Thursday, November 15, 2012

Don't be a victim any more!

I posted a blog several minutes ago that is totally based on personal experience.  How I have found myself confronted with friends and acquaintances that continually hit me up asking for help both financially and emotionally.  What I have realized is that I am the one that has set up myself for failure in my dealings with others.  Last year when I was in Atlanta, I found out that I am stuck in a pattern of behavior, a destructive spiral that has been repeating in my life for years. But each time I get hurt I am still surprised. My case manager at AID Atlanta pointed out to me that everything I have ever done is set myself up to be a victim.  I started seeking professional help.  Apparently my personal interrelationship skills have been severely warped because of trauma experienced in my previous long term relationship.  Now, trust me when I tell you that there was some trauma, mental and physical abuse that I endured for twelve years, but I don't believe that my behavior is a product of that relationship alone.  As I am very fond of telling you, we are the product of everything we have ever been through, all the people we have ever known and the decisions and choices we have made. With that being said, let me tell you that I believe some of my behavior problems come from the way my parents interacted with each other while I was growing up.

My parents were married and divorced from each other 4 times.  They had terrible fights and never got along.  All together my parents were together for 36 years, but I am not sure they ever knew what true love was.  This pattern of behavior between my parents had affected my ability to find and nurture a successful relationship.  Plus, the experiences I have had with my own long term relationships have affected my self-esteem and self-worth.  Sometimes I wonder if that alone might the biggest factor in how I enter into relationships and how I react when I meet other people. See when my 12 1/2 year relationship finally came to an end, I had forgotten who I was. I somehow lost myself in the relationship, my sense of identity and fundamentally my drive and direction in life.  I had also been told over and over again for 12 long years that I was fat, ugly, untalented and undesirable. I had heard it so much, that I began to believe it.  Now, even though I weigh a hundred and thirty pounds I still see the fat person staring back at me from the mirror.

In order to keep myself from getting hurt, I met and dated people that I felt needed me, people who I thought I could help or rescue from themselves or the situations that they were in.  I guess in some sort of way it made me feel good helping other people, that I was like a hero coming to their rescue, was helping them to better themselves. It made me feel useful and needed, and somewhere during our conversations, I would explain how others in my past had stolen from me or done me wrong.  Thus giving them the ammunition and the information they needed to do exactly the same thing to me that others had done.  What I did was sabotage myself and the relationship right from the beginning.  Instead of protecting myself, I ended up giving away my weaknesses and vulnerability.  Then I would wonder why I was hurt and used and left all over again, and why it seemed to keep happening to me.  I used to think that men would see my kindness for weakness, but what was actually happening was I myself was giving others the ability to use me and take from me repeatedly.

What I am trying to tell you is that each of us follows our own pattern of behavior, and if you look hard enough and are honest with yourself you can discover yours. Once you discover the pattern and understand why you have fallen into it, you can then change it. You can break out of it and create a new pattern.  My pattern started because I had the need to feel wanted, the need to be needed and useful in someone else's life. What started out as a desire to help others, to make their lives easier, to help them overcome their obstacles and work through their issues and crisis's, would end up with me getting involved with them. Some might even call that a Florence Nightengale syndrome.  You want to help and be a rescuer, you get a sense of joy and fulfillment out of helping others, it makes you feel like you are useful and worthy.  You then start to identify those feelings with intimacy, and you start falling for those you are trying to help.  Or at least that is what I did.  I would then further talk to them explain to them how hurt I have been in the past, what I was afraid of, how people had stolen from me, taken from me and used me.  By doing that and confiding in these individuals, I gave them all the information and ammunition they needed to do the same thing to me.  Therefore, I ended up perpetuating this behavior over and over again.  So I would be a savior, hero, protector, basically Captain-Save-A-Ho. Then I would get closer to the person I was trying to help, become intimate, reveal my entire life history to them, and open myself up to be a victim, then once it happened I would then become a martyr.  This was a never ending cycle.

Being a drug addict didn't help the situation at all. As a matter of fact it opened me up to scores of people that always seemed to need help.  I was in a financial situation where I could help them, get them drugs and help them get off the street.  I didn't realize the destructiveness of my behavior.  Nor while I was on the drugs could I see what was plain to everyone around me. That my relationship building skills were severely damaged.  Once I realized that I was stuck in a destructive type of behavior, I started to change my pattern, got off the drugs, got a job, reevaluated my goals and moved away from my old group of friends.  On top of that I enrolled in school to better myself and start a new chapter in my life.  I also started writing my blog, to help others and put some distance between myself and others.  I don't want to again confuse my need to help others with intimacy.  I am more guarded with my life and who and what I allow in.  I stay away from the drugs and those that do them and I am much happier that way.

Honestly, if you are not happy with your life, you have to do something to change it yourself, it doesn't come with a remote control.   What this means is that you have to get up off your butt and make the changes because there isn't a little box that is going to make the changes for you.  You have to put some effort into making the change or it just isn't going to happen.  Change takes effort, time and energy!  But trust me if I can do it you can too.  Don't let others intimidate you or make you feel that you owe them something. Because you know what the only person you owe anything too is yourself.  You owe it to yourself to protect yourself from hurt, pain or people that want to use and abuse you.  You have to put yourself first and everyone else after that. Just like in my earlier blog, you can want to help someone, but if they aren't doing something to change themselves, and they are not demonstrating that they want to change, walk away. Because you can't force someone to change themselves. They have to want it. They have to make the effort, you cannot do that for them.  Also if someone is demonstrating that they are continuing in their same pattern behavior and not trying to better themselves. Move on, they are stuck on Repeat and are going to stay there till they hit rock bottom.  Once they hit rock bottom they are likely to want to make the necessary changes to move on with their life.

I have a lot of friends and acquaintances that are still out there waking up every morning turning to their dealer and asking for a wake up, then in the afternoon calling back looking for a pick me up.  They go from place to place, party to party, friend to friend looking for their next hit or fix.  These are the people that are stuck on repeat.  Not making any effort to change their behavior or situation.  The friend I was talking about in my last entry who asked me to help him out, is living on the street. Staying in hotels for a couple nights at a time before going back on to the street.  He hustles, sells himself to make a buck and get his drugs.  I was attracted to him, wanted to help him and get him off the street.  I offered to buy him a bus ticket and bring him down to stay with me.  At first he wanted to stay in Atlanta to spend time with his family for his birthday. He was supposed to get back with me on dates that he would be able to come.  He never did, and then last night got mad at me when he asked me for help and I told him that I didn't have the money.  He also threw it in my face that I hadn't bought the bus ticket yet, therefore I was a bullshitter.

The truth of the matter is that it was him and his inconsistency that caused me not to buy the ticket to come to Florida.  Further, after our conversation last night I realized that what I had done, how I had confused my desire of wanting to help him and better his situation with feelings of caring.  He used that against me by telling me that he cared about me and missed me. But his words and actions tell me otherwise. This is how I came to realize that it wasn't me that he wanted.  He wanted what he thought that I could do for him. To him it didn't matter who it was, he cared about what others can do for him. Further, the more we talked the more it became evident that everything that he ever told me about how he cared for me and even told me that he loved me was a lie.  He doesn't want to change his life or his situation, he wants to hustle others to get what he needs.  He has no problem telling them what he thinks they want to hear.  This is what he did to me, and when I offered to help him get off the streets all he wanted was for me to send him money.  He even tried to tell me things about the person I am dating thinking that this would separate us and make it easier for him to get what he wanted out of me. Even now as I am writing this I am once again bemoaning what has happened to me.  The difference this time, I have come to realize the pattern and now I am exposing it to the world and purging it from my system by writing this.  I don't want you to think that I am making myself out to be a martyr, see I know what I have done, and realize it.  I am explaining it to you so that you don't get caught up like I did.

Be wary of your patterns, learn them and if they are detrimental to yourself or others change them anyway you can. Just by making a minor deviation, you can totally change your pattern altogether. I hope that you take my experience and learn from it.  If you find yourself in a similar situation you need to let them go, walk away and cut your losses.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B