“Every time I step onto the court there’s a new challenge. Each opponent is different and represents a different challenge. Every surface represents a new challenge. The game within the game is the toughest though. It’s the mental challenge and the physical challenge that’s the real battle. To succeed you have to be ready to deal with anything, because anything is going to happen. It’s just about how well you adapt to it.” – #1 ranked tennis player in the world – Novak Djokovic
As many of you know I’m a huge sports fan. I get a lot of my inspiration from athletes. These past two weeks I’ve been watching, aside from the hockey playoffs, the French Tennis Open. For some, watching tennis is like watching paint dry, but for me, it’s the epitome of human endurance. These individuals have to battle through what could be a 5 hour match, running hard and hitting the ball even harder – while battling every emotion and physical ailment known to man.
These people are warriors. They’ve learned how to battle all the ebbs and flows of a game. I admire people that know how to battle. The most successful ones have found and trained their inner fighter to get them through the toughest situations and propel them forward.
Many of my readers want to feel better and they’ve done some work, but they’re not getting the results they want and not as fast as they want. The questions I always get are, “How long is this going to take?” Or they say, “I’m doing all the right things. I’ve gone no contact, I’m reading the books and I’m walking in nature and I still don’t feel any better.”
My answer is always the same, “How long this takes is 100% up to you. You didn’t become a codependent overnight and you’re not going to snap out of it overnight. It’s a process. After you figure out the riddle you’re not going to have fireworks every day. It’s a grind and this is where the warrior within has to come in.”
What you have to do is decide that you are worth the effort it will take. It’s not something that anyone can give you, or something you find in a book. It’s about a shifting of your perception about who you really are and knowing that you deserve more deep within your core.
The next step is putting in the work. This is the spark. I can read an entire book and be distracted, let my mind wander and not absorb any of it and still say I read the book, but if I’m hyped about it, if it means something to me and I want to get better, I’m going to be laser focused and make sure that I get everything I can get from it. I’ll even read it again if I think I missed something. I’m going to reflect, I’m going to apply what I learn. I’m going to be mindful and pay attention and make adjustments as I go. You always have a choice. You can go through the motions, or you can do the work.
The amount of effort you put in is in direct correlation to whether or not you believe in what you’re doing. The more you believe in what you’re doing, the more effort you’ll put in, the more effort you put in, the better your results will be, the better your results, the more you will start to believe in it, the more you believe in it, the more effort you’ll put in….see where I’m going with this? It all starts with your perception. If all else fails just do the work and really give it your best effort, because as soon as you start to see some results everything will snow ball.
“A small adjustment can turn your whole season around.” – WTA champ Genie Bouchard
When we are faced with making a change it can seem overwhelming and the idea of even getting started is enough to drain away all of our motivation. I like Genie’s comment because it reminds me that the best way to approach big things is to break them down so they don’t seem so impossible. I’ll give you an example.
If I want to lose weight I’ll start off with a change in what I’m eating. This means cutting out sugar, bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes. Once I do this for a few days my entire craving for carbs is completely gone. The next adjustment I’ll make is eating within a certain time frame, like I will only eat within an 8 hour period – so if I have breakfast at 10:00am my dinner will have to be done by 6:00pm and from 6:00pm to 10:00am the next morning I’m not eating anything. Once I have that in hand the next adjustment I might make is cutting down my portion size for each meal. After that I might start walking. Then I might try some intermittent high intensity running in intervals of my walk – meaning I’ll walk for 5 minutes, run for one, then walk for 5 minutes, run for one…
When we can break things down into small steps it makes the journey a lot less overwhelming. Master the small steps and keep moving forward.
“Today is one of the toughest press conferences of my career, having to pull out of (the tournament). This is a very bad position for me. It’s part of life.” – 9 time French Open Tennis Champion, Rafael Nadal on having to withdraw from the tournament.
As some of you know I have 7 brothers. Yes 7. We all share the same mother. Four I have never met. One I do not speak to and two I am extremely close to. Michael is my only fully biological sibling and as I’ve noted in previous blogs, he has always been the peace keeper of the family.
On Thursday I got a text from Michael. It went something like this, Xxxx (the brother we don’t speak to) called and asked if I could loan him some money (by loan he means give). He has a job interview tomorrow and no way to get there. Can you help out?
Now Xxxx is not stupid. If I had to borrow money, believe me I’d hit Michael up first too. Not because he has it mind you, but because he is compassionate, with a dash of codependency.
This simple request caused a lot of turmoil for me. You see Xxxx is an alcoholic, he’s almost 20 years older than me, he’s a toxic parasite that has never been able to have a relationship or stand on his own two feet. He’s always looking for a hand out from someone and to boot, the last time I saw him, which was after my divorce from my long-term Narcissist, I let him move into a house I was renting. One day, a few months in, rent was due. He didn’t have it, so instead of talking to me, he packed up and moved out while I was at work, giving me no notice. He was too much of a coward to face me. He didn’t care that I was living paycheck to paycheck at the time. He didn’t give a crap what would happen to me, or what position he left me in and he hasn’t tried to communicate with me since. So what the hell? – I don’t owe this clown anything.
I really battled this decision because I’m fortunate enough that I have a roof over my head, my fridge is full and giving him $100.00 wouldn’t harm me financially in the slightest. How can I sit here comfortably while I have a brother who probably doesn’t have enough money to eat. How could I live with myself if I didn’t help out? He is family after all. I even thought about how this moment would be judged in the afterlife if I didn’t help out. I thought about a story Wayne Dyer spoke about, about when a homeless person asked him for money and he passed him by, only to run back and track him down later and hand him all the coins in his pocket. He talked about random acts of kindness and how beneficial it was, not only to the receiver of a kindness, but to the giver as well. I really, really thought this through. I wondered if I was looking for a reason to not give him money, or if I was trying to justify giving him the money.
Saturday night I got a text from Xxxx. It said, “Sav are you there?” That’s it, but I knew what he wanted. It was time to make a decision.
My conclusion was, if I give him money now it will open the door for more asking down the road. I also thought about how my giving him money doesn’t help him. It enables him to continue the lifestyle he has always lived. Doctor Phil would say that my giving him money just alleviates my guilt, while harming him in the process.
My best assessment of him is that he suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder and Avoidant Personality Disorder. He doesn’t add value to my life. He’s toxic. There is no reciprocity between us, it’s all about him taking, never giving. He doesn’t care about me and therefore, doesn’t get to be a part of my life.
The biggest changes we make in life are usually when we are forced to make them – when there is no other option. By continuing to feed the parasite, it allows his behavior to continue. I didn’t give him the money, I didn’t answer his text and I continued to go no contact.
That decision doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t make me a bitch, or selfish. It makes me someone that practices self-care and I’m ok with that.
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Am so glad I came across these pages Savannah… you have made me belly laugh (so much nicer than crying!) about your toxic brother.
Am finding all these pages so incredibly helpful and am feeling a little stronger already. X
i learn so much from reading your blogs. Thank you Savannah xx
I’m 60. I’ve started having a new stress dream. In it, I own a large house and let rooms to different lodgers. I’m so busy that I don’t see some of them to collect their rent and I don’t seem to be able to keep a record of whether they have paid. In fact, I have trouble keeping track of where the rooms are and who is living in them.
I think it’s quite obviously about co-dependence but it’s an advance in that at least it’s telling me something about me rather than re-introducing people that I have cut away from.
This is a really important post. Not many comments yet but perhaps that is because followers are thinking about it so much. Or because it’s good weather outside – well here anyway. Or because the tennis has been on. Or perhaps it’s because it brings home the size and difficulty of the real task.
To start the work, and commit to it, and keep it up and change yourself, knowing where it is you want to go, is a huge challenge, requiring time and effort.
I admire you Eileen W. I think it’s good to know what worked for different people. I liked a post last week that said not to keep talking about the N. S/he is just a symptom – but it takes time to recognise that.
You are honest and open in sharing your personal battles. These are examples rather than being up for debate or comment.
Savannah, you have referred to writing a book. Is that likely to be published any time soon?
Jean you are not the only one. I’m 65 also. Just divorced a narcissist after 23 years in an miserable marriage but stayed till my son grew up. I’m finally dealing with codependency and determined to get healthy. Readers of this blog need to know/believe they are the lucky ones because their narcissist left them. Life with them is not the soulmate fantasy you think it will be. I would describe it more like hell on earth: anger, mood swings, entitlement, selfishness and the big one: thinking there is nothing wrong with them, it’s all you. Get on your knees and thank god they left you!! Believe me on this, it’s the truth. Thanks Savannah, this blog is life changing…
This artical covered a lot of important things. The small things …I am beginning to get it at age 65. Since childhood I have had a terrible inner critic. I am just understanding how to cope with it. That those negative thoughts can be told to shut up and recognize where they come from. Asking myself, “does this help me?”, has been so empowering’. Celebrating little successes. Thank you Savannah and others.
I once heard someone say that dysfunctional people have a great trick they like to play: they do something inappropriate, and then wait around for us to feel guilty about it. As I read your story, this brother you never hear from shows up only to ask for a handout. For a mature adult, that is not right behavior. Yet it was you who struggled with guilt. You did well to ignore that voice. People who take advantage of our basic instincts — to help others, to be compassionate, to be generous, to help family members — are not worthy of those instincts. And we have to learn that. Narcissists take advantage of other people’s sympathies all the time, because it gets them what they want (attention), and makes them feel powerful (they can manipulate people). But we must not be slaves to our instincts. As you say in this post, we have to think through what those instincts are telling us and whether we need to override them, on the basis of knowledge, experience, wisdom and self care.
By the way, I do not know this long lost brother of course. But when I lived in New York, there was a scam artist who worked a particular street corner on a regular basis. His schtick was, he was perched over a manhole cover, supposedly trying to fish out his car keys. He had an interview in New Jersey the next day, which was for a good job he needed to take care of his family, etc. etc. I talked to him a while the first time I saw him but my 6th sense told me it was BS. Yet I was amazed over the next months at the many times I saw other people giving him money.
The old “I need money for an interview” scam is a good one, and you may have just avoided being victimized by it. In any case, you did good.
There is a time for generosity when we know the cause is good. But giving motivated by guilt, for me anyway, is rarely the right motive.
Very right on. Avoidance Personality Disorder is a term I am unfamiliar with. I do believe it fits my ex Nars. It was hard not to think I’ d done something wrong when he ignored me. Thank you. Good article.
I must admit that I always find it difficult to explain to friends how I worked through to become mentally healthy. I think it’s probably because it’s different for everyone, and depends on what suits your own personality. For me, it’s been reading and research after a initial few sessions with a wonderful counsellor, with one thing leading quite naturally to another in a synchronistic way. It’s hard to describe how to do that, as it’s highly individualised and I hardly knew I was doing it until I looked back later to see how things went. I find it frustrating as I have a friend who, like me, has Complex-PTSD, and she’s tried so many different therapies, none of which has helped. The only thing I’ve been able to do is say what helped me, which wasn’t all that helpful to her.
One thing I do know though, is that it was the hardest thing I have ever done for myself. I knew that at the very beginning, following a mental breakdown, and at the age of 60 I was determined that I would get rid of the albatross around my neck for once and for all. It took at least 6 yrs, and I’m still learning, but I feel like a whole person for the first time in my life, and at the age of 67 I feel as if I’ve come to some friendly arrangement with life at this now rather late stage, lol.
I really enjoyed your article, Savannah, and I think if my friend brings the subject up again I’ll emphasise how it’s something that you really have to work at. Rather than being handed a cure, such as being given medicine, it really is something that you have to work at. It’s just finding the right way for ourselves, but the determination is very much the whole thing I reckon, as without it we won’t be completely invested in getting well. With it, we can move mountains! 🙂