“I will do anything for love..but I won’t do that.” -Meatloaf

It’s obvious that my main man Meatloaf wasn’t in a toxic relationship, because unfortunately toxic people convince you to do ANYTHING for love. They convince you to:

-beg for forgiveness even if it wasn’t your fault.

– lower your standards. And, then lower them again, and again, and again.

– pretend things didn’t happen that obviously did.

– change your look, your friends, your interests, your hobbies, your everything.

-pretend to only be interested in the things they are interested in.

– become dumb…because their opinions and ideas are the only ones that matter.

-shrink yourself so their wants and needs can take over the relationship.

So here’s the bad news Chica…there is an entire subsect of the human population that know how to convince you to “do anything for love.” They know how to find you, they know how to choose you and they know how to train you.

Yep, I said train. And, I’m not talking about a fun Choo Choo train with coffee and big windows and sandwiches. I’m saying they know how to train you like a monkey. Though, I guess you could train a monkey to ride a Choo Choo train if you really wanted to. And if you could get the monkey to wear a diaper. 

But I digress.

Some people know how to train people like they are pets. We saw this played out in the recent Netflix hit “Dirty John.” These people  know how to get you to see what they want you to see, think how they want you to think, and most importantly to see them as they want you to see them. They are running the world’s most powerful underground PR firm and are masters at image management. In fact, you’re so dazzled by what you see and how they make you feel that you don’t even mind them training you like a fat, hairy monkey in an oversized diaper…at first. These people are awesome at playing into your strengths and needs so in the beginning you feel as if all your over the rainbow dreams have finally come true. But, just like the great and powerful Wizard of Oz these people aren’t who they appear to be behind the curtain.

P.S. If you are reading this and have been fooled by one of these people then join the club. I don’t think you are stupid; I think you didn’t know these types of people existed. If you are reading this and you haven’t fallen for one of these types of people in your professional or personal life, then one of two things are true:  

1) You have ever met one of these people and should be on your knees every night thanking your lucky stars. And, you should buy more lottery tickets you lucky, lucky ducky. 

Or… 

2) You are one of these people. 

For all those fortunate people in category one, please be forewarned that these people do exist and can wreak havoc on your life. For those of you in category two, please go away and leave the rest of us alone. No really. I mean it. Go. 

If you had unknowingly began a relationship with an image conscious, majorly manipulative monkey trainer and we went out to lunch to catch up on the pieces of our lives we couldn’t extract from Facebook, then it would probably go a little something like this:

You: “Oh my gosh Sarah! I’ve had the time of my life. I’ve never felt this way before. I swear it’s the truth. And, I owe it all to him.”

Inside Me: 😑

Outside Me: “Wow. That seems like… a lot. Don’t you think it’s too much too soon? He seems…like an emotional fixer upper. Doesn’t he have (insert problem such as past relationship issues, money issues, addiction issues, anger issues, control issues)?

You: “Yeah, you just don’t know him like I do. He told me his ex was crazy.”

Inside Me: 😖 How original. 

Outside Me: “I think there are like 3 ex’s he has said were crazy? Doesn’t that seem mathematically improbable to you?”

You: “But, He is such a great guy! He saves the whales and has amazing selfies with him helping the orphans! I saw it on social media it has to be true! And, sometimes he gets this super serious look on his face and asks “What would Jesus do?” It’s super sexy.

Inside Me: 😟

Outside Me: “Yeah, whenever I think of Jesus sexy is the first word that comes to mind.”

You: “It’s so nice to finally be with someone so enlightened.”

Inside Me: 😩

Outside Me: “Enlightened? But wait, didn’t you say this guy had already gotten angry a couple of times? That doesn’t sound very enlightened to me.”

You: “He didn’t get angry at me. He was angry because another guy was talking to me. It made me feel so safe and protected to see him get upset. I think it just shows how much he cares.”

Inside Me:  😶 Ummm….

Outside Me: “Ummmm…”

You: “Plus he’s working really hard on cleaning up his debt. That last job really screwed him over. I bet they really regret firing such an intelligent, kind and wonderful human being! Once he starts his own business he’ll show them! In the meantime it’s actually super helpful he isn’t really working. He’s been so great to have around! He helps me with things on the outside like errands and stuff, but the biggest thing is how helpful he’s been exactly what I need on the inside. I’ve been so lonely since my mom died. So I just thought it made more sense for him to move in. He shouldn’t have to struggle with bills etc. This way I can take care of him for a little while so he can just focus on getting his life back together.”

Inside me: 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

I poke fun, but when this is played out in real life, I know it is anything but funny. Many of us have had this conversation with a friend and felt fear for what they could not see. Even more of us have been the person on the other side of the table with our optimism and kindness being used against us. It’s easy to see when it’s someone else and so difficult to see when you heart is filled with hope. Hope that you will feel completely known and completely loved. Hope that the last woman was wrong about him. Hope that your kids will have a father more interested in spirituality than in hanging out at the bar checking out other women. Hope that your love can be enough to heal him. Hope that you fix his problems and soothe his soul in a way that bonds him to you forever – that makes you a person too good to leave. Hope that you can be patient, kind, understanding, and supportive enough for him to love you forever.

Hope.

One of those tricky little words that pushes us down and picks us back up. A characteristic we can’t live without yet sets us up for danger far too often. The people playing the games with your heart know this. They know if they can trigger your hope then they can trigger your kindness. And, if they can trigger your kindness then they can trigger your goodness.

A good person forgives easily. A good person is willing to put work into a relationship. A good person is self-reflective. A good person doesn’t keep score in the relationship and doesn’t realize how much they are giving. A good person is willing to overlook minor incidents so often that they don’t even realize when they incidents have become major. A good person is willing to take the blame. A good person is more interested in the other person than getting their way. A good person tries to do the right thing, so they expect those they care about to do the right thing. A good person assumes they have trust issues rather than assuming they are with someone who shouldn’t be trusted.

A good person is easily trained.

But if you are reading this…please still be good. Please still be kind and hopeful. The world needs you. Other good people need you. The next generation needs you. We need you not to shut down your heart just because someone broke it. We need you to not lock yourself away from the world just because there are these types of people in the world. We need you to use your hard-earned wisdom to share with others. We need you to tell your story. We need you to tell us your naivety and weaknesses at the same time you reconnect with your strengths. We need you to find love so you can show your kids what it looks like. We need you to hold on to hope, but not be overpowered by it so you can be brave and honest enough to search for red flags like you were Sherlock Freaking Holmes.

Not everyone is good. And, not everyone is bad. And, it takes incredible emotional intelligence to live with an open heart, a strong intuition, and a savvy mind. But I think you can do it. And, when you can live that way you will be showing the rest of us the path forward.

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Sarah K Ramsey