As a result of this battle, I’ve changed…and that’s okay. You’ve probably changed, too. I think of my journey as a giant rock tumbler – many times, the tossing and tumbling was painful and threatened to break me but I came through it better than I started. I could focus on the negatives but I refuse to do that. I’m determined to focus on the ways that I have changed for the better through this long, rocky process.
My Trust: I once gave my trust away without a second thought. I now value myself enough to know that not everyone deserves my trust. Trust is something that is earned and not everyone is worthy. I now understand that my trust is sacred and that those deserving of it are willing to earn it and will never take it for granted.
My Heart: I once offered my heart to everyone on a silver platter. I projected my own positive attributes onto others, namely, the ability to give and receive love. The truth is, not everyone is able to give and receive love. There are people with dark, empty souls who are not capable of loving or being loved. While I have learned that this has nothing to do with me, I am more guarded with my heart.
My Toolkit: I can put my trusty old toolkit away. I no longer need to fix anyone. I no longer have the strength, energy or desire to save my partner, my friends or anyone else for that matter. I know that fixing others is not my job. When I am worried about fixing or saving someone else, the only one that suffers is me.
Self-Care: I have learned the importance of practicing self-care and self-compassion. In showing myself love and compassion, my capacity to love and hold space for others grows. Practicing self-care is not selfish, I have learned that it is quite the opposite.
My Path: I have learned that we are all on our own journeys. I am perfectly content to stay on my own path whereas in the past, I often strayed from my own path to walk on someone else’s. There will be times when my partner and I walk the same path, hand-in-hand and there will be times when our paths run parallel to each other. I am content on my own path and he is content on his. There is peace and contentment in this.
My Faith: Once a self-proclaimed Atheist, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is something much bigger than all of us guiding my path. I am often asked how I survived my battle in the family court system and I have one answer: God. I learned to grab God’s hand as I walked through the courtroom doors and I cried out to Him many of nights while kneeling on the cold tile of my kitchen floor. I can look back and reflect on my darkest days and now see the purpose to my pain.
Watching Versus Listening: I have learned to look at actions versus words. In the past, I often heard the words, “I love you,” but I didn’t feel the words. Over time and with experience, I have learned that words are empty and that actions are the things worth paying attention to.
Boundaries: I once thought that boundaries were locked gates or walls that I could not climb. I now understand the importance of personal boundaries and with each passing year, I work to strengthen my boundaries. Once crumbling and fragile, my boundaries are stronger than ever and will continue to improve with time, practice and life lessons.
My Inner Voice: I have learned to get quiet and listen. The answers are there waiting for me and my inner wisdom will never lead me astray. The quiet once made me uncomfortable but now, I cherish it. I have found that the more I listen, the more clearly I can hear my inner voice.
Being Present: I am known to be a go-go-go person and at the age of 42, I have learned about the gifts that come with slowing down and being in the moment. Whether I am walking or gardening, I try to focus on my senses (sights, smells, tastes, sounds and touch) to bring myself into the present moment. I am convinced this is an art and I have found that it takes a lot of practice to undo years of conditioning but I cherish the times I get it right.
My Voice: Stifled for much of my life, I now have a voice. I am still learning to use it – sometimes it is still too soft and other times, it can come across too harsh. I equate it to learning to play a new instrument and I may not always get it right on the first time but I am learning and showing myself compassion along the way.
Zero Tolerance Policy: I don’t do drama, I don’t do fake and I don’t do toxic. Those three things speckled the canvas of my past but I am painting the canvas of my future and there is no room for these things in my life. I now value peace and real friendships. I seek and appreciate healthy additions to my life. Weeding out the negativity clears room for the positives and for that, I am grateful.
Yes, I’ve change and that’s okay. I know that I am moving in the right direction. The path may not always be smooth but I have faith that I am right where I am supposed to be.
Love, light and lemonade…Tina
Tina Swithin is an author (Divorcing a Narcissist series and The Narc Decoder: Understanding the Language of the Narcissist) and founder of One Mom’s Battle, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to providing support to survivors and educating the family court professionals on Cluster B personality disorders. Tina has dedicated her life to empowering those on the battlefield of the family court system through her many resources such as her books, The Lemonade Club, her annual retreats, and her coaching practice.