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.
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.
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.
© Copyright May 4, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.
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:
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.
This poem was written ten years before the publication of A Dark Rose Blooms, but I included it at the beginning of the book. It’s one of my personal favorites because it’s about the tenacious human spirit and resilience, the will to get up every time, evolving, and the beauty of surrender. (I provided the text in case the podcast is not as clear as I intended.) Hope you enjoy!
SHADOWS OF MY SOUL
Reality to me is the dusk,
Prevalence in the shadows.
It is cloaking,
In a world of darkness.
It is torment.
It is restraint.
The beauty of the peaceful lull amid the
Trees just before sunrise
Lies in contrast with the hazy tumult of my
I am in awe of every vision.
I bask in the passion of every caress.
Every bit of air I breathe is a godsend.
I could listen with the stillness of the ocean
To the waves amid a blue-violet sky.
I could dance with flair and gaiety to the music
With a glow that illuminates me.
There is no one else I’d rather be—
Unless it were to love you.
You are all that I crave.
© Copyright March 1, 2005 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission from the author.
Parting is rarely peaceful or the sweet sorrow of Shakespearean poetry. It can be an ugly and torturous process. It’s not unusual either to be called selfish for walking away from toxic relationships and environments.
We get involved in something or with someone having the best of intentions. Often, we don’t realize what issues we bring to the table. There may be parts of us still in need of healing. When we look back, we may see we could have handled it all better—not simply because hindsight is 20/20 but because we can’t be objective. We’re busy drowning. Everything is clouded, including our judgment. Being oblivious to what motivates us and how others can manipulate us, we fall into traps. We may even trust the wrong people, people who take advantage of vulnerabilities and unresolved needs. They push buttons we didn’t know we had and, after a time, we don’t recognize ourselves.
We walk away, because we don’t know what will happen to us if we don’t. We choose sanity and serenity over endless battles. The exit becomes the way of saving our lives, reclaiming it along with our dreams, putting our needs first after years of trying to please people who cannot be pleased. We are no longer in a place where we can be or do our best. The kinder thing is to go on and heal what needs healing. Who says we can’t bring our best efforts somewhere else? We can take our kindness. We know, too, it’s never going to be enough to walk away. We need to burn that bridge, so we don’t get sucked in again.
The place we escaped from may haunt us from time to time, what we left behind. We can leave those dead things wailing in the dark and shut the door. That part of our past taught us many things we needed to learn, and it’s over, done, dead. As long as we didn’t lose the lesson, we’ll be fine. We needed to be there and experience what we experienced, but we’re free now. It’s time to celebrate our freedom.
I’m leaving you with a couple of awesome links and parting thoughts.
“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live; it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” Oscar Wilde
© Copyright March 17, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.