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Practice makes perfect

By Ox Drover

I remember when I first learned to ride a bicycle. Most of us remember the day we first took off the training wheels, because generally, we fell down a few times before we got it right and were pretty safe from falling. It took practice. I can’t remember many days before I was about twelve that I didn’t have at least one band-aid on at least one knee. Even with the continual road rash I usually had on my knees and elbows, it never even occurred to me to not keep on practicing or to give up on learning to ride the “big kid’s bike.”

The past couple of months have been rather stressful for me with some deadlines I was facing, some big decisions I had to make, and the usual anxiety that I face when making a big decision that will seriously impact my life. Once the decision is made, I can usually accept it and the consequences of that decision and say to myself, “I did the best I could with the information I had at the time.”

With the changes I have made in my life in the past couple of years due the trauma associated with the psychopaths in my life, I have developed some new ways of dealing with life situations. One of these new ways is to learn to set boundaries with everyone in my life, not just a few people who are on the fringes of my life. Sometimes, setting boundaries means that we have to enforce those boundaries at a pretty steep price. If someone, even someone we truly value and love, disrespects those boundaries and betrays us, we have to “man up” and enforce those boundaries. Sometimes that means keeping away from that person for some period of time, or possibly No Contact forever.

Establishing new habits

New habits that we form in our emotional lives post-psychopathic encounter are, I think, like those early days of trying to learn to ride the bike ”¦ we end up with quite a bit of road rash. Even when we get to where we are pretty good at riding the bike, sometimes we take on a trail or a hill that we are not quite equipped to handle that day and we crash.

Since my decision to sever relationships with not only the woman who gave me birth, but with my convict son, and many of the people I considered “friends” in my days before I started to turn my life around, I’ve had to stop each day and think before I made a decision. It wasn’t just “natural” to do these new habits, because I had decades of past habits that were done almost without a thought of what to do. Now that I have instituted some changes in the way I make decisions, and in what behaviors I will expect from others, I can’t let myself go back and fall into those old and dysfunctional habits.

After decades of smoking and failed attempts at quitting, I finally made up my mind to really quit this time, and I have done so. Still there are times when I am stressed or anxious that I want that cigarette. I have to stop and think about my new way of doing things, that doesn’t include smoking cigarettes. I can’t let myself “cheat” even once, and I haven’t. I can already see improvements in my health as a result. I no longer have a cough.

In the past couple of years, I have also gained some weight (even pre-smoking cessation) and I know it has been a case of using a high carb diet for stress relief, so rather than just eat when I feel the urge, I am watching what I eat, when I eat it, and the weight is slowly coming off. Rather than just cooking something, though, I have to stop and think about calories, fat content, fiber content, and getting enough fluids. I can’t just “forget” about what I am going to eat, I have to actually work at staying on a good, healthy, low calorie diet. It takes more effort than just slapping something on the table and eating until I can’t hold any more. Practice makes perfect.

Sticking with the program

Recently, I got a business e-mail from my birth mother, and she sent about half the information I needed to take care of business. I emailed her back asking for the rest of the information I needed and why I needed it. No answer. I e-mailed her again with more reasons for why I needed that information. No answer. I was irritated, and began to think that this was her way of trying to get me to call her or send my adopted son over to talk to her. It was so tempting to do either of those things, but I am committed to limited contact, which includes only e-mails about business that must have information conveyed from one of us to the other. At first I was really irritated, then angry and frustrated, but I had to practice my new skills in setting boundaries and in enforcing them, and still “get the job done.”

So, I figured out another way to get the information I needed and accomplish the job. It wasn’t my first inclination though, I had to work at it. Practice it. Keep my head about the new habits, and see the advantages in them. Just like the not smoking when I want a cigarette is beneficial to me and I can already see the benefits to myself, the very limited contact with people I can’t trust, even when business makes it necessary to my own well being, I must maintain those new improved habits and skills. Practice makes perfect.

My new boundary setting and enforcement still doesn’t always feel “natural” and my immediate impulse is to respond with the old habits, but I know that they are not the best responses. Restraining my “natural impulse” and using my new and improved skills will benefit me in the long run. Practice makes perfect.

Some of my old habits and ways of responding are so deeply ingrained in my emotions that I’m not sure if the new ways of doing things will ever seem entirely “natural,” but it doesn’t make any difference to me, because I know that my new habits are much more productive, that I end up with less emotional “road rash.” I am riding with much more smoothness than I have in the past. I am getting my balance, even if I still feel a bit of trepidation from time to time about my skills at staying balanced, but if I don’t practice, I will never get it down!

Practice makes perfect!


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37 Comments on "Practice makes perfect"

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I like your analogy about not being able to be a little bit pregnant or dead! It reminds me in a simpler way of how I tried to explain it to the ex …
“Truth telling is not something you can conveniently turn on and off at will – you either ARE a truth teller or you’re a liar. You can’t go along telling the truth then get found out on five big whoppers and expect to still be regarded as honest – it doesn’t work that way.” He was shocked and angry at this lol He really thought he could still be an honest person even though he lied all the time!

He really did seem like a child that day that couldn’t understand the rules and was baffled by societal expectations.

I am starting to date again after two plus yrs alone and I am being very careful – just meeting men as friends initially so there are no ties for me if I feel overwhelmed and there’s no chance of being swept off my feet – I’ve had enough of that for several lifetimes thankyou very much! And if I don’t meet someone worthy then I will just remain single – not the end of the world. I have managed to build a more interesting life that I can live with alone and away from him so I don’t cry into my coffee about being single 🙂 All in all I feel much stronger now – life must go on. As much as I prayed to die back then, I didn’t. I am alive and I can look after myself after this experience and learning about various personality disorders.

Oh and you’re dead right – dishonesty has to be one of the bigges. If not THE biggy – it’s a recipe for heartache and pain for the deceived person no matter what the deception was about or for. Hiding things is never a good idea!

GO MIDLIFE!!!

Gracias Erin – long way to come in a few short months since realising his true nature 🙂 I am happy with progress and couldn’t have dreamed it would be this fast – mind you there are still down days fromo time to time but in general I am too busy to get mired down in depression – there is no time for it now!

I feel really blessed. Kathleen said if you have been through a trauma healing before then the next time is quicker – last time it took me YEARS but this time I am getting there much faster. And it just happened seemingly by itself. One day I was obsessing about him and revenge and my lost life and a few days later I was celebrating the life I still have left – it’s strange. It almost happened in my sleep. I still have thoughts of exposing him from time to time but they die down quite quickly now. I feel much better than when I first arrived here a few months ago. I am the lucky one compared to the new woman – I got away, while she is stuck back there in that hell.

Hi All,

Not quite sure where to put this, but I wanted to share a recent ‘dating site’ event, and how I got to practice what I have learned here….

Got ‘winked’ at by a guy on OKCupid. I have been on for just under a month, checking out who’s there. I messaged him asking him why he winked me. We message very briefly, maybe two simple exchanges. Nothing out of the ordinary.

He gives me his studio website, and tells me he would like to meet. I have his name, studio address, and a history of his education. I google him and do a mini background. Clean. I check out dating ‘warning’ sites (dontdatehimgirl, etc…). Clean.

He lives on an Island in British Columbia. He is coming my way to visit his parents. He wants to know if we can meet.

This is how it works: at some point contact has to be made. #’s exchanged. I give mine. He calls and leaves a voicemail that he is in town and would love to get together. I call back.

He invites me to come to a few galleries with him (he is an oil painter of some talent). I agree. He says he’ll call at 1pm the next day, we’ll meet at a gallery, and then go for an early dinner. I tell him I am looking forward to it and sign off.

He doesn’t call at 1. By 1:30 I have no intention of answering when/if he calls. By 2 I am sure. I am disappointed. But I know that this kind of insenstivity of my time just doesn’t work for me. If a guy cannot put his best foot forward at this point in the process, my guess is he doesn’t have a good foot!

He calls at 3, acts as if nothing has happened. He tells my VM he is done ‘poking around’ and would love to meet for dinner, and I should give him a call.

I do not call him. He is a stranger who has already broken trust. Before trust could even be truly established, and then has (maybe) pretended, or acted as if, nothing has happened. Or to take a less suspicious point of view he has a really shitty memory. Either way……

Later he calls me again (two hours later, I let it go to VM) and tells me it is really OK that I got ‘cold feet’ and he totally understands, but he needs me to call him back……’ I delete before the message is even done.

I don’t call him.

He calls back the next day (today), and doesn’t leave a message.

I don’t call him.

Lots of things come to mind about what took place.

That his not calling on time, and then acting as if nothing is amiss is the ‘first boundary violation’, and is pointing to the possibility of further and more serious boundary violations. And that if I had called him back, took the bait, and acted as if nothing had happened, he would’ve taken that as the signal that the abusive game could ‘begin’.

That his calling the second time to say it was ‘OK’ that I had coldfeet was a subtle projection of his initial insensitivity toward me, that he was ‘discharging’ on to me, while pretending to be sensitive to my weakness and nervous fear of meeting him. I felt it was audacious of him to call me. Particularly when he requested that I call him back.

Even if his lie were true, and I did get cold feet. Why would he call me, and need for me to call him back? A woman he doesn’t know, at all. I think any reasonable person would chalk it up to me being crazy/scared, and just gently walk away.

I think he didn’t walk away because he is playing cat and mouse, and needs to get me on the phone to find a way to bury the hook. He cannot do this. It is frustrating his need to ‘play’. But, I don’t call him.

And…..he calls again this afternoon. This time not leaving a message.

I know if I don’t give him anything he will go away. He will grow bored.

The thing is this is the first time, in a long time, that I am really feeling comfortable following my own lead. I am not worried about being too harsh, too this, too that. I am feeling really damn good about honoring my own feelings and experience. I feel good about letting my responses inform me.

I feel good about what I have learned here at LF!!!!

Smooches to all,
Slim

Slim:
I did the same thing…..when I was encouraged to go on a dating site……I used it as a test…..
OF ME!

I learned a lot about me….but didn’t get anythign else out of it…..wouldn’t ever pay for a site….and wouldn’t do it now….
Peeps are just not real….my experience….

I also see a red flag with him wanting a 1pm first meeting to go right into dinner…..
He already planned on spending more than a few hours with you…..prior to meeting and getting to know….
This is a bit odd….had you thought of that?

I found most men were not willing to commit to more than….just coffee or drinks…..not commit to too much on first meeting….
So your guy wanting to go from 1-8 without meeting first is odd to me……
Hmmmm

But….good for you for practicing your skills….it’s important and validating we are growing and learning and hopefully doing what we need to to avoid any further bad experiences….

Hi Erin,

Yes! I did think of that. And after I agreed to meet him at a gallery, I thought better of it, as it made me feel nervous and little sick to my stomach. The body is such an incredible guide. So all the stuff that happened after merely confirmed my gut feeling.

So far my experience is as you describe it. A brief initial meeting. And nothing has come of it, other than one man and I have become real good friends. He has a small child which is not what I am looking for, but he a super person and being friends with him is proving to be somewhat healing for me.

This experience has shown me how much I have learned, and what I am capable of discerning and acting on. This feels REALLY good!

Hmmm, just tried to post and it didn’t.

Just to say, yes his invitation to spend more than the average time together did register with me. After I agreed I felt too nervous, and a little sick to my stomach. The body is such a great informer. The rest of it just confirmed what my gut and head were already in tune with.

Every other meeting has been brief and without any glitches.

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