Never Again

I read this somewhere and I wanted to discuss this:

The inability to receive support from others is a trauma response.

Your, “I don’t need anyone, I’ll just do it all myself,” conditioning is a survival tactic. And you needed it to shield your heart from abuse, neglect, betrayal, and disappointment from those who could not or would not be there for you….

…From all the situation when someone told you, “We’re in this together,” or “I got you,” then abandoned you, leaving you to pick up the pieces when shit got real, leaving you to handle your part and their part, too.

From all the lies and all the betrayals.

You learned along the way that you just couldn’t really trust people Or that you could trust people, but only up to a certain point.

Extreme independence is a trust issue.

You learned: if I don’t put myself in a situation where I rely on someone, I won’t have to be disappointed when they don’t show up for me, or when they drop the ball… because they will always drop the ball eventually, right?

Extreme independence is a preemptive strike against heartbreak.

So you don’t trust anyone.

And you don’t trust yourself, either, to choose people.

To trust is to hope, to trust is to be vulnerable.

“Never again,” you vow.

But no matter how you dress it up and display it proudly to make it seem like this level of independence is what you always wanted to be, in truth it’s your wounded, scarred broken heart behind a protective brick wall.

Impenetrable. Nothing gets in. No hurt gets in. But no love gets in either.

Fortresses and armor are for those in battle, or who believe the battle is coming.

It’s a trauma response.

by Jamila White

There was more but this encompasses most of what I wanted to write about.

I read this, and my first thought was, “Wow! This is so profound. So true. You’ve got to open your heart. Learn to trust. Not let the bad experiences shape you.”

And then I thought, “This is nuts. Of course the bad experiences are going to shape you! You should learn from them, not put your head in the sand and pretend that the next time it will all be okay.”

I suppose I should start with this: I don’t think I engage in extreme independence. I also don’t think I deny others the chance to support me.

Am I perfectly fine being on my own? I sure was. I didn’t think I would ever date again and I was pretty okay with that. I didn’t go looking for the mobster. He found me.

With that said I absolutely love having someone like him in my life.

Now, having said that I’m still not ready to throw caution to the wind, move in together, chuck spousal support out the window and cling to the notion that, “This time it will all work out!”

Yeah, last time it damn near killed me. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. I sometimes forget how awful it was because five years have passed and my life isn’t horrible anymore. And you know, you would think that would be a big help.

Hey! You survived it before! You thought you wanted to die and that your life was going to suck forever and ever. But look at you now! It doesn’t suck. If he walked out the door you’d pick yourself up and carry on. You’re in a better position now even because you already have a job! So you wouldn’t be back to square one. You’d be on, like, square two at the very least. Maybe even square three. You couldn’t lose everything all over again because you already lost everything and you never really rebuilt, right? It’s not like you bought a house. You don’t have any furniture. There’s nothing to lose! You’re good!

Ah, Happy-Go-Lucky Sam! I’ve missed you. Unfortunately for her, Baptized Through Fire Sam also shows up. And she’s like, “Are you crazy?”

My answer to that is, “No!”

I’ve thought about this a lot and it comes down to this. Let’s imagine there is a lake I swim in quite often. For years I go to this lake and I jump in and I swim around and have a grand ol’ time. And then one day, I go to the lake and I jump in and I swim around just like I always have. Only this time… an alligator bites my leg off. Now, I don’t know how the alligator got in the lake. It’s not like I live in Florida. Maybe it was a pet and it got too big so someone let it go. Maybe it migrated. I don’t know. I just know it now lives in the lake I used to swim in. And it bit my leg off. I was lucky to survive. It was a miracle. Kinda like me surviving my damn divorce and losing everything. Hmmmm…. Anyway… if someone asked me, “Hey, Sam, why don’t you swim in that lake anymore?” I would have no problem with saying, “Because a damn alligator bit my freaking leg off!” And if they tried to tell me that the chances of the alligator biting my other leg off was slim to none I’d tell them I wasn’t going to take any chances. I know there’s a damn alligator in that lake!

I don’t think anyone would fault me for that.

I think I tend to trust but verify. Trust but not put all my eggs in another person’s basket. Trust but not blindly. Trust but don’t be stupid. Any of those could be my new motto.

The mobster spent a few weeks with the guy who sold him his route. They talked a lot. The guy had 2 children from a previous relationship. He was currently with his girlfriend of 7 years. They had a child together and she really wanted to get married. His father ran routes all over for years until he began the Missions routes, which were basically given to him. Between him and his two sons they owned multiple routes. The guy who is selling the mobster the route makes quite a bit of money between the three or so routes he runs and his investment properties. One day the mobster came home and he was relaying the stories he had heard from him. I don’t remember how it came up but I remember him saying that at one point B was explaining that while his girlfriend worked a full-time job as well “all of this is me”, meaning that while she worked, too, the reason they had the giant house and the waterfall features in their yard and the Tesla and the million other things they had, was because of him.

My first inclination was to think, “Well, that’s not very team-like of him.” But my second reaction, which quickly followed my first, was, “He’s absolutely correct. It is all him.” Or rather, it’s all his.

I’m sure she helps him out logistically. She may even provide insurance for him and his two other children. But the reality is she makes a fraction of what he makes. Her lifestyle is funded by him. If she walked out on him tomorrow his life wouldn’t change. He might have to scramble to find someone to help out with his kids, but he’s not going to be wondering if he can afford the mortgage. He won’t be worried about whether or not he has to take his kids out their school because he might need to move. If he walks out on her? Oh you can bet your ass her life is going to change. She may have a full-time job. She may not be destitute. But she’s not going to be living in a house like she does now. She won’t be driving around in a Tesla. A lot of the things she can afford to do and purchase she wouldn’t be able to afford or purchase if he left.

That is still my mindset. I went through my house and I put price tags on all of my belongings. What I couldn’t sell was left behind. I lost my home. I lost my pool. I lost my brand new furniture. I had to move out of the state and back in with my mom. I live in fucking Indiana once again, for crying out loud. 

I will never financially depend upon another man again. That is still my stance. If I can’t afford it it’s not mine. If I can’t afford it on my own I don’t want it. I see all of these happy people who live these amazing lives and they’re doing it because they’re married. Their husbands fund their lives. It’s the ol’ “teamwork” concept. We’re a team! What’s mine is his and what’s his is mine. We don’t have his money and my money; it’s our money. I sometimes think how nice it would be to be able to do that again. To think that because I have a husband who can buy us a second home on a lake that I somehow have a home on a lake. To think that because my husband can afford a boat that I, too, have a boat. To think that because I’m married to a man who can afford a half a million dollar home that I have a half a million dollar home.

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that that is not true. If my fictitious future husband decides to walk out on me for some gold digging whore then I no longer have a lake house. I no longer have a boat. I no longer have a $500,000 home. And I do realize that I got a very raw deal because Jerry Lee let our house go into foreclosure as opposed to getting up off his ass and getting a new job, hoping to wait me out. But I probably wouldn’t have been able to keep that house anyway. 

The way I look at it is this: As long as I follow my own common sense advice and only live on what I can afford on my own then I don’t have to worry about losing my home and everything in it should the man I’m with suddenly decides he wants to fuck a gold digging whore. If I acknowledge the fact that I only have access to his huge house, or his pool, or his boat or his lake house, because he wants to fuck me then I’m not shocked when I no longer have access to any of that if he dumps me. I don’t have to pack up my house. I don’t have to put stickers on everything. I don’t have to move back in with my mom. Would I be sad? Of course! But I’m not having every single goddamn thing I own taken away from me either. 

It’s kind of like if I had a job where I got free concert tickets as a perk of the job, or they allowed me use of their corporate condo in Hawaii. I would expect to only get to use those perks as long as I worked there. I wouldn’t be thinking, “I have a condo in Hawaii.” No, I’d be thinking, “My company has a condo in Hawaii and I get to use it as a perk of my employment.” If I leave the company I don’t have access to that condo in Hawaii anymore. I no longer get free concert tickets. All of those goodies are contingent upon my employment, just like my access to anything I can’t afford on my own is contingent upon my partner still wanting to be with me.

I think the point of this is to not let your bad experiences rule your life, but it doesn’t mean you don’t implement some safe guards. Instead of declaring, “All men (or women) are bad and I’m not getting involved with anyone ever again!” you examine the red flags you missed and the behavior you tolerated in order to stay in that relationship. It’s not, “I’ll never let down my walls!”, or “I’ll never trust again!”.  It’s being willing to have deal breakers. It’s being willing to say, “This is not acceptable to me,”- and meaning it. It means not overlooking bad behavior and coming up with excuses for it. It’s demanding reciprocity and leaving when you don’t get that instead of continuing to wish upon a star that things were different. You don’t twist yourself into a pretzel trying to get someone else to love you and you’re willing to walk away when you realize this person is never going to be who you need them to be.

I don’t think it’s so much that I’ve built up walls or have trust issues. I think I’ve seen the stark reality of what happens when you go into a relationship thinking you’re a team and that you’ve built this life together, and then one person decides they want out. I can love deeply. I can love fiercely. I can let down my walls and I can trust. But I’m not going to be stupid. I’m not going to put myself in a bad situation like I did the first time around. For me, that means I won’t rely on another man financially ever again. I don’t think that means I have trust issues. I think it means I learned a very valuable lesson. I no longer swim in lakes that are known to have alligators in them.

2 thoughts on “Never Again

  1. I put up some pretty high walls when I got divorced. Luckily for me I always worked (I had to) and I actually earned more than him, but he took that as his right to spend every penny WE had down at the whore bar (where they all thought he was wonderful – and rich – especially his skank) and on his boy’s toys while I was watching every penny. I think what I really resent is that while I was able to buy him out of the house and am now retired, I don’t think I will ever allow myself to trust another human being – and for that I hate him! The other thing to consider is that if it happened to me again (the cheating, I mean), I’m now 10 years older and my prospects aren’t as good as they were then. Who knows, maybe one day I will trust again but either way I will NEVER get married again, nor will I ever live with anyone again. So yeah, I get where you’re coming from, sadly!

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    1. Yeah, isn’t it funny how we’re left with this heightened awareness and taller walls and they just go about their lives? I understand they’ve got the new life planned out before they ever leave but why aren’t they ever hesitant about remarrying and having to give 50% of their remaining assets to this new person? Especially if they’re cheating with someone who was also cheating on their partner! Maybe impression management is a stronger pull than common sense and financial security. Maybe they really are that delusional and believe they are so special that of course the new supply wouldn’t cheat on them. Maybe they figure they’ll always have a never ending supply of money and assets so what’s 50% or more when true love is on the line. It truly is baffling. I get that they don’t have emotions like the rest of us but I would think, considering how much so many of them value their money, they wouldn’t be so quick to marry again.

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