Red Flags!!


More than once, I have found myself second-guessing a relationship that I was in. This could be a friendship, a romantic partnership… people can become harmful influences in any relationship stage. I put this list of red flags together for others in the hopes of saving other young women from being manipulated and hurt like I have been.

They only come to you to ask for a favor, to brag, or to complain. This shows that you are a source of self-gratification for them. They may start the conversation out with “Hey, how are you?” but the end game of the interaction is still about them.

When you share something about yourself with this friend, they try to outdo you no matter what you’re talking about. It doesn’t matter what the topic is—they are going to one-up you. You could say, “I have a bad cold, so I didn’t go to work today,” and they would respond with, “Oh, I had the flu last week but I still worked overtime.”

No matter the context, they are always the victim. If the two of you have an argument, you will come out feeling like a bully—or at least you’ll feel accused of being one. And it’s not just you! Everybody in their past somehow betrayed them, somehow abandoned them, somehow stopped loving them. Or, at least, that’s what they tell you.

You can’t trust them even if you want to. You may have been given reasons to distrust them, or maybe not. But no matter what—something about them just seems dishonest and you can’t shake the feeling. 

They constantly claim to be suicidal or depressed, but never actually make any attempt to get help or even be diagnosed. Instead, they use these claims to manipulate your behavior and get what they want.  (It is important to note that you can never tell if somebody is suicidal unless you are a mental health professional. Do not tell this person that they aren’t really depressed, but do keep an eye out for manipulation revolving around these concepts.)

They get you to do grand things for them and are barely even grateful. You’ll drive across the state to pick them up, or maybe even lend them your car to drive across the state in…. This can be anything that you wouldn’t casually do for somebody and doesn’t necessarily involve money. They might say thank you, but it’s done quickly and without feeling. Worse even, they might not say thank you at all.

They guzzle your money. They might guilt you into buying something for them, annoy you into doing it, force you to do it, or even lie about needing money so you’ll pay instead. Sometimes, they can even convince you that it’s your idea. No matter how they do it, you’ll notice your wallet getting a lot skinnier when they’re around.

Everything with them feels like a competition. Something good happens to you, and you’re excited to tell them, but not because they’ll be happy for you—because you feel that you finally have something that they can’t beat.

Does something that you used to enjoy now only upset you because of something that happened between you two? If you have lost interest in an activity you used to enjoy due to a bad experience involving them, you need to pay very close attention to what other ways this relationship is affecting you. Not being able to do something without being reminded of a bad memory is a sign of abuse or trauma.

They treat you really well for a period of time after they hurt you… but they don’t stop. This is often referred to as the “honeymoon period.” You talk with them after an argument, and if they let you explain your side, they say that they understand and vow to never hurt you again in that way. Then, they’re very affectionate for a few days after… until the next incident. When you point out that it happened again, there will be an excuse as to why this time is an exception.

Even though you know that they can’t be pleased—not by anyone—you’re still desperate for their approval and praise.  You want their approval so badly, in fact, that this sometimes guides your decisions—what would they say if they knew? Sometimes, this desire for approval can be so intense that it is dangerous to your self-esteem. If they make a negative remark about you, it will affect you much more than it normally would. In fact, you might instantly believe it’s true because they said it. These beliefs can be carried with you long after the relationship ends.

You feel that you are doing most or all of the work in the relationship. You’re the one that has to apologize, you’re the one who pays, you’re the one who calls them first—you’re the one who does everything.

You feel resentment towards this person. You may still feel affection or love towards this person, but there is an anger bubbling underneath. They say certain things that instantly make you mad, even if these statements seem completely harmless.

You were thinking about the same person while reading this entire list. If you clicked this with somebody in mind, or somebody came to mind while reading, chances are you already know that something is wrong in your relationship. Keep in mind that a toxic or abusive relationship may not have all of these characteristics.; only a few are needed to create an unhealthy dynamic.

But they seem so nice to everybody else… It is important to note that many abusive/toxic individuals maintain healthy relationships with most people. This enables them to have a “line of defense”—people who will side with the abusive person because they do not believe somebody that treats them so well would do such things to somebody else. Not only this, but in watching their healthy interactions with other people, you will doubt yourself. “Are they really that bad? Maybe I’m being oversensitive. I should apologize and be more understanding.”


After reading this list, it is important to evaluate your relationships. Who do you know that exemplifies this behavior? Do you do some of these things? To what degree do others do these things, and what about you if you do them as well? Please note that these are only guidelines and that every situation is different… but that does not mean that you should ignore the red flags you see.


Written by: Elizabeth McDonald
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Enough



One night while I was laying on the floor in a rented room, I looked up at the ceiling and began to cry. He was fast asleep and couldn’t even sense my discomfort. Even after I had chosen to leave once before I went back. Im not sure where my mind was or even my self-esteem but it was dormant. I continued to sob and the tears were ever flowing.

We had only been there a day. After moving from a two bedroom apartment being practically broke, this was my only choice. I still wanted to be independent. I still wanted to be loved.....by him. In my mind, things would get better and we would bounce back and be stronger. We were a team. And he was sorry for stealing from me, cheating on me, fighting with me, lying to me, using me and giving me an STD. So I stayed, determined not to have another failed relationship.

But my tears, they wouldn’t stop they continued to flow. My spirit was restless, being there did not feel right at all. Erie feelings followed me as soon as we walked into this house. It was God warning me once more to leave him alone. Why was it so hard? Hadn’t I gone thru enough? Did I enjoy the pain? Or... did I feel like I deserved it? Do I not love me? Am I not beautiful?

The tears continued to flow as my thoughts raced. It was no one but God reawakening my soul, allowing me to purge. I know why I cried so hard, I had had enough. My spirit was weak but not dead. The tears were a release, I had to let go of my anger and my pride. I believe that in that moment the holy ghost spoke to me and gave me the strength I needed. So the next day I left him....alive.

Lesson: Remember that NOTHING is worth your happiness or your peace of mind. You deserve the best. Things cannot be undone but you can choose to have a better tomorrow. And if you choose to listen when your spirit is restless it’ll save you.
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Friendship

It is not only hard to have friends but it's also hard to be a friend! Friendship is hard work! It takes the effort of two people and even then it won't be perfect. In some regards, I believe a friendship is the hardest type of relationship a person can have. But no matter how hard it is, it is necessary.

I hear so many people say, "I don't need friends", "All I need is me", and "I have associates." The truth is I've said it a time or two, but it was out of hurt or frustration. "We all need somebody to lean on", in my best singing voice. 

Every friendship is unique and has its own characteristics but in my experience there are a few basics:

1. Communication. Good, bad, or ugly you have to communicate. Communication requires good judgment and maturity. Use good judgment to determine when you should bring up a conversation: what you should say, and how you should say it and how you should deliver it. In today's society we are texting and using social media to communicate. These may not be the best forms of communication, then again maybe you both will respond better through text. Use good judgment. Maturity is a requirement. Be mature enough to communicate and articulate how you feel without offending the other person. Even if this means not being friends anymore, be mature enough to at least provide closure. 

2. Understanding & Forgiveness. Many people think that understanding means agree. It does not! Well, at least not completely. Webster has three definitions and for the purpose of friendship we are using the first two; mental grasp or the power of comprehending. "I get you", "I understand","I can relate", just a few expressions. You cannot be anyone's friend if you don't know how to forgive. Don't just forgive them, forgive yourself. 

3. Time. We spend every minute of our lives doing something. And everything takes time! Whether we are sleeping, eating, Facebook surfing, or breathing, time passes. In order for a friendship to thrive you have to dedicate time to it. Im not saying you have to see the person everyday and spend hours on the phone. We all know those days are long gone!!! But it only takes a second to send a text. Hope you are have a great day! How are you? When do you have free time? In addition, it's okay to take three minutes and make a phone call. Hey, I don't have much time but its been a while since we spoke and I just wanted to check in. Are you okay? 

4. Honesty & Humility. Keep it real! Stay humble. Again, we are human!!! We all make mistakes. You can be honest with your friend but still have tact. Show that you care. Delivery is everything, regardless of the subject. Don't let little mistakes ruin a friendship.

Friendship is not for the faint of heart. 
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Dealing With A Void

Have you ever started crying and don't know why? Or know why and wish you could stop? Some days are just emotional and there is no one to talk to who can make it better. No hug that can provide comfort. The day I realized that I had to be okay with not having my biological father be in my life was hard. I thought about who would walk me down the isle? Talk to me when Im in need? Guide me if I start to go a stray? Websters definition of father is "a male parent." We, society, have attached more meaning to a word that is simple. Just food for thought.

I believe that at some point we all hope to have a relationship with the male parent. My question is, when it doesn't happen then what? We are told to "pray about it", "God will handle it", "he will come around", "you have others that care", "don't worry about it"....etc. The list goes on. But when the person that is half the reason you are here on earth cannot provide the relationship you long for, it hurts. It is not something that you "get over" and in many cases you have to heal without closure. I don't have all the answers. I can't make it right, but hopefully I can make it better.

Many times, especially as children we beat ourselves up regardless of the situation. "It's my fault", "I could've been a better son or daughter", "I should've...", "If only"....The truth is, nothing you do can control someone else. You can only control you! Yes, there are always things that we can do better. But don't take responsibility for someone else's actions. They too had choices regardless of the situation. They chose to respond in the manner they did. Move on! Grow from it!

Websters definition of an apology is "an expression of regret for not being able to do something." We all fall short. We are human. Now that I am a parent I realize that parenting is mostly trial and error. But the difference between a "good parent" and a "bad parent" is knowing when to admit you hurt someone. We get caught up in thinking that apologizing means that we are wrong and that's not true.  "I'm sorry", "I apologize", "I will do better next time". How ever you have to say it, say it! It's okay to apologize and not even fully understand why. Just be genuine. In order to mend a broken relationship all parties involved must be willing to acknowledge that they hurt the other person in some way.

Lastly, be forgiving. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do. And it may have to occur without an apology. When emotions are raging people say things that are mean and hurtful. When its someone close to us, things tend to sting a bit more because they are personal. Webster's definition is "to give up resentment of or claim to requital for." Let go of anger. Don't blame. Don't hold a grudge. It is important to forgive yourself as well. 

Although the relationship with my own father may never be ideal. I am hopeful that one day things will be better! 

3 Ways to Cope:

1. Write a letter. Many times its easier to write things down because it gives us the opportunity to reflect on exactly how we feel. It also gives us the opportunity to edit, revise, and edit again! After you write a letter expressing how you feel ask yourself these questions: If I sent it, would it send a positive message? What reaction am I expecting? What happens if I don't get it? Did writing it provide catharsis? It's your choice to send or not, just remember not to add any additional fuel to the fire. 

2. Find the positive. Make a list of all the positive things this person has contributed. (In any form i.e. money, hope, patience) Sometimes we learn some of the most important principles through hurt, absence, and anger. There is a silver lining in every cloud. So lets dwell on the positive!!!!

3.Self-care. Do something that brings you happiness. It is important to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Make sure you don't engage in self-destructive behaviors. Keep you safe. Take a bubble bath. Watch your favorite movie. Go for a jog. Grab some ice cream. Hang out with a friend. 

Remember that with love all things are possible. 
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Gratitude

It's very easy to get lost in our issues: what we don't have, how people won't change, how unhappy we are, and so on. But have you ever stopped to think about what you do have? What things you haven't had to experience? How much worse things could be?

There is power in gratitude. Being thankful can not only change your mindset but change your atmosphere. Try these activities!

Activity 1- Every time something good happens to you write it on a sticky note and place it in a jar/box. When you are feeling low look thru the box at the things you can be thankful for.

Activity 2- List 10 things that you can be thankful for. Write them or type them, but make them colorful! Tape them to your mirror or somewhere you can see it everyday! This will be a great daily reminder!

Activity 3- Look for motivational quotes. Put all the quotes on one list and print them out (make sure the size is big enough for you to see without struggle). Cut the quotes out individually and place them all visibly in different places around your house!
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Jump!

Torn between he and I. I pack furiously and head out the door. We live on the third floor but for some reason I get down the steps faster then you can say “ya bald headed granny gotta hole in her panty”. When I close my trunk and look up my heart comes out my butt. He has managed to climb on the railing of the stairs and he says he will jump. I panic.
I say I won’t leave I’ll stay, I’ll come back up just get down. This scene was so dramatic. I was hysterical. An he sucked me back in......

So things were peaceful for a few days. He was almost perfect. Then I checked my bank account, I was short about $50 and I had two jobs. I am a natural hustler. After reviewing the transactions I saw that he had withdrawn money a few days before, to get a haircut and take me out to eat. Mind you he pretended like it was his treat. He had made some money some kind of way, so he said. Lets not mention the darn fees from not using an authorized ATM!
It was time to go. So I did what I had to do, I called my mom.

If someone threatens to jump because you are going to leave them, my first instinct is to test them and say jump. He isn’t going to do it! He is too selfish to ever do that to himself. But reality is if you sincerely care, you won’t do that because you don’t want that on your conscience. And honestly when you are dealing with someone who is irrational you don’t want to take that chance. At the end of the day you have to remember that everyone has a choice and if thats what he chooses then so be it. Ask yourself this, who is more important to me, me or him? Would you risk your safety and well-being for his? If you stay are you committing suicide?


God knows ALL. We have to make tough decisions and sacrifices but remember, if you choose to honor him with your actions, the right thing will always be clear. Use the support system God has placed around you to help you. 
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