Archives for 2013

Happiness vs. Joy, Part 2: Dangerous Liaisons

Last week I began talking about the issue of happiness, and how happiness is hinged on external conditions such as relationships, things, careers, stuff. … Our happiness is largely conditional based on “if things go the way we think they should go” or “if people act the way we think they should act.”

This leaves a lot of our own happiness tied to someone else’s shirt-tails and when he leaves, your happiness goes right out the door with him.

Last week I related some fun stories about my mom and her concepts of happiness. What I talked about regarding my mom was her JOY which was far different than her happiness. She wasn’t always happy. My father was murdered. That certainly did not bring happiness. Her second husband stole her life savings and was a sociopath. No happiness there. Her last “main squeeze” in her life died of prostrate cancer—a lot of sadness there. Yet, my mother was unusually “joyful.”

Joy has to do with the quality of US, not them. It’s a ME factor, not a him, or them, factor. Happiness may be external but joy is internal, and, in many ways, eternal. It emanates from within us, and can exist even when the external circumstances of our lives “suck.”

Joy can be infectious and can touch others when how we are has nothing to do with who we are with. It’s a barometer reading of how we are doing with ourselves and in our own spiritual development. It reminds us of how we are doing with managing our own outlook, optimism, and future. We may not have control over what he’s doing, who he’s doing, or how he’s doing, but we do have control over how we choose to see our circumstances. This is the essence of internal joy—managing your worldview from the inside instead of taking your emotional temperature based on how well he’s behaving. How I am, or how my joy is, can’t be taken by a thermometer from his mouth. It has to be taken from our internal and eternal well-being.

When you are finally able to shift your focus of where and how joy is created, it is a mind-blowing change because you no longer hold tight to the reins of external control—“I’ll be happy when someone else does _________.” You are able to refocus on finding joy in your life, just the way it is, with yourself and all your warts.  In fact, over the past couple years I wrote about this regarding Viktor Frankel, a Jewish psychiatrist, who went through the Holocaust and developed what is now called Existential Psychology which is finding meaning in pain AND taking control of how you see what you have lived through.

If all pain is bad, then there is no gift in it. If there is no gift, there is no learning. If there is no learning, there is no opportunity to transform it. If you can’t transform it, you are its victim.

Joy comes from the right perspective when we tweak how we see ourselves, our lives, and the lessons of our lives. When life is a spiritual walk, not just a relationship destination, we are able to see the lessons as part of the journey and the OPTION of having joy even in the midst of an unplanned disaster like a pathological relationship. Joy is like a new eyeglass prescription—it clears up and crisps up how we see who we are on this journey and path of life even while in pain.

Your pain does not have to define you. That’s your choice. You are more than your pain. And so is your life!

Joy -VS- Happiness, Part 1

You were out looking for a little happiness when you stumbled upon Dr. Jekyll, as he was appearing wonderful and considerate. Strangely, before you knew it, evil Mr. Hyde was instead dismantling anything that resembled happiness, and leaving destruction and despair in its wake.

Despair is a long way from the happiness you were initially seeking. How did you get from mere happiness-seeking to a totally despairing life? How can you embrace the happiness that you set out to find?

It might not even be “happiness,” per se, that you were initially seeking. You might have been looking for someone who was introspective, spiritual and existential.  But you tell me …

Happiness is external. It’s based on situations, events, people, places, things, and thoughts. Happiness is connected to your hope for a relationship or your hope for a future with someone. Happiness is linked to “some day when I meet the right guy” or “when he starts changing and acting right,” or “when he goes to counseling”.

Happiness is future-oriented and it puts all its eggs in someone else’s basket. It is dependent on outside situations, people, or events to align with your expectations so that the result is your happiness. These expectations can be seen especially during the holidays when whether or not you have a Merry Christmas or a happy holiday depends on whether or not he is with you, shows up, isn’t drunk, isn’t cheating, or a list of other behaviors you expect for a happy holiday experience. Unfortunately, pathology rarely obliges in that way. So when the relationship falls through, or he isn’t wonderful at Christmas, or you kick him out, or he cheats again, or he runs off with your money, or he was a con artist … then your holidays were not happy and your happiness was crushed.

Unhappiness is the result. It’s a typical and inevitable result in pathological love relationships. After all, it’s the only way it CAN turn out. There are no happy endings to pathological relationships. After Christmas and New Year’s, he will still be pathological and you will still have the same problems you had in November. You notice that The Institute has not written a book called, “How to Have a Happy Relationship With a Pathological”.

Chronic unhappiness leads to despair and depression. Remember the emotional rollercoaster you rode with him? You were happy when he was good and miserable when he was bad. You were hypnotically lulled into happy-land when you were with him and in intrusive thought-hell when you weren’t. Your happiness was hitched to his rear end. When he was around (and behaving) you were happy. When he wasn’t, your happiness followed his rear end right out the door and you were left obsessing, wondering, and pacing.

Happiness is what you feel when he says the “right romantic stuff”, buys you a ring or moves in. But happiness is not joy because joy is not external; it can’t be bought and it is not conditional on someone else’s behavior.  In fact, joy is not contingent on anything in order to exist. You don’t have to have him for the holidays to have joy. Likewise, you don’t have to get revenge, snoop out his shortcomings, tell the new girlfriend the truth, or anything else in order to have joy. You can lose in court with him, already have lost your life savings to him, watch him out with a new woman, or live out of the back of your car and still have joy.

You’re probably thinking, “Sure you can have joy in those circumstances if you are Mother Teresa!” Joy is almost a mystery, isn’t it? It’s a spiritual quality that is internal. My mother, Joyce, had a lot of joy, and I learned from watching her joy. Her pathological man ran off with her life savings, forcing her to work well past retirement. It forced her to live simply, so she moved to a one-room beach shack and drove a motorcycle. For cheap entertainment, she walked the beach and painted nudes. She drank cheap grocery-store wine that came in a box, bought her clothes from thrift shops, and made beach totes from crocheting plastic grocery bags together. She recycled long before it was hip to do it. But what she recycled most and best was pain … into joy.

Instead of looking externally for yet another relationship to remove the sting of the last one, or to conquer the boredom she might feel at being alone, she cultivated internal and deep abiding joy. It was both an enigma and a privilege to watch this magnificent life emerge from the ashes of great betrayal.

I use her a lot as an example of someone who went ahead and got a great life. She turned this rotten deal into an exquisite piece of art called her life. Anyone who spoke of my mother spoke MOST of her radiant joy. She had the “IT” factor long before it was even called “IT.” Women flocked to her to ask, “How did you do it? How did you shed the despair and bitterness of what he did and grow into this? THIS bright, shining, joyful person? What is your secret?”

Somewhere along that rocky path of broken relationships with pathological men, she learned that happiness is fleeting if it’s tied to a man’s shirt-tails. She watched too many of the shirt-tails walk out the door with her happiness tied to his butt. In order to find the peacefulness that resides inside, she had to learn what was happiness and what was joy.

The transitory things of life are happiness-based. She had a big house and lost a big house when she divorced my father. She had a big career and lost a big career when, according to our culture, she got “too old” to have the kind of job she had. She had diamonds and lost diamonds.

So she entered into voluntary simplicity where the fire of purging away “stuff” left a clearer picture and path to the internal life. When stuff, people, and the problems they bring fall away, there is a stillness. Only in that stillness can we ever find the joy that resides inside us, dependent on nothing external in order to exist. During this holiday season, this is a great concept to contemplate.

Joyce’s joy came from deeply held spiritual beliefs, but it also came from a place even beyond that. Joy comes when you make peace with who you are, what you are, where you are, why you are, and who you are not with. When you need nothing more than your truth and the love of a good God to bring peace, you have settled into the abiding joy that is not rocked by relationships. It’s not rocked by anything.

It wasn’t rocked for Joyce as she lay dying some years ago in the most peaceful arms of grace—a blissful state of quiet surrender and anticipation. Those who were witness to her death still tell me that her death brought new understanding to them about the issue of real joy. Joy in all things … the death of a dream, the death of relationship, or the death of a body. Joy from within, stripped down, naked and beautiful.

Follow Joyce’s lead – untie your happiness from the ends of his shirt-tails …

Merry Christmas and peace to you in this season of peaceful opportunities!

How to Avoid Going Back During the Holidays

From Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day people relapse and go back into relationships more than any other time of the year. Why? So many great holidays for faking it! Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day… then PHOOEY! You’re out! Why not be out now, stay out and save face? You’re not fooling anyone … not yourself, them, or your family and friends.

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, during the holidays, or with them. With them, you have more drama, damage and danger—your choice.

  • The holiday season is an extremely stressful time. It’s a time when it is more likely for:
  • Domestic violence to occur or recur
  • Dysfunctional families to be even MORE dysfunctional
  • Pathologicals to be overt, blatant, and to target your joy and ruin your holidays
  • Former pathological partners to magically reappear and try to hook you back in
  • People to eat, drink, and spend too much
  • People to not get enough rest
  • People to feel pressured to “be in a relationship” and accept dates or stay with dangerous persons “just until the holidays are over”

It’s an idealistic time when people have more depression and anxiety than at any other time of the year because they think their lives should be like the picture postcards and old movies we see this time of year. Depression creeps in, anxiety increases, and to cope, they eat/drink/spend/date in ways they normally would not. But you can’t make a “picture postcard memory” with a psychopath!

Those with the super trait of “sentimentality” will focus on the past when they had that one perfect Christmas with the pathological.  The other drunken, absent, or abusive 14 Christmases are forgotten, forgiven or overlooked. But what IS focused on is that one year when it was nice and the pit-bull stronghold on the hope it will be this way again.

But we know that pathology is permanent. The bad 14 years are a much better and more realistic presentation of what pathology is like during the holidays than the one fluke of a year he held it together. Pathology is very stressful to experience under any circumstances. Add to it the expectations for a pathological to be different (i.e., act appropriately) this time of year, and the pathological’s and everyone else’s stress is then through the roof. Sometimes even our hope can be “pathological” when it is focused on something that cannot and will not change.

The glittering fantasy that resembles your Christmas tree lights places not only you in the path of misery, but all those you plan to spend Christmas with—your family, friends, kids and pets.  It is much kinder to unplug your glittering fantasy and tell yourself the truth of what will happen if you expect a serene and joyful time with a pathological than it is to drag others through your fantasy.

Here’s a mantra to say out loud to yourself: “I’m pretending that staying/going back with a psychopath 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 romanticizing and fantasy out of the thought and smacks a little reality in your face.

“I want to be with a psychopath for the holiday.”  Say that three times to yourself out loud …  NO!! That’s not what you want. That’s what you got LAST YEAR. You want to be with a nice man/woman/person for the holidays. And, 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 OKAY to be by yourself for the holidays. It sure beats pathology as a gift.

Peace, gratitude, and all the spiritual reflections that are supposed to happen during this time of year cannot be found in pathology. They were not created there but they do end there. If your goal for the holidays is to find some peace, joy, hope and love, don’t spend it where and with whom it cannot be found. After the holidays, you will be a lot happier for not having attempted, for the millionth time, to find happiness where it does not exist.

Here’s a real gift for you—some tips!

TIPS FOR A HAPPIER/HEALTHIER HOLIDAY

  • Stop idealizing—you are who you are, it is what it is, pathology is pathology. If your family isn’t perfect, they certainly WON’T be during the season. Accept yourself and others for who they are. This includes accepting that pathology cannot and will not be different during the holidays simply because you want the Christmas fantasy.  “Emotional suffering is created in the moment when we don’t accept what ‘is.’” (~Eckart Tolle)
  • 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. Don’t be held hostage to exhausting holiday schedules.
  • 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 five 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 worst binds going to parties with others, and get stuck in relationships they don’t want to be in, because they feel obligated. 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 church service, pray, meditate, reflect.
  • Plant joy—in yourself, in your life and in others. What you invest in your own recovery is also reaped in the lives of those closest to you.
  • Pick ONE growth-oriented issue you’d like to focus on next year for your own growth on January 1.  It creates hope when you know you have a plan to move forward and out of your current emotional condition. Invest in your opportunity to grow past the aftermath of this pathological love relationship.

Happy Holidays from The Institute!

The Challenge of Being Thankful

“Rest and Be Thankful.” –William Wordsworth

During this month of Thanksgiving it is certainly appropriate to evaluate what you are thankful for. Now, that might be a little challenging considering the wreckage of a pathological relationship so be thankful that this article has arrived in your inbox. We would like to offer some reminders of the blessings of pathology.

Be thankful for your new filter

What the psychopath has given you is the ability to spot. That is a gift. Many people don’t know what pathology looks like and, as a result, move forward in spite of the patterns of behavior that are present. Once you move toward a psychopath it’s like you’re a fly in a web…stuck. The ability to spot the spider and the web keeps you far, far away from danger. If you made it out, then knowing the power of pathology is a gift. You have a new filter to lay over your own perceptions and understanding of the world and this filter will ultimately keep you much safer.

Be thankful for the peek deep into who you are

We know that pathology is soul stealing. It grinds you down to the bare bones of who you are and what you believe. It is a terrifying, maniacal, devastating process. There is no doubt that going through it is likely one of the worst experiences of your life. What is left when you leave is your foundation. There might even be a few cracks there. But no doubt you are seeing things about yourself that you didn’t know existed or that you had forgotten about. As you look back on the moments of manipulation, you undoubtedly see what was done to your values, your worth, and your beliefs. But through this careful evaluation you can reaffirm where you stand and what you stand on.

Be thankful for understanding love in a whole new way

Love is not fantasy. Love is not a task. Love is not excitement (it’s pretty boring). Love is not adrenaline or fear covered by excitement. Love is steady, unconditional, joyous and gentle. Sometimes we learn lessons by not getting what we need and pathology has done that for you. You now know what love is NOT. Your love is real and your capacity for love is real. In a sense, that was never the problem. Feeling love is never your problem…but being able to put a lid on your intense bonding so that you can trust what you felt about his lack of love is the problem.

Be thankful for your own humanness and your ability to bond and love other healthy people.
Your ability to connect and bond to him makes you human. You may be questioning “how could I let this happen?” or blaming yourself for “falling in love with a psychopath”. Well, thank goodness that you love, thank goodness that you bond and thank goodness that you have empathy about it. You know what it means if you can’t do those things so the alternative is much better. You CAN love and you CAN bond so that means you can do it again. Maybe not right now…but you CAN do it. Be thankful that with some tweaks to your filter, there is hope for love again.

Be thankful for your super traits

So, those things that psychopaths manipulate are your biggest asset. Do not get it twisted. Your super traits saved you. Your excitement-seeking, compassion, trust, loyalty, resourcefulness, helpfulness, and sentimentality, among others, played a role in getting you out. Take a minute to think about how each one of these traits helped you. In the end, did your compassion for the kids take over? Did your resourcefulness help you find the facts or did your sentimentality remind you of who you were before? They will be the thing that drives your recovery if you let them. You can strengthen them by combining the feelings of the super traits with what you know about pathology.

Be thankful you are safe and alive

Pathology is dangerous. Your pain, emotional or physical, is real. But here you are. There is nothing better than the awareness of our aliveness. Feel the power of being present – here – now. In any given moment pathology can bring a sense of danger and fear. Certainly hyper-vigilance can set in, if you allow it. But the alternative is much more powerful. Embrace the moments of safety and security. Create an environment that strengthens your sense of safety. In that space, your aliveness will grow.

Being thankful for pathology is a stretch – a stretch toward healing. It is a necessary step in recovery. You may not be there yet and that is OK. Don’t rush yourself. However, take this opportunity to open the door to the idea. If you are there and can feel the thankfulness then take it in.

“I fall, I rise, I make mistakes, I live, I learn, I’ve been hurt but I’m alive.
I’m human, I’m not perfect but I’m thankful.” –Unknown

Testing the Edge

Women who end up in dangerous and pathological relationships often end up there because they like (or find interesting) “living on the edge.” They don’t like their boring lives, and that extends to liking men who are edgy as well. No boring normal geek men—Nope! The more the edge/bad boy/outlaw/rebel (or the more you perceive they need some support to keep an honest life afloat) the more you like them.

This “edge-walking” landed you right in the lap of a dangerous and pathological man. In the beginning, edgy seems neutral—it’s too early to know that his edginess is going to cost you. All you know is he’s a long way from boring and that’s okay with you. It is long time before you know that his “edge”:

  • Is emotionally addicting for you
  • Is narcissism (or worse!)
  • Is about rejecting authority
  • Is all about him
  • Isn’t the cool “James Dean” type of edge
  • Isn’t artsy, educational, intellectual, musical, poetic or religious
  • Isn’t about riding fast in his convertible, or having daring sex or making risky financial investments
  • Isn’t about you or your own enjoyment of everything edgy
  • Isn’t about his party lifestyle or his commanding presence when others are around
  • Isn’t about sad stories he told about his life to use as emotional bonding with you

And it’s a long time before you realize his “edge”:

  • Consumes your self-esteem for lunch
  • Doesn’t make YOU cool for being with him
  • Doesn’t mean you are an “in” girl to love someone like him
  • Didn’t mean you were supposed to “tame” a bad boy or “heal” a wounded one
  • Can’t be fixed, counseled, medicated, or churched
  • Can’t be loved into something less savage and more soothing
  • Was really just a trail of wounded women behind him
  • Was unrelenting lying, broken promises, and changes he could never make, no matter how long he promised or how hard he tried
  • Was not really brilliance unrecognized, charm unspoiled, or love unrequited
  • Was one thing … and one thing only …

His edge was pathology.

Intense Attachments- Why is this dangerous guy so hard to leave?

Women in these relationships and their family members who watch her relationship dynamics all wonder about **why** this dangerous guy is so hard to leave. While all the people around her have the easy and rational answers of how and why she should leave, the disengagement and detachment is harder with pathological persons than anyone else.

No one knows this better than her. At the heart of the attachment is the intensity of bonding produced in a relationship that has an ’emotional vortex’ pull. Much like magnets pointed towards each other, the draw and pull and staying power of pathologicals is not like other relationship dynamics. As we study these particular attachments we see that there are unusual qualities to the relationships that even the women can’t define or adequately describe. This includes the dichotomous thinking often seen in ‘mind control,’ the hypnotic engagement often seen in trauma, and the betrayal bonding often seen in sexual addiction. Combined, this power cocktail renders her not only entranced by paralyzed from action.

Normal motivations do not motivate her. Not her current roller-coaster mental health, her other family relationships, her declining health, her children, her job or any other force that would usually rally her to her own self care. No wonder people who care about her are baffled that a high functioning, bright, proactive woman has been reduced to a an hour a week at the counselor’s office has done little to unwedge her from this super-glued relationship. It hasn’t recognized the hypnotic en-trancement, the growing PTSD symptoms, the cognitive loops and entrenched dichotomous thinking. It hasn’t unveiled the death grip that pathologicals can have on a squirming victim. Or the mind control that sucks the willpower and brain function from her.

Physically and emotionally exhausted from the too-many-go-rounds with him, there isn’t enough left of her to fight her way out or even think her way out. Many women now suffer from Chronic Fatigue from the wearing process with the pathological. Without the emotional resources and physical strength, her lethargy just ‘allows’ the relationship to roll like waves over the top of her. Without help or intervention, she is likely to have a complete physical break down including severe medical problems, sleep disruptions, mental confusion, panic attacks, anxiety, depression and more. Women have developed auto immune disease and cardiac problems in the middle of these acutely stressful relationships.

With all of their resources sapped and their concentration at a near record low, many have had to quit their jobs, have been fired, been in car accidents or sporting injuries because of the inability to concentrate. Taking an inventory of just ‘what it has cost her’ to be in a relationship with a pathological is often the first step towards education.

The disengagement process is a supported function often by counselors or The Institute in which education, acceptance of his diagnosis, self care re-initiation, and symptom management and then the full recovery process is necessary. Some need short term programs that help them kick start their own recovery such as our retreats or intensives with Sandra.

Many of the women have PTSD now from the exposure to the pathological. PTSD worsens without treatment, with added stress, and with time. Some where she has to find the counseling resources in order to return her to a life she used to know before the pathological. This includes finding support people, support groups, counseling, specific focused books and audios on the subject, and if needed, retreat or residential programs. If this describes your current situation, get what you need to heal now–to minimize the effects of the growing PTSD and the intrusive and ping ponging thoughts. Most of all, the intensity of attachment in order to be broken must first be understood. Healing the Aftermath of Pathological Love Relationships is a great tool for loosening the pathologicals emotional death grip.

Triggers and Knee-Jerk Reactions During the Holidays

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

The pathological relationship never lies dormant during the holidays. It’s an opportunity to recontact 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— Christmas!

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 Year’s Eve, and the gift he left for your child or your parents … The holidays are one BIG OP-POR-TU-NI-TY 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 loophole 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 “airbrushed Christmas memory”—how about you pull out your memory list from the other 363 days of the year and how he behaved then? One night with the twinkle of Christmas tree lights and a ribbon on a gift 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 away every little piece of joy you could get from the season. 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 four-inch stack on 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!!

The Predictability of Pathology

Women say “You are describing my relationship EXACTLY” or “He has said those exact words to me” or “How do you know what my relationship is like–how can you know this?”

Contrary to some beliefs, I’m NOT psychic!

I accurately describe people’s relationships because to a certain extent, parts of pathology and their behavior are predictable. Pathology is related to certain personality and psychological disorders. Each one of these personality disorders has its own set of behaviors, dysfunctions, and for some of the disorders–neuro abnormalities. To know the personality disorder is to know the behavior–either now or in the future. This is why Public Psychopathy Education is information for everyone because anyone can learn to predict, to a certain extent, the kinds of behaviors that are likely from the pathological in their life.

Criminal profiling to a large extent is exactly that–knowing what the behavior is likely to be given their probable diagnosis of anti-social, socio or psychopath. Although your pathological might not be criminal, this approach still applies. His behavior is predictable.

Each personality disorder has its own set of behaviors. Pathology is related to:

a. The inability to sustain positive change

b. The inability to grow to any authentic emotional or spiritual depth

c. The inability to develop deep insight about their negative behavior affects others

So once you understand the behaviors related to the personality disorder then you apply the ‘Absolutes of Pathology’ — the inability to change, grow, or develop insight and you can pretty much take his behavior now and apply it to the future in ANY relationship. His behaviors related to his specific personality disorder are permanent. The neuroscience that now supports abnormalities in Cluster B disorders and psychopathy also highlight the issues that since these are brain region problems (not just brain chemistry/medication problems), their permanence is much more a factor.

If someone can not grow or change then his behaviors aren’t going to change. If his behaviors aren’t going to change he will be the same today as he was 10 years ago in a relationship, career or interaction and will be the same 20 years from now. If he doesn’t have the ability to develop insight about his behavior then I can tell you what it’s like to communicate with someone who can’t ‘see’ his own faults. If his brain regions that effect impulse control, bonding/attachment, and the inability to learn from past mistakes are faulty, we know what the future will be like for him.

Our goal in Public Psychopathy Education is for others to understand that you TOO can learn to loosely predict pathological behavior based on past or current behavior. Once you understand the symptoms of the personality disorder you can expect these behaviors to continue. The more you understand the Absolutes of Pathology the more clearly you can understand what his future is likely to hold for himself and others in his life. It isn’t hard to predict something that doesn’t change!

The exception to that rule is when violence is or has been involved. Pathologicals with violence issues can be erratic and unstable. Predicting their ability to be currently non-violent based on past non-violent episodes is too risky and may not follow the patterns he normally follows. Pathologicals who are addicts are hard to predict because of the instability of the person in an addiction. With violence, sexual offenses or addiction the rule of thumb is that the predictability factor is likely to be too risky to judge. When in doubt–doubt his predictability in violence, addiction or sexual offenses.

Otherwise, pathology is fairly easy to call. When someone doesn’t change, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If you’re wondering what you’re pathological was like in the relationship before you or will be like in the one after you, just gauge everything from where he is today. It’s that simple and that sad.

External Locus of Belief

Is it True, is it REALLY True?        

In psychology, we refer to the belief about where control over events in our lives resides as internal and external locus of control. This means we see our behaviors either generated by personal efforts or by destiny. We believe that we make things happen or we believe others do it for us whether we like it or not.

But also related to internal and external locus of control is it’s effect on impulse motivation. This means that a person who has internal locus of control can self regulate their impulses and desires themselves. They find their motivation for behavior, choices, and reactions inside of themselves by themselves. (By the way, pathologicals normally have poor internal locus of control except for brief periods of time when they are conning someone).

Other people who have external locus of control (like the pathologicals) are not self regulated in their behavior, choices, and reactions inside of themselves. Instead, they look outside themselves for motivation and consequently since they don’t regulate themselves well, outside themselves for limits on their behaviors. People with poor internal locus of control often need the external world to regulate themselves for them—unfortunately this is often the legal system, jail, or some kind of negative consequence.

But today, I am talking about internal and external locus of belief systems. Where is your belief system (especially about the pathological) located? Inside you or externally in others? Do you come to understand, see, and accept his pathology within yourself? Do you read materials, go to counseling and then come to believe and hold that belief in you that he is pathological, can’t change, and destructive to your own future? Are you able to pull up inside of yourself the facts of his dangerous or misleading behavior in your relationship? Are you able to point to the ways in which he has been destructive to others? Are you able to latch on to his diagnosis and use it as a life raft for yourself to drift away from him?

OR, are your beliefs externally hinged? “If you say so Sandy–if you say he’s pathological, then I guess he is.” “If he scored high on the P-scan (developed by Dr. Robert Hare) then I suppose that is correct….” Statements like these are related to people who have external locus of belief. They don’t really believe it themselves, they are hinging their belief system to someone else’s belief systems–usually mine or another expert in pathology. Somewhere along the line they haven’t really ‘come to believe’ that the pathology is his.

It’s still some distant reality ‘labeled’ by a therapist but she doesn’t own it inside herself. This makes accepting it, reallllyyyyyy accepting it, hard for her because she then needs to be reminded every 30 seconds that he is in fact, permanently pathological. Once she is out of ear range of a therapist or some other external validating system (books, dvds, cds, etc.) will she still accept his pathology?

‘Coming to believe’ pathology is a hard thing. It’s a shock to learn that someone you thought was the most wonderful person in the world is secretly very, very (did I say very?) sick. NOT only do you have to believe that the person is very, very (did I say very?) sick, but that sickness has no cure. Not only are they sick and have no cure, but staying around them is detrimental to your own (and your children’s) mental health. Not only that they are sick, have no cure, staying around them is detrimental to your own mental health but they have all the capacities of breaking both your knee caps–either financially or even physically given no conscience. This is a big wad to swallow all at once with no chaser of hope.

Most people need a time of ‘coming to believe’ — it’s like building faith in anything else–we study and come to believe. Pathology is the same way–you need some education, some time to digest this big wad of bad news, and some time to work a plan of ‘accepting the things I cannot change.’ Almost everyone who faces the fact of pathology in someone else has this same ‘coming to terms’ process. We expect it.

But, there is also the problem of when you don’t ever come to truly accept it and then hinge your belief system about his pathology on some external person, organization, or book. The Institute can not be your belief system (He’s pathological because Sandy says so). If after a few months, that belief system doesn’t become internal for you (I know this to be self evident, that he is pathological and for all of these reasons….) then you’re in trouble of relapse.

Just like in external locus of control explained above, external locus of belief stands in the same jeopardy–that someone else can’t be responsible for what you do with what you know (or what you don’t come to accept). That your pathology destiny is not in The Institute’s hands–it’s in yours. That whether you ignore the info and go back is entirely up to you—not a support group, not a book, not a program or a retreat–just your destiny in your hands.

If your locus of belief is still external and it doesn’t shift and become internal–just know this is a risk factor for you. Holding the belief system steady is the challenge of overcoming cognitive dissonance. When it doesn’t get over come eventually, either you learn to do what the 12 Steppers call ‘Fake It Til You Make It’ (do it til you believe it) or face the rising statistics that you’re likely to believe the internal chatter and make a Bee line back.

Remembering Our Roots

Joyce’s Brown’s Influence on The Pathological Love Relationship Recovery Process

This weekend marked the 6th death anniversary of an extraordinary visionary. Many of The Institute’s highly acclaimed purposes, products, and processes came from what Joyce lived through, talked about, and role modeled for others.

Joyce, like other leaders, did not set out to do anything extraordinary. She simply set out to heal after two back-to-back pathological relationships. First a 25 year relationship with a narcissist and then an upgrade to a sociopath for 10 years left Joyce in the typical emotional fetal position that is common of the aftermath of pathological relationships.

She went through the normal stages of pathology recovery asking,

“What just happened?”

“Did I do that?’

“What’s wrong with him?”

“Why am I so obsessed with this?”

“What’s wrong with me? Why am I attracted to men like that and what does it say about my life that I would end up in a relationship like that?”

Without the benefit of mental health therapy and with only the support of a few close friends (who were quickly becoming weary of the ongoing saga of ‘why’ her, why him, why he moved on quickly, and why he picked the new woman), Joyce managed to piece together not only a recovery, but some profound insights that changed the quality of her life forever.

By then, at age 60, it would have been easy to say she would not likely find love, or heal. It would have been even easier to get bitter, get revenge, get hyper focused on him and his latest antics, or get in a fetal position and stay there.

But remarkably, Joyce rose from the dirt she had been ground down into. Like the symbol of the Rising Phoenix she not only rose, she dug out every particle of dirt that could be transformed from crusted pain and milled it for life changing insight.

She didn’t keep these golden gems to herself—she talked to women about relationships wherever she was. Some of her approaches have trickled down to help other therapists work with women leaving pathological relationships.

Joyce believed women tended to drift sideways into pathological relationships looking for fun and excitement which actually pointed at what that woman needed in her life that would prevent her from taking just any old relationship.

“If you aren’t living a big enough life that is as big as your heart, or as big as your personality, or as big as your dreams, then any old psychopath will do.”

She poignantly asked herself “What is or is not going on in my own life that I would end up with a sociopath? Sure I didn’t know he was one, he said all the right things…but what could this possibly be pointing out to me about me, the condition of my own life, and what needs to happen so I don’t choose like this again?”

16 years later she had answered her own question:

In her 60’s she went to college for the first time, became a short term missionary, she started her life in the arts of painting, sculpting, and pottery, she moved to a one room beach house so she could ‘make up for lost time and play hard,’ drove a convertible Miata to feel the rush of adrenaline she no longer had because the sociopath was gone. In her 70’s she took up belly dancing to prove to herself she was still attractive, went to Paris to see handsome men so she knew she could still flirt, and got a motorcycle so she always had something hot to ride (!)—hey, I’m just quoting Joyce here. She became a hospital Chaplin to comfort the sick and fed the poor every week to give some of that hyper empathy away least it go to another psychopath. She sailed a Catamaran to the Bahamas to challenge her fear because she could not swim.

“A relationship is the icing on the cake. It is NOT the cake. Don’t confuse the necessity of living life to be the icing. Living life IS the cake. Anything else, including relationships, is just the icing.”

The Institute’s own Jennifer Young who does phone coaching and our tele-support group had this to say about Joyce’s impact on her and the women she helps, “Joyce Brown carries a big impact on my work with women. On her own she developed the innate ability to care for herself. That care translated into real solutions for disengagement from a pathological relationship. I believe the biggest, specific idea that has come from Joyce is the idea of ‘Not One More Minute”. I have shared this concept with many women who instantly feel the ability to disengage….not one more minute means I will not allow you to take one more minute of my energy, my love, my care, my compassion. It provides an end point…a point to say I’m done. This change in thinking, that I stop it, is crucial. It means that she has come to know and understand that he will not change, but I still can…and I will. So thanks to Joyce Brown for showing us the way to the end!”

At her death at age 76, she laid in a hospice bed only hours from death. I told her I wanted to toast her life. She said “Crank this bed up!” She fluffed her hair and with a glass of Jack Daniels in her hand, she said “I have had a great life. I lived, I learned how to have a great life, and I was loved. Who could ask for more?”

Her life lived well is what has impacted thousands of women worldwide and is the main thing women come away with who attended our retreats. Sadly, in this day and age, living a great life seems to be an extraordinary accomplishment. Her lecture on ‘Get a Great Life’ is what has spurred women on to not merely limp into recovery dragging their soul behind them. But to burst into recovery and fill their lives to the rim with all the things that her big personality needs in order to live fully. Lifeless living is what caused many women to seek the psychopath so full of energy that it seemed exciting and vibrant. Joyce said, “The problem is pointing to the solution. I loved the energy of those men! But what was that energy and why couldn’t I have it another way? Was a psychopath the only way for me to feel life?”

Joyce learned that vibrancy comes from a life that is full of the things that interest, motivate, support, and challenge HER. If she wasn’t living a big enough, interesting enough, motivational enough, supported enough, and challenged enough life….she would drift again into the arms of pathology to fill that space.

Feel how big YOU are and fill your own life with a great life!

From one of our readers, she wrote on Joyce’s Facebook Memorial:

“Thank you, dear lady, for your continued inspiration – a legacy you’ve left to many you never knew but who have come to love you for your feistiness, tenacity, grit and that wonderful sense of humor!”

Get a great life and stop the cycle of pathology!

Recovery Without Justice

At the heart of the victims rights movement I was involved in during the 1980s after my father’s murder, was the concept of judicial justice that would lead to psychological justice.  It’s a great concept, and in a perfect world it would work in all situations.  If the pathological person wronged you (physically hurt you, conned you out of money, screwed up custody situations, cheated on you, spiritually abused you, etc.), he would be held accountable in the courts for his behavior, and more importantly, he would be forced into victim restitution in which he would have to repay or do something as a sign of his guilt and your pain.

Of course, restitution in and of itself really doesn’t heal anything.  It’s just the victim or person who was harmed feels like the scales of justice, that were so grossly leaning in his direction, got balanced into their direction.  For a moment in court, and however long it takes him to pay or do the restitution, he is officially “guilty” and everyone knows he was charged as such.  He is “paying his price to his victim” for his actions.  For a moment in court, a judge believes you!  He believes the monster really did what you say he did.  That, in and of itself, is often the psychological justice that victims really look for and it helps them to heal.

In murder trials that I often attended, obviously the family could not be compensated in any true way that relieved their pain and suffering.  Their loved one was murdered.  No amount of restitution touches a human life.  The best the family can hope for is physical payment, prison, the death sentence, or some other act that the court assigns for the monster to repay the victim’s family.

The judicial system acts as the conscience of this country.  Victims seek solace in the courtroom and chambers hoping that justice will alleviate the pain, horror, and stigmatization of being a victim of the monster.  But we know that in many cases, and I dare say, in most cases, that’snot what happens.  Restraining orders are not granted, arrests are not performed for stalking or violence, children are given over to the pathological who is overtly violent, sick, drug addicted, or otherwise an inept parent.  When the pathological doesn’t pay child support, nothing is done and the child is still sent to him. The thousands of dollars he conned out of you or stole from you is not returned.  When alimony isn’t paid, he gets away with it.  Repeated visits to the courts do nothing to convince them, or to open their eyes to the true nature of his behaviors. Anything that is court ordered he defies and laughs at.  You stand, mouth gaping and wondering, “Where is the justice?  HOW does he get away with this?”

I have repeatedly said that the universe is strangely tilted to the benefit of the pathological.  If ANYONE will get away with a con or a criminal act, it will be the pathological.  The universal scales of justice are tilted in their favor and, ironically, somehow influence the judicial scales of justice.  In the 20 years of doing this work, I have seen them literally get away with murder, rape, embezzlement, breaking and entering, stalking, domestic violence, child abuse, and more.  This ranks as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”—how pathological people can con their way out of the most vicious deeds and often never pay in any way for their behavior.

In these cases, women’s hopes of justice are dashed as it is connected to part of their psychological healing.  The scales of justice will never be balanced—she is not vindicated in the way that helps her to heal.  Even if he is found guilty of something, he is rarely ever held to the standard of the law it’s connected to.  If he is supposed to pay a fine, he doesn’t.  If he is supposed to go to jail or prison, it’s postponed or overturned.  If custody is denied, he receives it by another judge. If he embezzled, it’s forgiven in exchange for an admission of guilt.

Victims’ rights and their connection to judicial and psychological justice will not get played out often in pathological relationships.  The psychological justice that the victim is counting on in order to validate her—her moment in which the conscience of this country believes her—doesn’t happen.  Since we understand that psychological justice is what is most likely to help victims heal, now what?

Sternly, I tell victims of pathological relationships that they sometimes must recover without justice.  We are not discussing “what is fair,” because the pathological has already skirted the issue of “fairness.”  He doesn’t live with the concept of fairness and the law doesn’t use it as a concept with him.  If you desire to recover, heal and move forward with your life, it will require that you might just have to recover without judicial justice, without victim restitution, and without the conscience of this country validating your story.

You have to recover without a second of judicial support.  Women who hinge recovery on judicial justice, or waiting for their day in court, or “when he gets what’s coming to him,” will never recover.  The universe is tilted in his favor, and your own recovery must be a daring adventure in the face of a lack of victims’ rights.  Sometimes the only personal justice is recovering and living a great life.  What he had done to you doesn’t define you, hold you down, or stop you from succeeding in your own spiritual outlook.

In the end, the only thing you really have control over is how you choose to see your situation.  If you see it as a victim and are unable to move past that view, you won’t recover.  If you see it as horrible things that happened to you but don’t define or restrain you, you will move forward—with or without justice.

The unfair situation is what you have lived through and the aftermath of the effects of the pathological relationship.  In the face of this grossly dehumanizing experience is the indomitable ability to recover that can guide you, not only to survive, but also to thrive in the face of great pain.  I have every confidence you can heal, even without justice.  Let us know if we can help you do that.

Deciding to Not Stay Where You Are

~ “The first step towards getting somewhere is to DECIDE that you are not going to stay where you are.” ~ (Anny Jacoby)

I just love when I read this quote.  It reminds me of what we have been talking about now for months—since I began the “Living the Gentle Life” series, which has been about the recovery from PTSD and pathological love relationships.

I get emails that say, “I can’t leave him because_________.”  There are lots of reasons that people, both men and women, feel trapped in pathological love relationships for various reasons.  It could be finances, children, poor health, lack of employment or education, religious beliefs, family, attitude, fear of harm, or their own damage from PTSD.  But the first step toward an internal shift, where something else might be a possibility, is beginning with knowing that you are not going to stay where you are.

The external reasons of why you are still there are just that—external.  The paradigm shift starts internally—the decision you make that you are not going to stay where you are, whether emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually, or sexually.  Externally, things begin to happen when you simply make the decision that at some time in the near future, you are not going to stay where you are.  What happens outside of us in recovery starts with the shift internally, before it is ever manifested in our lives.  We won’t follow a path that isn’t first developed internally.  We’ll end up only seeing roadblocks of the external, which doesn’t help us.  The first thing that has to happen is the decision for internal movement.

Over the 20 years of working with pathology and its victims, I have heard every kind of story about pathological relationships.  Anything from the most deviant kind of mind control to attempted murder, to actual murder.  I’ve heard of financial hostage taking, rape, assaults, stalking, women put into comas, people alienated from their children, people being medically harmed, reputations and careers ruined, and people locked in their homes or psyches for decades.  I’ve heard it all.  The emails start with, “But, I can’t”—and then they give the reason for their inability to leave.  But there is movement happening in them that they might not see.  They have read our magazine, our newsletters, or are emailing us; so obviously something inside is shifting.  Somewhere, they are deciding they are not going to stay where they are!  Even mentally they are moving and changing.  Their “yes, but” might be a reason to them, but they are already deciding to not stay where they are.

Yes, there are safety and housing barriers.  Remember, every community has domestic violence (DV) services, or DV housing most likely exists in your area.

Yes, there are emotional barriers—you have PTSD.  Remember most communities have DV counseling services that are free; churches have support groups, and community mental health counseling for you or your children is free or very low in cost.

Yes, there are starting-over barriers when you leave with only what’s in your suitcase.  Remember, DV services and other nonprofit organizations offer furniture, clothing and household items to those starting over.

Yes, there are legal barriers—you don’t have an attorney.  Remember self-help, nonprofit and women’s organizations.  DV agencies have information on legal aid and OTHER types of pro bono services if you don’t qualify for legal aid.

Yes, there are other case-specific barriers—there are so many issues to manage at once.  Remember women’s organizations, DV agencies and other nonprofit organizations have case workers assigned to you so you don’t have to do it all yourself.

You only have to first decide that you are not going to stay where you are.  That’s the first step to the rest of your life.  That doesn’t mean you leave tomorrow—that means you shift internally—that you open the emotional door of possibility that you will not always be where you are today.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I stop and give tribute and memory to those patients of mine who have died because they believed they couldn’t do anything about their situation, or they underestimated his pathology (or her pathology).  In honor of all those who have been harmed, alive or not, we remember you this month, and send  possibility to those living in a pathological situation that your life can and will be different.  I don’t say that flippantly—I too have experienced a lot of pain when I see patients further harmed, so I say it from my own experience.

The Institute has helped thousands of people make that paradigm shift internally so they could eventually make it externally.

Living the Gentle Life Part 6:Healing Your Own World View

Healing Your Own World View

“Be gentle with yourself. The rest of your life deserves it.” (Sandra L. Brown, MA)

Over the past month or more I have been talking about healing from a dangerous and/or pathological relationship. The chronic stress disorder and often Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that occurs from the damage done in the relationship requires a serious change in lifestyle in order to heal.

We have been talking about those changes–what needs to change physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In the last segment, we discussed the negative ‘world view’ effects resulting from pathological exposure. The negative world view impacts how you now see your post-pathological relationship world. This includes how you NOW see yourself, others, the world, your future, and God. (You can read past issues about this subject on our blog–the link is listed below).

One of the seriously ‘under treated’ effects of pathological relationship exposure is the healing of the personal world view (you can listen to the audio segment I created about this topic on the magazine under CDs/Audios. The untreated aspects ‘mimic’ PTSD symptoms with increases in depression, anxiety, fear, isolation, dread of the future and other similarly related PTSD side-effects. Healing your world view is critical to a healthy future.

Another often ‘untreated’ effect of pathological relationship exposure is the ‘unconscious adopting of the pathological’s world view.’ Not only was your world view altered from the damage done to you IN the relationship, but your world view was also altered from the damage done to you THRU the pathological. One of the unrelenting side effects is the ‘learned experience’ of seeing the world through ‘his’ eyes.

One of the things that makes pathologicals, pathological is the effect of their pathology on how they see themselves in relation to the world and others. Pathologicals are noted for their over/under sense of themselves, over/under opinion of others, and their unusual view of what the world ’should’ do for them.

While you may not have adopted these exact views like the pathological, chances are that your views have been tainted with the pathological’s viewpoint. This can include normalizing abnormal behaviors or dissociating pieces of reality AWAY from yourself. Normalizing can make womanizing, over/under employment, drug dealing, alcohol/drug abuse, domestic violence, lying, cheating, stealing, or other overtly wrong behavior ‘marginal’ when you have taken on his view of life and right/wrong. Pathologicals don’t operate by the rules. They create them for their unique situations and break them for fun.

When your grip on societal boundaries begins to slip, you have been affected by his view of the world. When his behaviors become ‘just a little different’ than other people’s or ‘all people are like this’ — your world view has been infiltrated. When you begin to think of other people like he does, or define others by his warped definitions, when you believe his ‘take’ on things or tell yourself only partials truths so you don’t have to really see his ‘real’ self–your world view has been penetrated. When you become numb and lethargic to the things he has done, your world view has been violated.

This is just one more aspect of your wounded world view that needs healing if you are going to recover. A wounded world view does not allow for living the gentle life. And the gentle life is probably not even possible until the way you see yourself, others, and the world becomes ‘gentle.’
Pathologicals are harsh. They leave people feelings irritated, rubbed raw, and chapped. Your interior does not feel ‘gentle’ –it feels the opposite of it. Pathologicals are notoriously ‘negative’ so you may have found your mood, thinking, and reactions to have taken on his negativity. It’s hard to heal when everything looks like he told you it looked–bad (and it’s all your fault!) It’s hard to live the gentle life for yourself when your emotions are anything BUT gentle.

This is the point about the necessity of healing the world view–it’s a critical part of your recovery. Because having been warped by a pathological, ‘HOW you see determines WHAT you see.’

Visit www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com to learn more

Living the Gentle Life Part V-Soul Tearing;The Spiritual & World View Effects

The last few weeks I have been talking about the necessity of living a gentle life if you are recovering from a dangerous and/or pathological relationship. The damage it does to a person is profound and many are often diagnosed with a chronic stress disorder OR Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of it. These disorders respond best to a ‘gentle life’ that allows the body, mind, and spirit to rest from the overload of adrenaline and stress it has experienced in the dangerous relationship.  (Read our previous newsletters about this topic listed on the magazine)
I have talked about physically how to ‘adjust’ your environment if you have a stress disorder and we also talked about the emotional effects—anxiety, depression, and other after-effects associated with PTSD.  Today, we are going to talk about the spiritual effects.

Dangerous and pathological relationships violate at a deep soul level. That’s because it touches on the core building blocks of our concepts about relationships–Trust, Love, and Hope. Deception is evil and sick and when you realize ‘who/what’ you have been with, there is a violation that cuts to the deepest part of a person: their spirit.

Often these kinds of pathological relationships have already ‘played into’ your soul connection…leading you down the path of believing that your ‘connection’ was spiritual in nature. There were probably lots of promises of the ‘life together’ and all the ‘reasons God brought you two together.’ In the end, they were lies but before you knew they were lies, they were HOPES.

~ “Hope is the thing with wings, that perches in the soul.” ~ (Emily Dickinson)

So many pathological relationships have “an intense attachment” that feels like ‘connection’ or ’soul mate status’ when in reality it is just the intense game of the ‘pathological’ sucking you in and hoping you will confuse intensity with something healthy.

But Hope, Love, and Trust are all core spiritual values and when you have invested those core values and beliefs in someone and then the heinous deception is revealed that the ‘goal’ of the relationship was to manipulate you all along, something ‘rips’ inside of you. This ’soul tearing’ brings a spiritual skepticism, a distrust that permeates everything you EVER believed…sometimes even about God.

It’s a disastrous wound to your ‘world view’ and how you see yourself, others, God, and the world at large.

These mortal wounds to your world view can last a long time because, in effect, they are the ways you have come to ‘believe’ about yourself (I can’t trust my intuition), others (everyone is evil), the world (it’s a sick place) and God (He didn’t protect me). This profound shift in your world view can increase the symptoms of PTSD–depression, anxiety, alienation, loneliness, isolation, and a fear or dread of the future.

So often the spiritual effects of the pathological relationship are overlooked both by the victim and by the therapist. This ‘world view’ earthquake has shaken the foundation of your belief system. Without repair to the foundation from which you build your self concept, healing is limited to only symptom management. Spiritual healing of your world view is paramount to your overall recovery.

I have created a 15 minute audio (mp3) “Spiritual Effects’ that goes into more detail about healing your world view and the spiritual effects of dangerous relationships. I think the audio will greatly help your understanding of WHY this part of yourself MUST be healed as well and how the unhealed aspects can impact depression, anxiety, reaching out to others, and your future relationships. You can pick it up on the magazine under Shopping/CDs, Audios.

Also, if you are in counseling, please allow your counselor to listen to the mp3 too. This will help them address these issues with you in counseling. This is an area so often ‘under treated’ by other counselors. I teach on this aspect a lot at professional conferences and therapists are eager to understand this aspect of spiritual side effects and its impact on chronic stress disorders.

Living the Gentle Life Part IV-‘Ah….just get a life!’

People ever tell you that? Sometimes from the chronic stress and upheaval the pathological relationship causes, people can get very one-dimensional and hyper-focused on him/the relationship/or the problems. They stop doing the kinds of things in their life that could help them be LESS obsessed, depressed, or anxious. That’s because women really tend to ‘lose themselves’ in the pathological relationship. It’s a testimony to the strength of pathology.

The crazier it gets, the more they feel like they need to ‘try to understand it’ or ‘try to make him understand what he’s doing’ or ‘do something that will help the relationship feel less pathological.’ This idea can be a 24/7 thing…it can take up your whole life trying to balance the relationship, which, as you have figured out, is un-balanceable.

Getting lost in a very dark tunnel can draw people away from the actions, behaviors, thoughts, people, and resources that previously allowed them to live a happier and more balanced life. The dangerous and pathological relationship is ALL consuming and soon any level of your own self care is abandoned for the insane focus on how to fix him/the relationship.

It isn’t long before others around you notice the myopic/single focused person you have become that can’t think about or talk about anything except the dangerous relationship. This myopic view of your relationship has now blacked out any other part of your life…people are bailing out of your life, emotional resources are dwindling, your life has become the size and shape of him.

Women in the most dire of all situations (especially in domestic violence for instance) are those who have lost physical and emotional resources and can find no way to get out. The less support a woman feels from others the more likely she is to stay because it takes SUPPORT to get out/to break up/or to not go back. So, by the act of myopia, her life and resources just dwindle away.
One day someone says to her ‘man, you need to get a life bigger than THIS!’ and something really hits her about that statement. Like coming out of a big deep freeze…the light bulb goes on—she notices her lack of life and says “What happened to me? Where is my LIFE?????”

The last few weeks in the newsletter I have been talking about ‘Living the Gentle Life’–especially if you are someone who has lived in a pathological relationship or has a chronic stress disorder or PTSD from the relationship.A gentle life is a FULL life–one that includes the finds of things that nurture you, that bring peace to you, are simultaneously IN and PART of our lives.The gentle life is healing because to feel JOY is to send the right kinds of brain chemistry to your brain that fights depression and anxiety and gives the sensation of ‘well-being.’ We need to be Joy Hunters!

Women go back (or pick poorly again) because they fail to build a life for themselves. They know how to ‘invest, invest, invest’ in him and THEIR relationship with him but have NO idea how to ‘invest’ and build their own life WITHOUT HIM like the one listed above. Women who have out side healthy lives ARE the women most likely to get out and stay out.
Loneliness is one of the KEY risk factors in why women go back. There are so many ways to get your needs met for friendship, fun, support, beauty, or whatever you love in life. Building a ‘life’ is the best prevention for relapse a woman can do.

But sadly, many will NOT do it. After 20 years, I can pretty much pick out who will and won’t invest in themselves and build a life. Those that don’t are in the same boat 10 years down the road…either with this pathological person or another one just like him. Those that do build a life are less likely to feel pressured to date or get so lonely they pick up the phone and call him.
The Gentle Life isn’t even possible unless you have a life that is ready for transformation. Living with a pathological man or picking another one is about as OPPOSITE of a gentle life as there is. Will you be one that rebuilds a fabulous life? Or be stuck in your dependency on dangerous and pathological relationships?

So many women say “But I don’t know where to start in the rebuilding…my life has been like this SO long I don’t know where to begin.” This is such an important issue so to solidify this discussion, I have created a companion mp3 called “Stop Focusing on Him: Get a Great Life.” We ran it recently, but I’m gonna put the link in again because it’s such a great reminder!

Click HERE to see product