Introverts… Speak Up!

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Years ago, a key person in my life once encouraged me to “speak up” and share my thoughts / ideas. Why? Because they have value. You see, I was your classic introvert. In addition, I used to be in an emotionally abusive and manipulative relationship for many years. On top of being an introvert and a people-pleaser by nature, being in this kind of relationship proved to be very toxic/unhealthy and disastrous. Thankfully, I’ve never been in a physically abusive relationship. My heart goes out to those who are or have been. I hope that you have gotten out or soon will. In regards to physically abusive relationships, I credit my parents, especially my dad for instilling in us girls that no one, absolutely no one should ever put their hands on his daughters. Period. And if they did, they’d have to answer to my dad among other males in my family. I was a quiet person, but, if you got “stupid” with me, I’d have to pull *that* girl out of my pocket (so to speak) and “check” you. Don’t get it twisted.  But for many in these types of relationships it’s not easy to just “get out”. I pray that if you’re in such a relationship, you take steps to get out and get into a healthier place.*

But, back to my story. What did happen instead of being in a physically abusive relationship, was that I got into a codependent and emotionally abusive & manipulative relationship. In my opinion, this can happen for varied reasons, which I will likely post about another day. In emotionally abusive relationships, mind games, blaming, emotional manipulation (the kind that always make the perpetrator seem like the “right” one, while you’re always the one to blame) were the order of the day. Thankfully that ended many years ago. I got out of it, but, not without some emotional bruises. When you’re in that kind of relationship, and you’re the recipient of that type of constant treatment, it takes its toll (and takes time and concerted effort to heal). Your mindset is one of defending yourself, while secretly believing that maybe somehow you’re to blame. Or either you’re afraid to speak up, so as not to “upset the balance”, which would in turn cause more drama and perhaps abusive behavior. Even if you’ve not experienced any type of abusive behavior at all, and perhaps you’re just a quiet or shy person by nature, it may be extremely uncomfortable or feel very unnatural to speak up on any occasion because it’s not part of your natural makeup. You’d rather be in the background and/or invisible.

So, when an extrovert tells you to “speak up” it’s a frightening and foreign concept. After all, extroverts tend not to have a problem with being noticed or being on center stage.  But, when a fellow or former introvert encourages you to “speak up”, you listen, because they understand where you’re coming from. The point is that you have good ideas and suggestions. You have important perspectives and questions. The point is, you have value. Your input has value. Don’t keep this locked away. If you have something to share, then you should share it, yes respectfully, but share it. If you have something to ask, you should ask it. If you believe in something, then stand up for it. If folks don’t want to grant your request or agree with your perspective, that’s okay. But, at least do not keep what is valuable bottled up inside. You matter. So be open to the idea of sharing your perspective on varied topics. Yes, in all things use wisdom. There’s a time and place for everything. Speaking up doesn’t always involve being the center of attention, which most introverts seek to avoid like the plague.  You can “voice” your ideas or opinions creatively, by writing, or joining a particular group, or working behind the scenes for some cause, organization or event, and add your input that way.  Behind the scenes people are vital to the success of front-line people.

I now consider myself an intro-extrovert… or what I recently learned is also called an “ambivert”. Definition – a person having characteristics of both extrovert and introvert (and I would add… knowing WHEN to operate in each characteristic). It took some time for me to get to this place. I have my moments where I’m totally in “introvert mode” (yes, leave me alone… no, I can’t (don’t want to) go out…. no, don’t call me … yes, I’d rather stay at home and watch PBS with some delicious food, wine and my thoughts, in my ugly “chill out” clothes, etc.). And there are times when I’m an extrovert (Where’s the party? Let’s go!…. Just tell me when, I’m there! …. Let’s post that on social media … Let me organize an event…. You should go talk to him/her… Ask him/her what they mean by that, … Try that new thing!…etc.). But, my purpose in posting this today is to let you know that if you’re typically not one to speak out, I can relate. And I’m coming alongside of you as a friend saying, “Your voice matters.” You can “speak up” and have your say. Don’t be afraid of others not agreeing with you. It will take some time to get used to this.  This is not a comfortable feeling for an introvert. But, you’ll soon learn that it’s okay. Everyone is not going to agree with you, but, your voice still matters.

Some other personalities would take this encouragement to “speak up” and use it to hurl abusive statements or to blast others in a brash way in the name of “sharing their perspective”. This is NOT what I mean. But, often times, these types of personalities will act in this reckless manner regardless of any warning or counsel. Don’t waste your energy on folks who like drama. And STILL be encouraged to speak up.

*I want to end with this…. If you’re in an abusive relationship, it may not be as easy as “speaking up”, but you can take steps to free yourself from this kind of situation. It’s not easy and it won’t be easy, but IS POSSIBLE. Your life, health & well being is sooo worth it! And if you have children, the lives of your children are worth it! If you can do nothing else, try contacting the Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visiting www.thehotline.org. They can help you find a local shelter where you can go. And they can help you create a *Safety Plan* :
“A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. Safety planning involves how to cope with emotions, tell friends and family about the abuse, take legal action and more.” They’ll help you whether you’re alone with an abusive partner, whether you’ve got children or pets involved, or whether you’re pregnant. I hope and pray that this helps.

Sending love!
~K.D.

Photo credit

@2014 KD Corner / K.D. “Introverts… Speak Up!”

Loving Wounded Women

I think John Mayer’s song Daughters encapsulates it best:

I know a girl
She puts the colors inside of my world
But she’s just like a maze
Where all of the walls continually change

And I’ve done all I can
To stand on the steps with my heart in my hand
Now I’m starting to see
Maybe it’s got nothing to do with me

Fathers be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers that turn into mothers
So mothers be good to your daughters too.

What prompted me to write this essay? To help people who are:

  1. Dating or attempting to date a ‘wounded’ woman
  2. Married to a ‘wounded’ woman

DISCLAIMER:  I am not a therapist, expert, licensed counselor or the like.  I have no formal education on this subject.  I have, however, experienced to some degree what I am about to share and would like to give information and insight from my own perspective and the perspectives of those who have shared with me over the years.   The symptoms, experiences, etc. are not all-inclusive, but, instead represent a sampling of possible issues.  Lastly, though I recognize these issues can apply to men as well as women, for the purpose of this piece, I will concentrate on the state of being ‘wounded’ as it relates to women. Origins of the Wounds The origin of a woman’s wounds could come from many different sources (too numerous to mention).  For the purpose of this piece I would like to concentrate on two particular sources: (1) Father Wounds  (2) Ex-Relationship Wounds (marital or dating) Father wounds Father wounds are, as the title suggests, wounds inflicted intentionally or unintentionally by the biological father or father figure in the woman’s life.  There are many but I will briefly cover six (6) possible sources:

  1. Neglect – Perhaps the father did not pay much attention to his daughter for whatever reason.
  2. Rejection – This could come in the form of feeling rejected from her parents’ divorce; feeling rejected because perhaps dad wanted a son and instead got a daughter;  feeling rejected due to a step-father situation where the step-father did not make an effort to develop a relationship with step-daughter; rejection because dad physically left her life forever; etc.
  3. Abandonment – Again, divorce brings on this feeling.  Dad is supposed to be protector and cover his family. If he leaves due to divorce or other reasons, the child can feel abandoned, even if care is taken to make sure the child knows it’s not her fault. Dad’s absence from the family unit is traumatizing. Also, if dad decides to completely leave the family and never keep in touch this will cause a feeling of abandonment.
  4. Abuse – This can include emotional (manipulation, control, berating/abusive speech), physical or sexual.  Trust is broken from someone who is supposed to protect, and they breached and destroyed trust by selfish and disgusting behavior.
  5. Addiction – If the father suffered from an addiction such as drugs, alcohol or other, this could have many negative effects on the daughter including those mentioned above (rejection, abuse, abandonment, etc.).  Perhaps because of his addiction, the daughter had to take on more of an adult or parental role in the household prematurely because the addicted parent was not able to behave in a responsible adult fashion.
  6. Death – Perhaps the dad passed away prematurely and the daughter had limited or no time with her father, which could’ve possibly lead to any of the above symptoms.

Ex-Relationship Wounds (marital or dating) Many of the same ‘rules’ apply regarding Father Wounds & may be interrelated.

  1. Neglect – Perhaps the spouse or boyfriend neglected her on a consistent basis.
  2. Rejection – Perhaps occurs due to neglect or abuse of some kind. Rejection of who she is as a person.
  3. Abandonment – Perhaps the spouse or boyfriend completely left the relationship (divorce or break-up) without warning, or without trying to work on it, etc.  Often, the husband/boyfriend leaves her for another woman and/or leaves her a single mom fending for herself.
  4. Betrayal – The spouse or boyfriend breached trust in the relationship due to an affair (or series of affairs); Financial irresponsibility or creating large amounts of debt without the wife/girlfriend’s knowledge – wreaking havoc on the finances, etc.
  5. Abuse – Whether emotional (manipulating, controlling, berating/abusive language), physical or sexual.
  6. Addiction – Perhaps the spouse or boyfriend battled an addiction and it destroyed the relationship and had residual effects on woman.
  7. Death – Spouse or boyfriend passes away suddenly and without warning and woman is left trying to cope.

Effects of Wounds If a woman has experienced any of these wounds they may take on different side effects in her life.  In her attempts to cope or ‘normalize’ her life or ‘ignore’/push away the bad memories, some of the following may manifest:

  1. Promiscuity – particularly when a woman has suffered abuse of some kind and/or abandonment, she may cope in a way where she feels like SHE is going to control what happens to her and SHE will be the aggressor.  She secretly may not feel like she’s worthy of a good relationship.
  2. Withdrawing from life – Often, as a coping mechanism, some women will just politely withdraw from life.  Yes, they’ll go about their normal daily routines but they will largely shut themselves off from forging new friendships or relationships. They’ll stay in their own bubble of a world and will not let others in easily, if at all.
  3. Sabotage – Because of all she’s endured, she doubts her worth and therefore if anyone gets too close, she either knowingly or unknowingly does something that sabotages any growth in the relationship, particularly if it is getting “too close” or more intimate.  Possibility of intimacy or a serious relationship causes fear of further rejection, etc. She shuts the relationship down to protect herself from having to potentially experience hurt EVEN IF the guy is a genuinely good guy.
  4. Does Not Trust (Easily / At All) – When a woman is deeply wounded, as a defense and/or coping mechanism, her guard goes UP.  Think of this guard as a 5-foot-thick, 10-foot-tall concrete enclosure.  Nothing’s getting in…and nothing’s getting out, barring demolition equipment.  Why is it so difficult for trust to happen, even with a really good man who has the best intentions? Because her trust has been completely violated and utterly demolished.  It will take time and LOTS of patience and understanding for a man to penetrate this wall and/or for her to begin to let it down.  If you’re not a patient person, this may not be the job for you.  RECOGNIZE just like the song I quoted at the beginning of this piece, that her inability or apprehension to trust you has really “got nothing to do with you”.  As for her, it’s up to her to take the initiative to work on herself as well, and to get some quality professional counseling as well, if necessary, to begin to work through her ‘demons’ and get to a healthy place again where she CAN begin to trust.  Be patient with her because this will take TIME and consistent work. But also help her to want to help herself in this area. Be in her corner and cheer her on.
  5. Workaholic – She may use work and her career as a reason to ignore or block out any possibilities of intimacy (a deep, meaningful relationship).  She may be wildly successful professionally, but, severely lacking in relationships of any significance.  The schmooze, she can do.  Forging close friendships and relationships, she avoids like the plague because they make her uncomfortable.  They force her to have to be vulnerable, to open up that place that once was so deeply wounded.  She may feel as though she cannot risk being wounded again, so, it is difficult for her to consider opening up for even the possibility of sharing her heart.
  6. Non-Committal – This is intertwined with some of the above-mentioned effects.  She’s a casual dater.  She’ll go from one guy to the next, not letting anything get too far before she breaks it off.  This is similar to #3 (Sabotage).  This non-committal attitude may carry over into other areas of her life as well.
  7. Jealousy – If the woman has been continuously cheated on in previous relationships and made to feel as if she was second best, or not as good as “girl number two”, the result is often overwhelming and unfounded jealousy in future relationships.  She has no reference for a TRULY GOOD and honest relationship.  Everything she may have experienced to this point may have been low-life guys who always sought out opportunities to be unfaithful and to make her feel second rate.  She will have to take steps to heal from this & work through her own thoughts and reactions in subsequent relationship(s).  But, if you are her spouse or boyfriend and are a truly good guy who would never cheat on her…if she’s the love of your life…be lovingly patient and reassuring.  Know that it’s not really you that she’s reacting to, as much as flashbacks of past incidences that may remind her of something or someone that brought harm to her previous relationship.  Also, take stock of your own actions.  Maybe you’re just an overly friendly guy who calls everyone “honey” and chats it up with everyone and their mother.  But, maybe she feels threatened by this and she’ll need your reassurance, and perhaps tweaking your friendliness just a tad to help her to feel comfortable.

What Is The Solution? That is a loaded question.  There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to loving your wounded woman.  I think that one of the key factors in any relationship is that both people have to continually want to work on the relationship and on themselves to make/keep the relationship better/healthy. Perhaps your woman does not realize she’s doing some of these things / reacting in some of these ways.  You may want to lovingly bring this to her attention in a gentle & non-threatening way.  She may still rebuff a bit, but, if you remain calm and patient it may help her to more readily receive what you’re saying.  If she’s not ready to deal with it, you may have to let the subject rest for a bit. But try to revisit and reiterate your love for her and your desire to see your relationship be the best it can be.  Remind her that you are a team and in this together for the long haul.

Educate yourself.  There are definitely many books and videos, etc. on this subject that can help you to better understand your woman and work proactively to make the relationship the best it can be on your side of things.  She will also have to be proactive to improve herself and help herself resolve certain issues.  Perhaps even couples’ counseling could be an option.  Don’t look at counseling as a ‘dig’ at your ability to fix everything yourself.  Instead, look at it more as a tool or a resource to aid you in reaching your goal:  which is to better understand your mate, and to help grow your relationship into the best it can be.  Just like on your job, if you do not understand how to accomplish a task or a process, you seek out information and resources to aid you in completing your project and in reaching your goals/projections.  The same principal applies in your relationship.  Find and use resources to help you obtain your set goals and to maintain your ‘numbers’, so to speak.

Another example is your vehicle.  Your car is your ‘baby’.  If she gets scratched or dented, you’re immediately concerned.  You want to rectify the situation quickly.  If she’s making a funny noise or if engine light is illuminated on your dashboard, or if a belt snaps, or a tire blows…you’re seeking out the mechanic ASAP.  Or if you’re mechanically inclined, you’re fixing the vehicle yourself, right away.  You also do regular maintenance on your vehicle to prevent future issues.  And you wash and wax her to keep her looking and smelling good.  So it is with your relationship.  Maintenance and repair are a regular necessity. No, it’s not all on you.  The woman must take equal responsibility for investing into the relationship.  But, ideally, it should be a team effort.  And this piece, hopefully, is a ‘light bulb’ or catalyst to ignite you in your own research on this subject and help you to better understand the wounded woman in your life, so that you can ‘go in’ with more knowledge under your belt and more compassion in your heart. I hope and pray that this will be a beginning to assisting you in your current relationship or in relationships to come.  It was my goal to shed a little bit of light on the subject. Happy researching and much success to you!

© KD Corner 2012 “Loving Wounded Women”