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Thursday, 25 October 2007

Onwards and Upwards...


My mother always told the Jones kids that we were swans. What she meant was that misguided others may see us as ducks but we weren’t and that there was nothing we could not do if we wanted to do it. We carry a belief and confidence in ourselves when others don’t believe in us. I am confident. I have never believed that I could not do things. But others, through whatever circumstance, doubt their swan-like capacities. I would like to share with you this poignant, true story by author Barbara Huffert, a good mate of the Amarinda blog. I believe many of you will identify with it, either by being in the same situation or knowing someone else that is. You can change your circumstance if you believe you can. Barbara had the courage to do so.


I Am a Swan – by Barbara Huffert


Something I’ve always known but have forgotten much too often during the last few years. Why? Because I let the man who professed to love me whittle away at my self-confidence until there was so little of the real me remaining that I barely recognized myself. Instead of putting an end to what I knew was a failed relationship, beyond hope, I deluded myself into thinking I could make it better if only I tried hard enough, was good enough, transformed myself into what he claimed to want. Sure, I knew it wouldn’t work. Or I would have if I’d been at all honest with myself. Somewhere inside I knew nothing other than permanent separation would put an end to our mutual misery, that that was the only way to prevent us from inflicting more hurt.


So why didn’t I do something sooner? Why did I let myself go on thinking I couldn’t make it on my own when, in reality, I was the one carrying us both and had been for quite some time? Why was I so willing to keep pouring more effort into something that was already long debunked? Why wouldn’t I let myself admit that I was the only one still trying? And why was he willing to live like that too?

I could answer those questions in many ways. One, because I hate to acknowledge that I’ve failed at anything even though it wasn’t solely my failure. Two, because I’d grown so adept at playing the game that I’d begun to believe my own propaganda. Three, because I’d fallen for all his verbal abuse and had started to accept that I was as useless, worthless, undesirable as he insisted I was. Four, because I fooled myself into thinking that being truly alone was worse than being alone and lonely with another person in the house. Five, because I would rather live with the private humiliation of how bad things were between us than risk the public humiliation that might result if anyone else knew. Six, why wouldn’t he stay and be supported by someone who did everything for him without needing to give anything in return?

We may have gone on like this indefinitely since he was as unwilling to reveal what our relationship had become as I was had I not woken up one day two weeks ago and decided enough was enough. In three days, I went out and found myself a reliable car because making me drive something guaranteed to let me sit was one method he used to control me, went to a lawyer for an official eviction notice, purchased new locks for the doors, arranged to have the master code for the alarm system reprogrammed, separated a selection of tools necessary for any standard home repair since mine had been incorporated into his way back at the beginning, and prepared myself for whatever scene might develop.

I waited until what I thought an appropriate moment and then attempted one last time to discuss the situation. As expected, I got his typical response which was first to yell and berate me and then to ignore me after declaring he had nothing to say. (He never had anything to say unless it was hateful and mean and eliminated more of my dwindling self-esteem.) I presented him with the eviction notice which was immediately thrown on the floor. Calmly, I handed it to him again, stating he had to read it or I was calling the police. Yes, I had the phone in my hand. After a you’re-less-than-dirt glare, he read it. And then he threw it again as he reached for the TV remote. If any of you have ever been dismissed by a remote you’ll know how I reacted. Having that to spur me on, I told him in no uncertain terms that he was leaving at that exact moment. And, without another word, he did.

In my case I was very fortunate. We’d gotten engaged the year after we met but for some unknown reason I never let myself take the next step and actually marry him. Also, the house was mine long before he showed up. Luckily, I have a place to live but, thanks to him, that’s all I have. In the week since I tossed him out, I’ve discovered many things missing, mostly of sentimental value, and I’ve accepted I’ll never see them again. It hurts as much as it makes me angry but I do have the memories associated with them and, most importantly, I have me again. Or I will as soon as I can coax the deeply hidden parts of me back out from where I stashed them for safekeeping.

I’d like to say something to anyone who’s feeling trapped and all alone in the world. You’re not really alone and you’re only trapped if you let yourself stay that way. If I can do this, anyone can. I’ve discovered friends I didn’t realize I had from all corners of the world and all aspects of life. I have moral support of the best kind from the most amazing group of women any time I can manage to let myself ask for it and also when I can’t. They know I’m valuable even when I forget and don’t hesitate to remind me whenever they sense I need it. I bet, if you take a good look around you, whether in person or in the vastness of cyberspace, you’ll find that you have friends like them too.

So yes, it would be very nice to have someone to share my life with but I really don’t need a man around, especially one that’s not good for me. Not having one is much better than having one who acts like an anchor with a too-short rope and is trying to drag me under with him. I will survive this and be better for doing it. I am a strong, intelligent, resilient woman who is more than capable of taking care of myself. I am a swan and I have the friends to prove it. Thank you, my friends. I couldn’t do this without you.

www.barbarahuffert.com

Believe in yourself. Be confident even if you are swan-like on the surface and paddling your web feet like mad underwater to stay afloat. Do not let anyone tell you that you are nothing or worthless. Who cares what they think. You are a swan and they can get stuffed….yes, you can quote me directly on that.

Maid For Death – released 31st October 2007 through Ellora’s Cave

What happens when a ghost becomes obsessed with a hotel maid and the only man that can save her is a man who wants to use her for bait? Should she find another job or see what the ghost hunter really wants from her?

Anny and Kelly – what can I say? The toe tapping duo is back today with fascinating stories to inspire, to make you laugh or maybe just to make you query their sanity. Check out www.annycook.blogspot.com and www.kkirch.blogspot.com now. Sanity is, after all, overrated.

www.freewebs.com/amarindajones/
Go ahead: Live with abandon. Be outrageous at any age. What are you saving your best self for?

14 comments:

Carol Lynne said...

Hi Barbara,

Thank you for having the courage to share your story. I'm sure the real Barbara will soon emerge, after having lain dormant for so long. The Barbara I know is one of compassion and love for those around her, but I know what it feels like to lose your shine. It's time Barbara got her giggle back.

-Carol Lynne

Molly Daniels said...

Good for you, Barb:) I'm still looking for my 'last straw'...I dated an idiot back in '89-'90, and stubbornly refused to let go, even though little by little he tore me apart, emotionally. I picked a fight; threw the engagement ring at him; changed the locks, even completely moved all of his belongings out of my apartment...he still refused to get the hint. Finally, I literally just had to take that leap of faith, give up my beloved apartment, and move, sight unseen, no job, barely enough money, and move an hour away. He threatened to commit suicide and racked up $200 on my phone calling card, and finally, I told him to 'just go ahead and do it...I don't care'. Of course, that threw me into a tailspin of guilt, but when he didn't follow through, I got over it.

And now, nearly 17 years after that fateful decision, I've come to realize I did marry him after all...he just has a different name, and was more subtle in his control tactics.

And the past several months has shown me that yes, I can do the single mom thing...I don't need him; I need a handyman. Or the know-how (and the money!) to fix my van and home repairs!

So when will my 'last straw' appear? I can tell it is coming, and will hopefully be able to find the same courage that got me out of the last one:)

Dakota Rebel said...

Barb,

I have never met you face to face, but you are one of the most beautiful women I know. The courage it took to do what you did should be enough proof that you are a hell cat worthy of so much more than that relationship was ever going to give you.

I am honored to call you my friend. And my friend is strong, independant, brilliant, and so incredibly talented I don't even know where to begin. If you need anything, or even just want something real bad, you can send me a line and I will be there with bells on.

Hugs Hugs and more Hugs
Dakota

Anny Cook said...

Hallo Swannie,
Welcome back!

barbara huffert said...

Thank you ladies. You're making me cry.

Molly, you're a swan too and don't you ever forget it! I'm always around and easy to find so please find me whenever you need to.

Molly Daniels said...

We swans need to stick together:) I literally did not think I looked good until I hit age 20...and since then have had several people tell me I've 'blossomed' as I've gotten older.

A true Ugly Duckling:)

Kelly Kirch said...

Hey darlin'! I'm so glad to see you strong and growling. You inspire baby. I am so impressed with you right now you have no idea. I especially love how you reclaimed your tools. LOL. That's like a metaphore for removing his useless male genitalia and taking back your personal strength. Love you chickie.

Bronwyn's Blog said...

Barb,

Thank you for sharing this. Your bravery is inspiring, and I'm beond thrilled to watch you spread your wings and fly. Giant hugs to you and your kitty boys. Welcome to your new and improved life and don't be afraid to yell for help when you need it. We all need some from time to time and besides, what are friends for. :)

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

You are amazing, Barb! All swans should be looking up to you.

barbara huffert said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Kelly, I really hope someone he knows reads what you said about his tools...that made me laugh because it is so true on many levels!

Bronwyn, my boys are all so much happier now. No hairballs for a week. Whoever said cats don't sense emotions has never spent any time with them.

Amarinda Jones said...

See? You are an inspiration

Lisabet Sarai said...

Barbara, I salute your courage. And your honesty in sharing the story with the rest of us. You might actually save someone's life, you know. (Besides your own!)

You'll soon discover that as long as you've got felines, a man is optional!

Many hugs to you, plus sincer wishes for a quick emotional healing and a heap of new adventures.

Kaz Augustin said...

Barbara, it takes A LOT of courage to do what you did. Even though we've never met, I'm so proud of you. And not only guts, but the determination to get things done the way you did...I admire and appreciate such clear thinking, especially when you were in such a situation.

Just be sure not to fall for the same kind of tricks again and get out there and have some FUN! :)

barbara huffert said...

Lisabet, Kaz, thank you. I know it's not going to be easy but I think I already did the hardest part and I have great friends to keep me headed in the right direction so I'm going to be just fine.