For those of us who know we don’t have it, self-esteem is that ever elusive mystery quality that would magically make our lives better. We know all the signs of not having it – feeling not good enough, not worthy of love, we have difficulty accepting compliments, we sometimes want to hide away and be invisible, we allow ourselves to be mistreated….but we never
None is this is fair. You didn’t deserve the way you were treated, or the way you were discarded and now you have to watch as they just pick up with someone else, like you never even existed. No one is disputing the validity of your feelings. What they have done is
What is wrong with my thinking?
How did I get this way?
How should I be reacting?
These are among the most common questions I get asked by my clients concerning their Codependency. The thing to remember is that a Codependent suffers from a form of arrested development. The six year old, abused or neglected child learned coping mechanisms to help
Codependency is a disease of the self. It’s our own misinterpretation of who we really are and of our significance in the world.
It’s a generational disease handed down from one to the next. It’s what happens when caregivers, sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally, deliver unhealthy messages and beliefs to
For a codependent in a relationship, there comes that inevitable moment where you realize that you have done too much, cared too much and sacrificed too much time, energy, money and emotion. All of it, just to be loved and appreciated, but instead what you’re left feeling is disrespected, foolish, taken advantage of and used.
“If I have seen further, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton
A mentor is generally someone who gives advice or demonstrates know-how to a younger or less experienced person. They model behaviors that others would like to learn and develop. Our parents are our first mentors. We learn how to do things through their example, be it good or bad.
For those of you who follow Numerology, 2016 was the last year on the current cycle. It was a 9 year, a year of endings and letting go, while 2017 is a 1 year, the start of a new cycle. It’s a year of change and new beginnings. Whether or not you care about Numerology or just have a passing interest, one thing is for certain – the start of a new year gives everyone 365 blank pages in which to write their story.
Christmas day, in my family, consists of the three siblings (me and two of my brothers), a few family friends and our various partners and offspring. With our parents both deceased, we take turns hosting the big day and everyone contributes something to the meal.
Abusers don’t like boundaries. They hinder their progress in getting what they want. Consequently, they choose their targets very carefully. Children make excellent targets because they don’t have many options, they’re eager to please and require the love and attention of their caregivers. Children of abusers grow up not understanding their worth, or the concept of boundaries in relationships.
“Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that are important to you.” – Carl Jung
As a species we need to know that we matter. That we are seen, heard and understood. We want people around us that get us, that make us feel like there is a place where we are welcome and where we fit. We need connection. When these things are absent from our lives we tend to feel disconnected, hollow, uncomfortable, sad, insecure – lonely.
Back in the early days of my journey, every day was painful to get through. I was in a constant state of heartache. Depression had become my best friend and I’d never before known fear that could completely cripple you like that which I was experiencing.
Codependency has been described as a dysfunctional relationship with the self. What that means is that the view that we have of ourselves is skewed, both internally and in our interpersonal relationships, because of our early childhood experiences.
“The essence of beauty doesn’t stem from the label on your clothes, the shape of your body, or the color of your skin. It comes from the way you carry yourself and the amount of respect with which you treat yourself. “
I had made of list of all the things I wanted in a man. It was great advice given to me by a close friend. “If you know what you’re looking for, you’re more apt to spot it when you see it,” she told me. I was online dating, a place where people were as interchangeable as clothing, when I met him.
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt last week. While I am saddened that six children are in the midst of turmoil, I must admit that a small part of me is perversely pleased by this news.
Losing one’s self in a relationship means willfully shedding your own identity, desires and personal goals and instead becoming consumed with the relationship and the needs and desires of the other person in that relationship. This is a common practice for most Codependents.
“A belief is just a thought we keep thinking.” – Esther Hicks
Have you ever gotten into your car and started driving and you fall into, what seems to be a type of trance, then suddenly you arrive at your destination, but you have very little memory of how you actually got there?
My relationship with my long-term Narcissist was awful. I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, while he was allowed to frolic around, without a care in the world. Our friends used to joke about how selfish he was. It was so obvious to everyone that everything was always all about him and when he acted like a selfish bastard they would literally
Wayne Dyer accurately quipped that, “Some people are always looking for a reason to be offended,” and most of us don’t have to look too far to see evidence of that.
We will all find ourselves, at one time or another, interacting with people whose behavior seems to be way over the top.
Sometimes when I hear someone tell their story I can’t help but cringe and think in my head, “Oh boy, this isn’t going to end well.” It happens a lot when people are looking to get something, from someone who treated them very badly, that something being, an apology, or some acknowledgement of wrong doing.
Why can’t I get over this?
Why do I get sucked in every time?
Why do I feel so powerless?
These are the million dollar questions when we’re dealing with abusive relationships. When well-meaning friends or loved ones ask us, “Why don’t you just leave?” Or, “Why can’t you just move on?” We’re kind of stumped ourselves, because we don’t really have an answer that would sound even remotely plausible. We might even reply, “Because I’m a glutton for punishment.” And you wouldn’t be that far off.
When we’re children our quest begins to look for clues and examples of how we fit into our environment and how we match up against others. Even though our ability to correctly interpret the data coming in is immature, we still make our assessment about ourselves based on what we believe we are perceiving. To very small children their parents can seem infallible and if these higher beings find fault with us – well then there must be something wrong with us.
“My biggest pet peeve?” She was asked. “It’s people who create their own problems and then complain about the outcome, while expecting everyone else to fix it.” – Unknown
When we talk about starving we’re usually referring to food. Imagine if you will, that you are stranded on a deserted island and this island is barren of anything edible. You are ravenous and you start to wonder what sand tastes like. Suddenly, you’re rescued and the only thing on your mind is food. A meal is placed in front of you, do you grab a knife and fork and daintily cut your food into tiny bite size pieces, or do you just start shoveling it in? You probably would want more and more until you’re ready to throw up and you’d probably even lick the plate too.
What would you do if your 11 year old daughter didn’t come home for a couple of weeks? What if she said nothing to you, you had no idea where she was, or if she was ever coming back?
A big part of how I help others tackle their codependency is by identifying the behaviors that lead to self-sabotage and the fallacies of our early programming. Most of my clients have heard me use the infamous phrase, “That’s your disease talking.” It usually follows a client’s illustration of behaviors where they weren’t loving and respecting themselves, where they were accepting of poor treatment, where they tried to make everything their fault and when they were full of confusion and doubt.
Doubt is like the rude uninvited guest that keeps showing up to your party. It’s the rain on your parade. It has the power to completely overhaul your plans, what actions you take and to keep you stuck replaying the same tapes over and over again.
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt so emotionally vulnerable that anything that triggered one of your tender spots was going to result in some kind of crazy outburst?
It’s a distinctly different reaction than the common every day passive reaction of most codependents. The inappropriate freak out is a state that I’ve come to think of as somewhere in between a severe codependent reaction
To put yourself first, to actually consider your needs above all else is inconceivable to a lot of people. Take a look at any mom and you’ll see someone who is a martyr, self-sacrificing and the giver of unconditional love.
Watching my friends, who are now mothers, as well as my sister in law, I see very tired women, whose priorities quickly
To have a strategy is to have a plan. A map that clearly indicates how one gets from point A to point B. The majority of people don’t have a strategy for their lives. They go about their business and take each day as it comes.
We know that codependents develop the tendency to put others ahead of themselves. When they are faced with the prospect of having to focus on themselves it becomes a very daunting task, first and foremost because they have little practice doing it. It’s something they avoid and it’s a big part of why they stay in abusive relationships.
For a big part of my life, I hung out on the sidelines, waiting and hoping for that one moment where I would be good enough to actually participate in my own life. I was so full of shame that I couldn’t bear the thought of people looking at me and judging me, even when it came to the most mundane of tasks. It was drummed into me from the moment I could speak that I was imperfect – that there was something wrong with me – that I wasn’t good enough. Other people
I got home really late on Friday. When I pulled into my driveway, at about 1:00am, I noticed a familiar vehicle in front of my neighbor’s house. It belonged to her ex-Narcissist. The same ex-Narcissist that lied, cheated and used her, the same
“Be impeccable with your word,” it’s one of Miguel Ruiz’s principles to creating a happy and balanced life, which he illustrates in his best-selling book, the Four Agreements. I had a number of incidents happen over the last little while that really got me thinking about the importance of keeping your word and why some people don’t.
We’re all guilty of it, we make plans and bow out last minute, giving the lamest of excuses. We’ve said yes when we really wanted to say no. My worst offence, I remember vividly,
A lot of people want to change. They want their lives to get better. They want to leave their bad situation, but they can’t. They come up with myriad of reasons why and what it is that’s stopping them. These reasons seem inconsequential to others, but for the individual they are there, they are real and they can be debilitating.
I went out to dinner with my neighbor recently and the topic of conversation always seems to gravitate to Narcissism and Codependency. I’ve known her for quite some time, she is a lovely person – thoughtful, cheery, considerate and we have great conversations, which to me, is pure gold. A few months back she asked me my opinion of her relationship. It was a typical Narcissistic/Codependent relationship. This was their 4th trip on the merry-go-round. Each time he would end up leaving her for
I used to hold an image of a woman in my mind. She was me, but not me. She was actually, everything that I was not. She was tall and I am not, she was model thin and I was not, stunningly beautiful and I was not, she was talented and everybody loved her and I was unlovable. She was rich and famous and on top of the world
So there I was sitting in my therapist’s office. It was more than a handful of years ago, therapy was something that I would never have considered on my own, but it was a benefit of my post-accident, car insurance plan.
It seemed like a good idea. You’ve been pining over someone who has, in the blink of an eye, replaced you with someone else. You are heartbroken and you can’t believe that they are so over you, that you could drop dead and they wouldn’t even notice. So you decide, two can play at this game. I’m not going to sit around here mooning anymore. I’m going to go out with someone else too. You pull up your old profile from that dating
When people talk about those that help, or put others needs ahead of their own, they use words like nurturer, kind hearted, altruistic, selfless, or giver. They might say that he or she has the ‘caring gene’ and that giving just comes naturally to some people. While there might be some truth to this, I would argue that the real reason behind why some people over-give isn’t so divine and is in fact, quite disturbing.
It’s that time of year when I like to look back, on the year that was, and reflect on some of the major lessons we’ve discussed here on this site. So without further ado here are nine major statements we made this year:
So there I was many, many moons ago, out Christmas shopping, for the love in my life. I was in a long distance relationship at the time and I use the term relationship very loosely. It had moments of bliss, followed by moments of absolute agony. He kept coming and going from my life and I kept taking him back.
In the initial stages of a break up, it’s incredibly difficult to focus on anything but the pain. So early on, our defense mechanisms will likely be, finding a way to distract, or numb ourselves, from such intense feelings. But once the shock has subsided somewhat, and we’re seeing things a little more clearly, it’s important to heal ourselves from the grief energy that we’ve been holding onto.
A couple weeks back I had dinner with one of my cousins. She recently became aware of my blog and really wanted to talk about it. She and I have a lot in common, the largest being that we both had one emotionally abusive parent. Her father‘s behavior was so outrageous at times, that even as a little girl, I was able to understand that there
“I never would have left.” That’s what I said to my long-term Narcissist, during one of my futile attempts to get him to stay. “I never would have done this.” The scary part is – that was the truth. It didn’t matter how much pain he caused me. It didn’t matter that nothing was about me, or that I had no idea who I was anymore. None of that mattered.
I went to the grocery store last week and as I was loading my food onto the conveyor belt, at the cashier, I felt a very familiar feeling. I made some pretty good food choices that day. I had lots of fruits and vegetables, some protein and I permitted myself to buy something sweet. Just a small one-time snack that would be done in one sitting.
Inside every codependent is a child, who has been mistreated, ignored, hurt, humiliated, frightened, shamed, or abused by parents, who were themselves mistreated, ignored, shamed and abused by their parents. When we were children we did what we knew how to do, in order to survive and to get our needs met. It is this same child that created how we cope, how we react and how we feel about ourselves. It is this child that has been running our lives as adults.
Tina was really mad at herself. She let Mark sweet talk his way back into her heart and now he was gone again, two short weeks later. She felt like such a fool. “Never again,” she said to herself. “I am so done.”
I remember thinking that there was a secret that everyone else knew except me. I thought once I figured out this secret, then my life would be okay. I would be okay, but despite my best efforts, the answers I was seeking always seemed to elude me.
Earlier this week I received a copy of the magazine that an article of mine appeared in. As I was flipping though it I noticed an article written by Eckhart Tolle, the best-selling author of The Power of Now. One of the main themes of Tolle’s work is that when you are in the present moment, ‘in the now,’ you cannot be harmed by the past and you aren’t anxious about the future. You are fully absorbed with what is happening around you at that very moment.
For many, practicing self-care is a life style change. It means giving up self-destructive habits. It’s a shift in perspective about how you view yourself and it’s adopting a pattern of positive behavior that reflects those perceptions.
Sometimes our hearts haven’t quite caught up to our heads and when you throw a little physiology into the mix, getting over a Narcissist can seem like you’re trapped in a maze, unable to find your way out.
As we mentioned last week, the first thing we have to do to extricate ourselves from our dysfunctional relationship, is to become aware that this relationship is toxic and damaging to our sense of self-worth. That’s the easy part, because for the most part, we know when we’re being disrespected and generally treated poorly. The next few steps have to deal with driving an emotional wedge between our addiction to our Narcissist and ourselves, which will allow us to gain distance and some perspective.
It defies reason, logic and common sense, to want to hang on to someone, who treated you so appallingly. It’s almost addict-like behavior, complete with withdrawal symptoms, cravings and an inability to focus on anything else.
Imagine that you were in a relationship with someone you didn’t love. Imagine that you found this person to be flawed, worthless and just not good enough for you. Now imagine that you couldn’t leave the relationship. You were stuck in it. What kind of relationship would that be? How would it affect your thoughts, your behavior and your everyday life?
You’ve done all the right things. You’ve broken up with your Narcissist, you’ve gone no contact and you’ve done your very best to put your focus back on you. But much to your chagrin, your Narcissist is pulling out all the stops, throwing everything at you to try and illicit some type of response.
“Everything that happens to you is a reflection of what you believe about yourself. We cannot outperform our level of self-esteem. We cannot draw to ourselves more than we think we are worth.” -Iyanla Vanzant
We’ve all experienced a break up or two at some point in our lives. They’re usually unpleasant, but eventually we move on and begin a new relationship with someone else. Some relationships however, seem to never end and leave us feeling like we’ll never get over them.
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.” – Eckhart Tolle
The body is a miraculous thing. When it’s sick it develops symptoms that tell us that something is wrong. When our spirit is sick our bodies also provide us with symptoms, which manifest as feelings of anxiety, deep emotional sorrow, panic attacks, depression, heart ache, hopelessness, helplessness, frustration, and despair.
I loved my best friend. I still do. I hope that she is happy and thriving in her life. I’m not just saying that to sound evolved, or advanced in some way. I really mean it. I remember fondly the days where we would have long and deep conversations over dinner. I lived for those days. We would talk about
I felt stuck and uncomfortable for much of my life and as much as I tried, I couldn’t figure out a way to get unstuck. In many ways the tragic events that happened on the day my mother was killed seem to have been prophetic. It was a culmination of all of my angst that had built up inside of me. The events
Motivation, drive, desire, passion, whatever you want to call it, people have been trying to figure out how to get it and how to harness it for centuries. What makes LeBron so much better than everyone else? What made Payton Manning stay and practice harder and longer to perfect his arm? What made Sidney Crosby shoot pucks into his mother’s clothes dryer all night, while all of his friends were watching TV and playing video games? What makes people work harder to achieve their dreams, while others continue to dwell in mediocrity?
“When we protect ourselves so we won’t feel pain, that protection becomes like armor that imprisons the softness of the heart.” – Pema Chodron
For most of my life I’ve kept people at an emotional distance. Not so much friends, but romantic partners. Subconsciously, I believed that if I didn’t let myself get too close to someone then it wouldn’t hurt me when they left. If I didn’t let them get too close to me then they would never really know me, so when they did reject me, it wasn’t really
We all want to be liked, it’s part of the human condition, but that need can become excessive and unhealthy when it becomes our primary focus. Codependents often have a very strong impulse to please others, especially those that reject them. It’s a unique dynamic where the more someone pulls away from them, the stronger the lure is for the codependent.
If you don’t initially wish your cheating Narcissist ill will after they’ve left you for another, you are probably among the minority. A lot of us struggle with the betrayal and the hurt. Persistent images of the two of them together are normal and so too, is the fear that they will be happy together and that you will be the one, who is left all alone, wallowing in misery and despair.
“When your eye is always searching for the negative you can’t help but miss much of life’s beauty.” – S. Grey
My mother was the daughter of a Narcissistic father, which meant that she was insulted, humiliated, shamed, blamed and belittled on a daily basis. A habitual need to judge and criticize others became her normal, hearing it and seeing it turned into doing it. This is how she was taught to view the world. She believed that
What is normal? What does healthy look like? We talk a lot about being healthy on this site, but If you’ve never seen it, or had anyone demonstrate it to you, how do you know what it looks like?
I’ve spent years trying to figure out what healthy is, because I knew I wasn’t. I always felt that there was some hidden mystery I had to figure out, a secret that other people knew that I didn’t. While I was in the midst of
We’ve all had cringe-worthy moments that we can shelve in the ‘not my finest hour’ section of our memory banks. These are the moments where we acted in a manner that was beneath us, where we didn’t stand up for ourselves, where we let ourselves be used.
Tanya and her siblings were taken from their home when she was just three. Her mother had tried to kill them by starting a fire in the family home and leaving them alone inside. Tanya was later adopted by kind, but deeply devout Jehovah’s Witness parents. Her adoptive parents moved from the UK to North America and she moved across the pond, leaving her siblings behind. She rebelled against such strict religious doctrines as she got older and was rebuked by the church community and her parents for her teenage angst.
“For some reason, we are truly convinced that if we criticize ourselves, the criticism will lead to change. If we are harsh, we believe we will end up being kind. If we shame ourselves, we believe we end up loving ourselves. It has never been true, not for a moment that shame leads to love. Only love leads to love.” Geneen Roth
Self-destruction seems to be a ubiquitous part of the human experience. It happens at the very core of us, when we don’t love and value ourselves. It’s what happens when we live with unresolved feelings of pain and
“I’m good enough. I’m smart enough and doggone it people like me.” – Stuart Smalley
When someone mentions affirmations, the first thing I think about is Al Franken’s emotionally fragile character Stuart Smalley, on Saturday Night Live. Although Franken’s character is hilarious, the stigma it helped perpetuate towards those who use affirmations, has not been very positive. Not because affirmations don’t work, but because people associate it with being – well….emotionally fragile. These days, with authors
“I can’t do it. I just can’t walk away.”
“I’m not strong enough. I’m so weak.”
“As soon as he contacts me I know I’ll cave.”
These are some pretty common statements I hear from people trying to wean themselves off of a Narcissist. I get it. Battling all these volatile emotions is really hard. Been there-done-that, got-a-blog-about-it.
The issue is that your life has become all about someone else and you’re so wrapped up in them that you’ve twisted
We all have an innate need to love and be loved, to belong to something, a family, a circle of friends, or even admired by colleagues. When we feel connected to others, it brings us a sense of security, joy and belongingness.
Twentieth century psychologist, Abraham Maslow, listed the need for love and belongingness in his famous hierarchy of needs. This theory is a scale of what drives human motivation. On the bottom of the pyramid, thus being the most important, are physiological needs, such as oxygen, food, water ect. Following that on the pyramid is the need for
Fixer: Someone who engages in relationships with dysfunctional partners, with an uncontrollable need to help, give, rescue, and recreate that person into the image that they desire.
If you see yourself in the above definition, raise your hand if you have ever tried to fix someone and it actually worked? I’m not talking about two relatively healthy people, who make each other better. I’m talking about two unhealthy, broken people, with one giving and one taking, one responsible for everything and one responsible for nothing, and with one trying to change the other into something they are not.
I get a lot of emails from people that are suffering. They are going through so much emotional anguish and they don’t know what to do. Sometimes they’re fine, but they’ll get a text message from their ex-Narcissist and it will send them into an emotional spiral. They need a healthy solution to alleviate the pain they’re experiencing and they need it now. I came across something a couple of years ago and was reminded of it this week, as I came across some writing by Gabrielle Bernstein.
The new year brings with it new challenges, new chapters and new beginnings. But before we look ahead I think it’s important to look back, to make sure that we’ve taken care of all of our childhood baggage. This is important, because if you refuse to do this work, these unresolved issues will continue to manifest in your life, and you will have a never ending battle, trying to manage symptoms, rather than eliminating the problem at its source.
Many people eat, drink, or do drugs to counteract the painful feelings from childhood neglect, or abuse, these are clearly inappropriate coping mechanisms – bandages, that only mask the problem. When you’ve been brought up to feel not good enough, you really do feel a void. You feel incomplete and you believe that if you could only figure
Most of us want to have the ‘typical’ family holiday. We want the tree, the presents, a delicious Christmas dinner and to be happy and surrounded by loved ones. We want the occasion to look like it does in the commercials and movies on TV, but quite often it doesn’t.
For many of us, the holidays mean being around people that we don’t necessarily like, or those who make us feel uncomfortable. That could include – your overbearing Narcissistic father, your hyper critical mother, your spiteful, passive-aggressive sister, or that Narcissist you thought you had gotten rid of ages ago.
Many of us have been on the road to healing for some time now, healing from childhood traumas and from our adult relationships. Most of us have gone no contact with our last abusive partner and we’ve distanced ourselves from the toxic people in our lives. Everything is going great, but along comes the holidays and this is when we are at our most vulnerable and when our resolve is severely tested.
There are a lot of misconceptions about hypnosis. Many people believe that they are supposed to be completely unconscious and have no memory of what’s going on and if they don’t get there, it’s not working and they come to the conclusion that they can’t be hypnotized. The truth is that hypnosis is really the place between awake and asleep. It’s a trance like state where individuals are highly suggestable and highly relaxed. If you’ve ever been driving your car and you are just hyper focused on the road and nothing else and it seems as though your conscious mind has shut down and your subconscious mind is steering the wheel and you don’t remember just how you got to your destination, then you’ve experienced a trance like state.
Many people fear that a hypnotist will make you do foolish things. I’ve been asked on many occasions, “You aren’t going to make me cluck like a chicken are you?” I always say, ‘You aren’t going to do anything you don’t want to do, or wouldn’t normally do.’ You never hear a legal defense for murder as, not criminally responsible, because the defendant was under hypnosis. If you wouldn’t kill someone when you’re awake, you won’t do it under hypnosis.
Willpower, determination, stick-to-itiveness, resolve, whatever you want to call it – discipline is the difference between success and giving in. For me, discipline is self–accountability. It’s an internal standards meter that propels you forward, when your body, mind, or emotions are all signaling, it’s time to give up.
By far, the question I get asked the most is, ‘How do I let go? How do I walk away? I know this is killing me, but I can’t stop.’ My answer is always the same.
There has to be a breaking point – that point where you say, ‘I deserve more than this.’ It’s a cup of pride and 8 cups of discipline. If you’re not used to delaying immediate gratification then this may be very difficult for you, but it is something you can learn.
We’ve all been in relationships and given in dozens of times – it feels good for a short while, but then it fe
When I look back at young me, teenage me, 20 something me, I can’t help thinking, ‘man that little girl didn’t have a clue what she was doing.’ I was a bit of a paradox, because I had an innately, happy disposition, but I was always negative, always critical, never satisfied and always focused on what I didn’t have.
I was lucky enough to have my life completely torn apart by my Narcissist, and yes, I did say lucky. I was lucky, because I had been given a wake-up call. Rather than live out the rest of my days unhappy and slowly dying inside, the universe saw to it, that I take a look at my life and all of the poor choices I was making. I get a lot of emails expressing the deep, emotional pain people
The best blogs I have written have been ones where I’ve written straight from the heart. What I mean by that, are articles that have been a true reflection of my experiences and lessons that I have learned. To me, the only way that you can really write about something and have it be truly authentic, is to have lived it.
I get a lot of emails from people, who have been reading about codependency, and they are freaking out, because they see themselves and their behavior in the descriptions. They ask me what do I do? How do I fix this? I have, in bits and snippets, written about battling codependency, but I’ve never compiled a comprehensive list all in one place. Due to it’s length, I was going to do it in two separate blogs, but I thought it important to keep it all together.
What I have compiled below are the steps that I have taken to beat codependency. It’s important to understand that this healing is a journey and a process – with many, many twists and turns along the way. Some parts are difficult, some are easy and some flow right into the other. Without further ado, here are the steps of my journey:
Awareness: The first step is recognizing that you have been the victim of emotional abuse in childhood. Last week I wrote about the effects of emotional child abuse in adults. This isn’t about being beaten, or locked in closets. This is about growing up in an unhealthy, shame based environment, with an emotional manipulator, where there was little c
When I was 14 years old I met my first love. He was 18 and he was big, strong, smart and beautiful. When I turned 15 he asked me to be his girlfriend. I was smitten and for a couple of months it was pure bliss. Within that year, he slept with my best friend, my cousin, and many others. I stuck around for months, hoping he’d come back and he would throw me a few crumbs from time to time and then off he’d go again. I gave him my heart and my innocence and in return he gave me heartache and sorrow. My very first relationship left me feeling broken, unwanted, unlovable, flawed and not good enough. It was a feeling I was very used to, a feeling that I had carried around with me my whole life.
Looking at my life backwards, it makes perfect sense that my first relationship was really a reproduction of the dysfunctional dynamic that had developed between my mother and I. All of the pain and hurt was a manifestation of what I had been taught, as a child, to feel about myself.
When I was studying Psychology we read and watched many experiments with monkeys. In some experiments these poor little monkeys were taken from birth and kept all alone with no contact with other animals or people for 6 months. The experiment placed the isolated monkey
Human beings are a lot less complicated than you might think . The great motivators for most people, are the desire for survival, sex and love, and power and money. There are other motivators too, like revenge, but usually when you find change, it’s being driven by one of these.
Introspection is the ability to look deep inside and examine your own feelings, thoughts and motives. It’s necessary for growth and change. Surprisingly, not everyone can do introspection. Many either lack the ability, or the desire.
When we don’t look inside at what drives us and others, you’ll feel a sense of disconnect and a separateness that makes us feel alone. Not being in touch with ourselves, can keep us stuck and in a state of denial.
For most of my life I didn’t do introspection. I walked around believing that I was a normal girl, from a normal family, doing normal things and I believed that in my relationships, I was the normal one, I just always seemed to pick the wrong men. I even remember throwing around
I went to my brother’s cottage this weekend and I got to spend some quality time with my nephews and niece. We swam and played volleyball and badminton and ran around like children. As we played another game of badminton, my five year old nephew Jacob, who isn’t as agile or coordinated as the rest of us, looked at me and shouted, “Let me win one Auntie.”
“What do I always say?” I asked.
“You gotta earn it.” He answered ritualistically, while rolling his eyes.
“And why does Auntie always say that?”
“Cuz nobody gives you anything in life, you have to stand on your own two feet and do it yourself.”
I explained to him that if I let him win, then his victory wouldn’t mean anything. That there would come a day, that he will beat Auntie at everything and when he does earn his victory, it won’t be a hollow one – it will mean something.
I often pull my brother’s little ones aside and give them Auntie’s words of wisdom. They probably don’t grasp what I’m really trying to tell them, with their young, immature minds, but it’s my hope that they will all grow up feeling valued and loved and that they will grow into good, kind people and live their lives with integrity.
Have you ever come across a definition or a list of symptoms, and by the time you got to the end of it, your eyes were completely bugged out and your jaw was resting comfortably on the floor? And as the shock of recognition sank in, all you kept saying was, “Oh-My-God, Oh-My-God – this is me. I could be the poster child for this.”
That was me many years ago, after reading Melanie Beattie’s book, Co-Dependent No More. Before I understood the term co-dependent I blamed my Narcissist for everything. And why shouldn’t I? He deserved the blame and my animosity for everything that he had done. But as I looked into this co-dependency business, I realized more and more, that I played an equal roll in this sad excuse of a relationship. I was equally responsible, equally at fault, and I was totally and solely to blame, for the sorry state I was in. Sure, he was a Narcissist and sure, his list of issues and relationship crimes could circle the globe, but I had a thing too and it had a name. My label was worse than his, because…well…it was mine. I was co-dependent. I could relate to every bit of it. It was a pretty tough pill to swallow, because now on top of the hurt and everything else I was dealing with, I had to deal with this too.
The whole concept of forgiveness sounds like a huge cliché doesn’t it? Somehow, by some stroke of magic, forgiving someone, who has done you a terrible wrong, is supposed to make you feel better. That sentiment has always sounded a little ridiculous to me.
We’re probably all familiar with Buddha’s famous quote, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
That sounds logical in principal, but the reality of giving someone a free pass after they hurt you, just doesn’t sit well with a lot of us. It’s like saying, “You know what – it’s all good. Don’t worry about it. It’s just my feelings, my life, my self-esteem and my heart that you crushed – but hey – no biggie.” I would equate that with the doormat-like behavior I’ve fought so hard to get away from.
Forgiveness just doesn’t seem to give a sense of empowerment. The whole idea of it makes a lot of people mad, because you know what? Hurting me – is a big deal – it’s not all good – and there should be some sort of universal justice that holds people accountable.
“Are you sitting down?”
“Yes,” I said. “What’s up?”
“I logged into Pete’s Ipad and I found all these email addresses that I didn’t know he had.”
“Ohhhhh. I don’t like where this is going.” I replied.
“The emails are linked to all these dating websites. He was not only talking to other women online, but he was meeting up with them. There are emails making plans to hook up and then emails afterwards, saying how hot it was. And they go back to before we got married. He’s been cheating the whole time.”
This was the phone call I got this week from a dear friend of mine, pretty much verbatim. I felt sick after I hung up. Sick at the feelings that I knew my friend was going through and sick at the fact that her partner Pete, had fooled us all.
After my break-up many, many years ago, I accidently-on-purpose, came across the Facebook profile of my ex’s new woman. I remember at that moment turning into Joan Rivers, “What a hideous troll beast- oh gag me with a spoon- what is he thinking – how on God’s green earth did he choose her over me? Can we talk?”
Then I saw pictures of them together. They were both smiling and they looked really happy and in love. There were pictures of them hugging, you know the ones where their foreheads are touching – the ones that look so sweet and deeply intimate. There were even pictures of her hugging his mother – his mother….the same woman, who months earlier, thought of me as her daughter-in-law. I was beyond consolable. All I kept thinking about was how easy it was for him to replace me and ho
I love the metamorphic dance of the butterfly. From slow, awkward, unattractive, caterpillar to elegant, graceful, beautiful, butterfly. This dance is symbolic, illustrating our deep desire to shed the things that hold us back, spread our wings and take flight. It’s our collective hope, that we can start from where we are, and transform into our true potential. It can also represent a type of awakening, after a long slumber, or even a rebirth.
Many people walk through life asleep, never questioning what is, never aspiring to be more, or to grow. These people go through the motions and just accept what is. They are the walking dead. I know they exist, because I was one of them.
My deep slumber was the time that I had abandoned myself, when my life became all about someone else. I had forgotten about the little joys in life, the things that gave me pleasure and I had completely forgotten about all of the things my soul craved for its own growth and happiness. Those were dark times, when I lived in a fog, almost like something else had taken over my body. It felt foreign and unnatural, but little by little it was who I became.
The post-date analysis was one of my favorite pastimes. It was a special time, when my girlfriends and I would get together, usually over a meal, or coffee and we’d laugh about what colossal dating faux pas Savannah made this time. Throughout my various stages of emotional health, I have blundered my way through oodles of men, chalking up one epic dating failure after another, enough to supply RomCom writers with copious amounts of material for decades.
Through it all I have laughed, I have cried, but most importantly I learned. I’ve learned how to discern what certain behaviors and patterns mean, what to watch out for, when to proceed and when to climb out the bathroom window. I know many of you are absolutely terrified at the prospect of dating and you’ve asked for a few tips, so I’ve compiled a few of my many hard learned lessons, to hopefully prepare you better and alleviate some of your anxiety. My first suggestion though, is to grab a pen and paper and write down exactly what you’re looking for in a partner. When you’ve got it out there – it means you’ve given it some thought, it’s in your conscious mind and you are more apt to notice it when it comes waltzing past you. So, without further ado:
“With it, you can take on the world, without it, you live stuck at the starting block of your potential.” – Katty Kay & Claire Shipman, authors of The Confidence Code
There are certain traits and behaviors that are essential to living a healthy and fulfilled life. For me, one of those must haves, is confidence.
Confidence is kind of a big deal. It’s like that little black dress that goes with everything. You can be intelligent, hardworking and you can be competent and all of these things are great, but when you lack confidence, all of these wonderful skills don’t amount to much.
Confidence is the meat in your sandwich, the berry in your jam. When you lack confidence, you have less opportunities, life seems scary, watered down, less fulfilling and without substance.
Confidence is a silent knowing. It’s a resolute belief in your value and your abilities. According to Katty Kay and Claire Shipman; confidence is about taking risks, taking action, making decisions, leaving your comfort zone, embracing failure, being resilient, mastering skills and hard work.
Dating is tough, even at the best of times, but when you’re trying to get back out there, after an abusive relationship with a Narcissist, it can seem like a daunting task. Through various emails and comments I’ve received, it seems that many of us are sharing the same, post Narcissist dating experiences and the process is leaving many, feeling upset, frustrated and fearful.
Many months after my relationship ended with a boomerang Narcissist, I decided that I was ready to date again. I had read a ton of books, was seeing a therapist and I looked and felt great. I met a wonderful guy. He was attractive, had his own house, good job, seemed emotionally healthy and treated me better than anyone had ever treated me. I should have been on cloud nine, but I wasn’t. I remember sitting at home crying, missing my Narcissist and I kept wondering, why he couldn’t treat me that way and why I didn’t have the same feelings for my new Mr Wonderful.
Addiction: a persistent, compulsive dependence on, or commitment to, a habit or practice, on a thing or substance, to the extent that its cessation causes trauma.
There are many definitions of addiction, but bottom line, it’s a dependence on something that causes one to have compulsive thoughts and behaviors, which they cannot control or stop.
Individuals can be addicted to many things such as, alcohol, nicotine, drugs, food, gambling, sex, but when we are talking about an addiction to a person, we usually use the word obsession. When researches study addiction they often refer to certain neurotransmitters being present in the brain, or certain areas of the brain lighting up, or becoming visible on tests. At present there are no known studies to determine if the same brain patterns exist for an addiction to a person.
I was recently doing some research on addiction, for another publication, when I stumbled across something that fascinated me.
My cousin is the type of woman that always has a man, or it’s probably better to say, she’s the type of woman that always ‘needs ‘ to have a man and unfortunately for her, each man, seems to be worse, than the man before.
When we were younger, she used to ‘woohoo’ out the car window at men on the street and sometimes she would even yell out where we were going to perfect strangers. I would always duck out of sight, in sheer embarrassment, to me it reeked of desperation and crudeness, but she could pick up a guy on a dime. She was that um…. ‘talented.’ But the problem was that the guys she would hook up with were always a different brand of broken down. They would move way too fast and would even be living together before I saw her next.
“If you struggle with being present in the now, you will struggle with life.” – Eckhart Tolle
We all know one or two people that are genuinely happy and love their lives. It’s not that they have everything all figured out, but they always seem to be fully present in whatever they are doing and always thoroughly enjoying themselves.
It’s common for most of us to find ourselves out at certain events and be thinking about other things. We think about what else we should be doing, where else we should be. We think about the past. We get anxious about things that haven’t happened yet, but so often we are never where we should be, which is where we are at that moment.
Everyone’s life is a work in progress and we all struggle at different stages of our journey. Being present is one of my biggest hurdles. My mind is always in 10 different places all at once. Even when I was a little girl, my report cards would
After my long-term Narcissist and I broke up, I spent about a year and a half on self-improvement. I was looking and feeling pretty good and I decided that it was time to get back up on the ole dating horse. I learned a lot in that year about myself and particularly about my dating habits. It seemed that I kept attracting the same type of guy over and over again and I couldn’t help but wonder, what was going on and if this was a coincidence.
That year my dating history looked like this:
Guy #1 – The date was a total disaster. I talked about my ex the whole time. Relationship duration: 1 date.
Guy #2 – The guy was totally buff, 6’3, muscles everywhere, nice clothes, nice car, good job. He swept me off of my feet and I was hooked. He started to blow hot and cold. I didn’t hear from him one weekend, then the next he was fixing his c
The late eighteenth century was ripe with Revolutions. There was an American Revolution and a French Revolution and even today, citizens of many Middle Eastern countries have banded together to topple oppressive governments. A revolt usually happens when people are forced to live in unjust, unfair and oppressive conditions, where their voices aren’t heard, their civil rights – non-existent and poverty and famine are often the norm. A revolt starts by one person standing up and saying, “I’m not going to live like this anymore.” They take a stand and leap into action.
In our own lives, in the21st century, many of us have grown up in and continue to live in unfair, unjust and oppressive conditions, where our needs and wants don’t matter, our voices go unheard and we are starving for approval, love, purpose and the knowledge that we are good enough and that we matter.
I hate myself. I am flawed. I am unworthy. No one will ever love me and I will never be good enough. These were the beliefs that I carried around with me for most of my life. This cloak of self-loathing was fastened so tightly around my neck, that I could never get it off. It was always with me as far back as I can remember, so wearing it felt quite normal. It was a gift, or more like a curse, that was passed down from generation to generation in my family.
When I was a newborn I was good enough. When I was a toddler I was good enough, but somewhere around the time that I had learned to speak and form sentences, I kept getting the message that I was not good enough. It was with me in adolescence. It became more than apparent as I started dating and when I reached adulthood, every time I pulled up to life’s feast, I would take a few crumbs from the table and pretend that I was full. Everyone around me had plates piled high with delicious delicacies, but never me. Other people were worthy of such things, I was not. So I accepted the crumbs I got in my relationships and I pretended that that was enough. I accepted the crumbs from my employer and I pretended that that was enough. All I ever got or expected were crumbs and I was starving for something more.
I get a lot of emails every day and I read every single one of them. This week I received an email from a reader that literally brought me to tears. The author so eloquently described her depression, her pain, her suffering and her desire to end her own life. The pain had become so unbearable, that suicide seemed like the best option for her.
I went for a walk after reading her email, to clear my head and get some perspective. As I walked I asked the universe, ‘what can I say to this poor woman that could possibly ease her suffering? How can I help these people get past their pain and see their true potential?’
I’ve been where most of you are now. When I started this little blog 11 months ago, I believed that I had something to offer and I wanted to be a beacon for those that were hurting like I was. At the beginning, I was lucky if I got a couple hundred page views a month. Now almost a year int
In relationships, intensity can be defined as a measure or degree of emotional excitement. High intensity relationships are formed when there is high risk and high drama. Also present is a high level of uncertainty and opportunity for either high reward, or high loss.
When we enter into relationships with Narcissists, Psychopaths and Emotionally Unavailable people, there is always an element of danger and unpredictability. These types are shrouded in mystery and cloaked in charisma.
Exploitation usually begins with a promise. This promise can be explicitly expressed, or it can be simply implied. Patrick Carnes, author of Betrayal Bonds tells us that, “Those who (exploit) read their victims well. They appeal to the emptiness and the wounds of others. “
The promise is a lure and its purpose is to provide the victim with all that is missing from their lives. If the victim feels unlovable, the abuser will use love bomb tactics, giving almost more attention and admiration than they feel comfortable with. Those victims that come from families where neglect was present and where emotions and affection was not frequently available are particularly susceptible to the attention and emotions that are evoked with such an onslaught.
Empowerment is a difficult concept to define. For me, empowerment means strength, courage, will, determination, confidence, autonomy and freedom, but mostly, empowerment is about control.
So many women enter into relationships and freely give away their power. For a Narcissist, power over another is what they covet most. Through well-honed techniques, a Narcissist has an uncanny ability, to slowly and methodically, siphon an individual’s personal power.
When one is powerless they become dependent, weak, fearful, self-loathing, lacking in confidence and self-respect. Powerless people are more likely to be victimized, feel trapped and catatonic.
A lot of people drift in and out of relationships without any preexisting expectations. Our expectations are our standards and when our standards are low, or we set the bar knee high, then any Tom, Dick or Narcissist can waltz on over and create all kinds of emotional havoc in our lives.
In the biographies of many of the most successful people in the world, most of them talk about their humble beginnings. Some were homeless, or living in their cars and were living way below what they were capable of. It wasn’t until they flipped a switch, or they just said enough, that their lives began to change. What they say that changed for them, was that they began to expect more from themselves and more from others.
A few days ago I had one of those eerie ‘synchronicity’ experiences. I was contacted by a clinically diagnosed Psychopath and later that same day I turned on my TV and the movie American Psychopath was on. The next day, I went to the book store, to buy a book on recovery from emotional trauma, for research on an upcoming blog.
I found the book I was looking for, stepped over a few feet and propped my elbow up on a shelf, to leaf through it. As I did, I knocked a book onto the floor. I picked it up and looked at the title – The Wisdom of Psychopaths, by Kevin Dutton. I scoffed at the word wisdom and put it back on the shelf. I walked to another part of the bookstore, with my recovery book in hand and everywhere I seemed to look, I saw the word Psychopath. I looked at a few other books, but I couldn’t ignore this voice in my head that was now screaming – you need to read this book – what else do I have to do, hit you with it? So I bought it.
Life can change in an instant. Everyone has the ability to wake up one day and take their life in a new direction. Change happens the minute we make a decision and then follow through with immediate and consistent action.
Change usually occurs when we come across something that has an emotional hook for us, when it touches us and hits the right nerve. It can happen after a crisis, or an incredibly painful experience. Or it can simply be when you’ve reached a point where you say to yourself, that enough is enough, I want more than this.
Science has proven that our energy creates our environment, but I believe that the Law of Attraction and all of its guru’s fall short on one aspect – that nothing happens without action.
We can hope to lose weight, focus on it, believe it, visualize ourselves thin, but if we don’t do something, if we don’t act then nothing changes.
In my journey from pain to self-love the first step for me was recognizing who I truly was. As I discussed in part one, entitled Spirituality, when I finally realized that I was this massive, powerful eternal being, my beliefs about me changed. Knowing that I was a huge energy field, capable of all things – I could no longer look at myself as a weak, helpless, out of control, victim.
Once I got that, I realized that all the baggage that I had been carrying around with me wasn’t mine. It belonged to my mother, my father, my siblings, my friends, the bullies at school and every man I had ever dated. I had been walking around with hundreds of pounds of other people’s junk that didn’t belong to me. I was able to see that the criticism my mom so lavishly heaped on me, was the same baggage that was heaped upon her and I decided I wasn’t going to carry it anymore. When my boyfriends would act in an unkind and disrespectful manner, I stopped taking the blame for it. I stopped internalizing their bad behavior and I gave them back their baggage and handed them their walking papers.
Spirituality is the foundation for change. An awareness of who you really are is the building blocks of creating a better life, because when you understand who you truly are, you will be powerful, not powerless, indestructible not combustible. You will never again see yourself as a victim, but as someone who willingly accepts life’s lessons. You will have balance, harmony and a deep sense of inner peace.
Spiritual people have more confidence. They are more steadfast in their decisions and they have come to trust their instincts and know they are guided by unforeseen forces. They have a multi-faceted perspective on everyday problems and obstacles and an understanding that everything is unfolding exactly as it should.
There is a longing, an aching void that exists deep in the heart of every one of us. We deny it, build walls around it and try to fill it by whatever means available to us.
This void is a hurt that runs deep to our very core. It’s feelings of inadequacy, of not being where and who we want to be. It’s our deepest insecurities and our deepest fears and it exists in everyone. Athletes, celebrities and even the most confident people we know are riddled with insecurity. It is part of the human condition.
But there is a difference between those that live happy, productive lives and those that don’t and it lies in our ability to cope with, acknowledge and heal the causes of this void.
Boundaries are more than just lines on a map. In relationships, they are mandatory codes of conduct that need to be respected. It’s where we draw the line on what is acceptable behavior and what is not.
It’s a fact that you teach people how to treat you and whether it’s with family, friends, co-workers, or lovers, everyone must have boundaries. They are necessary because, well let’s face it, not everyone is playing with the same moral deck. There are a lot of very unhealthy people out there, who make a habit of projecting their issue
For much of my life I believed that relationships hurt. I thought that love equaled pain, because when I was in love, it always ended up hurting. Somewhere, subconsciously, I believed that that’s how you knew you were in love – it hurt.
Not surprisingly, most if not all of my relationships, ended with me feeling that way, regardless of who did the leaving. Heartache was always my default setting and it went with me everywhere I went.
I get a lot of emails asking the same question, “It’s all well and good to say we determine our own worth and we are responsible for our own self-esteem, but _____happened to me. How does somebody just snap out of it and start to feel good about themselves after so much bad has happened?”
People are always looking for a quick, magical solution, that will instantly make them better. As I grow and I acquire more and more experiences, I’ve come to learn that like most other things in life – learning to love yourself is a process. For me, I had reached a point where I didn’t like how I was feeling every day. I wanted to feel happy all the time. I wanted peace all
If you have been involved with a Narcissist, an addict, someone with a compulsive disorder or anyone with emotional or psychological issues, you are about to have an Oprah Winfrey sized Ah-ha moment.
Many of you will see the word Co-Dependent and think, “I’m not an addict, this isn’t about me,” and you’d be wrong. If you are involved with these types of men, by the end of this post you will view things in a whole new light, you may just see yourself and your behavior. In the words that follow you will begin to have an understanding of yourself, your relationship and your life that has alluded you till now.