Archives for January 2010

Pacing and Planning Your Own Recovery

Becoming Part of The Institute’s Path to Recovery

Since the beginning of the year, we have been focused on discussing your recovery in great detail. That is because the power of pathology saws people off at the knees. In order to heal, you have to have a plan for your own recovery.

We consider this so important that a portion of all of my coaching including phone, in person, or at the retreats is focused on how to pace and plan your own recovery.

Women fantasize that ‘somehow’ getting over this pathological relationship will just ‘happen’ and don’t know they should be planning their recovery or even how to go about planning it.

In fact, most women have done -0- to pace, plan, or facilitate their own healing process. Those of you who have found the website are much further ahead than the woman who has not even begun reading about the topic of her relationships yet! So finding the information is a great first step. But, it’s only a first step and too many women stop there only to relapse and get into yet another pathological relationship.

Last year’s newsletters spent a lot of time examining the depth of damage done at the hands of your pathological. We have looked at PTSD, The Cracked Vessel, the need for Living the Gentle Life, about intrusive thoughts and obsessions, healing spiritually, healing sexually and about fantasy and hatred. We have spent almost 52 weeks looking very deeply at the issue of how this relationship has hurt you emotionally, physically/medically, spiritually, sexually and financially.

There will always be those women who will not do anything about their lives except continue to be a victim of it. How do I know this? I get the same emails from the same people week after week asking me the same ‘loophole-based’ questions about ‘do I think she should leave him because after all, he SAID he would change.’ Week after week the same people with the same questions who haven’t read the book, who have not spent time in the workbook, who haven’t listened to one mp3 or CD, who haven’t spent 1 hour in coaching….keep asking the same questions and getting the same results.

Any 12 Stepper knows that the only way they can stay away from something so life-gripping like drugs, alcohol, gambling or sex is with a concerted daily focused recovery on themselves and the behaviors, habits and beliefs that lead them to the life-damaging events that have altered them. Women who will recover from pathological relationships are those who take the same serious and focused approach to the life-gripping and life- damaging relationship that has altered her life.

40+ hours a week is spent at The Institute developing ways to strengthen YOUR recovery–after all, this isn’t about US! This is done by writing books, e-books, making mp3s and CDS and other products, giving workshops and conferences, training therapists so they can do phone coaching with you, opening a retreat center so you can get specific and unique coaching for your issues, and intense research so we understand WHAT you need to heal from this.

We hope that 2010 is the year you really knuckle-down and focus on your own recovery–taking the steps you need to take to heal from the life-damaging experience.

Why? First of all, we don’t want pathology to win by destroying the lives of strong and wonderful women. We exist to kick butt on this issue! Secondly, WE NEED YOU!

~ If you don’t teach the woman you sit next to, how will she learn to spot and avoid pathology?

~ If you don’t heal and recover, who will be a teacher to others?

~ Who will run support groups?

~ Who will give community lectures?

~ Who will operate an outreach?

It is not us! Our focus is to educate YOU. Your job is to reach others! 2010 can be the year that you heal and reach others. Let us help you reach your recovery goals, and then the world!

Are You Really As Far Along As You Think You Are?

For the New Year, the month of January we have been discussing recovery and finding your path to emotional wellness from Pathological Love Relationships in 2010.

When women get mild relief from the unrelenting symptoms of the aftermath with a pathological, it can be palatable to them. The relief from intrusive thoughts, obsessions, PTSD, poor sleep, hyper-vigilance, or any other problematic symptom can feel ‘healing’ to them. But it doesn’t always mean they ARE healed.

Over and over again, I have learned how damaging, how unrelenting the aftermath is from pathological relationships.

For some women, it reaches all the way back to childhood with pathological parents. For others, however, it has been only in their intimate relationships during adulthood yet has left its distinguished mark.

Mild relief can often be mistaken for recovery. Recovery is a life long journey of self care. Recovery can begin at the moment you recognize the damage done to you by pathologicals but it doesn’t end with a counselor or a group. For many women, the symptoms have crept into their worldview, how they see others, their environment, and themselves.

Weekly, I learn again and again as I meet with women that the damage is widespread. This isn’t a quick fix or often even a quick treatment. While her mild relief of symptoms instills relief or hope, it isn’t the end of her recovery journey. It’s the beginning.

Like peeling an onion, each layer shows a level of damage that needs care. All the way down to the core are layers of unperceived and unrecognized aftermath symptoms. At the core are boundary issues–those necessary limits that show someone understands what’s hers, someone else’s, or God’s. From the center of boundaries are developed gates which serve as limits saying what one will tolerate and will not tolerate.

Boundaries are the bedrock of all recovery. Anything that is built will be built from the issue of healthy or unhealthy boundaries. Many women don’t realize that pathologicals target women with poor boundaries.

They test it out early in the relationship and when small violations are not managed, they proceed on with bigger violations. Every violation is a green light. Boundaries are the first step in recovery.

In other layers of the onion lays hyper-vigilance issues. High harm avoidance from PTSD weaves a level of distrust in new environments, people, and situations. It affects fear of the future and even fear of now.

Another layer of the onion is communication–the ability to listen in the midst of upset. Since pathologicals have skewed communication, this area is often seriously affected. Long term exposure to pathologicals produces the same type of skewed communication patterns and linguistics in women who have normalized abnormal behavior.

A layer of emotional regulation is most assuredly part of the aftermath–anxiety, depression, irritability, the overflow of pent up emotions and the inability to control the emotions.

Layer after layer are aftermath symptoms that must be peeled and treated in recovery. Everyone knows how many layers are in an onion. While it may be disconcerting to see all those layers, the layers are translucent and show the wounding on each level that recovery must touch.

Women who have begun recovery may be surprised at what feels like the un-ending layers of the onion and wonder when they will reach the core. A mild relief from anxiety or sleeplessness is welcomed but should not be viewed as more than it is. Reaching to the core is deep work and should be respected for the lengthy process it is likely to be. What other choice is there?

Whether you begin at the core with boundaries, or start at the outer edge with symptom management and work into the onion core, allow the process because there is not healing without it.

We must never underestimate the damage done by pathologicals at a deep emotional and even spiritual level.

Finding Effective Help in 2010!

By now if you have been trying to heal from a pathological love relationship and can’t find effective and knowledgeable coaching you have probably figured out what we have…that the pathological love relationship is NOT widely understood.

Frustrated women hear unhelpful advice from family, friends and even therapists who label their attachment to pathological men as “codependent” or “mutually addictive” or merely “emotional abuse.” Women jump from counselor to counselor and from group counseling experience-to-group counseling experience looking for someone, ANYONE, who understands this intense attachment to a dangerous and pathological man.

She looks for some understanding at ‘what’ is wrong with him. Labeling him an ‘abuser’ doesn’t quite cover the extensive array of brilliant psychopathic tendencies he has. Why was SHE targeted by him? Why does she feel both intense attachment and loathing for him at the same time? Why do her symptoms more resemble ‘mind control’ than mere ‘abused woman syndrome?’ Why is the bonding with this man more intense and unshakeable than any other man? Is it abuse if he never physically harms you but has the mental infiltration of a CIA operative?

What we are finding out from our research about women who have been in pathological love relationships is that all the normal dynamics of regular relationships DON’T apply to these types. All the normal dynamics of addictive relationships, codependent relationships and dysfunctional relationships DON’T apply to these types either. No wonder women can’t find the help they need…it hasn’t been taught YET! Our research is pointing towards women who DON’T fit into the stereotypes of women we normally see in shelters, counseling centers and in other abuse situations. These are not women who have the kinds of histories we normally associate with abuse nor do they have the kinds of current lives that fit the demographics of most counseling programs and shelters. Their personality traits and behaviors fit no other ‘typologies.’ And their current symptoms don’t match the simply ‘dysfunctional’ love relationship.

Could it be that the dynamics in a pathological love relationships really ARE different than other types of relationships? Could this be why women in these types of relationships aren’t helped by the more prevalent types of intervention offered to other types of abusive relationships? Why does the Power & Control Wheel model seem ineffective with these types of women? Why are these women LESS likely to seek traditional counseling? And if they do, why are they less likely to be helped by it? Why are these women’s personality traits so vastly different then shelter women? Or abused women?

Too many women have been through the ringer of counselors-not-understanding-psychopathology/family-lumping-all-relationship-types-together/ friends-saying-‘just-get-over-it’/ and counseling-programs-telling-she’s-just-codependent. Too many women have stopped seeking help because they are tired of too many people ‘not getting it.’ Psychology has to allow itself to grow beyond a one-size-fits-all approach when dealing with women emerging from pathological love relationships because all relationships are not created equal especially when one of them is pathological. Not understanding the effects of pathology on relationships, self concept, and recovery deters a woman’s ability to heal. Understanding the DIFFERENCES in these types of relationships is critical.

The Institute developed programs and materials exactly for this reason. We developed our telephone coaching program for women in immediate need of validation of their experiences, our retreat programs specifically geared to ‘Healing the Aftermath of the Pathological Love Relationship,’ our Therapist Affiliate Program training which provides other therapists nationwide the clinical training to help women heal from these types of relationships, our inpatient treatment center for those needing crisis help, and our 40+ products all developed to teach pathology to others.

Why? Why all the effort in treatment related issues? Because the absence of trained counselors is screamingly evident. Our mailing list writes us week after week asking “Can you recommend someone in Florida, Michigan, the United Kingdom, Canada, California, Oregon…? Why don’t other counselors understand this? Why can’t anyone explain to me what is going on! If one more counselor or family member suggests I am codependent or a relationship addict, I’m going to scream! Why is this so hard to understand?”

Much like the beginning phases of the addiction field, the pathological love relationship field is feeling the same ‘misunderstanding phase’ that other theories of counseling have gone through. When the field is new or the knowledge is groundbreaking, there is an overt lack of trained responders. Unfortunately, those that suffer the new phases are the victims/survivors that wish there were more trained service providers.

The Institute operates as a public psychopathy education project which means we try to train anyone and everyone in the issues of pathology–that includes the women in the relationships AND those who are likely to be emotional supports to women recovering from these relationships. Please bear with an entirely new emerging field of psychology that is trying to race to catch up to the knowledge of what is needed for this population of people. After all, until us no one had even bothered to STUDY the female partners of psychopaths and partners of other pathological types. No one created research projects to study the personality traits, histories and chronic vulnerabilities of women who have been in these relationships. So to that degree, we are virginal in our exploration of these issues.

As an Institute, we try to be immediately responsive to needs. In the last year we have exploded in growth in our outreach–our weekly newsletter continues to reach more and more people, our blogs we write for other websites such as Psychology Today and Times Up! helps us to reach an even larger audience with the educational value of our expertise, our list of books, CDs and DVDs that are in every country of the world, our expanded retreat format, private 1:1’s with Sandra, our telephone assessments and coaching which doubled in size this year, our weekly teleconferencing support groups, and our Therapist Training Program–all are born out of our desire to reach YOU! As needs are repeatedly identified by our mailing list, we try to quickly ascertain how to develop a program to meet the need. That’s because we recognize that the services available out there are slim. We provide what we can, knowing that we are a drop in the bucket to the need that exists. So unless we duplicate ourselves through products and services many women will go untreated.

I know for many women who are struggling to recover from the diabolical aftermath of a pathological relationship that it seems that too few services exist. Please remain hopeful that not only this Institute but other therapists and agencies hear your cry and are reaching out for training so they can help you. We too are always looking at how we can expand our scope and reach. If you have ideas about how we can help you further, please give us your thoughts.

In the meantime, if our brand new treatment program can be of help please use it.

Or if you are a therapist, please come to our trainings. If you are a survivor, we’d love for you to bring healing to you through our phone coaching, support groups or retreats.

The fact is, the more we learn the more we can teach but we can only do so much.

One agency like ours can’t heal the world. But we can teach what we know and heal those who come for it which is why we are always encouraging therapists to get trained. (Jan 29-31 in Clearwater, FL, Feb 5-7 in Jacksonville, FL!) Don’t lose heart that there are few services that understand your unique situation with a pathological. But remain hopeful that in a new field of psychology, we’re growing as fast as we can!

Watch with us vigilantly as we see a new field of psychology emerging! Please let 2010 be the year of healing for you. We’ve worked hard so that you have many of our resources that can help you move forward. Much healing to you in 2010!