Testing the Edge

By Sandra L. Brown, MA

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.

(**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

Triggers and Knee Jerk Reactions During the Holidays

By Sandra L. Brown, MA

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

The pathological relationship never lies dormant during the holidays. It’s an opportunity to reconnect with you–of course “just to wish you a Merry Christmas.” He has a million hooks he will use to get you back in…and here’s a big 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 doorstep 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 Years Eve, and the gift he left for your child or your parents….The holidays are one BIG OP-POR-TUN-ITY for Mr. Opportunistic.

He’ll be testing your boundaries to see if your no contact rule applies during the holidays. If it DOESN’T apply and you respond to him or send him a text/card/call, you have just taught him where your loophole is. You have 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 ‘air brushed Christmas memory’ — how about you pull out your memory list from the other 363 days of the year and how he behaved then? Not just one night with the twinkle of Christmas tree lights and a ribbon on a gift…that 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 every little piece of joy you can get from the season away. They get drunk, pick fights, say mean things to your family, yell at the kids, and don’t participate in the festivities.

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 thru 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 4-inch stack on research sitting on my desk that you ladies completed 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 your blessings, walk your dog more, go to the gym!

Do anything except have a knee jerk reaction to your excessive sentimentality gene!!

Wishing you peace and joy this Holiday Season!

(**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

The Damage They Do

By Sandra L. Brown, MA

For the unlucky women, months turn into years as they ride the roller coaster going nowhere. From heart stopping curves to death wish drops, they hate the ride but don’t know how to get off.

Interestingly, no matter how long women are in the relationship, the aftermath symptoms are the same. This means any exposure to pathology is psychologically devastating. The aftermath severity happens because the pathological uses forms of mind control. It is hard to fathom, but the pathological’s goal is to succeed in controlling and destroying a woman, not to have a successful relationship with her.

A pathological performs devious kinds of acts to try to make his woman think she is having a nervous breakdown or is mentally deficient so she relies on his “take” of reality. If mind control is psychologically damaging to prisoners of war, it is just as damaging to the intimate partners of pathologicals who will go to great lengths to inflict psychological devastation – simply because they enjoy the process.

He claims that he “knows people” who get information for him. This increases her paranoia and fear and adds to the psychopath’s mystique. He plays “nice guy” to make her doubt herself and to deflect her thoughts that there’s anything wrong with him.

He will gaslight her by agreeing to changes and then act as if they never had the conversation about those very changes. He will admit behaviors when caught and later deny he admitted them. He will get caught red-handed and later deny she ever heard or found out what he did. He will use other accomplices to validate his stories to increase her sensation that she is going crazy. Wealthy pathologicals will financially bribe others to control the outcome of situations that continue to support his mirage of lies.

Women may have PTSD symptoms resulting from mind control and coercion. All of these conditions result from a victim’s bonding and emotional connection to her captor/abuser, symptoms that are often seen in prisoners of war, hostages, and cult members.

But she is not an easy woman to take down. Self-control will hold her strong even in the face of these pathological-created delusions. Some women indicate they stayed far too long trying to figure out what was going on or to go toe-to-toe with him so he couldn’t get something else over on them. Most women say they are baffled by the strange dynamics in the relationship and stayed until they had some kind of cognitive understanding of what they had been living through.

As the emotional stress, physical, and sexual exhaustion are taking their toll, her failed reality testing continues. She begins thinking paranormal things are happening around her. The constant ups and downs of the relationship are now eroding this strong woman’s sense of self-confidence and resourcefulness – just what the pathological intended!

As she starts to psychologically decompensate, she experiences the same dynamics that are seen in Stockholm Syndrome:

  • She perceives (and has already experienced) a threat to her physical or psychological survival and believes he has the ability to carry out his threats. By now, she has already lived through months of him carrying out his ability to harm her.
  • Perceived small kindnesses from him set the emotional tone for her letting down her guard and. once again, seeing him as kind or even human. This also increases her relationship investment and hope in him.
  • Isolation from outside perspectives other than his. She has already experienced not only isolation from others but the indoctrination of his pathological world view.

As she decompensates, she is an easier mark for continued manipulation by the pathological. It is uncertain if psychopaths have a natural ability by nature of their pathology to simply unconsciously perpetrate these types of mental set-ups, or if the set-ups are systemically planned so that just watching her psychologically melt before his very eyes is a huge power pump for him. Our guess would be the latter.

If pathologicals didn’t like the game of manipulation, they would consistently choose women who are introverted and who would be a far easier capture than taking on powerful extraverted women. But that is, in fact, exactly why most (not all) pathologicals choose the powerful extraverted woman. To that end, we have to assume that the pathological predator enjoys watching a previously high-functioning woman turn into a reality-doubting, exhausted, bundle of nerves which he finds pretty erotic.

Sadly, some of the pathological’s women only make it out of their torment through suicide. The ultimate power triumph for a psychopath, he conquered her spirit and won. He scoops up and moves on to the next woman/victim.

Inevitable Harm

Every woman is harmed. “I realized I had been seduced by a con man and I spent months in shock, trying to figure out just who he really was.”

A relationship with a pathological man is not like any other failed relationship. The women who loved pathologicals are not just ‘bitter women scorned’. It is simply not possible to have a relationship with a pathological and not be harmed and damaged to a significant degree.

One woman expressed, “It has been over four years since our relationship ended and I still get anxiety attacks at the thought of dating. I am still single and have adopted a hermit lifestyle to make sure I never go through anything like this again.” The relationship with a pathological has resulted in many women living out their lives alone without a partner.

The medical side effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that many women develop from the relationship (as well as other acute stress disorders) will long manifest in her body. Medical side effects that continue on, long after the psychopath has left, include:

  • Auto immune disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Migraines
  • Digestive disorders
  • High blood pressure

As one survivor said, “This relationship has taken a grave physical toll on my body. I have several conditions and I look about 20 years older than I actually am.”

Sexual damage

Many women experience sexual damage and negative effects on their sexuality. This stems from having been exposed to deviant sexual practices, humiliated about their sexual performance or bodies, compared to other women, and often sexually harmed.

Long term damage

Women who have been in relationships with pathologicals universally experience some form of acute stress. The acute stress may have evolved into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other types of stress disorders. The lingering disorders serve as reminders of past pain and are likely to cause the women symptoms for years – and maybe for life.

(**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

What’s the Problem with Problem Partners?

By Sandra L. Brown, MA

Problem partners create problems which manifest as problem relationships. These relationships are often referred to as ‘bad relationships, ‘drama,’ or ‘dysfunctional’ when, in fact, often the dynamic at play is a result of what I have coined ‘Pathological Love Relationships.’

These relationships are related to the permanent personality structures and disorder of one (or sometimes both) of the partners. Mislabeled, undiagnosed, or misunderstood, these relationships churn out problems for the partners, their children, their families, and the therapists who try to help them.

Neuroscience has helped us understand some of the brain processes and problems involved especially in Cluster B patients referred to as the ‘Erratic and Dramatic’ disorders. The partners who are challenged by faulty brain processing and negative behaviors often associated with narcissism and anti-social personality disorders and the no conscience disorder of psychopathy make for some pretty lousy relational material.

I refer to this lousy relationship quality as ‘Inevitable harm’ because when someone’s brain processes are hard-wired, and they lack the ability to sustain positive changes through therapy or develop insight about how their negative behavior hurts others, there’s only one way this relationship is going to end up – harmful.

Even the court system now labels these relationships uniquely as ‘High Conflict Cases.’

In our work at the Institute, we have looked at Inevitable Harm related to partners who have problems bigger than what psychology can do for them and:

  • The traits of those with chronic personality problems that wreak havoc in the relationship
  • The unusual pathological love relationship dynamics specific to these disorders
  • The neuroscience about what is wrong with their brain
  • The elevated temperament or ‘super traits’ of those who have gotten into relationships with people with this kind of disorder
  • The affected language, communication and meaning in these relationships and how it drives the other partner crazy
  • Understand why these relationships feel more intense than others
  • Realize why break ups are so hard and why they are fraught with ‘Boomerang’ attraction.

Along the way we have reviewed the characteristics in the disorders related to impulsivity, sexual acting out, interpersonal exploitation, low to no empathy, excitement seeking, and conning. And of course, we have also looked at the physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual and financial harm of these emotionally lethal predators and parasites.

Next week we’ll talk in greater detail about the damage they do.

(**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

Psycho-Ecology

By Sandra L. Brown, MA

 

Change is redemptive. It’s transformational and it’s healing. No wonder none of those things happen to pathologicals—they don’t change, so they don’t redeem, or transform or heal. But for those negatively affected by a pathological, change is your only hope. Without the transformation of change you are hopelessly stuck on what feels like the karmic treadmill of relational bad choices that just gets worse with each selection.

But change is not only our hope, it’s God’s hope, too. Why? Because God is the God of Ecology—He recycles everything we live through to make something out of the dung of our nasty experiences. He’s invested in what happens to us, in us, and through us. As the original ecologist, He always has an eye toward what can be recycled in us for better use because that which is used is not wasted. So our experiences with the pathological that are used to help ourselves first and others second is not a wasted experience of pain and suffering—it has been transformed into a healing gift for us and for others.

This is Psycho-Ecology at its best… the good use of our bad psychological experiences; the recycling of our pain and bad choices into insight and help for others. Psycho-Ecology is the path of recovery.

Psycho-Ecology recycles:

  • your naiveté into prevention,
  • your experience into intervention,
  • your story and makes it into a book, a support group, a website, or a speech,
  • your intrusive thoughts and turns them into a meditation on tape,
  • your tears and turns them into a poem,
  • lethargy and manifests exercise,
  • pain and creates a prayer, and
  • creates hope out of hopelessness.

In fact, that which is not transformed is stuck—stuck inside you, stuck in your life, stuck in your path, stuck in your heart. Transform it!

That which isn’t redeemed is toxic. Pain that is not redeemed into the gift of hope and life for others is just pain, crammed in your body converting your health into something sick and bad. Redeem it!

That which isn’t healed by paying it forward is an emotional cancer cell metastasizing in your heart—eating your hope, your future, and your potential healthy relationships. Pay healing forward. Heal it!

You have the largest, most magnificent force behind your healing—The God of Economy who will take one bad thing and use it to help and bless thousands. Did you read that—thousands! He wants your healing so it can be broken, blessed, transformed, and released to others.

He multiplies in His economy—so your one bad pathological experience can help many, many more women than just you. His plan includes economically using your experience by releasing it to multitudes and includes recycling it from bad to good. That which we don’t use gets wasted. That which is wasted is not transformed and that which isn’t transformed we are victimized by.

I can always tell those women who are going to be recycled and used in Psycho-Ecology in others’ lives. They are searchers—examining everything they have been through for the opportunity to heal it and use it. They are not lethargically waiting for healing to come to them while hyper-focusing on and memorizing every horrid thing the pathological did this week… their eyes are on themselves, today—what needs to heal in them, where they will transform this train-wreck of a life into something worth living.

These are the women who are willing read the books, go to counseling, come to a retreat… (Or these women find alternative community resources to help them heal right where they live. When money is a challenge, they use their community resources to help bring healing. They use what they have right where they’re at!) They find every resource and use them to beat out the feeling of victimization that wants to swallow their life. These women are silent powerhouses of potential that, when healed, are going to rock the women’s issues field! I grin to myself and can’t wait to see what they allow God to recycle in them.

I’m already seeing it… those that will go on to redeem their experiences in their lives and others’, those that jump on anything that can move their healing forward as they eagerly wait to pay it forward.

These women are the face of Psycho-Ecology. Their horrible pain is being recycled into something positive. They are the faces of hope in Public Psychopathy Education. They are, or will be, single-handedly responsible for saving women’s lives. The lives they save through recycling their pain will only be known by the Great Recycler in the end because we never know whom we have saved. We only believe we have saved someone.

Every single week I get emails from people thanking The Institute for saving their physical, emotional, financial, sexual and spiritual lives. The book, the website, the newsletter—something touched them and got them out of the Pathological Love Relationship. It’s the most satisfying life mission there is: saving a life!

The question is: Will you be the next face of Psycho-Ecology? Will your pain teach other women? Will it speak to them?

Will your pain teach others how to help these women? Will it speak to a community through a presentation?

Will it go into schools, churches, women’s organizations, prisons, jails, and others’ hearts?

Or will it stagnate inside you, producing the most insidious bitterness and paranoia?

Change and growth for us is always a choice—a choice that allows the transformation of recycling so nothing is wasted. The Institute’s mission is Public Pathology Education, which means every single one of us does SOMETHING for the cause. Each week people contact us asking about how to start a group, come to a retreat, get phone counseling, get a workshop in their community, be a speaker in their community. The Institute is here to help you heal first so you can help others heal. There is no shortcut (here, let me tell others how to heal when I haven’t done it myself!) Nope.

There is only one letter differentiation between Nope and Hope—to not only heal but be recycled.

(**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

(DISCLAIMER: We, at the Institute, celebrate and recognize spirituality in all forms of religion, not just the Christian version. In our work, we often speak of other beliefs and utilize many of the concepts in our model-of-care. This article in no way is intended to minimize or diminish the spirituality that may be found in other cultures or religious beliefs. However, we DO believe that pathology harms one spiritually no matter what the survivor’s spiritual beliefs may be. For those people, we ask that you substitute the Christian viewpoint of spirituality with your own.)

Keep the Turkey on the Table

By Susan Murphy-Milano

It is the holidays and you were sure that your relationship would last until the end of time, but it did not sustain. However, those emotions still tied to the person remain, and you are teetering after that warm and fuzzy holiday text message or phone call you just received. You have all but wiped away the memory of the last time you were together. Perhaps you were blamed or hurt by a circumstance or a situation that you were made to feel was your fault. Finally, you had enough and began moving forward with your life. You worked hard to untie those emotional strings and the memories you once shared.

Holiday or not, how many more times are you going to allow a person with whom you were in a relationship to make excuses for their outbursts? Either through yelling at you because the boss got on their back, or there is not enough money through the end of the month to buy groceries and somehow your partner is blaming you? The house is in shambles, the kids have been up all night with the flu and you are whacked across the face by your “loving partner” because things are not the way THEY expect them. Your partner informs you, similar to placing you on notice, that you have had this conversation before.

On the phone that warm and fuzzy feeling returns as he speaks to you so tenderly and warm. Your knees buckle a bit as the familiar scent of a toxic tune plays in his voice. He reminds you of all the other holidays you shared and the importance of family, knowing what will pull you back in with his toxic sweet talk. He says “can’t we try again for the sake of what we had or the kids?” And then he adds a pinch of “baby, it’s the holidays,” and your response should be “yes it is, happy holidays to you, thank you for calling, goodbye.”

The turkey you prepare should be the only one in attendance this year at your holiday table – not sitting in the chair next to you.

Remember – don’t invite the pathological live turkey to show up at your door for the holidays.

(**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

What Are Some Red Flags in Relationships

By Sandra L. Brown

I was often asked what my red flags are when I was counseling a couple and I sensed he might be dangerous. There certainly ARE specific things that I have trained my ear to listen for because they are often indicators of more serious problems often attached to dangerous behavior.

These include:

  • Pacing of the relationship. If its 24/7 it’s not that he’s “just that into you.” Pathological men have agendas about getting the relationship to appear intense and deep quickly. They want to usher you into the middle of the relationship before you figure out his agenda or respond to your own red flags. Predators told me in group sessions that their move is to ‘sweep them off their feet’ by overwhelming them with intensity of emotion, time, and gifts. Women who get into intense relationships in which they are very quickly seeing each other constantly, not having an outside life, and have the sensation of being ‘breathless’ from the pace of the relationship are often with a dangerous man. Many different types of dangerous men often try to move in quickly or marry quickly – both of which should be a red flag to a woman. Women should always be in charge of the pace of the relationship which should be SLOW. Women should also change the pace of the relationship and see how he responds. Normal men accept that you ask for more time to yourself whereas dangerous men do not. They guilt and shame you into keeping the pace at THEIR rate, not yours.
  • Serial Relationships. Women often ignore a man’s history of failed relationships. Guys with histories of multiple failed relationships have difficulty being alone so they rapidly seek other relationships without reflection on the failed one. This lack of insight in the failed relationship increases his pacing so that women are hurried into a relationship before figuring out why he has so many failed relationships. One clue I always listen for is his relational history — how many relationships, why they ended, what he has to say about his own responsibility in them ending, and what he says about the woman now. Men who take no responsibility for their actions often have mental health issues as do men who never say anything good about any of the women they have been with.
  • His History. Women need to find information about his criminal, mental health, and relationship history. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. There are on-line background search sites[1] that can do this. Women often discount a man’s criminal history. His criminal history is a good predictor of future violence, other criminality and sometimes mental health issues. Likewise, his mental health history matters! If he has been diagnosed with a mental condition, most conditions INCREASE with time, age, and stress. Mental conditions are highly unpredictable and how he appears now is not a guarantee of any stability in the future. All of his histories matter: criminal, mental health, and relational.
  • Enduring Patterns of Behavior. Women often believe they can change a man once they are in a relationship. It’s one of our characteristics we don’t like to admit, but it is often part of our belief system. If he has always been this way he may have a pathological disorder which is determined by looking at enduring patterns of behavior that don’t change. Chronic womanizing, unrelenting unemployment, long histories of addictions, etc. are all examples of enduring patterns of behavior. We begin to suspect pathological (which means a permanent disorder) when people have long histories of certain behaviors. These behaviors will not be changed by you or anyone else, including professionals.
  • His pattern of selection. The types of women he has dated can reveal the type of woman he targets. A history of emotionally unhealthy women should be a red flag. Some men love victimized women, others like women with low self esteem, or those who are financially dependent. What are the women like that he has been with and why are you now the one he wants to be with?

If these are red flags for me, they certainly should be for women as well. Women who end up with dangerous man after dangerous man are women who ignore the warning signs like these and often hope they are going to get different results than what the professionals are advising. Don’t be one of them!

[1] On-line criminal record and/or background checks may not be complete due to a variety of reasons. He may have lived elsewhere or used a different name (John instead of Jack, Allen instead of Al, etc.) Not all jurisdictions have their criminal records on-line.

(**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

Rocking the Relationship Boat

By Susan Murphy-Milano

With a month left to go before she graduated from the police academy in Florida, Kelly Rothwell, 35, was moving forward to a new chapter in her life. Her plans included ending a volatile relationship with her dangerous boyfriend of over 3 years. The boyfriend controlled and monitored her cell phone and computer activity. When she was out of his radar, he stalked her. Kelly’s training at the police academy would turn her fears and anxieties into strength.

On March 12, 2011, Kelly picked up her keys to her new residence, then met with a friend for lunch before heading over to the boyfriend’s, announcing in person the relationship was over.  Kelly Rothwell was never seen or heard from again.  She joined the thousands of other women who attempted to end the relationship without a solid plan of action.  Law enforcement has since named the boyfriend as a suspect in this case.  It is no surprise he was the last person to see Kelly.

Time and time again we read about women who were planning or have already ended their marriage or relationship, reported missing or discovered dead.  The abuser has a plan and so should you!

Prior to ending the relationship or rocking the boat in a court of law, follow the instructions provided in the book “Time’s Up! A Guide on How to Leave and Survive Abusive and Stalking Relationships” available from the Institute or Amazon.com.

And if you do nothing else, before you announce the ending of your relationship be sure to prepare the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit and video mentioned in the book. Get the app or learn more about it at http://documenttheabuse.com/

More information on this topic can be found at:

http://murphymilanojournal.blogspot.com/2011/03/intimate-partner-violence-ends-with-no_28.html and http://murphymilanojournal.blogspot.com/

(**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

Caution: Relationship Lane Changes, Part 2

By Susan Murphy-Milano

Last week we began the story of Susan Powell, a married stockbroker and devoted mother to two young sons. Over time, Susan’s husband Josh became more and more controlling. Their marriage deteriorated. At this point in a relationship, many abusers begin to formulate a plan born of anger and desperation.

This plan remains in the abuser’s mind until they notice subtle signs of movement. Perhaps Josh walked into the room as Susan whispered into the phone. When she realized he was in the room, she quickly changed her tone or ended the phone call. Perhaps he learned Susan had set up a bank account, and decided she was hiding money so she and the kids could leave.

The signs of movement spark Josh, or any potential abuser, to think of the next level. They think to themselves, “OK, she is going to leave me. I will not let that happen”. He acts as though nothing is wrong. When she goes to sleep, however, Josh leaps into action. He may:

  • rummage through her car looking for evidence of her plan–a bank receipt or an unusual transaction or charge check
  • her cell phone for any unusual numbers he does not recognize
  • search her computer, checking to see which websites she visited

He finds something. Inwardly his anger skyrockets and his heart races. Outwardly, he remains calm and says nothing to Susan. A smile comes to his face. He “caught her,” and he figures in the future, she will pay one way or another.

Susan begins to email a trusted circle of friends about Josh’s abuse and threats. Maybe she keeps a detailed log containing dates and times of the incidents.

Next, Josh does what I label the “smell change.” Susan acts strangely. Josh, like most abusers, literally senses, or “smells” when his environment has shifted. Perhaps Susan verbalizes her unhappiness more often. Maybe she stands up for herself during a fight, where months before she would have backed down and gone to her room without incident.

Most abused women have difficulty hiding that “spark of empowerment” from a clever abuser. The abuser smells the spark, like a fox scents prey as he enters a coop full of chickens.

On December 7, 2009, Susan Powell of Utah disappeared. Law enforcement personnel consider her husband Josh a person of interest.

Susan Powell’s case appears no different from millions of cases of intimate partner violence we never hear about, until women disappear and someone finds their bodies. Often no “official documentation” of the abuse exists because the terrified women did not contact police or obtain a court order of protection. Why? Better than anyone, the victims know the court order of protection would not help. The court order of protection would only escalate the level of danger.

A Special Note from Susan…

Before you announce your thoughts about how unhappy you are or that the relationship simply is not working for you any longer, have a solid plan in place. Women often fail to plan ahead in leaving, underestimating what the abuser can and actually ends up doing.

October, 2015 update on the Susan Powell case:

  • Susan Powell, from West Valley City, was last seen in December 2009
  • Authorities focused on husband Josh who was suspected of murdering her
  • In 2012, in the middle of the investigation, Josh blew up his house while he and his two sons were locked inside
  • Susan’s sister-in-law says she believes her brother Josh and her father Steven were both involved in Susan’s death
    • She also believes her other brother Michael, who committed suicide, knew about the murder
    • With two brothers and two nephews dead, she hopes her father – who was released from jail in 2014 after servicing a sentence for possession of child porn – will come forward with the truth

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3291154/Sister-law-Susan-Powell-breaks-silence-Utah-mother-s-disappearance-says-pedophile-father-brother-involved-death.html#ixzz3tHML1K52

(**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

Remembering Our Roots: Joyce Brown’s Influence on the Pathological Love Relationship Recovery Process

October 16 marks the anniversary of the death of an extraordinary visionary. Many of The Institute’s highly acclaimed purposes, products, and processes came from what Joyce lived through, talked about, and 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 in the aftermath of Pathological Love 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 hyperfocused on him and his latest antics, or get into a fetal position and stay there.

But remarkably, Joyce rose from the dirt which 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 Love Relationships.

Joyce believed women tended to drift sideways into Pathological Love Relationships looking for fun and excitement, which actually pointed at what these women needed in their lives that would prevent them from taking on 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 60s she went to college for the first time and 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.” She drove a convertible Miata to feel the rush of adrenaline she no longer had because the sociopath was gone.

In her 70s she took up bellydancing to prove to herself she was still attractive, went to Paris to meet 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 using Joyce’s words here.) She became a hospital chaplain to comfort the sick and fed the poor every week to give some of that hyper-empathy away, lest it go to another psychopath. Then she sailed a catamaran to the Bahamas to challenge her fear of drowning 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 Love 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, “I have come to know and understand that he will not change, but I still can… and I will.” So thank you, 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 attend 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 souls behind them, but to burst into recovery and fill their lives to the rim with all the things that their big personalities need in order to live fully. Lifeless living is what causes many women to seek the psychopath who’s so full of energy that it makes their lives seem so 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 came from a life that was full of the things that interested, motivated, supported, and challenged 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!

One of our readers memorialized Joyce on our Facebook page:

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 [posthumously] for your feistiness, tenacity, grit and that wonderful sense of humor!”

Feel how big YOU are and, as Joyce did, fill your own life with greatness. As she would say, “Get a great life,” and stop the cycle of pathology!

(**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

Recovery: A Holy Place to Dwell

This is about spirituality and recovery—they are, after all, connected by an umbilical cord of hope. In Christianity, which is my practice path of hope, God, the only known unbroken thing which makes Him Holy, chooses to dwell in broken things. Someone undefiled with darkness, pathology, lethargy, hopelessness, depression, bone weariness, confusion, intrusive thoughts and cognitive dissonance chooses to infuse this purity into the chaotic whirlwind called ‘soul.’ I don’t understand that any more than the 50-some years I have read “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and the earth was without form and void.”

All I can see is that from the beginning God was going into things that were empty and dwelling there to infuse them with something holy. He found formlessness a good place to inhabit. God could choose to inhabit anything, anywhere, any one but seems to look for the empty places in which to stuff His hope. Our own brokenness from pathology is the place we want to recover from. It’s a dark, dank, hell hole full of disintegrated minds. Why anything so integrated and whole would want to park in there, I do not know. But I’m fascinated that Holiness wants to dwell inside people—and mostly broken people. God wants to prove that pathology does not have the last word—in anything. Everything stripped away from lying, cheating, and violence can be redeemed in its brokenness by the dwelling, the indwelling, of Holiness. Like a truffle-sniffing dog, God LOOKS FOR the place of brokenness that has made room for Him, and goes to that place.

The rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous have given me such hope of this message – recovery as a holy place to dwell – because millions of people have sat in those rooms broken and ravaged by pain and have had God in the room with them, hanging with them in their recovery, then choosing to move right into their soul so pathology doesn’t win. If recovery were a place of hopelessness, God would not dwell there and it would not be holy. This brings a different view to recovery.

Our brokenness is the entry point, the point verge of coming to a holiness we would not have had any other way. It is not that we have learned from our stupidity of choosing a pathological partner, it’s that we get the gift of finding recovery as a holy place to dwell because it’s where the holy himself, dwells. Sure, take the insight that comes with the pain (otherwise the pain has been useless) but by all means see recovery as a holy place upon which God sees worthy of journeying with you. Kum-by-yah mountain peak experiences are not the only place to find God. He finds something of His heart in others when they are broken. When their soul is seeping out of the cracks of their broken heart vessel, it’s where he imagines His balm of Light that is needed.

Brokenness and dissociation does not feel like a place of recovery, much less a place the holy wants to dwell. But it is, in fact, exactly where the holy indwells—right there in the fetal positioned part of our pain. When we want to curse God and die, we have forgotten God lives in our recovery and that holiness is finding it’s home inside of our dissociation—something fragrant is germinating—hope, change, a different way of being. Every symptom we hate about the aftermath is a place where holiness dwells. When your brain fog is knee deep, wonder to yourself “this place right now, the way I am, is where Holiness is.” The issue of the ‘sacredness of place’ is not that we have to pilgrimage to a cathedral to have a goose bump encounter with a sacred place, it’s that our brain fog is as sacred a place as anywhere else. The chanting of the Book of Hours is perhaps not even as touching as your chanting of the laundry list of harm done by pathology.

I didn’t make the rules—I am just an observer and it appears God finds the broken a special place for holy and the path of recovery, the indwelling journey He prefers. Scoot over.

(**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

Recovery Tips, Part 2

Anxiety Triage – The 30-Second Check-In
Anxiety Triage begins with a 30-second check-in followed by one or more techniques that are easily done on the spot.

When you find yourself in the throes of an anxiety or panic attack, observe your physical sensations. What’s going on in your body?

  • To the best of your ability, make grounded statements about your symptoms. “My neck muscles are tight,” is a grounded statement. “My neck muscles are unbearably tight” is not.
  • Scan your body, starting with the crown of your head and moving down the neck, shoulders, back, torso, belly, hips, thighs, calves, and feet.

That’s the 30-Second Check-In. Perform this simple process and watch your anxiety attack begin to subside. It’s the key to Anxiety Triage, because it brings you back into the Creative Moment.

Once you’ve done a 30-Second Check-In, you’re ready to re-orient yourself and reclaim the energy trapped in the anxiety trance.

Now, pick one of the following techniques to completely break the hold of the anxiety attack.

Anxiety Triage Technique #1: What’s That Sound?

  • Identify the sounds you hear, one at a time.
  • Start by identifying the closest or more obvious sounds. Let’s say you’re driving in your car. So the first sound you identify is the radio. Listen to it for a moment, and pay attention to nothing else. Shift your attention then to the next sound, perhaps the whoosh of the wind rushing by your window. Next, listen to the sound of the tires on the road surface. Now direct your attention to the sound of the vehicles around you.
  • Finally, see if you can hear all the sounds at once, without focusing on any one in particular.

When done, you will be completely present — and much calmer.

Anxiety Triage Technique #2: Name That Thing

  • Name everything around you, speaking its name out loud.
  • Start by identifying the closest or more obvious items. Back in the car again, you might start with the black steering wheel… the red speedometer… the blue car hood… the green pickup truck that just passed… a silver Mercedes… a white Toyota.

Continue until you have returned to a calmer state of mind.

Anxiety Triage Technique #3: Tapping

Tap several pressure points on the body until the anxiety attack subsides. (DO NOT attempt to use this technique while driving or while doing other tasks that need your full attention.)

Start by finding the sensitive spot between and just above your eyebrows. Using the middle finger of your right or left hand, tap that spot 32 times. Use even pressure.

  • Now locate the tiny indentation in the eye socket just below your right eye. Gently tap this spot 32 times.
  • Repeat with the left eye.
  • Tap 32 times behind the right earlobe.
  • Repeat with the left earlobe.
  • Next, cup your right hand so all the fingertips touch. Find the spot on your sternum in the center of your body, in the location of the heart. Press that spot using the fingertips of your right hand with firm but comfortable pressure. Adjust the position until you feel a sudden release of tension in the shoulders.

Though this technique might seem a little odd, there’s nothing magical about it. You’re simply stimulating various pressure points and, in so doing, initiating the body’s natural relaxation reflex.

Other techniques:

  • Put your hands in cold water and direct your attention to how they feel. Keep your focus on your hands until the anxiety subsides.
  • Use lavender essential oil or Aura Cacia “Panic Button” (found online or at Whole Foods). Take a warm bath. Focus on what the warm water feels like on various parts of your body as you breathe in the relaxing aroma of lavender.
  • Stand in the grass in your bare feet. Focus on what that feels like.

(**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

Recovery Tips, Part 1

Each person needs to find their blend of techniques that creates their own well stocked tool kit. And each person’s tool kit is likely to be different than someone else’s because while each person may have anxiety (for instance), not each person will respond to anxiety techniques the same way. Don’t judge someone else’s use of what works for them or become adamant that what works for you MUST work for them.

Their trauma, their brain wiring, their neuro chemistry are all different than yours. As they say in the 12 Steps ‘take what works and leave the rest.’ So build the BEST tool box for yourself. And that means experimenting. Even though you may find a technique that works the first time you use it, don’t stop there! I can promise you there will be days when it doesn’t work as well so you need a variety of items in that tool box.

Mindfulness techniques for your tool box

One technique is the rubber band technique. Wear a rubber band around your wrist and gently snap it when you need to re-center or re-focus. Put that in your tool box. Or go online and download the mindfulness bell that will ding every X seconds/minutes which will serve as a reminder for you to return to the present.

Soothe yourself in nature. Put that in your tool box. Practice with it every day, long before you need to call on it in crisis. During your lunch break, go outside. Focus all your awareness on what you can see. Move your eyes around the landscape (don’t stare or you will go into a trance). Look deeply at things. See the texture – the ants crawling, the blades of grass, bark on a tree, the cloud formations. As your attention wanders, bring it back to your outside environment, even 50 times. You are strength training your ability to hold your mind on an object. The more you do that the more you recreate new neuro pathways that have nothing to do with your obsessional thinking.

Every day, every single day–even if it’s only for 10 minutes, go outside and work visually with your environment.

We don’t heal in isolation, we heal in community.

There are a lot of symptoms that drive people into isolation: trauma, depression, anxiety, fear, shame, and PTSD with its features of isolating behaviors due to dread of the future, and distortions about their future (I won’t live to have a normal life, healthy partner, be symptom-free, etc.).

PTSD, by its symptomatic nature, isolates. Recovery mandates that we find a balance between The Gentle Life with enough quietness for the anxiety and enough human contact for the depression. That is the fine line everyone struggles to find.

If you are isolating simply to reduce the external stimulation to ward off adrenaline surges, you have not yet found the balance of the need for human contact AND managing the stimulation at the same time.

“Live the Gentle Life”

Healing from the aftermath is not a destination. It’s not even merely a goal of ‘symptom reduction.’ For those who have been significantly altered by their Pathological Love Relationships, sometimes healing is a life style change–learning to embrace Living the Gentle Life. It’s not living the gentle life until you are symptom free, it is living the gentle life because your neurology, biology, psychology and theology have all been altered because of pathology. If you have lived the gentle life and think you are done because your symptoms are reduced, try stopping the gentle life. The symptoms return.

Aftermath is like a rolling wave — it comes in and goes out and you have to deal with those fluctuations for life. If Living the Gentle Life is simply to reduce your symptoms, you will soon be back with symptoms. Why not change your life and make Living the Gentle Life a life style change instead of a symptom management only technique!

We have, on our website, a series of articles covering the different aspects of Living the Gentle Life.

Cognitive dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is the process of holding two opposing belief systems at one time. How best to describe the internal experience of trying to have a relationships with Jekyll/Hyde? At the same moment you are in a pathological relationship you must have simultaneous skill sets for two opposing ‘things’ – Jekyll and Hyde, for Wonderful and Horrible, for Loving and Loathing. To correspond to these dueling relationships, you shift back and forth between Jekyll and Hyde.

Our cognitive dissonance is simply a relational process of trying to be in relationship with two distinctly different people and to hold two opposing views of “He’s good/He’s bad” at the same time.

Today, just recognize that your cog diss as simply a NORMAL response to the pathological’s splits, to their sides, to their dichotomous parts. Anyone who comes to know the pathological must also respond to both sides thus increasing their own cog diss. Now imprint the experience of bouncing back and forth between the parts of the pathological. Know what it feels like emotionally, physically, spiritually, and verbally.

The next time you feel cog diss in yourself while with someone else, you are probably dealing with pathology. The cog diss is a learning template. Use it!

Next week we will talk about anxiety and panic attacks and some techniques that can help easily and quickly calm it down.

(**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

Living the Gentle Life—Part 7: Healing Sexually

Over the past month or so, we have been talking about healing from pathological love relationships and what is involved in this process.  It requires facing the damage that has been done and recognizing any stress disorders or PTSD that you might now have from the relationship. It then requires changing your life in order to heal – changing your physical environment and learning how to develop a lifestyle that helps you heal emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and sexually. Today, we’re going to talk about the sexual effect of pathological and dangerous relationships.

In an earlier article in this series, we talked about healing the spiritual effects of a pathological relationship.  Ironically, the sexual effects are also often spiritual effects. That’s because a lot of the spiritual effects have to do with attaching and bonding on many levels – including spiritually. In a spiritual sense, we have been designed to bond during sexual experiences – especially women.

(WARNING – THIS IS GRAPHIC!) Recent hormonal and sexual studies have indicated that orgasms achieved during sex release the same brain chemicals that are released during BONDING with your baby!

This phenomenal aspect gives great insight into WHY it is so hard to leave a relationship, even if it is dangerous.  Many of the dangerous types of men are hypersexual so there is A LOT of sex. A lot of sex equals a lot of opportunities for sexual bonding through orgasm and hormonal stimulation. Women are, by nature, NOT abandoners; they stay with those to whom they ‘attach’ or ‘bond’. So the more bonded you feel to him, the less likely you are to leave. The more sexually attached you are, which often feels like spiritually attached – “he’s my soul mate” – the more confusing and difficult it is to detach.

Additionally, many pathological men who are hypersexual bring to a relationship a lot of sexual deviancy. For the first time in your life, you may have been exposed to sexual behaviors or aspects that you had never experienced. Since the pathological is great at manipulation, guilt, and rewarding your loyalty, you may have been coerced into sexual behaviors that violated your own morality or normal sexual boundaries. Perhaps he introduced into the relationship pornography, sexual acts you were uncomfortable with, group sexual experiences, relationship rape, or other sexual violations. Additionally, most pathological men, in their hypersexuality, are NOT monogamous, so maybe you acquired an STD from him.

These deep soul wounds harm more than just your emotions. They harm you spiritually and infiltrate your sexual identity. A woman often feels so perverted in what she has experienced she may feel like she has to stay with him because no ‘normal’ or ‘healthy’ man would want her after what she has done in the sexual relationship with him.

In some relationships, true sexual addiction may have occurred. You may feel as if you are addicted to him, the sex with him, or sex with anyone. What you have experienced IS sexual abuse in the relationship. However, pathological men have an uncanny way of making you feel like a willing participant, or that it’s YOUR deviancy he is responding to sexually. Remember – they twist and pervert every aspect of the truth!

The sexual side effects of the relationship can contribute to your overall stress disorder or PTSD. It is an aspect that should be treated in order to reclaim your sexual identity.  Untreated, your skewed sexual identity can cause you to continue to sexually act out, to cooperate in his sexual deviancy, or to use drugs or alcohol to numb your painful feelings.

It can also cause increased PTSD symptoms, anxiety and depression, or leave you despondent to stay in pathological relationships out of a sense of feeling dirty or unworthy of healthier relationships.

You can also be impacted spiritually – driving you away from the solace and help you find in your own connection to God.

From this standpoint, the ONLY way to live a gentle life is to heal your sexual side and to see the damage done to your sexuality as part of the overall picture of the after-effects of a dangerous and pathological relationship.

If you are in counseling, please talk to your counselor about the sexual effects of your relationship.

(**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

Living the Gentle Life—Part 6: Healing Your Own Worldview

Over the past month or more, I have been talking about healing from a dangerous and/or pathological love 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 Part 5, we discussed the negative ‘worldview’ effects resulting from pathological exposure. The negative worldview impacts how you now see your post-pathological relationship world. This includes how you NOW see yourself, others, the world, your future, and God.

One of the seriously undertreated effects of pathological love relationship exposure is the healing of the personal worldview. 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 worldview is critical to a healthy future.

Another often untreated effect of pathological relationship exposure is the ‘unconscious adopting of the pathological’s worldview.’ Not only was your worldview altered from the damage done to you IN the relationship, but your worldview was also altered from the damage done to you THROUGH 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 your views have been tainted with the pathological’s viewpoint. This can include normalizing abnormal behaviors or dissociating pieces of reality AWAY from you. 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 worldview 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 partial truths so you don’t have to really see his real self – your worldview has been penetrated. When you become numb and lethargic to the things he has done, your worldview has been violated.

This is just one more aspect of your wounded worldview that needs healing if you are going to recover. A wounded worldview 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 feeling irritated, rubbed raw, and chapped. Your interior does not feel ‘gentle’ – it feels rough.

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 worldview – it’s a critical part of your recovery. Because having been warped by a pathological, ‘HOW you see determines WHAT you see.’

(**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