D-Bom Moments

The “older” group of members (from the blog) tend to use D-Bom so I thought I’d share where it comes from for the newer members:


“We see and understand more about our behaviors. We come aware. And aware. And aware. . . Often, we feel uncertain about what to do with all this awareness.” – Melody Beattie

by Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.
Copyright 2005-2018

A friend of mine used to say that her awareness was like “Dawn finally breaking over Marblehead.”

Marblehead is a coastal Massachusetts town. I started my journey in Rhode Island, but moved to Massachusetts within a couple of years. Marblehead in MA is used often by natives as a metaphor for a thick skull…and “Dawn breaks over Marblehead” is a Massachusetts expression which means “Duh. I finally get it.”

I think it’s a terrific expression to define a defining moment, an epiphany so to speak, and when I lived there I heard it used it all the time. I started using it because it sums things up quite nicely. I now call it D-BOM (DEE BOMB) for short. I’ve used that expression a lot in the more than 20 years since I first heard it. I used to use epiphany but d-bom is so much better.

The beginnings of awareness are incredible. We start to feel as if we’ve been asleep for a million years. Suddenly we can see, really see, what other people are really up to. Whereas everything baffled us before, we now have clarity. Sometimes we feel we have too much clarity. It’s like being on a diet and losing some weight where nothing you own fits yet you are not at your goal weight yet so you have nothing to wear. It’s a feeling that you’re in an in-between stage but you need to get where you’re going and you don’t know how. GPYP/GPYB/GBOT all require observation, preparation and cultivation. We start to observe our thoughts, feelings and interactions with others. We learn to step back and look at the world around us and the people in it. Then we start to prepare to change things and later we cultivate that change.

Awareness is part of observation. Only by looking at, and seeing, can we understand what needs to be changed. But we can become overwhelmed with the massive amounts of information we’re suddenly receiving. It’s as if we can’t filter out the world and all the information. It becomes anxiety-producing and difficult to process all of this.

Many people run back to their old lives and clamp their hands over their ears at this point. They don’t want to KNOW anymore. They can’t go through with it. It’s too scary, too unhinging, too unfamiliar. Those who succeed in changing their lives are people who recognize that they are in an “in-between” stage and that it won’t last forever. You’ll learn what to do with all this “awareness” and it will be GOOD.

I had D-Bom moments when my therapist would make a suggestion as to how to respond to my STBX when he was a raging crazy person and it worked.

I had a D-Bom moment the VERY first time that she identified what was wrong with me as “Fear of Abandonment.”  I had NEVER heard that word and without it being defined for me, I knew – JUST KNEW IN MY HEART OF HEARTS – that was my core issue.

I had a D-Bom moment many many times after the separation but I had a few before.  The few before were from being worn down after YEARS of being blamed, yelled at, manipulated and told that absolutely everything was my fault. The D-Bom moments were much greater AFTER I separated than before, but they were there BEFORE.

I talk about this and another episode of the keys being locked in the house in the Gaslighting video:

In 1986 I went on a business trip to San Diego. Now I had never been anywhere special prior to this trip. I remember getting off the plane and there was a scent to southern California that I had never experienced. There was something sweet and airy and nice. The place seemed calm and nice. When I got to my hotel I realized that I had never been quite this happy to be somewhere in all my life. Not only was it totally different and seemed really lovely, but I was away from that maniac husband of mine.

San Diego was wonderful and exotic to me. I loved being out there. My marriage had been such a strain that I felt giddy and free when I got off the plane in California. I was there for 5 days and made the most of it. I remember driving around the town and going to a little cafe/bookstore. I had never seen a cafe/bookstore before. They did not, at that time, have any on the east coast. And I loved sitting there looking out on the water, drinking coffee and reading. I had never felt so relaxed in my whole life.

As if on cue, my husband (the Mother of All Bananas [MoAB for short]) called the 3rd night I was there and started screaming at me that because I was in San Diego, his grandmother’s television was stolen. Huh? She was watching my kids in my house instead of being home at night and while she was babysitting for ME (these were his words…ME…not us), her house was broken into and her television stolen. And this was my fault. I didn’t even know where he was when this happened. I was not yet aware enough to even ponder the question yet alone ask it.

But because of the sharp contrast of the situation, being in what seemed to be paradise, surrounded by fun, happy people, and listening to insane shrieking on the other end of the phone, I was able to see–PLAINLY–how miserable he was and how miserable the relationship was and how much I wanted to be out of it.

And I couldn’t believe what I was hearing even though it was so much of what I’d always heard: something went wrong and it’s your fault. What? For the first time I was thinking, “This can’t be right.” Later in my life I met the lady who would say that moment was “Dawn breaking over Marblehead.”

I didn’t leave that night. In fact I left over a year later, but that day played havoc with my denial for a long, long time.

The pre-recovery jolts were a little more mind-boggling than the after-recovery jolts, but when a gong in my head went off, it was a forehead slapping, D-BOM moment. And things are NEVER the same after that. Even if you try to deny it, you find you really can’t put it back in the box. At some point justifications and rationalizations simply do not work anymore.  You WANT them to…but they don’t.  As they say that there is none so blind as those who will not see, there are times when we have to admit, it’s way past “will not see” because you simply can’t not see anymore (if you dissect that grammatically awkward sentence, you will get what I’m trying to say. 🙂 )

One of our readers once talked about realizing her attraction to NPD men in connecting it to her NPD father. That’s a D-BOM moment. Another reader talked about chasing after women the way his father chased after his very cold mother. That’s a D-BOM moment.

And usually there is no turning back from D-BOM moments. At some point you didn’t know that you didn’t know, but after a D-BOM moment, you know that you don’t know but you better figure something out. And fast. If you’re very good at denial, rationalization and justification (and, oh boy, was I!) the way to get un-good at it is to pay attention to your d-bom moments, know they mean something and that something is usually “RUN!” Pay attention or be subjected to more of those in quick succession. It’s the reasonable, practical side of you saying, “Yooo hoo…you need to change some things…NOW.”

D-Boms are AMAZING on the road to recovery.  You will never again be the same.  They force you into action.  You can’t live like you did…in blind ignorance…after they start to happen.  As I’ve talked about in the Gift of Desperation posts, there comes a time when you string enough d-boms together to say, “Damn, I need to get the F out of here….”

And after we leave we try – struggle sometimes – to go BACK to pre-D-Bom ignorance.  Sometimes we are missing the ex so much it overwhelms our recent d-boms.  That is why it’s important to JOURNAL about your d-boms and when your resistance is low and your pining is high, you run to your journal and read your d-boms and you calm down…and live to recover and stay NC another day.  YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!

Let the D-Boms be your guide!


Copyright 2018 Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.

I Teach What I Know. I Have The Degrees, but I Have The EXPERIENCE and I don’t ask anyone to do anything I have not done.”

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