Archives for September 2013

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