Archives for February 2015

Is This the New Normal?

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

“Is ‘How Crappy I Feel’ my new normal?”

In other words, “Will I ever feel like my old self again?”

Let’s say your girlfriend was driving home late one night, off in thought, and after a glass or two of wine. She was blasting her favorite song on her ear buds. This condition left her not in her most focused self—tired, distracted, a little buzzed, and drifting off to the groove of a good song, when she didn’t even realize the slight bump her car made as she drove over the railroad tracks. Since she had no reason to believe something that could really hurt her was barreling down the tracks toward her, she didn’t even glance to see the oncoming train. Once she realized too late that she was going to be harmed—wide-eyed and gasping—she wondered what she could do to save herself. The answer by then was, ‘nothing.’ In a nanosecond she went from being her old self to being someone entirely new—she became a seriously injured person.

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

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

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

While psychological injuries are not as evident to the bystander’s eye, they are notably experienced by the victim. You were hit by a train! You were injured—emotionally, psychologically, mentally, spiritually, financially, and maybe even physically.

If someone has erroneously said to you, “Very shortly, this will be like it never happened. You’ll be back to your old self in no time at all”… remember—other survivors who have been hit by the same-train-different-tracks will tell you: “No, it will not be like it never happened. No, you will not be back to your old self in no time at all.”

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

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

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

You are expecting to walk away limping but not seriously injured from a psychopath. That doesn’t happen often—so infrequently, in fact, that I don’t even know if I can give one example of that happening with the women I have worked with for 25+ years.

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

(**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

 

About Face: Changing the Direction From Which You Seek Happiness

“Internal reflecting” guides us to dig in, evaluate, and give thanks. We need to take the time to ponder ideas, gather insights that might have eluded us during the busyness of our lives and slow down to look inward and receive the Light. I hope this week’s newsletter is a little piece of Light that you are open to receive.

Awhile back I got a book written by one of my favorite spiritual writers, Thomas Keating. It’s called The Human Condition: Contemplation and Transformation. Profoundly, he reminds us that we spend much of our lives looking for happiness through avenues that can never produce it. We create our misery by “looking for love in all the wrong places,” as the song goes.  Nothing can be truer when it comes to pathology. Pathology is wired to produce misery, not happiness. Everyone has the same response to pathology—they are harmed, miserable, and eventually try to flee. It’s a true indicator of seeking happiness from a source unable to deliver it.

Your idea of happiness was probably initially developed around the relationship or the fantasy that was painted for you about him, the relationship, or your future. Instead of understanding that happiness had been sought from someone who, by the nature of their disorder, could never deliver happiness, you were held captive in the compulsion of repeating the same scenario with him. You tried to find happiness in the very person who is hard-wired to NOT produce happiness!

Not all of this seeking happiness in the wrong place is the result of his pathology. Some of it is the result of our own unknowing about where happiness is found. It is not found in someone else. Instead, happiness is found inside our self, rooted in our own spirituality through God. It isn’t about them. It is about us.

Keating says, “What we experience is our desperate search for happiness where it cannot possibly be found.” The key to our happiness is not lost outside of our self. It was lost inside our self when we began looking for it in someone else. We need to look for it were it can actually BE found.

The chief characteristic of the human condition is that everyone is looking for this key but nobody knows where to find it. The human condition is thus poignant in the extreme. If you want help as you look for the key in the wrong place, you can get plenty because everybody else is looking for it in the wrong place too! They are looking for it where there is more pleasure, security, power, and acceptance by others. We have a sense of solidarity in the search, yet without any possibility of finding what we are looking for.

The religions of the world have discovered the insight that (non-pathological) human beings are designed for unlimited happiness, the enjoyment of truth, and love without end. This spiritual hunger is part of our nature as beings with a spiritual dimension. Here we are, with an unbounded desire for happiness and not the slightest idea of where to look for it.

While we may certainly recognize that looking for happiness in alcohol or drugs is looking in the wrong place, do we recognize that looking for happiness even in relationships can be the wrong place? Certainly looking for love in pathology would never produce the key you were seeking, because it cannot be found there. But sometimes people even look for happiness in what appears to be the RIGHT places—marriage, children, higher education, careers, and service to others, only again to find that they are still seeking happiness in the wrong direction.

In religious language, the word, repent means to “turn away from.” I like that concept even from a psychological growth standpoint. As you find your own path of recovery from the aftermath of the pathological love relationship, your recovery calls you to turn away from the very thing that has produced so much pain for you—the relationship, the choices, the person. In essence, in order for you to find happiness in yourself, in God, and in your own (often single) life, you must “change the direction from which you are seeking happiness”.

This is especially true when everything in you wants to turn back to him, to the routine, to the perceived comfort—just to get through the tough times. Changing the direction from which you seek happiness is embracing the truth that happiness cannot be found in pathology. God did not create you for pathology. He created you for Himself—for peace, love, and joy.  It’s not, and never will be, there in pathology.

Over the years, I have become pretty good at picking up on those who will “get it” and move on and never repeat the pathological love relationship dynamic again, and those who WILL, unfortunately, not change the direction from which they are seeking happiness. They might change the FACE from whom they seek happiness, but they are still facing the same direction seeking it.

Although there is much turmoil in the world right now, be reminded again that we can always change the direction from which we have been seeking happiness and focus on a brighter future for our self and with our self.

 

(**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, on-on-ones, or phone sessions. See the website for more information).

 

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

HEALTHY LOVE – WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THAT?

Since Valentine’s Day is upon us, I thought it would be a great discussion about what happens in Pathological Love Relationships— that attraction is on over­drive while love (from a pathological) is lingo­bling.

But what about real love – healthy love? People ask all the time ‘When are you going to write How to Spot a Healthy Partner because with as many bad relationships as I’ve been in, I can hardly tell the difference between what should be obviously toxic and what should be obviously healthy.’

The opposite of healthy love is what we often call ‘toxic’ love. Sometimes understanding what toxic ‘looks like’ helps us to see what real ‘love’ should look like too.

Here is a short list of the characteristics of Love vs. Toxic Love (compiled with the help of the work of Melody Beattie & Terence Gorski).

 

Love

Toxic Love

Development of self is first priority

Obsession with relationship

Room to grow, expand, desire for other to grow

Security and comfort in sameness?

insensitivity of need seen as proof of love

(may really be fear, insecurity, loneliness)

Separate interests? other friends? maintain other

meaningful relationships

Total involvement? limited social life? neglect old friends, interests

Encouragement of each other’s expanding? secure in own worth

Preoccupation with other’s behavior? fear of other changing

Appropriate trust (i.e. trusting partner to behave according to fundamental nature)

Jealousy? possessiveness? fear of competition?

protects “supply”

Compromise, negotiation or taking turns at leading.

Problem solving together

Power plays for control? blaming? passive or

aggressive manipulation

Embracing of each other’s individuality

Trying to change other to own image

Relationship deals with all aspects of reality

Relationship is based on delusion and avoidance of the unpleasant

Self­care by both partners? emotional state not

dependent on other’s mood

Expectation that one partner will fix and rescue

the other

Loving detachment (healthy concern about partner, while letting go)

Fusion (being obsessed with each other’s

problems and feelings)

Sex is free choice growing out of caring &

friendship

Pressure around sex due to insecurity, fear &

need for immediate gratification

Ability to enjoy being alone

Unable to endure separation? clinging

Cycle of comfort and contentment

Cycle of pain and despair

 

Love is not supposed to be painful. There is pain involved in any relationship, but, if it is painful most of the time, then you are probably in a Pathological Love Relationship. The end result of these relationships is ‘Inevitable Harm.’ Let’s be clear – there is nothing wrong with wanting a relationship – it is natural and healthy.

If we can start seeing relationships not as the goal but as opportunities for growth then we can start having more functional relationships. A relationship that ends is not a failure or a punishment – it is a lesson. And these lessons are mostly about pathology, its permanence, and the lives it affects without discrimination.

(**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, on-on-ones, or phone sessions. See the website for more information).

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

Five Ways to Find Safe Love

The month of ‘lluuuvvvv’—Valentine’s Day–the time where everyone thinks about their relationships. But at this time of year, we are thinking of it mostly in romantic terms. In our surveys, we have found that women spend far more time on learning how to ‘attract’ or ‘keep’ a relationship, then looking at the health of it, or leaving it.

If you look at most of the relationship books, it’s all about how to find him, attract him, keep him, and get back together with him. But what if what you always seem to attract is unhealthy men? Then your Guy Magnet is not a good thing. Women who have been in dangerous relationships are often more ‘attracted to’ the bad boys then healthy men. In fact, most women say that if given the choice between the ‘nice guy’ and the ‘edgy bad boy’ they would pick the guy with ‘the edge.’ Women say they often don’t even know what ‘healthy’ is in a relationship. Even knowing that they don’t know what ‘healthy’ is does not slow them or stop them from dating until they figure out what healthy looks like. They keep doing the same thing and getting the same thing–dangerous relationships.

TIME OUT: GAME OFF! If your last 3 or 4 relationships have been unhealthy or even downright dangerous, STOP. Put yourself on a ‘Do Not Date Program’ until you get some help to find out ‘how to spot’ unhealthy and dangerous relationships. YOU CAN’T CHANGE WHAT YOU DON’T SEE.

What are some ways to find ‘Safe’ love?

1. Stop dating until you can learn to recognize the difference between healthy and unhealthy. If you can’t name the 14 signs of a bad dating choice, you shouldn’t be dating! If you want to know what those are–get the book How to Spot a Dangerous Man.

2. How are your break up skills? Women worry more about their dating skills then their break up skills. But if you keep picking the dangerous guys, you better know how to quickly and safely end it! These guys do not break up like normal men do. Additionally, women who have been in more than one dangerous relationship tend to be women who wait to be ‘released from the relationship’. That means they wait for him to end it and stay far longer than they feel safe doing. However, since they don’t know ‘how’ to end it, they don’t. To find ‘safe’ love, learn how to break up.

3. You steer the ship. Women often let the man decide the pace of the relationship–how often they see each other and how fast they get serious. Guess what? Predators have agendas. They want to see you 24/7, they want you to ‘think’ you have this fast and deep relationship when you’ve only been dating a few weeks or months. You are their ‘soul mate’ and it’s ‘never been like this with anyone else.’ 24/7 does NOT mean he’s ‘that into you.’ It is often a red flag for predatory agendas. Women should be in charge of the pacing. If you have been doing the 24/7 Tango, pull the plug. Tell him you need a breather for a few days and would like to get to a normal dating schedule (a few times a week). Normal men will accept that. Pathological and dangerous men will guilt you, rage, blame you, accuse you of seeing other people, threaten to break up, call you/text you 40 times a day. That’s NOT normal. But it’s best you see that now rather than when he has moved in. Women should always PLAY with the pacing and see what kind of reaction he displays.

4. Learn his history. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. What is his past? If you feel like you can’t take his word for it, then for $29.95 you can find out ALOT about what he has been up to in the past. Things I always look for as a therapist are his criminal history, his relationship history, his mental health history.

And contrary to what he might be saying, all the other women weren’t ‘witches, psycho, or ignorant.’ His relationship history is his alone and points to how successful he is at handling the challenges and hurdles of relationship life.

5. Listen to others. STOP dissing your girlfriends when they tell you the TRUTH about him. The people around you are your best opportunity to hear about him, to tell you if they are concerned about something, to tell you if you have changed for the worse during this relationship, or to point out patterns they notice in the men you choose. Take your fingers out of your ears and hear it.

Women who want healthier and safer relationships have to begin by acknowledging what they have been in up until now and take the steps to learn and change.

(**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, on-on-ones, or phone sessions. See the website for more information).

 © www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com