Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Keep Fighting.

I lost a friend over the weekend. Her death is hitting me harder than I might have imagined. I hadn't seen her in person since probably 1999, but we were in a lot of activities together in high school and sat next to each other in a few classes, and we'd reconnected on facebook in recent years. She was brilliant and hilarious and totally marched to the beat of her own drum. She also openly battled depression and addiction, and had recently gotten out of a decade-long abusive marriage to a narcissist. No one has all of the facts, but according to posts from those closest to her, she was found unresponsive last week and taken off life support on Friday.

She was one of the strongest people I'd ever met. The things she'd been through were things I can't even imagine, and she was a survivor in the truest sense of the word. Her vulnerability and openness inspired everyone around her to open up to her and share our secrets.

I realized tonight that that's why her passing is weighing on me so heavily: Emily was the first person I told about the darkness inside my marriage. She had been posting things on facebook a few years back about dealing with her husband's abuse and the depression she felt as a result, and I messaged her privately to say "I'm dealing with the same and also trying to figure out how to leave." I hadn't told anyone up to that point. Even my family and very best friends didn't know how bad things were. But I confided in Emily because she was there, too. I wanted her to know she wasn't alone, and her willingness to share made me realize that I might not be alone, either.

Because she allowed me to share what I was afraid to admit, even to myself, she helped spur me to action. I knew once I told her that I had to do something about my marriage. Even after I messaged her, I stayed in my marriage, trying to fix it, for another year. My messages to her held me accountable to myself. I kept thinking back to how I'd told someone how bad it was, and yet here I was, still in it.

I eventually got out. She did, too, in January of this year, and I was so proud of her. I felt like we were part of a club that only those who'd also been through it could understand. I was convinced that life was going to get better for her, and she just needed to sit with the pain, breathe and cry through it and keep healing. She won custody and moved into her own house with her two young boys, she'd just gotten a new job--I thought that things were finally on the upswing and I was so happy for her. But instead, we lost a beautiful, talented, loving, witty, brilliant member of the club.

Emily allowed us all to be our truest selves. She never judged, because no matter what it was, she'd been there, and even if she hadn't, she had empathy. She epitomized what I think is all of our mission in life: to share openly and vulnerably and to help others realize that they are not alone.

Thank you for holding a space for me, beautiful. You helped me get out of my marriage, more than I even realized until tonight. I'd like to think I helped you, too, but I don't think I did enough. I wish I could have done more. Your light went out way too soon, but I hope that your two gorgeous sons grow up to be just like you.

To anyone reading this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Many of us have been through it. Your life makes a difference. Keep fighting.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Scrooge Was a Narcissist

Tis the season of lights, mugs of hot chocolate, and giving gifts to the ones you love...unless you are a narcissist.

Here's the thing: Narcissists hate the holidays. Anything that takes attention away from them is enemy number one, so that goes for birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, and any other gift-giving occasion. It took me about a year and a half to realize that my ex-husband had never given me a gift for any occasion, despite the fact that I was giving him things for special occasions. I'm not even a "gift person"...if we're talking in terms of "love languages," mine are words of affirmation and quality time. I never thought I cared about gifts at all, until I realized that I didn't get anything from him, ever.

I was giftless in our marriage from 2012 until 2014 when I was doing his greencard application for him. I gave him handmade cufflinks for our wedding. He hadn't even gotten me an engagement ring until the day before our wedding, and only then, because he had to. It was nothing I'd asked for and nothing like the pictures of things I liked that I sent him. I told him I didn't even need a diamond...just something unique and affordable. He came back the day before our wedding with a band half-lined with tiny diamonds, and complained how much he had to spend on it. I apologized, and told him that he didn't need to have done that. Our wedding was three days after Christmas. I gave him a small gift of a tshirt he liked and a full-series set of dvds of his favorite show. He gave me nothing, but I understood, because he had just spent "so much" on my ring. Since we were long distance, I'd find little things here and there that reminded me of him or of us and send them to him...he never did that. Valentine's day came and went. I sent him a card filled with sentiments about how much I loved and missed him. Nothing from him. Then came my birthday. Nothing. Not even a card in our first year together. For his birthday a month later, I bought him concert tickets to one of his favorite bands who was playing in town. Then came Christmas again. We got into a huge fight on Christmas eve, and he still hadn't bought me anything. He stormed out saying "Now I have to go buy you a f&#*ing gift! This should be great!" He came back with eyeshadow that my mom had already bought me for Christmas, and he knew it, forcing my mom to return hers.

I never brought it up until March 2014 when we were preparing for our greencard interview. I said "They want to see receipts from gifts we've exchanged and cards we've given each other...I have copies of all of the cards and receipts from gifts I've given you, but you've never given me anything..." He panicked. "We have to get our story straight!" he exclaimed. "
"Story? What story? I love you. There's no story here on my part."
"Oh, you're going to be like this again? If you doubt me I'LL LEAVE RIGHT NOW!" he screamed.
I apologized for "doubting him."

He once told me that the only gifts he gave anyone were things that he liked and could use himself. I thought he was kidding...up until he bought me a smart watch for my birthday that year. I never wore watches...he loved watches and had a watch collection. Of course, we were long distance at the time, and the "gift" arrived two weeks after my birthday. And when he came home months later, he took it with him back to his country. I never saw that watch again.

"You didn't like it anyway," was his justification for taking the "gift" he bought me.

From that point until we broke up the final time the following year, I got a few gifts from him, but all things he liked that weren't my style at all--two pairs of Swarovski crystal earrings. They looked like diamonds, but weren't REAL diamonds. I didn't like diamonds at all, and he was very into fake things that looked expensive. A glass rose for Valentine's Day with a cheesy, pre-written poem about love...he sent that while he was cheating on me with the other woman. Same with the fake diamonds, actually. And that year for my birthday, I got a pink (I hate pink) purse that he'd gotten for free from one of his celebrity appearances. He made sure to let me know that he'd spent MORE THAN HALF of his free gift certificate on me.

It wasn't until I ended my marriage and started researching narcissism that I realized this was a common theme amongst narcissists...they don't give gifts, and if they do, it's only things that they'll use/take themselves. Overarchingly, it's also NOT NORMAL in a relationship to NEVER get any gifts. I made every excuse for him, but when it came down to it, it was very hurtful and very much not ok with me to always be giving and never receiving...again, a very common theme with narcs.

So this holiday season, take note...if you give an never receive, it may be time to re-evaluate your relationship...and your partner may be a narc if he's consistently a Scrooge or makes a big deal about how much he "hates Christmas" or makes you feel guilty about spending any amount of money on a gift for you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

To the judge who dismissed my divorce over a typo...

Dear New York State Supreme Court Judge [name rescinded],

I recognize that this letter is likely against protocol, and I mean no disrespect. My voice was silenced during the 3 years I spent with Mr. [name rescinded], and throughout my divorce proceedings, I've felt that my voice has been silenced again. My request now is simply to be heard.

On July 28, 2015 I filed for divorce. My lawyer advised me to file "no fault" despite the fact that I learned first via pictures and later via phonecall from the other woman that my husband had been cheating on me for over a year and had also fathered a child outside of our marriage, because proving it would be long and too costly, and I couldn't afford that. Beyond that, and perhaps more importantly, he is an abusive individual with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Anti-Social Personality disorder. I married a narcissist and sociopath which only became apparent many months into our marriage.

It has now become clear that my husband married me for a greencard. He is a con man who committed fraud against me and against the United States. Immediately upon receiving his greencard, he abandoned me and returned to his home country "to work." While he was there, and while I was here patiently waiting for him to come back and while I remained committed to the marriage and completely faithful, he betrayed me over the span of 11 months. He impregnated another woman, and had intimate relationships with at least three other individuals that I know of. 

I paid for our entire relationship, including his greencard and legal fees. In the entirety of our time together, he never paid a bill, never contributed to rent, and never shared in household expenses in any way. He took all of my money (I willingly gave it because I loved him), exhausted my life savings, and left me with nothing. When I'd finally had enough of waiting for him and being verbally and emotionally abused, I told him I wanted a divorce. Because I couldn't afford proper legal representation for a full court battle, I filed "no fault." I asked for nothing. I just wanted out. I wanted my life back.

Coming to terms with the fact that I was an abused wife was incredibly difficult. I'm smart. I do the right things. This wasn't supposed to happen! But I was smart enough to kick him out and file for divorce once I realized what was going on. I tried to do the right thing. I spent $3,000 on a lawyer and on international service to end the marriage. I was told that once I served him, it should be straight-forward, and because he didn't contest and didn't respond, it would be a default judgement in my favor. But over the course of the past year and a few months, I've been met with obstacle after obstacle that has prevented the divorce from actually becoming final. 

I'm still legally married to my abuser because I couldn't financially afford to file on grounds, and because of two clerical errors--the process server in his country failed to provide a physical description of him (which is understandable, since my husband is famous in his country--it's likely that the server didn't think it was necessary given that fact). You dismissed my papers then, and said that I could resubmit if I got my husband to sign an affidavit stating that he was, indeed served. So after many months, and much effort on my part and on the part of my lawyer, my ex finally signed the affidavit and got it notarized at the consulate. He had been holding on to control, and he finally relented. I was thrilled and thought that it was finally going to be over. However, when you got the affidavit, you dismissed it AGAIN, saying that the notary failed to date page three. Despite the fact that his signature was consistent. Despite the fact that his signature was notarized and dated on other pages. You dismissed it. And my case is now essentially dead in the water as my ex refuses to appear for an inquest, and I can't afford trial fees, anyway. So that's it. 

My lawyer explained that your ruling was "for my protection" because my ex could claim down the line that he "didn't know" I wanted a divorce. He's given numerous interviews to the press about how "he filed" for divorce (he didn't). About how it was a "mutual decision" (it wasn't). We have discussed it over email and in text messages. He has a new girlfriend who he is parading around on red carpets and posting plentiful pictures of on social media. There is more than enough proof to show that he, indeed, knows very well, that I want a divorce. You, for whatever reason, will not allow it.  

I'll likely never know your reasoning for dismissing my case. Maybe you were having a bad day. Maybe it's just a number to you, and you've lost sight of the fact that there are real people with real lives behind the case filings. Maybe you hate immigrants or women, and this is your way of sticking it to them passively. But let me remind you what your dismissal of my case has done, in real life:

I am still tied to my abuser, legally. Mentally and emotionally, it feels like a dark cloud that I can't get rid of. I have no closure on the relationship whatsoever, as he abruptly blocked me and stopped talking to me when I caught him in his affair. I never got an apology or acknowledgement from him of what he did, and now I can't get a legal end to the marriage. The process has brought back PTSD nightmares, as I've had to text him and communicate with him. My therapist advised me to stop communicating with him immediately, for my own mental health, yet my lawyer's retainer has been exhausted, so understandably, any more work she does on my behalf is essentially pro-bono. If I am to proceed in any way, it will be on my own, and I will have to be in contact with him and his lawyer. I am still financially responsible for him, should he choose to come back to the United States. 

I knew that marriage is a big deal, and it was one I was fully ready for at the time when I married him. But I was conned. He was a fraud, and not who he presented himself to be. I knew that a divorce wouldn't be easy, emotionally, but I didn't think it would be virtually impossible logistically. I had no idea that there would be no lenience on typos and innocent omissions, especially given the language barrier and the fact that the case crosses international lines. I had no idea that I would spend thousands more (in addition to the tens of thousands I spent throughout my marriage) trying to get rid of my abuser while getting nothing back and asking for nothing. I had no idea it would be this difficult, and I don't understand why it is. 

So here I am, over a year later, thousands of dollars poorer, and with absolutely nothing to show for it. I'm back at square one. I now either have to refile here and start a new case (and thus, spend more money do that) or allow him to file in his country, on his terms, in a language I do not speak. If I do the latter, I have to sign my power of attorney over to his lawyer, who will "represent us both." I lose all of my rights, and lose my voice. Allowing him to have that power is exactly what he wanted, and he thrives on that. It re-victimizes me, and continues the exact patterns I was trying to get out of in filing for divorce in the first place.

While this may have been just another case number to you, this is my life. I feel unable to move on. It feels like the biggest mistake of my life that I just cannot erase, no matter how hard I try. It's exhausting, mentally, emotionally, and financially. And all over a notary at a consulate in a foreign country who forgot to date one page of a document. 

Judge, I know you will not read this, and I know that this letter changes nothing. If you had wanted to grant me a divorce, you would have. But, for whatever reason, you didn't. I just hope that you understand the life behind the case number, and understand that your dismissal is allowing spousal abuse, even from afar, to continue. 


The Plaintiff 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Invisible Red Flags

I've been thinking a lot lately about all of the red flags I missed (or worse, chose to ignore). They were there from the very beginning. Looking back, it's very clear that he was only ever using me to help his career. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but perhaps sharing these subtle (and glaringly obvious) things I overlooked will help someone else to see clearly.

The Business Meeting 
When I was introduced to my now soon-to-be-ex-husband, the VERY first thing he said to me was "Oh, you're American? I love Americans!" I was on vacation in Europe, and used to being the strange American who spoke only English, so to hear someone say that, in English, was refreshing and immediately intriguing. But what I now realize is that the reason he "loved Americans" was because he wanted to be one (I realize how American-centric and patriotic this sounds, but I assure you, I'm one of the least patriotic Americans out there. I don't think we are the center of the world, and I don't think that everyone wants to come here to take our jobs...but in this case, he had made it his plan to come to America YEARS before I met him, unbeknownst to me, and I was a shining opportunity for this to happen for him). When I was doing his greencard application for him (naturally--he wouldn't do it himself, after all!), I kept coming across interviews he'd given to magazines talking about how much he wanted a career in America, how his dream to was to work in Hollywood, and how his dream vacation would be a roadtrip across America. As our marriage was crumbling, one of his acquaintances from acting school confided in me that when he was studying in London, he was unconcerned with mastering the British accent and solely focused on learning the American accent, because he was determined to work in America.

What's more, our very first conversation established that I was in a position to be able to help him. I introduced myself as a writer, director and producer and that I worked in entertainment business management (all of which was true). He was an actor. It was like I was handing him a golden ticket to what he wanted for his career, and since all narcopaths are completely self-serving, that alone was enough to make him pursue me with vigor. In hindsight, it's no coincidence that his discarding of me began at exactly the same time I began interviewing for jobs outside of the entertainment industry. If I no longer had my professional contacts, I was of little use to him. And it was one month from the time I started my new job (in the tech industry) to when he left me, saying we had "nothing in common, and no future together." Curious timing, isn't it?

As we got to know each other more in the days and weeks that followed, his conversation was focused on how much he wanted to live in America, and how he'd been thinking of moving there. Of course, I was smitten, so I was thrilled by the prospect of him moving to my country! He asked me if I needed a roommate. I said we could figure something out. He was outright telling me that he was looking at Masters degrees in America because he wanted to be here so much, but I thought that maybe I had been the catalyst to make him want to be here because he wanted to be with me.  It's sickening now to realize that THE ONLY REASON HE WAS WITH ME WAS TO HAVE A CHANCE AT ACTING IN AMERICA.

Three months into our relationship, we were already discussing marriage, and he came to visit me. On day three of that visit, we got into an argument. I don't even remember what it was about, but I remember saying something to the effect of "I don't feel good about this." There were warning signs going off in my body. I felt uncomfortable somehow, but couldn't pinpoint it. I just remember feeling off. This set him off (it was the first time I'd ever seen him get angry). He said he would just leave. I didn't want him to leave--I wanted to talk about whatever it was that was upsetting me. Naturally, that didn't happen, and I thought I should just let it go and it would blow over. The next day, he told me that the night before had "set us back" and that "all future bets were off." This was his way of keeping me hooked. I begged for us to go back to the way we were, sure that we could get past whatever it was. Once I did that, things were fine. His plan was back in motion.

His final words to me when we were at the airport for him to go back to his country were "I came here to see if I should take this to the next level, and I think I should." Very businesslike for someone supposedly madly in love with me. It struck me as odd, and as if he'd been planning, but again, I was madly in love, and just excited that he wanted to take it to the next level with me! And after he DID move here, and had a number of unsuccessful auditions and wasn't making any money as an actor (and was unemployed totally), I think he realized that working as an actor here was going to be harder than he'd realized, and he immediately accepted a job on a soap back home in his country. That was when our marriage really fell apart, because now he had his fame ego boost back, he was working in his career--I and our marriage were completely superfluous.

General Disrespect For My Time, Needs and Desires
This was always present, in forms ranging from subtle to blatant. It started, subtly, with what I call "The Patience Test" (something I only realized was a thing after briefly dating another narcissist last year who did the same time). He would keep me on Skype for HOURS while he did whatever he pleased, yet I just had to sit there at the computer and wait for him. He would play videogames, cook dinner, spend hours laughing to himself at YouTube videos he was watching, all while he was on Skype with me. I now realize that it was to see if I would sit there and wait for him. And I always did. I played into the game. If I said something like "Why don't you call me back when you're free?" or "Let me just go do this thing while you're doing that," his answer was always "No no no! I'll be done in just a second. I'm sorry! Thank you for waiting!" and then he'd continue doing what he was doing.

Another great example was our wedding. We got married in a civil ceremony at the courthouse in his city in his country. I needed a translator, since the ceremony was in his language. I asked my friend Mary* to translate for me, since she was literally the only person I knew in the country aside from him, and she and I had been friends for 9 years. I trusted her. The morning of the ceremony, he called his friend Sophie and said "How's your English?" I asked what he was doing and he said she was going to translate. I said that no, I would rather have Mary translate because I knew her and trusted her and he got angry and said "Ok, fine!" Then, when we got to the courthouse, he listed Sophie as the translator. Sophie, a woman I didn't know, and who, unbeknownst to me at the time, turned out to be HIS EX-GIRLFRIEND, translated my wedding ceremony. Mary sat in the audience as my "witness." (As an aside, his other witness, Susan, also turned out to be ANOTHER EX-GIRLFRIEND. Fun fact, he had no friends aside from ex-girlfriends. Of course, I didn't know any of this when he first introduced them to me. He called them his "sisters.")

Probably the biggest example of this was when he accepted a job in his home country, a week after getting his greencard here in the US, without asking me how I felt about it. Naturally, I was devastated. He had JUST moved here to be with me, FINALLY, after a year and a half of us being long distance, he had JUST gotten his greencard, we were FINALLY going to be able to start our life together as husband and work, with him being eligible to work...and he was leaving. He pretended to ask my opinion about it, but when I said "Well, this is not ideal..." he made it clear that if I said no or protested in any way, I would be "blocking his career" and he would "resent me forever." So I really had no say, and he'd already told his agent he'd take it before he talked to me, anyway.

Overarchingly, I had no say in anything. It was what he wanted, when he wanted it. Whatever worked for him was expected to work for me, and when it didn't, I was "dramatic" or "needy" or "unsupportive."

Really Obvious Stuff 
These ones don't even really need explainations. They were obvious signs of abuse and signs that he didn't care about my feelings even a little bit:

  • He was consistently rough with me, even in intimate moments. Beyond that, he was downright violent at times. Though he never technically hit me, he would grab me and leave bruises, throw things (including a full suitcase, once) at me, slap my butt HARD out of nowhere, make sounds so loud into my ear that it popped my eardrum (even after I told him it was too loud...and then once my eardrum did pop, he got upset at me for crying because my eardrum popped and I literally couldn't hear and was in pain), which leads me to...
  • Sex was consistently terrible. Terrible. It was all about him and what he wanted, when he wanted it, at all times. This probably deserves its own post, actually. He was rough, and even our very first time, he said "Wow, I'm actually making love! I can't believe it! I'm MAKING LOVE TO YOU! I never make love. I prefer to fuck." His idea of "making love" had no love or tenderness in it whatsoever. I remember thinking "Seriously? This is making love to you?!" but didn't say it. 
  • He constantly criticized my weight/breast size/any other imperfection he could find. But then when I would get upset about his words, he would say "Well if you're so self-conscious about it, why don't you change it?!" Just go on a diet/get a boob job/whatever else he wanted me to do to 'fix' myself. He never understood that it wasn't that I was unhappy with myself--I was unhappy with his criticism of me. Unfortunately, it did take a toll on my self-esteem after awhile, but thank goodness, I always retained enough inner strength to recognize, deep down, that it was him who had the issues and not me. 

There's much more, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot, but this is a start. If you recognize any of these things happening in your relationship, take note. These are not things that healthy people do to people they love. These are things that users and abusers do.

PS - If you haven't already seen this video about emotional abuse in relationships, it's required watching.

*names changed to protect privacy

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

I Am Free release and other news

I am honored to have three stories published in this book by Bree Bonchay, LCSW, now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. It's full of true stories from real survivors of narcissistic and sociopathic abuse.

I also now have a facebook page. You can follow me at

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Fool's Day

Three years ago today, my ex called me first thing in the morning (I'd just woken up).

"I have something to tell you," he said.
"I'm cheating on you."
I started tearing up immediately. "Are you serious?"
"Yes. I'm cheating on you. I'm sorry."
I began to cry. My heart sunk down into my stomach. He began to laugh hysterically.
"HAHAHA! I got you! Oh my God, you actually think I'm cheating on you! HA!"
"That's not funny. You just gave me a panic attack. My heart was in my intestines!"

Except, now I know that he wasn't actually joking. He even laughed about it on facebook:

He actually did things like that a few times. Looking back, he was testing me to see if I'd believe him, and to see how much he could get away with. When he came back last summer, we went to a restaurant. They had a taxidermied moose head in the restaurant. He asked me to take his picture in front of the head, so that the horns were sticking out of his head (he ALWAYS wanted his picture to be taken, so he could post it on his facebook fan page). I did. When he posted it, he laughed, and said "This should get an interesting reaction..." I asked why, and he said "Because in my country, this means that a person cheated."

He also went on a talk show in his country where they asked him all kinds of super personal questions about his sex life. He admitted that he'd cheated and been cheated on ("in the past") and that he'd once had four relationships going at once. All of this was last year. He was talking about his life with me (though I never cheated on him...probably no one ever did, actually). And he was just talking about it in plain sight, on a "jokey" talk show, laughing about it. When I confronted him about it, he told me that "they were joking and I fell for the joke!" Lies. More lies.

As soon as the news of our divorce broke in the press, he removed those videos and pictures of him with horns from his page. I guess suddenly they weren't so funny when people might actually think they were true.

I hate April Fool's Day. I hate anything that celebrates taking advantage of people's trust. I hate lies and liars.

Monday, March 21, 2016

On the fear of losing happiness

I've noticed a disturbing trend in my life lately...things as they exist in real life are calm and peaceful for the most part. Life is good. I really have very little to complain about these days. Despite that, my head is still sometimes a warzone. It's like I'm afraid to allow myself to feel the happiness and peace that is actually in my life now, and that I've worked so hard for.

Here's an example of where my brain goes, in any given moment that is calm or happy:

I'm laying on the couch with my boyfriend, cuddling, watching tv. I begin to feel happy and grateful for the moment, because it feels so nice, and I feel so safe and loved. Then I have a flashback to me doing the same thing with my ex-husband, and feeling the same way in that moment. "Oh wait, I used to do this with my ex-husband too...I felt safe and loved then too...but he didn't love me...he never loved me...none of that was ever was real to me, but it wasn't real to do I know that this is real? What if he doesn't love me, either? What if I'm the only one in love? This might not be real...he might not love me...Oh God, what if he doesn't love me back? What if he loves someone else instead? I'm going to get hurt again. I can't get hurt again. I can't go through that again. I should just end it...I shouldn't be with anyone..."

And this happens usually multiple times per day, because things are actually pretty good, until my brain convinces me that they might not be what they seem. Pretty fucked up, eh?

The worst part is that I KNOW this is no way to live. I know I'm literally denying myself the happiness I should be feeling right now. I think that happiness can only ever exist in the present moment, and the second I start to feel it, I push it away, because I'm too afraid of losing it again. It's basically the definition of self-sabotage. I feel like everything I think I know is going to come crashing down around me again, and I want to be somehow prepared for it this time, as if knowing in advance what will happen will make it hurt less. I've convinced myself that if only I can predict it, I'll be protected.

The truth is, even if I can predict it, it will still hurt. I predicted it with my ex-husband. It still devastated me when I got confirmation that my gut was right. No amount of protection could have helped, and I guess when it's all said and done, I can look back and know that at least for a bit, in the moments, I was truly happy with him, even if it wasn't "real" and wasn't what I thought it was. It's true that ignorance is bliss.

The only solution I can think of is to try and stay in the moment and appreciate the little moments of happiness, exactly as-is. In fact, I think that being "happy" is just having enough of a collection built up of the small, quiet, calm, content moments. Maybe that's the best any of us can ever get, and the truly lucky among us are just able to be in them and appreciate them while they happen instead of living in the past by looking back on them or chasing happiness by hoping they'll happen again in the future.

I'm not used to having these walls up. And what I'm realizing is that to live in fear of losing happiness is probably actually worse than being depressed or sad. At least with those emotions, I was IN them. I felt them. I knew exactly what they were and could draw you a map around them. But this constantly changing my happiness into anxiety thing is exhausting. It's a rollercoaster. It's crazymaking.

Sometimes the stress of everything twisting around my brain makes me want to cry, because it feels like I can't trust my own feelings anymore. I know that's not true, though. I know I can trust my feelings and my intuition. My feelings have always been right. It was just one monster who deceived me and betrayed me. And most of all, I don't want to give him the power to control my current and future happiness because of what he did to me.

A friend of mine said recently "Loving someone is always a risk." She is right. There are never any guarantees, and despite how much you think you know the person, no one ever really knows what's in another's heart, even when the person you love is a good person and not a sociopathic con man. So I continue to be terrified, but I'm trying to be brave.