“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~

“The Weak Man & The Strong Woman”

 

marnieMy incredibly talented cousin and writer, Marnie Mitchell-Lister, wrote this and I think it’s worth a discussion.

*A note from Anne Dennish: Please note that this article was written in the context of men and women, yet it is meant for all relationships. 

I can speak from experience about this subject, and from the heartache it causes.

I’ve been told I’m a “strong” woman, which I would say is true. I’ve handled divorce, raised five children, survived breast cancer and handled a million other responsibilities at one time. Although to me, being a strong woman is much more than what you handle; it’s HOW you handle it. And I’ve never NEEDED a man in my life to handle any of it for me, but I had always WANTED a confident man in my life.

A few years ago I started asking men of all ages this question: do you want a relationship with a strong woman or a weak woman? While their responses may have been slightly different, the answers were all the same.

They told me that as far as dating, they want a “weak” woman because she makes him feel important; she makes him feel needed; she feeds his ego to levels beyond belief; and that it makes them feel more powerful and stronger to know that a weak woman is in their “control.”

In other words, weak women turned them into strong men.

Yet strangely, there was another piece to their answers. They said that while a “weak” woman was great for their ego and self-esteem, in the end they wanted to settle down with a “strong” woman. One who didn’t “need” them but “wanted” them; one that wasn’t always whining and asking them to do everything for them; one who challenged them and made them want to be a better man.

Confused? I sure was at the time, but it all made sense.

A confident man doesn’t need a “weak” woman; they need a “strong” one to keep them in balance. After a terrible day at work they want to come home to a woman who understands and makes their night better than their day (a weak woman would expect them to do that for them); they want a woman who can have a conversation with them that isn’t all about them (a weak woman would sit with gazing eyes at them, hanging on every word as they talked about themselves and not her); they want a woman with a life of her own, a passion, a career, a life purpose that they can share in(a weak woman has none of that except for him).

A confident man wants to be called out and held accountable by a strong woman, because they know they’ll be honest enough to do it (a weak woman will tell the man that he’s perfect); they want a woman will engage with him on occasion in meaningful conversation (a weak woman has nothing important to say); and he wants a woman who knows what love is, knows her truth, and doesn’t settle for less than she deserves (a weak woman will take whatever she can get.)

A confident man knows how to treat a strong woman; he knows her worth and value; he knows her heart, mind and soul; he takes the time to listen to her and understand; he’s sure to always let her know how important she is to him.

A confident man knows that if he stops paying attention to a strong woman she’ll find someone else. After all, if you’re not paying attention to the one you love, most assuredly someone else will. While you’re making her feel invisible by ignoring what a wonderful woman she is, someone else will see her and put her on a pedestal.

A confident man will know that he’s blessed and lucky to have a strong woman loving him, supporting him, and caring for him. He’ll know that he can always count on her, no matter what. He’ll always let her know how important she is; how loved she is, and how “wanted” she is.

A confident man won’t “need” a strong woman; he’ll “want” one, at least if he’s smart he will.

Healthy relationships aren’t based on boosting each others’ egos or self-esteem; they aren’t built on the other person making us happy; and they aren’t based on being controlled by another.

Healthy relationships are built on two strong people who love each other and know how blessed they are to have one another. They are sustained on feeling gratitude for each other on a daily basis. They are kept moving forward by keeping the love alive.

Yes, it was an interesting response of answers I received from men, young and old, but I guess in the grand scheme of settling into a long term relationship or a marriage that will last a lifetime, the song remains the same: the confident man wants a strong woman.

And the strong woman wants a confident man.

“A confident man not only understands that, he realizes how incredibly special that actually is.”  ~Marnie Mitchell-Lister~

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

“Embrace Good & Let Go Of Bad”

embrace all that is good for you

Only you know what’s good for you and what isn’t, so embrace everything that is good for you and let go of everything that isn’t.

Say “yes” to all that serves your Highest Good and just say “no” to all that doesn’t.

It’s a good thing…

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

“NO” Is A Full Sentence

no 1

“No” is a full sentence.

And that means that there does not need to be an explanation as to WHY you said “no” in the first place.

I’ve always had trouble telling someone “no,” as I’m sure you have as well, whether it’s our children, friends, significant other, or even someone we work with, yet I know there are times I need to say it, and I say it because it doesn’t serve my Highest Good. I could be tired or not feeling well; I could have too much on my plate at that moment or simply need that down time to just “be.”

And at those moments I’ve always felt compelled to give a full explanation as to WHY I said no, yet over the years I’ve learned that I don’t need to do that. The person on the receiving end of my “no” should respect me enough to accept it. End of story.

But not everyone will accept it.

They are the ones that will keep at you until you give them what they want: a “yes.” It’s their way of controlling you because of their own insecurities over controlling themselves. It’s their way of feeding their own ego by knowing they were able to get what they wanted from you; and it’s their way of making you feel “out of control.”

Remember this: “what you allow will continue.”

It’s okay to think of yourself first and do what’s best for YOU, and if that means saying “no” when you need to, then it’s a good thing. And those moments that you say “yes” when you mean “no” can affect those around you, because when you give in to someone you feel frustrated with yourself, and sometimes even defeated that they won.

Don’t let anyone take your power from you or your free will to simply say “no.”

The people who love you will accept a “no,” but more importantly, the people who RESPECT you will.

And for those that don’t?

Let them go.

You control your life; you make your own boundaries with people; and you have the choice to “enable their behavior or disable their control.”

The choice is always yours.

Think about it.

And please remember this: “NO” is a full sentence.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

“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~

know the difference use this

“Remember: You Are Amazing!”

If you want other people to see the amazing person that you are, you must first see it in yourself. So often the world and the people in it get’s to be too much for us to handle, and what do we do? We stop seeing all the goodness in ourselves and when you do that, no one else can see it either.

Today I want to remind you that “you are lovable, you are beautiful and you are amazing!”

Repeat that until you believe it and can see that you truly are all those things and more!

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

you are amazing

“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~

abuse