When Plans Don’t Work Out

We think we have it all sorted, we think we have everything figured out in our heads and even in our planners. We dream about our goals and the necessary steps that it is going to take in order to get there. It preoccupies our minds and fuels our existence as we fantasise about what things would be like once we finally achieve our goals. That’s why it is so hard to come to terms with the reality of when things don’t work out. When we feel as though everything that we have worked so hard to build up misses the mark or comes crashing down all around us, it hits hard. Like a physical blow it wounds us as we come to the realisation that what we wanted is not within our grasp.

So what happens next? Do we fall into depression? Blame ourselves? Blame others? Or, in contrast to some new age belief systems, do we come to the realisation that there are some aspects of our lives that we are just not in control of. In the name of progressive and modern thinking we do away with God, in favour of the notion that we ourselves can become gods. Yet all it takes is a relatively brief moment in the timeline of our life spans  placed in a compromising position to realise that we are not the almighty beings that we are led to believe. In that compromised moment of desperation we call out to the God that progressive and modern thinking would have you discard. We ask for help and we ask Him to rectify our affairs, because when our plans don’t work out and when everything that we have worked so hard to build up comes crashing down all around us, the belief in the fact that He is the Best of Planners, and not us, will carry us through.

Whatever is destined for you will be yours and there is nothing and nobody that can avert it or take it away from you. Try as they might. And whatever is decided is not best for you, try as you might, it will never become yours. That is not to say that there is no need to work or strive, or make efforts to better ourselves, our lives and the lives of others. We reach our goals through dedication and perseverance and we take comfort in the fact that we will achieve and have everything that we are destined. But what I am saying, is that when it appears that our plans haven’t worked out, we take comfort in the fact that the One who is in ultimate control over our futures is worthy of our trust.

Although it may not be apparent at that moment, have faith that our lives are being shaped and guided towards something that is better. We have ideas and desires but we see things from a very limited perspective. We are bound by lack of knowledge of the future and of the past and futures of the people who weave in and out of our lives. Our plans may have failed because of their limited nature and when that happens we trust the plan of the One who is unbound and infinite and unlimited.

I know it may not seem like it now, but one day all the dots will become connected and we will understand and be thankful for the fact that our plans didn’t work out. Sometimes our plans fail to make room and pave the way for more successful ones.

Thank you for reading and have a blessed day! I would love to hear some of your stories and experiences in the comments below!

 

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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When Kindness is Everything

Some people call them pushovers, doormats or soft touches. Those people who have been so badly mistreated by others but who do nothing to avenge the perpetrators when faced with the opportunity. Friends become frustrated that instead of giving that so-and-so a piece of their mind or telling them how it is, the “backboneless” victim chooses to forgive. Not only do they choose to forgive, but they forgive someone who doesn’t even ask for it, someone who is not deemed worthy. Friends become so angered by this un-deserving act of generosity yet it comes only from a place of genuine love and concern.

I am that person. I am that soft touch who may have angered many with my weakness. I used to say “yes” and agree to do everything and anything as if the affirmative was the only type of language existent in my vocabulary store. I was afraid to say “no.” I was so overly conscious of hurting others. I went out of my way to please everyone because nothing was too much of an inconvenience. This was the only way I knew how to be.

Life has taught me that people will not always treat you the way that you have treated them. They will not make the same sacrifices for you in the manner which you have. Perhaps you will find yourself in a situation where they walk away from you without a second glance, as I have. That has definitely been one of the most hurtful things for me in my journey. Being abandoned by people who knew the real me. People who knew my character, people who knew my heart. It was a lesson to me and one that I have to often reaffirm within myself; that their actions towards me is not because there is a deficiency within me, but because there is a deficiency within them, it just hadn’t manifested itself until now. The fact that people could walk away from me at the most difficult time in my life was not a reflection of my character but of theirs and it took this most difficult time in my life to reveal it. It was a painful lesson.

I used to wonder what would happen if I bumped into these people while out and about, what I would say to them. Would I ignore them? Confront them? The honest truth is that I don’t have a spiteful bone in my body. Even if I wanted to give so-and-so a piece of my mind or tell them how it is, the words would never leave my mouth and I would only be able to greet them with a smiling face and with the only type of language existent in my vocabulary store. Because this is the only way I know how to be. I have decided to embrace myself. My kindness in the face of their mistreatment is not to cause embarrassment, but because this is who I am.

Sometimes in life the very people who may appear to be weak and downtrodden end up becoming the underdogs who, when the tables have turned, become the very people you need to look up to. In an unexpected turn of events the poles are beginning to shift in my life and I am in a position to avenge the perpetrators of the cause of much pain and sadness towards me. I see them all the time and they know the tide has turned. I will admit that watching the events unfold gave me pleasure, but what has been an even greater pleasure is being in a position to show kindness to these people, to go out of my way to help them and support them because nothing is too much of an inconvenience.

I don’t do it to change their perceptions of me, the way they feel about me is their business and not of my concern. I do it because for me, there is no other way. To show anything but kindness would be to fight against my nature. Now instead of saying “yes” because I don’t know how to say anything else, I am actively and wilfully choosing to say “yes.” I am owning my words and not the other way around. So am I a pushover, a doormat, a soft touch? I like to see myself as leaving behind my signature in people’s lives. People’s perceptions of me are not of my concern, what is of concern is the perception of the Creator of these people and in Him these acts of kindness will not be lost.

Spread kindness wherever you go, you never know the effects that a seemingly small act can have.

Thank you so much for reading.

 

Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

 

The Worst Case Scenario

Whatever our position or circumstances are in life, there is one position or set of circumstances that we deem the worst case scenario. Varying between individuals in degrees of intensity but united in the belief that “if such-and-such happened, well then I couldn’t handle that.”

So far everything that I have ever been afraid of has happened to me. I used to be terrified of having to experience those things that I had expected would be my worst case scenario. I wrongly presumed that if these things happened to me, then I wouldn’t be able to cope, that they would finish me.

And so I was tested with them.

I look back at my life so far, this culmination of experiences that I am journeying through and the precision of each trial that has afflicted me has firmly cemented the belief that they were designed and tailored specifically for me. Each tribulation came and targeted my inner core as it sought out my deepest feelings and held on to my heart as though it were held captive by this violent intruder. It held my heart as a prisoner in a grip from which there were was no escape and it was inside that prison that it was forced to bare all. My heart was held captive until it realised that this monstrous intruder was not this worst case scenario that had taken over my life. In fact the real intruder was this set of fears and false beliefs that had seeped into my heart and convinced me that I was less capable than I truly was. I was forced to change my perception from believing that something would destroy me, to believing that it would be the very thing that makes me.

Each test that I have been through has been a hard-learned lesson. They have challenged the way that I view myself and others and our places in the world. They have forced me to break down barriers and are slowly shaping me into the person that I am meant to become. These worst case scenarios have not been a series of coincidences. My Creator knew exactly what I needed to experience in order to evolve and to develop a deeper sense of trust and reliance towards Him.

My experiences with tragedy and loss have been a testament to just how much we as individuals can withstand, and the way in which it is possible to recover and rebuild is truly inspiring. My experiences have taught me that there is a way through every worst case scenario. In surviving my worst fears, I am realising that there really is nothing to fear, everything that is meant to happen will happen, and it will not be beyond my capacity.

To anyone reading who may be experiencing a difficult time … be it slowly or painfully, you will journey through, and you will survive.

Thank you for reading.

 

Photo by Sarah Diniz Outeiro on Unsplash

The Legacy of Abuse

If abusive acts, especially the subtle ones are seen as normal, then children will not perceive them as abnormal unless they encounter a wider society that does not perpetrate them.

With all the information available on the different types of abuse and with the moral concensus that the act of abusing another person is an abhorrent practice, it seems absurd that in this day and age victims can be encouraged to tolerate their circumstances. Well-meaning advisors effectively give a green light to those who abuse, attempting to provide justification of the current conditions under the guise of “the best interests of the children.” They attempt to tap into your fears by talking about financial restrictions, or will tell you how sorry the other person is and try to persuade you to give them another chance. If you are able to dismiss these issues they will bring in the subject of the children. After all, those who are parents indeed desire to be good ones, and nothing would be better than for the children to grow up in a home with both parents, right? That’s what these well-meaning ‘mediators’ would have you believe.

That’s what they told me.

I was told that I would destroy my children by leaving. I would destroy him. I would be the cause of such irrevocable damage that my children would never be able to heal from. I was told to be patient, to reconsider. I was being selfish. I was told that this was the sacrifice a mother makes for her children. My situation was downplayed, my feelings invalidated. “We are all abused women,” they told me. I refused to accept it. I argued that I didn’t want my children to repeat the abusive behaviour, or accept the abusive behaviour for themselves, only to be told that they would know what is right from wrong.

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Photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash

They told me that my children would see the suffering I had endured and it would make them firmly opposed and intolerant of abuse. But why did they need to see me suffer to know this?! Even if there was any truth in their statements I was not going to wait to find out. I believe that when an action is recurrent, whatever it may be, then the children become desensitised, the action becomes normalised. If abusive acts, especially the subtle ones are seen as normal, then children will not perceive them as abnormal unless they encounter a wider society that does not perpetrate them.

I was not prepared to leave this legacy of abuse for my children. They had already seen what they now cannot un-see, and have heard what they now cannot un-hear. If anything has caused irrevocable damage to my children it would be witnessing the vulgarity of abuse rather than being raised in a lone-parent family. Nothing has hurt my children more than seeing me in an awful position and being powerless to help. It haunts them. That is not to say that things have now been easy. It has been tough, really, really tough. But at the same time my children are proud of me. They have seen the struggles and they are now seeing the positive outcomes of those struggles. If my children will learn anything from this situation, then it would be that they too can and should leave an abusive relationship if they find themselves in one. They will learn that they don’t need to be afraid to make the right choices, or become blackmailed into compliance with wrong ones. They will know that they do not have to live the lives of those ‘well-meaning advisors.’

To anyone reading who may be deliberating over whether to leave an abusive partner, I hope I may have been of some support. Do what you know to be right, regardless of what people may say or how difficult it may be. You will find your strength.

Thank you for reading and have a blessed day!

 

Main Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

When Words Fail You

Although I had always been shy, I could when necessary speak precisely and concisely enough to get my point across without being misunderstood. Among close friends I shared thoughts and feelings and was even able to throw in a dash of dry humour here and there. But that all changed. It changed during my marriage to Mr Wrong.

In the beginning we would spend hours engaged in what I thought was deep and meaningful conversation. I listened attentively as I thought I was getting to know him, finding his talks fascinating. I contributed to discussion too, and although whatever I said would somehow be used to fuel more talk about himself, I didn’t notice or mind so much due to my quiet nature. It was easier to simply listen along, periodically breaking up my silence with affirmations that I was paying attention with “Mmm,” and “Yeah,” than to take control and direct a conversation.

Over time I started to notice repetition. During the honeymoon phase I listened politely so as not to embarrass him by telling him that all the talk had been building up to the climax of a tale that I had already heard before. It seemed he loved the sound of his own voice so much that he could go on for hours about the time he did such and such, not realising that I had heard it all last month. When it became too impractical to devote such attention I began to explain that he had already told me the story, but that didn’t deter him from explaining again – no! He would continue talking and try to spice it up with a new perspective or some never-heard-before detail.

As the initial stage of admiration began to fade I began use my voice more. I used it to disagree or explain a different perspective and somehow the most simplest of things was so badly misconstrued and received in such a distorted manner. I would spend time and energy trying to break down, re-word what I had said in an attempt to demonstrate how they had misunderstood and I hadn’t intended to offend them. It happened over and over again and I was never ever able to convince them. Conversations would start off about one thing and end up a full blown argument about something else completely unrelated and I remember feeling completely dumbfounded at the direction things would quickly hurtle towards. I thought it was something I was doing. I made a conscientious effort to speak clearly and choose my words carefully but it was to no avail. I thought I wasn’t able to communicate effectively and even my wit and dry humour went right over his head.

And so I stopped talking. I gave up.

He had effectively silenced me.

My words were nothing of value, and my thoughts were insignificant. The only important thing in the relationship was him, and I was irrelevant.

I no longer talked about my day or how I was feeling. I kept it light and superficial, only talking about safe and mundane issues like “What do you fancy having for dinner?” I became so quiet with him and such a recluse yet I doubt he noticed. It was how I survived. It was how I avoided the drama. It was abuse. I even recall blaming myself and telling him that I didn’t know how to talk! The funny thing was my colleagues understood me. Conversations with them didn’t exhaust me. It wasn’t until I was trying to leave the marriage that the full extent of how sick and twisted they were manifested itself and I learnt the best strategy of all. Not to engage.

He was a narcissist. I learned that nothing I would ever say would make sense to him, however the problem didn’t lie in my choice of words, but in his head. I would never ever ‘win’ an argument, but that wasn’t because what I had to say had no merit, but because of his warped way of thinking. I am no longer married to this person but I am still in contact with him due to having children and even though he still tries to morph what I say into something else, I have learned techniques to shut him down.

My words have never failed me, they were simply wasted on deaf ears.

If anyone is reading this and finds some similarity with their own circumstances, then please, do not allow anyone to hold such power over you that you begin to doubt yourself.

Thank you for reading and have a blessed day!

 

 

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

When They Use Religion Against You

I am no expert on narcissism. I am simply uncovering the reality of who my ex husband was and learning to heal from my experience. Learning that that there is a name for what he is and discovering a multitude of people who have been, or still are in such relationships has enabled me to see that I am no longer alone. There is a wealth of information about narcissism and much of it is presented through personal stories which I read and find echoes of my previous situation. These stories, although garnered from painful experiences have helped me, and I share snippets of my story in the hope that it will resonate with someone and in turn become a source of help to them.

Narcissistic abusers like to control their victims and one of the ways I was controlled was through religion. Having faith is a beautiful thing but sadly it can be hijacked by manipulative people who use it as a disguise as they cunningly utilise it to pull the delusion over your eyes. They masquerade in public as this knowledgeable God-fearing person, involved with charitable acts and able to quote scripture as they perpetuate their ‘Good Guy’ image. It was what initially drew me towards him and convinced me that he would be a good husband. It was also what drew him to me. Like a vulture over it’s prey. He knew that I was God-fearing, and took my faith seriously. He knew that I was by no means perfect but attempted to uphold the fundamental teachings and strived to better my character and help others. He knew that he could manipulate religion and use it to control me and because I was a good person, I also believed that about others who also claimed to love God. That they were also good.

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Photo by Dan Kiefer on Unsplash

The thing with narcissistic abusers is that they are manipulative. Over time he would quote religious scripture to keep me in a state of unwavering submission and humility. He would correct me with it whenever I stepped out of line and scare me with the promise of hellfire for my ingratitude. Now when it comes to religion, I do not consider myself to be a novice and when I would also quote scripture or set forth parables, I was made to second guess and doubt myself (classic narcissistic behaviour) as he told me; “You don’t understand the context of this verse!” He would then give his long winded explanation of how what I said was irrelevant/not applicable to the circumstances/completely misunderstood/missed the point completely.

He used my love of God and desire to do the right thing to control me. I questioned myself and went back and forth about leaving. I told myself (and was told) that religion teaches me to be patient, conceal the faults of others and preserve the sanctity of marriage. Yes it does all those things, but it also stands up for justice and oppression. It gives a voice to the weak who find strength through the provision of God given rights that cannot be taken away – by anyone! I had been correct in my understanding all along and the God whom I followed was loving and compassionate, including towards me. The God that I followed didn’t want me to remain oppressed and had provided a solution to each problem.

Some people project the façade of being a devout worshipper. Their image reaps the respect and adulation of others, but they are devoid of one of the most beloved treasures to the God they claim to follow and that is a good heart. People are not perfect, we make mistakes, definitely. But a person who is truly God-fearing does not vengefully, manipulatively, maliciously, abusively, heedlessly and unrepentantly harm others.

It is that simple.

Thank you so much for reading, and to anyone who is reading … don’t allow somebody else to make you doubt yourself!

Have a blessed day!

 

Main Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Because I Made a Mistake?

I relapsed. Despite my intentions to write regularly and keep up with other personal goals, I hadn’t been successful. It seemed as though the things that usually kept me busy such as work and studies were on break and I had been left with additional time on my hands. This gave my mind more freedom to wander and my thoughts more opportunity to dwell on the past. Memories that were usually suppressed were brought back to the surface and viciously consumed my energy. For someone who enjoys being productive this was a difficult place to be in, especially when I had worked so hard to get out of this place before. It did, however, teach me something about myself. Revisiting this feeling demonstrated that I had been using my busyness as a distraction and as I lay in bed awake tossing and turning until the dawn I realised that exhaustion from my busyness was what had previously caused me to sleep as soon as my head touched the pillow. I could no longer do that. Once this busyness had been taken away I was forced to confront the issues.

I revisited one of the sources of my pain, a time in my life where I had made a mistake. A costly mistake, yet one I had no control over and one that elicited a barrage of negative responses and often questionable behaviour of which I am still in the process of recovering from.

I asked myself if the fact that I had made a genuine mistake meant that I was a terrible person?

Did it mean that I had dishonest intentions?

Did making a mistake now mean that I am sub-human?

Does it qualify me for abuse?

Abandonment?

Should I be bullied because of my mistake?

Or terrorised?

Harassed?

Manipulated?

Because I made an unintentional mistake should I become imprisoned and cut off?

Should I have my bones broken?

Does making an uncontrollable mistake disqualify a person from having needs?

Respect?

Dignity?

Do they no longer have anything of value to say?

Do they no longer possess intelligence?

Does a person’s mistake qualify you to oppress them?

Silence them?

Should they no longer speak?

If a person makes a mistake can they no longer stand up for what is right?

For truth and justice?

If a person makes a mistake does it cancel out all their acts of goodness that the community benefitted from beforehand?

Did it mean I deserved it all?

The answer to some of these questions seem so obvious yet when answering them from a place of despair, I experienced difficulty. So I substituted myself for someone imaginary and asked again. Would I listen to them? Would I treat them as subhuman? Still respect them? Of course I would! Well then it was time to give myself the respect and compassion that I was willing to give to someone else. Often the actions of a people do nothing but reflect their characters rather than the character of the ones who they belittle, and I needed to show kindness to myself if it could not be shown by others.

Having this moment of weakness does not reduce me, or anyone else who relapses in any way. It has highlighted an area that I need to work on. I had learned how to survive in times of busyness, and now I needed to learn how to survive during quieter periods. Experiencing emotional ups and downs, although painful, only serve to build up a more resilient person. We wouldn’t be human without emotion. And we wouldn’t be human if we never made mistakes.

Thank you for reading and have a blessed day.

 

 

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash