Some Dance to Remember, Some Dance to Forget

I grew up listening to all the great classics, thanks to my Dad’s love for Rock ‘n’ Roll. Hotel California was one of those songs I had the pleasure of listening to as I was growing up. It was also one of my favorites. It wasn’t just the long guitar solos that I loved, it was the depth of the lyrics that really had me hooked.

I’ve heard in the past that this song has a lot to do with drug and alcohol addiction, and while I haven’t done any type of extensive research on what exactly it was that they intended to convey, I definitely can see the similarities, whether that was their intent or not.

I’m sure most people can see the similarities as well, because if we are being honest with ourselves, almost everyone has experienced the painful effects of alcoholism or drug abuse in some way or another. Whether it has affected you first hand, you have seen it in your family or friends, or you were in a relationship with an alcoholic. Nobody is immune to it.

I personally have had the “pleasure” of experiencing all three scenarios. I’ve seen the devastating effects it has had on relationships in numerous family members. I’ve seen people become entirely different people when the alcohol starts running through their blood. Angry. Bitter. Cutting. I’ve seen the failed relationships and divorces, and the impacts it’s had on my loved ones.

Ive also seen friends in toxic relationships. Witnessed them being treated like shit, because the person they love has suddenly become a monster. I’ve seen guns pointed at people I cherish dearly. I’ve had those guns pointed at me. All because alcohol is coursing through their veins. And yes, I’ve been in that type of relationship as well.

There was also a time when I used it to numb my own pain. Something I very rarely speak about. Partly because I grew up in a family that did not drink. My mother and father saw the affects of alcohol on the people they loved, and chose not to go down that path, and those lessons they tried to instill in us as well.

However, I would be lying if I said I’ve never used alcohol in an unhealthy manner. Binge drinking when I was depressed was my style. Especially when I was in a toxic relationship with an alcoholic. When he’d break up with me (which happened often) I’d buy a six pack and drink alone crying in the tub. Or I would drink in the kitchen, until I was slumped over on the floor, sobbing, with a blade in my hand and blood all over myself. Or when he would invite me over, and I knew the girl he had spent all of Christmas week alone with at his house, was going to be there, while he couldn’t even text me a simple “Merry Christmas” I would chug a bottle of vodka before he picked me up, so I didn’t have to be fully present.

*cue the following lyrics:*

“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

Truer words have not been spoken when it comes to alcohol and substance abuse. Alcohol and drugs can definitely provide a temporary escape, or a way for us to “checkout,” but when morning comes, whether you were “dancing to remember” or “dancing to forget” life is still waiting. . . The good and the bad. Whatever false sense of security, or illusion alcohol gives us, this fact remains . . .You can’t leave.

The sad thing is, when we are “checked out” whether it’s with alcohol, drugs, or some other poor coping mechanism, we’re missing the good things as well. We’re missing the laughter. We’re missing the joy. The beauty that life has to offer.

If you are one of those people who struggles with being fully present, when you decide you’re done “checking out” there is going to be a lot of bad things you’re going to have to face, a lot of broken relationships, missed opportunities, and things you took for granted that you can’t get back. But there will also be beautiful opportunities to mend relationships. Chances to create new ones. And the greatest gift of all…You will have a greater appreciation for every day going forward, because you know how much you’ve already missed.

So please, stop “checking out.” Be present. Allow yourself to feel the good and the bad.

It’s worth it. I promise.

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Love > Fear

Does clinginess automatically equate to low self esteem? Some people would say yes, but I tend to think clinginess has more to do with fear, than low self esteem.

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been entirely way to clingy in the past. Not just in romantic relationships either. I can remember at a very young age never wanting to leave my mom’s side. On the first day of kindergarten my mom got out of the car, went around to my side, and as she was walking around, I locked the doors from the inside so she couldn’t get me out. . . Okay, first of all, can we just take a moment to applaud the fact that I was such a brilliant little shit head of a child. Like, “Haha, jokes on you. You’re not getting to me, and you’re not driving home either, because you left the keys in the ignition” I think I deserve an award for that one. 😉 But in all honesty I did it because I was terrified of her leaving me. I would get stomach aches every day from worrying. One time my mom forgot to pick me up (she says she didn’t forget me, but I know the true story), and I clung to the door of my class sobbing because I was terrified she wasn’t ever coming back.

Just to clarify, my family life was good. Actually it was great. Nobody ever “left me,” and I had no reason to think my mom wouldn’t come back to get me. But, I’ve also always been considered an old soul, with a deeper understanding of things than most people my age. As my coworker said the other day, “Your body might be 27, but you’re like a thousand years old inside.” And I think, even at a very young age, I always knew that even though my loved ones would never purposely leave me, that the fear I had that I might not ever see them again was a very valid fear.

Years later, when it came to dating, I was that girl you hear about. The “clingy girl” all guys hate. I think it’s because any guy I’ve dated, I have dated with the intention of being in their life for the long haul, hoping the same in return, but knowing full well I may not get that same type of love back. I was probably the clingiest with the guy I trusted the least. Which makes sense, because the reasons I didn’t trust him were valid, and while I knew I would give it my all and never leave, I knew deep down, that wasn’t something that was going to be reciprocated.

I love fast. Always have, and always will. It’s surprising to even myself, that I’m so fast to love people, because love of any kind is probably the one thing that can and will bring you the most heartache, and is probably one of the scariest things I can think of doing. Speaking in regards to romance, my love is different than a lot of people my age though. I don’t believe in a love that is a feeling, I believe in a love that says, “I’m going to be faithful to you even if this feeling changes.” One that says, “I’m gonna stick this out through thick and thin, but I will do my best never to intentionally hurt you”.

I’m not stupid though. I am very aware that the divorce rate today is almost half of all marriages. I know that guys will say all the right things only to get into a girls pants. That the couples that seem happiest on the outside, are one argument away from calling it quits. And that every day, a shiny new “object” comes along that tempts someone into jeopardizing a relationship that they won’t find just anywhere else.

So, loving anyone, romantic or otherwise, is quite a terrifying thing, and I think that some people tend to become clingy because of that. Clinginess is a form of control, and when people feel they have control, they feel safer. However, it is a very false sense of security because as anyone with any sense knows, you can’t control anyone but yourself. The people that are going to leave you, are going to leave regardless.

Even if you could control people though, sometimes people leave us by no choice of their own. Sometimes people are taken from us in seemingly unfair ways. We never know when the last time we will talk to our loved ones will be. Honestly, it’s terrifying, but this world is, and always will be, a vortex of constant change.

Personally speaking, I think I will always deep down be a clingy person. I will always be attached to people deeply, and I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. I love people. I worry about them. I want them in my life, and they should feel flattered that they mean that much to me.

That being said, I don’t think people would consider me clingy that know me today, because it won’t show in constant texts, or having to be around the ones I love all the time, because I know that’s not healthy, and I work daily on controlling that.

Clinginess left unchecked will eat away at the people you love the most. Extreme clinginess conjures up images for me of a child hugging their puppy so tight they suffocate it. It’s like loving something so much you won’t let it breathe, grow, flourish, and live life on its own. And to be honest, that really isn’t love.

Love is terrifying. There is no getting around it. It opens your heart up to the possibility of immense pain. But if you fight through the fear, and love how you want to be loved, it is then you will realize love is far greater than fear.

 

 

Victim vs. Survivor

I’ve written about it countless times… The bad “relationship” for lack of better words, I was in. Although the tone of my writings have changed from “What he did to me,” to “How the experience changed and shaped me.”

Before I met him, I was the most trusting person you would ever meet. You could tell me the sky was green and I would’ve believed you. Naive? Yes. Stupid? Maybe. But it was who I was. Today I tend to be very skeptical of people and their intentions, to say the least. No I don’t have “trust issues,” I’m just more cautious now, and I believe that people have to earn your trust and respect. Sometimes it makes me sad that I’m not the naive, innocent girl, I was before. It’s an innocence you usually only see in a child, but it’s also a dangerous innocence.

And after the countless, “I’m sorry, I can’t make it’s” or the “I promise I’ll get help for my drinking” lies. After the temper tantrums, yelling, and throwing things when I tried to to speak to him about how I felt I needed to be treated. The lies about what he was doing. The rage and anger that put my life in dangerous situations. After all that, you realize you have to protect your own heart and well being sometimes, and not everyone should be trusted.

Part of me would love to say that what I put myself through no longer bothers me. But when I remember what I accepted, I would be lying if I said it didn’t. The other day, I happened upon an article about an alcoholic with narcissistic tendencies and the author mentioned something about their significant other hovering over them when they were cleaning, and telling them how to do it correctly. When I read that, it touched a part of me I do not allow myself to feel very often anymore, because it still is very painful for me, and I suddenly found myself with tears running down my face. It honestly seems like such a small thing, when I think of all the other things I put myself through. However, it still upsets me deeply that I put up with, and accepted, that someone thought I couldn’t even dust or do the dishes correctly. And when I did try to talk to him, or just walked away from the situation, he would tell me he was done with me, then would come back with apologies days later, and I would take him back yet again.

I’m a smart woman. I was in the top of my class in high school, I graduated college summa cum laude with a bachelors degree in management, yet for some reason I put up with someone telling me I couldn’t even clean correctly. I still to this day have to wonder why I ever thought that was normal… Or at the very least, believed that I deserved that. And the more I allowed it, the more he knew he could get away with it.

A year or so ago, one of my male friends, whom I’m not even that close with, saw a string of texts between him and I, and said “Andrea you do realize this is emotional abuse don’t you? Cut him out.”

Note to self: Listen to your guy friends, if even they are telling you he’s not good for you.

But of course I didn’t listen. And I can honestly say now, that I have nobody to blame but myself for staying wrapped up in that mess, especially for as long as I did.

People who knew both of us, and both sides to the story, don’t necessarily agree with me or like it when I say that. They feel like I’m letting him off the hook yet again. I want to be clear though, that is not at all what I’m doing when I say that, and I do realize he had faults. I’m not condoning them or acting as if those faults weren’t there.

It’s not okay with me, and it never will be okay with me, that his alcohol and weed was more important to him than I was. Yes, he was manipulative. Sure, he was a liar. Did he use me for my money, compassion, forgiveness, and to stoke his fragile self esteem? Absolutely. I’m not eliminating the fact that those things were true.

But the truth is, I have horrible faults as well. Many. We all do. And I truly believe we are all doing the best we can, with the cards we were dealt. To blame him does nothing for me. To dwell on his faults, or anyone else’s, is a disservice only to myself.

It finally came down to this for me; Are his faults reasons to blame him, for me staying? They could be for some people. They would be if I played the victim card.

For a long time I did. And then I realized the card I was playing was the card he played the entire time I knew him. . . The “victim card,” the “blame game”. The thing I probably disliked him most for. The reason I lost all respect for him. I was, and am, very aware that blaming others makes you unable to take responsibility for your own actions. And without responsibility for your actions you won’t grow as an individual, and that is not who I want to be.

When I left town it was because I needed to get away from him, but the distance didn’t help, and I continued to let him control me and my happiness. But, there was a point, when I had finally had enough, and I knew I deserved what everyone else was telling me I deserved. Fortunately, moving back gave me an opportunity that many are either not given, or are unable to handle. The chance to face him. To look him in the eyes. The chance to say no, this is not how you are going to treat me. This is not okay. Something that could have happened sooner, had I stuck up for myself sooner.

That was, and still is, one of the most cathartic feelings I have ever felt. It was painful at the time, and I would’ve welcomed the opportunity for it to be a one time thing and to never have to see him again. That’s not how things happen though, and for reasons I’m not going to go into, I had to face him almost daily. That simple fact, the fact that I knew I was doing something not a lot of women could, or even would attempt to do, made me feel so strong, after feeling weak for so long.

When I finally accepted responsibility for how I was being treated, and realized that I had the power to not allow him to treat me like that, is when the happiness started to slowly flood back into my life. A little at first, then suddenly it was everywhere I looked. That was about the time he was removed from my life, and I believe it was because the lessons God was showing me were complete.

One of the lessons I learned through it all, I was actually taught at a very young age, and that was this; When you point a finger there are three pointing back at you. I must’ve forgot that lesson for a while. I relearned it though, and today I choose to focus on my shortcomings, and choose not to blame someone else for my misfortunes. My goal in life is to be the best version of myself as possible. Focusing on someone else’s behavior, and not my own, isn’t going to help my journey. And my journey, although it’s been difficult, has made me stronger.

God obviously had a plan, and knew I needed to hit rock bottom to feel a sense of worth. I’m so glad I didn’t call it quits when I wanted to. That night at the lake when I was in my car wanting to end it all but didn’t, I always chalked it up to “you were to weak even to do that”.  Now I realize it was the opposite, and I was strong for not taking that option, and facing my trials head on.

Today i can say with 100% honesty, that I am so glad I am still here today, because everyday I find something new to live for. The best part is, on my bad days I remember where I was, and realize my bad days aren’t even that bad. And that makes every day a good day.

So yes, I have changed. Sometimes I don’t even recognize the person I was a year ago. I am not as trusting. Not as naive. Not as innocent. But I learned those things are important for self-preservation. Will I always be more cautious? Absolutely. But the fear of the past will not stop me from opening up to the right people. It will not stop me from loving. From forgiving. From living every day to it’s fullest.

Why?

Because I am not a victim. Not now. Not then. Not even when I thought I was.

Anyone can play a victim. Not everyone chooses to be a survivor. And today, and from here on forward, I choose to be a survivor.