“My Strength Is Their Weakness”

strength and weakness

I wrote that quote many years ago near the end of my 20 year marriage. As I began to heal physically and emotionally from all the turmoil of that, I realized that it was at my moments of anxiety, sadness or depression that he became strong. At first I thought he was showing true signs of kindness, yet in time I realized what was really happening: I was feeding his ego and he was starving my self-esteem.  He felt like “the big man” helping the poor, defenseless, broken woman. The woman HE broke. The woman he was abusive to; the woman he told over and over again was stupid and ugly; the woman he told would never be loved by anyone.

And I believed him…until I stopped believing him.

Are you wondering how I stopped believing all that negative stuff he had embedded onto my brain? I woke up. I realized that I had allowed him free reign over me for many years and that by doing that, the behavior continued. I allowed him to speak down to me and allowed him to be disrespectful to me.  So, one day I woke up and stopped allowing it, and the marriage was done and over with.

I went through years of healing myself mentally and emotionally, and of course it was with the help of many spiritual teachers and a wonderful tribe of true friends.

I learned so much about myself and that loving myself first was the answer to not allowing anyone else to treat me that way. You’d think it would never happen again, yet I’m human; we’re all human. Sometimes life brings you an experience that you thought you had learned the lessons from…yet life knows when you forget the lesson. And the Universe will put a similar experience back into your way until you wake up and realize that what you stopped allowing years ago, you’re allowing once again.

Even after that divorce I would find myself meeting someone whose ego was strengthened by my weakness, and for those that know me, they know I’m anything but weak. It would sporadically happen here and there throughout the years, yet know I’m much more able to recognize it when it’s happening. I’ve learned that those people lack control of their own life so they try and control mine; they lack self-respect and are unable to respect anyone else; they don’t feel strong unless they’re paired up with someone weak.

And I am no longer that girl.

I want to be treated the way I deserve and the way that I treat others: with love, kindness, compassion, consideration and loyalty. And I won’t settle for anything less. I want to be loved for the person I am, quirks and all, because I love that person that I’ve become.

We all have moments of feeling weak and that’s okay; it’s those moments that help us to find our strength again and stand back up on our feet even stronger.

We all have moments of finding ourselves back in a situation that we thought would never return and that’s okay; you’re given that situation to remind you of the lesson you forgot.

And we all find ourselves staring into the mirror, looking at ourselves and wondering how we got here and what happened to us, and that’s okay; keep looking in that mirror long enough and you’ll once again see the person you thought was lost.

It’s those moments of feeling lost that we’re actually finding ourselves again, and we’re finding an even better and stronger version of the person we once were.

Life is about balance and we all fall out of balance every so often. It’s when the world around us is spinning out of control that we see the truth of everything, and it’s those moments we find our balance again.

Don’t let anyone make you feel weak; surround yourself with people that make you strong.

Don’t spend your precious time feeding someone’s ego; spend your time feeding your self-esteem.

And don’t rely on anyone loving you the way you want to be loved; love yourself that way first and the rest will fall into place.

Everything in your life begins with YOU.

Stop allowing what you don’t want to continue.

Forgive yourself when you forgot a lesson you learned and get back on track.

And love yourself.

If you do nothing else, love yourself.

Everything is possible when you begin with love.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

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“Control and Submission”

*On a personal note: I’m not an expert on this subject, but I’ve been in this situation before and know the signs of it happening, which is why I’m writing about it now. Every so often I see someone I care about being controlled by the wrong person and I watch as they become submissive to them. I can only share my personal experience with them to try and help them see the unhealthy situation they’ve allowed themselves to be in, yet as always, it’s a life lesson for them. I can’t fix them, save them, or change their situation…only they can do that. It’s a lesson they need to learn, just as I had many years ago, and all I can do is offer my support and share my experience with them. ~Anne Dennish~

“Submission” is a state in which people can no longer do what they want to do because they have been brought under the control of someone else.

Has this happened to you? Have you lost control of your life because someone else is controlling you?

And why did you allow it to happen?

Maybe you have an underlying need for the controller to love and accept you; maybe you want their attention and time; maybe you idolize them and want to feel as important to them as they are to you.

But it will never happen. They will never give you what you want as long as you’re giving them what they want.

Most times we never see it coming. We wake up one morning and realize that our life is not our own; we find ourselves doing things we don’t’ want to do; we see that our relationships are suffering; we’ve allowed someone to control us without realizing they were doing that; we say “no” to them but we’re beaten into “submission” until we say “yes.”

And that cycle continues until the controller get’s what they want.

And they will always get what they want until you stop allowing them to; until you say “no” and mean it; until you set up boundaries with them which you don’t allow to be crossed.

And until you open your eyes and realize that someone you trusted has been controlling submission 3you.

Why does someone to this?

It’s simple: people who can’t control their own lives will control someone else’s. It’s not because they love you or care for you; it’s not because you think they’re you’re friend; it’s because it builds up their own insecurities and low self-esteem to know that they have the power and control over someone else.

And before long, the people who truly do love and care for you will see what you can’t: that you’re being submissive to a certain someone; that you’re submission affects your relationships with the right people; that you allow someone to control you when the right people wouldn’t do that to you.

There will come a point where the right people will bring it to your attention. They love you and want you to see what they see: that you’ve put all your time and attention into the wrong person rather than the right ones, which are them. They are the ones who will ask you why you allow it; why the controlling person means more to you than the ones who don’t control you; why you allow the controlling person to affect you and your healthy relationships with your significant other, family and true friends. The “right people” will begin to feel unimportant to you because they see what lengths you’re willing to go to for the controller instead of them.

It happens to all of us at one point or more in our lives; it certainly has happened to me, which is why I’m able to see it happening to the people I surround myself with, and it breaks my heart to see the ones I love being controlled by someone and they can’t. I can clearly see the signs of submission and know the exact type of person who will control someone else. It’s never an easy thing to break free from someone like that, but it can be done; you need to accept what they’re doing and begin to do what needs to be done to take back your power.

The first step is realizing it’s happening to you, and if you don’t, accept someone who loves you telling you what they see. Believe the people who love and respect you, the ones who don’t control you, because they have your best interest at heart.

Secondly, break the cycle and that begins with the next time you tell them “no.” Say “no” once, not several times, with no explanation. Don’t let them badger you into submission until you say “yes” and do what they want. Shut them down and stay strong because until they understand that you’re no longer allowing yourself to be controlled by them, they’ll keep trying until they’ve beaten you back into submission again and again and again.

And lastly, walk away from them; let them go; avoid contact with them if you can and always remember what they had done to you. It’s a lesson to learn but one that you’ll have more insight into if it should ever happen to you again.

I wish I could tell you how and why someone feels they have the right to control another human being, or why we become submissive to another. It’s different for all of us, but once you can honestly see what you allowed to happen to you, you’ll become to understand “why.”

Was the controller someone you looked up to or idolized? Was it someone you were in love with and didn’t want to disappoint? Were they more important to you than the people who truly love you? Maybe you have an underlying need for the controller to love and accept you; maybe you want their attention and time; maybe you want to feel as important to them as they are to you. Or maybe you want them to accept you, yet you need to understand that YOU have lost control on giving them more time, attention and power than they deserve.

But what you want from them will never happen. They will never give you what you want as long as you’re giving them what they want. And sadly, that’s the truth, because while you’re becoming submissive to the controller, you’re losing sight of the people in your life who love and respect you, two things the controller will never give you. The moment you allow someone to control you is the moment their respect for you and your own self-respect, fly out the window. Respect no longer exists with control.

The controller plays on our weakness, and because of their own insecurities, low self-esteem and lack of control in their own life, they find their strength in controlling you.  They don’t really care about you; they care about their control over you. They don’t want you to be in a healthy relationship because they’re not in one of their own. They don’t care if their control affects your relationships or your life; they only care about what they gain from it, because once they see you with the right people and loving your life, they will control you even more to make sure you hurt the people you shouldn’t.

Please be aware of your surroundings and the people you allow into them. Control isn’t love and love isn’t control. And if you’re wondering how you know if you’re being submissive to a controlling person, ask yourself this one important question: “Why can’t I say no to them, and when I do say it, why do I let them beat me into submission until I say “yes” and do what they want?”

Don’t waste your time on someone who doesn’t respect you enough to allow you to be yourself; stop giving in to someone who doesn’t give you anything back in return; stop defending the controller and making excuses for their behavior because when push comes to shove, they’ll have their own back before they have yours.

Take a look at the place in your life that this “controlling person” has and then take a look at the people in your life that don’t control you. How much of your life do you waste on trying to please them rather than them pleasing you? How much of your precious time is given to them rather than given to the people who love you?

And one more thing: how does your being submissive to this person hurt the people that love you? How often has their control of your time prevented you from spending time with the people you love? And honestly, they don’t care what their control does to you at all, just what their control over you does for them.

Does that make your choice to take back your control from someone else easier now?

Don’t hurt the ones you love and more importantly, don’t hurt yourself because of someone who wants you to and who doesn’t care if you do.

“No” is a full sentence.

Say it.

Mean it.

Be done with it…and them.

And never allow yourself to ever be “beaten into submission” again.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

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“You Have The Control”

You need to love yourself the way you want to be loved in order to know who should be in your life and who shouldn’t. All too often we think we’re not good enough for someone and we settle, or we allow them to treat us badly. We live in a life of being hurt and feeling bad about ourselves.

Listen carefully, you are in control of your life, and that includes how you’re treated and who you allow in your circle. Sometimes we feel so low that we believe we can’t change a situation or leave one. But you can…because I’ve done it. It took all the strength I could muster up but I did it and I’ve never looked back or regretted it. Taking control of my life and standing up for myself made me who I am today.

And trust me on this: “when you can’t find the strength, the strength will find you.”

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

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“Getting Your Balls Back”

I once put two brass balls in a plastic bag and gave them to my girlfriend. I told her that if I ever lost them again to give them back to me.

I was a different woman then than I am now when I went through my divorce. It was over 10 years ago and that woman I was seems so foreign to me now.

I remember that at that time I made many changes in my life; I had lost weight, been college booksworking out at the gym, and had gone back to college to take creative writing courses. I was invited by my professor, a published author as well, to join his writer’s workshop. It was the best time of my life, yet also the darkest time knowing that there was a divorce to go through.

Yet I was strong. All those things I was doing for “me” gave me the strength to endure a nasty divorce. I felt good about myself, I felt like my brain was functioning like a writer, not just a mom, and I was in great shape. I will always believe that my Higher Power had directed me to all those positive changes to make me stronger, because He knew what was just around the corner for me.working out

I thought at that time that my children would feel like their mother had “left the building” because I was doing a lot of things, good things, for me. Yet that wasn’t so. I remember them being so proud of me for all of it, and I realized that all the things I did for myself were making me a better “mom” to them. What a feeling and what a lesson to learn. Sometime we “mom’s” think that if we’re doing things for ourselves that our children will suffer. So not true. It made my relationship with my kids even stronger, and to hear them brag to their friends about their mom going back to school and writing a book was one of the best moments I ever experienced as their mother. My oldest son loved the fact that I was working out and used to joke with his friends that “they better watch out because my mom can beat you up!” So simple, yet so empowering.

And that’s when I realized and learned that doing good things for me isn’t selfish. It made me a stronger and better woman and mom, and all that good stuff spilled onto my kids.

Sadly, it didn’t spill onto my husband. He hated it all. I look back objectively now and see that he may have felt threatened that this woman he controlled for over 20 years suddenly had a mind and body all her own, and she did it without him. I actually did it because of him.

Everything happens for a reason and I look back at that time and truly believe that all those things I did for myself were put in my path to make me strong, because once the divorce process began, my world changed. And it was all that I did for myself that helped to get me through.

It was sad enough that the marriage had been abusive on all levels, yet the divorce was even worse. The details aren’t important but the outcome is: I’m a different woman now and living in a happy life with two of my five children and the love of my life.

Yet there were times I lost my strength during it. I was a single mom taking care of the mental and physical well being of five children; I was the woman dealing with lawyers and sitting through mediations, which were a waste of time. I was tired, lonely, and so wanting it to be over.

My serenity at that time was in the backyard of my girlfriend. I could shed my tears there, talk for as long as I needed, and could always count on her shoulder to cry on. I remember one day she looked at me and said “where’d your balls go? You’re such a strong woman but not now? You gotta find your balls again, girlfriend.”

And so I did. I put two of them in that bag and told her to give them back to me if I ever lost them again.

And I never did.

Well, to be honest, there are times I feel weak and ready to give up, but I always remember that bag of balls that she still has and that’s enough for me to get them back.

And I always do…

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

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“Come Out Of Your Closet”

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At one point in our life or another, we’ve lived in a closet. Not the typical stereotype closet, but a closet of “fear and secrets.” It’s the closet we stay in to hide these things from the outside world, hoping that what they don’t know won’t hurt us.

Yet staying in the closet is hurtful, because it hurts you. The closet prevents you from accepting who you are and standing in your own truth. It stops you from taking a leap of faith and moving forward.

There’s many different reasons we stay tucked in our closet of protection: we could be hiding our sexuality, or the truth of being battered and abused. We hide our emotions in the closet, for fear of having our heart broken or taking the next step in a relationship. We hide our depression or anxiety, or our addiction.

We hide our passion or talents in the closet, for fear of failure. We hide our dreams in the closet, for fear of ridicule.We hide our true self in the closet because the opinion of others means more to us than the opinion of ourselves.

The reality is that the closet allows you to hide your truth, a truth which may be judged by others, and the judgement may be cruel.

And the closet keeps you in a comfort zone, which in reality, may not bethat comfortable at all.

I’ve hidden in my closet off and on throughout my lifetime, and the one thing I learned is this: “coming out of my closet” allowed me the freedom to be me. I stepped out of my closet of fear and took a leap of faith in myself and my Higher Power, having faith that standing in my truth would bring all the right people and situations into my life, and allow me the insight to know the wrong ones.

“Coming out of my closet” gave me the freedom to pursue my dream and passion of writing, and it gave  me the ability to find the right kind of love with someone…the love of a lifetime.

Don’t hide in the closet; embrace who you are and step out into the world with all the beauty and light that you have to offer. Let the world celebrate your gifts with you and cry with you over your pain. Let the right people in who will love you and help you heal and let go of the ones who won’t.

Stepping out of the closet is healing for you, and can be healing for someone who needs it. Stand in your truth and take accountability for your fears; and then release them with love. There’s no moving forward with fear; there’s only moving forward with faith.

Take a leap of faith today and “come out of your closet;” you may be surprised at who and what is waiting there to catch you.

“Just believe, just have faith, everything else will fall into place.”

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

“A Girl I Used To Know”

This is the story of a girl I used to know. In fact, I’ve known her all of my life. I love her adulthood 1with all my heart and I want to share her story with you, because it’s important…and she’s important to me.

I  remember  her in the early years of her life…she was funny, smart, and focused on her goals in life. She longed for love and a family, yet she was one of those girls that wanted it all. She had a passion for life that it was almost unnerving, yet I always believed in her, because she believed in herself.

When she was in high school she had a hard time believing that anyone noticed her. She was quiet, and a bit reserved, but I loved her. She was a great friend, and was always there when I needed her, yet at the same time there was always a sadness that she seemed to keep hidden, but she couldn’t hide it from me.

We graduated high school and went our separate ways to college. She found her way out of her “high school shell” that first year, becoming editor of the literary magazine, trying out for the school play, and becoming a DJ on the college radio station, which she loved. I knew then she was meant for greatness.

But the second year of college found her home, working full time and going to community college. She still was positive about everything, and in time, transferred into another college by her third year. It was here that she met “the one.”

She told me all these wonderful things about him, and soon she announced her engagement. They married two years later and with that came the stories she would confide in only me: the infidelities, the nastiness, and the way he degraded her. Yet, in spite of her misgivings, she married him.

The marriage seemed to be over within the first few months, yet she believed that marriage was for a lifetime, for better or worse. I was beginning to hear more of the worse than the better.  After two years, she was pregnant with their first child, and for the first time in the last few years, I heard hope and joy in her voice. And I thought that maybe this was the key to fixing their problems and making him love her.

Time would prove that this wasn’t enough for him, and all her babies that followed would never be enough for him.

We lost touch for a few years and even when we did speak, it was as if she lost herself. She only spoke of her babies and how much she loved being a mom. That was her only source of happiness. I felt like I lost a part of myself when I spoke to her because the joy in her voice was only because of her kids, never of her. She sounded like a robot, programmed to speak and behave a certain way.

And I would soon find out why this was, because that is what abuse does to you. It programs you in to behaving a certain way to keep things calm and keep things hidden. But abuse can finds its’ way to your door, whether you leave it open or not.

I felt terrible when I realized what had been going on for years, and the tone of her voice coupled with her body language proved it all: she had died within herself. She became nothing. The only thing that brought her back to life and kept her breathing were her children.

abuse-1Why was I so blind? Why hadn’t I seen what now seemed so transparent?

It’s because she didn’t want me to; she didn’t want anyone to see, because if they saw, they would see how stupid she was for allowing it all,and she didn’t want that. So she made it all look perfect; for her neighbors, her family, her friends, even her children.

Yet it wasn’t perfect; it was killing her and no one saw that it was. No one could see her, so no one could save her, and for awhile, that’s how she wanted it.

And then she broke open like a river that had been dammed up for years; for over 30 years she had been told she was stupid and worthless, ugly and fat, that she sounded like an idiot when she spoke, and that she was not worth anyone’s time or trouble. And she believed it.

She told me that she didn’t mind the bruises and split lips, they would heal. And she knew the pain of those would go away.

Yet she told me of the scars of emotional and verbal abuse and I knew she would hold these a lifetime.

She said that it was her fault; that she knew what made him upset and shouldn’t have done those things; she blamed herself for every bruise and every split lip. She blamed herself for the hateful and hurtful words. And she blamed herself for being a stupid woman, because only stupid women allow themselves to be abused.

I tried to reason with her, but to no avail. But there was a glimmer of hope. One day she called me and said that she was going back to college for writing courses, and that she joined Weight Watchers to lose the last of the baby weight, and that she had joined a gym to work out. Over the course of a few months I began to see my old friend come back to life; she was becoming stronger, her body and her mind. Suddenly she was laughing again, and that funny girl I knew was back to being funny. The friend I missed for all these years was beginning to shine through, and all the damage he did seemed to be fading  away.

And so one day she told me she asked for a divorce. She knew it would be the hardest fight of her life, but this time she was ready. She wrapped her babies tight in her arms and had him leave. It took a handful of restraining orders, a dozen or more calls to the police, but she did it.

I was amazed at how she made her life look. She got up in the morning, worked out at the gym, and came home, cooked breakfast, made lunches and got all those kids off to school. During the day she did laundry, cleaning, cooking and baking for them. They sat down as a family every night. They took their showers, did their homework and went to bed.

And after the last child was kissed good night, she went outside on her deck…and let the tears flow. She cried for the loss of a marriage, cried for the loss of a family and cried for all that he had done to her. She cried for what was in front of her as a single mom, and for what was behind her as an abused woman.

But she never let her children see her cry.

I was proud of her because I know none of this was easy. I watched her fight her way up from below the bottom and rise to the top. I watched her get back her strength and self-esteem. I watched her learn to laugh again. And I began to see her learn to love herself again…but that took time. Slowly she tried, and with each day that passed, she began to love herself more.

Many years later I see my friend as this woman, who despite the odds, finds her strength and beats them. And to this day, I know she fights every morning she wakes up. She fights to make a difference in the world, a difference to her children, and fights to find something good in herself.

I know to this day she struggles with her self-esteem and finds it hard to take a complement.  She’s working on knowing that she’s worthy and lovable, yet it is something she works at day to day.

Most people don’t know of her struggles, and that she fights every day, but I do. I know that it was her struggles that gave her her strength and I wish everyone knew that about her.

She spent the last few years doing what she loves: writing. She’s been a journalist, an author and a lyricist, yet throughout it all she’s never lost sight of her children and trying to help everyone else. She spends her days trying to make a difference in this world, and I wish with all my heart that she knew that she makes a difference to everyone she meets.

Most that know her see all the goodness in her, yet they never see her pain. She hides it away, yet it’s there, although not nearly as much as it used to be.

She’s been in a relationship for the last two years and seems to finally have met someone who really loves her. Yet I wonder if he understands just what the abuse had done to her, that no matter how much he loves her, she still would struggle with her self-esteem. I wonder if he knows just how much a complement from him means to her, and the smallest of gestures makes her heart melt. I wonder if he knows how important he is in her journey of loving herself.

Time will tell, and as she tells me now: “the scars from abuse don’t dictate my life today, but they have made me who I am. I’m stronger because of it all, yet it will be a lifetime struggle of not letting those scars resurface. It can be a struggle every day to love myself and believe that I’m worthy and of value. No one can do that for me. I have to do it myself.”

I’m so glad this girl I used to know has come back to life, and come back with a passion. She’s never played a victim, and always seems to be a survivor. I’ve missed her for many years and hope that she will always stay as strong as she is now.

I pray every day for this girl I used to know…because that girl is me.

~Anne Dennish~

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