“Moving Right Along in Search of Good Times and Good News

With good friends you can’t lose, this could become a habit!”

Got up this morning full of gratitude and immediately put on my exercise gear and went for a walk and trot, not a long one, I don’t yet know my new neighborhood well. Just 2.34 Km, but I met my goal of 30 minutes. If you look at the map, I pretty much just went down to the end of the block and back.

I slept like a rock last night, not even waking to pee; which is a VERY deep sleep for a Silver Siren. I weighed myself just to see and I lost 2 pounds. Bladders like that only come from years of nursing, retail, or parenthood. The rest of you would probably only lose a pound as your little bladder is not overstretched. Upside, holds a lot: downside, leaks easily and prone to infection from retention.

But everything has its pros and cons, even road trips with best friends who can’t lose. (Moving right along…..)

If you have watched the original Muppet Movie, you are familiar with today’s internal soundtrack, a perky, funny song about getting lost on the road to your destiny.

(If you haven’t watched it, why not and when do you want to come over; only movie I re-watch as much as Wizard of Oz. Speaking of which, Cathy, Ann if either of you are reading this, text me about a movie day again. I think we all could use a visit to the Wizard or that other Rainbow and Cathy your grand smalls are welcome to join us.)

Meanwhile back at the point, and yes, this is how my mind and often my conversations meander. Friendship with me is not for the faint of heart.

So even with the best of friends and intentions we can head West and end up North, “Send someone to fetch us we’re in Saskatchewan”

Before I plan a morning run route I get familiar with my neighborhood, learn where the dead ends are, which areas are well-lit or poorly lit. Is there evidence that the trail areas are used to “hang out” AEB (as evidenced by, now you know some nursing lingo) cigarette butts and empty cups, do I see other walkers/runners at sunrise or dusk.? I love to walk and run outdoors, I am not a fan of gyms and will often not exercise rather than go to a gym, so I know how to make myself as safe as possible.

The same goes for my hiking. I prep my bag with adequate water and a few high energy snacks, I take my compass and recently changed to Verizon as my cell phone carrier so I could keep my GPS signal even in remote areas, I check weather reports. Personal safety is important to me so I plan and pay attention.

When I hike, I always leave an itinerary, check in at the ranger station if applicable and review guide books where available. Trail maps and memoirs or previous hikers are equally important for planning the longer hikes.

I do all these things because if I do, I get to relax and have fun AND I get to live to hike again. I now know how to read weather signs, and what bugs, plants and predators are waiting in the areas I hike, what they look like and how they sound and how best to respond if encountered.

Experience has taught me how to safely plan my outdoor fun.

Unfortunately I have been less careful about my relationship journey.  These next few posts are my memoir style guide-book to how I ended up lost and also how I am finding my way back to me.

Step One. Pay attention to what you see and hear and watch for consistency.

I am a trusting person, because I try extremely hard to be a trustworthy person. In fact I can be annoyingly observant and honest. So when I see the behavioral equivalent of a homeless campsite or cigarette butt hangout on my walk with somebody, I say “Hey, look at this, I don’t think this is a safe place for me to be alone.”

The problem is, I am more trusting of external input in relationships than I am of my instincts. If they respond with, “don’t be silly that’s nothing to worry about, I am cleaning that up now.” Or worse yet because I am an instinctual nurturer, “Wow, thanks. I never looked at it that way before, thank you. Can you help me clean it up” Instead of leaving, I am hooked.

So to put this is in less allegorical terms, my new rule number one is watch for signs of honesty and trust my gut.

For example: He tells everyone he is 5’8″ and he is shorter than you and you know you are 5’5″, and he clearly believes his lie (I mean I joke about being 39 but don’t expect you to believe it), avoid this man.

He tells the same well-practiced stories but is consistently unable or unwilling to answer direct questions about himself, his history, his beliefs, his life in general. If it feels like he is hiding things, guess what, he is. Avoid this man.

The stories he tells always cast himself in heroic light, he is defensive about anything that in any way pokes fun at himself and yet enjoys laughing at others. Avoid this man.

In other words, Narcissists are extremely good at deception. The person they deceive the most is themselves, and they do believe their lies, they also know how to read others and explain hitting all their victims buttons, so it is harder to spot as lying.

A sure key you are dating a dangerous narcissist is that all problems are someone else’s responsibility or fault. He doesn’t get angry, of course, because that would be a fault, but he will jokingly despise and hate lots and lots of things. Clearly his tastes and his opinions are the ones that matter, when he does give an opinion, those who disagree are just not as “special” as him.

In the beginning you (I) will be on a pedestal and immune from that blame, and all the right words will let me (you) know how special you are (of course you are, you are with him) but as the relationship progresses and you (I) become a bigger part of his life, that acerbic wit and occasionally glimpsed and unacknowledged rage will be directed at you.

So avoid this man.

Consider a relationship trail with a man or woman like this closed for snakes.

Time to get ready for work after a nice shower and Tara Meditation. My new essential oil is Forgive! (because I AM truly angry that I was raped) and I will clear my Karma, because I acknowledge I have no one else to blame for my choices, but I can learn to choose differently.



(Just Like) Starting Over

So much to say, so much to share that all the words and thoughts run into each other and tumble pell-mell into a mental smoothie,  which I reread, and decide to delete.  So my first commitment to reader and self, is I will not delete this post.  But warning, there are triggers in this for those who have been abused.

“It is time to spread our wings and fly..Just like starting over..” was the soundtrack for my hike yesterday. (Hey NPR had a whole show on how this is a real thing, not that I needed proof it was real, but who doesn’t love validation.)  John Lennon was talking about a woman and rekindling the relationship, my heart was singing to Father Sky and Mother Earth, the best friends, family and lover that I have ever embraced, neglected or ignored.

No prose, poem or picture could convey the world I walked in the last two days. The two hiking spots are only 20 minutes apart but different altitude zones and could be on different planets.

The first was aspen, pine and lake view, heavily travelled, partially paved and hardly hiking. The crows were plentiful, gophers, chipmunks, cacti and unfortunately trash were pretty much everywhere. I strolled through nature’s mall smiling and greeting visitors from literally all over the world on their way back to Phoenix from the Grand Canyon. Took a dozen group pics at least with phones, pads and cameras. No language barrier exists when you smile and pantomime, and gratitude and laughter have no nationality.

The second hike was around the cone of a volcanic eruption, higher elevation meant constant wind, scrub pines and few cacti, birds or visible mammals. Instead it was the spirits posing as upended roots and laughing rock faces from which the insects, lizards and the tiniest snake I have ever seen peeked out to see who was intruding on their spring festivities.  No pavement here and one very steep incline. A forest fire was frighteningly visible downwind from the crest.

I have not given up planning for and dreaming of doing first the Arizona Trail and then the full Appalachian Trail.

I am definitely NOT thinking about romance. Everything is always so perfect until it isn’t, and the most recent surface charmer gave me clues he was a dishonest, narcissistic abuser but he would claim such good intentions and play my kind heart like a well-practiced piano, and I would forgive him.

I was foolish and paid a high price for this education.

“No, never!” means the same regardless of how far a relationship has advanced.  He claims it was an accident, he was carried away in the moment, he loves to tell the story emphasizing the fact I have PTSD from my time in the military.

He should know, Early in our relationship I shared my most horrific adult memory, a trust I had to that point only shown to my therapist, I was the first woman in my field and an officer and local spiritual leader assaulted me and I was told that if I pursued and action my military career and future would be over. It was more than 30 years ago, and the story I realize too common even now that things are beginning to change.

So imagine my shock and devastation when his arms held my arms down and he ignored my protests and did to me what I had said would never happen again.

I was in shock. I had just officially moved in with him, I had no place to go, I was the common denominator, it must somehow be my fault, he was crying and saying he was sorry, I couldn’t think. I couldn’t feel. Because if I let go the numb even a tiny bit, the pain would destroy me.

I was ashamed. What was wrong with me?! How could I be here again?

This was December. Merry Christmas.

The interesting thing about narcissists is they are very believable because they believe their own lies, Whether it’s the 5’5″ man saying he is 5’8″ or the same guy telling you and the world that he is just doing his best and that he loves and cherishes me and I am just broken. And like my father he is the kindest, smoothest, most generous and charming man in the world until he isn’t, then after the damage is done he is all tears and apologies and please help me be better.

Except that is not my job.

And it is the greater cruelty to even ask me to help you be okay with raping me. Because that is what you did is called. Straight up honesty, and somewhere under the darkness and shame we both know it.

So it is embarrassing to say, it took me until I was hiking this weekend to absorb the frog in the boiling pan way I ended up in the same place, the same relationship space, where I am literally taking care of a cruel, conscienceless child man and calling it love.

I don’t wish him any ill. Whatever seed of Karma was maturing between us has flowered and I pray that he will gain honest self-awareness and finally pursue happiness instead of fleeting pleasure at the expense of all others. I pray for him what I pray for all of us: self-awareness; compassion and the self-love that comes from placing others first; physical, mental, and spiritual health; abundance.

There are details to clean up of money and possessions, the worldly detritus of broken commitment, but I am done and out and healing. Finally.

Not that I don’t find myself missing the way he made me feel like I was the world, or the safety of saying I was part of a couple in a world that values a woman more in a relationship, and trying to find an excuse or perspective that would let me go back there again.

Because that is how it works.

Ask any abuser or previously abused person.

But now that it is here, in black and white, I won’t go back.

And maybe one other strong, independent, smart woman like me will forgive herself for ending up falling for and staying too long with  a narcissist and find the strength to leave.