Joy Stealer: one who uses your emotions, affections, loyalties, and history to control you into behaving the way they want. When in contact with one, everyone can see the smiles, laughter, peace, life, and joy drain out
I had started a different post for another Tuesday Treasure idea, thinking about the Fall which I love, but I can not shake how I am feeling today. This week, I am distracted and stressed. I vacillate between frustration and disappointment, trying to decide what is the RIGHT thing for me to do. I just wrote about honesty. About being true to yourself most of all. I know that if I am honest with the struggle, I will need to face it, process it and then follow through. And I will lose something that I genuinely love. I will alter my work life and have to walk right by one that I have never stopped caring about.
So here I go…sharing my heart and my life with all of you. As I started this blog to be transparent, to offer my experiences in hope that they have some value, beyond just my own pain, I share that I am dealing with a Joy Stealer right now! I was doing well, or so I thought, making forward progress and was really loving my life. But then, I had to go back into the “real” world…WORK!
And oh how the Joy stealer hides. Behind corners, quietly knowing where I am. Finds the cracks. Knows exactly what to say to feed its ego. How to get what it wants. There are no limits for Joy Stealers. They will convince you to lie for them. To give anything they ask. They will set you in their scope, take aim, fire, carve out the pieces they want to take and leave the rest to be plucked over by the vultures who think it was the prey that did the hunting. Not caring at all that you are left beyond wounded; you are left dying.
The irony of this; there is no room for shame in the moments they hunt you. When the thief has you as their target, they are so good at bestowing what you think is love and light, you are blinded. It is easy to become light headed. To feel loved. To feel valued. In the moments they decide; the charm is piled on. The reminders of happy moments, the taste of memories on lips, all the same I love you words. All to leave you feeling good. You are made to feel like a queen every single time. And because you never stopped loving the thief, it is easy to believe them. It is easy to fall into the trap. It becomes easy to give whatever they request.
It’s only when you leave the warmth of those moments and are away from their attention, that you realize you are wounded. You have been STOLEN from AGAIN! You are bleeding again.
And so I am struggling now. Mostly with the emotions that are left over, with facing the difficult task of doing what I know to be right. Because I am ultimately a good person who has been manipulated, love bombed, triangulated, hoovered. The thief knows I have almost always given whatever has been asked, so thinks nothing of it to seek me out. And I am judged that somehow I am the one hunting. I am judged by those in my life who want the best for me, whenever I allow the stealer to have their way. I am blamed for the robbery as if I was the thief. Hell, I judge it.
In some ways, I wish I was the one in control of this. But it has never been me. That’s the Joy Stealers game. They find a way to make you blame yourself. Convince others to blame you. Turn affection and caring into an ability to control, tease, lure…into whatever they wish. This game has been repeated so many times, I would think we all know the script by now.
In my world, we all do. It is easy to recognize when the Joy Stealer has been around. I smile less. I have a shorter fuse. I have less patience. I am moodier. It is evident that I am struggling with what to do and how to behave. I am sucked under the spell and yet know that I deserve to be treated better. I know that I should not lie for them. I should not be the secret. Even I…who doesn’t really abide by “rules or shoulds” knows that being a secret, being lied about and handled in the dark…is not what I SHOULD be doing. Most definitely is not what I WANT for my life! Is for sure LESS than what I am worth.
To keep our joys and stay true to ourselves, we have to learn new ways of taking care. We have to be willing to be vulnerable so that we can be the best moms, wives, daughters, sisters, etc that we can be. So in that vein, I am baring my heart.
To be authentic we have to be honest. To better myself, I have to take responsibility for my part; which is that I can not seem to say no to any man I ever love. I can say no to others, but this one thief, he steals whatever he wants, every single time. The thief has found a deep-rooted wound and preys on it, giving you (me) something that we need.
I have spent the past few days trying to figure out what that wound is. What keeps me from being like other women and saying NO! From keeping my boundaries. Not allowing the thief to take anything else from me. And then blaming me for it! Why when anyone sees me after contact, every single one, wonders why I allow the contact? Why I still let the thief even speak to me? Why I always give what is requested of me?
And what I have come up with is: I can not stand to disappoint a man I love. I can not bear to be the one who causes harm. I seem to link love and affection with something that can easily be taken away, so I try not to lose it. I try to be “perfect.” I hold back what I really think or feel so as to not be difficult and then lose that “love.” I seem to think saying no to one who knows I love them, is somehow mean. And I try not to be mean, it’s not in my nature. The thief learned what my wound was and found a way to feed it so well that to lose it fully would hurt me. Leave me missing the attention, affection, desire. Leave me feeling unloved. Leave me feeling like I somehow caused it. So I don’t do anything that might cause harm. I don’t do anything that might take away that love.
This way of thinking is not healthy. It’s not how I love. I do not have the same expectations. I do not prey on a wound. I do not set demands for friendship and keep any hidden. Loving someone isn’t a momentary thing or easily replaced. When I have said it, it’s real. Not for a gain of anything for myself. If it was I might have stopped when I walked away.
So it’s time to stop this cycle. To TAKE BACK my JOY! To say NO MORE! NO, you can not take anything else from me! No, I am not going to be your secret. Go talk to someone else. STOP playing on my love. I need to accept that real love does not purposely harm another. Real love DOES RESPECT boundaries. Love does NOT USE the others love. Real love DOES NOT use your wounds against you. This thief is the worst of all because they make you doubt what you KNOW about love. They make you think they truly care, which if that was true, they would not cause harm. They would not put you in harm’s way. They would never threaten or manipulate you. Joy Stealers are thieves that do not care about the harm they cause anyone, in their pursuit of filling themselves.
So even though I hate conflict, I avoid at all costs, I need to tackle this like I never have before. I need to put on armor, understand that I am battling for my own life. For my children’s. My family. For those that do love me! That only want the best for me. I have to take control back!
I would love to hear from anyone that has struggled in this way. How did you get your life back? How did you stop letting someone use your love by manipulating you? To stop believing them when they say they value you, love you, want you in their life, but in the dark? Let’s help each other heal.
To become our best selves we may have to learn new behaviors. Learn how to say no. To stop being the supply. To no longer care if they hate you…cause you kinda hate what they make you become. I end up hating my life instead of loving it! I hate that I become a liar when I am not one! I hate that I hand over my Joy…all because the thief knows I love, therefore can prey on it.
Share with me your thoughts. Any words or actions you have done to help find your way back into joy. And if you are still struggling, share that too. I write in hopes that I can reach even one and tell you…You are not alone! You are not crazy! You did nothing wrong. You are a great person who loved a thief. And you are worth being loved! Really loved!
As always, I am writing to help me and you. To have my heartaches and my triumphs mean something beyond me. This is not my online “journal,” this is written as a means to offer value from one’s life experiences.