In rereading Mansfield Park recently, I noticed how strongly Jane Austen emphasizes the need for self evaluation and self improvement to ensure the proper development of one’s character. How different from life today. People engage in improvement of their physical selves through diet and exercise and of their financial selves, but how often in contemporary life do you hear anyone discussing the habit of self reflection and self improvement?
This blog seeks to share my perspective of surviving a relationship with a narcissist. People often leave comments asking for my advice or help about negative situations they encounter with narcissists. However, I am not a medical professional. So, if you find yourself in a crisis of any sort, and especially with a narcissist, you should always seek professional help. If you are in danger, call 911 or better yet- LEAVE! (and then call 911! )
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, then you need help! You should contact a counselor or doctor immediately. If you cannot find a doctor and you are in a true mental health emergency, then ask a friend to drive you to the ER. If you don’t have a friend, then call 911 and ask for an ambulance.
If you are not experiencing a life or death crisis, you might want to try using the Crisis services provided by ‘Crisis Text Live’
If you text Crisis Text Live, and actual live counselor will text you back for FREE! And they will give you good advice about what to do to make yourself safe and feeling better.
Here is what you do:
TEXT “GO” TO 741741
For more information about Crisis Health Services, visit their website:
Namaste & Stay Safe!
Source: Pathological Relationship Aftermath: A Visit to the Dark Side
This article has been reblogged from:
“The Ability to Love”: https://theabilitytolove.wordpress.com/
There is nothing that will have you facing your dark and light sides than a relationship with a psychopath, sociopath or narcissist (pick your poison, they all do the same thing).
I recently received an email from a survivor who was going through the aftermath of her relationship. It was strikingly similar to my last relationship. It created reflection in me of that very painful time in my life. There was no way I was willing to impart any ‘honesty’ regarding my part in the relationship when it ended. I was angry, I was deeply wounded and very physically ill, eight months after it was over. With all of this victimizing, seeing myself as his victim, my consciousness had buried any reality that I had a dark side and that this relationship was showing it to me as a whole lot of work to do on myself.
In other words, when my relationship ended, my ego was in the way. After the trauma that a pathological relationship can be, the last thing you want to discuss, are your vulnerabilities that the psychopath latched on to. Exploitation is the mark of all the disordered and if you have vulnerabilities, whether good or bad, it’s the psychopath, sociopath or narcissist that will siphon it out of you through his/her ability to exploit. I learned that it’s still possible not to be conscious of all my vulnerabilities. Even my poverty is subject to exploitation.
Manipulation is something everyone participates in, to one extent or another. An example might be wanting to look your best before a social gathering, wanting to be on your ‘best’ behavior. I refer to this as being ‘on’ for people, and for me it’s exhausting, but for the average outgoing person, this stuff is fun! We all have a mask of our own too. Advertisers manipulate us everyday, simply trying to get us interested in a particular product, or that we need this or that item, an example might be the latest and greatest I-phone. Living in a world that is increasingly high tech, as well as ‘superficial’ with the accumulation of ‘things’ as status, these advertisers are like flies about our heads. They are everywhere. If we meet someone new it’s unlikely that we are not going to show our whole or true selves. Only what we perceive to be that ‘good’ side of ourselves. We’d never have friends, dates or be invited to another social gathering if what we presented to someone for the first time was a cranky person after a bad day, or when we’re sick and whiny or lying around unshowered, chillaxin at home.
Manipulation takes on a different hue when it comes to psychopaths. The proclamation that the psychopath is readily seen through manipulation is only partly true. The difference is in the extremes. But even then, this is up for careful observation. I have friends who have low to no boundaries and will share everything about themselves, more than anyone needs to know upon meeting new people. A lot of us with abuse backgrounds have this problem. If your boundaries are not sound, if you’re offering more information about yourself then you should, rather than learning to be a careful observer and protective of yourself, ie: proceed with caution, you’re bait for a disordered one. I had a lot of problems with this, feeling this intense need to offer up information about myself, even intimate information, before anyone could ask me. It took a long time in therapy to see that this habit was a direct result of my traumatic childhood with pathological parents. I spent a lot of time in childhood, trying to avoid various forms of abuse and many times I would attempt to ‘explain myself’ to avoid abuse or after the abuse was committed. The only exception to this was the chronic sexual abuse I experienced. This obnoxious habit was also one of motive for me in that I wanted people to accept and like me. I wanted them to know all about me, so that there was no need for questions. I thought.
The truth is I had no boundaries at all. Zero, zip, nada. And I was steak for the human predatory exploiter.
My relationship with my ex-psychopath was born out of what I perceived was friendship. I spent many hours writing emails to this man, as well as talking on the phone a lot. We spent hours discussing our bad marriages and our abusive partners. My marriage to my ex-psychopathic husband, was all but over. As soon as the marriage ended, we became more emotionally intimate. He continued to say that he would leave his wife, but the kids were what prevented him from doing so. This confused me and created a lot of cognitive dissonance. So…..she’s that abusive, but you’re staying for the kids, exposing them further to this abuse? Of course all of this was a lie, but if there is one thing a psychopath can do well, is lie. This man went out of his way to show me that the abuses he said she committed were the truth, right down to a cut up shirt he brought over to show me that she had scissored to shreds. He told me that she did it when he said the shirt was too small around the neck. It wasn’t until much later and I started connecting some dots, that he was making her crazy and provoking her to rages. He wasn’t the victim. She was. She was the victim. He brutalized her as much as he brutalized me and in the same ways.
As I share this, my tendency is to go off on a tangent about his brutality, and closing off my own. I got into an affair relationship. I knew in that sense, the relationship was wrong from the start. There would be no respect, yet I expected this out of him, there were certainly no boundaries, and I was causing as much pain to her, as he was. He exploited my own narcissism. I was so beautiful, wonderful, ‘unique’, and boy was I great in bed! I loved hearing these things about myself. This manipulation took me to new heights, my ego fluffed, I was his ‘soul mate’. I let go of all the nagging in my gut that something was very wrong and not just the relationship, but with him and with me. At this point, I was completely unaware of psychopathy, although when I discovered what it was, the familiarity became front and center for me. My last psychopath was nearly a duplicate of my psychopathic father. From his sarcasm, to the psychological mind*ucking, emotional/physical deprivation with affection and psychological sabotage. His career choice could not have been closer to my father than this man. It doesn’t excuse my own behavior or actions, but when it was over and I was more open to awareness, letting ego drop a bit and with all of my sorrow about my own behavior, it helped me understand why I was so attracted to him in the first place.
Psychopaths are the most toxic, harmful individuals on the planet. I think it’s safe to say that healthy people do not get involved with them and if they are healthy, the bail quickly. Having been out of the relationship for five years now, I’m extremely aware of myself in new situations, and even in current relationships. Having boundaries, learning to love and accept myself, learning to protect myself and see my value and worth, despite my circumstances that might suggest otherwise, has made a monumental difference in myobservances of others. This doesn’t mean I’ve not run into other disordered people, because I have, was even duped by what was my only employer in the last several years. Needless to say, this was brief, if not devastating because of my circumstances. I realized that my living in abject poverty still makes me a target for exploiters. Desperate for work,anything I could do part time, at home, self employed, was a dream come true for me. I think the quote, ‘Too good to be true’ is often applicable when it comes to exploiters and their self descriptive and highly false narratives.
It rocked my soul to be duped again, but I learned lessons from it that are now very valuable to me. I’m committed to learning about all my vulnerabilities so that I can keep these people at bay and I can honestly say this is possible, but it doesn’t come without work and with a truly humble approach necessary to view your dark side.
It’s taken a long time and a lot of therapy to come to grips with my last relationship and the part I played in it. What a psychopath does, is never, ever the fault of the victim. Ever.No matter under what circumstance the relationship began, the victim is never responsible for the abuser’s behavior. But in speaking for myself, I was responsible for getting into the relationship. I was responsible because it takes two to create a relationship. I was responsible because I knew it was an affair relationship, so I was already in a one down position when he showed up into my life. There were many people in my own life that felt I deserved what I got because it was an affair relationship. I’ve had other survivors, triangulated by psychopaths in the same way, mainly as wives, become brutal when I share how my relationship started. But to a psychopath, married or not, it doesn’t matter, because to them we are all the other woman and a psychopath is greatly empowered by triangulated relationships where partners are fighting over him. At least the ones that KNOW he’s married, as a psychopath is incapable of monogamy and has many partners on their merry-go-round. It’s also why psychopaths escape accountability. I had the ‘unique blessing’ to have been the wife of a cheating and violent psychopath and the other woman of a married psychopath. But going into those dynamics are things I’ve already posted awhile back in a post called, “We Are All the Other Woman”.
I was responsible for my continuing in the relationship even though it caused trauma to my own children. The energy and emotional output in these relationships takes all of you.The psychopath grips your soul and hangs on for dear life, by sucking on your own. And I could not help but see, when this survivor wrote to me, the glaring dark side that was once my own too. I was already a victim, not a survivor walking into this relationship. It was all about what he was doing to me, and not what I was doing to myself through my involvement with him. To be a survivor meant I could no longer tolerate the relationship. I was very addicted to him, to the point that it nearly killed me. I had no self worth, value or boundaries when I got into the relationship, by its end, I had no integrity, no dignity or self respect. The abuse was so bad, and so openly blatant it became very clear to me that I was allowing this behavior, but believing I loved him, I stayed and stayed, until one night, he pulled a gun on me. My addiction to him could have gotten me killed and has many a victim involved with a psychopath.
In therapy, I had to closely examine my own manipulations. My own ego. My own painful, traumatic, chronically abusive background. I had to come to terms with the many mistakes I’ve made in my life and the many people I’ve hurt because of it. I’ve had to make many apologies, even if amends were not possible. I had to learn to understand that guilt and shame were at the forefront of my existence and that the minute I utter to anyone, “She did this, or he did that” I have to stop myself and reverse it: “I allowed this behavior, I allowed this mistake to happen so now I’m responsible for the consequences.” There is such a major shift when uttering these words within me. It creates a healthy humility for me, in which humility is not tied to shame or to guilt, but to responsibility and growth. I’ve learned that to admit my own personal failings, to admit when I’ve made a mistake, empowers me, rather than decimates me. Sure, there is frustration and even anger at myself, but I keep trying.
Equally, there are also many situations in life where the mantra ‘shit happens’ is appropriately applied. Illness, disability and poverty, death and taxes are just part of it. Poverty is traumatic. Unless you’ve walked this road, there is no way to understand it. Through the pain of living in constant fear and hyper vigilance about it, my health declining due to the overwhelming stress that it is, I’ve also had some beautiful things come of it within me. My empathy has deepened. My sensitivities as an empath have become something that sits at the surface, opening me up to people, especially survivors, who endure daily trauma as a consequence to their own relationships with psychopaths and the inevitable, predictable fallout. But I’ve also developed a sense of ‘realness’ in that I won’t coddle either. Coddling, in my view, is disrespectful of any survivor who crosses my path. I believe they are much stronger than they give themselves credit for. I see what I see and I share it with them. It isn’t always what they want to hear and for some, I never hear from them again, but for most, they think about what has been shared. It’s so hard to come to terms with yourself. And it hurts a lot too, but it’s all part of the process of growth, of growing your soul, of ‘making friends’ with your dark side so you’re aware of it’s potential popping up in your life, when ego takes a front seat and throws humility into the back.
Having a high level of empathy is a blessing in many ways, but also a curse. It means that sometimes I tend to give more than I should, to care more for the wrong people. People who are unable to appreciate me, but are merely emotionally parasitic. Drama on replay gets very old after awhile. I know my drama with the psychopath got very old for many people who loved me in my life. I would not listen, just complain about the same issues over and over, without any solutions to fix it because I was simply not ready too. I see this in the survivors I support too. I’ve learned that it’s okay not to be ready. I let them go and wish them well and let them know that I’m still around should they decide that they are ready to exit the relationship completely and go no contact. I don’t allow it to frustrate me anymore, but see it as part of the process. I can see my dark side showing itself when I feel angry or frustrated. Generally, this means I have more work to do.
Strangely enough, admitting to my part in my relationship, also opened the door to a deeper wisdom and insight about the psychopath, sociopath and narcissist. I still educate wherever I can, and right now it’s on the political pages I haunt, seeing psychopaths in power, ripping the country and its people apart. Unregulated capitalism = psychopathy, attracting the disordered like moths to a flame. Political, governmental or corporate power is the ultimate for the psychopath, sociopath or narcissist. It’s this power that is intoxicating to them, having power over the lives of millions. Unregulated capitalism has created psychopaths in power who love to practice fiscal deprivation and sabotage, as all psychopaths do in their personal relationships. They are verbal exploiters of the masses, with rhetoric of hate and fear that have turned the spirit of American’s inside out. Never in my 52 years have I seen my country so hateful, violent and unpredictable, with so much pathology all around. Being a sensitive, empathic person, this feels like glass in my head and is an accurate description from a line in the movie ‘The Green Mile’, where John Coffee explains to the Tom Hanks character how it feels to live in such a cold, painful world where people are hurting one another. I pick up on energies of others, but when it’s energies that overwhelm, such as hatred and fear, it hurts me deeply. When my family and friends are in pain, I feel their pain all throughout my body and my heart. I can instantly imagine walking in their shoes. It is part of me that I was taught to hate. That my pathological parents hated and targeted from beginning, as I was born this way. Their abuse of me, also deepened my empathy and sensitivity. I learned to gauge whatever abuse was coming that day by being hyper vigilant and extremely observant of body language, facial expression and the evil darkness in the eyes. I read verbal cues, tones, words. There is no choice when you live in a pathological home if you want to survive it.
In therapy, I learned there was a major difference in having pathological parents, then just a pathological partner, even though both are deadly and dangerous. My parents were not two people I selected. I was born into it. The extremes that a child lives with a pathological parent, have devastating consequences to the child. It’s why I emphasize with survivors who have children with the psychopath that getting out of the relationship is a blessing and a gift to them. Unfortunately, as with any addiction, the addiction to the psychopath often foreshadows what needs to be done to escape danger, to put our children first. There are not words to convey how much sorrow remains in my heart for what I allowed my children to endure, and as I watch them move through adulthood with some issues that were created because of the exposure to so much pathology. Since my recovery began, I made a commitment to them to be there for them, and that although I can’t go back and correct the mistakes I made in their exposure to their father or my last ex, I can be there for them now if an issue arises and is creating hell in their lives because of that trauma. I had to earn their trust back and it took many years to do so. I had to reveal some things about myself that I was not proud of and I allowed my children to address with me the wrongs they felt I did to them. There is nothing that will introduce you to your dark side (other than the psychopath himself/herself), then the mistakes you made that have harmed your children. Ego is a giant force when it comes to what I now refer to as ‘resistance to admittance.’ Ego had to be absent, even though twinges of it would erupt as defensiveness.
But once I dropped ego and my guard, while still excruciatingly painful, it was a gift to them. For all I had done and allowed, I wanted them to have from me what I would never experience from my pathological parents: A heartfelt apology with follow up. I wanted them to know that I loved them, more than I loved my deflated ego. The ‘follow up’ has been beautiful in so many ways. I have four gorgeous grandchildren (ok, I admit bias here) for which my world revolves. They are a gift to me. A gift from my children, to a mother who wasn’t so great, but who has worked hard to show them that they truly are loved.
I know a few people in my life involved with pathological individuals. I’m seeing not only their pain, but also how decimated the pathological makes them feel, how powerless. My best friend now has her pathological mother living in her home, after just having lost her husband after two years of providing at home hospice care. He passed peacefully and it was a relief for him and for all us as he so wanted to be out of misery. His passing peacefully was a gift to my friend and something I prayed diligently for as I knew she would have peace about it afterward. She did much of her grieving while caring for him and we spent hours talking about her life with him and the daily frustrations and even anguish, in needing to care for someone around the clock. She has her moments where she cries, but overall, the two weeks after her husband passed, were peaceful for her. Until her sister passed. Death in a pathological family is a living hell for those that are healthy. Every inconceivable, ugly, pathological dynamic known to that family rears its ugly head when someone dies. In this case, my friend’s sister was caring for her elderly pathological mother. A woman who brutalized my friend as a child. Her sister that passed, has a daughter who is pathological too. She threw her elderly grandmother out of the house, blaming her for her daughter’s death. Sound familiar? If you’re from a pathological home, it probably does. Unfortunately, even though there were other members of the family willing to take her in and one of them that did, briefly, mother was extremely unhappy wherever she went. Such as it is with a pathological parent. So my friend made the mistake of offering her home to her. Since the day this woman moved in, I’ve noticed substantial weight loss, depression, anxiety so bad that when she comes for visits in the morning, she is literally shaking. She is not herself and her mother occupies every brain cell in her head. She is terrified of her. Whatever strength was built over the years of hospice care and growth through grieving, has taken hiatus for a woman that is allowing herself to be powerless, to lose all that was gained.
She is terrified of this small and frail 83 year old toddler.
Before mother moved in, my friend and I discussed this. I shared with her that I understood what it was like to have a pathological parent. And now an elderly one and there was no way I could tolerate it. If there is one thing about a pathological family that I’ve known to be true, particularly if it’s the parent, the dynamics, the ‘roles’ assigned to each child, will be played out with great prediction and inevitability no matter what age you are. It’s as if being transported back in time to the age you were when experiencing your abuse. Even if the adult child becomes a healthy one, the pathological parent does not and is just as toxic. These people, whether 25 or 83, as in my friend’s mothers case, never, ever change and their abuse never changes either. I intentionally went no contact with my pathological family to save myself. Whenever there was contact, there was a raging, lunatic psychopath at the other end of the phone line, text and open and blatant abuse in person. There was no way that I could have contact and not feel that the soulless train wreck was going to charge at me. My gut would be twisted into knots, my hyper vigilance overwhelming me physically with insurmountable stress. Toxic is toxic. There is no such thing as a ‘pleasant’ relationship with someone who has no empathy.
I’m extremely concerned for my friend, who speaks in the same way that most victims of psychopaths do: “She won’t let me watch what I want to watch”, “She doesn’t want to pay rent”. These people, given an inch of your power, will dig in and try to get all of it. Whatever label of reference is preferred (I have lots to say about that too, particularly when it comes to the Narcissist label, but that’s another post for another day), psychopath, sociopath or narcissist, are power addicts. Having power over their victims is their primary goal. They are insatiable and no one can give them enough power. This is why you can never ‘please’ a psychopath, sociopath or narcissist, because the power that they require, the energy that will deplete you to a former self or no self at all, is what these people live for. Oftentimes, we project our empathy onto the psychopath, and when we do this, all the better for them. This is one of the major problems with those of us having been involved with a psychopath in that when we project our empathy on to them, and to assume that they have the same psychological, emotional capabilities that we have, is where (aside from the addictive component in the relationship) victims lose their power.
In projecting our empathy on to the psychopath, this means we will suffer a great deal of cognitive dissonance, complete and utter confusion, see only what we want to see of the ‘good side’ of him/her, while the bad side is most prominent. With as deadly, toxic and dangerous as these individuals are, the rose colored glasses that the victim wears in believing that the disordered one is capable of anything remotely ‘good’ in a way that is anywhere close to meaningful, will overlook that this person is incapable of anything. Many psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists lead double lives. They do it so well that their victims often never find out, or they find out later when the relationship is over. This is so even for the pathological parent.
I’ve learned that the key to overcoming the relationship, whether romantic or as the child of a pathological parent, to really experience healing and recovery, is a necessary path taken down a dark, dank, ugly, stench filled tunnel called ego. To rip open our souls, is not about just looking at our good sides, but our dark sides too. Making friends with your dark side is very painful and very frightening at first, but as you travel, and you begin to see your way through your own dark tunnel, you will eventually see true and real light in yourself. We are all human. Embracing humanity is not just embracing that cheeky, wonderful, funny, caring, overly sexual side, but the side that isn’t so pretty. The side of yourself where your vulnerabilities lie, where your lies lie, where your own manipulations lie. Where your mistakes lie, where your pain lies, where your past abuse lies. There is no way to be involved with a psychopath and not take on some of his/her traits. You have to in order to survive it. You have to play the game, in order to live it out with them. The pathological relationship is built on a foundation of lies. Lies that the psychopath tells us and the lies we tell him or ourselves. This darker part of our humanity, our dysfunctional and extremely vulnerable side is what got us into the relationship in the first place.
One of the parts of myself that needed healing the most, was my sexual side. Talk aboutdark! A survivor recently shared that her psychopath wanted to be sexually involved within a couple of weeks of meeting him, “but in other relationships you wait at least two months!”
Two months? It took me a full year to get use to my new dog.
Psychopaths exploit sex in a relationship to the hilt. Both genders understand that sex is bonding for most empathic people. My ex psychopath exploited this in me because sex was actually a vulnerability in me. While I was never overly promiscuous, when it came to a relationship where there was sexual ‘chemistry’, I assumed this to mean love. Sex was love, love was sex. My ex psychopath wanted sex all the time, but he would also deprive me. When he deprived me, I assumed this meant he did not love me. Most of the ‘affection’ I got was during sex. I was consistently told I was ‘the bomb in bed’, I was the best he ever had, the most sex he had ever had. This vulnerability was so deep for me, that I didn’t recognize the major exploitation that was happening every time sex was had with him. I wanted it with him all the time, believed all his bullshit about how great I was, which put me on cloud nine because I felt special and loved. I was better than anyone he had ever been with, including his wife! Wow! This was a brilliant move on his part when it came to my vulnerabilities and why today I am so careful, so vigilant about them. It was a darker side to myself that tied into a very dark past with abuse. He exploited my victimization as a sexual abuse survivor. As a child, this was very chronic toward me by nearly all the adult males in my life, including my psychopathic father. I learned that this was where my value was. All disordered ones are sexually abusive. They see their partners as interchangeable. Without empathy, their victims are merely objectified sexually. There is no attachment emotionally to any of them. To a psychopath, narcissist or sociopath, we are all the same thing, just different victims. For them it’s just sex. And I found it alarming that the new time limit to get into bed with someone is two months? No wonder there are so many victims of psychopaths. This is what a psychopath lives for, because it’s through sex where they get the most power and where victims are bonded so easily.
I remember about a year ago, I got an angry email from a disordered one on a post I wrote about this subject. “You’re fucking crazy! What a stupid bitch you are! Waiting a YEAR for sex? Ha ha. ..” That to me, was astounding, for it said so much to me about how psychopaths view sex and how incredibly easy it is for them to get it. I learned that not only was part of my dark side invested in sex as love because of the horrendous sexual abuse I was exposed too, I was easy bait because I didn’t wait. I had no self respect. I had no boundaries and I didn’t love myself. I’ve been abstinent for five years now. It has been mind blowing how my perspectives have changed and how much healing and growth I’ve experienced with this issue. Now, I’m worth the wait. I value my sexuality and never again will someone use it to exploit or hurt me. I’ll make a man wait. I will not jump into bed with anyone that fast again, because I want to get to know him well first. I want him to get the chance to know me first. I was never valued as a child with my sexuality. I was sexualized very early in my life. What was suppose to be the one of the essences of my innocence was robbed from me. All the way from childhood to adulthood, I had no idea that sex was best saved for the right man, but rather I gave myself away because this was what was expected of me. I took my life, as a sexual abuse victim, and stopped it the day I walked away from my ex psychopath. I became a survivor. This darker part of me was excavated very slowly and over a long period of time because it was so painful to me. Now there is light in this part of myself. It is so empowering to feel that I have the right to choose WHEN. If a man can’t wait, then he’ll have to move on and I’m okay with this. I remember feeling this intense urge to wanting sex so I didn’t lose my ex psychopath with all the emphasis he put into it, with his constant exploitation, I was addicted to the sex.
The last couple of years with him were awful. He had been sexually abusing from the beginning, but it was also becoming brutal. The disrespect he had for me, the contempt, the disgust at my desire for sex with him, turned into brutality. The disrespect and lack of love for myself, allowed it. It took several years to acknowledge that I had also been raped in that relationship. I was utterly blinded by the sexual part of the relationship. This vulnerability, this darker side of myself had to see the light of day for it to be healed. I had to admit to what sex was for me. What I thought about it, how I had serious concerns about Narcissistic tendency on my part for the joy I took in that I was ‘the best he ever had’, reigning me as Queen above all other women and using this to triangulate me with other women in his life.
Sex is overrated these days. I see so much superficiality with sex and how our society views it. This does not mean I’ve turned into a prude or that I don’t like sex anymore, but that I have more self respect and other respect. I also respect sex for what it is and should be, an intimate sharing of two people who love each other. It also saddens me, because I see so many survivors who got involved within days or weeks or just a couple of months, sexually, with the psychopath. The race for the psychopath, sociopath or narcissist to get a victim into bed, is one that is sought out from the beginning. Some psychopaths will wait, but the reality is that most won’t. Two months, even six months is really fast. When I put this into perspective when developing new friendships, I certainly don’t know them well at two months to even begin to speak intimately of my life. Again, it took a full year to really get to know my new dog! Her personal habits and comfort level with me as her owner. I know now, that if I want my relationships to mean anything, a man or with my friendships, I take the time to get to know them and they to know me. I’m learning with newer friendships that it can take a long, long time to really know them and to learn to trust. Respect is given automatically from me, but trust is entirely different. Keeping my vulnerabilities within the scope of my awareness and how my dark side can rear its ugly head, setting me up for self sabotaging behavior, or for another relationship with a psychopath, has kept me safe.
My recovery has been very slow because of my circumstances, but in other ways, I’ve been a fast learner. The more that I’m willing to see of myself, as a whole human being and embracing my humanity, the more empowered I feel personally. It does nothing for my illness, my disability or my poverty, but it has helped me to try to withstand it, even though it’s very hard.
Take a look at your dark side. Make friends with it. Acknowledge its presence within you and know it doesn’t have to ruin or run your life, but in fact, can help you navigate it better and bring you to a place of peace and contentment as a new and empowered you.
Onward and Upward
I created this blog in 2010 to heal after ending a relationship with a narcissist. I am not the only person to do so; many excellent bloggers are writing about the same topic. Perhaps the most painful aspect of dating or marrying a narcissist is experiencing firsthand the idealization, devaluation and discard phases of the relationship. One minute, the narcissist has you on a pedestal and the next minute, he or she tells you that your hair is too frizzy.
Although I focused on my relationship with my first husband in this blog, whom I left when I was 22 and then reunited with at the age of 40, this was not my first relationship with a narcissist. . So I have spent the past few years asking why I attract narcissistic type partners. At first it seemed to be a cruel twist of fate or karma.
Many of my readers ask the same question, “Why do I attract narcissists? What’s wrong with me?”
I am not a psychiatrist and I have no professional training in the field. I can only speak from life experience. From my experience and from the experiences of others, it is clear that if we are raised in a dysfunctional family situation, where our emotional needs as children are not met, then we are more likely to attract similar conditions in adulthood.
One of my parents had a narcissistic personality and was physically and emotionally abusive. I have not written about this before in this blog, but clearly this primary childhood relationship predisposed me towards seeking out relationships with narcissists in adulthood. Furthermore, it is my understanding that narcissistic types will seek out, perhaps unconsciously, individuals who are accustomed to poor treatment by others. If we are raised in dysfunction, then we will accept dysfunction.
The only way out of this pattern is self-awareness. Once we identify that we have been living our lives in a cycle of unhealthy relationships, then we can learn to identify the red flags or warning signs which can keep us safe from negative entanglements with the wrong people. I am not an expert, but I recommend therapy for working through all negative relationship patterns. We must learn to value ourselves and to not allow others to treat us badly. When we value ourselves then we will avoid dysfunctional relationships with others because we will not tolerate their behavior.
An excellent post from “Let me Reach” with Kim Saeed on Complex Post Trauma Disorder.
It’s hard to admit, but…
You’ve been lying to yourself about your partner.
There’s an ever-widening gap between the person you want him to be and the person he really is. You have an idea of what constitutes a healthy relationship, yet you forgive your partner when he commits serious relationship grievances because, after all, he’s not all bad.
It started out small, didn’t it? You caught him in a “minor” lie, but he had a somewhat reasonable explanation for it. When you put two and two together, his justification seemed sensible, so it changed from being a lie to a “slight misunderstanding”.
Then, when it kept happening, he turned your attention away from the fact that he was lying to your being “suspicious, needy, and insecure”. So that when you’d catch him in another lie, he’d simply rage about your always watching his every move and how he couldn’t…
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So many times we hear about sociopathic men controlling women. Typically, it is females who become trapped in emotionally abusive relationships and cannot leave due to financial circumstances. However, there are also many men trapped in similar situations. I know that the term ‘controlling woman’ is a stereotype and yet I recently experienced a situation which made me think about it in-depth.
A dear friend of thirty years recently tried to end his relationships with a sociopathic family member. I had been friends with this man, whom I’ll call Tom, for thirty years. I knew about Tom’s situation with his family member for several years. Several months ago, he came to me because he had decided to cut off ties with this individual, who happened to be his wife.
My friend grew up in a home with a very controlling mother and without knowing it he signed up for the same treatment in his marriage. I met his wife when they first started dating. She struck me as quite immature. She was 21 at the time but seemed more like 11. All that this woman wanted out of life was to have as many babies as possible and to not have to work outside the home. Tom, who was in love with his wife and eager to start a family, agreed that she should stay home with the children but he did not know that he was also signing up to support her financially for the rest of her life.
The number of children seemed to be the first point of struggle. After three children, Tom wanted to stop but she insisted on more. Tom wanted a vasectomy stating that they could not afford more children because his wife was not working and he had a blue-collar profession. After the fourth child arrived, Tom again stated that he wanted no more children. At this time, they had three boys and one girl. His wife insisted that she “needed” another daughter and begged and pleaded. So their second daughter was born. After five children, Tom insisted on a vasectomy.
After the vasectomy there was very little and eventually no sex. Without the possibility of pregnancy, Tom’s wife only used sex as a reward/punishment system, sending him to sleep on the couch so often that he eventually moved to the couch.
In addition to wanting more children than they could afford, Tom’s wife also had expensive habits including wine, clothing, make up and going out to lunch with her friends. She still did not work outside the home. Tom went without to provide her wants and he subsequently ignored his own needs. His wife had been brought up in a wealthy family and she did not seem to understand that her husband was a blue-collar worker with a limited earning potential. Credit card debts ensued, not for necessary items but for luxuries. At one point the finances were strained after Tom was laid off from a manufacturing firm which was moving overseas. Instead of offering to find work herself to help pay the bills (the youngest child at that time being 8), his wife pushed for them to take a second mortgage, which they did, mounting to the debt.
Early on in this marriage, Tom’s wife took the lead of being the boss, of being in charge. He referred to her as a bully. If she did not get her way, then she would punish him with sullen moods, outbursts of anger, and fits of crying. She inflicted her moods on the children, who also responded to her manipulations by acquiescing to their mother’s demands. The entire household revolved around the mother. Anything and everything was done to keep her calm. Tom pressed her to see a psychiatrist but she refused.
With the economic changes after 2008, Tom found that he was unable to make enough money in his career as an industrial tradesman without traveling to remote areas for weeks or months at a time and sending the money back home to his wife. He lived in squalid conditions including musty hotel rooms, shared housing and even campsites to keep his expenses as low as possible. He was incredibly unhappy and yet he felt that he must keep working to support his children, especially as his wife continued to not work outside the home.
As the years went by the type of work Tom had to perform, which involved climbing and lifting for ten to twelve hours a day, began to have a toll on his body. Having inherited a genetic form of arthritis, his limbs became twisted and as he took medications to control the swelling at such high levels that his liver levels were altered. It was at this point that I came into contact with him again, after an absence of several years. He was desperate to change careers and yet he could not afford to. When I suggested that his wife should get a job, he felt thankful to me for saying so. And yet she continued to not work and he continued to tax his body.
During the past couple of years, Tom remarked to me that lately, instead of working five ten to twelve-hour days per week, he needed to work six in order to make enough money to satisfy his wife’s spending habits. He referenced her credit card bills, expensive clothing, trips to the hairdressers, cases of wine, organic food, vitamins. At this point, I interjected, “Organic food! You’ve got five kids and a workingman’s salary! You can’t afford organic food!” He sadly agreed and yet he seemed powerless to stop her from buying it.
Finally, last fall, feeling his body becoming worn out and broken, and with every day of work more painful than the one before, Tom had enough. He decided to call it off. The youngest child was fifteen. He announced his intention for a divorce, and told her that although he would fully support the children and household until the youngest was eighteen, she would need to get a full-time job right away, as he intended to transition to a career which would not destroy his body further.
Tom’s resolve lasted a few months while his wife battered away at him daily. First, after having ignored him sexually for years, she began pursuing him against his will. He felt extremely uncomfortable about her advances and asked her to stop. She did not. Since he was working several hours away, and saw her only occasionally, at first this was not too difficult. But then she began calling him and texting him unceasingly. After having ignored him completely for years, she began a campaign of constant contact, which anyone outside of the situation would consider harassment. She agreed to go to counseling to address her poor behavior, then she missed the appointments. She yelled, screamed, cried, withdrew. She harangued him, argued with him and accused him repeatedly of neglecting his duty. She shamed him. She told him that his children were suffering because of his actions. She upset their teenage and young adult children, whom she drew into her confidence as she designated herself as the victim, suddenly thrown out and forced to get a job, as if doing so were an indignity she could not bear. Soon his young adult children began to call him at work asking, “Why are you making Mom get a job?”
None of Tom’s children seemed to be aware of the breakdown of their father’s body, or how hard he worked, or what that work did to him. All they heard was the deafening yells of this woman who was simply a large child not getting her way. Finally, after several months of harassment, Tom needed unexpected surgery and wound up unemployed and living under the same roof as his wife. Due to pressure from her and his oldest daughter, he finally gave up his intention to get a divorce and agreed to reconcile with his wife. Undoubtedly, he will work six or seven days a week until his body fails, which cannot be too many years from now. (He is currently 50 years old.)
As sad as this story is, I know of several men trapped in similar situations. Their female partners control them by withholding sex, and making them feel ashamed. They accuse them of neglecting their duties and being bad fathers if they consider leaving their wives. My friend Tom knew that it was possible to get divorced and still be a good father and he set out determined to do this and yet his intentions were undermined by his wife convincing him (and the children) that if he left her, he was also leaving the children. This case is particularly sad in that the wife used the children to such an extent that Tom began viewing them as if they were much younger and more helpless than they were. A secondary aspect of this family’s dysfunction is that the adult children were also growing dependent on Tom to be the person who not only made all the money but who solved all of the emotional squabbles in the household. Two of the adult children were still living at home and not contributing anything to the household in terms of either money or labor.
Control and manipulation are gender neutral. Anyone can play in these twisted games. My heart goes out to all persons trapped by controlling partners or family members; may you all find the courage to escape.
The fourth anniversary of the dark discovery of my ex’s betrayal is approaching. For some reason, four years feels like a significant milestone. I did not even notice or write about the two or three-year anniversaries. The approaching date weighs heavily on my life, darkening the light which I have found in the interim.
When writing about a traumatic event, the cliché closure technique is for the writer to emphasize that while the experience was painful and challenging , he or she is stronger and wiser in the aftermath. However, four years have passed, and for me, this is not so. I feel wiser, but it is a cold wise based on a lack of trust for others. Instead of stronger, I feel weaker and diminished, as if his use of me as a disposable item rendered me less of a person.
I have not wallowed in despair during the past four years, nor have I fallen prey to self-pity. I have executed positive actions toward healing including seeing a therapist, beginning a meditation practice, writing down though processes on this blog, creating a dream journal and taking art classes.
Yet, the overall feeling from the experience is one of loss. Not loss of this man or his supposed love, but the loss of my faith in life an in myself to make the right decisions.
More to follow…