Archives for December 2009

Circling the Promised Land

Reflections on the year lived…isn’t that what December 31st was all about before it was about party horns and too much champagne?

For me, sometimes it’s good and hearty reflections…satisfaction at goals reached and lives touched. Other times it’s sadness, frustration or confusion.

These past two years have been all of that for me…hearty and hell…so many of your lives touched and yet so many in my personal life gone–taken–dead. When you lose someone so close (my mother, my pet therapy dog, and Cody my foster son) it makes this life so much more real.

I don’t know if YOU see your life as real as I sometimes see it. Do you see what I see when I read your letters, hear your stories, and imagine your relationships and pain?

Many women want ‘The Promised Land.’ To them that could be healing or maybe that’s being with him…but so many are always looking for happiness and thinking ‘The Promised Land’ is just around the corner.

~ “The Promised Land always lies on the other side of the wilderness.” ~

(Havelock Ellis)

Oh…the wilderness…the path of pain–that road that requires that you leave him–that you face your own fear or loneliness. The street that makes you wonder if you’ll ever find another one to love, have sex again, or feel real joy in your heart with.

The wilderness that meanders through all the places you have been this year…the valley of truth, the river of denial, the desert of lies…

Don’t spend time regretting whatever 2009 was for you—if you couldn’t leave him yet, if you picked yet another pathological, or if you’re still not over him yet. Regret is so wasteful of human energy.

A wise man said “Humans grow thru the metabolism of their own experience.” What you lived through was not wasted. It’s part of how you will grow and how 2010 will be a healthier and healing year for you.

Women ask me all the time, “What can I do to help other women in the area of pathological love relationships?” Your own self growth and healing is the greatest service you can give the world and other women. What you invest in yourself is never wasted or lost. God is the God of Economy–He recycles everything–even your pain. Your pain heals the next woman.

I believe that which is why we created the Coaching program so you can recycle your own pain and help the next woman.

(Our last and final coaching training is Jan 26-31 in Clearwater, FL. )

Many therapists are also survivors too and have made entire practices into outreaches from their own pain. They stopped circling ‘The Promised Land’ and moved through it to a place of helping other heal. (Our Therapist Training is Jan 29-31 in Clearwater, FL).

To stop the circling of the promised land and to help you actually get there is why we developed our retreats and phone coaching–so that your pain recycled becomes hope to the next woman. Nothing is lost. Pain that is not actualized–that isn’t converted into wisdom is just pain. It was useless suffering that did not manifest itself into something larger than itself.

In 2010, I believe many of you will stop circling ‘The Promised Land’ and will come out of the wilderness you’ve been in. And when you do…we’re right here celebrating with you–your rite of passage into a new life. May 2010 be the healing year you have been waiting for. Let us know how we can help you begin that!

“I believe that what it is I have been called to do will make itself known when I have made myself ready.” (J. Phillips)

About Face: Changing the Direction From Which You Seek Happiness

This time of year has it’s own ‘internal reflecting’ which guides us to dig in, evaluate and give thanks. We ponder ideas, gather insights that might have eluded us during the busyness of the past 11 months, and slow down to look inward and receive the Light we may not receive at other times during the year. I hope this week’s newsletter is a little piece of Light that you are open to receive.

Last Christmas, I got a book written by one of my favorite spiritual writers–Thomas Keating. It’s called ‘The Human Condition: Contemplation and Transformation.’ Profoundly, he reminds us that we spend much of our lives looking for happiness through avenues that can never produce it. Our misery is produced by looking for love in all the wrong places, as the song goes. Nothing can be truer when it comes to pathology. Pathology is wired to produce misery, not happiness. Everyone has the same response to pathology: they are harmed, miserable, and eventually try to flee. It’s a true indicator of seeking happiness from a source unable to deliver it.

Your idea of happiness was probably initially developed around the relationship or the fantasy that was painted for you about him, the relationship, or your future. Instead of understanding that happiness had been sought from someone (whom by the nature of their disorder could never deliver happiness) you were held captive in the compulsion of repeating the same scenario with him and still trying to find happiness in the very person who is hard-wired to NOT produce happiness!

Not all of this seeking happiness in the wrong place is the result of his pathology. Some of it is the result of our own unknowing about where happiness is found. It is not found in someone else. Instead, it is found inside of ourselves rooted in our own spirituality through God. It isn’t about them. It’s about us.

Keating says, “What we experience is our desperate search for happiness where it cannot possibly be found. The key to our happiness is not lost outside somewhere in the grass–it is not lost outside of ourselves. It was lost inside ourselves when we began looking for it in someone else. We need to look for it where it can actually BE found.

The chief characteristic of the human condition is that everyone is looking for this key and nobody knows where to find it. The human condition is thus poignant in the extreme. If you want help as you look for the key in the wrong place, you can get plenty of help because everybody is looking for it in the wrong place too! They are looking for it where there is more pleasure, security, power, and acceptance by others. We have a sense of solidarity in the search yet without any possibility of finding what we are looking for.

The religions of the world have discovered the insight that (non-pathological) human beings are designed for unlimited happiness, the enjoyment of truth, and love without end. This spiritual hunger is part of our nature as beings with a spiritual dimension. Here we are, with an unbounded desire for happiness and not the slightest idea of where to look for it.

While we may certainly recognize that looking for happiness in alcohol or drugs is looking in the wrong place, do we recognize that looking for happiness even in relationships can be the wrong place? Certainly looking for love in pathology would never produce the key you were seeking because it cannot be found where you were seeking it. But sometimes people even look for happiness in what appears to be the RIGHT places–marriage, children, higher education, careers, service to others only again to find that they are still seeking happiness from the wrong direction.

In religious language the word ‘repent’ means to ‘turn away from.’ And I like that concept even from a psychological growth stand point–that as you find your own path of recovery from the aftermath of the pathological love relationship, your recovery calls you to ‘turn away from’ the very thing that has produced so much pain for you–the relationship, the choices, the person. In essence, in order for you to find happiness in yourself, God, and in your own (and often single) life, you must ‘change the direction from which you are seeking happiness.’

This is especially true in this season in which everything in you wants to ‘turn back’ to him, to the routine, the perceived comfort–just to get through the tough times of the holidays. Changing the direction from which you seek happiness is embracing the truth that happiness cannot be found in pathology. God did not create you for pathology. He created you for Himself–for peace, love, and joy. It’s not there and will never be there, even if it IS the holidays.

Over the years I have become pretty good at picking up on those who will ‘get it’ and move on and never repeat the pathological love relationship dynamic again and those who WILL, unfortunately, not change directions from which they are seeking happiness. They might change the FACE from whom they seek happiness, but they are still facing the same direction seeking it. The Institute has been involved in helping hundreds and hundreds of people ‘change the direction from which they are seeking happiness’ and how to find recovery, healing, growth, and better choices in themselves. To that end, we are always consciously trying to expand the way we meet the needs of our growing population of wounded readers and bring a wider comprehensive approach to your own health, well being, and healing from the aftermath of pathological love relationships. We hope that we have touched your recovery in a positive way in 2009. We hope that we have helped you ‘change direction’ on your path. If we haven’t, we’re still here and 2010 is a great year for you to recover in!

As we wind down the holidays, the new year always births in me a new hope. Although there is much turmoil in the world right now, be reminded again, that we can always change the direction from which we have been seeking happiness and focus on a brighter future for ourselves and with ourselves. We look forward to being a bright part of your future in 2010. Thank you for entrusting your care and recovery to us this past year. We do not take that privilege lightly.

Stress and the Holidays

The holidays are stressful under the best of situations. Add to it a dangerous and pathological relationships and you can have a prescription for **guaranteed** unhappiness.

The pathological relationship never lies dormant during the holidays. It’s an opportunity to re-contact you–of course “just to wish you a Merry Christmas.” If you haven’t already, do read The Institute’s materials regarding our ‘Starve the Vampire’ teaching on no contact! He has a million hooks he will use to get you back in…here’s one!


A text message of Happy Holidays is not good cheer. It’s a hook. A Christmas Card is not a mass card to everyone–it is a targeted approach for you. A gift left on your door step isn’t a thoughtful gift–it’s a manipulation because being the good mannered girl you are, you’ll call and thank him and then he’ll have you on the phone…and it all goes downhill from there.

Then there’s the mistletoe, and the date for New Years Eve, and the gift he left for your child or your parents…The holidays are one BIG OP-POR-TU-NITY for Mr. Opportunistic.

The No Contact rule still applies and he’ll be testing your boundaries to see if it applies during the holidays. If it DOESN’T apply and you responded to him or sent him a text/card/call, you have just taught him where your loop hole is. You also said something very LOUD to him. You just screamed in his ear ” I’m Lonely! Come snuggle with me.” And you know what he’s thinking, “You don’t have to ask TWICE!”

Ladies, Christmas is ONE day of the year that is laced with a lot of triggering memories. Maybe from childhood where you believe “miracles happen on Christmas” or “everyone should be together then” or the sights, smells, and memories of past Christmases with him are rehashing in your mind. Don’t stay stuck in that ‘air brushed Christmas memory’–how about you pull out your memory list from the other 363 days of the year and how he behaved then? Not one night with the twinkle of Christmas tree lights and a ribbon on a gift. That doesn’t make a pathological man stable!

Get out of the fantasy. Christmas has a way of hypnotizing women into the fantasy of his positive behavior and his lack of pathology. Nothing changed because we hit Christmas season. It’s just a BIGGER opportunity for him to hook you. If you’re still with the pathological person, they can be very sabotaging at this time of year wanting to strip every little piece of joy you could get from the season away. They get drunk, pick fights, say mean things to your family, yell at the kids, and don’t participate. Don’t react. Have a great Christmas while he wallows around in that puddle of pathology.

You know one of the things we found out in our research? You ladies tested unbelievably high in ‘sentimentality’. What are the holidays all about? SENTIMENT! If your sentiment is on caffeine, what do you think it will do? Be restrained or have a knee jerk reaction because all that sentiment is coursing through your veins?

One slip up now could cost you a year of trying to get rid of him again. Call a support person and tell them you VOW to them not to have contact this season. Then make plans to fill up your time so it’s not even a possibility.

I have ‘lectured’ our readers about loneliness because this 4-inch stack of research sitting on my desk that you ladies filled out, tells me that you lapse and lapse and lapse again when you feel lonely. Holidays induce loneliness. Plan ahead and safeguard. “I was lonely” is not an excuse for starting something that will once again destroy your life!”

Instead, do something wonderful with your kids. Get outside, take a walk, go to a movie with friends, do some scrapbooking, get some of our books to read, go to a nursing home and visit someone! Sit in a chapel alone and count blessings, walk your dog more, go to the gym! Do anything except have a knee jerk reaction to your excessive sentimentality gene!!

Dangerous Liaisons: How To NOT Go Back/Hook Up During The Holidays

Here’s a secret: “Even if you go back, you’re still alone. You’ve been alone the entire time because by nature of their disorder, they can’t be there for you. So you’re alone–now, in the holidays, or with them. With them, you have more drama, damage and danger. Your choice….”

People relapse and go back into relationships more from Thanksgiving through Valentines Day than any other time of the year. Why? So many great holidays to fake it in! Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, V-Day….then PHOOEY! You’re out. Why not be out now and stay out and save face. You’re not fooling anyone…not yourself, them, or your family and friends.

Holidays are extremely stressful times. It’s a time when it is more likely

  • For domestic violence to occur
  • For dysfunctional families to be even MORE dysfunctional
  • People drink more
  • People binge eat because of the stress
  • Some feel pressured to ‘be in a relationship’ during the holidays and accept dates or stay with dangerous persons to ‘just get through the holidays’
  • To overspend
  • To not get enough rest
  • It’s an idealistic time when people have more depression and anxiety than any other time of the year. Depression creeps in, anxiety increases, to cope they eat/drink/spend/date in ways they normally would not.

People put extraordinary pressure on themselves thinking their lives ‘should be’ the picture postcards and old movies we watch this time of year. You can’t make a ‘picture postcard memory with a psychopath or a narcissist!’ Here’s a mantra to say out loud for yourself “I’m pretending that staying/going back with a psychopath/narcissist will make my holidays better.” Pretty ridiculous thought, isn’t it? Something happens when you say the REAL thing out loud. It takes all the romanticization and fantasy out of the thought and smacks a little reality in your face.

“I want to be with a psychopath/narcissist for the holiday.” Say that three times to yourself out loud….

NO!! That’s not what you want. That’s what you GOT. You want to be with a nice man/woman/person for the holidays. As you VERY well know, they’re not it.

“I want to share my special holidays with my special psychopath.” ??? Nope. That’s not it either. But that’s what’s going to happen unless you buck up and start telling yourself the truth. It’s OK to be by yourself for the holidays. It sure beats pathology as a gift.

Here’s a real gift for you–some tips!


  • Stop idealizing–you are who you are, it is what it is. If your family isn’t perfect, they certainly WON’T be during the season. In fact, everyone acts WORSE during the holidays. It is the peak of dysfunction. Accept yourself and others for who they are.
  • Don’t feel pressured to eat more/spend more/drink more than you want to. Remind yourself you have choices and that the word ‘No’ is a complete sentence.
  • Take quiet time during the season or you’ll get run over by the sheer speed of the holidays. Pencil it in like you would any other appointment. Buy your own present now–some bubble bath and spend quality time with some bubbles by yourself. Light a candle, find 5 things to be grateful for. Repeat often.
  • Take same-sex friends to parties and don’t feel OBLIGATED to go with someone you don’t want to go with. People end up in the worse binds of going to parties with others and get stuck in relationships they don’t want to be in because of it. Find a few other friends who are willing to be ‘party partners’ during the holidays.
  • Give to others in need. The best way to get out of your own problems is to give to others whose problems exceed yours. Give to a charity, feed the homeless, buy toys for kids.
  • Find time for spiritual reflection. It’s the only way to really feel the season and reconnect. Go to a service, pray, meditate, reflect.
  • Pick ONE growth oriented issue you’d like to focus on for 2009 and begin cultivating it in your mind–look for resources you can use to kick start your own growth on January 1.
  • Plant joy–in your self, in your life and in others.

I am so passionate about this subject and concerned for your wellbeing this holiday that I have made an mp3 message for you. To listen to my 15 min broadcast about protecting yourself this holiday season from relapse and hook-ups, click here: