Here We Go Again … Or Not

here we go againI had planned to check out the third in the Harry Potter Series, but some lucky kid, who finds him or herself with long, empty summer days, got to it first.  Even with an ongoing list of books I’m dying to read, if I go to the library with one particular book in mind, it’s impossible for me to switch gears.  But since I can’t go home empty handed, I stopped to see what’s in the New Books.

 

__________

 

To preface things a bit, I must explain that I’ve believed in reincarnation since I was in high school.  I don’t remember why.  (I recently learned that INFJs struggle with remembering much of their childhood, and that certainly applies, in my case.)  Also, as an INFJ, I wasn’t influenced by a friend or a relative.  But in that way that INFJs have, I simply knew (more like felt) this belief in reincarnation and karma was right for me.

(That’s not to say that all INFJs believe in reincarnation, but many of us don’t know why or how we know what we know.  We just do.)

I rarely discussed this belief.  I didn’t feel a need to have my belief validated.  If memory serves (and it doesn’t much) I think I was in my mid 40s before my mom new of my beliefs.

I did read the Edgar Cayce stuff in high school and college.  Every few years I would find a new source on the subject, but it has been a long while since I’ve felt the need to read up on reincarnation.  That’s either a testament to the strength of my belief, or proof of my level of comfort with the process.  I’m not on any fences when it comes to the afterlife.  I don’t need reassurance.

 

__________

 

Fast forward to standing in front of the New Books section at the library, where I found No Goodbyes: Life-Changing Insights from the Other Side.

Barry Eaton’s style is conversational.  I enjoyed the read from the first page. Think of sitting down for a mug of coffee with your most mystical friend – if you’re lucky enough to have one.

Eaton gives several entertaining examples of communication with the other side.  None of it sounded too out there to me, but like I said, I’ve been a believer for years.

I do have a favorite take away from the book, and I’ll probably butcher it terribly.  (Today I went back to the library to find the book, so I could include a few quotes, but I’d bet the same kid who finally returned the third Potter has her nose buried in Eaton’s book.  I wanna meet that kid.)

First, I have to admit (with a bit of embarrassment) that I’ve always worried that my belief in reincarnation pretty much guarantees a return with the same folks to work through the same issues.  Here we go again?

 

Let that one sink in for a minute…

 

Anticipating the prospect of a do-over with Mark (the Ex-N, for those who are getting up to speed) is enough to make me want (need) to buy stock in sleep aids.

Really.

Why would I ever want to come back and re-do that mess?  Some days I’ve wondered if it’s possible to get off this reincarnation train.  The prospect of Will and Jen being there again is the only thing that helps.  But I sure as hell don’t want them to have do-overs again, either.

But Eaton (bless his mystical heart) discusses dysfunctional relationships and the prospect of coming back with those folks again.  He treats the subject matter-of-factly.  He says (and I’m paraphrasing here) that if you are doing the real work this time around, you won’t be going through the same mess with the same individual the next go round – especially if they aren’t working to evolve or change or improve this time.

 

Take another minute to let that sink in…

 

Oh, I’m sure I’ll be running into Mark again the next time, and the time after that, and so on, but it will be in a much different capacity.  (I’d love to think that I’ll either be his counselor, or his lawyer!)

But seriously, I found a great deal of comfort when I read Eaton’s words.  I’m not doomed to repeat these mistakes again and again, as long as I do the work to understand why I make the mistakes and learn the lessons.

Hey!  Instead of repeating all those same mistakes with the same folks, I get to make new mistakes!  Mark may not be my husband next time around.  Maybe he’ll be a neighbor or a long-lost uncle or a third cousin once removed.

I wonder if I could manifest that.

 

 

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18 comments

  1. Or a royal during the French Revolution, and you could be operator of the guillotine…

  2. Pat!!!

    You’re back! And at the top of your game!

    Geez, lady, you bring manifesting to a whole new level! ;)

  3. Hi Jesse,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now and the stories have really helped me get some perspective on dealing with a narcissistic friend (or at least I think he is!).

    To cut a long story short, I had to cut contact completely with this person and it resulted in me losing a few other friends in the process, including a long term friend who was in a relationship with the person at the time.

    My question to you is, will they ever see my side of the story? The person can be very ‘nice’ to people but for some reason I got the other side of his personality. Yes, we had good times and could get on well but over time this turned to anger, criticism & selfishness.

    Also, it this more about me having no boundaries rather than him being impatient, critical, judgemental etc?

    So many questions! As you can imagine, I am still trying to get some closure on this but it is so hard. Particularly as we still live in the same area and it is not pleasant when we encounter each other.

    Thanks
    E

  4. Hello E!

    Thanks so much for being here and leaving a comment.

    First, I’m sorry for what you’ve been dealing with. That isn’t easy making the choice to cut off contact when you know you will be losing other relationships as well.

    I’ll answer with stories from my experience.

    It’s been 10 years since the kids and I left the N. Two months ago, a woman I’ve known for 35 years admitted to me that she finally (in the last six months) figured out why I left. She had believed in his charm. She bought into the image he wanted her to believe. She thought I was a fool for leaving. Now she gets it. The point is, I couldn’t make her see what she wasn’t willing or able to see on her own. It takes time. A long time, in some cases. Those who will see will get there on their own. That doesn’t make it easy when you are feeling alienated from friends. Your true friends will surface. Trust me on that.

    And about the boundary thing… After 10 years, I’m still (slowly) figuring out that people treat me the way I allow them to treat me. I can’t keep turning the other cheek only to find myself licking wounds and wondering why I’m still getting this negative treatment. So, yes, I have to say that I had to create stronger boundaries. It’s easy to think that I can put up with a lot in an effort to preserve a relationship, but I’m finally realizing that I have to stick up FOR ME. That means boundaries – gentle, non-confrontational boundaries, in my case.

    It’s so hard when others don’t see the N for who he is. But some do. Gravitate to those folks.

    Be well. I’m sending you an understanding hug.

  5. Thanks for your reply Jesse, I appreciate the advice.

    It’s a complicated situation. It feels even harder when you don’t have everyone’s support but unless you are very close to an N (I lived with him for 5 years as flatmates) then I don’t think you ever truly see their real personality. I now see that his strong personality with a combination of me being too soft was a recipe for disaster.

    It was a few years ago when I did some research about this. I kept wondering why this friendship felt like an unhealthy dynamic to me, why was I intimidated by this person, why could I not truly relax and be myself (well maybe if you stop judging and criticising me I will!). Anyway I came to the conclusion that he was a little narcissistic and me a little codependent (people pleaser/ seeking approval!). We both had challenging upbringings that have probably shaped us as adults, so I know that I have to own my part in the dynamic. At least I have the insight to do that, he thinks he is beyond reproach.

    The hard part is the doubt. I took fairly drastic action by cutting him off and the aftermath hasn’t been pleasant for many reasons. At times I remember the fun times we had together, it wasn’t all black and white, we were like brothers. But then I remember all the nasty things he said and did (I have journaled a lot of them) and I think ‘no, friends don’t say those things to each other’. Plus any time I ever tried to address an issue, besides the stomach churning dread, I always felt I had been invalidated, dismissed or that niggling feeling of it not being fully resolved by the end of our discussion.

    Sometimes I think I am just clutching at straws, trying to make sense of the situation by labelling him an N and me codependent. Its even harder when people, who you considered friends, stand by his side and defend him. I think, surely you can see how difficult he is? It makes me feel like the crazy one – huge overreaction as one friend put it (to cut him off). Do you ever feel that way? As you said, things can change as times goes on, I have been non contact for 2 and a half years now but it still preys on my mind and I want closure so badly!

    Thanks
    Elliot

  6. Elliot,

    Your words reveal how much work you have been doing in regards to the situation with the N. Your compassion and kindness are the same things that make you doubt your decision to go no contact. It’s hard to understand when folks don’t think the same way that we do. It’s mind boggling to believe that someone who calls himself a “friend” could be so nasty. Because it’s not how you would treat another, you struggle with understanding how he could treat you that way. Which, unfortunately, leads you to wonder if it really is you that brings about that treatment. Then the thoughts about, “Maybe I am the crazy one?” Or, “How come others don’t seem to struggle so much with him?” “If I tried harder, would we get along better?” The doubt never ends.

    I have to say that it bugged me that you called yourself “too soft.” When you look at your role in other relationships, do you use the same words to describe yourself? Those strong personalities (especially the Ns) have a knack for making us feel less than. Don’t go there! :)

    I’m a people pleaser, too. When did it become a bad thing to be a people pleaser? Imagine what this world would be like if more of us placed emphasis on pleasing others instead of ourselves! But I have seen that Ns prey on people pleasers.

    I know it feels drastic to go completely no contact. The pleaser in us holds out hope of meeting this person in the middle at some common ground where we can see the value in each other without the nastiness. What I have to continually remind myself, tho, is that you can’t deal rationally with an irrational person. Even if you had a long term relationship with this person, it sounds like he clearly didn’t value that relationship as much as you did. That hurts. There’s no denying how that hurts, especially when we remember the good times and miss those times.

    Maybe it would help to think of that time period – including the good memories and the not so good memories – as a path that leads to something so much better, where you are valued instead of judged. A friendship where you can relax and be yourself without walking on eggshells.

    In my experience, they never change. They never wake up one day and see the damage they’ve caused.

    I wish I had something more encouraging to say, but you’ve done the hard work of going no contact. You deserve better treatment, Elliot.

    All the best.

  7. Thanks Jesse.

    You are absolutely right here – I always assume that people will treat me the same way I treat them i.e. a reciprocal relationship. It’s so puzzling when you encounter someone that doesn’t! That makes me want to try harder to please them rather than back off as I should. Such a strange behaviour of mine – all tied up with my fear of real conflict. I probably learned a lot of bad habits growing up in a somewhat dysfunctional family environment.

    Anyway your words ring true for me! Thanks for the advice.

    Elliot

  8. I keep thinking about your comments because, obviously, I’ve lived this same experience.

    And I’m struck by the friend who suggested that your cutting off the N was an overreaction. I get that a lot. In all cases, I get that from folks who’ve benefitted from the N’s charms, and haven’t been dealt any of the nastiness, because Ns don’t treat everyone the same. They know which ones they can take advantage of. That’s when you learn that you have to have your own back. In fact, my ex-N once told me that it wasn’t his job to have my back, but that it was my job.

    They are mean, but not across the board. Don’t doubt that for a minute.

    Thanks, again, for writing.

    I wish you the peace that comes with understanding.

  9. Hey,

    I should have elaborated on that a little….the friend who told me that I was overreacting was in a relationship with the N at the time. Although my friendship with him predated my friendship with the N. So I could understand that he was placed in a difficult position. And when I cut contact with the N I did send my friend a message explaining that I needed some space but that I would like to pick up the friendship in the future. He ultimately decided to side completely with the N and I haven’t spoken to him since either!

    The thing that annoys me is that he has seen first hand how difficult the N can be (selfish, critical, unreasonable) but still decided I was in the wrong. Its a long story with so many factors/people involved!!

    The other people who now ignore me have never really seen the bad side of the N…..I think ‘If only you could see what he is really like!’. If he had treated them the way he treated me then I doubt they would have tolerated it. Also, they are unaware of the things he has said about them behind their backs…..

    I don’t mean to come across as a victim, it just when I think about it, it still angers me. Its the unjust nature of the situation! I felt I was a good friend to all of these people and acted the way a friend should by being supportive and invested in the friendships.

    I guess I need to accept the situation for what it is and stop hoping that the people involved will suddenly see it from my point of view – that is unlikely. I am sure that they don’t have the full story anyway as the N will have twisted the facts in his favour (as he tended to do). As you said, its hard trying to rationalise an unrational persons behaviour…..but my mind keeps trying to!!!

    Elliot

  10. Did you know there are metaphysical aspects of essential oils that can heal your past lives and ancestral trauma? I am so intrigued by this and hope to do some discovery work soon. Your reincarnation belief doesn’t sound so out there now, does it? Haha.

  11. Eliot,

    I just read another piece on the aftermath of a relationship with an N.

    It talked a lot about how we (most people) believe in the inherent good in people. We approach relationships with a kind heart and empathy. That’s the thing about a relationship with an N. It defies everything we are programmed to believe about relating to another human. We are left feeling confused and trying to make sense of the whole thing. I’m learning that the desire to make sense of the experience never goes away. I am constantly looking for closure.

    Perhaps that’s also part of our programming? Maybe self-preservation requires that we define that relationship in terms that make sense, that our lizard brain can cling to, so that we avoid going down that path again. When we can’t pigeon hole that relationship, it creates disease.

    You don’t come across as a victim. You sound like one who is trying to make sense of something that just isn’t definable. Some mysteries can not be solved.

  12. Z,

    I didn’t know that! Please report back. That’s something Jen and I will be looking into, too.

  13. Jesse,

    Thanks as always for writing–I love your posts, and they have given me rays of laughter and light for years on my journey. I am learning moment by moment over many years now how important it is to hold life and those I love with open hands and to hold those who are toxic at bay. Thank you for your help in the work I am doing–Here’s to a better go around–whatever that looks like!!

    Warm hugs!!

  14. Lynn!

    Love that — > “Whatever that looks like!!”

    There’s the lesson for all of us: Life rarely ends up looking like what we believed or expected or hoped for. Maybe that’s a good thing. ;)

  15. Hi Jesse,

    I was just re-reading your comments again. When you talk about setting boundaries in a gentle, non confrontational way, would it be possible to provide a few examples? This is definitely something that I need to focus on. I’m getting better but I still struggle to disagree with certain people or even say no to something that I don’t want to do! For fear of hurting their feelings….

    Thanks
    Elliot

  16. Hi Elliot!

    Oh, boy! I know what you mean about not wanting to hurt feelings.

    First of all, I have to say that I work on this boundary thing every single day. It’s a lot like a muscle, and if I let things slide, I find I have to start all over again.

    Here’s an example from conversations with my son: “Mom, can we _______________________________?” (Fill in the blank.) Now what I used to do was get all flustered, make a million excuses and talk it to death. I can remember an instance where the convo got tense, and Will looked at me and said, “Mom, if the answer is No, just say so. And tell me why. You don’t have to get dramatic about it.”

    See, I think I was talking it to death, because I’ve always worried that if I say No, the person I’m saying No to won’t like/love me any more. I know… lack of self confidence.

    If they are meant to be in your life, they’ll understand when you have to say no.

    I’ve learned – thanks to Will – that I can simply say, “I can’t possibly ___________________.” Or, “It doesn’t work for me to __________________________.”

    My favorite non-confrontational way to say No is in a text. Call me a chicken, but I am an INFJ. I hate confrontation. But I have to have my boundaries.

    One of the very best ways to set a boundary and avoid confrontation is to not bring up the issue that requires you needing a boundary to begin with. Face it! Even if you explained why you need the boundary, most folks aren’t going to understand your need, whether they are a narcissist or not. Because, and here’s the thing, the boundary is about YOU, not them. It’s not their fault that you need a boundary. Even tho most the time it secretly does feel like it’s their fault. sigh ….

    Also, I think of the Hepburns – Audrey and Katharine. I try – and mostly fail – to exhibit that kind of grace when setting boundaries.

    Geez. This is a long answer. Thanks for asking. I guess I had a lot to say about setting boundaries. I learned from this, too.

    Thanks, Elliot

  17. Hi Jesse,

    Thanks, that was great. I can see a lot of similarities here!
    When I say no to my partner or make a suggestion I go over and over it, repeating myself – its like I’m hard wired to need to justify my decisions. I’ve not yet mastered the act of simply stating what I want with no frills! My partner will say to me ‘Ok that’s fine. I’ve agreed to this. So will you stop going on an on about it?’ as I tend to go round and round in a loop of anxiety!

    I also prefer to communicate by text along the lines of ‘I’d love to, but……’ which seems to work. I am making more of an effort to be direct and communicate quickly if I can or can’t commit to something. i.e. simply saying yes or no! This takes regular practices as you say. I am always scared the person will like me less if I say no which is logically ridiculous as I would completely accept and expect people to say no to me sometimes without punishing them for it. Unless that person is a narcissist and then you will be punished in some indirect way…

    Its funny that I didn’t learn this earlier in life. Its only with certain people that I am more apprehensive setting boundaries with. These tend to be more dominant friends of mine. But again, I keep trying. I guess until you have had your boundaries trampled all over (by a narcissist) then you don’t realise that some people will take advantage of you unless you say no. Its so hard for me to fathom as I couldn’t imagine steam rolling all over someone else like that!

    The big one for me, and the one I am most scared of is telling someone directly when they have hurt my feelings. I don’t want to hurt their feelings in return! However I am more than willing to stay quiet if something is bothering me and suffer in silence! I think this is partly to do with my friendship with the narcissist who routinely dismissed me when I attempted to have such conversations or say things like ‘I didn’t realise there was a problem’ or ‘I don’t know what you want me to do about this’. i.e. stonewall me like crazy!

    Thanks
    Elliot

  18. Elliot,

    I had to laugh at the part where you said, “Unless that person is a narcissist….” Narcissists NEVER accept the word no with any kind of grace.

    I relate to not being able to fathom that others have no problem steam rolling, especially since you (we) go to great lengths to make sure that we don’t do that.

    Oh, I know what you mean about carefully explaining how your feelings have been hurt, and not wanting to hurt theirs in turn.

    From my experience, if I’ve had the heartfelt conversation – one in which I believe I’ve been heard, and we agree that he will try to be more sensitive and I agree that I will work on not taking everything personally – and nothing changes, then I start to go silent. What is the point of continually discussing the same issues if attempts to move to the center aren’t being made?

    It reminds of a book that I read to the kids when they were little. This Little Critter keeps messing up and saying to his mom, “I’m sorry.” After another vase gets broken and he says, “I’m sorry,” his mom says, “Honey, you can only say I’m sorry so many times. At some point you have to look at modifying your behavior.”

    It’s when the behavior isn’t modified, and I find myself falling silent; when I have been dismissed or marginalized, that I ask myself, is this the healthiest place for me to be free to be me? Because I can look around and realize that I DO have relationships with others who love me for who I am. That’s where I choose to focus my energies, and in that way, I need fewer boundaries.

    Whew! Loving this exchange.

    Thanks, Elliot!

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