Archives for May 2012

Retreats

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The Spiritual Damage in the Aftermath

There is no doubt that the wreckage from the pathological impacts you emotionally, physically, financially, sexually, and also spiritually. Everyone has a spirit—that God-shaped place in your soul that is touched and filled by beauty, awe, and stillness.  It’s the most authentic part of you so it’s also the most vulnerable and the most wounded from pathology.  Our souls were not created to be in the presence of pathology. They were created to be in the presence of love.

We were created for the touch of authentic love and for the connection to what is sacred. Pathology is not sacred. Whether you are ‘religious’ or not you were still created by the Sacred, for the Sacred, and to express the Sacred.  You were not created to express the aftermath of pathology. Aftermath symptoms should not feel ‘at home’ in your soul. They aren’t ‘at home.’

Midway through the aftermath carnage you are probably feeling anything BUT a spiritual connection to anything. It’s no accident that pathology wounds at the soul level—that evil targets those with the most beautiful souls once full of infinite giving and over flowing grace.  Pathology/The Dark Side/Evil knows to dismantle your spirit is to unplug you from what made you the amazing gift you are. And to deflate the once full soul that was sharing love with others—the ultimate power on the planet—is to spiritually deflate our world.

But survivors often lament that recovery feels like a stand-still where you wait for restoration ‘to arrive,’ ‘to ascend or descend,’ ‘to overtake you,’ ‘to fall gently’ upon you.  The death blow to your soul by “The Soul Slayer” is by far the worst damage. An inability to feel that God-shaped part is the worst numbness that a soul can experience. You look Heaven-ward praying for one flicker of a sense that your soul has survived the scourge of pathology.

Why isn’t God restoring me? Why do I still have the ‘monkey-mind’ of cognitive dissonance (He’s Good/He’s Bad)? Why is there no mental stillness—just a rush of adrenaline, the exhaustion of a mind running like an engine?

Sometimes our concept of recovery is replacement. That our feelings of loss will be replaced with joy, our lost pathological partner will be replaced with a healthier partner, our lost income that he stole will be replaced with a provision to get us through, our depression will be replaced with neurotransmitters. ‘Replacement’ recovery concepts are like a McDonald’s drive through. You read a book on pathology and try to simply replace mental concepts that got you in the relationship. You join a chat forum and try to replace loneliness with internet distraction.  It’s no wonder people are often confused about what recovery ‘is’ and when and how they will ‘get there.’

But true authentic recovery that would touch the deepest part of you at a soul level is not about replacement. It’s about restoration—the restoring of the soul that guides your emotions, your choices, your capacity for joy, love and beauty. You can’t ‘replace’ a soul which is ultimately what has been damaged by the soul-less attack of pathology. But you can restore the ‘seat’ or the ‘soul’ of you from the carnage of darkness. In 25 years, we have seen the restoration over and over again.

I want to leave with hope that recovery IS possible. It just may not be how you have been thinking it will be, or how you have approached it, or as quick as you would like. It might not be just about reshaping your belief systems, or working through grief. The work may be deeper after all it’s your soul we are talking about.  The Institute exists to meet you where you are in your own recovery to offer restoration emotionally and spiritually where you need it through our online, tele-support, and face-to-face events. (As a reminder these products and services are listed on the magazine website.)

A few times a year we offer those face-to-face events through retreats.  In 2012 we reduced them to two a year which were in February and March. We have gotten a number of requests for one more retreat this year which we have organized and in which there is ONE remaining slot. The Healing the Aftermath of Pathological Love Relationships Retreat is Sept 2-7, 2012 in beautiful Brevard, NC the Land of the Waterfalls, 20+ hours of soul-healing group sessions, plus the restorational value of hiking, beauty, the forests, and waterfalls.  Application downloads are on the magazine website.

If you feel the recovery approaches you have been utilizing are not effective, do consider the retreats which have been used by dozens and dozens of women to bring rapid results to their cognitive dissonance, anxiety, and stress disordered symptoms.  I hope you will join us for the soul restoration you are craving.

Women Who Love Psychopaths

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Let Go or Be Dragged

‘Let Go or Be Dragged’ – I don’t know who wrote that slogan, but I loved it so much I bought it on a magnet.  My first thought was, ‘Oh, I LOVE that saying for the women!’  But in a flash, I realized it’s a slogan for everyone.  A friend of mine in recovery said she loved it for her ‘A.A.’ recovery slogan.  Another person told me she loved it as a spiritual theme – to hold with an open hand – OR – face the consequences.  But, I do love it for all of you, here’s why….

Pathological attachments are gorilla glue.  The pathological partners have a vibe, a come-hither, bonding vortex that sucks you in and holds you there in a hypnotic-like trance.  It’s a powerful, seductive, subconscious attachment that mirrors the worst addictive feeling you could ever have.  It vibrates throughout your body with a message and sensation that you will literally ‘die’ if you are disconnected from the source.  Letting go never feels like an ‘option,’ it feels like sure death, death by disconnection, death by umbilical severing, death by life-force loss.

Its trance-like hold of your mind, body, and spirit leaves you stupor-fied with an inability to enact your own will or your ability to choose sane-fully the option of getting away from this catatonia.  The same trance-hold that held you in rapture, reverie, and ecstasy, now holds you in a cataleptic coma.  Alive, with your eyes open, but your mind dead and unable to move – you look mildly functional to the world.  They don’t see the transfixion that is keeping you paralyzed beneath your eyes.

You hold on because you are glued.  You hold on because there was rapture, reverie, and ecstasy.  You hold on because to not hold on, is to release your grip on the emotional life support system you think he has been.  You hold on because you believe if you hold on long enough, the dazed and glazed existence you have been living will reverse to rapture.  The nightmare will then become the dream.  The stupor will become the high of the intensity.  You hold on because you believe you can’t let go.

WAIT!  HOLD UP!  Let’s ask, ‘Where are you?’  How did your clothes get torn?  Where is the life you use to have?  Where are the relationships with others you held dear?  Why are your knees skinned?  Why do you have those dark circles under your eyes?  Why are you on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication?  Where is the career you built?  Why are your nails dug into your hands?  Why is your stomach in your throat?  Why are you now somewhere you never wanted to go?  How did you get here?  Why are you bleeding from your soul?  It’s because your belief about letting go kept you being dragged.

Drag: verb.  Related to:  haul, lug, move, pull, schlep, tug, yank, crawl, creep, shuffle.  Your soul is bleeding – it’s your courtesy warning system from your spirit that is telling you to let go.  Even being dragged can be a gift.  It can be the first scraped knee that crosses you over to recovery.  You’ve held on for lots of reasons including your own version of ‘pathological hope’ that he will change, and it will be different.  History has taught you otherwise.  It’s time to accept the wisdom that ‘no change’ brings us.  Your skinned knee is a metaphor for the beginning of your recovery because the word dragged means ‘to haul something to a new place.’

Let go or be dragged.

If you are ready to let go, we have scheduled one more retreat for September 2-7 2012 in the Asheville/Brevard area.  Information about it is in the newsletter and magazine.

My Anniversary of the Plunge into Pathology

The month of May marks my fairly ‘official’ date (at least in my mind) in which I was thrust into the field of pathology – totally without consent, without warning, and without return to the normal life I knew before May 13, 1983.  Twenty-nine years ago, my father bled out in a grungy gutter in Cincinnati after a psychopath plunged a knife into his aorta outside of his jazz club.  I was initiated into a victim-hood that would turn my life and career in a direction I hadn’t much interest in before that particular day.

Much like pathology in anyone else’s life, you don’t get to pick how it plays out in your life.  The best you can do is to learn how to ride the rollercoaster that goes along with the serious group of disorders in pathology – as I have done.  Twenty-nine years later I still feel like I am just skimming the surface of what can, and should be done in education, awareness, survivor services, and advocacy in dealing with pathology. Thousands of pages of writing books, newsletters, websites, workbooks, e-books, quizzes, hours and hours of lectures ad nauseam, over a thousand hours in broadcasts, both radio and television, stacks of CDs and DVDs created – and still we are in the infancy of a new understanding about pathology.  It is the virtual edge of just beginning what someday will be a momentum marker that shows ‘when’ the world turned a corner for a better and very public understanding of pathology.

We’re not there yet, but the day IS coming.  Every new blog that goes up, every newsletter, every website, every talk, every social networking post, every private moment of your knowledge shared with another victim, every coaching session, every class taught, every therapy hour, every group gathering, every prayer muttered, every radio show aired, every celebrity living it and bringing it to notice, every TV show featuring it, every newspaper or women’s magazine article taunting it – is another message to another ear that has heard the message.  You learned it because someone cared enough to make sure you learned it.

Every May 13th, for the past 29 years, I have halted my existence to remember that life-altering second when my life went from being a normal everyday life – to a life of being a homicide survivor.  This is when my reality was ripped through by pathology – a disorder so conscienceless that altering history is just another day in the lives of the pathological.  While my pathology story includes a brutal ending, yours no less, includes something similar – all the things lost in a moment of deep betrayal – the kind of betrayal that only pathology can bring.

If I don’t brighten up this newsletter, I’ll get complaints about ‘too much reality’ or ‘too much negativity’ so, I will say this – while none of us ‘choose’ to become survivors at the hands of very disordered pathological individuals, what we ‘do’ with what we were dealt is up to us.  Every so often I like to send a message to you that encourages you to ‘pass it forward.’  Whatever you have learned from the magazine, the newsletters, or the books, is probably more than the woman who is sitting next to you knows.  You don’t need to wait until you ‘understand’ it more by taking a class, getting a degree, reading another one of our books, or taking our coach training – that doesn’t help the women you sit next to at work.  The knowledge in your head is life- saving to her.  Next year ‘when you are better trained’ isn’t the year to share what you know – today is!

If we want to move from living on the virtual edge of changing pathology education in the world, we have to open our mouths and tell what we know.  Every pathological hopes you DON’T do this – they hope you keep what you know to yourself.  So many women that have shed so many tears had said, “If I had only known… I would have left earlier, I wouldn’t have left my children with him, I wouldn’t have _______.”

Every May is a time I renew my commitment to what changed me.  Every May I bother people with my message and prod them and push them to make victim’s rights and survivor education important in the world.  If I don’t, the image of my dad laying in that gutter haunts me.  His death should never have been for nothing – and as long as people have been helped, it hasn’t.   Frankie Brown has touched so many lives with his death through the message of psychopathy.  You’re one of them!  Help me celebrate my father’s death anniversary in a way that brings meaning and hope to many.  Tomorrow, share what you know with just ONE person – someone that you have felt in your gut needs to know about the permanence and the pain of pathological relationships.  Then email me and say ‘I passed it forward’ so I can count up how many people celebrated Frankie!  If this email offended you, I’m sorry.  Pathology offended my entire life.

Thank you for growing in the knowledge of pathology so you are prepared for the day when you can give someone the life-changing information that you’ve come to know!

My sister Linda, my father Frankie Brown, myself a few years before his murder

Is This The New Normal?

The ‘new’ normal (whatever that is) is code jargon for ‘something in your life that changed and for which you just have to suck it up and get use to’.  This clicky kind of phrase has crept in the world of pathology too, and even the recovery movement. So let’s answer some of those questions about ‘the NEW normal.’

‘Is How Crappy I Feel My New Normal?’

In other words, ‘will I ever feel like my old self again?’

Let’s say your girlfriend was driving home late one night, off in thought, and after a glass or two of wine. She was blasting her favorite Adelle song on her ear buds. This condition left her not in her most focused self–tired, distracted, a little buzzed, and drifting off to the groove of a good song when she didn’t even realize the slight bump her car made as she drove over the railroad tracks. Since she had no reason to believe something that could really hurt her was barreling down the tracks towards her, she didn’t even glance to see the oncoming train.  Once she realized, too late, she was going to be harmed–wide eyed and gasping–she wondered what she could do to save herself.  The answer by then, was ‘too late.’ In a nano-second she went from being her old self to being someone entirely new–she became a seriously injured person.

You too were run over by an oncoming train with a big ‘P’ on the front. You too might have been tired, distracted, or out having a good time when you encountered the train that was going to run over you, destroy the framework of your life, and nearly fatally wound your soul.

The oncoming psychopath does not brake for anything on the tracks of his life. Your mangled psyche, broken heart, and your sideswiped joy are the natural conditions of having been run over by a run away psychopath or narcissist.

As your girlfriend lay home recovering from having been in a ‘train wreck’ — her broken bones held together with casts, her head bandaged from a whiplash concussion, and being relegated to resting for the next unforseeable future, she does not yet realize she is lucky to escape with the gift to heal.  Her family and friends recognizing her extensive injuries are not likely to say to her “Very shortly, this will be like it never happened. You’ll be back to your old self in no time at all.’  It’s easy to see the girl was seriously injured and it was a gift from God she’s alive.

While psychological injuries are not as evident to the bystanding eye, they are noteably experienced by the victim.  You were hit by a train! You were injured–emotionally, psychologically, mentally, spiritually, financially and maybe even physically.  If someone has erroneously said to you “Very shortly, this will be like it never happened. You’ll be back to your old self in no time at all’ — they have never been hit by an oncoming pathology train. In fact, the worse thing that probably ever happened to them is they won a Spa Day at a less than luxorious hotel or their highlights in their hair weren’t quite right.  Are you going to measure your recovery from someone who’s only experience of tragedy is a spa-day-gone-wrong?

Other survivors who have been hit by the same-train-different-tracks will tell you that “No, it will not be like it never happened.  No, you will not be back to your old self in no time at all.” I don’t know if you want the truth or you want that girl’s story whose name is Pollyanna.  It is not that you will never heal. It’s that your injuries were serious. You are in the critical care unit of the recovery center.  You WILL heal. But it will not be in ‘no time at all.’  If your girlfriend didn’t rise up off the bed in a few days like Lazarus being raised from the dead, you too should not expect that type of ‘miraclous’ healing.  Train wrecks mangle bodies, minds, and spirits.  Give yourself the gift of recognition that what you have been through is traumatic and life changing. And that you need the time anyone would need that has been run over by a train in which to heal.

The impatient family member who thinks you should be ‘over it’ by now, was not run over by the train.  The girlfriends that want you to go on a cruise and meet someone new were not run over by the train.  The psychopath train that hit you that thinks you should be through the body-repair shop of what he did to you–was not run over by a train his size.

The problem that exists is your level of expectation is not equal to your level of harm.

You are expecting to walk away limping but not seriously injured from a psychopath.  That doesn’t happen often. So infrequently that I don’t even know if I can give one example of that happening with the women I have worked with for 20+ years.

Learning to live with the ‘new normal’ of aftermath symptoms is really a self nurturing act. It means you have taken the time to really access your damage and give yourself the things you need in order to heal.  Time, space, therapy–whatever it takes.  The ‘new normal’ following pathological love relationships is called ‘aftermath damage.’  There is a cure for it. But the first step in curing it is to say it outloud “I was run over by an oncoming train. I was critically wounded.”  Now, healing can begin.

How Pathological Is ‘Too’ Pathological?

Another words, ‘How sick is TOO sick?’

One of the charactersistics of women who have been in pathological relationships is that they are very ‘forgiving’ and ‘tolerant’ of less than stellar mental health qualities in their intimate relationships. That’s because the women have very elevated traits of compassion, empathy, tolerance, and acceptance according to our research and to name but a few. These are excellent and humanitarian traits to have….except in a relationship with a pathological person in which these traits create ‘super glue’ that keeps you in  a relationship you should NOT be toleranting, accepting, or being empathetic about. The problem is women often don’t realize that someone can simply have ‘narcissistic traits’ or ‘psychopathic traits’ and still be a danger to her in a relationship.

That’s because it doesn’t take much pathology to dramatically and negatively effect her and the relationship. It only takes a ‘drop’ of abnormal psychology to really screw up the relationship and the others around him. This is why even ‘just traits’ are important to identify. ‘Just traits’ means he has SOME of the criteria for, lets say narcissism or psychopathy, but not enough to fully qualify for the full diagnosis. But let’s not split hairs here…a few traits are enough to qualify for ‘too’ pathological. It DOES matter that he is a ‘tad bit’ pathological because any of the traits of pathology are negative and harmful.

Would it matter that he had a little or a lot of ‘low empathy?’ No–the end result is the same–low empathy and the pain he causes others. ‘Liitle-to-None’ is almost none–it doesn’t matter if he is a little unempathetic or a lot. Not being able to have empathy is the bottom line.

Would it matter if he had a little or a lot of poor impulse control? I doubt it if his poor impulse control effected his sexual acting out, his drug use, or his wild spending habits.
A little goes a long way in poor impulse control.

Would it matter if he had a little or a lot of rebellion against laws, rules, or authority? Probably not…even just a little bit of rebellion has the propensity of getting him arrested or fired, ignoring a restraining order or refusing to pay child support. How about ‘just pathological enough’ to really screw up your children with his distorted and warped world view, his chronic inconsistency, his wavering devotion to you or them, his role modeling of his addictions, or his display of ‘the rules aren’t for me’ attitude?

I watch women ‘look’ for loopholes to minimize the pathology he DOES have instead of looking for ways he does meet criteria for the pathology he does have and find reasons to get out. Instead, they find reasons ‘it’s not THAT bad.’ But just a little bit of a ‘bad boy’ is probably too pathological…too sick for a normal relationship. Since pathology is the ‘inability to sustain positive change, grow to any meaningful depth, or develop insight about how one’s behavior effects others’ even just ‘some’ pathology is too much. Because if he can’t sustain change (you know…all those things he promises to change about himself) or grow or have insight about how and why he hurts you…he’s TOO pathological–TOO sick–TOO disordered to have anything that resembles a normal relationship. Why would you ‘want’ a relationship that has NO capacity to grow, change, or meet your needs?

Bad boy enticement is very real…that edginess he has makes many women highly attracted to him. But beyond the edginess can be anything from ‘just traits’ to ‘full blown pathology.’ Nonetheless, women must learn to draw a line in the sand that even ‘just’ traits is enough to guarantee their unhappiness and harm in the hands of a guy who is ‘too pathological’ for her!

(**Information about pathology and your recovery is in the award winning Women Who Love Psychopaths.)