It’s Over: Detoxing the Narcissist

freedomThe journey to a healed life after narcissistic abuse is not a quick and easy one. Reminders of past conflicts continue to hurt and create new pain.  It is common to lose contact with you own needs, desires and sense of self when you have survived purgatory.  Recovery from relationship abuse is a lifelong commitment of dedication and hard work that is well worth the effort.  You will find freedom, love and serenity if you keep showing up. It is inevitable that there will be times of sadness, tension or outright anger.

I believe there is a psychic enslavement of the person when a narcissist captures codependent supply.  Breaking the chords of entrapment requires the body to detox itself of unhealthy hazardous emotional waste.  The detox symptoms produce anxiety, restlessness, irritability, insomnia, headaches, poor concentration, depression, obsessions, and social isolation.   Detoxing symptoms are similar to post-acute withdrawal from drugs.  Among the signs of addiction are compulsion, obsession, and denial, craving, mood swings, and unpredictable behavior.  As the relationship or addiction progresses control over thoughts and behavior are lost.  Your life is no longer under your control and the losses became increasingly profound.  Like alcoholism or drug use, withdrawal from the narcissistic relationship shares many of the same benchmarks, as does the process of relapse.  In the beginning, your emotions will change minute to minute and hour to hour.  As you continue to heal the good stretches will get longer and longer.  Detoxing the loss is necessary but not a steady progress; rather it will be two steps forward and one step back.  You are likely to experience periods of emotional instability.  Grieving is important and so is knowing what it is you are grieving for.  I recommend that you list your losses on paper as a preventive measure against relapse. Crying in front of other people as you process your grief is understandable.  Grief isn’t always predictable, not always controllable.  Cutting off all contact with your abuser is necessary for your own mental health and the only way you will guarantee not going back.  If you have children a mediator or attorney will need to communicate for you.

Many partners hang on for years hoping the narcissist will own up to what they have done and admit to their cruelty.  The withheld admission of wrong doing becomes “unfinished business.”  The lack of closure when you leave can contribute to obsessive thoughts about getting revenge.  The spiritual challenge becomes one of letting go of the desire for retribution. Hurtful behavior is in the past; remember your freedom involves giving up the urge to punish.  You need to accept that the narcissist is incapable of caring about your feelings or loving you.  Narcissistic entitlement is a self-serving, one-way street attitude that creates bitterness and resentment in the abuser who feels entitled and in the people around them who don’t like being treated that way.  If you don’t accept “what is” the narcissist gets to continue to destroy your life.  You become a volunteer martyr when you refuse to heal and give up a victim mentality.

Treatment for the survivors includes education, individual therapy, changing unhealthy behavior, and courageous exploration through which you rediscover yourself and identify self-defeating patterns. You pull through the dark night of the soul by creating a new life.  If you don’t create a new life, the factors that brought you to your victimization will eventually be repeated.  You can set goals and direction for your life and place value on yourself.  You can love and encourage yourself.  You stop the abuse by sitting on your hands and doing nothing when you feel the urge to contact your abuser.  After a while you will develop confidence to change your life.  Peace will become more important than chaos and drama.  You will own your power and life will be manageable.

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

 

 

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Narcissists are Never Going to Apologize: Escaping Purgatory

freedom1Narcissists are often angry and intimidating as well as charming, sexy, and exciting.  They can be cruel, critical, and insulting on a moment’s notice.  They have a sinister power to make partners (people) feel small, inadequate, and off-balance.  They insist on being in control of everything.  Many partners hang on for years waiting to hear remorse for the merciless behavior.  Hoping a heartless narcissist will change and admit they have been terrible to you and will never hurt you again is not going to happen.  The truth is there is nothing that is going to happen to make it all better. The narcissist refuses to take any responsibility for how their attacks make you feel.  If you have children witnessing the mistreatment they will probably learn to abuse or that they are of little value.  The soul is traumatized and lives are destroyed by narcissistic sadism.

Overtime a partner’s individual autonomy gradually erodes as self-esteem and the capacity to make independent decisions are affected.  Fear of making it on your own is reinforced by the narcissist’s brutally coercive message in words and/or actions that you are worthless.  The psychological abuse degrades and humiliates facilitating helplessness as a survival response.  The narcissist treats you as the guilty partner believing you deserve the punishment and that you secretly must enjoy the mistreatment.  They despise your inability to leave purgatory and relish in the sadistic power they have over you.  Leaving an abusive relationship requires admitting what you know about your partners character, that you are being manipulated, not living your dreams, and are capable of thinking for yourself.  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.

The relationships breaking point usually occurs over a series of unresolved fights many times before the real separation.  The decision to end a narcissistic attachment is significant and painful, leaving deep scars that can also become the source of wisdom and change.  Relationships are tied to places, events, and histories making it difficult to let go.   Often there is sadness and fear with the decision to escape and for most it is not made quickly or easily.  Financial insecurity and having children keep many trapped.  People pleasers (codependents) have an especially difficult time separating.  They are reluctant to give up denial, 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.  They are the perfect hostage for evil control.

Escaping an abusive relationship requires acceptance of reality and changing how you relate to your inner and outer world.  It involves creating a new identity and new interests.  When you enter the final stage of anger, rage, and sadness you stop explaining away behavior that is unacceptable.   You admit that your partner’s sickness is destroying any chance for joy and find the courage to leave.  The repetitive endless arguments in your mind against abandoning the nightmare will end followed by immense release and relief.   You then begin owning your power.  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 it was the best thing ever to walk away.  Most important of all is developing a compassionate relationship with yourself; you must take care of “you” now and always.  Staying out of a new relationship is imperative until you recover and create an independent manageable life.   You cannot be victimized and happy at the same time.  The demoralization from psychological battering is devastating.  Eventually you learn to stop fighting evil, simply because you cannot win.  The more you focus on changing the narcissist, the more unmanageable life becomes.  So stop the insanity and focus on loving yourself.

 

Narcissistic Abandonment: Find, Feel, F……., Forget

220px-Manananggal_of_Philippine_Mythology_Commons“I used my desires for sex, alcohol and pleasure to get my basic instincts met to dominate and control.  “Find, Feel, F…k, Forget” (Secrets of a Narcissist).

Narcissists are people who have no capacity to empathize and cannot feel your pain.  They don’t care about the damage inflicted by their ruthless negligence and are clearly sadistic in their emotional abandonment of partners.  Narcissists break hearts and humiliate partners to feel all powerful or punish for not getting the attention he or she craves.  Uninterested in experiencing an intimate connection, many narcissists lead hidden sexual lives compulsively watching pornography, masturbating, having affairs and/or visiting prostitutes.

Narcissists draw hostages to them that are fearful of rejection and suffer with unhealed pain in childhood.  A certain vulnerability or “woundedness” is appealing to them. Particularly vulnerable are those with absent fathers, angry mothers, or a history of abusive partners.  Narcissists are selective vampires with a psychic knowing of what emotional vulnerabilities to prey on, exploit, devour or destroy.  They look for naïve people and will present themselves as a person of honor and virtue.

A person who was physically or emotionally abandoned by a parent or caregiver may struggle with loss throughout life and not develop healthy self-esteem.  Experiences of abandonment growing up often contribute to feelings of worthlessness as well as a distorted view of how to care appropriately for one self in relationships.  Children who experience chronic loss without parental protection internalize incredible fear and believe they are not important or of little value. As adults with low self-esteem they often seek narcissistically unavailable partners and friends.  Additionally, rejection fears can impair a person’s ability to trust others and may cause anxiety, depression, and codependency.  Codependency is the inability to leave a chronically abusive relationship behind, whether that relationship is ongoing or past.  The codependent is a perfect match for the narcissistic relationship.

Abandonment, physical or mental, is very cruel and a plain act of insensitivity.  A narcissist can be physically present during conflict yet emotionally disappear in front of your eyes.  They will not talk about problems and will isolate themselves. Refusing to acknowledge the emotional distance with resounding silence can drive you crazy. Narcissistic vampires will continue to stick around aloof and cold until they suck the life out of you.  The emotional and mental violence is excruciating.  They perceive confrontation, disagreements, needs, respect for your boundaries, or being ignored as threats.  This pattern of emotional neglect destroys any chance of happiness and is traumatic.  As you get to know him better and begin to withdraw sexually and emotionally for protection the psychic vampire senses this change.  He disengages abruptly to maintain control of the abandonment and might start looking for a replacement relationship. The interpretation of events becomes a mixture of lies, distortions, half-truths, and bizarre accusations to make him look like the mistreated.  He becomes a saintly hero and his partner the abuser.  The narcissist controls the whole show and becomes defensive and resistant.  He is at risk of becoming enraged and suicidally despondent when you finally walk away from the insanity. No contact or ignoring a narcissist is the final torture.

Healing from abandonment takes time as you go toward it in stages of denial, anger, negotiating, and sadness.  The only way to get through your pain is to go through it.  Getting support from a healing professional is a good choice.  You can choose the direction of your new life.  By pursuing direction and happiness you begin the healing process.  Above all, choose to be kind to yourself; leave behind crisis and chaos.  Develop self-compassion; it is a necessary step towards removing yourself as a victim.

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

 

 

 

Psychic Vampires: Recovery from Narcissistic Victim Syndrome

220px-Bela_lugosi_dracula

Courtesy Wikipedia

Narcissistic abuse is behavior that feels like evil.  For narcissists the compulsion to emotionally destroy is so strong they’re unable to resist the urge no matter how grave the consequences.  The victim’s feelings are denied, avoided, discounted, and held in contempt. 

In the beginning you thought you had met your soul mate, a real life version of a gentleman or princess, charming, and somewhat mysterious.  You instantly fell for him or her.  Within a few months you were married or living together.  The nightmare then began…

You misread some very important character clues.  You saw a superior person who was exciting, outgoing, and entertaining.  Unable to see past the charm, you ignored warning signs about the inner person, didn’t evaluate your inner needs or question what your life together might look like.  As time went on you realized your partner had to be the center of attention and was totally self-involved.  Your admiration became unchallenging and he needed a bigger audience.  He got bored with being nice.  You became more focused on recapturing attention as your newly aloof and withdrawn partner barely acknowledged your presence.  Quiet desperation set in.  Your identity developed into an extension of his; you gave up aspirations and outside activities to meet insatiable needs.  You were isolated from loved ones and the road narrowed.  You were in constant emotional pain; feelings of loneliness and abandonment were part of daily life.

Your friends grew to be impatient because you stayed in a relationship that was clearly damaging your self-esteem.  The thought of having to face alone the emotional pain of a breakup terrified you.  Focusing on your partner allowed you to avoid dealing with your true emotional state.  In the beginning you felt euphoric.  Then the negative experiences became more frequent, but the emotional price was not significant enough yet.  You worked hard at being to your partner what you thought he wanted you to be, losing sight of your identity. In a fog of denial you became lost.  The denial impeded the possibility of real change.  When you thought about leaving fears and anxiety blocked your way.  Eventually the emotional pain was so great you surrendered.

You accepted things as they really were.  You admitted “I am powerless over this relationship and my life has become unmanageable” (1st Step of 12-Step Codependent Anonymous).  Even though scared, you began trusting in yourself; trusting that you would be fine without an intimate relationship.  Finally, you cut off all means of communication with the narcissist and detached yourself; minute by minute, day after day, you walk into your new life.

Recovery from narcissistic abuse is an ongoing, uncovering, and self-forgiving process towards wholeness with self and others.  The abuser must be released forever, the desire for revenge extinguished to begin developing self-awareness and love for who you are.  You must give up the obsessive thoughts to hurt your abuser for what has happened to free yourself.  You must eventually stop telling your story of abuse.  If you don’t give up the victim identity you are likely to repeat the experience in another relationship or go back to your abuser for more pain.

Often emotional work needs to be completed with a critical and/or narcissistically abusive parent.  Many adult victims of relationship abuse were used as children for emotional support and the release of anger and tension.  You may have been treated kindly one minute and abused or shamed the next, which resulted in a confusing mixture of love and abuse.  Your happiness might have been dependent on the mood of a caregiver.

Recovery from narcissistic victim syndrome requires the willingness to accept temporary discomforts of change once you commit to being true to yourself.  Anxiety and panic can arise when you risk finding out what it’s like to be unattached and allow maybe for the first time in your life to feel a range of conflicting emotions.  Healing requires you to look at the life lesson of getting caught in a destructive relationship and being victimized.  Detachment from an abuser does not mean disconnection or aloofness it means seeing reality as it is, not as your illusions would like it to be.  It means separating your personal boundaries from your abuser, getting a clearer sense of where your limits are or need to be.  The initial uncovering, the gradual detachment and awakening to reality, the intense grief, the slow process of recovery, and forgiveness must take place to end the abuse. Giving yourself emotional space to make sense of the past, to learn about what happen to you, and grieving dreams lost is important for future loves.  By building endurance to withstand the grief process you may avoid repeating the same mistakes in your next relationship.

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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 healthy relationship with self.  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

 

Why are Narcissists so Angry?

Courtesy Photo Stock

Courtesy Photo Stock

At the beginning of the relationship a narcissist is in need of constant attention, admiration, and approval.  Much like a child he or she is dependent; any sign of disapproval transforms the charming angel into a sadist.  As children, most narcissists grew up in families where explosive behavior and verbal and physical abuse were common.  Many experienced a consistent sense of dread that things would go badly and they would not survive.  To avoid feelings of failure and inadequacy they learned at an early age to control others with rage.  The narcissist tends to be anxious by temperament.  Self-hatred, feelings of powerlessness, fear of abandonment, and emotional deprivation are sources that fuel their rigid, systemic pattern of abuse.  Eventually attempts to control these feelings fail because the anxiety is within them, not in their environment.  The narcissist resents dependence on others for attention.  The frustration between an all-pervasive dependence on adulation and any perceived lack of subservience makes him or her prone to outbursts.

The narcissist cannot feel others pain and will never put a partner’s needs above theirs.  Anger and jealousy are the only authentic emotions they ever experience.  They are incapable of acknowledging how their cruelty hurts others and erupt compulsively without regard to the negative consequences.  The most devastating part of being involved in a narcissistic relationship is you love them and they don’t care.  Brief periods of stopping fury may occur out of concern for losing a mate or until a replacement can be found, but eventually the narcissist will be off again on another tantrum.  Control over anger is lost as a relationship progresses, much like the progression of drug addiction.  The narcissist is addicted to the rush of negative excitement and the look of pain on the face of a victim.  They sometimes pick fights for the high.  A partner’s trapped desperation makes the emotional sadist feel self-important and all-powerful.    The abuse becomes increasingly cruel as the partners self-esteem is no longer under their control.  Anger, revenge and vengefulness destroy any chance for happiness.  This power over people provides pleasure as they pull you into their shadow.

Narcissists are often preoccupied with resentment and fantasies of retaliation which continually leads to uncontrollable outbursts.  Most are professional martyrs who dramatize their lives to manipulate, deflect responsibility, and feel special.  The academy award-winning displays of emotion is not caring or empathy, it’s a trap.

“Stonewalling” or resounding silence are a favorite sadistic weapon meant to punish you for disagreeing with him or her.  The person is left feeling abandoned, unheard, undesirable, and insignificant.  The emotional abuse tends to happen every day and the effects are insidious and cumulative.  Living in an emotional combat zone, partners lose dignity and become unable to think, feel or act autonomously.  The narcissist’s voice becomes so well internalized in his prey that he no longer needs to say anything to control their submission. The heartless infliction of emotional pain contributes to a partner’s hyper-vigilant stress response and frequent mood swings.   The sadistic narcissist delights in cruelty and is vindicated in anger.  Anything short of obedience is not tolerated.  Why are narcissists so angry?  Because narcissists hate themselves and are true cowards with empty souls.   They are forced to suck the joy out those they take hostage to feel alive.

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

 

The Codependent’s Struggle with Substance Use in Abusive Relationships

Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

Codependents often struggle with drug and/or alcohol use in abusive relationships.  Denial about living in or with a nightmare is a coping strategy that perpetuates self-destructive behavior.   It is extremely painful, and extremely lonely.  A codependent suppresses dreams and desires to fulfill the wants of another.  Compulsive behavior is more common when a person cannot live their life without being subservient to the needs of another.  Suppressing needs and lack of emotional fulfillment begins the search for an escape.  Substance use can be the by-product of a codependent relationship.  Relationship neediness may be so extreme that the person believes they can’t live without an abusive partner. This keeps the door open to being treated poorly and excessive dependency on substances.

Codependency develops in families when problems are not discussed, abusive behavior is ignored, secrets are kept, and substance abuse and denial are common.  As a result, family members learn to repress emotions and disregard their own needs. This learned behavior affects a person’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. The emotional and behavioral conditioning contributes to “relationship addiction” with people who are emotionally destructive and/or abusive.  Codependent substance abusers give to others from fear rather than love.

The codependent creates an illusory world by using denial, delusion, and dissociation to decrease the pain that would be experienced if reality were accepted.  The unacknowledged feelings trigger a need for relief.  They may use eating, gambling, indiscriminate sexual activities, and/or relationships to escape emotional pain.  The codependent resorts to substance abuse and other compulsive behaviors to relieve anxiety and handle building pressures.  They find it hard to be themselves.  Self-worth is determined by the happiness of a partner and they will attempt to control a relationship by being needed.  Any perceived unhappiness in others around them feeds feelings of inadequacy and fear of abandonment.  Self-esteem is derived by their ability to control situations and please others.

Abusers want a lot of control and are afraid of being controlled.  They are resistant to doing what their partners want them to.  They resist with denial, irresponsibility, indifference, withdrawal and rage.  The codependent’s compulsive caretaking renders them feeling powerless in an abusive relationship unable to stop the cycle of behavior that causes it.  As relationship conflict increases all too often the codependent turns to substances. They identify as victims and are attracted to that same weakness in abusers and friendships.   Walking on eggshells, emotionally battered codependents second guess themselves and feel lost in a deep hole.  The emotional abuse inflicted by a partner can be subtle by way of implying or saying that you are stupid, ugly, not worth attention or that no one could love an addict. The codependent believes they can’t live life or stay in purgatory without drinking or using drugs and this behavior increases the likelihood that they will blame the mistreatment on themselves.

Generally unsatisfied with their intimate relationships, they feel constantly unappreciated, and are preoccupied with their partner.  This way of intimate relating combined with substance use becomes the backdrop for living in quiet desperation.  Codependents take drugs or drink alcohol for mood change, excitement, relaxation, distraction, stimulation, or sedation.  They stay in abusive relationships and deny or make excuses for their partners due to a high (insane) tolerance for emotional pain and inappropriate behavior developed in childhood.  The codependent gradually loses touch with who they really are and their sense of self.  They become numbed out unable to feel or express true feelings.  This loss of self results in low self-esteem.  Denial of feelings and pretending nothing is wrong fuels substance use.  They start feeling out of control and repeat self-destructive behavior to feel better which often leads to symptoms of demoralization and depression.  The painful existence progresses as the person forgoes interests because they are worried about what the abuser is or isn’t doing.  They often drink or drug more, feel scared, alone, hurt and angry.  Trying to fix their partner and staying means they will continue to be hurt.  The cruelty often becomes more severe and frequent over time.  The codependent doesn’t trust in their capacity to deal with life as it comes, so they are in a perpetual state of fear.

Fortunately, treatment for codependency and substance abuse can be highly successful in restoring a healthy sense of self.  The codependent can learn to set personal boundaries to protect themselves from victimization.  Many find the support of the 12-step program Codependents or Alcoholics Anonymous effective in uncovering the underlying cause of self-destructive behavior.  Intensive outpatient treatment programs or individual therapy can help begin the process of caring for oneself rather than trying to fix someone else.  Ending an abusive relationship or discontinuing drug use will not stop the learned behavior or protect against harm.  The heavy emotional burden inside the codependent must come out to be healed.

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 with self.  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

 

 

 

 

 

Overcoming Fatal Narcissistic Attractions

200px-Jean_Jacques_Henner_-_Solitude

Courtesy of Wikipedia- Solitude

The 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 narcissistic abuse and stop future victimization.  Getting comfortable being alone is something that everyone has to face to overcome fatal narcissistic attractions.   When you end your denial of partner abuse, your experience of pain increases until it is finally accepted.  Denial is used to defend against a loss of love, a loss of self, or the loss of another.  No other person or relationship will ever make it unnecessary for you to be complete.  It is always up to you to help yourself.  How do you complete yourself?  How do you overcome narcissistic abuse?  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 abuse 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 Overcome Fatal Attractions and Complete Yourself

Speak kindly to yourself

Take care of your body and feed it well

Be compassionate with your painful thoughts

Take time to be outdoors in nature

Take time for exercise

Meditate, be still, and listen every day

Forgive as a discipline

Tell yourself often, “I love you very much”

Date yourself and take pleasure in your own company

Give yourself permission to make mistakes

Be self-compassionate with your fears

Learn to be patient with life

Protect your soul and energy

Spend time with like-minded people

Be willing to be wrong

Avoid a victim mentality

Refuse to listen to the tormentor in your head

Contribute the best you can

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

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

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 The Dark Side of Dependency

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

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

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