Self-Help

Pejay Rossi - Regret

A Story of Regret

Dedicated to Dana

He was willing to give you everything.

Some people just have this ability to love deeply, profoundly, and completely. No matter how many storms they’ve weathered, they still choose to shine and they still choose to love. Despite all they’ve been through, they still manage to trust their heart and follow it courageously. And somewhere along the way, it was that heart that led them straight to you. At first there may have been a lot of uncertainty, but it soon became clear that this was no ordinary love. He was the guy willing to do just about anything for you, who knew when you needed him even when you didn’t say a word. He never held back his emotions and was never shy about telling you what he was thinking or feeling. Despite any mistakes he may have made along the way, time and time again, through actions, he fought to prove himself and his love to you. But for whatever reason you remained bitter and angry. Whether it was because of a few bad choices he may have made in the beginning, or the direct result of being burned so many times by those before him, you always expected the worst. For years the battle to win your trust and affections back waged on. But a person can only fight so long before they grow weary and break. And sadly, you broke him.

Blinded by skepticism and bitterness, you couldn’t reciprocate the kind of love he was offering. Either you weren’t mature enough or you just didn’t know how to let go of the past and appreciate what it is you had staring you in the face. Or maybe you were too selfish. Perhaps the timing was just always off between you both. Perhaps it was a little of each. Finally finding the potential “one” after so much heartache and pain has a way of fucking with even the most level headed person. And even after you broke his heart the first time, the second time, maybe even after the third and fourth time, he was still kind and understanding. But above all else, he still found it within himself to love you.

Not only did he find it within himself to love you after all you had done, but he was still willing to love you just as much as before. Truth be told, he probably could have loved you forever. Marriage may have even been a strong possibility in his mind. He had no trouble talking about making a lifelong commitment to you because love wasn’t something he ever held back. He might have lived in a world all his own, with his own ideas of how love is supposed to be, but he believed in love more than anyone you ever met. Even in the end you never really had to question his love for you. But he was always left wondering if his feelings were reciprocated. You knew how deeply you loved him, but you still let fear and unnecessary doubt stop you from ever letting yourself appear vulnerable in any way. If only you had realized how special his love was before it was too late.

You were too scared to see just how rare he was. It wasn’t until you met other people who left you feeling empty inside that you began to truly understand that you had made a huge mistake. Even on their best days, others who loved you would never, and could never, compare to the depth and totality that he did. And no one ever believed in you quite like he did.

Even when everyone else lost all faith in you, he had this ability to see into your heart, into your soul, and he just understood you and your intentions more than even you understood yourself at times. Even when you couldn’t see or understand it, he saw your true potential and actually believed in the person you were, the person you could one day become, and your abilities. He had so much faith and never questioned whether or not you both could make it through life together. And even with all your faults and flaws, he still thought you were perfect and looked at you with the world in his eyes. But your insecurities still managed to get the best of you. And it wasn’t until it was over that you realized he was the perfect one. Body, mind, soul and all.

Maybe, in the beginning, he messed up or had a flaw that still needlessly haunted your thoughts. It’s possible you became accustomed to disappointment and convinced yourself that there was no way things were going to turn out any differently this time either. But despite whatever doubts you may have had about you both, he never had any. And when all was said and done, all you could do was look back at what you left behind with sadness and regret.

In time you would realize that your greatest flaw was your inability to let go of the past and learn to love again. Like so many others, you were blind to what was right in front of you. And just like he wouldn’t have changed a thing about you, you realized that changing anything about him would make him imperfect as well. Suddenly you became painfully aware that his only flaw was settling for you in the first place. Especially knowing that he deserved far better.

He swore he wouldn’t love again, but you know that despite being let down by you, he would one day do just that. You know the type of person he is deep down. You know just how much love he actually has inside of him, and how much he genuinely has to offer anyone he’s with. You know he will treat them just as he treated you, and that the day will come when he meets someone that doesn’t make the same mistakes as you.

Realizing all of this, what you truly lost, you know you made the biggest mistake of your life.

So if you ever want to live the rest of your life full of regret, simply let go of the one person who loves you most. Do that and all the “what ifs” will haunt you until the end of time.

This is my story of regret.

Nothing to Prove

We may attempt to prove ourselves and our worth in many ways. Needing to prove ourselves can be insidious as we strive to be accepted. This is a basic human need.

When you accept that you are complete and whole, that you are not lacking in any way, you stop looking outside yourself for something or someone to complete you. When you look outside yourself for validation of how you should be or act, you actually give your power away to some external person or thing! It is YOU who requires your approval and consideration. You cannot find what you are looking for in something outside of you. You cannot buy enough stuff to make you happy; there will always be a longing for something more. 

You don’t need to prove anything to anyone. You are whole and complete and wonderful.

Love | Hate

“I’m not blaming you, I’m just saying it’s all your fault!”

There are certain people we meet throughout our lives that really make life miserable for everyone around them. Whether you knew it at the time or not, I am sure we have all met at least one such person. They habitually blame anyone else for problems they created for themselves, have no genuine empathy (which is evident in how frequently you will witness them trying convince people of the contrary), and ALWAYS seem to be conjuring up some form of trouble. There is a subset of these individuals called “high conflict people”, the majority of which typically have some kind of personality disorder such as borderline or narcissistic personality disorder. Certain high-conflict people have some maladaptive personality traits, but not quite enough to constitute a full-blown personality disorder diagnosis. For these people , it is possible for them to have some self-awareness and make some attempts to change.

It important to note that not all people with BPD and NPD are HCP’s, and alternatively, not all HCP’s have a personality disorder. You will find that there are some that simply have the traits. Additionally, there is a significant number of people with BPD that try to avoid conflict in its entirety, and who are more likely to harm themselves than anyone else. Understanding the areas in which these disorders are inextricably intertwined allows us to focus on the behaviors instead of the reason for them. The term is also beneficial because it guides us in responding adequately when signs are present.

HCP’s (along with the others we already mentioned) have a very distinct personality pattern consisting of skewed or distorted emotions, actions, and thoughts. They are predictable in that they habitually avoid taking responsibility for their problems. Time and again, they argue against feedback, despite how helpful and truthful it may be. Furthermore, they constantly try to persuade anyone that will listen to agree with their uncompromisingly rigid points of view in an effort to help them attack and vilify those who become the focus of their blame.

A high-conflict person regards themselves as a victim or injured party, always claiming they are the target of someone else’s shortcomings (many times you will see this trait manifest itself in long winded, melodramatic, “woe is me”, theatrical  performances in which they take center stage). The issues they have may come and go, but it is their personality which keeps them in constant conflict. They never seem to learn from their experiences or mistakes. There is an old cliché I’ve used many times in the past that states “He would cut off his own nose to spite his face”. Many would agree, myself included, that this saying was written precisely for them, which becomes painfully evident when we review legal disputes.

High-conflict people are highly prone to the following thoughts, feelings, and actions:

  • They split, or engage in all-or-nothing thinking
  • Their negative feeling shape their reality (“feelings equal facts”…and they think they ALWAYS know better than EVERYONE else)
  • For the most part, their emotions are intense and fluctuate rapidly
  •  They have difficulty empathizing with others
  • They have a hard time accepting and healing from a loss
  • Their behaviors are extreme, in keeping with their distorted thoughts and feelings
  • They’re preoccupied with blaming other and do not take responsibility for their actions

When we say that HCP’s engage in all-or-nothing thinking we mean that they live in a world in which everything is black and white. It is common for them to not analyze situations they find themselves in hear different points of view, or consider other possible solutions to problems. Things must be their way, and they’re not willing to be flexible or compromise because it feels like everything is at stake. 

This next part never fails to be a source of amazement for me these days. An HCP’s negative feelings shape their reality (“feelings equal facts”). They base their view of themselves, situations, and others on what they’re feeling at that moment rather than objective reality. They cannot fathom why it is people around them might, and usually do, perceive them as being irrational. The truth is, many people find that they are dumbfounded by the raging, blaming, or self-destructive actions of the HCP.

Their emotions are extremely intense and fluctuate rapidly. This, in my opinion, tends to me one of the more readily noticeable traits and is particularly the definition of BPD and typical of vulnerable NP’s. Grandiose NP’s are excluded here, as they tend to manage their own shallow, empty feelings while simultaneously exploiting or manipulating others to carry out their wishes. They are extremely arrogant and insensitive, so much so that they are a knack for seriously hurting or infuriating the people around them while the HCP remains clueless about why others are making such a big commotion. An example of what a grandiose HCP might think, “This person is trying to insult me, but I am so superior that it doesn’t bother me at all. I’ll just point out his or her stupidity when next I have the chance.”

People with BPD are especially too self-absorbed and egotistic, just like those with NPD see others as chess pieces on the black and white chessboard of their lives, and therefore they have a very difficult time empathizing with others. 

It has been said that people facing huge losses go through the following stages to grieve:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

HCP’s, however, always seem to be stuck in the anger stage, and will fight for years to prevent the feeling of loss within a relationship they are involved in. It can be many years down the road, HCP’s will still experience intense emotions when something reminds them of a prior “abandonment, almost as if it just happened yesterday. HCP’s have been known to engage in:

  • Stalking
  • Getting revenge on those who leave (such as destroying possessions or threatening a family pet)
  • Prolonging divorce and custody of proceedings
  • Continually changing their mind about ending a relationship
  • Threatening to leave the relationship in a childish attempt to scare the other person into begging them to stay (this type of reassurance is like crack to them, they live for it)

With intense emotions comes extreme behaviors. They become so caught up with a particular target of blame that they take aggressive actions against their target. Shoving, hitting, spreading lies and rumors, obsessive stalking, and the silent treatment are all examples of some of the behaviors an HCP might engage in. Most of these excessive behaviors are directly linked to them losing control over their emotions, while others are related to their drive to control or dominate you. This might include hiding your personal items, keeping you from leaving a conversation, or threatening extreme action if you do not agree with them. 

Blaming others helps them feel safer, stronger, and better about themselves They’re CONSTANTLY in crisis and blind to the negative, self-sabotaging effects of their own behavior. In a sense, they are emotionally blind (even though they usually perceive things as being the exact opposite). These types of people fail to see correlation between their actions and their consequences, which results in the progression of their difficult behavior and disposition and growing conflicts. 

HCP’s usually try to persuade others over to their side, like negative advocates to be used against the targets of their blame. I like to refer to this as the blind leading the blind.  To avoid confronting their own behavior, HCP’s engage negative advocates to enable the things they do, convinced that they are always in the right. This is why nothing changes and their high-conflict situations continue. 

Family, friends, or professionals acquaintances are all examples of the type of people an HCP may try to make their negative advocates. Their purpose is to help in the blaming of another person, which subsequently escalates the conflict (also like crack to people of this sort). If the HCP is your partner, typical negative advocates are almost always your partner’s immediate (and almost always dysfunctional) family, friends, roommates, etc., who are convinced you are an abusive person to their innocent child, brother, friends, whatever the case may be. 

HCP’s are notorious for searching through information to identify the criteria that pertain to any of the relative disorders. They do this to see if they can see themselves, along with anyone around them, within the descriptions for each diagnosis. It is recommended by psychiatrists, therapists, and countless others who have any experience dealing with individuals which fall into any of these classifications, to have a private working theory that someone may be an HCP. People are strongly urged not to tell the person you suspect may be an HCP, as it is almost a sure bet that this will make you an enemy (as tends to be the case in these situations). The best way to approach the issue is to focus on strategies to help you be more effective in managing your relationship. It is also highly advisable to speak with a professional regarding your own mental health, as frequent interactions and exposure to these individuals can easily result in the deterioration of your own mental state. Living day to day with someone that exhibits these traits is anything but easy, and it goes without saying that if you choose to remain in a relationship with someone who has any combination of HCP, BPD, or NPD, it is going to require nerves of steal and the patience of god damned saint.

For example, someone with HC/BPD will consistently misinterpret what you and other people intend to mean in even the most non-threatening conversations. They have a tendency to be excessively controlling and volatile by nature, acting like they have a real chip on their shoulder. Other times, they can be loud and boisterous, kissing around in a sarcastic and childish manner, and always needing to be the center of attention (be it good or bad). Some have a “nice act”, or altruistic facade they use when around certain people. They are known to be patronizing and condescending at varying times, and many people in their lives will either walk on eggshells around them, withhold information from them intentionally, or avoid them altogether eventually, not knowing what will set off the next episode of irrationality. They can be VERY demanding of their friends and partners in terms of their expectations and because of this, they constantly have people “breaking-up” with them as a lover or friend. Those who are close to them are constantly experiencing high stress feelings and emotions, and are frustrated by always having to accommodate their demands and put out the fires they start. 

If you are reading this and realizing that you may be a high-conflict person, that is probably the single biggest step someone in your shoes can ever take. HCP’s very rarely are able to self-reflect because it is usually everyone else’s fault but theirs. I suggest that you consult with a GP and explain the problem with them. Your GP will probably know where you can turn to with your issue and direct you to a mental health professional best equipped to provide you the help you will need. These can be terribly destructive personality disorders, especially in mothers with children who adore their mommy and think her behavior is perfectly normal.

Beyond Boundaries

Trauma, whether psychological or physical in nature, can have lasting effects on the human psyche. A person who has suffered mistreatment will often struggle emotionally and socially throughout their life as a result of being abused. Trauma victims are also at an increased risk for developing depression, anxiety, substance abuse problems, and a myriad of other emotional disorders. However, one of the most difficult challenges they can expect to face will be cultivating healthy relationships. This is due to the impact that pain and trauma can have on one’s capacity to love. It is often devastating.

It begs the question of whether it is possible to be so damaged emotionally that you actually cannot love again. As time goes on, those who are less able to realize their own self-worth may also begin to internalize specific behaviors due to their inability to properly comprehend their circumstances. These tendencies will oftentimes become consolidated, transforming them into a definitive part of the person’s personality, rendering them incapable of achieving any sort of relationship satisfaction. Additionally, it is very common for someone that has been exposed to high levels of fear and stress to gradually lose their ability to be self-aware enough to stay in touch with their own feelings, which in turn affects their ability to relate to the feelings and experiences of others (such as an intimate partner).

In the absence of these skills, a person is left with a diminished ability to both give and receive love. Incapable of identifying and understanding the real reasons behind their struggles, some may begin to question why they are the way they are. For example, after a number of failed partnerships, one may adopt the mindset that it is safer to be self-sufficient than to risk letting themselves get close to someone else. All too often, as soon as they love someone, they are quickly let down. It is believed that if they rely on someone, then they are giving that other person the ability to hurt them. Under normal conditions, as we grow older, we embrace the realization that life is very complex. We learn through our experiences that we can trust certain people in some ways, but not in others, which usually keeps us from making unfair generalizations. However, this is seldom the way of it when you start to factor psychological reactions to stress into the equation. In much the same way as a child deals in absolutes, so, too, do the victims of abuse. They learn to keep an emotional distance between themselves and every other person. For them, trusting in the present or the future is almost impossible when they’ve been hurt in the past.

So, knowing all of this, how are we supposed to allow ourselves to trust someone when we live in a world where it seems as though all you hear about is how people hurt one another? How are we ever supposed to allow anyone else into our lives after having someone that was once close turn against us in an instant? Can we really let down the very defenses that have kept us safe and, in some cases, even alive? Even within my own life I have struggled with allowing people to get too close. I hid behind the assumption that everyone was the same, and because of this, that I would only open myself up to more pain should I let them in. I taught myself how to seem friendly while essentially keeping everyone around me at a distance. Anyone that did manage to get too close was immediately pushed away, which was typically the precursor to me launching them out of my life altogether. But after five years of slowly trying to put the pieces back together following the grisly eight years of mental abuse, physical torture, and shattered hopes that would ultimately shape me into who I am today, I was somehow starting to see things in a more rational way. I realized that the very thing I had been using to protect myself over the years might, in fact, be that which had also driven me further into isolation. In realizing that I was stifling my own capacity to live a fulfilling life, I eventually began to let myself open up again.

I had come to a crossroads in my life where I had to decide to let go of my survival mechanism so that I could begin to heal and make room for something worth living for. There came a point where, little by little, people began to come into my life and teach me what it meant to be able to trust. The more I saw them, the more I trusted them. They listened, they followed through on things, but most importantly, they never hurt me. The closer we became, the more thankful I was that I had been willing to trust and love again, even if I did so imperfectly. I learned that when it comes to trusting each other, we as people need to accept that our past is not our present. Being able to understand that what hurt me before was not a part of my life anymore was monumental. It opened the door for me to build incredibly deep and meaningful relationships with people for the first time since I was a child. Rather than pretending to be friendly, I was able to truly draw out the very best within me and create a new reality for myself. These days I live my life by a different credo:

“It is impossible to go through life without trust: That is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself.” – Graham Greene

Finding Purpose in Pain

Denial, withdrawal, and the isolation of one’s self from others. All are characteristic of a person experiencing the repercussions of deeply felt emotional pain. Self-inflicted pain, physically, mentally or emotionally, is far reaching and a stranger to no one. Show me an individual that claims to have never attempted to find a means of inflicting one form of pain or another on themselves at any given point in their lives, and I will show you the face of denial. But why would anyone want to feel pain?

The answer to that question is actually very straightforward: Because we want to feel alive, because we want to feel period. For some of us, pain has a purpose. It is all that remains to remind us that our hearts are still beating. A close friend once told me that the reason he liked being tattooed was because it was excruciating. He explained that this physical agony, which he actively sought out, was a means by which to feel something, anything at all. At the time I thought this to be a bit odd, however, after many years of observing those around me behave similarly in their own unique ways, I too have begun to see the benefits and advantages of feeling pain, even though my own personal pains are not physical.

If we ever wish to understand why it is we seek out and harbor pain, we must first start by finding the root or cause of it. We must identify and examine the instances in our pasts that set in motion the negative changes that would lead us to this very moment in time. Have we any hope within us of rectifying a problem and implementing the modifications necessary to forge a better existence, we must begin with an appreciation and comprehension of all the relevant factors that contributed to our present state of being. Only by doing this may we begin our journey in the pursuit of balance and harmony. We must realize that we need to always experience both ends of the broad spectrum of human emotions in order to fully appreciate them. To abuse one is to diminish its worth and, in very much the same way as any other addiction, you will eventually find that you require an increasing amount of it to achieve even remotely similar results. Sam Veda said it best: “A life devoid of struggles is a life bereft of happiness because the value of happiness is realized only after pain.”

Everyone has heard someone mouth the all too familiar platitudes we’ve grown to loathe and abhor: I share your pain, don’t dwell on it, you have to move on, this too shall pass, we all have problems, time heals all wounds, happiness is a choice, don’t linger in the past, there is someone worse off than you, etc. Personally, I find these to be less than helpful and mildly disingenuous, but I digress. We as humans would do well to teach ourselves how to take full advantage of both emotional pain and bliss. Discovering and using healthy outlets that work for us in times of need and heightened emotion is an ideal way of taking all of that energy, all of that joy or misery which has awakened the passion and fire within us, and using it to give birth to what may just end up being our greatest works.

Finding ways of harnessing all of this emotion is the key to becoming stronger and more resilient. I’ve found that when a person has dealt with a great deal of pain in the past, they are numbed or desensitized to the mundane issues that lie ahead and are able to venture forth in life with more confidence with respect to any future obstacles. How could those challenges yet to come possibly compare with what they’ve already endured to some extent in the past? In the end, it comes down to how you curtail your mindset and your actions to foster personal growth and development. All pain is not bad. It instills us with mental fortitude, can trigger and inspire us in ways we never thought possible, teaches us valuable life lessons, and so much more. But above all else, it is our own personal afflictions that teach us to treasure those special moments that, when all is said and done, truly make life worth living.

Learning to Say Goodbye

A big part of growing up is learning through experience to evaluate the people in your life, along with those just coming into it. This also means that you must assess the relationships you have with them and be able to weed out the ones you know are not worth your time. Some people are worth the effort, others need to be dealt with like dirty old bandaids. Even if it hurts you, it needs to go.

I think many of us become so accustomed to the people in our lives that we tend to forget to stop and evaluate whether or not they are actually positive influences. Sometimes we allow ourselves to get so close to certain people that we lose our ability to see them for who they really are. Whether we want to believe it or not, the company we keep has the the power to affect us in ways which aren’t always perceptible. With that being said, to not take the time to stand back and survey those closest to you would be to do yourself a great disservice. If you aspire to live a positive life, then you must first start by choosing to surround yourself with those who make you happy.

It is no secret that negative people certainly have a negative effect on the people around them. There is an idiom that often comes to mind when I am assessing the people in my life and their impact on me: “You are what you eat.” In very much the same way that a good diet is crucial to achieving good health, having good people around you is key to living a better life. Humans, in general, tend to be very susceptible to their surroundings. It is because we have such a tendency to be so impressionable that we often see people adopting the attitudes of those around them.

Try to imagine what it would be like if you were the only optimist stranded on a desert island full of pessimists. It is only a matter of time before it becomes difficult for even you to maintain a positive and healthy outlook when you are constantly surrounded by negative people who only look for the worst in any given situation. The problem with negativity is that it’s very easy to get caught up in it when it’s all around you. Its oppression can become a drain on your energy and can even begin to wear on your self-esteem, which, in turn, can cause you to become a more negative person yourself.

Learn to recognize the people that are detrimental to your well-being. Start focusing on the more positive things in your life and work towards building yourself up in such a way that makes you invulnerable to the negative attitudes of others. You are the only one that can choose to make your life more satisfying and enjoyable. The question is, will you do it? Or will you allow your happiness to be dictated by everyone else?

 

The Enemy Within

Whether it’s fleeting self-consciousness or paralyzing anxiety, once the balance of power between self-perception and reflected self-perception begins to shift in favor of the reflected, we begin venturing ever closer to the edge of a slippery slope. The onset is triggered when healthy reconsideration gives way to crippling self-doubt. Thoughts begin to manifest themselves as an undermining inner voice that represents the part of us that has turned against ourselves. It longs to rob us of our joy and enthusiasm, to break our spirits, and turn us into fundamentally one-dimensional people. It goes without saying that this is a true testament to human complexity and the innate ability we have to create and maintain obstacles in our lives as a means of self-sabotage. I’ve come to think of that inner voice as the enemy within. More often than not, we tend to be our own worst enemy and harshest critic. It is so easy to see the beauty in everyone around you, yet impossible to acknowledge that any exists within yourself. I always find it amusing when someone catches me staring at myself in a mirror and accuses me of being vain or narcissistic. Despite what may seem like egotism and conceit to an outsider looking in, my purpose for doing so couldn’t be any more to the contrary.

The desire to improve one’s self aesthetically, or otherwise, is what I believe to be an inherent and inescapable part of the human condition. However, there is a fine line between self improvements and unhealthy obsessions. Sadly, most people will spend their entire lives balancing on the precipice of an endless downward spiral. Even sadder still, a great deal of them may lose their footing at one point or another and, in doing so, themselves.

In a perfect world we would learn to just accept who we are and value our imperfections as much as we do our perfections. We don’t really live in a perfect world though do we? In reality, we exist in a state of perpetual war against ourselves. It’s a purely psychological battle being waged internally with no clearly defined enemy. A swami once said: “The hardest enemy to fight is the one who has outposts in your head.” It is only when there is no enemy within that the enemies without cannot hurt you.

I’ve often heard people attribute their lack of self-confidence to society and its arbitrary standards of beauty. They allow those standards to completely define their value as human beings. We tend to forget that the way we think of ourselves sets the standard for others. If a person’s self-worth is hinged on what other people think of them, and they live only for their reflection as seen in the eyes of others, then they are doomed to a life of emotional disruption and dysfunction.

In the end it all comes down to a single truth. Your worth can only come from one place and that is from within yourself. Thinking you are worthy, makes you worthy. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Tell yourself that, and then remember that you are the beholder. Challenge yourself to find beauty where others have not, including in yourself. Don’t be surprised when after you’ve discovered it, others also begin to take notice. That, after all, is the beauty of love…it grows.