Tag Archive | tolerance

Life, love, lemonade, and letting go…

I love the writing of the late Nora Ephron.  Her writing style is clean and crisp, not forced and flowery.  I especially love her personal essays.   They are honest, funny, perceptive, and often profound.   I can read them over and over again and still take away something new each time.  I love that, too.

The quote below is from an essay she wrote called Moving On.  In the essay she talks about falling in love with an apartment and the many rationalizations that she uses, not only to justify the cost of getting into the apartment, but for staying for a decade despite poor conditions and numerous rent hikes.

lemonade1

Finally, once her rent is raised by 400%, she instantly falls out of love, and finds a new place that feels like home just as fast.  These two sentences sum up so much of my life, both in terms of relationships, and many other things, as well.

I was raised to be strong.  My mother was a strong woman who had endured much and she tried to form me into her own image.  “You’re stronger than that,” she would say when I was having a tough time and it was showing.  Stronger than what, I now wonder?  Was I to be stronger than a team of oxen?  Stronger than what, exactly, is still my question.

But I am a good learner, and life provided many powerful experiences, so I got stronger and stronger.   I could, and would, endure almost anything.  It was a point of pride.  I was persistent.  I persevered, no matter what the circumstances might be.  I endured and I tolerated like few can and I rarely complained about it.   Again we go with the pride thing, as you can easily see.  Of course, all of this enduring and persevering and sticking it out and being strong almost killed me, but that was beside the point, wasn’t it?

When I left my last marriage, I swore that I would never allow myself to be in a relationship that was so unhealthy that I had slipped into a place of tolerance that is beyond all reason.  I would never tolerate such conditions and treatment again.  I would be grateful and happy and free, even if I was never in a relationship ever again.  For the most part, that has been true for going on four years now.

But then I had to go to prison.  Going in, I was determined that I was going to do prison like a champ and come out better for it.  Guess what?  I did prison like a champ and I came out far better for it.  Coming out of prison, I was determined to thrive and succeed and be completely open and honest about my past while continuing to move forward.

Within five days of my release from prison, I had found a little cottage in the woods to rent, and my little boy and I were soon moved in, and I was working, and parenting, and making it through a nasty divorced, and smiling all of the while.  Every day was like a gift.  I danced in the living room every night.  I was in love, or so I thought.

I didn’t mind having to use a sled to haul groceries and laundry down the luge run of a road.  I overlooked all of the many ways that my landlords deceived me.  I tolerated the hot water heater that allowed for a three-minute shower, and when the entire place molded last summer, I did my best to clean it up, and move on, despite my mold allergy.  I rationalized, I tolerated, and I endured.  I was a trooper, because I do “trooper” well.  In short, I fell back into old habits.

Fall of last year came, and I renewed my lease when my hopes of a better place fell through.  By the time winter hit, the bloom was long off of the rose.  The long promised new hot water heater never arrived.  It was impossible to remove the entirety of the mold in that place.  The road was poorly maintained, and I still did not have a blessed smoke detector after asking for one over four times.

My friends and family were constantly encouraging me to break my lease—that I was within my rights to do so, but I kept on enduring, mostly because I had no idea where the money for a new place would come from.  My car had also broken down again, and my little boy was in the middle of a school year.

At the same time, though, I began to finally assert myself with my landlord.  That did not go over well, and soon I found that I was being evicted.  I knew it was wrongful, and that I could fight it, but after I finally wrapped my head around the whole mess, which took a couple of weeks, I finally saw it for what it was—a rescue from God.

My tenacity and desire to persevere is so danged strong that God often has to give me the old 2×4 upside the head treatment to get me to let go of something, or someone, that he wants me nowhere near.  And so this buttercup bucked up, started a fundraiser online, and had first, last, and security deposit for a place provided in no time.

We are now living in a home right where I had been praying for years to be, on our lake, once again renting from good and honest landlords from the past.  After a year and a half in a cottage so dark that it was debilitating, we are enjoying light every day, and space to move around,  a huge  yard, lovely gardens, and the ability to stick our feet in the water and dig our toes into the sand anytime we like.

The front yard.

The front yard.

Our constant congestion, coughing, and for me, asthma, is gone now that we are away from that bloody mold.  We no longer sound like a couple of chronic lungers. That place was killing us.  We are happy, filled with joy and gratitude, and truly free.  My little depression has lifted.

The living room.  See all of that

The living room. See all of that

Life has left me with a highly developed ability to make lemonade, but I simply do not tolerate citrus.  It gives me terrible reflux.  I am done making lemonade just because I can do it especially well.  Yes, I will stay positive, and I will remain resilient, and I will look for the good, and live in gratitude of God’s grace.

The sitting area

The sitting area

However, I refuse to endure anything less than what God has finally shown me that I deserve.   I deserve all good things, including love, and I am now finally strong enough to be vulnerable enough to ask for help, let down the walls, and allow myself to be loved, by God, and by all of the beautiful people who surround me.    I am finally open enough to allow myself to be deserving of goodness, not simply enduring.  What a blessing!

Our lake!

Our lake!

To end this, having not written in so very long, I would like to thank all of the people who have nominated me for various awards, including the Very Versatile Blog Award, and The Shine On Award, a couple of time for each!   Thank you so much!

Thoughts on tolerance and boundaries

In the last two days, the hot topic amidst my gaggle of female friends has been boundaries, and tolerance, as an offshoot of the boundaries discussion.  One friend asked, “Why are boundaries so hard?”  For those of us who have abuse backgrounds the answer is easy—we never learned boundaries as children, or if we did, abuse in adult relationships made us doubt and question our boundaries at time and again.  We got told we were in the wrong at every turn and we began to believe it, sacrificing our own boundaries, wants,  needs, and beliefs, to try to make the abuser happy, or simply to keep the peace.  While our boundaries were being dismantled most of us grew extremely tolerant of what was purely bad, toxic, unhealthy behavior on the part of others.

Because so many women who are abuse survivors go on to have issues with alcohol and drug abuse, boundaries are further blurred and lost.  We begin to do things that do not mesh with our own values and beliefs. We develop a great deal of guilt and shame because we are betraying ourselves, and those people that we love the most, so our tolerance for poor treatment goes up even higher, while our boundaries become even more fuzzy.  We are miserable and needy and unhappy and we attract people who are miserable, needy, unhappy, or outright personality disordered.  Women with abuse backgrounds, or substance abuse issues, are the perfect targets for those predatory people of the narcissist and sociopath varieties.  Who better and easier to manipulate than someone who has no set boundaries?  Of course, we want to be needed, so these toxic people who attach to us help us to feel better about ourselves, even if they are using us, or do not really love or care about us.

But a funny thing happens when a woman from an abuse background starts to heal. It really begins to upset the apple cart in our unhealthy relationships.  The same thing happens when an alcoholic or addict gets clean and sober.  As we get better, our boundaries begin to return, and we grow stronger, and more self-assured.  We begin to ask for what we need and set firm limits for what we will not tolerate.  Guilt and shame starts to drop away, and surviving begins to head towards thriving.  The unhealthy people in our lives hate that.  It threatens them, and so they revolt, usually in the most unpleasant of ways.  They lash out, they accuse us of having “a twisted sense of boundaries,” they blame us for their shortcomings, they get jealous, they undermine, they get mean, they set out to hurt us, demean us—anything in their bag of trick to try to get us to fall back into old behavior—seeking their forgiveness, accepting the blame that isn’t yours to own, and going back, once again, to tolerating bad behavior.  When that does not work, these folks tend to get madder and meaner in their desperation to regain control.

It sounds awful, doesn’t it?  It certainly feels awful when one is in the midst of if, but it is such a good and positive sign that you are moving in the right direction!  It is a sure sign that you are moving towards health and wholeness and the unhealthy relationships that you have been enmeshed in are dropping away.  It is unfortunate that the dropping away process is not more gentle, but the fact is that toxic and disordered people are not known for gentleness, or quietly disappearing into the sunset.  The relationship will end with them kicking and screaming and blaming you all the way.  You simply must not take their behavior personally.  You are getting better and leaving them behind and they are mad as hell—at themselves for not having the courage to follow–or for the disordered, they are mad that you are not falling for their crap anymore.

This is a time when your boundaries and tolerance will be tested in ways beyond belief.  You will feel torn and guilty.  You will question yourself.  “Is what he/she said really true?”  No, it is not.  It is far more apt to be true about them than it is to be true about you.  What you are being afforded is an excellent opportunity to firm up your boundaries even more by disengaging.  So many of us want closure, or the last word, or an apology from the one who lashed out at us.  None of those things are helpful.  What is helpful is moving away from the toxic person as quickly as possible.  Do not take on their “stuff,” and do not look to mend fences that were falling apart to begin with.  Love yourself enough to let go as completely as possible, with the maximum amount of compassion and forgiveness possible, for yourself, and for the person you are leaving behind.  Getting healthy is a process and this is a part of the process.  Do not beat yourself up for not seeing the person for what they were sooner, or for ignoring what you did see.  Know that you will not make the same mistakes again.

Once you enter “thriving mode,” you will attract other people who are happy, healthy, and thriving.  It is true, and I really want you to know and believe that.  You will also gain a sixth sense about people and you will be able to spot someone who is disordered or toxic with lightening speed, because as your boundaries become solid, your intuition will sharpen in the most magnificent ways.  Suddenly you will know, maybe for the first time in your life, that you are fully capable of keeping yourself safe and healthy and nothing, and no one, will stop you from doing just that.  There is a big difference between being needed and being well-loved.  You will choose to be loved rather than needed.  You won’t do it perfectly, but that is okay.  Just keep moving forward.

Boundaries are tricky in so many ways.  We have different boundaries with friends and family than we do with strangers or people on the outer edges of our lives.  We recalculate and relax as we get to know people.  I have found, for myself, that I am still an extremely tolerant person, even with firm boundaries.  I can tolerate political difference, different religious beliefs, child rearing practices, pretty much anything, unless it violates my boundaries, or the behavior violates the rights of those who cannot defend themselves.  That is where my tolerance ends. If you want me to respect your religious beliefs but will not do the same for me, something is wrong with the picture, and I will turn off the TV, and so on.

Yes, I will give you a chance or two to change your behavior as long as the offense is minor, because that is how I roll, but three strikes, and you are outta here!  If you cannot, or will not, respect my boundaries then I will know you do not care about me in a healthy way and I will say good-bye without a backward glance.  If your offense if major, know that there are some things I have zero tolerance for, such as abuse of any living thing, especially those that cannot defend themselves.  Not only will I remove myself from your life instantly, but I will do what I can to make sure you never hurt another soul, knowing full well that my power is quite limited.  And I will pray for you.  I will always pray for you.