"She doesn't need that"
The flicker from surprise to disgust to pity was almost indecernable in our host's eyes, partially hidden by the over crinkling of her cheeks of a now plastered on smile.
I saw it though, or maybe I just felt it, which added more to my acute embarrassment.
As I slowly retracted my outstretched fingers from the plate of party nibbles, I gave her a fleeting look of 'I'm alright. Move on.' And then casted my eyes away from her pitying gaze and then down to the floor.
My then boyfriend had, in 4 words, completely shut me down and in front of an audience of ladies-who-lunch at an exclusive jewellery party.
It was one of those tumbleweed moments where no one knew what to say or if they should say anything as it would rock the mood of the party and that would be rude.
I'm not sure if it was a form of apology or he just wanted to flash the cash, but it was expected that I be grateful for the very pretty earrings he had chosen and bought me.
As we walked back to the car, I decided to make a stand, knowing it would create a spiralling argument, where I would be held hostage by his silent treatment and no affection for a couple of days at least.
"Why did you do that? You embarrassed me in front of everyone," I whispered, my other voice screaming, 'What are you doing?! Just shut up and let it go!'
"You didn't need it. I can see you're gaining weight again," he responded matter of factly as he started the car.
And so it went back and forth until I finally let the truth of the matter fly, "so gaining 5lbs is a reason to kick me out the door?"
Again, matter of factly, "Yes."
It's a time in my life that I call the Dark Ages. However, even though I felt I had no control over my life, I met some of the most important people in my life, then.
I'm doing a lot of unpacking lately, and this time in my past keeps spewing up as a pivotal point.
I was on top of the world before I met him. I was finally a full time university student which I was loving, the Olympics and that stress was behind me, I had the freedom of time to do what I wanted and when I wanted.
I guess he found that attractive.
He came after me in actual fact. I had no real interest in getting involved with anyone. I was wined, dined, given pretty gifts and looked after and for a financially struggling student, I'll admit, that was attractive.
If anyone asks me, I describe him as someone with a good streak, as at times, he could be caring....nah that's too generous.....uhm... let's say concerned for others. And I'd believe there was hope. I would, that is, until out of nowhere I'd get berated for smiling at the bartender or waiter while he ordered and then for looking at the wall or the floor because according to him, I was obviously now trying to avoid looking at anyone, including him.
The end was evident when he decided I didn't smile enough any more, that I was obviously unhappy and that I should just go home to Winnipeg.
"No one wants you here, anyways" was his concluding argument.
The truth of the matter was I had completely lost who I was. It was like waking up out of a trance. Suddenly, I felt frightened, trapped and humiliated that I had somehow let it happen.
So why do I bring him up? This guy... huh... you know what? I don't even have one photo together with him, now that I think about it. Neil's been photographed with him more.
But not really....synchronicity in play.
I drove my daughter and her beau to the airport this morning, listening to a Mel Robbins podcast talking about pivotal moments that shape our life's trajectory. So to the hum of their collective soft snoring and the surrounding blanket blackness that is 3:30am in early March, I started to delve.
I believe that I'm currently suffering from overwhelm, or, what I call the Curse of the Competent and it's in direct retaliation of the feelings of the Dark Ages.
There's a saying I absolutely loath:
'Want something done? Give it to a busy woman.'
Hands up, I'm a fixer and I do love solving problems but if I'm not careful, suddenly it's easier for everyone to dump their stuff on me to fix, solve, organise, or complete. And then I feel if I don't or can't, then the failure is mine, not theirs and that chips away at my confidence just as much as an emotional abuser, only this time it's me.
If you're like me, we do it to please, you do it to help, you tell yourself it makes you needed and important, gives you purpose.
What it is though, is going to the other side of the scale, showing that person who broke you in the past that people do need you, want to be around you, the more the better.
But then you get battered by your lack of boundaries and deep fear of being rejected again.
My need to have control over a situation, my emotions, and my life is me trying to find that balance . People say I'm loud, but it's only because, at one time in my life, I was muted. Honestly, if you want to see me rocket just turn to me, put your finger to your lips and say. 'Shhhhh!'
Why this need to control everything and not delegate? Do I have this need to be a martyr?
Back then, I had finally had enough of being told where to be, what to wear, what to eat, when to smile, where to look, how to look, how to train, both by him and my sport. I needed to take back control. And then I plunked myself smack into middle-class Britain. Again the irony. 🙄
When I went to the Sydney Olympic Games with the Toronto 2008 Bid Committee, I decided it all had to change. I would be away for 3 weeks working there and that change of environment would help me to start over.
A pivotal moment found me, lying on my bed there in Sydney, looking up at the ceiling, having just received an email from a new guy I had been seeing, but broke it off before leaving for Sydney. He was trying to gaslight me into submission. I knew I had to break this pattern. It was making me ill.
I closed my eyes and whole-heartedly said out loud, "Ok Universe... I am yours. I trust in your plans for me. I'm obviously not doing it right, so please lead me."
I met Neil the very next day.
And although we have had some turbulence in the beginning, it has always been evident that we were put together for a reason. (Literally in the cards, but that's another blog for another day.)
We're just better, together.
Total acceptance of each other, flaws and all, and support each other through every crazy idea or trying time. We take on our life and businesses together, back to back.
And for this, I actually have to thank the Dark Ages.
It gave me a tribe of incredible people, a second family who took me in, built me up and surrounded me with the caring space and love I was lacking. I am so grateful for them especially seeing how a 1 month refuge turned into 3 years!
Mr Not-So-Nice helped me create my negotiable & non-negotiable list for a future life partner. So thank you sincerely for that. I hope you still have your hair. I know that was important to you.
And being in Toronto afforded me the opportunity to be part of Toronto 2008 and its Sydney Information Task Force, leading me to the love of my life.
So, I really can't be upset by it any more as without that experience, I might not have what I have now. I have forgotten my own motto: no regrets, just bad experiences with lessons to be learned.
Part of the overwhelm is the residue of saying 'No' more lately, and with that, some rejection or disappointment. I have lost friendships and familial ties for standing up for myself, or holding people accountable for their actions &/or words. However, the boundaries will also cultivate the respect of my time and my abilities with the new relationships I will be building.
They say it's darkest before the dawn, and I do believe and truly feel something good and big is coming my way, again. I have forgotten to trust in the Universe and my gut in times of uncertainty.
I leave it to you, Universe. I trust in your plan for me.
Bring it on.
Let's get ready to pivot.