Stopping Our Pain: Ending Destructive Relationships

220px-I_love_me

A relationships breaking point usually occurs over a series of unresolved fights many times before the real separation.   The decision to leave can be significant and painful, leaving deep scars that can also become the source of wisdom and change.  Relationships are tied to places, events, and histories.   Often there is regret with the decision to end a relationship and for most it is not made lightly or easily.  People pleasers (codependents) have an especially difficult time knowing when to leave.  They are reluctant to explore their emotions and scared of the anger that drives their caretaking behavior.  People pleasers in the extreme have an undeveloped identity based on a false self and built on rules defined by others.

Leaving a painful relationship requires acknowledging what we know about our partners character, our hurt feelings, that we are being mistreated, not living our dreams and are capable of thinking for ourselves.  Accepting things as they are and doing nothing may seem easier and feel less threatening.  Doing nothing means you are subject to control and putting up with whatever your partner wants to dish out.   It can also be a dangerous game to play because it is impossible not to disturb an abusive person and their behaviors are more likely to get worse than better. Hoping a heartless partner will change and admit they have been terrible to you and will never hurt you again is not going to happen. If you have children they will probably learn to abuse or that they are of little value.  Identifying what a good relationship is will help you to set the goal to go.   Most important of all is developing a compassionate relationship with yourself; you must take care of “you” now and always.

Healthy partnerships are built slowly and based on mutual respect and a fair balance of power.  Both people have the ability to give and receive affection, there is zero cruelty, lack of self-destruction, control problems, over-functioning, or denial of responsibility for ones actions.  The couple attends to the needs and well-being of the bond through good deeds, looks, and words.  Healthy relationships are manageable, satisfying, and fulfilling to the soul.  There is no need to deny feelings or disguise thoughts and beliefs.   A solid relationship begins, grows, and matures in reality.   Satisfying relationships are based on mutual caring, not on need.  Each partner enters the commitment content without holding another person or anything responsible for making them happy.  The truth is no one can make anyone happy.  If you are somebody who feels that happiness is the responsibility of your partner or anything else, chances are you will spend a lot of time being disappointed.

Leaving an abusive relationship depends on your self-respect and how you relate to your inner and outer world. How will I know when to leave?  When you enter the final stage of anger, rage, and sadness, followed by release and relief; later comes owning your power.   You will know when you stop explaining away behavior that is unacceptable.   When you accept that your partner’s behavior is destroying any chance for joy you will find the power to leave.  Repetitive endless arguments in your mind against leaving the painful relationship will end.  Experiencing fear and resistance as you do this is normal.   You may feel empty and lost for a time.  Keep telling yourself that you want to stop denying reality.  One day you will wake up and know you can walk away.

Thank you for reading this post. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create a healthy relationship.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

Roberta

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Moving On After an Abusive Relationship

man-running-i6nThe things I have come to recognize I want are not material but emotional.  Now that I have awakened, my abusive relationships take on new significance.  I now have the opportunity to learn new behaviors and new feelings.  I will wait no longer for the help I need.

Completing ourselves is the way we heal from relationship abuse and stop future victimization.  Getting comfortable being alone is something that everyone has to face to have a decent, fulfilling, and manageable life.   As you end your denial of partner abuse, your experience of pain increases until it is accepted.  Denial is used to defend against a loss of love, a loss of self, or the loss of another.  No other person will ever make it unnecessary for you to be complete.  It is always up to you to help yourself.  How do you complete yourself?  You make a commitment to stay out of intimate relationships until you think about and identify what you want.  You find direction and purpose in life by setting goals.  Emotionally you don’t tolerate blame for the abuse only your reaction to it.  You are stuck only by the parts of your relationship for which you’re unwilling to heal and must, because you have been made sick.  Only by accepting the necessity to change, can you move on.  In order to succeed, you have to give up your excuses for failing.  If you sincerely admit you were at least partly responsible for choices made, you can be in greater control of your life.  Someone who expects to lose acts helpless, fails to take action, becomes resentful and holds others responsible for keeping them back.  This person ends up always looking to get even and tends to repeat past mistakes.  Keeping old pain alive is also another way to manipulate others.  When you are filled with resentments, you tend to diminish good feelings to justify staying angry.  You also hold on to your pain because you are afraid to express anger and want to avoid rejection or looking bad. Some hold on to their emotional pain because they are afraid to let go of a victim identity.

Loving yourself is a choice and series of actions based on that choice.  You begin to act accordingly even before you feel lovable.  You choose to behave as if you do anyway.  You don’t forfeit the right to create your own life.  The truth is you can choose to be happy and self-fulfilled regardless of what happen in your relationship.  You will then make healthy decisions that honor and attract and maintain real love, safety and happiness.

I believe the purpose in all our relationships is to discover our true identity and find out who we really are.  When you have an abuse history you need to make loving yourself a mission.  You must be willing to be responsible for completing your emotional work without focusing on anything or any relationship to escape yourself.  Until you heal your self other people, situations and life will inevitably hurt you.  After an abusive relationship many feel they have lost the sense of self as capable and wise, instead see only their problems.  We tend to not trust ourselves when all we recognize is what’s wrong with us.  In abusive relationships we have someone who tries to define who we should be, how we should feel, and how we should live.  This can lead to an increased incapacity to deal with life.  When we complete ourselves, we can better navigate challenging emotional times, feel loss or grieving, fear, or anger  knowing in our heart and soul that we will make it, even if we’re not sure how or when.  We learn we are safe in our own care.  We treat ourselves well, kindly, and as a self-compassionate person does.

Actions to Move On and Complete Yourself

I speak kindly to myself.

I take care of my body and feed it well.

I am compassionate with my crazy thinking.

I take time to be in nature.

I take time for exercise.

I meditate every day.

I forgive as a discipline.

I tell myself often, “I love you very much.”

I date myself and I enjoy my company.

I give myself permission to make mistakes.

I am self-compassionate with my fears.

I am learning to be patience with myself.

I protect my soul and energy.

I spend time with like-minded people.

I am willing to be wrong.

I avoid a victim mentality.

I contribute the best I can.

I show up for life.

Thank you for reading my post. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes put an end to relationship abuse.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

Roberta

 

Addicted to Abusive Love

Broken Heart Courtesy Wikipedia

Broken Heart Courtesy Wikipedia

Obsessing over an abuser is an all-consuming and compulsive preoccupation.  The emotion is often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety and a resistance to alternative viewpoints. The abusers hook is usually a whirlwind courtship where excitement is in the air as romance moves swiftly.  The thrill of the unexpected is mood altering.  It’s fast, it’s stimulating, and it feels alive.  When sexual intimacy is added the speed and intensity of the emotions become greater.  The relationship passion provides a false intimacy which is then mistaken for genuine closeness.  The swift and strong emotions overwhelm an intended victims perceptions. Anything that interferes with the picture of the new love as “ideal” is denied.  The relationship focus is on how the other person is making one feel and not on who the other person really is.  The thinking goes:  “Since he makes me feel wonderful, he must be wonderful.”  The partner’s pleasing characteristics are amplified and overemphasized.  Any hint of trouble gets ignored.  When the person makes you feel terrific it’s easy not to see the red flags about someone’s past relationships, emotional problems, or character.

The codependent personality is the perfect match for an abuser.  Codependent people tend to have an anxious attachment style due to emotionally unavailable, dismissing, and rejecting caregivers growing up. The need for a love attachment can be so extreme that the person believes they can’t live without an abusive partner.  This opens the door to being treated poorly and excessive dependency.  Attachment style with our parent serves as a model for adult experiences in intimate relationships.  Children that are rejected by a caregiver fear abandonment more than others.  When unmet dependency needs arise the person can become extremely clingy and unable to contain anxiety.  This anxiety becomes the foundation for people pleasing to get attention from others and to quiet the excessive worry about rejection.  Rejected adult children often experience pervasive feelings of sadness.  Some therapists call it the “Smiling depression.”   Generally unsatisfied with their intimate relationships, they feel constantly unappreciated, and become preoccupied with their abusive partners.  This way of intimate relating becomes the backdrop for attracting a sick partner.

Where the person with an anxious attachment style cares obsessively, the abusive person doesn’t seem to care as much.  This behavior triggers fear of abandonment for the codependent. The rejecting partner wavers between being distant and cut-off emotionally, to being critical and controlling.  They are reluctant to disclose, have a negative view of others, and are mistrustful of their partners.  They are less invested in partnerships and feel less grief or distress when a relationship ends.  They just don’t seem to care as much and tend to get tired of being nice shortly into a courtship.  Suddenly the end of the honeymoon begins usually over an insignificant incident.  Charm turns to rage and the partner is subjected to an unreasonable attack on his or her character.   Withdrawal symptoms begin when getting the “fix” or desired relationship satisfaction is denied.   The anxious and abusive match find each other to complete unresolved dependency needs from childhood.   Each is attracted to the other because of familiar painful traits.

Dealing with feelings from the past can stir up anger over old hurts and grief for the child that had to endure them.  Acknowledging and dealing with these feelings is essential to diminishing their control over your love life and resolving abusive relationship addiction.  When we don’t feel worthy of love we look to relationships to “fix” us and the addictive cycle of looking for relief in others begins.  With self-compassion we choose to be happy and learn to build healthy relationships.  Seeing your happiness as dependent upon another person is where many enter the world of relationship addiction. Long-term happy partnerships begin with people who are already happy before they meet.

Tips for Resolving Abusive Relationship Addiction

  1. Invest in your well-being by learning about attachment styles in addictive codependent relationships.
  2. Give yourself a break from intimate relationships until you are comfortable being alone.
  3. Commit on deep levels to practice loving actions towards yourself. Trust that the change taking place is good.
  4. Give yourself permission to seek help with a therapist when you are ready to change.
  5. Build endurance to fully grieve your lost childhood, so you can feel joy and happiness.
  6. Show up for yourself. Repeat over and over: “I am worthy,” “Sad feelings won’t last forever,” “I will make it out of this,” “I’m doing the best I can do.”
  7. Stop blaming yourself for family problems over which you do not have control.
  8. Take responsibility for your relationship history. Accept the lessons and learn from relationship pain so you don’t repeat it. Ask yourself, “What is the gift” from this relationship?
  9. Spend time each morning focused on forgiving your partners/parents for not being able to love you.  Let go of resentments so you can be free from the desire to hurt them. Move on to a new freedom and happiness.

Thank you for reading this post. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create a decent relationship.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

Roberta

Tips for Online Dating and Screening for Personality Disorders

Courtesy Wikipedia

Courtesy Wikipedia

The world of internet romance is a playground for the personality disordered.  You do not know who is really behind a profile.  The narcissist, antisocial, and/or sociopath (mostly males) are particularly good at pretending to be someone else to have fun.  The personality disordered has never had an easier time preying on gullible or desperate people.  For the online predator sexual relations are thrilling conquests and nothing more.  Charming and resourceful they are incapable of sincere emotion, shame, guilt, or love.  The narcissist, sociopath, and antisocial person crave stimulation and excitement, live in the present moment unconcerned with the consequences of their behavior.   All personality disordered individuals have character traits that are ingrained, enduring patterns of thinking, feeling, behaving, and perceiving. These enduring patterns are life-long, chronic, and highly incurable.

The female personality disordered tends to be histrionic, dependent, or borderline with smaller percentages who are narcissists.  The histrionic is overly dramatic (extreme drama queen), lively, seductive, and always calling attention to themselves.  They quickly become bored with normal routines and display irrational outbursts or temper tantrums.  They initially come across as charming and outgoing.  Once a relationship is established they become controlling, demanding, and inconsiderate.  The borderline is tricky to spot at first because they present much better than they are but underneath the façade are chronic feelings of emptiness, problems with being alone, emotional instability, intense anger, and identity confusion.  They display impulsivity, self-destructive acts, and suicidal gestures like cutting.  The essential features of dependent personality disorder are a constant demand for attention, lack of self-confidence or the ability to function independently.  The dependent personality dreads making decisions, acting autonomously, and lacks follow through on goals.   They look to others for an identity.  The dependent will do anything to avoid responsibility for his or her self.

With a radar for people’s vulnerability’s the personality disordered can easily manipulate, exploit, control and deceive.  Unfortunately the desperate or naive person’s online profile is easy for them to spot.   A perpetrator can guess a lot about a person’s character through written words and even photographs.   The personality disordered person is superficially charming, likable, and good at starting a relationship.  They have no capacity for empathy and never develop the caring part of a healthy partnership.  In other words, he or she has no real feelings other than rage.  When you ask a tough question, they will change the subject or give a vague response.

Keep in mind that we all share some neuroses.  People can have self-involved narcissistic personality features or a highly dramatic presentation.  The difference is that the person is capable of feeling remorse for being insensitive or mean.  The behavior is uncharacteristic and different from their usual self.  In contrast, the pathological behavior in people with personality disorders is in character and routine for them.  Neuroses may develop at any time; personality disorders are life-long.

If you have decided to give online dating a try it is wise to be aware of your vulnerabilities and appropriate boundaries.  Educating yourself about red flags avoids potential hardship and damage to well-being. You must carefully protect your identity and not disclose personal information quickly.  If you have a history of picking abusive partners it is necessary to ask questions and listen for emotional problems.

Codependents are particularly vulnerable to the breath taking pursuit and initial charm of the pathological.  What is a codependent?  Codependents are people who attempt to keep balance in an abusive relationship and will distort reality in response to the mistreatment.  They try endlessly to please an abusive person.  Codependents deny feelings, dismiss intuition, and feel responsible for other people’s actions.  For example, “If only I had been better sexually, he or she would not have to cheat.  They distort reality to preserve the relationship and avoid the emotional pain admitting the truth would bring.  The high tolerance for inappropriate behavior is often established in childhood with caregivers that are emotionally unavailable and/or abusive.  A typical approach of the pathological is to overwhelm a codependent date with intensity and attention, so the person ignores red flags.  Remember if someone appears too good to be true, your observation is probably right.  A match with genuine intent and healthy boundaries knows true love takes time to discover.

People coming out of a relationship can be vulnerable to the pathological because they need to heal.  It takes time to get over someone you truly love.  Bypassing the grief process stops discovery of the core issues that inhibited a satisfying partnership.  Focusing on a new relationship avoids painful feelings of loss.  It can also make you vulnerable to jump into a new relationship that feels wrong to end loneliness.   Happy long-term relationships are formed by people who are already happy.  Hooking up with the pathological will cause more pain and problems.

So how do you protect yourself from poor choices?  First, know what qualities you are looking for in a partner.  Make a list of these qualities and look at it when considering a meet-up.  You must take your time screening a potential match before jumping into a relationship.  Do not be desperate; stop yourself from acting impulsively.  Temper your longing for emotional fulfillment and love.  If you are using a dating site that offers get to know you questions take advantage of them.  Especially questions about family and past relationships.  See if a potential match answers your questions directly and with some detail.  Have they taken the time to read your profile?  When you receive communication evaluate the persons profile carefully for values and character.  If you are interested, have someone you trust give their opinion of the person.  Is the profile grandiose or shallow?  Is the profile self-serving and irrelevant? Do they describe realistic character traits about themselves and those they want in a partner?   What is important to them in a relationship?  What does their picture(s) say about them?  Are there an excessive amount of vain pictures?  Is there a picture to go along with the person’s profile?

Speak on the telephone before you meet and be discerning, you can tell a lot from hearing someone speak.  Chatting with a potential match is wise and a good safety measure.  If you feel uncomfortable or get a bad vibe just hang up.  Once you know the person’s name, and before you meet, complete an online search.  Verify as much as you can about their integrity.  Be cautious and open minded.  Find out where they work and look at the company’s website to see if they are listed.   Remember to always meet in a public place, drive yourself, and let someone know where you’re going.  Tell a friend or family member who you are meeting, when you plan to return, and the person’s phone number.  If something feels wrong, trust your instincts, and get out.

Screening Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Does he or she blame their mistakes or failures on others or the world at large?  Listen closely to their relationship, family and work history.
  2. Do they acknowledge their part in the ending of past relationships or problems with their partners, children, siblings, or parents?
  3. Do they push for intimacy, start making future plans, and immediately place you in the role of the love of their life? Run….
  4. Do they talk endlessly about themselves
  5. Have they had police contact/arrests for domestic violence, fighting, or criminal behavior?
  6. Do they look for reasons to be insulted?  Do they rant excessively?
  7. Are they easily insulted by people when you are out in public?
  8. Do they express negative or aggressive statements about friends, poor people, and the mentally challenged, needy or loving person?
  9. Are they verbally violent in their communication with putdowns, brutal honesty, threats, or hostility?
  10. Is the person overly dramatic, and always calling attention to themselves?
  11. Do they quickly become bored with normal routines?
  12. Do they use their physical appearance to draw attention to self?
  13. Are they arrogant or superior in behaviors and attitudes?
  14. Do they disregard or diminish your feelings?
  15. Does he or she call or text you constantly?
  16. Are they demanding, but don’t come through for you in return?

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Thank you for reading this post. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create a decent relationship.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

Roberta

Dealing with the Emotional Hangover from Leaving a Narcissistic Relationship

Unchain-My-Heart Courtesy of Wikipedia

Unchain-My-Heart Courtesy of Wikipedia

The emotional hangover when we’re undergoing recovery from a narcissistic relationship is typically profound sadness and secondary to this feeling is rage.  Rage that someone who professed to love you could suddenly turn around and treat you so entirely without empathy.  The rage quite often is disguised as depression.  The grief heals slowly and leaves scars.  When the numbness has worn off there is deep pain and then there are attacks of emotional distress.  Feeling desperate for the pain to stop, panic about never ending loneliness and doubt about leaving are common.  You might find yourself caught in the compulsive mental replay of the injustice you endured.  The grief stages can last for several weeks gradually becoming less frequent for up to a year or more.  The pain and fear that has been bottled up inside from a restrictive, growth-inhibiting relationship comes to the surface.  Anger, blame, and helplessness, feels unmanageable and depressing.   You might be asking yourself. “Where do I go from here?”  “Will I ever find real love?”  Confronting the pain and fear from two, ten, twenty years or more can tempt you to run for cover, withdraw into darkness, jump into a new relationship (unwise choice) or decide to do the serious emotional work of completing yourself.

It is important that you mourn the ending of your relationship because grieving is essential to healing.  No matter how intense the painful emotions become you can endure them.  You have to break away in as healthy a manner as possible so that you are no longer emotionally available.   If you don’t make a clean emotional break you are likely to go back for more abuse.  This can happen because codependent love has an addictive emotional character which results in withdrawal symptoms.  The withdrawal is similar to symptoms from stopping substance abuse. After the break-up, people will experience an obsessive longing for their abusive partner (drug), debilitating emotional pain, and often engage in self-destructive behavior. This emotional response is why some people feel incapacitated by the hurt and obsess about hooking up with an ex-partner for more abuse. In order to accept years of rejection the “victim” develops an insane tolerance for emotional pain. The high tolerance for abusive behavior is a coping strategy to protect the psyche and is often learned in childhood. This obsession can be changed when we learn to love ourselves. When you accept that the way you treat yourself is the problem, the temptation to go back to purgatory will end.

Staying in a destructive relationship is more painful than the temporary pain of healing from the abuse. The emotional hangover will end and you will feel the immense relief of no longer walking on egg shells, needing to justify, explain, or apologize to anyone.  An abusive partner sucks the energy and joy out of your life.  The tension and conflict is exhausting.  Making a commitment to be kind to yourself through this process is life affirming and energizing.  It is also protection against tolerating abuse in future relationships.  Your grief will change when you understand your needs and how to get them met while learning to have fun without an intimate relationship.

Research tells us that long-term happy marriages/partnerships are formed by people that were already happy before the relationship started. When you complete the grieving process and learn to love yourself you will find a new partner who is capable of love.

Tips for healing the emotional hangover from Narcissistic Abuse

● Show up for yourself by repeating over and over: “I am worthy,” “Sad feelings won’t last forever,” “I will make it out of this,” “I’m doing the best I can do”

● Feel good about your decision to leave

● Invest in yourself by learning about narcissistic abuse and codependency

● Give yourself a break from intimate relationships until you have healed and are comfortable being alone

● Invest in your self-acceptance, protection, and emotional growth

● Know you will survive the abuse, learn from the experience, and have deeper self-knowledge

● Force yourself to develop new interests and social outlets

● Give yourself permission to seek the help of a therapist familiar with Narcissistic Personality Disorder

● Acknowledge the anger that you feel so you don’t accept behaviors that hurt you

● If you are feeling depressed ask yourself what you might be angry about

● Examine your fears and insecurity with compassion, not terrorizing yourself with shame

● Make a commitment to take care of yourself even though you may fear in your ability to do so

● Believe in the ability to competently deal with feelings, solve problems, and take responsibility for your life

● Be open to what you are doing to create your life situation instead of being a victim

● Spend time each morning focused on forgiving your partner for not being able to love

● Let go of resentments so you can be free from obsessive thoughts

● Learn to trust yourself by finding out what is right for you

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Thank you for reading my post. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes put an end to relationship abuse.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

Roberta

April is National Limb Loss Awareness Month

12-Mile Ride at Bostalsee

12-Mile Ride at Bostalsee (Photo credit: U.S. Army Europe Images)

There are approximately 1.9 million people in the United States with some form of limb loss.  It is estimated that one out of every 200 people in the U.S. has had an amputation.  Some amputations are the result of injury or disease; others are born with a limb difference.  Losing all or part of a limb is a life-changing event that can cause grief and decreased self-esteem.  A person with an amputation loses part of his or her physical self and the change in appearance is final.  Grieving, therefore, is both normal and expected.  In spite of the challenges with amputation, many people with limb loss do adapt to lead normal, productive, happy lives, working, enjoying hobbies, and raising families.

As of February 2013 the U.S. military casualty statistics for Operation New Dawn, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom state that 1,715 service members that have sustained combat-related major limb amputations, 30% have multiple limb amputations, and 18% have upper limb amputations.   

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FROM THE AMPUTEE COALITION

Amputee Coalition Celebrates National Limb Loss Awareness Month

Manassas, VA, March 19, 2013 – Each day, more than 500 Americans lose a limb, largely to vascular-related diseases, and 60 percent are preventable. In an effort to increase awareness about limb loss prevention and about those living with limb loss, in 2011, the Amputee Coalition designated April as National Limb Loss Awareness Month.

This April, amputee support groups, veterans, prosthetists, rehabilitation centers and those with limb loss are gearing up to participate in a number of activities in their local areas to celebrate living well with limb loss.

“It’s important for Americans to know that amputees are not defined by their amputation and that they are living life to the fullest,” said Kendra Calhoun, president and CEO of the Amputee Coalition, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization on limb loss. “What better time than National Limb Loss Awareness Month to celebrate that fact?”

“Many amputees do not consider themselves disabled,” said Bill Nessel, the support group leader of Amputee Connections of Redlands in Redlands, California. “We have successful careers, families and friends, and are involved in all types of activities, including sports and recreation.”

The Amputee Connection of Redlands will be hosting an Open House from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM on April 21, 2013, at Redlands Community Hospital, Wiesser Education Pavilion, 350 Terracina Blvd., Redlands, CA. Everyone seeking information from the amputee community is invited to come by for an afternoon of sharing experiences and knowledge with three support groups.  For additional information contact Bill Nessel at (909) 423-0562.

In addition, many in the limb loss community enjoy giving back to the community. Some of them choose to become peer visitors and help others who face or have had amputations. The Amputee Coalition has 1,000 certified peer visitors across the nation and more than 260 local support groups in its national network.

About the Amputee Coalition

The Amputee Coalition, headquartered in Manassas, Virginia, is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is “to reach out to and empower people affected by limb loss to achieve their full potential through education, support and advocacy, and to promote limb loss prevention.” For more information about limb loss, please call 888/267-5669 or visit the Amputee Coalition Web site at amputee-coalition.org

 

The Punishing Sexuality of the Narcissist

230px-Martin_van_Maele_-_La_Comtesse_au_fouet_01

Foot Fetish Courtesy of Wikipedia

The narcissist is threatened by a partner’s sexual and emotional needs and believes they are out to trap them and suck them dry.  This is the narcissist’s classic projection of their true inner self.  Because of this projection he or she tortures and abuses.  They can be ruthless in their pursuit of prey and create misery in their wake. To calm irrational fears they pathologize intimate others to maintain power and control.  They are constitutionally incapable of feeling empathy or remorse for their actions.

Most narcissists prefer pornography and masturbation to emotionally attached, mature, adult sex.  Some are into sadomasochistic sexual relationships; some use pornography to become aroused; others become addicted to it.  The psychological or physical suffering (including humiliation) of the victim is sexually exciting to the sadistic narcissist.  Witnessing his or her pain is what the sadist finds arousing.  Their sexuality is not a connected and balanced part of life.  The sexual act is a performance-oriented genital experience focused on the hunt and momentary high of orgasm.  Sometimes they are latent homosexuals or secretly bisexual.  Many have fetishes which involve the use of nonliving objects.  Spandex, lingerie, cross dressing, boas, high heels, leather restraints, etc. may be used for sexual stimulation.  It can start to take increasingly more violence or the use of fetish objects to become sexually aroused enough to orgasm.  Boredom in the bedroom comes quickly and ejaculation may be impossible without toys or inflicting pain.

After the pyrotechnic beginnings, sex is likely to become an impersonal and emotionally distant experience.  Most heterosexual male and female narcissists hate their opposite gender.  Punishment by emotional withdrawing and abstaining from sex is inflicted on loving partners to maintain control.  The narcissist sadistically frustrates for pleasure and can become celibate within a relationship.  Sex then is only performed to keep their partner from leaving or for the demonstration of physical and psychological domination.  They are incapable of true emotional intimacy and dread the needs of a lover.  Unable to love or feel empathy, the relationship becomes chaotic, lacking any measure of authentic intimacy.  The life force is sucked out of the partner leaving them hollow.  They are notorious for cheating and/or using the services of prostitutes.  Partners are wise to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

Narcissists rarely seek help for their soulless, emotionless, genital only sex and destructive mistreatment of others.  Their need to have sexual power is directly proportional to the hatred and rage they feel within.  If you are reading this post you probably have suffered to hang on to this type of painful relationship and long to find real love.  You must start with learning to nurture yourself and seeking to understand the intense longing that led to your choice of a narcissistic partner.  The truth is, their numbers are great and odds are many of us will encounter this personality disorder in our search for a healthy partner.  Find something you love to do and do it!  Warm relationships and fulfilling sexual experiences flow from a person who feels good about his or her life and is on a path to self-fulfillment.  Take your focus off finding a relationship and begin to find your own source of love and power. You will then tend to attract genuine people who want to love you.

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Thank you for reading this post. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to express needs and put an end to relationship abuse.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

Roberta

Time to get Angry: Ending the Narcissistic Relationship

Raiva-Ager-IconRelationships with narcissists are about blame: “I feel bad, and it’s your fault.”  What is a narcissist?  Narcissistic partners are self-centered with an excessive need for attention and admiration. They control with anger, violence, criticism, irritation, righteousness, invasive energy, and emotional drama. They use both blatant and concealed control to get the attention he or she wants and hold others responsible for their feelings of pain and joy.  It is your job to make sure that their needs are met.  All forms of narcissistic abuse results from failure to feel compassion.  They don’t care about how you feel.  Failure of compassion is abuse.  Trying to prevent outbursts, the victims of narcissists “walk on egg shells” to keep the peace.

You might be asking yourself, “How could someone who felt so right in the beginning of the relationship be a total mistake?”  After the discovery of your partner’s true character, emotions are usually intense.  The hurt, bewilderment, and numbing shock are overwhelming.  Acceptance of anger is not pleasant, but it is necessary for ending the abuse.  Anger will guide you to decisions that are important to make.  You will find it difficult if not impossible to leave and get better until you get mad.  Denying anger eats away at your innermost spirit and feeds depression.   Hidden anger does not go away; it sits waiting for you to become strong enough to deal with the mistreatment.  It is very important to acknowledge the anger that you feel or you will continue to accept behaviors that hurt you.  Staying in denial, it is likely you will suffer from fear, emotional pain, or shame.  It is far more effective to assert yourself with anger to motivate an escape from purgatory.  By repressing emotions and disregarding needs you stay victimized and become stuck in the nightmare.  Some victims of narcissists stay in quiet desperation for years, secretly wanting out and then they die.  Their emotional work is left to their children to complete.  You have the right and responsibility to feel and learn from your anger.

It is important to understand that not all anger is unhealthy.  Anger can be used constructively or destructively.  It can be a warning signal to protect ourselves from being dominated or manipulated by others.  It’s a defense mechanism that protects.  Anger can give us strength and courage to stop abuse done against us or to others we
love.  However, when anger is unexpressed it becomes destructive taking control over the mind, body, and spirit.  Most people under the control of a narcissist cannot clearly comprehend the abuse or make good decisions.  The person acting codependently is unable to think rationally and emotions take control of their actions.  They make excuses for the abusers behavior, feel trapped and uncertain how to take care of themselves or their children.  Anger may be denied because the person feels too guilty about it or are afraid of it.  You may speak of being disappointed, frustrated, or let down, unaware that these expressions may indicate repressed anger.  Becoming angry at the abuse is an effective means of utilizing the emotion in overcoming fear.  Constructively used, anger can give strength both mentally and emotionally.  The open expression of anger towards the narcissist will not solve the problem and could be dangerous.  Anger and threats usually provoke further hostility and rage.  If you fear for your safety, please click the following link: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: Safety Plan for Leaving an Abusive Relationship http://www.ncadv.org/protectyourself/SafetyPlan.php

What do I do about feeling my anger?   Recognize that you are angry and admit it to yourself.  Awareness is much less harmful than unrecognized or unadmitted anger.  It is essential that you uncover the feelings first.  If you are feeling depressed, ask yourself what you might be angry about.  Are you afraid to face the situation?  Are you afraid to face your anger?  Understand why you are angry so you will figure out ways to handle it.  When you recognize the destructive behaviors of the narcissist, your frustration and discouragement, you will find the source of anger and what to do about it.  Dealing with anger is easy to describe, but less easy to carry out.  Life is complex.  Once you leave you must make a personal search to discover interests and what can be done to express them in your new life.  Remember you have to make changes because you are the one who has been made sick by the relationship.  If you don’t make changes you are likely to continue to be frustrated and depressed.

Ending a relationship with a narcissist means we need to make a choice to take care of ourselves even though we may fear in our ability to do so.  You cannot change a narcissist (anyone) or be responsible for their insatiable needs. It is time to feel your anger and release your partner to think, feel, solve problems, and take care of his or her self. Your work is to believe in the ability to competently deal with feelings, solve problems, and take responsibility for your life.

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Thank you for reading my post. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to express needs and put an end to relationship abuse.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

Roberta

Codependents Facing Their Darker Side

Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

 

All the pieces of me are coming together as I acknowledge my own healing ability.  My past is no longer in charge of me

Facing our darker side is a step in the right direction to rid ourselves of hiding for the rest of our lives. Our problem behaviors have something to teach us if we can get past the urge to pretend they don’t exist. A person’s darker side contains the shadow parts of the self that one rejects and find unacceptable. The shadow is all the actions that scare and disgusts us about ourselves and others. This is the side of us we deny and would rather not experience. Uncovering your denial relieves you of anxiety, stress, and self-deception; it removes blocks to joy and love. Nothing you do to remove the blocks will be effective when you deny your anger and resentment. Being honest with ourselves makes room for self-acceptance. Telling the truth is the first step and the second is admitting we are willing or not to change whatever the behavior is at the moment. Keep in mind you are examining your fears and shortcomings with compassion, not terrorizing yourself with shame. Remembering our own mistakes when we want to judge others moves us towards authenticity.Our darker side is always looking for expression and can slowly destroy relationships with family, friends, partners, ourselves, and other important people to us. When we keep our problems hidden or denied nothing changes. Problems brought out into the open diminish their control over our lives. Learning how to take responsibility for your own issues is one of the essential actions in removing blocks to joy and love. This means being open to what you are doing to create your life situation instead of being a victim and believing that others are causing your unhappiness. Your behavior comes from how you treat yourself and others. When you don’t acknowledge your issues, you will end up feeling angry, bitter, trapped, unappreciated, unloved, and misunderstood. These feelings arise from a wounded sense of self where we give ourselves permission to be self-punishing.

Codependents often feel anxious that unpleasant and frightening things are going to happen. Your anxious thinking gets you expecting that you won’t be able to cope with change. These emotions are your warning signal that things may require work and attention in your life. When we are brave enough to face ourselves and love ourselves, even in our most destructive behavior, we gain courage. In this way, we encourage confidence in our ability to cope.

Codependents know when something is wrong in a relationship and tend to blame themselves or a partner instead of facing their own needs to grow up. Admitting this tendency will help you to set better boundaries. Keeping your negative attitudes or fears unacknowledged takes control of your happiness and creates life-long pervasive feelings of dissatisfaction in your intimate relationships.

Compulsive behavior is especially important to admit for the person who abuses alcohol and/or drugs. Many codependents abuse substances to avoid the frustration and pain that occurs in relationships. The codependent keeps their anxiety hidden. They fear being found out and feel very alone because they don’t share their true pain. Substances allow for a false sense of intimacy in relationships and at the same time keep people away.

Many codependents grew up in homes where the emotional goods (love) were in shortage. Lack of abundance in love can become the shadow of jealousy. Jealousy is the belief that there is not enough love to go around and a destroyer of relationships. The truth is that jealousy is fear about losing someone’s love or not getting the love you want. When you are jealous, admitting to feeling insecure about your lovability helps to silence the dark shadow and its hold on you. As does calming the fear of abandonment by acknowledging there is always enough love to go around until you believe it. Jealousy usually produces tremendous inner pain and distress. Accepting and managing your jealousy becomes ever so important in removing blocks to joy and happiness because of its potential destructiveness.

Controlling by managing other people or events is a way of dealing with anxiety, especially in unhealthy relationships. The belief that things and people hold the solution to happiness and stopping our pain makes life unmanageable. Relationships are meant to teach us lessons about love, not reinforce our past. A more joyful and loving existence is possible when we make a conscious effort to talk directly about fears and hidden thoughts. As we grow in understanding and acceptance the blocks to joy and love are eliminated. Expanding your understanding with truth removes fear and insecurity.
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Thank you for reading this post. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience. As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create a manageable life. And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

Roberta

Codependents, Dating, Mating, Growing, and Assessing for Partner Abuse

heart-jg8nCodependents with a history of relationship abuse need to enter romantic relationships with awareness and respect for their neediness and unmet childhood dependency needs.   Codependents are some of the most loving people and find it difficult to leave abusive relationships.  They have a tough time accepting that abusive partners will not change over time no matter how much they want them to.  Learning to recognize personality disordered character traits is imperative in protecting your vulnerabilities as you complete your own emotional work.

Character traits are patterns of behaving, feeling, perceiving, and thinking, which are evident in our personal and social relationships.  Although our character can be changed, it typically remains the same and affects us all of our lives.  Personality traits turn into personality disorders when they become inflexible, do not adjust to relationship needs, and significantly damage social and job functioning or cause considerable misery.   Often, the people who live and work with the personality disordered are more distressed.  People with personality disorders often fail at work and love.

People who are acting neurotic see their behavior as uncharacteristic and different from their usual self.  In contrast, the pathological behavior in people with personality disorders is in character and routine for them.  Neuroses may develop at any time; personality disorders are life-long. Personality disorders first become evident during adolescence or earlier and are highly incurable.

Codependents need to spend more time building a new relationship and going slowly. Take the time to learn how conflicts were managed in a person’s family.  Find out how a new partner shows his or her love to others.   Be aware of what you want for yourself and what you want in a relationship.  Know how you need to be treated and listen closely for emotional issues.  We all have emotional challenges and need to assess if a person’s immaturity is likely to sabotage a healthy relationship.  Respect your vulnerabilities and don’t hook into a being a relationship martyr.  Remember your relationship history of choosing partners that end up resembling a caretaker.  You might have felt in the beginning of a past relationship that you knew your partner even though you had just met.  Chances are on an unconscious level they reminded you of a caretaker that this time was going to cherish you.  You felt your needs were going to be satisfied and you would no longer feel alone.  Denial is strongest at the beginning of romantic relationships.

Some questions to answer when assessing for problem behavior:

  1. Does he or she blame their mistakes or failures on others or the world at large?  Listen closely to their relationship, family and work history.
  2. Do they acknowledge their part in the ending of past relationships or problems with their partners, children, siblings, or parents?
  3. Have they had police contact/arrests for domestic violence, fighting, or criminal behavior?
  4. Do they look for reasons to be insulted?  Do they rant excessively? Are they easily insulted by people when you are out in public?
  5. Do they express negative or aggressive statements about friends, poor people, and the mentally challenged, needy or loving person?
  6. Are they verbally violent in their communication with put-downs, brutal honesty, threats, or hostility?
  7. Do they push for intimacy, start making future plans, and immediately place you in the role of the love of their life? Run….
  8. Does he or she call or text you constantly?
  9. Is the person overly dramatic, and always calling attention to themselves?
  10. Do they quickly become bored with normal routines?
  11. Do they use their physical appearance to draw attention to self?
  12. Are they arrogant or superior in behaviors and attitudes?

Evaluating character traits without illusion avoids the horrifying moment where you are shocked that your partner is not the person you thought they were.  You deceived yourself all along about his or her character.  The loneliness and sadness of childhood wounds ends up coming to the surface unhealed.  A codependent can become trapped, sticking it out beyond the anger stage and begin bargaining with despair.  Finding a way to resolve this problem and creating a satisfying relationship is not possible with the personality disordered person.  Owning your relationship history and denial will help you see emotional issues in others more clearly. You must invest in your self-acceptance, protection, and emotional growth.  Your investment in repairing the emotional damage of childhood is what allows you to become complete and attract a loving partner capable of nurturing you.

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Thank you for reading this post. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create healthy relationships.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

 Roberta

Problem-Solving: The Work of Satisfying Relationships

Smiley_svgUnresolved problems and conflicts in your relationship contribute to stress and tension, which leads to relationship dissatisfaction. Ask yourself, “Is it okay in my partnership to identify, have, and talk about problems?” All people have problems to work through. To create healthy communication we must not deny problems as a way of dealing with them and we must be able to discuss them. When we deny our problems we can become depressed, overeat, drink, and otherwise act-out compulsively. In contrast, addressing problems as they occur contributes to feeling connected to our loved ones, which leads to lower levels of stress, spontaneous expressions of affection, and improved mood.  Keep in mind that the best time to resolve a conflict may not be immediately. It is not unusual for one or both partners to need some time to cool off.

Problems are part of life and the work of long-term relationships.  So are solutions. We may spend more time in the drama of a problem than solving it. We end up missing the point, the lesson, and the gift.  Successful partnerships involve a willingness to listen to and be influenced by the needs and opinions of one another.  It’s necessary to talk about and solve our problems if we want a decent manageable life together.  Starting a discussion with criticism or blame is a common way two people escalate to hurting each other.

During conflict a means of monitoring anger is to notice when your voice rises, this is a warning signal that you are getting closer to blaming or having an outburst. When you lash out you become the “problem” and the drama continues.  You step into the role of the persecutor, your partner becomes a victim to your ranting, and eventually someone will take the rescuer role to make things better.  The problem often does not get addressed.  Eventually intimacy and your sex life are ruined with this ongoing pattern of relating.  Problem-solving skills can be developed and used to cope with relationship disputes and can also be helpful in other areas of your life.

Problem-solving techniques are effective when applied to problems of conflict directly or to problems that might contribute to disagreements (e.g. work conditions, financial concerns, health problems, etc.). Good problem-solving is closely related to changing your thinking; it’s changing your belief that problems are overwhelming and impossible into a belief that they can be addressed successfully. You and your partner need to attack the problem and not each other.  Start discussions with a positive meaningful comment about your partner’s strengths before sharing the issue(s). End your communication with a positive statement about how you will do your part to making the connection stronger.  Be willing to discover and correct blind spots about your behavior.  Resolving problems requires clearly defining the issue to overcome obstacles and find solutions.

Example: Poorly defined problem:

“I’m unhappy and depressed in my relationship.”

Example: Well-defined problem:

“I feel unhappy with my relationship for most of the day, every day because my partner is not affectionate. When I’m unhappy, it’s hard for me to interact with my partner and I end up sitting by myself watching TV for hours or I call a friend to discuss the state of my unhappiness. This makes me feel unloved, lonely and frustrated. My friends are irritated with me for my constant complaining, and my partner is angry at me for my emotional distancing and isolation.”

Resolve your frustration by clearly stating what you need from the other person.  Describe your request in clear terms. For example, you might say, “I would like you to hold my hand more often” rather than, “I wish you were more caring.”  Wait for a response. Be a good listener and don’t interrupt, focus on what is being expressed and check out what you heard your partner say.  Edit unnecessary negative comments.

Next, how do you want to change? Set realistic, specific, concrete goals.

Example: 1) I would like critical thoughts about my partner to be less often and 2) less frequent 3) I would like to be able to spend time with my partner and share affection 4) I would like to communicate to my partner about what is making me angry.

Now for the fun part of solving problems, this is a time to loosen up thinking and to generate as many solutions as possible, even if they seem dumb or impractical.

Example:

1) Stop talking about my anger to friends and start talking to my partner.

2) Talk to my doctor about my depression and/or couples counseling.

3) Ask my friends to talk to me and urge me to think positively.

4) Practice taking deep breaths when I start to have critical thoughts.

5) Exercise when depressive and critical thoughts start.

6) Go on a weekend getaway to relax and connect with my partner.

7) Give to my partner what I need from him or her (e.g., affection, patience, acceptance, etc.).

Now go for the solution. Try out the top 2 or 3 solutions. Give 110% effort – it will only work if you really want to change.  Expect to be challenged, as it often takes some persistence before a problem is fully solved, but give yourself kudos for the effort.

Example: I will plan to talk about my feelings regularly, I will practice deep breathing when I start thinking critically, and I will show appreciation to my partner.

Solving problems involves accountability for one’s actions and giving up the role of a victim.  The feeling of anger is normal and healthy in long-term relationships.  When anger is appropriately expressed it draws people closer to each other, increasing satisfaction.  Anger is always a secondary emotion to the feelings of hurt and/or fear.  Expressing anger aggressively is temporary relief from shame and feelings of powerlessness.  Everyone feels trapped from aggressive communication.  Aggression is fueled by rage not anger.  If aggression is a problem outside intervention will be necessary. Co-creating a satisfying relationship involves understanding each other’s perspective, not taking another’s communication as a personal attack, and sympathizing with feelings, especially when there is conflict.

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Thank you for reading this post. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create healthy relationships.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

 Roberta

Trusting Ourselves to Leave an Abusive Relationship

Broken Heart Courtesy Wikipedia

Broken Heart – Wikipedia

Trusting yourself is the key to living well and being capable of trusting others.  You learn to trust yourself to leave any abusive relationship by listening and following through on your inner wisdom.  This is the start of practicing self-care and self-respect by doing what is true and right and what is best for you.   Falling for partners who deceived, abused, manipulated, and otherwise exploited you is not trusting your instincts.  Chances are there was a small voice that said, “Something doesn’t feel right” or maybe you didn’t feel uncomfortable and are shocked about your choice.   How could someone who felt so right be a total mistake?  Belief in yourself may be shaken.  There are times when we are challenged with change in relationships and fear we can’t take care of ourselves.  Listening to self-talk that says I don’t deserve to love or be loved keeps you stuck.   Believing you deserve a manageable relationship and acting on your intuition ends the abuse.

We may have a partner that tells us we cannot believe in ourselves; we are off base and nuts.  They benefit from mistrust because it keeps the cycle of abuse going.  Fear, panic, and doubt are an enemy to leaving an abusive situation and feelings you do not want to entertain.  You can stand in your truth and trust your own gut.  Accepting your mistakes when you thought you were making a good decision and trusting yourself anyway is important.  The rigid rules and demands for perfect decision-making are self-punishing.  You have the power to make healthy choices.  Are you wondering how you can count on your relationship choices when things went so wrong?   Each person that comes into your life has unique lessons to teach you.  You have no control over anyone’s actions or emotions.  Protect yourself by listening to your heart and no longer placing faith in partners that are destructive.  As you attract healthy partners with your intimate self, you will trust your thoughts and your own emotions. Letting your past interfere with self-trust keeps you trapped in fear and abuse.  You can learn, grow, and improve from your mistakes.  You can make better choices and leave situations with abusive partners.  By accepting your mistakes and being grateful for the lessons, you don’t have to repeat them.   You can make decisions based on what you know now.  Trust your decision to leave and do the best you can.  From your past unwise relationship decisions you experience growth.  Feel good about your decision to change and about your mistakes. Acknowledge your newly acquired awareness and treat yourself kindly when you wonder how you could have been so naïve or blind.  Realize that you were not as aware then as you are now.  Accept your inner knowing and listen attentively.  Know you will survive the abuse, learn from the experience and have deeper self-knowledge.  Begin once more; it is never too late to begin again.  The way to heal a broken heart is to keep on loving.

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Thank you for reading this post. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create healthy relationships.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

 Roberta

Energy Vampires: Emotional Sadism and the Narcissistic Relationship

master of mirrorsThe narcissist is clearly sadistic in his or her rejection of others and in feelings of superiority.  What is a narcissist? Narcissism is a condition in which a person feels pathological self-hatred and is preoccupied with projecting a lovable image.  They are obsessed with this false image and direct tremendous energy to other people’s impressions of them.  Because the projected image is so loveable they are effective in eliciting real love from others.  People’s impression of the false image feels like self-love to the narcissist.  They are incapable of loving themselves or others, but want to be loved.  The narcissist craves admiration and will manipulate the needs and wishes of everyone to obtain it.  When a partner falls for the “lovable” image the narcissist acquires a sense of self through the look of love reflected back in the eyes and actions of the person.  The narcissist needs for constant attention and caretaking takes center stage as desires of others are ignored and denied.  As a relationship progresses the narcissist will not celebrate a partner’s accomplishments, compliment them on anything, and will ignore you in social settings.  They genuinely don’t care about your needs and are experts at pretending they do until they have control. Than the self-involved energy vampire punishes you for having desires because they demand that all of your attention and energy be focused on them.  They suck the life force and joy out of everyone they can take hostage. They prefer your admiration and awe, but eventually their behavior destroys any feelings of love and they will then settle for negative attention. This makes the emotional sadist feel all-powerful and capable of any cruelty.

The narcissist slowly progresses from minimal emotional assaults to intentionally deliberate attacks.  Distancing and cold rejecting aloofness is a favorite weapon.  It doesn’t matter to him if you cry because he is not affected and doesn’t care.  He feels nothing and is not concerned about what you are feeling.  The energy vampire is not interested in your character.  The emotionally sadistic narcissist gets enjoyment from hurting someone.  They are experts at manipulating people’s emotions until they are hurt more than physical abuse.  He intimidates his partners to avoid expressing criticism and disapproval of his actions and decisions.  His partner or children learn that this triggers fits of temper and rage attacks and turns him into an argumentative and irritable person.  His extreme reactions are a punishment for perceived inconsiderateness and insensitivity of his true inner state.  The narcissist blames his partner for his behavior, accuses them of provoking his outbursts and believes that they should be punished for their misbehavior.  Apologies, unless accompanied by requests for forgiveness are not enough.  The fuel of the narcissist’s rage is expended mainly on bizarre verbal accusations directed at made-up and imaginary intentions of the victim.  If you question the appropriateness of the behavior, no longer mirroring admiration and submissiveness, this causes him or her to doubt their illusory self-esteem.  You are then subjected to a period of terror where they try to hurt you for not recognizing their entitlement to your unquestioned obedience.  You will be belittled and humiliated with displays of aggression and emotional violence in countless forms.  His or her behavior changes from putting you on a pedestal to a severe devaluing of you as a worthy person.  The narcissist is repulsed by people judged by him to be useless.  These extreme alterations between seeing you as flawless to complete unworthiness make long-term relationships with the narcissist all but impossible.  He will exploit you cruelly and severely.  He uses you to get confirmation of the accuracy of his superior false image.

The emotional sadist’s abuse is kept secret by conditioning his partners, children, and sometimes colleagues or employees to not tell.  People often find themselves involved emotionally in an intimate or employment relationship before they discover the narcissist true nature.  His victims typically come from family environments where there is abuse and a “don’t talk” rule.  This especially is the case in families with sexual abuse and alcoholism to hide.  So secrecy is a major weapon in keeping the mistreatment confidential.  They keep up a public façade appearing nonthreatening and even altruistic and in private are evil and aggressive.  The victims keep the secrets safe by constructing an explanation to make sense of the cruelty, “He just can’t deal with intimacy” or “She had a bad childhood.”  Some victims are raised to not “air dirty laundry” and keep silent about the abuse to family and friends. The victim is held in traumatic bondage by being convinced they are the problem and to be blamed for the misconduct.  By the time the victim discovers the truth they find it difficult to leave the relationship.  The emotional battering renders the wounded with feelings of helplessness and shame for not seeing through the angelic façade.

Dealing with a narcissists sadistic behavior is pretty dismal.  Their numbers in society are great and it is imperative that this personality disorder becomes readily recognizable.  I have worked with countless numbers of violent narcissistic men and women, many more I am sure that missed my clinical recognition.  If you have found yourself living in quiet desperation or working with an emotional and/or physically abusive narcissist, please educate yourself and others about the abuse.  I have written a post on “How Codependents Leave Abusive Narcissistic Relationships” and “How Codependents Leave Employment with Narcissistic Boss” that you might find helpful to read.

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Thank you for reading this post.  I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create healthy relationships.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

Roberta

Telling Family Secrets about Abuse

The_Hero_Illustration

The Hero Illustration

Be quiet, don’t tell anyone ever.  Suck it up.  The child raised this way is a very special person.   The denial required of children in their effort to protect family secrets creates feelings of helplessness.   This is the legacy of family secrets from the loyalty of children who do not wish to speak out against their parents.   Children involved in keeping family secrets have a high potential for participating in an abusive relationship as an adult.  Keeping secrets, as a family illness, parallels emotional and compulsive disorders.  There is a strong association between compulsive behavior (alcoholism, gambling, physical abuse, and/or sexual abuse, etc.) consistently identified in families with a “don’t tell” rule.  Regardless of the disorder, family members are often unaware of their own pain when the family does not even acknowledge there is a problem.   This makes it impossible to heal what we don’t allow ourselves to feel.  No one speaks of his or her loneliness and loss of sense of self.  Abuse is abandonment because when children are abused no one is there for them.   Toxic secrets lower self-esteem, increase shame/guilt, and block a child’s ability to grieve losses and hurts.

The impressions and feelings caused by keeping family secrets remain with those children and tend to be carried into adulthood.   Adult children often continue to experience problems related to talking about relationship abuse.  They have learned to tolerate whatever abuse is being handed out in intimate partnerships. To heal adult children must come out of hiding.  As long as your secrets are hidden, there is nothing you can do about it.  Sometimes secrets may have been repressed because they are emotionally charged or threatening to you.  It’s possible to have secrets you are unaware of or may minimize to protect yourself.

The best way to come out of hiding is to find a supportive intimate social network.   Choosing a safe person or group needs to be done carefully and over a length of time.  True love heals and affects personal growth.   To heal you have to risk exposing yourself to someone else.   You have a right to talk about problems and you have a right to feel.  You don’t have to pretend that keeping secrets isn’t making you feel crazy, lonely or confused.  You don’t have to analyze or justify your feelings.   What is most healing is to acknowledge secrets and sharing secrets that may be damaging you.  Telling what happen can increase self-esteem, decrease shame, allow you to grieve, to feel love and be loved.  You may find feelings associated with the secrets and repetitive self-destructive behavior or choosing abusive relationships end.  You will then choose relationships that grow out of awareness and sensitivity to your innermost needs.

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Thank you for reading this article. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create healthy relationships.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

 Roberta

Damage from Toxic Parents is not a Life Sentence

Unchain-My-Heart Courtesy of Wikipedia

Unchain-My-Heart Courtesy of Wikipedia

The adult behavior modeled in our family deeply affects the core beliefs we hold about ourselves and has long-lasting impacts on trust, self-esteem, and the ability to form or maintain healthy relationships. Our caregivers teach us what it means to be a male or female, how to believe in ourselves, how to love others, complete goals, grow up and compete in the world. What is a toxic parent? A toxic parent is often personality disordered, constitutionally incapable of changing, and a professional victim. They wreak havoc in the emotional lives of their children and teach self-hatred among other things. Some adult children of abuse externalize their rage. They fill our prison systems, rehab facilities, abuse our children, and inflict violence in our society. I have worked most of my professional life intervening with the externalized rage in male and female domestic violence offenders from toxic families. Self-hatred and depression are a driving force in their contempt and violence. The child that internalizes their toxic caregivers rage tends to partner with this “familiar” abusive person. Internalized rage can present as depression, anxiety, self-blame, shame, low self-esteem, substance abuse, and people pleasing behaviors.

CLUSTER B PERSONALITY DISORDERS DSM-IV
Personality disorders are associated with significant disturbances in personal and social functioning. The disorders are characterized with inflexible and pervasive destructive behavior patterns in most situations. The person perceives their behavior to be appropriate. Personality disorders are chronic, life long, and highly incurable.

Antisocial- Characterized by a lack of empathy, violation of social norms, and a pattern of criminal activity.
Borderline- Instability of mood, relationships and self-image, history of self-harm (e.g. cutting) and impulsivity. Extreme “black and white” thinking.
Histrionic- Person displays shallow or exaggerated emotions (drama queen or king), excessive attention-seeking, and inappropriately seductive behavior.
Narcissistic- Characterized by a lack of empathy or remorse, pervasive pattern of grandiosity and excessive need for admiration. Person feels a sense of entitlement, displays arrogance, and extreme levels of jealousy. Person is preoccupied with fantasies of idealized love, fame, and self-importance.

When a child’s early developmental needs are not met by supportive positive role models it can lead to core beliefs that make healthy friendships and adult relationships nearly impossible. Lacking self-worth and not feeling loved or a sense of belonging can make children more vulnerable to emotional and physical abuse, and general feelings of discontent. Fear of losing control of emotions tends to result in coping strategies such as denial or suppression. I believe one of the early childhood traumatic suppressions is profound sadness. Recent research evidence (Terrence Real, 1997) points to suppression of sadness (depression) as a link to violent behavior. Especially vulnerable are boys and men that learn to control by using force, fueled by denying feelings of depression, not trusting feelings, or talking about feelings. Maintaining control of emotions, thoughts, feelings, actions, and relationships is a way to survive in emotionally impoverished chaotic environments. Showing feelings in toxic environments is often met with disapproval, rejection, criticism, and belittlement. This mistreatment makes trust of our caregiver(s) difficult as is the development of self-reliance on our own perceptions and feelings. As adults this makes expression of true emotions in relationships a challenge.

A developmental task that tends to be stifled by toxic parenting is the ability to be spontaneous, have fun, and stay flexible with change. Often a child feels blame and shame for the family chaos believing that they are the cause of a parent’s cruelty. The first-born and or the sensitive child may become overly responsible for the family pain in trying to control the dysfunction. If efforts to make family life better continuously fail, he or she may give up on being responsible and become irresponsible in completing goals in adulthood. This sets the pattern for ignoring emotional needs and not setting psychological boundaries in intimate relationships.

For an adult child’s well-being foregoing a relationship with a parent(s) sometimes is necessary, at least for the short-term while changing the negative feelings and thoughts about oneself. You do this to protect “you” from further psychological harm. This self-care can be difficult because even the most abusive parents can sometimes be loving and makes severing the bond harder. Basically any behavior that shames the child or makes them feel guilty contributes to a lack of entitlement to feelings. This is an emotional trap!

Damage from growing up with toxic parents is not a life sentence of doom and gloom. Repair of self-esteem begins with a commitment to re-parent ourselves. You must go through the process of growing up again. You will need to uncover the core messages you believe about yourself. For example, “I’m not good enough,” “I’m unlovable,” “I’m weak,” “I’m stupid,” “I’m a bad person,” “I deserved the abuse,” “Nobody will ever love me,” etc. One way of discovering your core beliefs is to write a relationship inventory. Sit down and list all the behaviors that have hurt and you feel resentment about from your current/past relationships with friends and partners. Evaluating the list of painful behaviors, ask yourself what a person would have to think about themselves to stay in the relationship. This exercise is not about reinforcing self-blame. It’s a process done to revisit your childhood and recover your true self. Have your partners been unloving, demeaning, disrespectful, cold-hearted, cruel, or physically violent? Your core beliefs might look like the list in the example above.

Look at the inventory list of behaviors again and see if what you described matches the abusive treatment from a caregiver, difficult relative, or a sibling. This is an opportunity to understand and address unresolved issues within yourself and family of origin. Changing your core messages requires the practice of listening to how you talk to yourself and correcting demeaning thoughts and put-downs. Practice being aware of your core belief triggers, especially when a parent is abusing you. For example, when your mother is making critical statements, you are thinking, “This where I tell myself I’m not good enough.” Change the negative belief by repeating silently to yourself, “I am a worthy person” while looking your mother in the eye. Eventually you will get good at observing your thoughts and changing them. You will learn to witness your mind in conversation with another person. I suggest keeping a journal to affirm the reality of your life and give voice to expression of feelings.

Re-parenting yourself requires correcting negative core beliefs and acknowledging the abuse you received from your caregivers. This isn’t about blaming your parents for why your adult life is not working. The truth is no matter how pathetic their behavior has been it’s the best they can do with the emotional maturity they have. Acknowledging who is responsible for whatever type of abuse occurred is a process of understanding what happen to you. You will then be clear about the resentments you are letting go. I don’t believe you can just get over toxic parenting by putting it in the past without examination. You cannot live in your past or blame others for your conflicts and problems if you really want to live your life and be a healthy parent and partner. You deserve a life that is manageable and full of love. Commit to investing in yourself and possibilities for living well will be unlimited. Remain a victim and your life will be predictable.
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Thank you for reading this article. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience. As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create healthy relationships. And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

Roberta