging without a word. I will never intentionally flake out on you. I’m not rude and disrespectful. I will be on my best behavior when you drag the uninvited boyfriend along without telling me in advance. Basically that means I won’t poison his food or accidentally, on purpose, stab him in the neck when he says something disrespectful to you that makes me want to slap him while you sit there and take it. Ultimately, I’m YOUR friend, NOT his, and I reserve the right to judge him. 😉 #BarelyKidding

The one time I had a huge disagreement with a friend, I apologized because I was wrong, but the friendship was very much like this one. I realize that now. I overvalued it because to me, friendship is a commodity I don’t play games with. But there I was; the rock she was desperately holding on to, until a bigger rock came along and I was tossed aside like garbage.

I don’t like leeches and I really don’t like psychic vampires. They are referred to as such because they drain you. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. To the point where you eventually avoid them or cut them loose. Dealing with them causes disabling fatigue. Unfortunately, you can’t increase your iron intake and be good to go. The only way to stop the drain is to deny them access to you.

I have never seen any relationship successfully recover fully from disrespect and a breach of boundaries and trust. I’ve tried with one person in particular. Repeatedly. I inevitably decided five years ago that enough was enough and that if they came back tomorrow, I’d listen, but the friendship would still be over. Essentially, I feel the same about this situation. There’s no emotion involved at all, except the previously aforementioned ambivalence, and that’s no way to rebuild something, or start from scratch with. You can’t slap me and tell me you love me. It doesn’t work that way. It never has.

I’m in control of how accessible I am, so she will be sweating it out for as long as it takes me to be patient enough to listen without rolling my eyes. I make no promises, though.

I am not afraid of confrontation. Not even a little bit. I know who I am. I know where I’m coming from, and I know where I’m going. I can’t save every broken birds’ wings. That is not my job, nor is it a role I want to take on. I wear many hats, but it’s time to send the wrong people packing. They were never meant to be a part of my long-term tribe, and that’s okay. I’ve grown and changed, and the last thing I want to do is take on any type of false superhero aspect. In life, your ultimate, true savior is YOU. Grab a sword and take a stab at it. Please don’t wait for someone to rescue you on a white horse. This only exists in fairytales. Perhaps before you buy into such bullshit, you should read about faeries and learn something.

© 2020 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 

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By the way, Peace Talks by Jim Butcher is now available for pre-order. FINALLY! Release day is July 14th. There, I promoted something for another writer. Jim’s a badass wordsmith who shares the same birthday as I do. Give him a shot, and start with Storm Front. You won’t be sorry. #DarkUrbanFantasy

Musings Credited to Insomnia, Migraines, & Humidity

As I went over the feed for this month, I noticed the photo challenge is garnering a nice amount of attention. 😊 Possibly more than the inspirational things I normally share on a semi-regular basis. 🤔 I’ve also noticed that, each time I’m able to write, the statistics go up even further. Mind you, I’m doing all of this from my phone. Not too shabby. I am grateful to my readers and happy to report an increase in readership. All things taken into consideration, it’s pretty fantastic. 😘

I’m going to expand the photo challenge for another month, perhaps two. After going through my photo albums, I realized I have so many beautiful photos I’ve never shared. I didn’t think anyone would care, really. They’re absolutely stunning in color, but there’s something about black and white that allows you to see a different layer of beauty.

Editing them and then saving them into black and white is a little time consuming, but it’s worth it. Can you believe this started as a seven day challenge presented to me about two years ago? Expanding it, if one is able to do so, and has the photos, is far more interesting. Especially since part of the challenge is in not disclosing the locations, yet many are obvious, like Yankee Stadium or the Empire State Building. There are iconic locations in many of the photos, and in others, you’d be hard pressed to pinpoint exactly where the photo was taken. Part of me was tempted to post the black and white AND color versions, because there’s so much beauty to be seen in the differences, but I think I’ll keep things as they are, for now. I might eventually disclose the locations of each photo. I haven’t decided yet.

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I’ve been having a difficult time sleeping. I have had a migraine for almost eleven days straight (after an extremely successful run of treatment, this feels like an enormous setback. Even better, the abortive I fought for isn’t helping. I am going to see if my doctor can get the brand approved since the generic is a little too different for me.), and it’s taking a toll on me. I’m researching a new medication (to me) and trying to decide if it’s an acceptable choice. I am hoping to enter the final phase of a clinical trial for PTSD medication, as well. I’ll know more at some point. I may or may not be permitted to mention the logistics if the drug isn’t already on the market. But hey, it’s worth a shot. I’m willing to try something if it can help me move forward, though I expect nothing.

My brother is scheduled for heart surgery next week. 😔 They claim he’ll go home the same day (Healthcare in America. 😒😠), but I have my concerns and suspicions. Obviously, I am praying for good results. 🙏 Otherwise, someone will be on the news next weekend. 😒 I’m probably voted “Most likely to kill a doctor” on a list somewhere. Most of them are smart enough to run in the opposite direction. 🤷

I am trying to wrap my head around everything that’s been going on in my life and things that have directly affected my loved ones. There’s been sudden loss of life, which left my best friend & I in tears, comforting each other from thousands of miles away. In constant truth, G-d Bless her. I don’t know what I’d do without her or her supportive words. When you have a friendship which started out so long ago, it occasionally feels like “just yesterday”. The shared memories and history, the laughter, the tears, and so much more, are a bond of truth. You can wave goodbye to the flakes and fakes of the world when you have solid relationships with others; the kind that always grow and age like the finest of wines. The kind you’re constantly grateful for, because 2-3 times a day, you thank G-d for blessing you with a handful of solid friends. G-d didn’t see fit to give me biological sisters, but he placed some extraordinary people in my life, and it bears repeating; I’m constantly grateful. Keep in mind, friendship is 50/50. Sometimes it’s 70/30 when one of you is going through a crisis, and that’s okay because your bond ensures that the center will hold. 

Things are changing in positive ways. It helps distract one from the minor, negativity I’ve rid myself of. Eventually I WILL talk about it, but for now, I just want to focus on me. Not in a selfish or egotistical manner. Mostly in a head and heart kind of way, which I think is important.

And so, for the month of June, I’m done. I’m ready to move forward, keep growing, stay focused, and keep myself in a position to accept that I’m not a one trick pony. I do more than write; I create. I utilize that creativity and I’m SO glad I started filming and getting myself prepared for another phase. There’s a lot up the road. I am excited for it all.

Talk to you in July.

li

© 2019 by Lisa Marino and Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

 

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, in an extremely bizarre reality, I was in a relationship I should not have been in. The warning signs were there, but some people burn so brightly that you don’t seem to notice you’re going up in flames and turning to ash. Immensely large red flares of danger were being sent up so I wouldn’t get burned. Did that stop anything? Not so much.

He was the quintessential “bad boy”, complete with motorcycles, fancy sports cars, tattoos, multiple drug addictions, and a boatload of issues. Maybe the maternal, nurturing aspect of me wanted to fix or heal him. I don’t know, but whatever it is, I’m thankful every single day that it is no longer a part of my life.

Initially there was no reaction or emotion from me towards him. He was just a guy, a guy all kinds of women fell for, but I prided myself on not adding myself to the throng of fools. Until one day, when I was seemingly drawn in like a moth to a flame. Except I wasn’t a moth, I was a butterfly, and yet, I suddenly had to have him. The pull was intense. He was crazy about me; The only person who challenged him, who questioned everything, and who was not impressed by anything. The problems though, they were simmering under the surface, just waiting to come out, one by one.

They started relatively early. I had never been told I was “too skinny” before. Even as a former gymnast that had experienced bouts of bulimia on & off for about two years after realizing that I’d never be an Olympic anything. I did not consider myself “too skinny” or “too” anything, really. I had the mouth of a Marine on leave, a writing career that had taken off in an amazing way, and a guy who told me he loved me, but to this day probably doesn’t know the meaning of the word. You’ll find him in the dictionary, somewhere between the words “Douchebag”, “Hypocrite”, and “Liar”, providing you’ve opted for a Webster’s upgrade.

His career allowed me the independence and space that I like in a relationship. I can’t have someone in my face 24/7, nagging, or standing over my shoulder like a watch dog. It drives me insane. He respected that, until the possessive behavior became more than just one or two phone calls a day. At first it seemed like he was going out of his way to surprise me and brighten aspects of my life, but that wasn’t it. Not at all.

The man could spit out promises just as quickly as he broke them, I just didn’t know he was trying to break me in the process.

The criticism I endured throughout the course of this relationship was harsher than what I dealt with from my family, and even though I had a comeback for everything he said, the words still haunt me…

I went from being vibrant, smart, confident, & 100% in control to depressed, unhappy, paranoid, angry, & jealous. I was reduced to questioning why I was somehow not good enough for him. It was irrational and insane. There was always an inner voice telling me “He’s not good enough for you. What are you doing? This man is poison. Tell him to go to hell and walk away.”

I remember crying one night to my best friend at the time, after a particularly shitty thing he’d lied about. Here I was, the strongest, toughest, most direct chick people knew, asking “Why would he lie to me like that? Why would he lie about something so important? Why am I not good enough for him?” I was devastated by the pathological way in which he’d lie.

My best friend consoled me quietly, basically saying she didn’t know why he had lied or why he would, but months later she told me I was “Too smart, too pretty, and all around way too good for the likes of him!” She was furious that he would hurt me in such a manner and then behave as if all was right in the world, and her anger continued to fuel when he showed up at a work event we all attended with a married woman on his arm. “A friend”, he’d called her. More like a drug supplier he’d hooked up with. He was spiraling and wanted to take me with him, but I would not allow that.

For the record, I was already ass deep in alligators when I realized how big an issue the drugs actually were because they weren’t an issue at the onset. It went from being an old football injury to being an all-consuming, problem-inducing, complete lack of grip on reality. It started out small, as many addictions do, and escalated until it had to be confronted. I did not condone it in any way and refused to support the habit. I was not going to be in a relationship with an addict, period. I was the catalyst to get him into rehab, explaining in list formation all that he would lose if he did not get clean. But as most people can tell you, 30 days in rehab will detox you, it might even get you to talk about why you got into it in the first place, but it’s every single day after leaving a protected environment that matters most. If you have people who love & support you, you have a greater chance at remaining sober. You might slip up, recovery is going to be a constant for the rest of your life, but the effort you put forth is SO important. However, if you immediately return to the same lifestyle and friends you had during the height of your illness, it will revert you right back into it at some point, especially if you have no real desire to be clean, no willpower, and no real desire to live. It’s a way of committing suicide slowly, secretly hoping that one day it’ll all be over and you don’t personally have to do the heavy lifting, or deal with the aftermath.

Part of what saddens me about the relationship itself is that I defended, protected, and shielded this man. I was the epitome of devoted and loyal to the Nth degree. My love was genuine, and yet I was constantly criticized, going as far as to be told that I wasn’t good enough to be introduced to his parents, who for years, he told me were dead. I’d later find out he only wished they were. Our differing religions was the reason given when I questioned why I was somehow “not good enough” to meet his parents. Who the hell were these people? England’s Monarchy?! How isolated and ignorant were they to think their religion was the only one that existed in this world?! This was not the first time someone had taken issue with my religion and tried to make me feel guilty for it. I was considered “not Jewish enough” by one guy’s family, and now I was being made to feel like I was somehow inappropriate and shameful. And the worst part? He wasn’t religious, AT ALL. 

Suddenly, after years of knowing our religions were different, it became this big issue, and we fought about it a lot. Would I be willing to convert to Roman Catholicism? HELL NO. Would I sign a pre-nup? Whoa, where the hell did THAT come from?! You want to marry me. You’ve asked, I’ve accepted, but now you’re afraid I suddenly want to be with you for financial gain? Are you serious?! Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve always taken care of myself. He knew that. I don’t expect a man to pay for my lifestyle. I’m fully capable of making my own money, buying my own clothes, jewelry, etc.  I think you should want to take care of your partner and be a provider, but relationships are give and take. I did not expect to sit on my ass and be given anything, so I waffled back and forth on that little tidbit. It is a deal breaker if it’s not a document protecting both of us.

The ever-present “Would you please eat?!” grated on my nerves. He’d bring me food for several years of our relationship, but not in a loving, caring, concerned way (I do like it when I’m sick and a guy has the sense to bring me soup or Italian food. There’s something very nurturing about that.), but in an extremely controlling manner. As soon as I gained about 15 pounds from this constant influx of food, I was suddenly told the exact opposite. Now I wasn’t thin enough, I was becoming the woman who he didn’t want anyone else looking at. What was so shameful about being curvy? He’d have a fit whenever we’d be somewhere and someone else would check me out. I was not the one doing the looking, yet he was suddenly paranoid that anyone who checked me out was somehow going to end up in my bed. It was eye-rollingly ridiculous.

He’d do something shitty, and I’d be “rewarded” with jewelry or flowers, sometimes both, depending on the situation. It got to a point where I began to loathe the pink & purple roses I loved so much. To this day if someone sends me roses, I cringe inside. He would promise to be somewhere I needed him to be, but was almost always off feeding his drug habit, or as I would later find out through a friend, a habit for other women.

It was demanded upon me that I be 100% faithful. That was not an issue because I’d never cheated on someone and wasn’t about to start, but because he was the one doing all the cheating, he started having people follow me to find out what I was doing every time I left the house. Stalker much?! It was sick. It was also an excuse.

I’d had enough after confronting someone he often had tail me, and I put my foot down. I’m not big on ultimatums, but he needed to hear what his behavior was doing, that it was unhealthy and damaging, and completely unwarranted and unacceptable. It came down to this: He needed to return to rehab, fully commit to it, and he then needed to be clean & sober for a year before I would agree to marriage. It was time for him to prove that he was worthy of me, not the other way around.

He went to rehab for a few months, coming back apologetic, and for a while things were simply tense. We talked, but clearly he was refusing to hear me. He was about to do something he’d probably been considering for quite some time, and simply hadn’t been man enough to say to my face. With marriage promised, it probably made me believe a slew of lies I was too smart to actually buy into in the first place, but there was something slightly blinding & intoxicating about it. But the truth of the matter is, it was just plain toxic.

The problem with relationships slowly turning abusive is that, initially, we think we’re in the right relationship with the right person, until suddenly, we’re not.

For years after this relationship ended I’d hear “Oh, LET IT GO!” whenever I mentioned how hurt, angry, or betrayed I felt; as if emotions could be turned on and off like a faucet. How could I not feel all of those things?! Saying “I love you” is not a cure-all. Actions speak louder than words. His actions were atrocious.

With a ring solidly on my finger, he married someone else, just weeks after saying we were good and moving in the right direction, that he was trying. I had to find out via an announcement his new wife was sending to friends & family. She was pregnant before they even said “I do.” He would go on to have several children with her, each time choosing names we had decided on for our future offspring. That was the icing on the cake. I seriously worried about my ability to be around him in any capacity after that, so I disengaged. I made sure that whenever he’d be around, I would not be present. Hurting someone you claim to love in such a manner is vile, but to then go on living your life as if said loved one never existed is even worse. I started to think I was losing my mind. If it had not been for the fact that I knew the relationship had occurred, and exactly what I had endured, I’d have felt like I was being erased, or replaced.

Up until a few years ago, he & I continued to have mutual friends. I finally got tired of hearing the lies and cut everyone off. “He asked about you.”, “He hopes you’re all right. He just wants you to be happy.”, “He cares about you.” PLEASE! He never cared in the first place, it was a fucking game to him. No matter how many times I would ask these friends not to relay anything he said about me, it would come up in conversation, until I finally changed my phone number and said “No more.”

Not one to eat bullshit politely with a knife and fork, I have gone out of my way to avoid him since all of this went down. I have nothing to be embarrassed about. I didn’t do anything wrong, except believe in a person I shouldn’t have given the time of day to, but hey, we all make mistakes. Avoiding him is my way of remaining a healthy, non-toxic human-being.

I know eventually, at some point, we will run into one another, and I pray that I am not carrying a loaded weapon that day or wearing particularly high heels because even though people tell me I’m not a damaging, harmful person to be around, and that I’d never willingly hurt someone, I cannot promise the desire to harm him won’t be there. Some of the rage goes away with time, but any time the relationship is mentioned or I come across something from that time period, I am flooded with everything I thought I’d already moved past. For me, that lets me know the damage runs deep. It does not, nor will it ever, mean that I care about him. I don’t. I wouldn’t spit on this man if he was on fire.

Once I no longer love/respect someone, my emotions will often turn to pity, anger (at myself & the other person involved), & my anger is a burning rage that can simmer and bubble for years until it is truly out of my system. If the anger is unjustified, it eventually dwindles and the flames put out, but if it IS justified, stay the hell out of my way. I can go from zero to bitch in about half a second.

Unfortunately, there are so many different kinds of abuse in the world, that it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint if you are the abused or the abuser. Sometimes you are simultaneously both, even if you don’t intend to be.

Writing this makes me feel a bit like I’m back in Psych class, but I’ve been revisiting certain things lately, which is why I am writing about such a personal, private matter. If what I’m saying helps even one person get out of a toxic relationship, then that’s important and necessary.

If you’re in any kind of relationship where your words and feelings are being defined in an incorrect manner, where you are constantly insulted and berated, it is time to take a closer look at this relationship. Thinking this person is “the best you can do”, having low, little, or no self-esteem, or coming from a “people pleasing” type of family are all potential signs you’ve probably overlooked. Most people do. When you’ve been taught that everything around you is “normal” and a part of your daily life, you stop questioning things. You begin to lose your inner voice. Once you lose your inner voice, you start to become everything the abuser has defined you as. Your thoughts, feelings, actions, everything is now completely defined by someone else. Moreover, you question yourself and promise yourself you’ll be better for them, that you will do everything right, not realizing that your life is your own, and it is not owned by someone else.

I am a product of abuse. Not just from the relationship I am talking about, but from my childhood. I am very forthcoming about that fact when approached, but generally I keep such things to myself. However, when a person comes to me and needs help, I am the first person to listen, and the first to say something.

For many, many years I handled the abuse (verbal, emotional, and physical) by throwing myself into my writing and my singing. One day I snapped; I’d had enough. I was 100% committed in the fact that I’d kill the other person and spend my life in jail, but I believed in my cause because I was protecting two other people. I took the brunt of everything so they wouldn’t have to. To this day, one of those people denies that 99% of the abuse ever occurred. It must be nice living in such a warped bubble of false memories, but I know what I lived, I know what I saw, and it is sad for me to see this person deny the abuse and become the abuser themselves. If you correct this person, or disagree with them, they will say YOU are abusing THEM. It’s a vicious cycle, however, I know that by standing up and saying ENOUGH, and being committed to putting a stop to it, that I did the right thing. If I hadn’t, I’d be in jail now. Or worse.

People are often shocked to learn that I’ve been through such things. I don’t deny being strong and confident, and I don’t deny that I will say something is wrong when it is wrong, regardless of who is saying it. I will admit to being wrong on the rare occasion that I am. But I will not allow myself to live a life of abuse. I won’t allow someone to define me, to disrespect me, to use me, to tell me what I think, to tell me where to go, or tell me what I am allowed to do. When someone behaves that way around me, I am very happy to show them the door. I know I deserve better.

I look for different things in people now, and I always pay attention to my intuition. It is an immense part of who I am. If someone or something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. If something feels innately wrong, re-evaluate it and follow your instincts. Intuition will never lie to you, but the heart will. If your relationship involves young children, get out NOW. You do not want your child/children to be affected by the abuse inflicted upon their mother in front of them. I know people who have stayed in these relationships because they believed that taking their children out of the home during the formative years was the worst possible thing they could do. It’s not. The worst thing you can do is stay and allow them to think that what they’re hearing, seeing, and living is normal. If you get out early enough, you will save yourself and your child/children a fortune in therapy bills.

Once upon a time, I was a moron. It won’t happen again, because I am firmly committed to not allowing it. No one defines me, except me.

*If you need help getting out of an abusive/unhealthy relationship or are living with domestic violence and don’t know where to turn please go to any of the following organizations for assistance: http://soarinri.org/  http://leavingabuse.com/, http://www.thehotline.org/, http://www.nrcdv.org/dvam/,http://www.teendvmonth.org/, etc.

Do not be afraid to search the Internet or the Yellow Pages for additional resources available to you in your area/country. If your abuser uses the same computer, always be sure to delete your browsing history to protect yourself from additional harm, or go to the library if available and search for information there.*

“Once Upon A Time”, and all material herein, unless otherwise indicated and credited to its owner(s), is copyright © 2013-2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.