“You Scare People”

“You Scare People.”

Someone said that to me once, about 14 years ago. It was my landlady — a woman in my spiritual community who, at the time she said it, was renting to me an in-law apartment located underneath her house.

When she said that to me, I was at the time enduring threats by my now ex-husband. He had been periodically threatening that he would kill me if I tried to get the children in a divorce proceeding, which we had put off for many years (ultimately our separation lasted over 9 years). He had also threatened me in the distant past, after our initial separation years before, that he would kill me if I began dating other men and exposing our children to these “evil” men.

It took me many years to realize, and face, that the reason I caved in to everything this man did to me during the marriage and in the divorce proceedings was because I did not want to end up a statistic — dead in a parking lot and my children orphaned by his going to prison for maiming or killing me.

Being threatened with death makes you crazy. Crazy with fear. Crazy with confusion. Crazy with disorientation and dissociation, and especially avoidance (as in an Avoidant personality), because you can’t quite believe what’s happening to you. And you can’t quite believe that you might actually die by someone’s violence at some point in the future. It’s surreal.

Nobody who is normal wants to come off as crazy or scary, but I know I did at one time, for a long time. Could I tell my former landlady what I was experiencing? I felt I could not. I believed that I might be kicked out for fear of his coming after me on their premises, and that their family might have gotten caught in the crossfire and/or had to clean up an ugly, expensive mess.

What I have learned since (many years later) is that at the time my landlady said I scared people, I had FLEAS: bad behavior patterns and habits as a result of dealing with a Narcissist in my life (actually, more than one). I used to beat myself up all the time for being alone, “unlovable,” rejected and abandoned, abused, confused, lost, acting out inappropriately due to fear or neediness, etc. And what we don’t realize is that the Narcissist loves our awful behavior and does sneaky things to incite it and perpetuate it. Narcissists love our pain. They are addicted to it.

Over the years I have become convinced that the only way to improve your life is to break free of ideas, attitudes, fallacious concepts (especially religious or spiritual ones), toxic people and living situations or jobs, unnecessary possessions, etc. We must have the courage to let go. Courage to break out and do something, try something different. Every time I prune one of my houseplants or flower bushes, I think how it looks not quite right at first, and how it must hurt the plant, but it is ultimately better for it because it can grow and grow properly.

We humans are like plants. We get pruned so that the dead wood and unnecessary or diseased branches, stems and leaves are gone, and new growth can take place. We clear out people and possessions so that better ones can come in. As we become accustomed to circumstances being better and happier, we become more and more adept at proper thinking and proper actions. Taking that first step can be incredibly difficult, but it becomes easier. And when we have setbacks, it becomes easier to brush it off and keep going.