Archives for February 2014

He Seems Happy Now, Will I EVER Be Happy Too?

There are a lot of distortions that go on about the pathological man’s ability to ‘be happy.’ One of the issues of permanent personality disorders and pathology is that, at the core of them, is unhappiness. That is why they have so many angry outbursts, attitude problems, and failed relationships.

Some of them fake the external appearance of ‘happy-go-lucky’ or act as if their lives are fine. Partners need to look below the ‘presentation’ and question what he’s showing at face value. Survivors fall for it the first time by getting in the relationship with him and then fall for it a second time when believing his external presentation of his ‘life without you in it’.

I chanted it like a mantra so I’ll continue to say it, “Nothing changes in pathology because it’s hard-wired to not change.”

If he was horrible with you, he’ll be horrible with her (eventually). If he was at the core of himself, miserable/unhappy/unsuccessful, NOTHING will change. Go deeper than looking at this flash-in-the-pan faux presentation that he WANTS you to see and then feel bad about because you are not with him. Psychopathology does not change and neuroscience continues to teach us why his hardwired brain doesn’t allow for change. If you don’t believe me, at least believe science.  His change is not going to happen now and not simply because he is with someone else. Pathology is not a light switch you turn off and on at will.

The real question is will YOU ever be happy again? Survivors misread their own ability to be happy in the future because they are all wrapped up in STILL watching him, rating him, and gauging his happiness against their own.

A recovery question is: Why are you STILL watching him? What in the world does he have to do with YOUR future happiness?

Do you know why watching him affects your own ability to recover and find happiness?
Because the longer you watch him, the more intrusive the thoughts become, and the more ping-pong brain of cognitive dissonance you keep, the more miserable you stay, and the longer you postpone your own recovery and joy.

When survivors are being honest about what they fear most, it is that he will go on and have this fabulous life and ‘be good to another woman’ and you will never meet anyone. Since you do want to eventually meet someone healthy to love… what healthy guy wants to be with a woman who is obsessed with a pathological man, whose eyes are not on THEIR new emerging relationship, but on what the ex is doing next? Instead of your eyes being focused forward on the future, you have your head turned backwards looking at your past and what he’s doing. What does new Mr. Healthy see? You, filled with regret and revenge—not really good material for a new relationship, eh?

It IS understandable why you are angry that he appears to be happy with someone else and you are not. It is also understandable, after what you have lived through, that you wonder… if you’ll always pick pathologicals… if you’re too damaged to ever have a healthy relationship… if you are even capable of feeling anything other than intrusive thoughts, much less joy. These are totally normal questions considering what you’ve been through. But those answers are not found in glancing over your shoulder at him. There’s no going back.

‘Drag an axe and clear a path’ into your future. Work on yourself (let us help you!) so you understand why you chose someone like that, how you ignored so many red flags, and understand your own personality traits that leave you vulnerable for relationships like that. There is plenty to heal from! Then, when you’ve done all the work, LIVE. Don’t search internet dating sites where PREDATORS live. Just live a joyful life and allow health, vibrance, and joy to direct you. It’s when you aren’t seeking that you find that which you have been waiting for. Joyce Brown, my mother and mentor for this work, said, “A man is not the ‘cake’—a relationship is only the icing on the cake of a good life.”

Heal you! Get a great life… and the rest will fall into place. My mother, when she was dying, said, “I’m not afraid to die because I’ve lived a great life. I’ve had so much fun and I’ve been so loved. Who could ask for more?”

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships.  Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions.  See the website for more information).

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

Challenge the Thought

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

You own one thing: your mind.  That’s it.  There are things that you possess, like your books, your shoes, or your jewelry.  But the only thing that you own is what goes on between your ears.  No one can take it from you, no one can buy it from you, and no one can rent space in it. Now, I know what you are saying: “I’ve been in a relationship with a psychopath—he rented, bought and sold my mind for a nickel.”  I get it, and I do agree that if anyone can make you feel that your mind has been rented, bought or sold, it is a psychopath.  I might even concede that he rented your mind.  But what neuroscience has taught us is that the brain is resilient and that allows us to constantly get our mind back—even when it feels bought or sold.

When a psychopath takes control, he gets your thoughts.  That’s the prize for him.  If he can control your thoughts, it’s done.  Your thoughts drive your emotions and your behaviors.  Your thoughts are his key to getting you to feel crazy, sad, confused, frustrated, angry, elated, or excited.  When you feel these feelings, you act in a corresponding way.  All of these feelings and behaviors document his control.  They are his proof that your thoughts are turning or have turned.
Think about the thoughts that he created in you.

He enjoys my pain—I am worthless—Where is he?—I am not good enough—I deserve to be desired—I’m not stupid  

And I am using the word “created” on purpose.  The thoughts that were created were a result of his behavior, like water moving through the rocks creating a valley—slow, intentional and inevitable. His behavior of leaving mysteriously created the thought, “Where is he?”  His behavior of smirking created the thought, “He enjoys my pain.”  His behavior of insulting you created the thought, “I am worthless.

It doesn’t matter if the emotions these thoughts elicit are positive or negative.  It doesn’t matter if the behaviors that these thoughts elicit are positive or negative.  With each of these thoughts you felt something and a behavior followed. He had control of you.  You and I know that he did things to you to generate these thoughts.  So, he acted and you reacted.  What better sense of power than to get a reaction out of someone?  And what better sense of power than to get a reaction out of someone who is powerful themselves (that’s YOU)?

Since when do you question if you are stupid?  Since when do you believe that you do not deserve to be desired?  Since when do you need to spend time wondering where he is? You do this only in the context of a pathological relationship.  Because you have always known that you are not stupid, you are not worthless, don’t need to worry about where your man is, know that you are good enough and that NO ONE should enjoy seeing you in pain.  Holding these contradictory beliefs is your cognitive dissonance.  On one hand, you know you are smart, and yet you think you are stupid.  You know you are valuable, but when he is around you feel worthless. STOP THE MADNESS!

One important strategy in ending cognitive dissonance and getting your mind back is to follow these three steps:
1. Challenge the thought.
The key here is to get the first thought.  Get the thought the moment it comes.  Do not let one thought become another, then another.  Before you know it, you are in it.  That is when it becomes a problem.  So, grab that first one and work on it.  Once you have the thought—challenge it.  If it is a question, answer it. “I miss him so much” becomes “I don’t miss the psychopath.”  “How did this happen to me?” becomes “It happened because he is sicker than I am smart.”  Any challenge or answer will work as long as it is based on facts—verifiable facts.  And sometimes the words of another—a trusted friend or a therapist—can work.

2. Breathe in the correct thought.
Now breathe in that new, correct, and rational thought.  Breathe in your belief.  Breathe in the thought and allow it to ease your emotional pain just a bit.  You control how you feel with your correct thoughts.  Take a few long, slow, deep breaths, repeating quietly the new thought.  (You can even do this in a crowd with a more normal breath—sometimes even stepping away from the group or off to the bathroom to correct your thoughts).

3. Move to a healthy distraction.
Finally, take that new thought with you.  Get up, move, and carry the correct thought with you.  If you were watching TV, then go wash some dishes.  If you were reading, then go watch TV.  If you are lying in bed, get up and get a drink of water.  As you move, allow the new thought to take hold and move with you.  Begin to focus your thought on the next task.

As with any new skill it is important to do it and be successful.  It’s not about how many times you can challenge the thoughts, but can you do it successfully.  So, start with one thought.  Do this on that one thought for several days until you feel a sense of relief.  Then try another thought.

Sandra says, “Recovery happens one moment at a time.” And I believe that nothing could be more true.  What are you thinking in this moment?

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships.  Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions.  See the website for more information).
© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

Real Love, Not Just Real Attraction

So many people confuse the feeling of attraction with the emotion of love.  For some who are in chronically dangerous and pathological relationships, it’s obvious they have these two elements mixed up.  Understandably, not being able to untangle these can keep people on the same path of unsafe relationship selection because they keep choosing the same way and getting the same people!

Attraction is not only unconscious but also largely physical.  There is actually something called “erotic imprint” which is the unconscious part that guides our attraction (I talk about this in How to Spot a Dangerous Man.)  Our erotic imprint is literally “imprinted” in our psyches when we are young—at the age when we begin to notice and be attracted to the opposite sex.  As I mentioned, this is largely an unconscious drive.  For instance, I like stocky, fair-haired men.  Whenever I see that type of image, I immediately find that man “attractive.”  I can vary slightly on my attraction but I’m not going to find Brad Pitt attractive.  I might forego the full “stocky” appearance, but I’m not going to let go of some of the other traits that make men appealing to me.  We like what we like.  For instance, I am attracted to Johnny Depp and George Clooney.  I don’t like any of the blondes or overly tall and lanky body types.

If you think back to what your “attraction basis” is, you may find some patterns there as well.  Attraction, however, can also be behavioral or based on emotional characteristics.  For instance, some women are attracted to guys with a great sense of humor.  The attraction is based on that particular characteristic.  Other women may be attracted to athletic guys, not because of what physical exercise does to their bodies, but because of the behavioral qualities of athletes.  Attraction can be subtle—like the unconscious erotic imprinting that makes us select men based on physical attributes—or attraction may lead us to choose relationships based on behaviors or emotional characteristics like displays of empathy, helpfulness, or friendliness.  (I have discussed your own high traits of empathy, helpfulness, and friendliness in Women Who Love Psychopaths.)

Although these traits might guide our relationship selection, this is not the foundation of love.  It’s the foundation of selection.  Often, our relationship selection comes more from attraction than it does anything else.  So knowing who and what types you are attracted to will help you understand your patterns of selection.  Some people choose characteristics—helpfulness, humor, gentleness, or another quality that they seem to be drawn to.  Other people are more physical in their attraction and find the physicality of someone either a “go” or a “no.” Maybe you like blondes or blue eyes.  This may also drive your pattern of selection.

Also, in the area of attraction—sometimes it’s “traumatic attraction” that seems to drive our patterns of selection. Those who have been abused, especially as children, can have unusual and destructive patterns of selection.

This Valentine’s Day, be very clear about love and attraction.  This is a time when you might be likely to want to reconnect with him.  Let me remind you, NOTHING has changed.  His pathology is still the same. On February 15th you could hate yourself for reconnecting with him for one weak moment on February 14th, a day in which the world is focused on love, but he is focused on manipulation, control, or anything OTHER than love.  If you open that door, you will have weeks or months of trying to get him out and disconnect again.

Instead, plan ahead for your potential relapse by setting up an accountability partner AND something to do! Go to a movie with a friend, go out to dinner—do SOMETHING that takes responsibility and action for your own loneliness at this time of year.  Whatever you do, don’t have a knee-jerk reaction and contact him.  One day on the calendar about love is just an ILLUSION!

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships.  Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions.  See the website for more information).

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com