Novelist and Poet

Posts tagged ‘codependency’

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 7

Chapter Seven 

I hated this place and every place like it—uniformity, mediocrity, everything so black and white, cold, and clinical. It had taken me a while to work up the nerve to make an appointment, but, according to the phone book listing, the initial intake was free. 

A woman called me in. It’s a face I can’t remember—except to say she looked average and seemed normal. She asked me to tell her about myself. She wanted to know what had prompted me to seek psychotherapy. 

My mind seemed to have emptied itself, leaving only an uncomfortable notion that I was uniquely unacceptable. I told her my name and my age, and then paused before speaking again. 

“I’m too honest,” I said. “I always tell people the truth even when I shouldn’t. If I don’t like something, and someone asks me if I like it, I can’t say I do, and I can’t talk to people I don’t like unless I really have to.” 

She smiled. “I see nothing wrong with that. It’s not uncommon for a young person to be blatantly honest. You’re becoming more and more aware of your feelings, and you want to make them known.” 

“I don’t think people like that honesty… or me,” I confessed. 

“Why?” she asked. 

“I don’t tell them what they want to hear.” 

“You will outgrow that. Or, rather, you will sort out what is appropriate and what isn’t and find a more comfortable way of dealing with people.” 

“I don’t know how to be myself.” 

That was true. All my life, people had referred to me as Joey’s sister, Robbie’s sister, or “one of those DeCorso kids.” By eighth grade, my classmates considered me a tough girl, though I didn’t fight. My brothers did. Once they were in high school, and I was still in middle school, a different Danielle emerged. I became a popular, gregarious type—in school, anyway. I enjoyed making others laugh. By the time I got to high school, I was befriending classmates the popular crowd shunned, perhaps because I knew a thing or two about being on the opposite end of that spectrum. If anyone knew the hearts of those quiet, fearful souls, it was me, and I wanted to use what power I had to put them at ease. 

I told the therapist about that, how I would invite them to eat with me, thinking I could end up an outcast, too, but it had the opposite effect. The others subsequently welcomed my new friends. While I had never expected that, I was glad. 

A different structure existed within the family dynamic. Whatever flaws I saw in those I held dear paled in comparison with their goodness, but I did not extend the same courtesy to myself. My flaws erased everything else about me. 

Quite possibly, it began with my barbaric entry into the world. I had arrived with my fists tightly clenched, looking more like a boxer than a baby, more like a boy than a girl, and ready to fight, rupturing membranes, and necessitating a C-section. A priest had administered Last Rites to my mother—Extreme Unction, as they called it, the Roman ritual that meant you were doomed. 

My first recollection is of lying face up in my playpen. I could see shadows. One seemed small, compared to the others, yet it signaled danger and instilled fear. The moment I became aware of its presence, hands assailed me … pulling, hitting, and hurting. A larger shadow would appear, scolding, “You were told to leave her alone.” 

It was as if I were witnessing my life from another plane. 

Years later, I asked my mother if Robbie or Joey had harassed me when I was a baby, though I felt strongly it was Robbie. I asked if she had scolded him and pulled him away. She said I’d imagined it all. 

“Sounds to me like you are a good person,” the therapist was saying. 

“Then I don’t need help?” 

“You do if you think you do, but something prompted you to come here today. You took a big step in doing that. Is there something else bothering you that you wanted to talk about?” 

“I don’t think so.” 

“Do you have hopes, Danielle? Dreams? Future plans?” 

“Yes,” I said. 

“Tell me about that.” 

I told her about my writing and my singing. 

She flashed a grin then said something nice and encouraging. That impressed me, so I tried to convey how those dreams kept me alive and how terrified I was that through the continuous horror and chaos that was life, those dreams might fade away. 

“You’re so young,” she said. “What’s the hurry?” 

Good thing I didn’t tell her I had initially hoped to achieve all of my goals before my seventeenth birthday—that, at one time, I vowed to kill myself if that didn’t happen. I don’t think I ever intended to do that, really, but I must have figured if it took much longer than that, I would be too old to enjoy my success. Where these absurd notions came from, I could only guess. I was drowning in my oblivion, and I thought these accomplishments would save me. 

What I did say was, “I think I’ll be writing until they decide to take the typewriter away from me and lay me to rest in my grave.” 

“Who are ‘they?’” she asked. 

I grew more nervous and lowered my eyes. “You know, I thought I was … I mean, I felt … I just get so … I don’t know. I seem to be fine now. I felt something was wrong. I get very depressed sometimes. This is so stupid. I shouldn’t have come here. There are enough people out there who know what’s wrong with them, and here I am. I don’t know what’s wrong, and I don’t even know what to say.” 

“Tell me about your family.” 

Something inside me caved. I had butterflies but not the happy sort. It was panic. I hesitated before saying, “There’s my mother, my father …” My eyes filled with tears. “I have two brothers.” I hesitated again. “Joey and …” A lump swelling in my throat made it difficult to speak. 

“Is there someone else?” 

I shook my head. 

“Take a deep breath.” 

I did and then broke down crying. “Robbie,” I said, “Oh, God, Robbie …” 

Deep concern filled the woman’s eyes now—and pity. It made me uncomfortable. 

“I think you should schedule an appointment for regular sessions,” she said. “Although, because you are a minor, you would need parental consent. I’d have to give you a form, and you’d have them sign it, then we can begin.” 

“No, I can’t do that.” I stood. 

“Unfortunately, we don’t have a choice.” 

“They think you only go to a shrink if you’re crazy or want to find out who’s to blame for your problems and, deep down, they’ll think whatever’s wrong with me is their fault. No, they can’t know. Isn’t there a way you can bend the rules? Or is there something I can sign to say I take full responsibility? I’m going to get a job, and I can pay myself …” 

She looked sympathetic while shaking her head. “I’ll give you my card. Please think about it, and if you decide to go ahead with their consent, give us a call. I think it would be a mistake if you didn’t.” 

I took the card knowing I would not call. It angered me that I was not entitled to help unless my parents agreed. All the relationships I had nurtured thus far in my life meant the world to me, and I cherished them in the only way I knew how. Oh, my … how I cherished them! It was a big part of why I worried so much. I felt unworthy of their love and feared losing them all. My instinct was always to take care of them, as if their needs were more important than my own. I fantasized about being rich and famous and buying them whatever they wanted, I suppose as some way to compensate for my inadequacy. 

Oddly enough, not once throughout the course of that therapy session did I mention what had happened with Phil and Sergio. I didn’t think about it. There was a little girl within me whose wails I ignored. On the surface, I was a DeCorso who would rather rebel and defy than admit defeat. People seemed to prefer that, anyway—that I bury it. It worked better for Farran, better for Angie. Maybe it worked for countless women who’d lived in places and times where you simply didn’t talk about those things. You picked yourself up, dusted yourself off, and trudged on. Except I was certain, at this point, that I was not okay. I felt lost. I didn’t like myself. I wanted nothing more than to be okay again and to feel normal. 

I had a dream that night. I was plummeting to the depths of something. It was a smooth, effortless decline in total blackness until I could feel a surface beneath me. People were talking to me. I smiled, wanting them to know I was okay and could hear them. In a subsequent dream, I saw angry eyes that changed from dark to light and then red, before flames began to burn in them with a fury. The eyes had no face or body. Though I didn’t recognize them, I wondered if they were a reflection of my parents when angered—or Robbie. They may have been the eyes of others who were angry with me. It may also have been me, I suppose, angry at the world. 

When I woke, however, all I could think about was Robbie. 

He was the brother who had looked for ladybugs and caterpillars with me in our yard. He watched me chase butterflies and elusive dandelion puffs that floated through the air. 

“They’re wish nicks,” he had explained. “You’re supposed to catch one in your hand and make a wish, then blow it away.” 

It felt like holding on to nothing, yet it saddened me to open my hand and watch it float farther and farther from my view. I didn’t want Robbie to be like that wish nick. It was a familiar longing I had. There seemed to be an ongoing risk of losing him in my life, resulting in this need I had to cling to him. 

Everything changed between Robbie and me after the wish nick phase, and it seemed to begin with a boy named Tommy Catalano. There was more to it, of course, but I knew Tommy was trouble the first time I laid eyes on him. 

I was four years old at the time, returning from the hospital with a black patch over my left eye, clutching my mother’s hand as we emerged from the car. We began our ascent up the staircase. Tommy headed toward us. He must have been eight or nine at the time. He passed and, after a few paces, turned around for another glance. It was a foreboding glare, and it chilled me to my core. 

“Come on,” my mother encouraged me. She shot him a fierce look and moved me along. 

When she wasn’t around, he made fun of my eye patch. He got other neighborhood kids to make fun of me, too. 

Admittedly, he was a good-looking kid, with his dark brown hair in a regulation school cut, his downward-slanting eyes an unusual light golden brown. The fierceness in his face always reminded me of a tiger. I sensed, however, that although he acted tough, it was some sort of camouflage—an omnipotent, unshakable external facade masking something dangerously fragile. Perhaps something had distorted his countenance, stripped him of his humanity. When he laughed, he looked pained. I would see anger in his amusement. 

He used to say my brothers and I should go back to wherever we came from with our spic mother. Robbie had told him at the time that we were born here and then called him a jackass. 

When, after numerous eye examinations, I was able to trade the dreadful patch for a pair of glasses, Tommy called me “Four Eyes.” 

Robbie had defended me, saying, “The doctors fixed Danielle’s eyes.” 

But Tommy said I was still ugly, and he taunted me until tears blinded me, something collapsed inside me, and I could no longer hear him. In retrospect, it seemed such a pitiful waste of energy and emotion—the extent of my humiliation perpetuated by some bully who likely harbored his own feelings of worthlessness. 

“He doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about,” my father said when I told him. “He’s a stupid jerk. Your eyes are straight, perfect, beautiful. When somebody like that says something to you, let it go in one ear and out the other.” 

“Don’t pay any attention,” my mother agreed. 

Joey told them Tommy never said anything when he was there, or he would have beaten the crap out of him. 

But all I wanted to know was why I had to wear glasses in the first place. 

My father looked at my mother, and Robbie’s eyes shifted from one face to the next. 

“You had what they call a lazy eye,” my mother said. “A lazy muscle in the left eye.” It didn’t escape me that both she and my father looked away, like they felt guilty or embarrassed. 

“Didn’t the surgery work?” Joey asked. 

My curious gaze shifted to him and then back to my mother again. 

“Of course,” she said, “but the doctor said there are no guarantees. She wants you to wear glasses to keep the eye straight, so it doesn’t go back or more in. If you don’t, your eyesight might get worse instead of better.” 

“I only have to wear them for a while, right? Like the patch?” 

“You have to wear them until the doctor says you don’t have to, and if she says you have to wear them all the time, then you wear them all the time.” 

“Forever?” 

“Whatever it is, it is.” 

“No!” I screamed. With a vigorous pull, the glasses were off. I heaved them upon the patterned linoleum and stomped on them until they’d shattered. 

I can’t forget the look of pain in my father’s eyes. 

Robbie shrieked, “Oh, my God, she broke them!” 

My father rose from his chair. He picked up all the pieces and set them aside, then moved toward the china cabinet. “I’m going to show you something,” he said. He opened a side drawer. There was another tiny pair of glasses in there. “Those are yours,” he revealed. “We bought them, just in case. But I’m not gonna make you wear them. I’m not gonna force you. They will be right here in this drawer.” He lifted them to show me, and then placed them down again. “If you don’t wanna wear them, you don’t touch them. Okay?” 

I nodded, tears streaming. 

Robbie seemed shocked. “But she has to wear them!” 

My father clenched his teeth. “And how’s she gonna wear them if she breaks them again?” 

“The doctor said it’s like water,” my mother said. “If you’re thirsty, you’ll drink. Or like medicine: If you need it, you’ll take it.” 

It surprised me that the decision was up to me, but, for the moment, I was satisfied with my choice. 

“You know if you don’t take your medicine, you get sick and die,” Robbie hounded me. 

“So? I’m not sick.” 

“You’re supposed to be wearing your glasses!” 

“So?” 

“So the doctor said you’re gonna go blind if you don’t.” 

“I am not.” 

“Are too!” 

“Am not!” 

Now, I don’t know when exactly it happened, but Robbie went from defending my honor to laughing at me alongside Tommy Catalano. It was as if he’d reached inside of me and ripped my heart out, along with the rest of my insides, leaving a mere hollow cave behind. He had set about trying to convince others that something was wrong with me. In all fairness, I think he believed that to be true. 

At seven and eight, I’d spent hours drawing pictures, mostly of children. I’d cut them out, so that each one was an individual on a rectangular slip of paper, and I named each one. 

“She’s drawing her little girls again,” my father would say to my mother. 

“They are not all girls,” I told him. “There are boys, too, and some of them are teachers.” 

“She puts them in rows like school, and she talks to them,” Robbie tattled. “She thinks she’s the teacher, and they are her class.” 

He seemed ashamed of me, and I got the feeling my behavior was worrisome to my parents as well. 

“That makes it easier for me to study and do my homework,” I explained. It was a strategy I had devised to break the monotony of giving my attention to something I didn’t enjoy. Otherwise, it bored me to a level I couldn’t bear. 

My pretend game worked with buttons, too. I collected them from my aunt Zuza and my grandmother. Concentrating on mundane tasks never got easier, but I would learn to devise other strategies. 

My brothers, on the other hand, broke the monotony of life by fighting with other kids. It was par for the course to see one of them throwing someone into a pile of bushes or up against a wall. Adults told their kids that my brothers were crazy, and to keep away from them. I often hid on them myself. 

As far as Robbie was concerned, I was the crazy one. I think he had a sense that I relished fantasy far more than reality, and that it was not merely an extended phase but very much a part of my nature. He would tell the other kids, “Oh, she’s retarded.” There were times he summoned friends, siblings, and cousins to his room and locked the door. They would be in there talking and laughing, and I would be on the other side, wondering how I’d managed to get myself placed outside the sphere of acceptability. 

When Robbie was nice, he was irresistible. Though I could never interest him in all the writing I did, he praised my singing voice. We would listen to albums on the stereo in his room. We played a game where we took turns singing and acting out songs. I was ten and beginning to realize that music had an incredible power to lift me. Over the years, I grew to love Bach right along with Led Zeppelin. Christmas hymns during the holidays moved me to tears now, while, year round, I enjoyed gothic rock bands like the Cure, Bauhaus, and Christian Death. 

At age eleven, I continued to play with dolls. Angie and I often sat on the rug in my room or hers with our Barbie dolls and their dream houses. 

Robbie would wander in bellowing, “God, are you ever going to grow up?” 

It broke my heart to think I might have to let my dolls go in exchange for more complicated things, but that’s exactly what happened in the fall of ‘82.

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 6

Chapter Six 

It was Friday—the end of our first school week. Angie and I were officially seniors. Farran was unequivocally a college girl, and she insisted we celebrate by going to Marauders Cove. She borrowed her mom’s old Fairmont Futura, and, by 7:30 p.m., we were on our way to New Haven—a fifty-minute drive on I-91 South. 

Marauder’s Cove was near the harbor on the north side of the Long Island Sound, where a powerful glow enduringly beckoned from a lighthouse on Southwest Ledge, about a mile offshore. Through the fog and mist, and through many torrential downpours, that monumental structure seemed to beam in all of its glory. For me, it was a symbol of hope. 

After parking in the lot, we peeked through the pub’s large window, which provided a view of patrons on corner stools at the end of a long bar. You could see who was at the front end or at any of the small tables parallel to the bar. We went inside, turning one head after another. 

Chocolate-colored paneled walls and wood-plank flooring gave the place a cozy cabin ambiance. There were tables parallel to the bar and more in the back, where framed baseball teams and logo prints lined the walls, and a large anchor hung in their midst. The kitchen was at the farthest end, and I could smell yummy burgers on the grill. 

To be honest, I wanted to drink myself into oblivion, if there was such a state, and wash away every lingering bit of mortification. My plan, however, was to have one or two, and that would keep me on guard. 

The first person we ran into was Billy McGrath. He was alone at the bowling machine, drinking beer. It was hard not to recognize him—all clean-cut and as preppy as in his high school glory days, his light brown hair in a classic taper cut. He had to be about twenty-two. His body looked admirably compact in its five-foot-nine-inch frame. 

We went over to say hello. Farran asked a million questions. We learned he had a job installing security alarm systems and a nice one-bedroom apartment in North Branford. She asked about his family. 

He said everyone was doing well, and then his pale blue eyes were on me. “I know you.” He bowled an easy strike and leaned back. 

I figured he would. “I’m Joey’s sister, Danielle.” 

“You were dating my little brother, Mike, a couple of years back.” 

“How is he?” I asked longingly. “Last I heard, he was captain of the football team.” 

“Yup, and made the local paper.” Billy knocked down eight pins with his next turn. “He’s living down south with his wife and kid. They’re with her folks in Tennessee, trying to cut costs.” 

Crushed as I was by this news, I knew I had broken Mike’s heart. I hadn’t even started high school when we were a thing, and I felt suffocated, so I ended it. 

Farran spoke up. “You won’t blow our covers, Billy, will you?” She told him she had proof for twenty-one. 

He glanced in the direction of the bar. “My Uncle Tully owns this place. He’s not here now, but when he’s here, man … he won’t serve any of you.” 

“What about the guy who’s on duty?” she asked. 

My gaze followed hers to the middle-aged man with dark, slicked-back hair who stood behind the bar.  

“That’s Steve,” Billy said. “To be honest, I don’t know if he would or not.” 

Farran motioned for Angie and me to accompany her. Steve checked our ID’s and served us without hesitation. On a whim, I paid for the drinks.  

Another McGrath headed in our direction—Shannon. She did a double take when I called her name. “Oh, my goodness … Danielle!” 

I remembered Shannon McGrath as a fresh-faced, freckled, and ginger-haired girl with a joyous, melodious laugh. She was twenty now, and she evidently labored to tease her shoulder-skimming, layered cut for the big hair effect. The sculpted brows were new, like the makeup she wore to dramatize her grayish blue eyes. Despite these efforts, she had porcelain skin and cherubic cheeks that betrayed her youth. She towered over me in her high heels, appearing confident and comfortable in tight clothes that accentuated her curvy form. When she reached out for a hug, I hugged back. 

Stepping away, she marveled. “God, look at you, you’re gorgeous! You have this exotic look with the high cheekbones, and look at this amazing figure! Jesus, what do you eat?” 

Angie replied on my behalf. “She has an apple and a can of Diet Pepsi for lunch every day.” 

“Are you serious?” Shannon’s smile was infectious. 

“I bring a tuna fish sandwich on Fridays,” I divulged, “and I more than make up for it at dinner.” 

“Oh, well, thank goodness! I’m glad.” She laughed, shaking her head. “Well, you’re fine. You should eat.” 

“You remember Angie, right?” I wasn’t sure. 

“Yes, I do!” She hugged her as well, then Farran, and zeroed in again on me. “It’s so nice to see you all! Tell me everything! The last time I saw you was years ago, back in the old neighborhood. You told me you wrote fairy tales.” 

“Yeah, when I was eight.” I blushed, I’m sure. 

Angie glanced at me, smiling.“I remember that! And now she wrote a book.” 

Shannon appeared lost in amazement. “A book!” 

Farran redirected the conversation. “Shannon, how do you like living in New Haven, compared to East Hartford?” 

“I live in East Haven,” she said.“I have for the last couple of years, but I waitress nights at a club around here.” 

She waved for us to follow her and then urged us to join Billy in his bowling game. Along with the McGrath siblings, I was on a lucky streak and bowling strikes, so I was happy, animated, and jumping up and down. Then Billy started going on about some gang called the “Lynx” and Shannon’s romantic involvement with one of them. 

Farran asked who the Lynx were, and his small, never-fluctuating eyes fell upon me. “Ask her brother.” 

“My brother?” I was confused. 

“Your brother will be one soon, if he’s not already. He’s in tight with the Castel brothers.” 

I savored every swallow of my drink. It loosened me up, and it felt good. It made all the humiliation, all the pain, go away. “What kind of gang?” 

“He’s talking about their biker gang,” Shannon replied. 

“Aptly named, since Lynx are wildcats,” Billy added. He looked at Angie. “Your turn.” 

Angie cracked up. “My turn! I’m in last place. I don’t know why I bother going at all.” 

We all laughed. 

“So who are members of the Lynx?” Farran asked. “Tell me.” 

“Hang around. You’ll see.” Billy took a hearty swig of his beer. “Man, they’re not fucking gods to me. Excuse the language. You always gotta watch what you say about them and who you say it to. If any of the Lynx is in trouble, they’re all there. They stick together. What, I should be grateful I get a nod from them while most of the patrons, regular customers for years, are ignored?” He took another swig and looked toward the door. “Speak of the devils … here comes the leader of the pack.” 

We followed his gaze to a tall figure bustling confidently through the crowd. The guy looked more like a glam metal rock star than a biker and was clad in a sleeveless, black-studded vest, tight jeans, and boots, his magnificent head of dark hair falling two inches below his shoulders. I thought I’d have to pick up Farran’s jaw—and Angie’s. 

Farran was salivating. “Damn! Is he drop-dead gorgeous or what?” 

“Enough to make you forget Dave Navarro and every single one of The Lost Boys,” Angie concurred.“I mean, those cheekbones, too—like they were sculpted to perfection!” 

He was svelte more than herculean, with a well-toned physique that included muscular biceps adorned with tattoos. I figured him to be six-foot-one, and in his early twenties. 

“Wait,” Farran said, glancing at Shannon. “Is that the guy you’re seeing?” 

“Who, Valentin?” Shannon giggled. “Uh, wait a minute. Come with me.” 

Farran, Angie, and I followed as she led us to Valentin and hugged him. 

He hugged her tight in return. 

“This is Valentin,” she said.“I go out with his brother, Nico, but he and I are close friends.” During the subsequent introductions, she provided my full name. 

“Ah, Joey’s sister,” he acknowledged. 

I could see the tattoo on his left arm was a dragon. On his upper right arm, he had what appeared to be a king cobra amid a myriad of roses and flames. 

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” I said. 

“The pleasure is mine,” he returned. 

His dark eyes drew me in with their formidable intensity. I felt a chill in their power to seduce without effort. It was as if his soul was burning, and I could see its fire through the darkness. It forced me to look away. 

Ironically, turning to Shannon, he remarked, “She has the most beautiful eyes.” I thought he spoke with an accent—a hint of Spanish, but I detected other undecipherable influences. 

He exchanged cordialities with Angie and Farran, minus the compliment, and turned to Shannon again. “What’s your darling cousin up to?” 

“She’s missing you,” Shannon replied. “Give her a call or stop by to see her.” 

He said he would, and then made his way over to the jukebox. I didn’t know where Shannon went then, but Farran made a beeline for the jukebox. It was close enough that I could hear their exchange. 

Using the sweet, Southern-accented voice she could turn on and off at will, she asked him to play Gregory Abbott’s “Shake You Down.” Well, she was from Biloxi, Mississippi before her family moved to Florida—Fort Walton Beach. 

I knew Valentin had obliged when the song came on. 

“Are you in a band?”she asked him. 

He seemed preoccupied, looking at the song titles. “No, I’m not.” 

“You look like you are.” 

He glanced at her and laughed, then walked off. 

Passing Angie and me, he flashed a polite smile—white, warm, and gracious, with a small chip on the front left incisor. I couldn’t help noticing a studded and spiked leather wrap and silver jewelry—a pendant and a bracelet. 

Farran returned and resumed gushing over him. “Oh, man, look at his ass in those jeans. Perfect shape, and so tight.” 

“Will you stop?” I had to say it. 

“He smells great, too,” she went on. “I think he wears Antaeus. Do you think he likes me? I mean, do you think he found me attractive?” 

“I don’t see why he wouldn’t,” I replied, “but for all you know, he could be married. He could even be gay.” 

“Bite your tongue! That man is not gay, and he’s too young to be married.” 

“No, he’s a few years older than Mike, and before I knew Mike was married, the only married people I knew were related to me or my teachers.” 

“He’s got a hell of a package down there, too.” 

“I can’t believe you!” I had to contain myself so I wouldn’t shout. “What … did you bring a measuring tape?” 

Angie laughed her ass off, but I was mortified, wondering if any of the guys in the bar noticed Farran looking at Valentin’s various parts. I barely had the nerve to look below their chins or at their hands for a ring. It would never have occurred to me to look below their belts. 

“You’re insane!” I said. 

As for Valentin, he was alone all of three minutes before a trio of women crowded him. They obviously knew him but seemed brazenly flirtatious in clamoring for his attention. I caught a glimpse of Billy watching and shaking his head. One of the women ran her fingers through Valentin’s hair. Her gesture exhibited a peculiar reverence. She gazed into his eyes with such longing that he looked sympathetic, as if wanting to comfort her. After a few moments, he looked away. Perhaps he remembered something, or something else caught his attention. He left soon after that. In fact, Joey had arrived as he was leaving, and they interacted briefly in the doorway. 

I wrote the script in my mind. Valentin could have taken advantage of the woman who seemed to adore him. I imagined she ached for him so pathetically that she would have allowed him to destroy her in every conceivable way. He was used to the attention and adulation but not quite sure how to handle it. I was certain of that, and I could relate. 

Billy approached us. “Be careful of Lord Hades,” he warned. “He can be very charming.” 

Farran raised a brow. “Lord Hades?” 

“Yes, that’s my name for Valentin. He’s the king of the underworld, as in hell. Don’t let him fool you. He’s another hothead like the rest of his band of brothers.” 

“Oh, bullshit!” The remark came from Joey, who had unexpectedly joined our circle. 

Billy didn’t back down. “No? Take a look at the jewelry he wears.” 

“You mean the Celtic bracelets?”That was Shannon, who now greeted my brother with a hug and a kiss. 

“All the tribal gothic shit. I’m waiting for the skulls and bat heads.” 

“I didn’t see skulls or bat heads,” Angie said innocently. “I did see a cross—” 

“Yeah, probably the Viking Wolf Cross. Don’t think it’s any kind of representation of Christ, because, according to him, he’s a pagan.” 

“What do you do, McGrath, study him?” Joey was smiling. 

“I absolutely do not study him,” Billy replied, “but I have learned a lot about him—being that he knocked up my cousin, Katharine, and will leave her heart in pieces. Katharine, by the way, is married to Valentin. He’s got two kids now. And here’s the best part. He wants out. He wants out of the marriage, yet he lets her pal around with him out of the goodness of his heart, I suppose, or so she’ll never get over him. You’ll notice she wears the ring. He doesn’t.” 

“You know, there’s a thing called minding your own business,” Joey said. 

“Wait, why would Valentin have to represent Christ if he’s not a Christian?” Angie asked. 

Billy shook his head. “Well, I don’t care what he claims to be. In my opinion, if he’s not on God’s team, there’s only one other team.” 

Joey laughed loudly. “So you’re saying Valentin’s on Satan’s team?” 

“Laugh all you want,” Billy maintained, “but what he wears—occultism is being represented.” 

Shannon tried to make peace. “Why do you all have to fight? Billy, there are a lot of people in this world who are not Christian. It doesn’t mean they’re not good people.” 

Billy shook his head. “He has you and God knows how many others jumping to defend his agenda, whatever that may be.” 

“And what is yours, McGrath?” Joey asked. “Character assassination?” 

“All I see of Valentin is a kind person,” Farran said. 

“You see what he wants you to see.” Billy walked off. 

Joey eyed us now, one by one. “Now for the million-dollar question. What the hell are you three doing here?” 

“Visiting you,” I teased. 

“I don’t think I like you being here.” His eyes were on me then shot to Angie. “Or you …” 

“They’ll be fine,” Farran assured him. 

“Do you trust me?” I asked. 

“I do trust you.” He looked at Farran and flashed an enormous grin that encompassed everything from guileless youth to mischievous lad. “Hey, Farran, don’t be corrupting my innocent cousin or my sister.” 

“If you are worried about anyone corrupting them, worry about your Lynx buddies,” Billy quipped, passing by again. 

“Me?” Farran looked surprised. 

“You got ideas,” Joey said.“Just remember—whatever you three do, I’ll be watching. As for you, McGrath, shut the fuck up.” 

“Don’t press your luck, DeCorso,” Billy snapped. “I can get you all barred, and you know it. Stop fucking with me.” 

Joey laughed. 

We didn’t stay long after that, but during the long ride home, Farran wouldn’t shut up about Valentin. “So Katharine Jaeger is his wife? I can’t believe it.” 

We’d met Katharine back in the early eighties. She was a blonde beauty who seemed to fascinate every male in sight. 

“Yeah,” Angie said, “and just when you want to ask, does he have a brother? The brother is with Shannon. That pretty much sucks, but she’s happy and deserves to be. I’m happy about that.” 

“And Shannon’s not even a pretty girl,” Farran replied. “I mean, her face isn’t that pretty. Her front teeth stick out a little. Oh, I can see how she’s attractive. I mean she has those big tatas, and that’s partly because she’s a tad overweight. Then, she just has this personality that’s larger than life—” 

“She is pretty.” I said, “She looks great. But you should be careful throwing yourself at Valentin. He’s still married, and besides that, he could be dangerous.” 

“Dangerous!” Farran laughed. 

“Well, you don’t know him.” 

“Darling, nobody knows anybody until they do,” she said. “Life is about taking chances. You win some, you lose some, but if you don’t play, you get zip, nada, and may as well be dead.” 

I kind of felt like I was. 

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 5

Chapter Five 

Glastonbury, on the banks of the Connecticut River, was a heartwarming sight whatever the season. It often managed to console my anguish and somewhat ease my discomfort. 

On this day, however, during the five-minute walk to Angie’s house, I glanced several times over my shoulder, fearing that those two creeps could show up anywhere. Their black sedan had circled my house a few times, but not in the past half hour. They continued to call. 

The fear subsided as I reached Hebron Avenue and caught sight of Angie moseying toward me. We waved at each other, smiling. Whatever I had felt before now changed to invigorating hope and giddy delight. The new school year would soon begin. Beginnings were important in constituting an end, and I needed an end to that summer of 1987. With Angie by my side, I could easily embrace another glorious New England fall—changing colors, falling leaves, and farms brimming with apples, pumpkins, and cornstalks. Christmas wouldn’t be far behind, and in that wondrous season, trees, wreaths, and apple cider would replace the early fall offerings at the farm stands. 

We walked along Hebron, turning down Manchester Road, and then onto Brook Street, near the bog. I told her everything that had happened with Robbie, with my dad, and with Joey the night before. She sympathized. 

It was hard not to monopolize the conversation with Angie, as she seemed to prefer listening. If I tried to keep an even flow, there would be many lulls. My questions, asked often out of guilt, weren’t likely to elicit a loquacious reply, and, aside from that, I needed to talk. Admittedly, there was this desperate madness at times—wanting to get it all out. The impetus of the moment was what had happened with Sergio and Phil. She shut the discussion down, asking about my book. 

“The agent sent me a six-page critique,” I told her. “It came in the mail today.” 

“Is that good?” she asked. 

“Well, I have a lot of work to do,” I said, “but they were encouraging.” 

Our leisurely stroll continued to a place we had loved since the days of our childhood. It was home to the ruins of a wool factory that had existed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The surrounding woodlands were full of towering hemlock, white pine, and oak. We took the longer trail along the west side of the brook. Wind bustled lustily through the trees, and I could hear the rushing water of the brook up ahead. The brook, like a purposeful rainstorm, awakened my ears and silenced my soul. It was as alive as the singing birds. Its steady flow created an illusion of abundance, infinite beauty … eternal good. It didn’t matter that hikers and lovers passed, or that families strolled along the same paths. It was the enchanted forest of my dreams. 

We did a lot of walking and climbing on rocks and then poked around the partial gray brick structures of the stone ruins, where a broken window hung. 

“It helps to talk,” I said. “You can talk to me about anything.” 

“I know I can,” she replied without looking at me. 

We walked through the door of the structure. 

“Are you all right?” I asked. 

She continued to look away. “Yeah … are you?” 

“Sometimes.” 

“Everything’s going to be okay, Dani.” 

We sat on the remnants of the dam wall—on the rocks overlooking the marshes—and watched the ducks in the stream. 

Angie started to cry. 

As I turned and hugged her, we both cried. We held each other in that state for several minutes. 

“I was terrified, Angie,” I said. 

She let go. “Dani—” 

“Most of the time, I didn’t know where you were.” 

“I don’t remember.” 

“I don’t remember everything either, but—” 

“No, I don’t remember a nightmare experience or fighting anyone. I remember going to the beach in their car, walking around Pleasure Beach, having fun, and then we went home. They drove us.” 

My heart sank. It ached and pounded in such a way that it terrified me. 

I had gone over it in my mind many times, the parts I could remember. 

The room was a blur. Sergio had lifted me in his arms and carried me to the bedroom. It felt like a dream. I was present and then not present, slipping in and out of consciousness. Screaming and crying, I fought, but I visualized someone else fighting, as if I had separated myself from my body, and the person lying there was not me. Other times, it appeared I had surrendered while the terror, chaos, and confusion continued to swirl violently in the inner recesses of my mind. I fought so hard that I was sure my hymen remained intact—having seen no blood after all. Maybe I made it too difficult for them, or perhaps they felt sorry for me. Either way, I held on to that with all of my heart. 

My father often talked about incidents of rape on the news. He had lamented, more than once, that pressing charges would put the girl on trial and not the guilty person. He said the lawyers tried to make her look like a tramp so the bastard would get off. 

I struggled now with what to say to Angie. 

“Remember when they went to the concession stand at the pavilion, and we were waiting for them?” 

“Yeah …” 

“They got soda for themselves and us, too.” 

“I remember that.” 

“When they gave us the sodas, the cans were open, and they wiped the tops. I thought they were trying to be gentlemen, but they must have put something in the sodas.” 

“I only remember walking around the beach and having a great time.” 

A great time on the beach—these words stung. My mind’s association with beach days had shifted from joyful, carefree memories to regret. I fully realized that Angie and I felt empathy where others could not, but it never occurred to me that we were so naïve. My sinking heart shattered. 

“I’m not crazy.” 

“No, no, I know you’re not.” 

“If you don’t remember what I remember, why are you crying?” 

“I don’t know!” She wiped a tear. “I want to help. I don’t know how. You remember things no one else can remember, like from when you were little, just a baby. You remember all these details from a long time ago—astonishing details about every room you’re in, every person you meet, and I believe what you say. I know you. I trust you. You’re not just a cousin to me. You’re like my sister.” 

My lips parted to answer, but a lump swelled in my throat. I wondered how I could shield her from harm, how I could save her from any and all pain. Something told me to say no more, yet I often wished that I had. 

Confused as I was, I, too, wanted to forget. I wanted the voices of those two predators out of my head, as I did not intend to relinquish anything further for their gratification. 

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 4

Chapter Four 

When I went to bed that night, disconcerting thoughts and concerns had led to what seemed a foreboding nightmare. 

Though the light was off, my room remained lit in the dream as I slept. Opening my bleary eyes, I noticed water stains on the ceiling. They were ugly stains—the color of urine—and I thought I should see if they were wet, indicating a leak somewhere. A ladder was there for my convenience. As I scaled its rungs, I heard the distant voice of a woman calling my name. I didn’t recognize the voice, but it echoed like we were in a cave. She called again. Her tone seemed neutral, and yet reeked of deception. Disregarding her, I continued my climb, reaching the second highest rung. The water stains I had observed were now splashes of blood. As I turned slightly to climb down, the ceiling began to crack. My heart pounded, and I stumbled, attempting to decline. An unsightly hand reached through the crack and grabbed me. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t shake its tenacious grip on my arm. I told myself it was over. It seemed evident that I’d lost whatever battle this was. 

Awake now, I tried to sort out what the dream meant. In my interpretation, confusion prevailed as to what was real and what wasn’t. When the world around me was light, it appeared dark. It was light when I sought to fade into darkness. Something had tarnished me—something ugly. I bled anguish. People reached out, offering the nurturing I craved, but then yanked it away. Locked in this unyielding fear, there was a sense that no one could intervene, and that no one ever would. I felt defeated in my struggle to rise from despair, thwarted at every turn. In that frightful moment of my nightmare, I was alone, same as I felt these days while fully awake. 

I managed to drift off to sleep again, only to awaken once more to the sound of Robbie’s voice. 

“I killed the baby,” he was saying. “It happened so fast.” 

Oh, my dear Robbie … it had only been a few years since that night he’d woke me up, insisting there were naked people climbing all over the walls in his room. He said they were beckoning him. 

Joey had lived here at the time and had rushed into Robbie’s room. 

“Robbie’s having a bad dream,” I told him. 

“It’s not a dream!” Robbie swore to it. 

“You think they’re real, but they’re not. Look, you’re gonna wake everyone up.” 

“Maybe we should wake everyone up,” Joey said. 

“They’re still there,” Robbie maintained. 

Joey told him no one was there, but he didn’t believe it, so I offered to lie beside him and talk to him until he fell asleep. We were up most of the night. Joey came in several times to check on us. In the morning, I glimpsed Robbie’s face as he slept. It was the face of pure innocence, as though none of it had ever happened, and as if everything bad had faded with the darkness. 

I hurried to his room now, aware that his chatter about killing a baby was not part of my nightmare or any past recollection. His mattress was smoldering, and when I flipped on the light, he was standing there as if in a trance. 

“I thought I killed the baby,” he said. 

I raced to get a bucket and fill it with water. “Help me,” I beseeched him as I dumped the contents of the bucket onto the mattress. I made several trips back and forth before he snapped out of it and began to assist me. 

“What happened?” I asked. “Were you smoking in bed?” 

I urged him to help me get the scorched mattress down the stairs and out of the house. How I thought we would manage the situation without my father’s help, I’ll never know, but I feared that man’s wrath. 

He came out of his room, my mother trailing, holding her robe closed. 

“I smell smoke!” my father bellowed. 

I thought of the “fee-fi-fo-fum” giant in “Jack and the Beanstalk” who smelled the Englishman’s blood. 

After I explained, my father took charge, dragging the mattress to the woodlot.  

“I’ll deal with that thing in the morning,” he said upon his return. He yelled at Robbie. “Where the hell would you get the crazy idea to smoke in bed? Did you ever see anyone here do such a stupid thing? Do you think I’m buying you a new mattress?” 

“It’s okay,” Robbie said. “I’m leaving for Florida Sunday.” 

“You can go right now and go burn down the whole goddamn state of Florida, for all I care. Robert, you’re eighteen years old. If you don’t know better by now, when will you?” 

“I’m sorry,” he said. “When I get a job in Florida, I’ll send you money for the mattress. I can sleep on the couch tonight.” 

“No, you will not!” my father shouted. “Go stay at a hotel or sleep in the street or go sleep outside on the mattress you ruined!” 

“Come on, it was an accident,” my mother pleaded. 

My dad shifted his gaze to her. “And how’s he supposed to learn?” He looked at Robbie again. “All right then, give me the cigarettes and go sleep in the basement. There’s an old sleeping bag in one of the closets there.” 

“Are you serious?” Robbie asked. “What is the point of that? That makes no sense.” 

I gave him a gentle push toward the curved, carpeted stairway. “I’ll help him find the sleeping bag,” I said. 

I had always dreaded going down to that basement alone, and I surely wouldn’t have slept there. Most of the rooms in our house had a refined, almost imperial, look with their dark-paneled walls, vaulted ceilings, and crown moldings. The basement door seemed to bar us from a contrasting world. 

The switch at the top of the stairs cast only a dim light upon the stairwell. When I was alone, I’d descend with a frantic urgency to pull the switch near the bottom of the stairs. It would cast only another dim light. 

“Don’t worry, I’ll stay with you until we think of something,” I said as we descended. 

Robbie clenched his teeth.“He’s out of his fucking mind.” 

“You’re lucky,” I told him. “He had his explosion before you got here.” I shivered, as it was cold down there, always, despite the paneled walls. An antique marble fireplace that had all the elaborate gilding my mother loved was the first thing we saw, but it was fake and purely for ambiance. 

Robbie’s curious eyes widened. “What are you talking about, Dan? What did he explode about?” 

“He got mad at Joey for cutting an apple. He thought he was going to cut the tablecloth, and he went nuts.” 

“Oh.” 

“Yeah, it’s probably why you’re still alive.” 

Robbie laughed. “You think he would kill me?” 

“I don’t know.” I told him the rest of the story, and he agreed with Joey that my father wouldn’t likely kill anyone. 

He evidently had a bigger concern. “Does he really think I’m gonna sleep in this dungeon?” 

With its many ominous doors, it did look like a dungeon. “Yeah, I always feel like someone’s watching me here.” 

I glanced at the long extension table. My father once told us that my grandfather liked to sit there alone in the dark, drinking wine from a goblet, smoking, and making weird whistling noises. My grandmother maintained he still did. 

In old home movies and photographs, my grandfather was a silver-haired, clean-shaven image of my father with a broader face, deeper lines, and wrinkles. Joey told me he’d been a dockworker in Brooklyn who’d had a bunch of mob friends in New York. Joey always believed he’d gotten involved in some of their shady dealings, come into some money, and then bought the house in Glastonbury. He died weeks before I was born. 

“Grandma hears footsteps when she’s down here,” Robbie said now, “and they don’t come from upstairs. She thinks they’re Grandpa’s footsteps. She hears floors creaking when she’s alone in the house, and all this rapping and banging. She says she hears music, too, and Grandpa calling her.” 

“I think she just misses him.” 

“Are you kidding? Who would miss that monster?” 

“Shush!” I hushed him. 

“Why? Do you think he’ll hear?” He laughed. 

“How come it’s not happening while we’re down here?” 

He shrugged. “Maybe he’s waiting until you’re all by yourself like he waits for Grandma to be by herself. I heard he was really mean. He abused Grandma. He was always yelling at her, making fun of her, calling her names. The old geezer was even locked up in Cedarcrest for a while.” 

I shook my head. I had never been sure what the deal was with Cedarcrest. It was in Newington, an old place in the woods left in ruins. Robbie insisted it was an insane asylum. I read that it had been a psychiatric facility, but not until years after my grandfather died. My father told us it was initially a sanatorium for treating patients with tuberculosis and other incurable illnesses. 

“Remember the spookhouse events we held in this creepy cellar?” Robbie asked. 

“Yeah, the ones we’d set up down here with no adult permission or supervision.” 

“I was always hoping that ghoulish fiend would make an appearance.” 

“Oh yeah, I bet you were.” I rolled my eyes. 

It was odd, since we’d had parties down here for the first several years of my life. There was a paneled bar across from the table that had seemed alive with guests on the New Year’s Eves of my early childhood. Left dark now, it looked like an abandoned old relic. 

Robbie wandered into the small basement kitchen now, and I followed. He sat on top of the retro dining table, and though there were three folding chairs around it, I sat in the spindle rocking chair with the puffy back cushion and held one of its fringe throw pillows in my arms as I rocked. It reminded me of Robbie’s bizarre childhood game, where one person would sit in the chair, and another would get behind the chair and rock it, singing “Rock-a-bye Baby,” drawing the chair farther back until he or she let it drop to the floor. I suppose, if there had been a bed of nails somewhere, we’d have been on it. 

Uncle Dom had walked in on us one afternoon. He was on his way to the wine cellar to take home a bottle of wine. Robbie had let go of the chair in that instant, and I plummeted to the wood floor. 

“Whoa!” Uncle Dom had hollered. “What the hell’s the matter with you?” He was looking at Robbie, and then shifted his gaze to me, clearly disconcerted. “Are you okay?” 

His genuine concern had melted me. He didn’t have my father’s screen idol looks, but he was this old world gent with cheerful brown eyes and a sweet, handsome face. Despite a few gray hairs, he hadn’t changed much over the years. 

“I’m okay,” I’d assured him. “It didn’t hurt.” 

“You sure?” 

“I’m fine.” 

The entrance to the wine cellar was a few feet away, and he had gone in there. It was a separate room, where rows of jugs filled with wine lined the stone walls. There was a pull light for the front section, but all you could see beyond the barrels was darkness. My dad made the wine in that cellar with Uncle Dom, but when they were around, the place was somehow cheery. 

“Good thing you didn’t crack your skull,” Uncle Dom had said when he came back with his wine. He looked at Robbie. “Don’t do that anymore! I’m going to talk to your father, and you’re gonna get it.” He motioned a spanking with his hand. “This is not the way for kids to play. Let’s go upstairs.” 

My parents had given us a stern lecture, mostly directed at Robbie. 

I never knew whether to feel happy or sad about these memories. I recalled them with giddy delight and underlying disbelief. 

I reminded Robbie of the game now. 

“How would you know if I’m responsible for anything that happens in this house of horrors?” he asked. 

“Are you gonna tell me it’s Grandpa?” 

“I saw Mommy walking around just before I went to bed tonight.” 

“She did not start that fire.” 

“I’m not saying she did, but I never told you this. It started a couple of years ago. She came in my room and asked for a lock of my hair. Then she told me to put these coins under my pillow.” 

“That’s witchcraft.” 

“Really?” 

“Uh … yeah?” 

“You say that so casually, like you’re not even shocked.” 

“I read a little about it.” 

“She goes to see a psychic, Dan. She told me not to tell anyone about it. She asked the psychic for help straightening me out.” 

“She’s desperate to help you and is getting taken for her money.” 

“She’s also desperate to save her marriage.” 

I knew what he was talking about, since Robbie and I had listened with cups to the wall whenever my parents fought. 

“You were there,” I’d heard my mother say to my dad. “I hired a detective to follow you. Your car was there. He saw everything.” 

“Look who’s talking,” my father had replied. 

“You’re a liar,” she’d shot back. “There’s never been anyone.” 

“No, I’m not a liar. Someone saw you come out of a car a block away.” 

“Who saw me?” 

“I’m not gonna say.” 

“Because you’re making it up.” 

“I’m not making it up. This has been going on for years. You want this guy or you want me? You better decide.” 

She’d begun to cry. “If you’re going to make up stories and not believe what I say, I might as well get a divorce.” 

I could hear a breaking down in his voice as well. “If you want a divorce, we’ll get a divorce.” 

“She said the psychic doesn’t charge her anything,” Robbie continued. “She can make a donation if she wants, but it’s all free. Don’t tell her I told you.” 

“I won’t, but I have to get upstairs before they come down here looking for me.” 

“Fuck this,” he said. “I’m not staying here.” 

“Why don’t you go to Joey’s?” 

“And drive all the way to New Haven? I don’t want to do that. I have a friend I can call. Let’s go up, and I’ll get some of the things I need. I can come back for the rest.” 

My father had gone to bed. My mother asked Robbie questions about where he would go, what he would do, and he assured her he would be fine. 

He did come back the next day to say goodbye to my parents. They were kind to him. My father wanted to feed him, advise him, help him. My mother had tears. 

I walked him to the door and cried when I hugged him. “You know, I’m really going to miss you.” 

“I’ll miss you, too, Dan,” he said, “but this is the best thing for me. I don’t feel safe in this house. I never did.” 

“I understand.” I kind of did, and I kind of didn’t. I found the house strangely soothing despite many moments of fear. 

He said he would see us at Christmas. 

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 2

Chapter TWO

It might have been a glorious beach day. Horned larks looked happy among the plum and bayberry shrubs, yellow sunflowers, and purple roses. The blue waters of the Long Island Sound were as beguiling as the landscape. Young men were perched on railings that glistened under the glare of the sun—ogling, whistling, and confessing their undying love. I witnessed this phenomenon whenever I walked to and from the bus stop in my school uniform, and came to realize I could easily disrupt traffic and possibly cause a collision. 

I had never achieved a placid familiarity with the horn-honking and people clamoring for my attention. I had spent many years feeling like the ugly duckling muddling haplessly through the dark green marsh. If I had advanced from there at all, it was to become the tiniest winged critter, never able to keep up with the flock, and never certain I wanted to. 

My metamorphosis was magical. I had the same golden brown hair—by then almost waist length—the same hazel eyes, coveted high cheekbones, enviable skin, and ravishing lips as before, but it had all become relevant! I believed I had willed and constructed this change. More accurately, I’d grown into my beauty, and my painstaking efforts to straighten my thick, wavy tresses made no difference. People looked mostly at my chest. I was a busty girl of five-foot-four who kept herself trim and toned with exercise. 

Pain hindered my walking that day. 

“We should rent a summer beach house here—or a cabin,” Farran said. “You met those two older guys here the other day, didn’t you? The ones you made a date with?” 

“Yeah, one of them was thirty,” my cousin Angie chimed in. “The other guy was twenty-nine.” Her angelic voice was a touch above a whisper.  

“Well, they knew you were both sixteen, didn’t they?” 

“Yes, they knew,” I replied. 

Mental images intruded—gold crucifix chains upon masculine chests. I had noticed those chains from the moment the men approached us on the beach. Perhaps I had an ingrained trust in that sacred symbol. I shouldn’t have. People wore things for different reasons. We adorned our arms with plastic jelly bracelets in neon colors because Madonna wore them, and she was the most fussed-about pop star. She also wore crucifix chains, which Angie and I had displayed with devotion since childhood. 

We spread out our blankets in the middle of the beach. All eyes were on me when I stripped down to my halter-style swim top. In light of the ensuing commotion, I decided to keep the shorts on. 

“With you around, I get no respect for my B-cup,” Farran complained. I saw the twinkle in her electric blue eyes when she smiled. Her high-cut one-piece elongated her pretty legs and flattered her figure. She was taller than me, with a nice head of light brown, shoulder-length hair that she often wore in a ponytail or chignon. 

“What about me? I have nothing,” Angie lamented. She left her shorts on as well, with a skimpy bandeau top. 

Angie and I had grown up together in Glastonbury. We’d been in the same classes since kindergarten. In a couple of weeks, we’d be seniors at the same high school. She was an inch shorter than I was, and always in sneakers, jellies, or flip-flops. Her dark hair was past shoulder length, framing a heart-shaped face and prominent brown eyes. 

All three of us wanted admiration and, yes, adoration—from males, especially. When it became uncomfortable, I figured I wasn’t used to it. At the same time, I preferred being uncomfortable to being ridiculed and shamed. 

I don’t recall which of the two men that day had asked what country I was from, insisting he detected a trace of European, and possibly Latin, in my New England accent. This extravagant attention to every detail did more than flatter me—I felt like it validated my existence. I’m certain I had blushed when I assured him I was a Connecticut native from Glastonbury. 

“The whole thing was a nightmare,” I blurted out, as if Farran and Angie had been following my thoughts. 

“A nightmare! Why?” Farran looked at Angie, probably to gauge her reaction. “Wait, I thought it was a date you all went on yesterday? I mean, you were both there, right? Angie said she liked the guy.” 

Yes, Angie had liked Phil, the muscular, tattooed one with the mustache and short blond curls. When she’d unexpectedly begun kissing him, I had wanted to pull her away and shout, “What the hell has gotten into you?” She had always been painfully shy, but while surrendering to Phil’s embrace, there were moans coming out of that girl that she would not likely have emitted in private, let alone in a room with three other people. 

I remembered how horrified we’d both been in seventh grade when a group of boys from our class began following girls to the bus stop. They would wait for an opportunity to grab a girl, and then pull her into the bushes or woods. They did whatever they could get away with before she broke free. Angie and I had had to walk, sometimes run, in a different direction, and wait until they were gone before we could return to our bus stop. They never caught us. When I told my brothers, they made it stop. 

Angie and I had clung to our perception of that sacrosanct bequest—being “saved” for the right person. Our parents had never talked to us about defiled reputations or unwanted pregnancies, but in school, there were proclamations that only bad girls welcomed attention from boys. I didn’t think Angie had intended to go beyond kissing, but these men could not have known that. She had this tranquilizing humility, and though she kept her composure now, I could see a trace of fear in her large, haunted eyes. Could Farran not see it, or was I wrong about that, too? 

“It was supposed to be a date, just to Pleasure Beach,” I explained. We sat on the blanket. I used some of Angie’s lotion on my already bronzed skin. 

Farran applied sunblock. “Pleasure Beach … my parents used to go there back in the fifties.” 

Things came to me in shadowy flashes. Phil had carried Angie away, and I was alone with the other guy. Sergio was his name. Though I did think he was cute with his close-cropped brown hair, brown eyes, and pencil-thin mustache, I was not attracted to him. I had felt dizzy trying to stand. The room spun, and I fell back on the sofa with only a blurred impression of the room. Sergio’s voice sounded like it was a distance away. I couldn’t see his face. 

“They told us they’d forgotten their camera and wanted to stop and get it, since it wasn’t far,” I explained. “It might have been one of the beach cottages on Long Beach West. I had to fight them …” 

Yet I remembered them driving us home. Angie was in the front seat, talking to Phil, who was driving. She appeared to be okay. Sergio was in the back with me. I had slept most of the time, with my head resting on his shoulder. We’d gone over that rickety bridge. 

“Come on, Dani!” Farran’s smile was ingenuous. “Sounds like you had some wild experience that maybe got out of control, and you’re feeling guilty. You shouldn’t. Guys would be celebrating! I mean, you can’t take it back. It sounds like that’s what you’re trying to do. Maybe it’s time you grew up. I’m serious! Don’t be such a baby!” She laughed. 

Farran was generous with smiles and laughter, right down to the wrinkling of her nose and an occasional wink. I imagined those eyes would shine until her dying day, and she would forever be as lovable and sweet as she was. I adored her. With her self-deprecating humor, people liked her in an instant. I expected boys to be falling all over her. What I didn’t understand was their interest in me. My assets were merely the luck of the draw. 

“It was horrible,” I insisted. “I thought about going to the police.” 

She looked dumbfounded, and that solidified for me the idea that going to the police would be futile. 

I looked to Angie, and she didn’t avert her eyes. Those dark pools were now an ocean, with depths I couldn’t fathom. I saw her concern for me. Farran seemed to latch onto how Angie hadn’t confirmed any of it, but she ignored that Angie never denied it. Still, I backed down. My sense of reality had been undermined, but I didn’t doubt what I’d recalled, not for a moment. 

Farran grabbed her radio, reminding me of how she and I would sing at the beach. When she turned up the volume, I looked away. 

I thought about my family. 

My dad had liked this beach when we were kids. It was Hammonasset in Madison, a two-mile stretch from Tom Creek on the western end to the Hammonasset River and Clinton Harbor on the east. He used to take us to West Beach. We were on East Beach now, which we preferred. It was quieter, with fewer kids. 

The waves were no more than one or two feet, and I liked the gentle breeze. I loved watching the birds—osprey, piping plovers, sandpipers, willets, snowy egrets, and all the amazing herons. Birds resonated with me. 

Innocent singing on the beach was a pleasant memory, as were family days when we searched for shells and copper scraps, marveling at starfish. Joey liked big-clawed hermit crabs and breaking rocks on the pier to find garnets. Uncle Dom usually brought a kite to fly—Angie’s favorite thing. Joey and Robbie played Frisbee. There were coolers with food and drinks. When the adults had had enough sun, we packed up and moved over to a picnic table in the shade. We could spend hours at the beach and still not want to go home—until Robbie had about had it with the stinging black flies that came up from the marshes. By his reaction, you would have thought they targeted him alone. 

“Are you okay, Dani?” Angie was searching my eyes. 

“She’s fine,” Farran assured her. 

I held back tears. “They keep calling me. They called me five times when I got back from the so-called date and a few more times this morning.” 

“Well, tell ‘em to call me,” Farran quipped. 

“I don’t want them calling!” 

“Dani?” Angie called out. 

“I’m okay.” I didn’t know what else to say. 

Her wide-stretched lips eased into a smile, endearing her to me, as always. 

Farran, however, was off on another tangent. “Hey, we’re not far from Marauders Cove. It’s about twenty minutes from here. Isn’t that where your brother, Joey, hangs out? And doesn’t he live only two blocks from there?” 

“He hangs out with bikers,” I reminded her. 

“I know.” She beamed. 

“Besides, you have to be twenty-one.” 

“Well, Joey’s not twenty-one.” 

“He will be in a couple of months.” 

She waved if off, flashing an ear-to-ear grin. “Danielle, Marauders Cove is an old-fashioned pub owned by the McGrath family. I practically grew up with them.” 

Yes, and the McGrath family included Mike McGrath, my first and only love—someone I had always been able to trust. The mention of his name now evoked a twinge of melancholia that fanned the flames of my anguish. 

“I’m sure your brother will be looking after you anyway, and so will his friends,” she went on. “I can get us phony proof. Hey, I’m starting college in the fall! It’s a rite of passage!” 

This behavior was typical of Farran. She thought nothing of suggesting we hitchhike to the beach if we didn’t have a ride. Thankfully, a neighbor of hers had given us a ride that day. The plan was to meet up with the woman by three-thirty at Joshua Rock, just to the east of the park entrance. 

“I’m not sure we should be barhopping,” I said. 

“Oh, please.” She lit a cigarette, took a long drag, and exhaled. “You are always so uptight, Dani. You have to live a little.” 

I wanted to address the absurdity of that second statement, but I didn’t know where to begin. 

“School starts in a couple of weeks. It’s probably our last beach day. We gotta do something for excitement—like meet up with people. Maybe if I were a total knockout, I could sit home and wait for them to beat down my door, but that ain’t gonna happen.” She laughed. “Hey, I’m surprised you didn’t bring one of your car magazines. Still looking for a Nissan?” She was making nice, I could see, piling on the sugar. 

“Yeah. I’m hoping by my birthday I will finally pass the road test.” 

“Third time’s the charm, right?” 

Angie laughed, a gentle laughter, but I saw the change in her. She looked more fragile to me. 

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – I

Chapter ONE

Connecticut, Summer of 1987 

There was no blood. I was dead inside, but not bleeding. Zipping my shorts in a daze, I focused on the brown and gold hues of the wall tiles. I washed my hands over the sink, avoiding my reflection. The hexagon-shaped mirror was antique and gilded. I now felt debased in its presence as well as in these familiar surroundings. After turning off the faucet, I stood there for a moment, and then hastened to my room. 

The brass bed, dressed in white eyelet sheets and frilly pink bedding, was an update of my choosing. The nativity scene plaque on the wall above it had been there throughout my childhood—Mother Mary in a protective stance over Baby Jesus. I suppose the intention was to comfort and protect me. Still, I lined the bed with stuffed teddy bears and kept a sixteen-inch porcelain doll with golden hair and dark blue eyes on my white dresser. She wore a pink Victorian dress with lace trim and glimmering beads and a hat to match. I picked her up now and held her tightly to my chest. A tear fell as I snuggled her to me for as long as I could. After setting her down, I approached the window. 

I could see far from these foothills. A woodlot of mixed forest surrounded our home. In one direction, I saw the Hartford skyline—in another, steep, rolling hills in their divine and blissful glory. My room faced the direction of Old Buckingham, not half a mile away. The ancient cemetery was set back from the road, just beyond a fortress of trees. We heard stories of weeping spirits, distant cries of agony, and diaphanous circles of white light floating above and between the tombstones. I never knew whether people convinced themselves of these things or merely embellished the truth. One thing I knew did happen: Fierce hurricane winds had nearly destroyed the little church on its grounds. 

Much as I loved this house, it was an eerie place to grow up. That had little to do with ghost stories. I would lie awake in my bed at night, listening to the sounds of darkness—imagining that the hoarse caw of the crows warned of impending doom. I got this sense of urgency from yapping dogs, yelping coyotes, and the ear-piercing whistles of the woodchucks. Some nights, even the benign chirping of crickets grew louder and more intense with each moment. 

I prayed, always. 

Watching from the window now, I felt like some reclusive old person who got all the neighbors whispering. I watched for a dusty black Cutlass Supreme, needing to make certain it was nowhere in sight. 

The phone rang, and I panicked. My father had mounted it to the wall between my room and the master bedroom, so I had to leave the room to answer it. 

“Hello, Danielle,” the voice cooed. 

Sickened to my core, I hung up. 

It rang again, the innocuous ivory phone that seemed suddenly possessed. I wanted to rip it off the wall. 

I lifted the receiver. 

“Don’t hang up.” It was the other guy. 

“Stop calling here!” I ended the call with a slam. 

They had the gall to utter my name! They sounded so casual, so elated—as if the atrocity I had endured earlier that day had been mutually rewarding. Granted, it could have been worse, and yet a part of me had died. More unsettling still, they knew where to find me. 

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

NOW YOU CAN READ MY DEBUT NOVEL FOR FREE!

Starting on Saturday, December 5th, I will be posting a free serialized version of my debut novel, Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths. A new chapter will appear right here on my blog every week, always on Saturday morning.

Winter is on the way, and, while we’re spending more time at home, it’s a great time to cozy up with a new book! Right?

Follow my blog and read along. For book discussion, feel free to leave comments and questions for each chapter.

Missed chapters will still be available on this site for catching up.

So, what is Shattering Truths about?

Imagine, for a moment, being able to go anywhere on the earth at any time with absolutely no threat of danger lurking and luxuriating in that comfort of being safe. We felt it as children if we were lucky, and it’s sad to think many of us experience harsh reality and betrayal and then never feel safe again. Yes, that is life—the world we live in—but it’s often a rocky road to recovery.

Let’s start with the assumptions—the “one size fits all” solutions, the one-size process of healing, and things others decide for us, like how we should behave and react, the determinations regarding what we should be doing.

Many form conclusions with a lack of understanding and empathy. They try to justify what is unjustifiable, doling out additional punishment and shame. These reactions often discourage people from disclosing what has happened to them. As a result, recovery can be a much longer process if it happens at all.

So, while not for the faint of heart, Shattering Truths is about one young woman’s path to healing from trauma. 

Since the main character and her friends are underage and living with their parents, some readers felt it was a story for young adults and didn’t read it. While Shattering Truths does fit young adult fiction criteria, it is chock full of weighty adult themes. It was the adults, in fact, who, in reading the book until the end, seemed to appreciate and enjoy it the most.

Here are some of the things they had to say about it:

Ken Scott – 5.0 out of 5 stars

Shattering Truths is a most compelling story that weaves family and peer relationships into a fabric of great strength and fragility at the same time. The main character and her cousin are teenage girls on the cusp of adulthood who seem to be over their heads relationally in some ways and who, unwittingly, become engaged in activities that have subsequent emotional repercussions. Family dynamics and interactions between the girls and other characters, many of whom are somewhat older and more mature, are brilliantly presented to the reader by this author. I’m sure my comments thus far regarding the story line of the novel are “preaching to the choir” but I must also praise the author’s writing prowess. I find it difficult to express the depth to which she pierces emotional barriers in order to share the struggles the characters in the book were required to face. I was literally brought to tears on a couple of occasions. I really believe I felt the writer’s extreme range of emotion that she must have had as she was writing this novel. Her profound understanding of human emotion and spirituality are evident in her poetry as well. Basically, a brilliantly written novel by a brilliant writer. I can’t wait to read more from her.

C.L. Cannon – 5.0 out of 5 stars

This coming of age story is eloquently written and will transport you back in time to 1987 to witness the journey of 16-year-old Dani as she comes to terms with the horrors, joys, and often the shattering realities of growing up. This book has well-rounded characters that are multifaceted, genuine, and believable. It also deals with feelings of self-worth, loyalty, family, and friendship. I would recommend this to every person I know and even those I don’t. It truly is a compelling book that you will not be able to put down after you begin. It flows effortlessly along and leaves you aching for more. I am looking forward to reading more titles from this talented author!

Chelsea Girard – 5.0 out of 5 stars

A confused teen with a rough past has her conflicts conveying more than it may seem. Love Triangles, teases and mysterious character’s leave the story with your mind wandering.

There is some comic relief that shows she is still young and learning about who she is and what she wants to do with her future.

Her dreams left fears in my mind and I certainly could not get some of her thoughts out of my head. The novel was fast paced and had a great couple twists that kept me reading.

Love Books – 5.0 out of 5 stars 

Kyrian Lyndon has the ability to turn words in beautiful mosaics of description. This gift shines throughout this emotional story of a girl trying to dig her way out of heartbreak and turmoil while growing up in teenage life. She does a wonderful job developing all of the characters and you become attached to their fates, their losses, their victories.

One can sympathize with the main characters as they try to find their place in this often chaotic world, struggling with inner and natural desires, looking to set up boundaries to live life with dignity.
It’s a harsh lesson for Danielle. Society is ready to devour her, and she’s confused in how she should respond.

The vulnerability of the characters makes this a terrific first book in the series.

Final note – Though some of the book’s characters allude to a supernatural existence, this is not a paranormal romance or adventure. It depicts the harshness of life’s rude awakenings, and I believe it will resonate not only with women but also with the men who genuinely love and care about them.

I dedicated the book to trauma survivors—

“May you become free to love and be loved in return.

May happiness never elude you.”

I believe that until we fully heal from whatever it is we need to recover from, we remain in bondage to something or another and prone to all kinds of obsession. Disentangling from all that is a painful process, and that’s where the path to healing begins.

Enjoy the read, and let me know what you think!

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

Wintry Scene photo near the top by Nachelle Nocom on Unsplash 

DAMN THE LIES AND TRUTH BE TOLD

THE ELUSIVE TRUTH

Fantasy often bests reality. Sentimentality can provide us with an illusion of innocence in a safe and familiar world. That’s fine, and it’s not hard to understand why people, in their everyday lives, cling to illusions and delusions that comfort and protect.

That said, most of us would say we are honest. We believe that we are. The trouble is, we can’t be honest with others until we are honest with ourselves. And we can’t be honest with ourselves until we know what is true—until we confront it, accept it, and deal with it however we must.

So, why would we not know?

Many of us grow up indoctrinated with a built-in belief system. The beliefs we hold may lead to harsh judgments—to the point of shunning, oppressing, and hating others. There is often an unwillingness to understand people who are different. And these core ideologies can simultaneously result in self-loathing and a feeling of being unworthy or never quite good enough. It’s the inferiority complex turned inside out—a desperate need to feel superior.

Along the lines of needing to be perceived a certain way, I’ve seen debates on how honest to be with children and whether they have a right to hit us with their perception of the truth if it isn’t favorable to us. The ancient rule that you respect all adults no matter what.

I believe children have the right to call out parents on their behavior, and that parents should address their concerns about any relative, family friend, or person in authority. If we care about people (and sometimes even if we don’t) but especially when we care about people, we need to listen to them when they tell us how we’ve hurt them even in the smallest of ways. We can’t be accountable while in denial, can’t grow and evolve, can’t set the example for the children who look to us for guidance.

Pretending we are perfect doesn’t serve anyone. It’s painful to acknowledge when we caused pain where we wanted only to love and protect, but we must. There are many hard lessons in life, just as there are other ways the truth may elude us.

A fair amount of clarity is essential in sorting out what is biased and what is factual. Specific characteristics and predicaments diminish that clarity. Here are a few:

  • Addiction/obsession (clouds perception, impairs judgment) – For example, I have found that people in recovery continue to gain clarity as they remain sober and clean.
  • A self-centered existence (usually correlates with substance abuse including alcohol and certain personality disorders)
  • Stress
  • Lack of self-care (sleep, healthy lifestyle, etc.)
  • Our agenda (of which we may or may not be aware)
  • Our vulnerabilities
  • Misinformation (I think being an avid reader of books, especially those that introduce you to different cultures and perspectives helps tremendously.)
  • Taking ourselves too seriously (also may correlate with substance abuse and certain personality disorders)

CAN WE HANDLE THE TRUTH?

Some of us fearlessly plunge into that seemingly endless abyss where we face painful truths and endure the grueling process of healing. Others deliberately avoid it or scatter a little bit of dirt to the side and then dart off in another direction, taking cover until they feel grounded enough to dig a little deeper. They don’t want to uncover the truth because they have an inner sense that it won’t serve them well. Indeed, at the moment, it won’t, but it definitely will in the long run. 

Ten years ago, I’d assume people could handle whatever I could. It never seemed to sink in that they were as vulnerable and fragile as I was once. My idea of being characteristically direct may have been someone else’s idea of being attacked.

At times, we feel an urgent need to resolve things, and, if we’re not patient, we can end up doing more damage than we intended . The goal is not to “hurt” people, and like any conflict, resolution can happen only when both sides are mentally prepared and open to that— willing to go where it leads. There must be a mutual willingness to get to the truth. When you come from a place of caring and love, you see that they are human and vulnerable, and you approach them that way. Besides, even with the vast amounts of knowledge, wisdom, and insight we acquire, we are all still vulnerable to one degree or another. 

THE PRICE OF DENIAL

In January of 2002, Psychology Today published an article by Bill Sullivan, Ph.D., about the devastating consequences lying has on our brain. “Dishonesty puts the brain in a state of heightened alert, and this stress increases with the magnitude of the lie,” he wrote. (It doesn’t apply to sociopaths lacking empathy, but most of us care about our trustworthiness and integrity.) “Symptoms of anxiety arise because lying activates the limbic system in the brain,” he explained. “When people are being honest, this area of the brain shows minimal activity. But when telling a lie, it lights up like a fireworks display. An honest brain is relaxed, while a dishonest brain is frantic.”

Denial has a price, as well, and it’s often quite steep. We see its cost while it continues to happen all around us. Don’t for a moment underestimate its power to destroy lives, institutions, countries, and ultimately civilizations. 

While in denial:

  • We don’t know why we want what we want or need what we need.
  • We don’t know what our vulnerabilities are.
  • We hurt people or put them in harm’s way.
  • We obsess over certain people and things, oblivious to why or the fact that it isn’t normal.
  • We’re unable to see our part in anything.
  • We don’t see ourselves or others with clarity, so we mischaracterize our behavior and theirs.
  • We take dangerous risks and put ourselves or keep ourselves in situations that have serious consequences.
  • We lie to ourselves and others.
  • With highly unrealistic expectations, we set ourselves up for disappointment and devastation.
  • We can’t take the right action because we make decisions without the correct information.
  • We lack empathy.
  • We have a constant need to do damage control.
  • We don’t learn from our mistakes, and so we miss life lessons that can empower us.

Being honest is not about unnecessary disclosure. It’s about separating fact from fiction, opinion, and popular beliefnotions that cause egos out of bounds, discrimination, exclusion, judgment, and condemnation. We pull the curtain on delusion and denial to let the light in. We choose clarity over confusion. It leads to more empathy, less vulnerability, and decisions based on expanded horizons and a more substantial knowledge base as we surpass our self-imposed limitations and embrace a wider world. 

YEAH, THE TRUTH DOES SET YOU FREE

We can wear masks for a lifetime, not knowing who we are or what is real. Or we can begin to peel off one layer of untruth at a time, just as if we were peeling an onion or discarding a myriad of veils.

In the process of uncovering and accepting the truth, the shame that drove us to compete and control begins to dissipate. We learn to love with our whole hearts—not just others but ourselves. We know we are vulnerable. We understand how vulnerable we are, so we walk away from people whose goal is to exploit our vulnerabilities. And we keep getting better at it. That’s good because before we understood, it was easy to lead us, fool us, and enslave us. 

Blessed with clearer vision, we can routinely examine our motives and expectations. We won’t always trust our egos, and that’s a good thing. People without clarity of conscience don’t question themselves. They won’t say, “I’m glad I caught that. I can refrain. I can resist. I can do the right thing.” They’ll keep doing what they’re doing, often not understanding what they’re doing or why.

Those of us searching for the truth are tired of being terrified of it. Denial has ceased to be our sole comfort and our only way to survive. The payoff in protecting our hearts, our image, and our secrets is no longer worth it. We came to fully accept that we are all struggling humans, equal in importance.

We continue striving to become more and more authentic. We continue to replace false with real. It’s not as easy as living in denial, but we know we have to get better. We know we have to do better, and it’s important to share what we learn. We are all teachers on this earth, just as we are all students. Sometimes people don’t mean to teach us anything, but they do. Learning doesn’t make you inferior any more than teaching makes you superior.

I love that we continually evolve, and we know better than we did in the past. We are worthy of the truth. We deserve that much.

Further Reading

30 Reasons Why People Lie

6 Reasons People Lie When They Don’t Need To

Feature photo (at the top) by Taras Chernus 

HOW TO WIN THE PRIZE IN A SMEAR CAMPAIGN

Smear campaigns. Some of you are familiar with them. It’s when someone is desperately trying to destroy another person’s reputation, beginning with his or her credibility. It’s not a situation where one caring person is confiding in another out of concern. It’s a hateful mission where the motives are insecurity and a need to do damage control.

I often speak out on this subject because I’ve seen it happen between friends (really frenemies), coworkers, lovers, and family members. The saddest thing is when it goes on in a recovery group where everyone is there to work on themselves and help each other. Why would you isolate and destroy vulnerable people who have likely suffered from narcissistic abuse and are working to correct learned behaviors?

It happens a lot. A friend of mine is a target of this right now. I’ve been a target myself in the past.

For some, including me, the obvious solution is to get out of this person’s circle abruptly, if necessary. If it’s impossible to avoid them entirely, I’d have as little contact as I can manage and refuse to participate. It’s easy to let them charm you when you’re hoping to resolve things, but confiding in them or pouring your heart out is usually a mistake. Just protect yourself. Let them say you abandoned them, rejected them, whatever they need to tell themselves. You don’t owe them a damn thing.

You may say, it isn’t right to have to sacrifice other relationships in a group by removing yourself. I think of it this way. Anyone successfully recruited in some war against you has never been in your corner. Your real friends will come to you. They will have your back and likely sever ties with the character-assassinating troublemaker. Sometimes people will go along with the narcissist to remain part of the crowd (like high school), but that’s not your problem. People believe what they want to believe.

I know it seems unfair, having to surrender without a fight. This person gets to win, and you don’t get to set the record straight. Let me repeat, TOXIC, as in detrimental to your health and well-being. Not worth it. If you’re dealing with the kind of person I’m talking about, you can’t fix it. The more you try, the worse it will get. Think “troll.” Yes, it’s like dealing with some internet troll. You’ll never get them to see things your way or empathize because they don’t really care about you. They’re not able to put themselves in your place. They’ll even take pleasure in your pain.

Humility is your friend here. Let your ego take the hit and move on. You trusted the wrong person. Cut your losses. You’re going to get good at this, and you’ll soon know to avoid these people like the plague, so you’re never in that predicament again.

Experiences like this are traumatic, but they help you learn and grow. They force you to look at whatever part you played in the whole mess, even if it was merely taking the bait from time to time. When we do that, we can easily say and do things that are ordinarily beneath us and, in doing so, strengthen the narcissist’s case. That’s why I say, drop the ball and run. It’s a trap, where you’ll always be damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

You’re dealing with dangerously fragile egos here. Because of what they experienced in life, they consciously or subconsciously, came to believe there is not enough love to go around. They see attention and admiration as a limited commodity. They need to feel they are more worthy and deserving of those things than you are, and second to none. They have to tell themselves they are the favorite, numero uno, the chosen one in every scenario. There are many reasons you may pose a threat. It can be anything. The damage control they do is to convince themselves and others that you are not better or more worthy because if you were, they couldn’t handle that. Underneath it all is an inner child seething with rage.

I’ll share a little story that explains, on a much lighter note, about taking the bait. My mother-in-law used to criticize me on unimportant things. She’d say something like, “She has everything in that diaper bag except the kitchen sink.” That would upset me because, like all new mothers, I wanted to believe I was handling things well. Instead of getting upset, I could have said something like, “Oh, no, the sink’s there. Check the zipper pocket.”

Here’s the key. It’s no fun for them if they can’t bring out the worst in you.

I’ve found it helpful, too, to figure out how I might have handled things better and how I can come out a better person. That’s not to say you weren’t a nice person before, or that I wasn’t, just that we are always striving to get better. What I’m saying is, when people tell you, “don’t lose the lesson,” that’s the critical part. That’s how you win. Continue to do the next right thing, one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. Live your best life and strive for greater understanding. What’s going to happen is, people will eventually know not to mess with you.

Feature photo by alan9187 from Pixabay

BOOK REVIEW: TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH by Mary L. Trump

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”— Plato

*WARNING* Possible spoilers

5 stars *****

When I first opened this book on my Kindle, I figured my rating would be four stars, tops. The book’s subject, Donald Trump, has been distressing and depressing most of us for years, and we know why.

However, it doesn’t suffice to say that Mary L. Trump has done a great job covering this subject.

Everything she wrote was entirely believable and relatable. I loved the family anecdotes, especially the one about the holiday gift exchange. Family dysfunction is typical. We can all laugh about it, but, beyond silly, meaningless gifts, the level of dysfunction in the Trump family was brutal and overwhelmingly tragic.

Considering how the Trumps treated Mary, her parents, her brother, Fritz, Fritz’s wife, and Fritz’s seriously ill child, it surprised me to note how fair she was to the perpetrators of what I’d call highly traumatic narcissistic abuse.

Now, there are stories written out of anger and a need for revenge. There are also stories told with raw honesty, and as much compassion as the author can muster. I felt that Too Much and Never Enough came straight from the heart. Resentment seeps through, yes. How can it not? But the way the author has attempted to understand the people around her speaks volumes.

I would go so far as to say that Too Much and Never Enough is the most compassionate perspective you will ever get about this president. His enablers will never have this level of empathy for him. They are merely using him to their advantage. The same way his father did. I’m not saying Mary Trump wrote this book to help her uncle, but I think she wanted to help America and the rest of the world fully understand what we’re dealing with here.

To that end, she provides an extraordinary explanation for everything we see, and if you’ve been paying close attention to what’s been going on, it all makes perfect sense. If you’re familiar with narcissistic abuse, it makes even more sense. And she’s not giving him a pass here. She makes it painfully clear how dangerous it is to keep Donald Trump in office. I’m not giving him a pass either. Yes, my heart broke for him a couple of times. The book has made me more sympathetic toward him, but I have more sympathy for the rest of the world, dealing with the fallout of his tragedy.

A broken, terrified child is running our country. As Mary Trump stated, he’s still seeking approval from his dad.

In my opinion, he’s likely punishing him with a madman’s fury by punishing usall of us. It doesn’t matter whether we support him or not. He will punish anyone and everyone in any way he can.

“No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.”— Edmund Burke

In conclusion, I do wish everyone would read this book. I hope those who support Donald Trump will read it and see it for what it is and not merely an attempt to slander or humiliate him. It’s only possible if they approach it with an open mind and heart.

Maybe it’s too late for Donald Trump to get the help he should have gotten so many years ago, but he can still do the right thing and step down. Either way, we need to get him out of there.

“A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears.”Michel de Montaigne

FIGHT FOR SANITY TO BE RESTORED & PEACE WITH SURRENDER

One day at a time? I used to wonder why people with thirty years of sobriety or more would say “recovery” was one day at a time. For a newbie, yes. I got that. But those of us with more than five years? I’d say, “Well, I’m committed to my recovery. I’m grounded, and I’m not going back, I promise you.”

So, I have twenty-four consecutive years of “abstaining.”

I often forget exactly how long it’s been because it truly is one day at a time.

A Disease of the Attitudes

It’s never been so much about the physical compulsion for me. I never had a hangover, let alone a blackout. I didn’t do rehab or detox or spend time in jail.

Addiction, however, is a disease of mind, body, and spirit. I came across that explanation on Hazeldon.org, the other day, and I wholeheartedly believe that.

Before his death in 2016, educator/counselor/motivational speaker John Bradshaw authored many books on what he believed to be the root of all addictions—codependency. Codependency, in his view, was toxic shame. I’d also heard it referred to as the “Disease of the Attitudes.”  It is trauma induced, but there is also a lot of learned behavior, as many people grow up in dysfunctional families.

The disease has many manifestations. In short, something or someone has control over us to the extent that it clouds our perception and impairs our judgment, making life on life’s terms unmanageable.

Under these circumstances, we begin to exhibit narcissistic behavior, something that is common in our society to varying degrees, and more common, it seems, in addicts/alcoholics. 12-steps programs seek to correct that very behavior, along with the self-centeredness and self-obsession. It is not to be confused with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, although there are people in recovery who have that affliction. More so, addicts are people who have been abused by narcissists, including those with NPD. How narcissistic we become likely depends on the amount of time we’ve spent putting up with our narcissistic abusers. We catch their “fleas,” so to speak.

Sadly, we emerge with feelings of unworthiness. Down deep, we feel inferior, so we tell ourselves whatever we need to say to ourselves to maintain the delusion that we’re not only worthy, we’re better. We don’t even realize we think we are better, and yet we communicate that to others. We act as if we are unique and more important than everyone else, and we’re oblivious to all of it because we take ourselves way more seriously than we should.

We don’t know who we are, so we choose a mask, and we wear it. Denial can be such a comfort.

On a subconscious level, we are fiercely determined to preserve our delusions and denials and protect all of our “secrets.” We may become bullies with an eye out for any perceived threat. There is a constant need for damage control.

We use people. They help provide the attention, admiration, and validation we need, and they help support and promote our altered perceptions of what’s real.

We become con artists who can convince anyone of anything, turn things on and off as needed, and find a million different ways to seduce people. We learn that sex is not the only way to do that.

Often, too, we lack empathy. We are self-obsessed and so unable to put ourselves in someone else’s place. We’ve lost the connection where we feel what others are feeling. Our agendas keep us busy, along with trying to control everything, including how we are perceived by others. Maintaining the delusions and denial is nothing short of exhausting.

And we don’t hold ourselves accountable for our actions. Instead of learning from our mistakes, we make excuses. We get tangled in a web of lies we’ve created.

So, when we finally arrive at that place of surrender, we are broken. We’re needy and vulnerable.  We crave attention from others. It’s a drug, and whenever someone complies, it’s a temporary fix. It doesn’t work because, like any other drug, the euphoria fades, and you remember the pain and torture of what you truly fear. Hence, we need fix after fix.

Why There is More Danger Than We Realize

As an addicted person, we have, at least, some awareness of the danger we pose to ourselves. We may, at some point, realize the harm we cause others. We take risks we would not ordinarily take. However, there are some more insidious pitfalls that we never see coming.

Our “needs” will lead us to toxic codependent relationships that can put us or keep us in dangerous situations with severe consequences. People inclined to use our fragility against us will instinctively take advantage, and we will unintentionally draw them to us. Sometimes, they suffer from the same affliction, except they are true narcissists who will apply what they’ve learned to get what they want. Their desperation is so great, they can’t see past it, and neither can we.

These are predators who will love bomb the shit out of you and play to all your vulnerabilities by telling you precisely what you want to hear. They’ll idealize you, place you on a pedestal, and you’ll let them do it because what they offer is what you want. And the moment you’re not doing what they want you to do, they’ll begin to devalue you. It can be a frenemy, a lover, a co-worker, a family member, or even another person in recovery. When they can no longer control you, they’ll insult you in passive-aggressive ways, threaten to abandon you or lash out with cruel vindictiveness you’ve never seen the likes of throughout your wretched existence.

So, why is this important to mention?

It is unfortunately common. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve lived it and I’ve blogged about it,  It’s also madness. It will leave you traumatized and shocked, feeling emotionally raped. For the most fragile people, it’s caused mental breakdowns, even suicide. It’s hard to explain how this sort of bondage messes with your head, but all rational thinking goes right out the window.

The good news is, once you become aware of what’s going on inside of you, your needs will begin to change. You’ll get better and better at spotting the red flags, and your boundaries can protect you.

You Can Do It

It may take a bit of perilous soul-searching and coming face-to-face with the terrifying darkness lurking within, but we can fix this. Real narcissistic abusers (NPDs), however, cannot.

At the same time, not everyone is ready to plunge into that seemingly endless abyss where we face painful truths about ourselves and endure the grueling process of healing. We deliberately avoid it, or we scatter a little bit of dirt to the side and then dart off in another direction, taking cover until we feel grounded enough to dig a little deeper. Some people, sadly, will never be ready.

As for the rest of us, damn the lies! We got sick and tired of the drama and the feeling of dread whenever the phone rang. We were ready to love with our whole hearts, leaving the agendas behind. Hey, it’s not as easy as living in denial, but we knew we had to get better, that we had to do better. We can only be honest with others if we’re honest with ourselves. For that reason, we have to know what’s real, and, over time, we’ll peel off layer after layer of untruth.  We want to make life decisions as informed individuals with ever-increasing clarity.

Sooner, rather than later, we come to learn how to stop taking ourselves so seriously, which I’ve discussed at length in another blog. I talk about embracing your vulnerability, but, the truth is, we have to know what those vulnerabilities are, so we can protect ourselves when it really is necessary. When we fully accept that we are all just struggling humans, equal in importance, the shame that drove us to desperation will begin to dissipate.

I’ve come to notice that most people don’t like it when I say we are equal in importance and that no one is superior to anyone else. For sure, it’s not a popular thing to go babbling on about, but I do it because it’s part of a huge problem in this world — the less who contribute to it, the better.

We’ll get rid of that all or nothing mentality, too—winner takes all. We must have flexibility and balance in our lives.

In this process of recovery, we come to understand the importance of examining our motives and expectations in every situation. We may find they are not reasonable or realistic, and that we can’t trust our egos. People without clarity of conscience don’t question themselves. They won’t say, “I’m glad I caught that. I can refrain. I can resist. I can do the right thing.” They’ll keep doing what they’re doing, often not understanding what they’re doing or why.

We’ll be able to put ourselves in someone else’s place and take care with our words. For example, I’m always wary of leading anyone in the wrong direction, so I’m very direct. Sometimes because we’re kind to people, they think a romance is possible. In the past, that wouldn’t have bothered me because, hell, I had another fan to add to my collection. It fed my ego. Today, I am sincere in not wanting to hurt anyone. I’ve become interested in people for who they are and not for how they validate me.

I’ve also found that the maturity and wisdom we gain in “doing the work” allows us to resolve conflicts like adults because we are open, and we genuinely care about others. I don’t mean engaging with those that have no concern or regard for us and who will only do us harm. Nope, we’ll be avoiding people like that. In the past, it was too easy to lead us, to fool us, to enslave us, and that’s just not happening anymore. It’s essential to continue strengthening our boundaries and to pay attention! Know how to differentiate between genuine compliments and someone who is love bombing you because they have a fast-lane agenda. Shut down the love bombing. It’s a trap. We must hold on to our serenity and our peace. Newsflash: Love bombing doesn’t only happen in romance.

Anyway, we won’t be wasting time and energy on damage control. Instead, we’ll be acknowledging our mistakes and learning from them, not making excuses.

Of course, we don’t always have it down to the point where we’re invincible. It’s a constant effort that gets more automatic with time, but we never stop being vulnerable. We have to be patient with ourselves and our healing process and also with the healing journeys of others. (That’s a lot harder than it sounds. 😉 )

Avoiding Obstacles

So, what’s in the way of our surrender?

I’ve often heard, “But I can’t go to those 12-step meetings. I’m not comfortable.” Another deterrent for some is what they’ve referred to as “the God thing.” Someone in recovery suggested they are egotistical if they don’t subscribe to the most popular concept of God. Others seemed to invalidate a person’s sobriety and solid footing, claiming he or she was on the wrong path.

Let’s talk about the religious part first. Those who have other perceptions of God are fully aware that greatness surrounds and exceeds us all. We are in awe. Aside from that, I personally believe all the good around us and within us is God, and that God can also be conceived as “Good Orderly Direction.”

As so eloquently stated by Louisa Peck in her blog, A Spiritual Evolution, “Good Orderly Direction is more than the antithesis of fuck it; it’s the antithesis of ego. It is a form of caring, of knowing that your choices matter and seeking those that will feel right in the long run.”

Regardless of where that “good orderly direction” comes from, it keeps you on the right path. It’s there if you want it to be, and it’s where I direct my infinite gratitude. We can’t fall into the trap of trying to impress the masses. Let them do what works for them. You do you.

As for the social anxiety. I have it, too. We don’t like it when we’re not comfortable. That’s why we’ve turned to other methods of coping with reality—using drugs, alcohol, and other things to the point where we know something’s not right with us. It’s good to push through; yes, we won’t ever get comfortable by avoiding the problem. But if you can’t do it, you can still get with the program or benefit from its wisdom.

You can read the literature, work the steps, and learn a better design for living, and you can do it in the way that is best for you. What we don’t want moving forward are obstacles to our healing. Nothing and no one should prevent us from taking back our lives and restoring our sanity.

Conclusion

Recovery is an ongoing, permanent pursuit requiring a day-by-day commitment to better choices, requiring continuous reminders of, that’s not the way we do things anymore. We are never beyond reproach or incapable of making mistakes or bad judgments and reverting to old patterns. You can be physically sober for decades and still be an ass.

The learning, growing, and healing never ends. I love that we know better than we did in the past.

What I believe is; we should be consistently evolving. And every person we know has something to teach us whether they have no time in recovery or fifty years.

Appreciating who and where you are while also understanding who and what you’ve been is a good thing. We deserve the truth, don’t you think? And we’re worthy of it. We don’t have to be who others taught us to be when we came into this world. The people we looked to for guidance did what they could with the best of intentions and whatever awareness they had. It simply wasn’t enough.

Recommended Link:

How to Make Your Ego Your Bitch by Gary Z. McGee

Feature photo by bessie @ https://pixabay.com/users/bessi-909086/

HAPPY SURVIVAL: THE TRUTH ABOUT LIFE AFTER TRAUMA

People run from life in many ways. We can want a hug so desperately and yet recoil from it. We can crave love more than anything and build fortresses to keep it away. There’s this idea that the more bridges we burn, the harder it will be to go back to the things that caused us pain. Sometimes, that is true, but, at the same time, we keep looking for that place where we belong, and, in some situations, trying almost too hard to fit in, until we accept, with a great deal of shame, that we need to move on. Reaching out to people is overwhelming and terrifying, but we try it, and when we feel unheard, we vanish again. So many goodbyes––until we don’t want to do the relationship thing anymore or the intimacy thing or ask anyone for help or love or whatever the hell we need. Intimacy doesn’t seem worth any of that, and we lose interest. We shut down, close our doors for business, and thrive in our safe, predictable worlds.

We wonder if we are crazy, but people tell us only sane people question their sanity. Sometimes we think we’re monsters, but we come to learn that monsters feel no guilt, no shame, and no love. We do love, from a distance and we absorb the world’s pain.

In my twenties and beyond, I kept changing my name, my hair color, my address, my phone number, my job–you name it. It was as if I couldn’t run fast enough, couldn’t hide in a safe enough place. Without realizing it, I was running away from the trauma of childhood and teen years.

At some point in the healing process, something tells you that you don’t need to hide anymore. You don’t need to run, so you try not to. What’s unsettling is how far you can come in your healing and still get thrown back there in a heartbeat.

Progress can seem slow, but it keeps happening. I’m not a patient person, but I’ve learned to be patient about healing. I’ve had to, and I love healing because I’ve reaped its rewards. Often, I look back and ask myself, “How did I survive, being such an idiot for most of my life?” That may seem harsh, but in light of how far I’ve come, it makes sense. We can’t fix what we don’t know is broken. We can’t benefit from learning the truth about ourselves until we feel safe in rejecting the lies.

As survivors, we want this healing for everyone while needing to learn, too, that people are only ready when they’re ready. And it’s painful when we love people who need desperately to heal but remain trapped in their fear. Sometimes we wish we could absorb every bit of their agony; even it means holding on to all of it ourselves because we know we can handle it. We have.

We can’t get stuck in that inability to forgive either. It’s understandable because we witness so much unnecessary cruelty toward ourselves and others, and we don’t know what to do with that. For instance, how do you come to terms with the fact that someone willfully tried to destroy another person, or that person’s reputation, or his or her life, that they did everything in their power to annihilate another human being?

What I realized, quite a long time ago, is that revenge and punishment are not up to me. Divine retribution happens without the least bit of my help—no matter how we interpret divinity and even if we are divinity in the sense that we represent it in the universe. It works that way because we can’t destroy people without destroying ourselves. If it’s destruction we want, it’s destruction we’ll get, and it’s never one-sided.

A better solution is to keep following our path and goals and  let go of the burdens people give us to hold. The weight comes from feelings of not belonging or being worthy and accepted as we are. It comes from others mischaracterizing us or our actions to suit their agendas and punishing us for not being who they need us to be, not wanting what they require us to want.

We have to find our own happily ever after. It’s undoubtedly not the same for everyone, and that’s another place we can get stuck—wanting what we don’t have and realizing it’s not even what we want but what we think we’re supposed to want and have. Most people want to find that special someone, get that dream house and job. From the time I was eight years old, what I wanted was different—maybe, in some ways, the opposite of what everyone else wanted. It took me a while to realize that I have everything I’d ever wanted or needed in my life and, while I may have moments of feeling sad for another or sad for the world, I am happy.

One thing I’ve always known is to never give up. It does get better, a little at a time, but it gets so much better. Our survival not only gives hope to others but sharing our experiences allows us to help in their healing. We help each other, yes, and we give each other the love that’s been so hard for us to ask for or accept.

I’m not a religious type, but the prayer below has always been my favorite. It can certainly get you through it. ❤️

Copyright © Kyrian Lyndon November 2018

Feature photo credit: unsplash-logoSaffu

ANNOUNCEMENT! NEW MAGAZINE!

Brave Wings is a new online magazine that focuses on the human condition—whatever we experience in life that helps us learn, grow, and evolve. Sharing perspectives about healing and empowerment can be exciting and helpful, but we also want to provide entertainment and fun while sharing the beauty of creativity.

Some of the topics we will cover:

Adversity, anxiety, artist(s), authors, books, writing (editing tips and experiences), childhood, classic literature, codependency, compassion, creativity, depression, dreams, ego, evolving, feeling unworthy, fiction pieces and excerpts, fun, giving back, gratitude, grief, growing, healing, hope, humanity, humility, humor, inspiration, interviews, judgment, learning, letting go, life, loss, love, mental health, narcissism, oppression, panic attacks, parenting, passion, poetry, politics, prejudice, reading and reviews, recovery from addiction and trauma, relationships, religion, romance, sadness, self-sabotage, self-care and self-love, shame, stigma, stress, and tolerance.

For entertainment, we are interested in short stories and book series (all genres). We’re interested in humor.

For creativity, we may be interested in photos, handmade products, something that showcases your talent.

Content for submission will include blogs, videos, audios, slideshows, and photographs. Please see the submissions page for instructions on how to submit!

We will not pay for submissions at this time. However, we will always share your work on our social media sites, and we encourage all contributors to share magazine contents submitted by others on their social media sites. Helping one another with exposure is what will make this site work.

In addition, we will provide the following for all contributors to the magazine:

A listing in the contributor section, where more information (links, etc.) will be added with each contribution. The most frequent contributors may also have a few of their books, products, or recommendations in the listing.

The opportunity by contributors to submit news that provides opportunities for artistic communities, as well as their own business events and significant personal news, all of which we will share on our social media sites.

Access to the chat room (as a moderator, if they prefer), and the ability to hold monitored topic meetings to promote their talent/business.

For those privileges, you must be a regulator contributor. There are no deadlines. However, you must have contributed at least twice with acceptance and publication.

We do intend to have a community that includes a discussion forum and chat room where we can present topics hosted by contributors.

Our Announcement page will provide news of available opportunities within the artistic communities, including contests and contributor events.

We will post book reviews that are submitted by contributors, but we don’t assign books for review.

We will post interviews by our contributors if they are relative to our platform. If you feel you are a good candidate for an interview, contact us at submissions@bravewingsmag.com.

If this venture is a success, we may eventually monetize and pay for content.

For those interested in getting involved, we may also need editors, site moderators, group moderators, page moderators, etc. who will have contributor status. Those most involved will be given domain e-mail addresses for the magazine. We have four more available, so if you love this idea, the opportunity is there to get as involved as you’d like.

Another thing I’m tossing around is whether we’ll have a group or newsletter for interested parties, so please, please, weigh in with your thoughts about everything! All suggestions are welcome!

Please visit our site at Bravewings.mag.com, and feel free to follow or subscribe.

Please like us on Facebook and connect with us on Twitter!

Photo by KH Koehler Design

LAST WORD

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You made me laugh,
And I forgot all the tears.
You helped me up,
And I forgot the times
You let me down.
You were hatred,
Just as surely as
You were love.
You were everything right
And everything wrong—
Humility and
Defiance,
Cruelty
And kindness,
Approval and
Contempt.
You were everything
And nothing.
I had to let you go,
And it freed me.
Still, I’m sad,
For I know
Who you might have been.
I know you so well…
But you do not know me. – Kyrian Lyndon
from Remnants of Severed Chains

RoSC-web-FULL SPREAD 72dpi 3403x2500

Book cover design by Jah Kaine via jerboa Design Studios.com

Feature header photo by ara ghafoory @araghafoory

Poem copyright © Kyrian Lyndon 2015

THAT DEVOTED GIRL SHATTERED BY YOUR TRUTH IS FREE

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unsplash-logoDiego PH

I had a dream about you last night and woke up crying. I couldn’t sleep after that.

In the dream, you were angry with me—full of anger, full of hate. You had shut the door on me and left me out in the cold. I kept calling to you with a child’s unbearable anguish. You didn’t hear.

At some point, I cried, “Help me, daddy,” and finally, you came. I thought you were going to hit me or hurt me with your scarred and violent soul, but you didn’t. You hugged me. Well, you didn’t just hug me. You gave me the kind of hug I’d wanted from you since childhood, the comfort I always needed, and I didn’t want to let go.

I miss your smile and your jokes, Dad, your handsome face, and all of your wisdom, but I have to ask. Does a father realize he is the first man a girl gives her heart to completely? The first man she trusts blindly and devotedly? Did you realize?

I used to think I was hard to love.

Whatever people said—men especially—I wanted to believe them. Deep down, I didn’t. Not a word. And every time a man took something from me that I didn’t want him to have, every time a man tried to silence me, belittle me, or make me doubt myself, I punished him, pummeling him with words and crushing him with goodbye. I could be angry with them but not you.

What if things had been different between us, though? Would I had been less vulnerable or had the confidence to be my authentic self, knowing I was worthy and lovable? Would I have chosen more wisely? Would I have stopped running and hiding, oblivious to my weaknesses and my desperate needs? Would I have respected myself more? Might I have found someone I could love, for real? Someone who could have loved me back? Because I didn’t let them … I made sure they couldn’t.

Well, no matter, that’s all changed now. I picked up the shattered pieces of my heart and began to love myself.

It’s hard not to feel that twinge of emotion when I hear father tributes of the heroes who boosted confidence and taught children to believe in themselves. I honestly wish everyone could beam with that pride, feeling safe, content, and protected in that eternal bond.

It’s easy to defeat someone when you have all the power, when you are on a pedestal from the start, and you make all the rules. You can create vulnerability and punish the very same, though you don’t mean it. You can erase one’s humanity because of your denial, your self-loathing, and your shame, though you’re not aware. You can damage a person almost beyond repair. And, after the wrecking ball, cleanup of that wreckage rests solely on those tiny shoulders. Yeah, those shoulders get bigger, but somehow it all gets harder and more complicated.

I cleaned up that mess, though. The void lasts forever, and many people can attest to that, but I got those things I needed. It just takes ongoing effort to hold on to them.

And by the time I had a child of my own, I knew all too well what a child needs. I was able to give him that, but I couldn’t give him YOU. Oh, he’s brilliant and kind and funny, and so very loyal. Like you, he’s hard and strong but with such a tender heart. He needed you, and he still needs you, though he’d never admit it now. He’d been shattered right along with me, but we rose to the challenge, and he loves with his whole heart like I do. I’m proud of him, and I’d like to think you’d be proud of him, too, but it doesn’t matter now.

Look, maybe you didn’t give me what I needed, but you gave what you had. I saw a brave and modest man, generous with assistance and advice—a hero to many, and I know why they love you. I know why I loved you. Sure, it’s easy to love someone when you think they are perfect; when you hold them up on a pedestal and pretend they are everything you need and always wanted. You fell off that pedestal when I was twelve, Dad, but I loved you so much, flaws and all, and I still do. That’s unconditional love, and though you couldn’t give that to me, you still get it. Because guess what? You deserved that, too, from the people who didn’t give it to you.

Yeah, I knew why you were the way you were, though you accepted no excuses from me when I fell short. You could never understand me, but I understood you. Though you couldn’t hear me, yours was the loudest voice I’d heard in my entire life—a voice that continued to bellow in my ear for a lifetime. It kept me from standing up. It kept me from fighting, and it kept me from winning until I did all those things because I couldn’t lose any more. I climbed in spite of you, because of you and for you, because you couldn’t do it yourself, and I understand that.

When you were angry, devastated, and tortured, I tried to tell you it would be okay, that I was sorry for you, and that I loved you, but it seemed too much for you to bear at the time. Then, in the end, I forgave you, and you forgave me. It took a lifetime, but we got there.

Sigh. There are many things we never got to do, Dad, and it’s too late now. You’re gone. But I do have some fond memories of you that I will cherish always.

And here’s what I wish.

I wish I could go back in time with you—to those boyhood days when you were punished severely for no good reason—when you were invalidated, shamed, ridiculed, and ignored, just to tell you how awesome you were, and all you could be and do with your life. I’d say I believe in you, and that you have everything you need to succeed. I would say over and over that I love you to the moon and back, so you would know how worthy you are of that love. And maybe you would have grown up to be what you wanted, and have felt no shame. Then when it was your turn, you could have done the same. You would have known I was not an extension of you and didn’t have to represent you or your ideals. Perhaps you would not have expected such a conformist “go with the flow” type of kid who didn’t make waves but sang to a song you couldn’t possibly hear. You would not have lost empathy. You wouldn’t have cared how others saw me or what they would think. You’d have simply treasured me for the person I am. Imagine that!

The aching in my heart is that I want that for everyone. I wish all men and women who didn’t get what they needed as children would give that and get it back in abundance however they can. And I’m infinitely grateful to every hardworking mom and dad who gets up every day ready and willing to get it all right, including you.

Rest easy, Dad, and know you will always be in my heart.

“Children are the most fearless souls on earth.”― Lailah Gifty Akita, Think Great: Be Great!

Further Reading:

10 Ways Strong Women Move Past Their ‘Daddy Issues’

Why Dads Matter — Especially to Girls

*****

© Copyright May 31, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

WHEN YOU HEAL YOUR HEART, YOU LOVE BETTER

 

Photo credit: Jasmine Waheed

 

Not everyone likes to plunge into that seemingly endless abyss where we face painful truths and endure the grueling process of healing.

Some deliberately avoid it, or they scatter a little bit of dirt to the side and then dart off in another direction, taking cover until they feel grounded enough to dig a little deeper.

People like us, though, we want to keep digging.

We’ve already been traumatized and shattered, you see, and, in those moments, we learned some of the best lessons of our lives. So, we know we’ll be okay. We know, too, that we are learning to love with our whole hearts.

Amazingly enough, we’ve been walking away from people that have exploited our vulnerabilities. We’ve been doing it for a while now, and we’re getting better at it. Maybe we were condemned for it, too, at one time or another, but we’d do it again in a heartbeat.   You see, we know we are vulnerable. We know how vulnerable we are. That is good because before we understood this, it was easy to lead us, to fool us, and to enslave us.

We’ve become patient with our healing process, and we’re trying hard to become more patient with the healing processes of others.  We’ve been around long enough to wonder what is worse— dealing with our own fears or the fear that motivates the masses.

It often seems that people don’t truly want to understand each another, or they simply want people who are different or feel differently to go away.

Letting go is easy for some; I know.  For us, it is painful and confusing. Maybe the energy needed to explain isn’t there, or we’re tired of explaining, tired of the world, tired of ourselves. We examine our motives, our expectations. We don’t always like our motives. We don’t always trust our egos, and that’s a good thing. People without clarity of conscience don’t question themselves. They won’t say, “I’m glad I caught that. I can refrain. I can resist. I can do the right thing.” They’ll just keep doing what they’re doing, often not understanding what they’re doing or why.

So, yes, the world can overwhelm. It makes some of us want to keep our worlds a little smaller, and, in our broken moments, we need time to fix things in our hearts.

We will work through the sadness.  In a poet’s heart, anyway, it has its honored place. We’ll embrace it, feel all of its intense beauty, and we’ll let it run its magnificent course.

Those of us who do this work and this digging do it because we’ve had it with being terrified, with trying to protect our hearts and our secrets—the image, the illusions, the payoff. We’re tired of the denial that was our sole comfort, our only way to survive. When we came to fully accept that we are all just struggling humans, equal in importance, the shame that drove us to compete and control began to dissipate.

We kept replacing false with real, and we’ve hung on to hope. It’s not as easy as living in denial, but we know we have to get better. We know we have to do better.

For what it’s worth, as I see it, the truth is never one extreme or the other. There’s a lot of gray, and we always need balance.

But just so you know? When we shut down, when we distance, when we go deep or even go away, we don’t hate you. We don’t want to hurt you. We’re grateful that you have been part of our experience. We’re grateful for what you’ve taught us. We’re grateful for every blessing we have. Our hearts are bursting with love and often joy, and we still care. We continue to root for you, no matter what, and we’re always ready to listen, ready to resolve, and ready to heal.

Yes, we finally learned to love like that.

Recommended Link:

How to Make Your Ego Your Bitch by Gary Z. McGee

© Copyright January 30, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission. 

WINNING THE SELF-SABOTAGE BATTLE WITH SELF-LOVE

Photo cred: LisaBPhoto

We all become conscious, at some point in our lives, of ways we can sabotage our physical well-beings. When it comes to sabotaging our emotional well-beings, and even our financial security and stability, things seem to become more complicated.

Brilliant individuals are sometimes incapable of motivating themselves enough to change their lives or gravitate toward the ideal. They tend to become problem-oriented rather than solution oriented, boxing themselves in with an almost unwillingness to compromise. They may set impossible goals instead of practical ones.

Maybe someone convinced them they didn’t deserve success, or they convinced themselves based on how someone made them feel about their competency or their judgment. Either way, these old tapes keep playing in their heads, telling them they can’t accomplish anything, can’t succeed, can’t win, and there’s not enough to go around. In this predicament, we fear success as much as we fear failure, because they are two sides of the same coin. We keep that coin as a reminder that we don’t trust ourselves with the dreams we cherish or the plans we’ve made.

We tell ourselves we don’t deserve success any more than we deserve money. Perhaps once we get our hands on the latter, we don’t manage it well. I’ve been there. I can attest to the fact that when you finally realize you do deserve these things, you’ll likely find yourself working your tail off, accomplishing one goal after another. We have to be rid of whatever that little voice is in our head that says we can’t do it, and we’re not good enough, and that all this is impossible. We can, we are, and it’s not.

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We get into this pattern of self-pitying victimhood. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that we’ve been a victim of something or someone, or expressing anger about it, and shedding tears. We have a right to our grieving process. But sometimes we get use to the payoff—attention, pity, praise, the temporary ego fix. So instead of becoming solution oriented, we become more and more problem oriented, more and more likely to want an audience of sympathizers. And we get stuck there because solving problems would take that attention away and whatever else we get from being constantly burdened. It’s not that we don’t deserve to be comforted. It’s that we don’t move forward. We don’t get better.

This pattern normally goes hand in hand with excessive worry about people and things. Social media is a perfect example, because it mirrors life. I have seen people in a pattern of deactivating accounts only to resurface in a matter of days. Sometimes it may be that they legitimately need a break, but very often it’s because expectations are not being met. People are not responding to them in a way they could perceive as favorable. They’ve made assumptions about what people think or what someone meant, and after a considerable amount of time wasted on obsessive worrying, they take a drastic action to disengage. When they come back, it’s because they need to try it all again. They have too much riding on acceptance. It’s all self-defeating because we create unrealistic expectations, and we tend to assume wrong. Comparing and assuming tends to cause more mental anguish than is warranted or bearable. All we can do is be who we are, our ever-improving version of that.

Many stress about their looks, their bodies. Perfect is boring, and there is beauty beyond someone else’s chosen ideal. Beauty does, indeed, come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, and people will have all sorts of opinions on what looks good.  In fact, I realized at one point, that I never cared if someone didn’t like the hair color I chose. I knew how I wanted to look. I would never consult anyone about it, not even my significant other. So if we are trying to satisfy ourselves rather than appeal to every single person on the planet, we should set the standards for ourselves not appease clothing designers, the model industry, or the men who rate women on AskMen.com. Because when we’re finally okay with how we look, imperfections and all, we exude the confidence we need to get oh just about anything. And if that’s not enough, we get to focus more on being the best human we can be. When we finally love who we are, we learn to respect ourselves and treat ourselves better.

While it’s normal to want attention and approval, it’s the excessive, almost desperate need for it that can destroy us if we let it. People take unnecessary risks for the fix without realizing. They may trust the wrong people, throw caution to the wind, make excuses for bad behavior, cling to people who have repeatedly demonstrated the harm they’re capable of inflicting upon others. We don’t even realize that the payoff is attention we craved, validation we needed, admiration we couldn’t resist. Because it comes at just the right time, and creates such a bondage that we continue to crave it from a dangerous source.

Sometimes it’s less extreme. We try to be generous with people regarding our time, our attention, our praise, but we do this with relationships we don’t honestly want to nurture because we want to be nice. I find that when people want to be nice or perceived as nice, they immediately have expectations and create obligations. Then, on top of the resentment about doing something they don’t want to do, and the expectations or obligation that likely won’t be met, they go from ‘nice’ person to fire-breathing dragon in a matter of seconds. So what happens next is far from what they initially intended. People get hurt.

Well, it’s okay not to want to be friends with everyone. It’s okay to feel emotionally exhausted and want to have only genuine relationships. It’s okay to walk away when you’re not feeling it, not trusting it. It’s okay to save that overflowing generosity of spirit for those who matter to you. You can still do nice things for others along the way if you want. Quite simply, it doesn’t have to be like wearing a thorny crown while carrying a cross over your back.

I’ll say this. The more I become aware of how people think (thanks to social media), I tend not to want to meet any more people or reconnect with people from the past. I’m happy to avoid everyone outside my window… even while loving to hear them all out there—the comforting humdrum. Isolating can be a peaceful, healing thing, but it can also be another way of self-sabotaging if we don’t check it. I’ll admit, I have to push myself to get out there and deal with the world as it is, on its terms. Whether I like it or not, it’s necessary. I’ve had to accept that I’m not always going to be comfortable, and I’m not always going to be safe.

I still believe, though, we have to take our time getting to know people, especially when we are very empathetic. Because while we can recognize serious issues people have, our compassion for what they’re dealing with can override any need to protect ourselves. Unfortunately, we have to because these people can hurt you and will do so again and again. We need to pay attention. We need to be careful. We have to stop tolerating disrespect under the guise of being noble and humble. That only creates a perception of some superior self that is false. Yeah, we want to be the nice guy, but if we are real with others, we become something better than ‘nice’. We are kind.

I’ve come to believe that one of the best things we can do in life is heal the vulnerabilities that make us susceptible to all this self-sabotage. Once we find the courage to seek answers, then acknowledge, accept, feel, cry and release anger, we heal, we learn, and then we grow and evolve. It’s an ongoing thing that just keeps getting better. We deserve that.

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Of course, life would be so much easier if we could make a habit of staying in the moment and being fully present in that moment. We wouldn’t be worrying about what happened yesterday or an hour ago, or what’s going to happen tomorrow. I have to remind myself constantly, but it works particularly well in moments of crisis and panic. A wise friend taught me to stay in the solution. Think about what you can do at that moment, not what you can’t do. Control what you can. Amazing how that helps. tiny-smileys-yesemoticons-032

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Healing Shame by Robert D. Caldwell, M.Div.

JUST THINK NOW: IS IT LOVE OR OBSESSION?

Some people have the discernment required in connecting with others. Many, despite their intelligence, self-sufficiency, and well-meaning hearts often find themselves in unhealthy relationships.

There was a time that I, too, lacked that discernment. I had to learn the hard way never to ignore the following.

1) Red Flags Waving

We witness behavior that raises an eyebrow, things we don’t ordinarily condone. It could be cruel, inappropriate, abusive, or manipulative behavior toward another, derogatory remarks, infidelity, and lack of boundaries or respect for boundaries. Sometimes a person admits to being a jerk, a bastard, or a bitch, and our first instinct is to contradict and thereby comfort them. Sometimes we think because a person can be sweet and charming to us, we are the exception, the chosen one who will make it all better. We’re not, and we won’t.

2) The Pedestal

Our perception of this person goes from one extreme to another. He or she walks on water or is a monster. We have defined who they are—essentially, a paragon of the ideal. We decided beforehand how they should behave and respond. It’s not reality-based, and it’s not love. It is obsession—a persistent and disturbing preoccupation with an unreasonable idea. What we’re feeling has nothing to do with that person. We can’t love someone we don’t see. They are no more than a channel for what we need. An obsession is an addiction. It distorts our perception and impairs judgment. It comes with denial and control patterns that become manipulation. There is no direct communication about needs and desires. Resentments build, fester, and then erupt into anger. When reality kicks in, it is a long tumble for that person up on the pedestal to the ground. Unrealistic expectations create devastating disappointment.

3) Unnecessary risks

We are willing to compromise ourselves and our well-being when we don’t have to and sometimes the safety and well-being of others. We may rush headlong into a physical relationship with little knowledge and a good measure of denial instead of awareness, education, and caution.

4) Compromised principles

There is unwilling compliance to avoid wrath and rejection. We find ourselves continually compromising our principles and lowering our standards.

5) The Stranger in the Mirror

We don’t recognize ourselves. We don’t like who we are in this situation or relationship, or we don’t like who we are becoming or the way we feel, act or think. We were never this whiny, this controlling, this hurt, this confused. We sometimes feel like a basket case. At the same time, we have an unbalanced self-esteem. We feel the other person could not possibly want to live without us, even while we find it increasingly difficult to live with ourselves.

6) Goals On Hold

The relationship distracts us from our goals or seems to have replaced them. It happens in new relationships, but if we are unable to get back on track or have abandoned our dreams entirely, it’s a problem.

7) Confusion and More Confusion

We don’t know what to believe because our judgment and perception remain clouded.

8) Way Too Much Stress

We are not taking care of business or ourselves. We may feel more paranoid, more OCD, more anxious. People have a lot to work through in relationships. Stress is normal, but constant stress that renders our lives unmanageable is not.

9) Bondage Without Leather & Chains or That Monkey On Your Back

We try to fight it. We want to be free of this person. At the same time, we want nothing and no one to come between that person and us. We may isolate to have more time to focus on our obsession. When what we want dangles before us, we can’t resist. When deprived of it, we are sick—mentally, emotionally, sometimes physically. We may feel we cannot be honest about this relationship or situation with anyone including ourselves. We continue to want the same thing from this individual not realizing that after a while, we don’t enjoy it, and maybe we never did, yet we still need it. The moments of comfort and bliss are fleeting. A feeling of emptiness prevails. It causes agonizing pain for us. We may feel as if we are in bondage because we are. At times, we can’t stand up for ourselves because we are somehow at a disadvantage and at the mercy of our obsession.

Here is the question to ask, what is the payoff? Because there is one. An issue we likely didn’t know we had made us vulnerable in this situation. We were addicted to at least one thing this liaison was getting for us, and it’s doing a lot more harm than good.

Love, on the other hand, is good, but to feel comfortable when loving and receiving love in return, we must know we are worthy. Getting to that place opens another door in the journey of our recovery from past trauma and emotional abuse. Beyond it, more beauty awaits and more joy.

Nine Inch Nails: The Perfect Drug (1997) from Nine Inch Nails on Vimeo.

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9 Warning Signs That You Are In A Dangerous Relationship

What Self-Love Means: 20+ Ways to Be Good to Yourself

© Copyright May 24, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

GOOD PEOPLE DROWNING IN FEAR AND TOXIC SHAME

I know what it’s like when your mind doesn’t stop – the thoughts, the ideas, the worries, the obsessions. Many people struggle, and I think it’s important to not only acknowledge that, but to share how we have been conquering one battle after another. It tells others they are not alone in their struggles; that things can and do get better.

The shame many of us live with often begins in childhood where we are not able to sort out what is ours to claim and what is not. Ultimately, the combination of what is ours and what we take on as ours can be difficult to bear.

Some people, in the throes of their hidden shame, are afraid to be seen authentically, and maybe even afraid to see others as they are and allow them to shine. The serpent that bedevils us is ego. It is an ongoing effort to keep that sucker reigned in and right-sized.

Shame traps people in a fear of failure/fear of success mindset, two sides of the same coin. The result is the same, more ridicule and shame. Many feel they don’t deserve success, and there are some who pacify themselves believing that others don’t deserve it either.

But we all are all capable of learning from our mistakes, growing, changing, and finding happiness. It depends on whether we heal or not. External validation is  a temporary fix until we resolve things internally. Past turmoil is a boulder we carry everywhere we go. Some hold it up forever while others chip it away, one piece at a time.

We heal when we come to believe we deserve better, and we do. For some, that healing takes a long time and some, sadly, never heal.

But if the process of healing has begun in another, patience is key, as beautifully expressed in this piece by Jeff Brown @ http://soulshaping.com/

“Emotional armor is not easy to shed, nor should it be. It has formed for a reason- as a requirement for certain responsibilities, as a conditioned response to real circumstances, as a defense against unbearable feelings. It has served an essential purpose. It has saved lives. Yet it can be softened over time. It can melt into the tender nest at its core. It can reveal the light at its source. But never rush it, never push up against it, never demand it to drop its guard before its time. Because it knows something you don’t. In a still frightening world, armor is no less valid than vulnerability. Let it shed at its own unique pace.”

We have no idea about anyone else’s pain. We don’t know how hard they’ve tried to bear it. Addiction and obsession will distort perspectives and impair judgment, and addiction and obsession are not simply about narcotics or alcohol. The world we live in and the circumstances of our lives heighten sensitivity, and it all begins when we are too small to comprehend it.

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Some Great Reads:

Toss Your Expectations Into The Ocean

18 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Is

© Copyright August, 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

Featured Photo by John Hain

THAT DEVOTED GIRL SHATTERED BY YOUR TRUTH IS FREE

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I had a dream about you last night and woke up crying. I couldn’t sleep after that.

In the dream, you were angry with me—full of anger, full of hate. You had shut the door on me and left me out in the cold. I kept calling to you with a child’s unbearable anguish. You didn’t hear.

At some point, I cried, “Help me, daddy,” and finally, you came. I thought you were going to hit me or hurt me with your scarred and violent soul, but you didn’t. You hugged me. Well, you didn’t just hug me. You gave me the kind of hug I’d wanted from you since childhood, the comfort I always needed, and I didn’t want to let go.

I miss your smile and your jokes, Dad, your handsome face, and all of your wisdom, but I have to ask. Does a father realize he is the first man a girl gives her heart to completely? The first man she trusts blindly and devotedly? Did you realize?

I used to think I was hard to love.

Whatever people said—men especially—I wanted to believe them. Deep down, I didn’t. Not a word. And every time a man took something from me that I didn’t want him to have, every time a man tried to silence me, belittle me, or make me doubt myself, I punished him, pummeling him with words and crushing him with goodbye. I could be angry with them but not you.

What if things had been different between us, though? Would I had been less vulnerable or had the confidence to be my authentic self, knowing I was worthy and lovable? Would I have chosen more wisely? Would I have stopped running and hiding, oblivious to my weaknesses and my desperate needs? Would I have respected myself more? Might I have found someone I could love, for real? Someone who could have loved me back? Because I didn’t let them … I made sure they couldn’t.

Well, no matter, that’s all changed now. I picked up the shattered pieces of my heart and began to love myself.

It’s hard not to feel that twinge of emotion when I hear father tributes of the heroes who boosted confidence and taught children to believe in themselves. I honestly wish everyone could beam with that pride, feeling safe, content, and protected in that eternal bond.

It’s easy to defeat someone when you have all the power, when you are on a pedestal from the start, and you make all the rules. You can create vulnerability and punish the very same, though you don’t mean it. You can erase one’s humanity because of your denial, your self-loathing, and your shame, though you’re not aware. You can damage a person almost beyond repair. And, after the wrecking ball, cleanup of that wreckage rests solely on those tiny shoulders. Yeah, those shoulders get bigger, but somehow it all gets harder and more complicated.

I cleaned up that mess, though. The void lasts forever, and many people can attest to that, but I got those things I needed. It just takes ongoing effort to hold on to them.

And by the time I had a child of my own, I knew all too well what a child needs. I was able to give him that, but I couldn’t give him YOU. Oh, he’s brilliant and kind and funny, and so very loyal. Like you, he’s hard and strong but with such a tender heart. He needed you, and he still needs you, though he’d never admit it now. He’d been shattered right along with me, but we rose to the challenge, and he loves with his whole heart like I do. I’m proud of him, and I’d like to think you’d be proud of him, too, but it doesn’t matter now.

Look, maybe you didn’t give me what I needed, but you gave what you had. I saw a brave and modest man, generous with assistance and advice—a hero to many, and I know why they love you. I know why I loved you. Sure, it’s easy to love someone when you think they are perfect; when you hold them up on a pedestal and pretend they are everything you need and always wanted. You fell off that pedestal when I was twelve, Dad, but I loved you so much, flaws and all, and I still do. That’s unconditional love, and though you couldn’t give that to me, you still get it. Because guess what? You deserved that, too, from the people who didn’t give it to you.

Yeah, I knew why you were the way you were, though you accepted no excuses from me when I fell short. You could never understand me, but I understood you. Though you couldn’t hear me, yours was the loudest voice I’d heard in my entire life—a voice that continued to bellow in my ear for a lifetime. It kept me from standing up. It kept me from fighting, and it kept me from winning until I did all those things because I couldn’t lose any more. I climbed in spite of you, because of you and for you, because you couldn’t do it yourself, and I understand that.

When you were angry, devastated, and tortured, I tried to tell you it would be okay, that I was sorry for you, and that I loved you, but it seemed too much for you to bear at the time. Then, in the end, I forgave you, and you forgave me. It took a lifetime, but we got there.

Sigh. There are many things we never got to do, Dad, and it’s too late now. You’re gone. But I do have some fond memories of you that I will cherish always.

And here’s what I wish.

I wish I could go back in time with you—to those boyhood days when you were punished severely for no good reason—when you were invalidated, shamed, ridiculed, and ignored, just to tell you how awesome you were, and all you could be and do with your life. I’d say I believe in you, and that you have everything you need to succeed. I would say over and over that I love you to the moon and back, so you would know how worthy you are of that love. And maybe you would have grown up to be what you wanted, and have felt no shame. Then when it was your turn, you could have done the same. You would have known I was not an extension of you and didn’t have to represent you or your ideals. Perhaps you would not have expected such a conformist “go with the flow” type of kid who didn’t make waves but sang to a song you couldn’t possibly hear. You would not have lost empathy. You wouldn’t have cared how others saw me or what they would think. You’d have simply treasured me for the person I am. Imagine that!

The aching in my heart is that I want that for everyone. I wish all men and women who didn’t get what they needed as children would give that and get it back in abundance however they can. And I’m infinitely grateful to every hardworking mom and dad who gets up every day ready and willing to get it all right, including you.

Rest easy, Dad, and know you will always be in my heart.

“Children are the most fearless souls on earth.”― Lailah Gifty Akita, Think Great: Be Great!

Further Reading:

10 Ways Strong Women Move Past Their ‘Daddy Issues’

Why Dads Matter — Especially to Girls

© Copyright May 31, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

WHEN IT HURTS—SURVIVING PEOPLE, LIFE AND MADNESS

 

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There are a few reasons I often choose to write about the difficult things I needed to learn the hard way in life. One reason is to create awareness and to advocate for people in similar circumstances. If I’m able to achieve that, I feel fortunate, and it’s one of the rewards of so many missed opportunities or hours spent in isolation. Then there is the “writer” perspective that every experience in our lives is good copy. Nothing should go to waste in this effort—no pain, no joy, and no humiliation. If it can’t be insightful, it just might be entertaining. 🙂

Now and then, someone will read what I’ve written and think, oh, that’s about me. The truth is, it’s probably about a lot of people. In certain life predicaments, you’re bound to encounter individuals with the same issues. You attract them and may even cling to them for a while because it’s familiar.

Personally, I’ve had to take inventory of my behavior over the years in order to heal, grow, and evolve so that I could do better. I’ve had quite a bit of healing to do. Even with a ton of work, there’s always much more to do. And I know why people get stuck where they are. I understand that it’s never hard to go back there in a moment of weakness. I realize, too, that the culprits of our frustration come at us from a place of pain and fear, and that they’re suffering, too. 😦

As trite as it may seem, the main reason for writing what I write is to help myself and others heal and triumph in the process. It’s become a passion since I believe we can’t possibly have enough willing contributors to global and collective healing.

Sometimes, however, we don’t know how much more we can take. We’re already dealing with the world’s latest and ongoing horrors. We’re trying to achieve our goals, live our dreams, and at times face overwhelming disappointment. Meanwhile, the relationships we have with people, through all of these circumstances, often determine whether we have the strength to continue or not.

Conflict resolution is important. To save myself a lot of time and energy, not to mention a whole lot of anguish and pain, I’ve had to learn the telltale signs that there is no hope for resolution. And you can bet it’s a lost cause when you’re dealing with emotional manipulators who will exploit your vulnerabilities.

It happened to me about eight years ago in a recovery group. Not surprising, since people in recovery are learning to reign in ego and recognize character defects so they can become better people. It’s more often about helping one another do that rather than tear each other down, but it doesn’t always work that way. I’m still, on occasion, dealing with the repercussions of that. But it’s one example. Emotional manipulation goes on between people in many different scenarios—work, home, social media, yeah, just about everywhere and all the time.

These people won’t tell you the truth no way no how because they don’t trust you (and that’s because they know you can’t trust them) or because they have too much invested in the opposing perspective. They don’t want to understand you or make allowances or hear explanations. They make assumptions rather than ever ask what the deal is, and they won’t disclose those assumptions. That would make it too easy for you to correct their misinformation. They would rather not argue than admit they could be wrong and deny you the privilege of ever confronting them about anything. You don’t have the right to see them as anything other than the generous martyrs they perceive themselves to be. They’re doing you a favor by being in your life, and everything they do is out of the goodness of their hearts (because they are so nice and so much better than you). And they don’t even realize this is what they are saying in so many ways.

They might even align themselves with people who want you to fail and withhold support for your efforts. Why? Because the naysayers, well, that’s usually the bigger group. That’s the group they want to belong to, and fit in, reaping the attention, admiration, and approval they so desperately need. In light of that, you are expendable. Not that they would see it that way. It’s a heartbreaking thing to come to terms with if you have an ounce of empathy. It brings more guilt and shame no one needs.

You can try asking outright if you’ve done something wrong, but they’ll say no and then continue to demonstrate that they have little regard for you.  The ones who are conscious of what they’re doing will use aggressive behavior if  that’s what intimidates you—become a combative bully or enlist one to do their dirty work. Whatever they learn about you, they will later use it against you.  Get ready for the smear campaign with people playing both sides. You don’t need the drama, mama. Run.

Now, while I may want to extend the same compassion for them that I extended to myself in making peace with the past, it’s hard sometimes. Nothing stings more than being part of someone’s self-serving charade. They value their image and their pride more than they value you, and I believe we should be with people who do more than tolerate us but celebrate and cherish us as we do them.

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There is no good reason for allowing anyone to shatter our self-esteem, undermine us at every turn, and shake whatever faith we’ve managed to muster in ourselves. It’s futile, it’s painful, and it destroys us. We don’t owe anyone that. It’s an absurd self-sacrifice. It’s codependent, and they wouldn’t likely do it for us. Who can afford the constant message these people impart to us, that we are not worth it? Many of us have spent decades fighting to get rid of that message, and we don’t want it back.

So we have to let it all go with love. Walk away with our dignity and self-respect, and protect ourselves from further harm. Because to resolve anything, we need two people who care enough about each other to listen, both willing to own their part in whatever happened.

Bottom line—we have to take care of ourselves. And those times when we feel like giving up are the times to be especially nurturing to ourselves.

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We tend to think, in moments of distress, so many people have it worse, far worse, and we’re lucky. We have so many reasons to be grateful. Yes, that’s true. It’s relative. Perhaps the guilt alone, thinking of what people around the world have to endure while we’re merely battling egos, makes us feel selfish in complaining.

We’re not, though. It is tiring. It’s exhausting. It’s frustrating and at times, devastating. Those feelings don’t simply go away because we feel we’re not entitled to them.

I can say, what’s helped me most, through everything, is seeing life as a challenge. Whatever I had thrown at me, I wanted to rise to meet the challenge and thrive. Sometimes I didn’t want that immediately, but give me a little time, and I’m stepping up. That works incredibly well. If I didn’t know when to shut down, when to preserve, protect, back the hell off and breathe in some self-love, I could assure you; I wouldn’t be here.

At the same time, I don’t blame people who feel they’ve had enough and want to give up entirely. I hate when people call them selfish. I’ve said for years, especially if you bring a child into this world; you just stick around. You have no business bringing a child here and then giving up. I clung to that in the worst possible times, and it was a no-brainer. I wasn’t going anywhere. It remained the number one reason I never quit my dreams or my life or gave up the hope that things can and do get better.

Still, if that doesn’t work for another person, my first thought is, I’m not in his or her shoes. I don’t know how hard they tried. I didn’t feel their pain, especially not the way they felt it. I don’t know their threshold. I don’t know how frightening it was to be inside their heads. I do know it can be terrifying to think you are losing it and can’t hold on. Sometimes it’s selfish to expect people to go on while they’re in so much pain so that we can still have them in our lives.

And I wholeheartedly want everyone to go on. I want everyone to heal, to succeed, to live their dreams, and to find their happily ever after. No one asks to come here. No one who sat giggling and gurgling on the rug, playing with their fun little toys, had any idea what the future held.

I do believe, though, there’s enough success to go around, but I’m not always sure about love. Many things get in the way of love—unrealistic expectations, rivalry, ego, and I tend to think if everyone gets enough love from the start, we wouldn’t have all these problems, especially with each other. Maybe fewer people would go wrong in life. I don’t know. But I think, we’d be less inclined to give up on people, because they’d be less inclined to give up on us.

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Louise Hay – Affirmations and Power Thoughts

Eckhart Tolle – Free Your Mind and Learn to Let Go

Jim Carrey’s Secret of Life – Inspiring Message

© Copyright May 4, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

LIL’ KIM BACKLASH—THE CRITICISM, BEING WORTHY & LOVE

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With all the social media fuss about Lil’ Kim’s newest look, my first reaction was sadness for her and wanting to send love, tons of love. Then, as is so often the case with social media, there were many different reactions to the reactions, all of which required deeper reflection.

I guess whatever response we had depended on who we were while reading this story. Did we read it as a white person, a black person, a woman, a man, a feminist, an activist or someone who knows what it’s like to be broken, feel shame, and believe you are unworthy?

Some people saw the backlash as a double standard. White women go to the beach or use a fake tanning product to make their skin darker, and it’s normal. A black woman makes her skin lighter, and everyone goes nuts. Okay, I’m not big on the tanning thing myself (though I never mind it), but maybe a lot of us don’t expect that anyone would genuinely want to be paler.

So we get the impression that a black woman making her skin lighter is a result of this perception that being lighter is somehow better. We see it as a sad outcome of racism that amounts to people feeling not good enough, and we hate that people are made to feel this way.

And this, on top of everything else, is very much a woman thing.

People have argued that all women strive to look more beautiful, and Lil’ Kim is no different. But using cosmetics or dying your hair to enhance your beauty is not quite the same as having plastic surgery that makes you suddenly unrecognizable. We see it a lot, especially with the Hollywood crowd, and we sometimes blame and shame the wrong people. We ridicule the women who keep turning themselves inside out trying to achieve a perfection that doesn’t exist or trying to impress a society with impossible and often ridiculous standards. And that questionable society continues to profit from women feeling unworthy.

I suppose there is a difference, too, between changing something because you want to, and changing everything because you think it’s the only way to gain acceptance or the only way you’ll be loved.

What I read about Lil’ Kim is that people often told her she wasn’t pretty, and that her father played a part in her feeling unworthy. I can see from her old photos that she was beautiful from the start. That gave me the impression that this was yet another person feeling broken, another person who couldn’t love herself and maybe, just maybe, she developed a disorder and had a completely distorted perception of her self-image.

So, here it is. I’ve got nothing but love for Lil’ Kim and all the people out there who feel they need to fight for acceptance. Once upon a time, I felt that way, too. I hope, above all, that one day they will be able to love themselves because that’s when the game changes. And we need to change that game.

© Copyright April 9, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

Featured Photo by Jordan Sanchez

AN EMPATHETIC BEING IN A STRANGELY APATHETIC WORLD?

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Photo by Julia Caesar

I know there is an established difference between empaths and highly empathetic people, but I prefer to discuss this topic without suggesting where I or anyone else might be on that spectrum.

To be honest, I remain skeptical about the paranormal. I question the metaphysical aspect of having the high level of empathy that makes you difficult to be around at times. Please bear in mind, when you have been that way since childhood, it feels like the most natural response one could have, even when it’s uncomfortable. It’s instinctive and, in my estimation, shouldn’t be at all peculiar, except that we live in such an apathetic world.

Some people have even linked a high level of empathy with codependence.

As far as I’m concerned, codependency is not about empathy. It’s about obsession. In the relationship between a drug addict or alcoholic and a generally sober enabler, both people are suffering from addictions. Both have their agenda, and what contributes to the endless cycle of repeat behavior is due partly to the codependent’s lack of empathy, however justifiable in many instances. The pressing needs of a codependent will consistently override any desire or need he or she may have to be authentic. They may believe what they do is simply out of love or out of concern, but it’s always about their dysfunction. Dysfunction gets in the way of any healthy response.

Very empathetic people can become codependent, but anyone can. Does being very empathetic put you at greater risk? I’d say so. And I think people who have suffered trauma and abuse are more likely to be very empathetic or codependent. But codependence is at odds with empathy, in my opinion, and can ultimately destroy it. I say this as a recovering codependent, and I will say, too, that as people learn to manage and overcome codependency, empathy returns like a long-lost son and in glorious triumph.

As for the whole empath/empathy deal, I can’t speak for all, but I can relay my experience and that of two other people I know.

We get angry at people who display a horrific lack of empathy, because we’ve experienced this on some level, whether it was a lack of empathy for us or others, and we continue to experience it happening to us and others. Every incident, regardless of who suffers has an unshakable impact that stays with us for a lifetime. So, yeah, don’t look for a sweet little halo-sporting cherub. Think dragon.

We never feel we can do enough, and yes sometimes the overwhelming realization may shut us down for a moment or a lifetime. I have seen people completely shut down, and it’s very hard to reach them, to break through the wall.

Waves of energy we feel in crowds and group settings make us want to bolt. We notice everything with people—every nuance, every change of tone, the body language. Certain situations can be excruciatingly painful. We can’t shake the feeling of distress after the person is gone or after we’ve gone, and can become physically or emotionally ill for hours, days, sometimes weeks.

We learn that we may need to avoid some people and we often feel sorry for those people, and we feel guilty, even if it’s a situation they created and continued to perpetuate. Setting the boundaries we need to set hurts them—the last thing we want to do. So, quite often, we feel like horrible people. We feel selfish.

By the way, codependents would remain in those situations, thinking they are doing the right thing. They’ll be the martyrs but for all the wrong reasons, and they’ll fully expect their rewards.

Anyway, back to the empaths or the empathetic, our acquaintances (and sometimes our loved ones) get sick of us feeling genuinely sorry for everyone. They get frustrated with our childlike wish that everyone can be happy and healed. They might find it laughable that we could never take pleasure in ‘karma’ even if we know someone deserves punishment. They can’t believe that we shudder to think of what might happen to these people, that we couldn’t witness it if someone offered us a front row seat.

Is it more human to be this way or less human? I don’t know, but I realize some people have had their humanity stripped from them, thanks to the abuse of others. While they may make me angry and in certain circumstances, hate them, there’s no real desire for revenge. I just hope the problem gets resolved so that they can’t hurt anyone again.

As for me, I feel fortunate to have been able to hang on to this empathy thing throughout all the madness of life, I wouldn’t trade it. And I don’t know if it’s admirable or absurd, but we are the lucky ones. Our empathy won in the end—the empathy that makes us believe we need to keep getting better as people. We continuously seek to heal and to evolve. We forever try to learn about others, and ourselves, and we share our discoveries. What’s wrong with that? It has saved many others and me.

VOLTE FACE

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Further reading:

Empath Test
Being Empathetic vs. Being an Empath
5 Steps to Protecting Yourself as an Empath
7 Phases of Becoming a Skilled Empath
On Being an Empath, Some Thoughts, Some Tools

 

 

© Copyright April 1, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

WINNING THE SELF-SABOTAGE BATTLE WITH SELF-LOVE

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We all become conscious, at some point in our lives, of ways we can sabotage our physical well-beings.

When it comes to sabotaging our emotional well-beings, and even our financial security and stability, things seem to become more complicated.

Brilliant individuals are sometimes incapable of motivating themselves enough to change their lives or gravitate toward the ideal. They tend to become problem-oriented rather than solution oriented, boxing themselves in with an almost unwillingness to compromise. They may set impossible goals instead of practical ones.

Maybe someone convinced them they didn’t deserve success, or they convinced themselves based on how someone made them feel about their competency or their judgment. Either way, these old tapes keep playing in their heads, telling them they’re not worth much if they’re worth anything at all, that they can’t accomplish, can’t succeed, can’t win, and there’s not enough to go around. In this predicament, we fear success as much as we fear failure, because they are two sides of the same coin. We keep that coin as a reminder that we don’t trust ourselves with the dreams we cherish or the plans we’ve made.

We tell ourselves we don’t deserve success any more than we deserve money. Perhaps once we get our hands on the latter, we don’t manage it well. I’ve been there. I can attest to the fact that when you finally realize you do deserve these things, you’ll likely find yourself working your tail off, accomplishing one goal after another, building good credit along with a nice little nest egg. We have to be rid of whatever that little voice is in our head that says we can’t do it, and we’re not good enough, and that all this is impossible. We can, we are, and it’s not.

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We get into this pattern of self-pitying victimhood. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that we’ve been a victim of something or someone, or expressing anger about it, and shedding tears. We have a right to our grieving process. But sometimes we get use to the payoff—attention, pity, praise, the temporary ego fix. So instead of becoming solution oriented, we become more and more problem oriented, more and more likely to want an audience of sympathizers. And we get stuck there because solving problems would take that attention away and whatever else we get from being constantly burdened. It’s not that we don’t deserve to be comforted. It’s that we don’t move forward. We don’t get better.

This pattern normally goes hand in hand with excessive worry about people and things. Social media is a perfect example, because it mirrors life. I have seen people in a pattern of deactivating accounts only to resurface in a matter of days. Sometimes it may be that they legitimately need a break, but very often it’s because expectations are not being met. People are not responding to them in a way they could perceive as favorable. They’ve made assumptions about what people think or what someone meant, and after a considerable amount of time wasted on obsessive worrying, they take a drastic action to disengage. When they come back, it’s because they need to try it all again. They have too much riding on acceptance. It’s all self-defeating because we create unrealistic expectations, and we tend to assume wrong. Comparing and assuming tends to cause more mental anguish than is warranted or bearable. All we can do is be who we are, our ever-improving version of that.

Many stress about their looks, their bodies. Perfect is boring, and there is beauty beyond someone else’s chosen ideal. Beauty does, indeed, come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, and people will have all sorts of opinions on what looks good.  In fact, I realized at one point, that I never cared if someone didn’t like the hair color I chose. I knew how I wanted to look. I would never consult anyone about it, not even my significant other. So if we are trying to satisfy ourselves rather than appeal to every single person on the planet, we should set the standards for ourselves not appease clothing designers, the model industry, or the men who rate women on AskMen.com. Because when we’re finally okay with how we look, imperfections and all, we exude the confidence we need to get oh just about anything. And if that’s not enough, we get to focus more on being the best human we can be. When we finally love who we are, we learn to respect ourselves and treat ourselves better.

While it’s normal to want attention and approval, it’s the excessive, almost desperate need for it that can destroy us if we let it. People take unnecessary risks for the fix without realizing. They may trust the wrong people, throw caution to the wind, make excuses for bad behavior, cling to people who have repeatedly demonstrated the harm they’re capable of inflicting upon others. We don’t even realize that the payoff is attention we craved, validation we needed, admiration we couldn’t resist. Because it comes at just the right time, and creates such a bondage that we continue to crave it from a dangerous source.

Sometimes it’s less extreme. We try to be generous with people regarding our time, our attention, our praise, but we do this with relationships we don’t honestly want to nurture because we want to be nice. I find that when people want to be nice or perceived as nice, they immediately have expectations and create obligations. Then, on top of the resentment about doing something they don’t want to do, and the expectations or obligation that likely won’t be met, they go from ‘nice’ person to fire-breathing dragon in a matter of seconds. So what happens next is far from what they initially intended. People get hurt.

Well, it’s okay not to want to be friends with everyone. It’s okay to feel emotionally exhausted and want to have only genuine relationships. It’s okay to walk away when you’re not feeling it, not trusting it. It’s okay to save that overflowing generosity of spirit for those who matter to you. You can still do nice things for others along the way if you want. Quite simply, it doesn’t have to be like wearing a thorny crown while carrying a cross over your back.

I’ll say this. The more I become aware of how people think (thanks to social media), I tend not to want to meet any more people or reconnect with people from the past. I’m happy to avoid everyone outside my window… even while loving to hear them all out there—the comforting humdrum. Isolating can be a peaceful, healing thing, but it can also be another way of self-sabotaging if we don’t check it. I’ll admit, I have to push myself to get out there and deal with the world as it is, on its terms. Whether I like it or not, it’s necessary. I’ve had to accept that I’m not always going to be comfortable, and I’m not always going to be safe.

Still, we do have to take our time getting to know people, especially when we are very empathetic. Because while we can recognize serious issues people have, our compassion for what they’re dealing with can override any need to protect ourselves. Unfortunately, we have to because these people can hurt you and will do so again and again. We need to pay attention. We need to be careful. We have to stop tolerating disrespect under the guise of being noble and humble. That only creates a perception of some superior self that is false. Yeah, we want to be the nice guy, but if we are real with others, we become something better than ‘nice’. We are kind.

I’ve come to believe that one of the best things we can do in life is heal the vulnerabilities that make us susceptible to all this self-sabotage. Once we find the courage to seek answers, then acknowledge, accept, feel, cry and release anger, we heal, we learn, and then we grow and evolve. It’s an ongoing thing that just keeps getting better. We deserve that.

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Of course, life would be so much easier if we could make a habit of staying in the moment and being fully present in that moment. We wouldn’t be worrying about what happened yesterday or an hour ago, or what’s going to happen tomorrow. I have to remind myself constantly, but it works particularly well in moments of crisis and panic. A wise friend taught me to stay in the solution. Think about what you can do at that moment, not what you can’t do. Control what you can. Amazing how that helps.

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“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

 

Healing Shame by Robert D. Caldwell, M.Div.

 

Feature photo by Bùi Linh Ngân

© Copyright March 4, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

THE THORNY PATH OF EMOTIONAL MANIPULATION IS NEVER BLISSFUL

 

Nothing sounds more appealing to me than the idea of being gentle and loving with everyone and everything. I have always believed compassion might be the only thing that could save us. But even taking out of the equation all the obvious monsters who consciously seek to harm others, there are the covert narcissists and emotional manipulators who make life a treacherous, thorn-filled path.

They might be friends, lovers, relatives, people on social media. They often manage to collect a legion of devoted followers in life, and those devotees feel sorry for them whenever they are slighted in any way. In the meantime, it may take you a long time to recover from your experience with them. It’s called narcissistic abuse, and he or she is not worth it.

Have you ever dealt with an online troll? It’s the same thing on a larger scale because these people mean something to you. And they are trolls. They bait others to get a rise out of them. They personalize everything, and when pushed to the extreme, resort to shameless displays of self-pity and ultimately lash out in their uncontrolled narcissistic rage. Much of what they do is to offend or hurt you, and it’s always about them getting to feel better about themselves.

So what is the best advice on dealing with trolls? Don’t deal with them! Don’t deal with them at all. Because if you think they are ever going to feel empathy for you, be accountable, or change, they are not. It’s scary how much they don’t feel for the people they target—like they don’t have any conscience at all.

These narcissists may boast that they are kind, even humble, and they believe everyone should notice and acknowledge their kindness. They are not kind. They are “nice” with an agenda. There’s a difference. I have seen them shame people for not responding the way they wanted which further proves it was never about those people or their concern for those people. It was about others perceiving them the way they wanted others to perceive them. And you ruined that because it’s your job to reinforce the nice image they have created for themselves. They say they were thinking about you, or they wanted to include you out of the goodness of their hearts, but they are desperate and helplessly addicted to approval, attention, admiration, and constant validation that they are superior to everyone else on the planet—flawless and special in every regard.

They make assumptions about others and then base their behavior on these assumptions. They want to believe the worst about you. In the past, when people like this began acting weird with me, I would ask them what was wrong. The answer was always the same. Nothing happened. Nothing is wrong. They deny whatever you experienced.

I ultimately decided, if someone seems to have a problem, and I know I’ve done nothing wrong, it is that person’s responsibility to bring the issue to me. If they don’t care enough about me to do that, then I don’t care why they’re mad. It is a waste of time and energy and often a dangerous game. You can’t trust them to be honest and treat you fairly, and you will never know where you stand with them.

They know how to turn the tables on you, how to take advantage, how to play one person against another, how to get you to feel guilty, feel sorry for them, want to help them, etc. They know how to trash you to others when they don’t get what they want from you and how to get others to believe them. They will smear your name or participate in smear campaigns against you, gladly throw you under the bus, and attempt to destroy you. At the very least, they will stand by while others do it, and say nothing, do nothing. Being popular is more important to the narcissist than you are.

If you have high aspirations and influence, they do not want you to succeed and won’t support you. They don’t even want to see others support you. They can support what they perceive to be mediocre, average, struggling, stressed-out people whose lives are a mess and only because they comfort themselves with the knowledge that those people are not better than they are. It would be wonderful if they truly were kind, empathetic people who genuinely care that people are in pain. However, everything they do is a show to keep up the ‘image.’ And if any of those stressed out, struggling people begin to get too much attention, say because of some horrific tragedy, the narcissist might become resentful. How dare anyone steal his or her thunder!

Narcissists and emotional manipulators don’t necessarily know they are manipulating people or what their problem is. Yes, many of them do, but some are not even consciously aware that they consistently disrespect you. It’s because they are agenda-driven. They are virtual slaves to their emotions. They see themselves as the victims. People are not behaving the way they want. People are not agreeing with them, whether it’s religion, politics, or whatever. And they will forgive the unforgivable before they ever forgive you for not helping them to maintain this image in their heads of themselves as perfect and right and good all the time. With healthy people, you can discuss things and accept most differences in opinion, and you can still love each other. That does not work with narcissists. They need allies and constant validation.

I get that they are unhappy. I do. I know too well how these people got to where they are. When I was at my lowest low, I was oblivious as far as my shortcomings and the many masks I wore. I had to accept my flaws, every one of them and vow to keep working on them. So, I can sympathize. Of course, I wish everyone could be happy, so they could all be kind to each other, but too many broken people out there will never figure out what their problem is, and they will never heal. And the bottom line is, it’s not good for a person’s self-esteem to keep tolerating behavior like that. Some bridges need to be burned for our safety and sanity. I’ve become a great believer in love from afar. Yes, keep sending love—from far, far away. Anonymously. Maybe they’ll get it one day. Until then, you need to protect yourself.

Here are some excellent articles on the subject:

The Narcissist Hates You

The Narcissist’s Enablers Are Also Guilty

8 Ways to Spot Emotional Manipulators and Free Ourselves

Examples of Passive Aggressive Behavior

Collapsed Narcissists

Here is a great video on people pleasing, another form of emotional manipulation:

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Copyright November 10, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

ONE DAY MIGHT MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD

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Way before my parenting days, I had only one reason for never giving up. It was the simple fact that one moment or one day could change everything. In the toughest times, I never forgot that. As long as I could take a breath, there was hope.

It often happens too, that after much worry and upset, after coming to the most catastrophic conclusions, everything turns out okay. Either that or we realize we were mistaken or had misunderstood. Still we probably had a horrible day or a horrible week. Maybe the whole weekend was horrible because of how we felt. We had wasted time and energy and for nothing, a time we would never get back. We could have been making precious memories instead.

These had been great reminders throughout my life, always helping me to bounce back, but how do we get to such a place? I recently stumbled upon this wonderful article by writer and motivational speaker, James Nussbaumer:

Wealth and Abundance is Rightfully Yours

The James Nussbaumer piece is also another take on staying in the moment, and as important as it is, no matter how many times we’ve heard it, it’s so easy to forget. Egos get in the way. Attitudes get in the way. We let everything get in the way.

Another beautiful gift we have, however, is the ongoing ability to change our perspective any time we want.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.” -Charles Swindoll

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© Copyright July 7, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

SOCIAL MEDIA INSANITY, ISN’T IT WONDERFUL?

Facebook is a double-edged sword, though, and my least favorite of the networking sites. For one thing, the people I am closest to either don’t have a Facebook account or don’t spend much time on Facebook. I don’t blame them.

Yes, I know, it’s free. No one’s forcing you to sign up or to have it as part of your platform. Although marketing experts and literary agents seem to agree, it is an essential part of a writer’s social media platform. The thing is, Facebook provides a great service. It’s just that it can be so much better with a few tweaks.

This one’s a minor issue. Facebook wants you to be real about your identity. I couldn’t create a friend page for my company, Moonlit Dawn Publications. It won’t accept that and yet will accept Tales Teller, a name I put in as a joke. Whatever you pick, though, you better like it since you are stuck with it for six months.

The most distressing issue is Facebook wanting everyone to see everything their friends like, making them have to take an extra step to avoid that rather than make avoiding it the default. It’s like a sample of what it would be like to have telepathy. I would hate having to read people’s thoughts. Then I have to ask, is it better to remain blissfully ignorant that I have bigots on my friend list? I guess not, but it’s awkward.

I have seen people with seemingly gentle natures hurt others with not so gentle comments, but this is what Facebook encourages. Let’s put this mass collection of egos in a fishbowl and see what happens. Relationships that had seemed unconditional are not really. Many want you to share their core beliefs, never challenge, or oppose. That’s the condition. It’s not even about having a one-on-one conversation. It’s about what you like or comment on someone else’s post, which Facebook reported.

I have gotten argumentative, even angry messages from people with an opposing view about something I liked or commented on someone else’s post. (This is one reason I am more inclined to like posts that are not public.) Here is the thing though. If anyone has a problem with the fact that I want equal rights, justice and humane treatment for all, he or she can feel free to delete me. They would be doing me a favor.

It seems only on social media would I come across a comment that laws do not resolve racism because prejudice is a feeling, and you can’t stop it, so people need to shut it. Laws are not created to stop feelings but to end discrimination. You wouldn’t expect to have to explain that to anyone, and yet the comments I see consistently reflect the ugly side of humanity.

People balked when users turned their profile pictures into rainbows of support after the SCOTUS ruling that gay marriage was the law of the land. Of course, they had to point out that Facebook was testing and manipulating users. Well, I have done testing, too. If you have a photo of yourself as a profile pic or any photos of yourself accessible to the public, you will get messages from hordes of strangers. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, and you don’t have to look like Shakira. Many people will respond more to your posts if they can have a reminder of what you look like, by way of profile picture. So big deal with the testing—I can do that, too, and I have news for you. If you are on Facebook, they can test you all they want.

Some people apparently do not know what rights they surrender when they create a Facebook page and think they can get around all the invasion of privacy by posting disclaimers. Disclaimers do not override Terms of Service, but I know, having created networks in the past; people do not read Terms of Service. Some don’t know there are terms.

What you do on Facebook is never secret. If I don’t go on and post in a while, I get notifications I didn’t ask for about conversations I missed. I once got a message telling me I had missed a conversation between two friends. Knowing what an instigator Facebook is, I would not be surprised if they added, and they were talking about you. I’m not lying. Go see.

Soon they will be saying, “Hey, Tales Teller, your friend, Joan, started a GoFundMe effort. Click here to go fuck it up. They are instigators, making sure people have seen that you saw their message, so you have to respond immediately or let them think you hate them. At the same time, they will make sure you get several reminders that it’s someone’s birthday, even after you have said Happy Birthday.

For those who are concerned about privacy violation and Facebook duping you for testing, consider the like/dislike system. Getting a like produces a dopamine effect, and that can certainly become an addiction. I can see that it does because some people don’t expect you to miss anything, or that they have to tell you about a major thing happening in their life because they posted it on Facebook. I will admit, about a month ago, it surprised me that a friend had no idea that I fractured my foot. I posted it on Facebook! I had a good laugh about it, realizing how silly that was. But there are people who don’t realize that. Then rather than communicate their feelings and needs to you, they become passive aggressive.

Considering all of this, it’s no wonder why Facebook can be so depressing. That’s why you have to laugh, especially at yourself. If you can’t do that, try this awesome meditation. If this doesn’t make you laugh, it may at least make you smile.

 

Awesome Guided Meditation for Weary Facebook Users

Facebook is Altering Your Mind
Facebook Addiction
Facebook Privacy PC World Article
Facebook Privacy Snopes

© Copyright July 7, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

LOVE OR ADDICTION?

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Some people are fortunate to have the discernment required in connecting with others. Many, despite their intelligence, self-sufficiency, and well-meaning hearts find themselves in unhealthy relationships. I see it happening often.

Based on experience, I offer these warning signs.

Red flags have been waved and ignored.

We witness behavior that raises an eyebrow, things we don’t ordinarily condone. It could be cruel, inappropriate, abusive, or manipulative behavior, derogatory remarks, infidelity, and lack of boundaries or respect for boundaries. Sometimes a person admits to being a jerk, a bastard, or a bitch, and our first instinct is to contradict and thereby comfort them. Sometimes we think because a person can be sweet and charming to us, we are the exception, the chosen one who will make it all better. We’re not.

Someone is on a pedestal.

Your perception of this person goes from one extreme to another. He or she walks on water or is a monster. You have defined who they are—essentially, a paragon of the ideal. You decided beforehand how they should behave and respond. It’s not reality based, and it’s not love. It is obsession—a persistent and disturbing preoccupation with an unreasonable idea or feeling. What you’re feeling has nothing to do with that person. You can’t love someone you don’t see. They are no more than a channel for what you need. An obsession is an addiction. It distorts our perception and impairs judgment. It comes with denial and control patterns that become manipulation. There is no direct communication about needs and desires. Resentments build and fester then erupt into anger. When reality kicks in, it is a long tumble for that person up on the pedestal to the ground. Unrealistic expectations create devastating disappointment.

Unnecessary risks are taken.

You are willing to compromise yourself and your well-being when you don’t have to and sometimes the safety and well-being of others. You may rush headlong into a physical relationship with little knowledge and a good measure of denial instead of awareness, education, and caution.

Principles are compromised.

There is unwilling compliance to avoid wrath and rejection. You find yourself continually compromising your principals and lowering your standards.

You don’t recognize yourself.

You have an unbalanced self-esteem. You feel the other person could not possibly want to live without you. At the same time, you don’t like who you are in this situation or relationship. You don’t like who you are becoming or the way you feel, act or think. You were never this whiny, this jealous, this possessive, this hurt, this confused. You sometimes feel like a basket case.

The relationship impedes your progress.

The relationship distracts you from your goals or seems to have replaced them. It happens in new relationships, but if you are unable to get back on track or have abandoned your dreams entirely, it’s a problem.

You are often confused.

You don’t know what to believe because your judgment and perception remain clouded.

It’s stressing you out.

Eating and sleeping patterns may have changed. You are not properly taking care of business or yourself. You may feel more paranoid, more OCD, more anxious. People have a lot to work through in relationships. Stress is normal, but constant stress that renders your life unmanageable is not.

You feel like you are in bondage.

You try to fight it. You want to be free of this person. At the same time, you want nothing and no one to come between you. You may isolate to have more time to focus on your obsession. When what you want is dangled before you, you can’t resist. When deprived of it, you are sick—mentally, emotionally, sometimes physically. You may feel you cannot be honest about this relationship or situation with anyone including yourself. You continue to want the same thing from this individual not realizing that after a while, you don’t enjoy it, and maybe you never did, yet you still need it. The moments of comfort and bliss are fleeting. A feeling of emptiness prevails. It causes agonizing pain for you. You may feel as if you are in bondage because you are. At times, you can’t stand up for yourself because you are somehow at a disadvantage, at the mercy of your obsession.

Nine Inch Nails: The Perfect Drug (1997) from Nine Inch Nails on Vimeo.

This unhealthy connection can exist in friendships as well or in relationships with family members.

It helps to determine what the addiction is for you in this case. What is the payoff? What is the issue that has made you so vulnerable?

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Love is good, but to feel comfortable loving and receiving love in return, we must know we deserve it. We must know we are worthy. Getting to that place opens another door in the journey of our recovery from past trauma and emotional abuse. Beyond it, more beauty awaits, and more joy.

9 Warning Signs That You Are In A Dangerous Relationship

What Self-Love Means: 20+ Ways to Be Good to Yourself

 

© Copyright May 24, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

EMOTIONS AND SHAME

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Some people say we are too sensitive these days. We analyze too much. We spew tedious psychobabble. They would like people to toughen up and suck it up, as they had to do when they were growing up. I say a lot of past callousness is simply ignorance that some think is bliss, but it has created too much dysfunction. Many will pass down emotional abuse from generation to generation like family jewels.

I’m glad there is an increasing willingness to talk about it and to examine what’s going on. It shows us, for one thing, that so many people are struggling. It helps us understand one another. In the constant exchange of knowledge, we learn what to do about it.

This quote got my attention when I saw it one day in my news feed.

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Someone called me on this in an argument years ago because I said people shouldn’t feel jealous.

I took this position largely because of painful experiences I’d had or witnessed. I got to a place where I thought I could expound on why people shouldn’t feel jealous ever. I had an epiphany in my 20s, realizing jealousy never changed anything or helped anyone, but that doesn’t mean we could wrap up that issue for all humankind and move on.

Things like this remind me that I must remain teachable at all levels of my existence and that I’ve learned so much from others. The worst things we go through with another person seem to teach us the most.

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Of course, shaming another individual is not always a conscious attempt to manipulate the person into feeling humiliated or deficient. I sometimes think we do it unconsciously or subconsciously and that we may have good intentions. Often, we want people to feel better. Other times, if we examine more carefully, we can admit we somehow felt superior or impatient, even a little uncomfortable about how another was feeling. We got this urge or need to manipulate or take control.

It’s easy to decide, too, people should feel a certain way in response to something we say or do. They should be happy for our triumphs and supportive of our efforts. They should not feel insecure, threatened, or unhappy about where they are in life. I learned that telling people how they should feel may seem natural to us and instinctive, but it doesn’t help them feel that way and often invalidates how they’re feeling and shames. It took a while for me to get that.

We’re not monsters. We all have conflicting emotions and vulnerable egos. It’s a learning experience for all.

I discovered motivational author Louise Hay during what was probably the most difficult time of my life. Reading ‘You Can Heal Your Life‘ was a game changer for me. I listened to the audiotapes while cleaning and before falling asleep at night.

Here is a short podcast from the book:

Louise Haye on “Should to Could” from “You Can Heal Your Life”

Apparently, my son got an earful too, and once told me, “Never say should, Mommy. Could is better.”

I came across this post today by Jeff Brown at http://soulshaping.com/, and with his permission, I’m including it here:

“I know we often want it all happy and positive, but that’s just not where much of humanity is. Many of us are overwhelmed with pain, undigested sadness, unexpressed anger, unseen truths. This is where we are at, as a collective. So we have two choices. We can continue to pretend it’s not there, shame and shun it in ourselves and others, distract and detach whenever possible. Or we can face it heart-on, own it within ourselves, look for it in others with compassion, create a culture that is focused on authenticity and healthy emotional release. If we continue to push it all down, we are both creating illness and delaying our collective expansion. But if we can just own the shadow, express it, release it, love each other through it, we can finally graduate from the School of Heart Knocks and begin to enjoy this magnificent life as we were intended. Pretending the pain isn’t there just embeds it further. Let’s illuminate it instead.” Jeff Brown

We all have our struggles. Most people are just trying to feel good about themselves, and their progress will take what it takes, as mine did and does. I don’t have to add to anyone’s burdens with my need to have everything I want and my way, imposing expectations that someone cannot meet for whatever reason.

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We don’t have to put up with nonsense, but we can certainly move along and let people work out their stuff.

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© Copyright February 2, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

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