I was married at age twenty to a man who was eleven years my senior. When I married the man, I was a recent Brazilian arrival doing a lot of drugs and hanging out with all the wrong people. I thought getting married would settle me down and straight, but instead marked the beginning of the worst period of my life. The man was intelligent and creative but he was also possessive, manipulative and had an ego that didn’t allow any other human to occupy the same space as his. Within the first year the intelligent man showed himself as delusional and abusive. It took me a long time to understand the man’s bravado was a cover up for deep seeded insecurity which he was ready to go to any lengths to hide. Three years into the marriage, and I no longer knew if what I thought and felt was real or not. Only my fantasies – where I took refuge- remained mine. In them I dreamed of being rescued and of living the love story I so much craved. But back in the real world my husband was busy spraying beer all over me and undermining any attempt I made to stand on my own two legs.
One day, as I stood on the edge of a subway platform, I thought I could make it all stop if I took one step forward. Now I’m a survivor and that kind of thinking just scared the hell out of me, so I summoned all the courage I had, and sought out help.
Reading a post on The Frisky this morning made me think back to a turning point in my life. First let me set up the article entitled: “I’m Changing The Voices In My Head”. In the post the author writes of her struggle with her own inside chatter, constantly challenging who she is and what she thinks at every turn. In essence her “voices” are always telling her she is not pretty, lovable, or smart enough. In that state of mind she went to see a therapist who told her she needed to change her cognitive distortions, which means her all or nothing thought pattern; either she is loved by everyone or by no one. Either she is the prettiest woman or the ugliest. The day after seeing the therapist when she caught herself again thinking in an “all or nothing way” she said no to herself. That was the beginning of her transformation.
There are tools that are important for us to develop if we want to have a chance for a more fulfilling life. The list is independent of race, age, gender or socio-economic status.
1 – Our ability to let go – Living in the moment requires releasing control of any outcome. We are here in this moment and in this situation. Where the future goes it’s not so important. Where we are is.
“Life is a process of becoming. A combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” -Anais Nin
How to achieve a sense of well-being.
Please indulge me while I tell you a coffee story.
My late husband was really into coffee. As a journalist, one of his favorite topics was coffee; the different beans and the ways they are ground.
When Chris first got sick with cancer – before his liver transplant – and the ammonia started to build in his system (liver processes ammonia) his mind started to get foggy.
It’s so amazing how we are addicted to chaos and dysfunction. When I was younger I thought if people loved each other they fought, screamed, yelled and then in a fit of passion made up with each other. That concept of love was partially baked at home but the icing came from watching soap operas, films and the headlines of newspapers and news programs.
I had my first boyfriend when I was thirteen. It was an innocent relationship and we stayed together till I was seventeen. But when I had my first argument with him, I actually spat on his face. I didn’t plan to, but somewhere in my mind, I thought that would really show how much I loved him. Read more
When I leave my house my dog sits outside my office door and waits for me. He sees me go out the front door but he goes outside in the backyard, where my office is, and sits by my locked door. He does that because during the day that’s where I always am and in his mind he can’t understand where else I could be. I’m always there so I must be there.
I think people do the same thing when we lose someone. Death is such a confusing experience. One minute a person is part of our lives and then in the next they are gone. How to make sense of it? Not in a religious or spiritual way but in a visceral physical way? Not possible. So we go to the places where the person we lost used to exist and look for traces of them. We sit outside their doors and hope somehow they are inside.
But just like in my dog’s case no matter how long we wait our “person” won’t mysteriously materialize. They now occupy a different realm in our lives and it’s a hard transition for the people left behind.
I have now been a widow for fourteen months. I loved my husband as I have never loved anyone in my life before. When we met it was like we both had won the lottery; neither one of us perfect but perfect for each other.
My loss is huge. My husband was fun, funny, intelligent, and he wished for my happiness. He didn’t compete with me and he was so self assured that he gave me all the space to be who I am; a loud, independent, opinionated woman.