What is Trapping You?

In one of my relationships, I probably stayed for three years too long. (it may have been more, but hey who’s counting?) If you know what this feels like, you’ll understand what I mean by the ‘shifting percentage’. It’s where things start out at 100% good and it starts a steady decline at a certain rate per year. At some point it’s about 50% good, 50% bad which is the teetering time where you apply the old song, ‘Should I stay or Should I go?’. For me, those last 3 years declined well under 0. It’s where it becomes not just 100% bad, but seems to scrape underneath the fingernails for extra dirt.

My counselor at that time was the one who set me on the right track. He’d ask why I hadn’t left yet. My answer was simple, "I can’t afford to."
When we discussed my career plans and the job I was doing at the time, he’d asked why I hadn’t moved on to do music fulltime. It was the same response, "I can’t afford to."

He wondered why I couldn’t afford to leave the bad relationship and if I stayed why I couldn’t afford to take the leap in my career. My answer (which was a surprise to me to) was, "I guess it’s not only money that is trapping me."

He told me he was big on making lists. I have a successful uncle who coincidentally at that time told me how lists not only saved his life, but saved his sleep also. I now try to make a list every night before bed of what I need to accomplish the next day and then I go to bed. I promise to not take anything that is on that list to sleep with me so my rest is uninterrupted by my own thoughts.

He explained to me that leaving a bad relationship (as long as it isn’t abusive) sometimes works better if you have a game plan. So that’s what I did. I made a list of daily things I needed to accomplish and a list of long-term goals and shorter-term goals to get me there. One of the things he couldn’t believe was that my partner had a personal bank account, but that my bank account was joint. He encouraged me to start one for myself. So I opened an account with a pitiful $10. I looked at my book they gave me and was exasperated at how small the amount was and how it seemed I would never make any kind of move with that. But what he did was teach me how to put every extra dollar lying around into the account suggesting too many people won’t make a deposit unless it’s large.

My bank book makes me laugh. If you look in it, you’ll see $5 deposits in it. The idea was that I didn’t touch it. I could have saved it at home in a sock, but that didn’t feel the same as seeing the climbing total. I enjoyed watching it inch up that I actually started looking for coins to roll up and take to the bank, sifting through the laundry pockets, wherever I could find it. It also kept my mind focused, as measly as that sounds.
The idea behind doing this was two-fold. It kept my mind occupied on something tangible and it gave me some independence. My counselor explained that even if I ended up staying in the relationship and it all worked out, everyone should be saving this way no matter what. I never realized how I was frittering away the dollars and cents. So it was a good lesson in money management.

His concern he said was that many people are trapped in bad relationships, they get in a brutal fight and then abruptly leave with no game plan. They are basically standing in the middle of the street with a bag in hand. Then the tears pour torrentially and they really want to give up. It’s like insult to injury to have to start over with nothing.

So, I did find out money was trapping me in the relationship, but what I found out was the bigger trap was my own daily thoughts and how I allocated them. I had accumulated a large account of negative energy. When we are upset by our situation, it’s so simple (and often understandable) that we wallow in self-pity on top of our already tumultuous relationship. It’s simply not helpful. I was trapped by my brain spending time thinking about nostalgic years prior to the rough time and I wasn’t thinking clearly.

My lists taught me to get my brain back into some mode of operation again. I applied the term, "flying under the radar" to my life. It became my new approach. Flying under the radar was where I began biting my tongue and biding my time (which some of you may recognize from the Funeral Mute song) I kept focused on the biggest thing trapping me-my own sadness. Once I figured this out, I gained a new focus which ended up leading to my new life. I applied it in all areas. I allocated more time each day to my choice career while still logically keeping the job that I was also trapped in but paid. Basically all parts of my life started the climb back out of hell and the percentages got back up to where they were. Why should I expect that something that declined over years should take minutes to fix itself? I just tried to keep an eye on the daily accomplishments and it was a lot less overwhelming.

The human brain has a tendency to stir thoughts like a chili in a slow cooker. You almost don’t recognize any one part of it anymore by the time it’s cooked! But putting a pen to paper can keep a person centered. It did me anyways. Understanding what was trapping me was the first step in prying open the teeth of it. It wasn’t just money, it was my own desperation.

Focus and clarity I think sometimes are a special gift….or in many cases we just have to learn them.

Much love on you!
Karen :)

"Patience is the ability to count down before you blast off." ~ Author Unknown

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