Back in the early 90s I was involved in an emotionally abusive relationship.
(Yes, I realize this is hardly starting out like a motivational post. But trust me, there’s a happy ending and lessons learned that may help you persevere in whatever you’re trying to attain.)
Although it’s been over 20 years, thinking and writing about that time of my life brings back a lot of bad memories.
You know those quizzes you find online on sites like Cosmo, “10 Signs You’re Living with a Psychopath”?
I could’ve checked off every box and even added to the list.
Here’s the thing with psychopaths: They’re charmers. They charm everyone else around them, so you think you’re the crazy one – and everyone else does, too. It’s how he won me over.
Plus, you believe you can make the other person happy and everything will be hearts and flowers if only you do X, Y and Z.
Problem is, X, Y and Z changes every day.
It’s like trying to sit down when someone keeps pulling the chair out from under you.
You can never, ever win.
I lived in fear, afraid of what stunt he might pull next.
Would I once again do something that made him stop talking to me for a week, like the time I accidentally broke a plate?
If a man at the gym asks me if I’m done using a machine, will he scream at me and accuse me of cheating on him in front of everyone?
Or will he just continue to have his prison guard coworkers drive by and spy on everything I do?
Whatever happened, It would likely not include anything fun or enjoyable.
The cherry on top of the situation: I followed him to South Dakota in the winter, a.k.a. Hell on Earth, which added to the charm of the situation (unless living in – 60°F weather is on your list of fun things to do). He worked for the Bureau of Prisons and had been transferred out there.
(And yes, I realize I’ve talked about a half dozen things that make most people question my sanity. I did, too.)
I’d rather not get into any more specifics because it’s unnecessary to this story. But rest assured, it got worse. A lot worse.
But here’s the #1 most important part: I GOT OUT.
I escaped in the middle of the night while he was away on business (the story doesn’t actually end there, but I’ll save the rest for when I decide to write a novel of War and Peace proportions).
I had to borrow money from my parents for the airfare, flew back to the east coast and moved in with my brother in Connecticut for a few months until I found a job.
That was no piece of cake, either, but living in a box on the street would’ve been an upgrade from my situation at the time.
Point #2: I DID SOMETHING I NEVER THOUGHT I COULD DO.
I had nothing. No job, no place to live and no money. Oh, yeah, and my self-esteem and self-worth took a pretty good hit, too. In short, I was at the lowest point in my life.
But despite it all, I knew I’d be alright. I still had myself.
But I clearly had my work cut out for me.
So after I returned to the east coast, I went for a few rounds of therapy to figure out why this happened, landed a new job, was able to find my own apartment and eventually started my whole life over again.
I experienced a lot of ups and downs before I truly got back on my feet, but those struggles paled in comparison to living with a maniac in subzero temperatures, isolated from all my family and friends.
In fact, this was a cake walk.
You see, overcoming horrific situations forces you to tap into your inner resilience.
I decided to write about this because I get many emails from women who feel discouraged, disgusted and depressed over their weight, the aging process, or both.
Harboring negative self thoughts like these is like living with someone who tells you repeatedly that you’re not worth anything unless you weigh X pounds, or that you’re otherwise not good enough.
I’m here to tell you: You are. You’re not only good enough, but you’re awesome, whether you’re overweight or not.
This doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel and give up. Just change your approach until you find what works for you.
YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU MAKE UP YOUR MIND TO DO.
I spent this past week interviewing women (many over 50) for an article, who’d lost between 70 and 125 pounds.
Their approaches varied, but all lost the weight once they made up their minds to do it, just as I had to do in my situation.
In every case, it wasn’t their first attempt. And once they found what worked, the process was slow, taking some of them years to lose the weight.
They never gave up, even when the scale stalled for weeks at a time.
Plus! Spoiler alert: The weight stayed off because they did it by changing habits over time, not doing anything crazy or drastic.
If you’re having a tough time losing weight or with life in general, it can be tempting to give it all up and stop trying.
You can’t. Why? Because you’re better than that! AND, if others did it, so can you.
Keep these tips in mind the next time you want to call it quits:
- Read about someone who did what you’re trying to do. The biography of Tina Turner’s abusive relationship with Ike Turner set a fire under me and helped get me out of my situation.
- Go for a walk. Clear your head. Get your mind off whatever’s frustrating you. When you get back, the problem will seem smaller.
- Throw a pity party. Immerse yourself in the frustration. Cry. Feel sorry for yourself – but not for longer than a day. Then get back in the ring and vow to win that fight.
- Remember your “why.” Keep photos of your grandchildren, loved ones and anyone else who inspires you around. Make it about them, not you, and you’ll find the strength to keep going.
- Treat yourself like a friend. We tend to be WAY harder on ourselves than on others. What would you tell a friend in your situation? How would you encourage her? Then tell yourself the same thing. Even better, call a supportive friend and ask her to put it in perspective for you.
- View “failure” as stepping stones along the way to success. Look for the lesson each time something doesn’t work. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said, “Guess I won’t do that again.” Then don’t.
- Push through it. Using myself as an example, I’ve had to start over many times, both personally and with my business endeavors. I’ve been frustrated beyond belief and wanted to give up many times but kept going anyway.
A funny thing happens when you persevere even when you’d rather stick a spoon in your eye: You eventually start to reap the benefits.
You will, too.
What will you do the next time you want to give up? Will you use one of these tips? Please let me know in the comments section below ↓↓↓↓↓ I’d love to hear from you!
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