Fantasy and Its Effect on Your Reality

In a previous article, “Denial and Its Power,” we talked about the power of denial, which is a defense mechanism. Here, we look at one of the most commonly used defense mechanisms that are employed by women who actually enhance their own emotional suffering. You’ve suffered enough from the Pathological Love Relationship, and the last thing you need is for your own psychology to work against you. Today we’re going to talk about fantasy and how that, too, can play with your mind and cause emotional suffering. Eckhart Tolle said, “Emotional suffering is created in the moment we don’t accept what is.”

Women who are in relationships with pathologicals have a very strong trait of fantasy. Fantasy is not just merely wishful thinking. Fantasy has other components in it that affect your here-and-now life. Fantasy is often associated with the future and, in some ways, the past.

A woman will often stay in a Pathological Love Relationship because she feels panic or fear of abandonment when she or the pathological tries to end the relationship. She ends up re-contacting, or allowing him to re-contact her, because of these feelings of fear, panic and abandonment.

Abandonment is an early childhood feeling. As adults, we don’t technically feel ‘abandoned’, nor are we really capable of being abandoned (unless you are, for instance, medically dependent). The reason we aren’t capable of being abandoned as adults is that, as mentally healthy adults, we really can’t be abandoned in the ‘childhood sense’. That feeling is an early-childhood feeling usually associated with a time of adult or parental abandonment. It is an age-regression feeling—something that pulls you back to your childhood or to a very young emotional state.

The feeling of ending an opposite-sex relationship often subconsciously sets off childhood feelings of abandonment. These are past associations and they tap into the fantasy that the abandonment is happening all over again when it really isn’t. The childhood abandonment by a previous male in your life is not the same thing as a pathological leaving your adult life.

But internally, that childhood feeling is so strong that it feels like a ‘hole in the soul’. The fantasy of THIS being the same as THAT takes hold and your panic makes you go back or allows him back in.

Fantasy is also future-oriented. Fairytales are fantasy and are based on “Once upon a time…” and “…happily ever after,” which is all the good stuff that might happen in the future. Nothing evokes stronger fantasy thinking than the holidays, which bring up either good memories of holidays past or the total fantasy that THIS year will be the “Once Upon a Time” holiday.

Women stay in relationships with pathologicals based on a lot of ‘fantasy future betting’ —that is, “he might stop acting pathological”, “he might marry me”, “he might stop cheating”, “he might tell the truth”. Fantasy betting is a lot like gambling… betting on a future that is not likely to happen with a pathological.

Why? Because pathology is the inability to change and sustain change and grow in any meaningful way, and the inability to for him to see how his behavior negatively affects others.

But women also stay in Pathological Love Relationships based on ‘projected fantasies’. They fantasize that he will be happy with the NEXT woman and SHE will get all his good traits and none of his bad. This too is fantasy… that his pathology somehow will not affect HER the way it affects you. (Pathology can’t be turned on and off like a light switch!)

Here are the facts:

Pathology affects EVERYONE the SAME!! (Unless the woman is pathological as well— then who cares if he goes on to have a relationship worthy of a Jerry Springer Show?)

  • Women fantasize that this ‘abandonment’ feeling will affect them the way the childhood abandonment did. But, FYI: it will not!
  • Women fantasize that he will be different with them. But if he is truly pathological he is hardwired; this IS his DNA.
  • Women fantasize that he will be happy in the future and they are missing out on something. But if he is truly pathological, his patterns don’t change.

Fantasy is not the here and now. It’s not being present in the real life that is happening around you in this moment. It’s ‘out there, somewhere’ kind of thinking. Come back to what’s real right now. List the 5 most real points about him here:

 

1.

 

2.

 

3.

 

4.

 

5.

 

Now stand back, step out of the childhood feelings, and look at the list with adult eyes. You can’t be abandoned as an adult, because wherever you go, there you are, and you are all you need as an adult. You don’t have dependency needs as an adult like you did as a child. To be abandoned is to be dependent on the one who is abandoning. Adults are not dependent.

Your real life is going on right NOW while you are in your head about his drama and the pathological intrigue. You are MISSING your real life that is happening right now! Drama, obsession and intrusive thoughts are usually about fantasy—the past or the present. They sure aren’t about this present moment and what’s happening right now. You might be ignoring your own health, your own self-care and happiness, and maybe that of your children and friends because of how much time you spend in fantasy. Fantasy is telling you “just a little longer and he’ll get it, and then I’ll have the life I really want.”

Your life is right now—not back there and not up there in the future.

 

(**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 Without Justice

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

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

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

The judicial system acts as the conscience of this country. Victims seek solace in the courtroom and chambers hoping that justice will alleviate the pain, horror, and stigmatization of being a victim of the monster. But we know that in many cases and, I dare say, in most cases, that’s not what happens. Restraining orders are not granted, arrests are not made for stalking or violence, children are given over to the pathological who is an overtly violent, sick, drug-addicted, or an otherwise inept parent. When the pathological doesn’t pay child support, nothing is done and the child is still sent to him. The thousands of dollars he conned out of you or stole from you is never returned. When alimony isn’t paid, he gets away with it. Repeated visits to the courts do nothing to convince them or to open their eyes to the true nature of his behaviors. Anything that is court-ordered he defies and laughs at. You stand, mouth gaping, and wonder, “Where is the justice? HOW does he get away with this?”

I have repeatedly said that the universe is strangely tilted to the benefit of the pathological. If ANYONE will get away with a con or a criminal act, it will be the pathological. The universal scales of justice are tilted in their favor and, ironically, somehow influence the judicial scales of justice. In the 25+ years of doing this work, I have seen them literally get away with murder, rape, embezzlement, breaking and entering, stalking, domestic violence, child abuse, and more. This ranks as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’—how pathological people can con their way out of the most vicious deeds and often never pay in any way for their behavior.

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

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

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

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

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

The unfair situation is what you have lived through and the aftermath of the effects of the Pathological Love Relationship. In the face of this grossly dehumanizing experience is the indomitable ability to recover that can guide you, not only to survive, but also to thrive in the face of great pain. I have every confidence you can heal, even without justice.

 

(**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’s 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

Telling Yourself the Truth—You Don’t Have to Tell Me—But at Least Tell it to Yourself…

“People, like all forms of life, only change when something so disturbs them that they are forced to let go of their present beliefs. Nothing changes until we interpret things differently. Change occurs only when we let go of our certainty.” ~Dee Hock

 

Rigorous honesty is the first rule of recovery. Nothing happens until the truth is laid on the table. Well, that ends a lot of recoveries right there—the inability, or even refusal, to be honest, especially with yourself.

 

Telling yourself the truth means several difficult things:

 

1. It means you stop covering for him—stop making excuses for his behavior, quietly and secretly looking for loopholes he just might fit into (“he doesn’t met ALL the criteria for pathology, only 10 out of 12. Psychology could be wrong in his case”).

Instead of looking with the eyes of safety and seeing how many ways he DOES fit in, you scour every square inch of your memory and his behavior looking for ONE redeeming trait that is supposed to wipe out the 25 absolutely pathological things he does. You aren’t telling yourself the truth about him and his pathology or your own loophole hunt and what your real motives are—to find a reason to stay.

 

2. It means telling yourself the truth about how you need to take responsibility for your choices and your recovery.

Telling yourself the truth about your own choices means you are willing to really dig in and look at where your choices in relationships have their origins. You can’t change what you don’t see. While you are not responsible for the abuse you incurred, you are responsible for your own recovery and the safety of you (and your children). This can only occur when you begin telling yourself the truth about the level of danger you are in and the level of damage you (and your children) have already sustained. Taking responsibility for your recovery means that you both acknowledge the victimization AND seek to thrive beyond the mere title of ‘victim.’ We see so many women do part one: acknowledge the victimhood, but then don’t do part two. They camp out in the victimhood and, 10 years later, they are still in the same spot as they were before.

 

Recovery means movement and progress. We have to tell ourselves the truth

about our own recovery—we have to kick our own butts if we stagnate or stop growing. Some women find their identities in their victimization because of the severe abuse and loss of self-esteem. Years later, some women have never done anything for their own recovery. They read one book, saw themselves in it, recognized their victimhood, closed the book, squatted—and stayed there. You already lived THAT—real life is out there on the other side of recovery (even IN recovery). Tell yourself the truth about how invested you are in your recovery or what you need to really do in order to recover. If you’re afraid of  success—acknowledge that.

 

3. It means taking responsibility for relapses.

Sometimes women secretly want to relapse. Have you had that feeling? They just want to go back to what feels normal—which is often dysfunction. It is human nature to want what is comfortable even when it’s painful. That makes recovery all the more difficult because when you are tired, lonely, and sick of the pain you are in, it would be great to believe the fantasy again—wouldn’t it? Just ONE night where he pretends it’s gonna be good again (and even though you know it’s not true, and for that night you don’t really even care if he’s lying), and both of you know how to fake it to ward off the pain and loneliness. So there’s that night of passion that has been fueled by fear and abandonment, but the next day when everyone is past the fantasy, it all starts again. Then you think: since you gave in, and you really don’t have what it takes to end this and leave anyway—you sigh and resign yourself to just living in hell.

 

Telling yourself the truth is pointing to the ways you sabotage yourself. When you are tired, lonely and sick of pain and you feel the old feelings of relapse sneaking in and your head is wanting the fantasy back—you don’t pick up the phone and call someone who can remind you what reality is. You don’t plan something for that evening that will help you get through that night without sabotaging yourself. The video is replaying all the fragments that only show the ‘good parts’ of the relationship. It’s warm and cozy. You pick up the phone and call him, or you answer when he calls. Telling yourself the truth is about how long you had planned to self-sabotage.

 

Those are 3 REALLY HARD THINGS to hear. But they are at the crux of recovery. Trauma, fear, and abandonment actually INCREASE people’s feeling of attachment. The more you have been hurt by him, the more intensely attached you will be. Those trauma bonds are hard to break and even harder to live with. Women say they want MOST to be out of pain, flashbacks, and intrusive thoughts about the relationship (good and bad) but they sabotage themselves—by not protecting themselves with a No Contact strategy, by not managing their anxiety, by not developing a support system, by not planning ahead for sabotaging thoughts, etc.

 

Recovery is a life change. It’s not a quick fix to get out of pain like Ativan or Xanax. Women who take a whopping 6 weeks or a few months off from dating and jump right back in are shocked to find themselves back in the same thing again—but it’s usually with someone even WORSE than the last one. The most common factor is each man is more dangerous than the one before. That’s because women think time heals wounds and if it’s been a few months, SURELY it’s time to date again. Recovery heals wounds. Sitting out for 5 years and doing nothing about gathering insight about your weaknesses, relationship patterns, and problems will not magically make you ready for a relationship because you waited 5 years.

 

Time is time. It just passes. You have to change your life in order to change your choices. Recovery, or changing your life, is a new way of seeing yourself, your previous relationships, your past, your choices, your coping skills and—most importantly—a future filled with different choices and healthier relationships.

 

I KNOW you ladies are up to the challenge. In the 25+ years that I have been doing this and kicking butts (referred to as Sandra’s Bootcamp!), I am always AMAZED at the quiet strength that grows in women as they take the chance to detach, be alone, and heal. It’s your strength that has kept me doing this for so many years in the face of great odds (and often danger) to myself. But ALL of you are worth it!

 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (and for The Institute, Pathology Awareness Month!), so I am starting the kickoff with this article on “Telling Yourself The Truth.” If we can help you dig down into the truth for you and help you start your recovery, just let us know! We make it easy—phone sessions in the privacy of your own home and in the comfort of your fuzzy slippers! Or gather over coffee in one of our support group and meet other ladies going through it too. Or jump on a plane or get in your car and go to the beautiful Carolinas, and begin your healing journey directly with Sandra. Whatever you do… tell yourself the truth so your recovery can start!

 

(**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

 

Deciding to Not Stay Where You Are

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

 

I just loved this quote when I read it. It reminds me of what we have been talking about now for quite some time and especially the “Living the Gentle Life” series of articles.

 

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

 

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

 

Over the 25+ years of working with pathology and its victims, I have heard every kind of story about pathological relationships. Anything from the most deviant kind of mind control to attempted murder to actual murder. I’ve heard of financial hostage taking, rape, assaults, stalking, women put into comas, people alienated from their children, people being medically harmed, reputations and careers ruined, and people locked in their homes or psyches for decades. I’ve heard it all. The emails start with, “But, I can’t”—and then they give the reason for their inability to leave.

 

But there is movement happening in them that they might not see. They have read articles on our website, our newsletters, or are emailing us so obviously something inside is shifting. Somewhere, they are deciding they are not going to stay where they are! Even mentally they are moving and changing. Their “yes, but” might be a reason to them, but they are already deciding to not stay where they are.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

(**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

Helping Women Find Effective Strategies for Court

By Sandra L. Brown, MA

Leaving a pathological is never easy—they aren’t wired to allow for easy separation and disengagement.  What they value most is drama, trauma, and the perpetuation of misery at any cost.  High on their entertainment list is any legal activity—especially divorces, separations, and custody battles. Pathologicals get bored easily and have a high need for entertainment. They are high-excitement seekers and have low impulse control.  This all equals great legal combativeness coupled with great enjoyment of the process.

Pathologicals are highly litigious, meaning they LOVE to sue and go to court.  They are entertained by the drama of the court scene and love anything associated with being the victim in a legal process. Therefore, they are different than normal people in that they will keep this process going as long as necessary. They will even spend more money than they will ever recover JUST to be in court, JUST to be heard, and JUST so you won’t win.

There is no rationale when it comes to why they find court so enthralling. It’s almost like “legal malingering.” Malingering is a psychological disorder that means a person remains symptomatic because they get something out of it that we refer to as a “secondary gain.”  So it is true with the pathological in court—67 times to court for one case is not unheard of.

But the bottom line for you is that court is often traumatizing. Facing him can bring on flashbacks, panic attacks, nightmares and anxiety. The faces he makes, his posturing and his stares can often leave you highly ineffective on the witness stand. Or you are unable to think in the courtroom in order to give your attorney correct input.

Some women are followed by the pathological after court. He may stalk her in his car or call her cell phone, belittling her about the court proceedings. Taunting her before the court date can bring a woman’s functioning level to an all-time low. She may miss work and, as a result, lose pay. She may have to pay and repay court fees as he switches dates around just to make a show of power.

Women who already have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), other chronic stress conditions, or autoimmune disorders like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or lupus, can end up bed-bound from the stress of the court drama and him. Since pathologicals love your debilitation, they are likely to stretch out the process by asking for more depositions, postponing court dates, adding more needed appearances, or even refusing a settled offer that is everything they asked for—anything to create more stress and havoc for you. Women will often do ANYTHING to avoid this kind of exposure to further abuse.

Since the pathological is rarely acknowledged for what he is, the court is not likely to identify his manipulative behaviors and so his requests are granted. You are tormented with more and more unproductive court appearances as he acts like the perpetual victim.

A woman can get PTSD-like symptoms just from how she’s treated in court or in depositions. The criminal court is known for favoring criminals, so anyone who is not criminal often finds the process abusive and traumatizing. A woman will often give away her rights, property, and money just to avoid him and court all together. She and her children are then exposed to poverty, marginal employment and a reduced quality of life ALL because she wants to avoid being traumatized by him and an unbalanced court system.

I have said for many years that the universe is strangely tilted to the benefit of the pathological. They get away with more dirty deeds, especially in court, than any normal person would ever get away with. For this reason, women come to know that their chances in court with a pathological, who is so dramatic, convincing, and unnerved by the process, is nil.

Women have had very ineffective means for balancing the scales of Her-vs-The Psychopath in family court. That’s because few women know about one VERY effective strategy that helps her regain her court composure—using a PTSD diagnosis to receive special accommodations during court proceedings.

As we have constantly mentioned, many of the women who come through our program have PTSD that was acquired during the pathological relationship or was made worse by the relationship. PTSD is a trauma disorder—meaning you were traumatized in some way, which is how you acquired it.

PTSD symptoms can last for short or long periods of time and are almost always increased by stress—such as stress by being in court or stress created by his behavior while in court. These types of recurring symptoms can negatively impact your effectiveness in court and can require special accommodations so you are able to function during court. Some of these special accommodations include:

  • Having the woman speak over a speaker phone in another room so she doesn’t have to face him.
  • Not having him in the courtroom.
  • Having him detained so she can leave early from the courtroom.
  • Calling in to the courtroom from home to avoid having to attend the hearing in person.
  • If she has to attend—having a disability advocate present with her.
  • Having him not be allowed to speak directly to her when walking past him from the courtroom.

 

All of these special accommodations can greatly ease the stress normally associated with court, but are not granted unless a special ADA (American with Disabilities Act http://www.ada.gov/pubs/ada.htm) accommodation is granted.

Accommodations can also be made for:

  • Emotional triggering caused by discussing the situation
  • Memory recall problems
  • Concentration problems
  • Flexibility with deadlines because of amnesic symptoms or recurring trauma when having to testify in front of him
  • Emergency hearing to enforce court orders
  • Rehabilitative alimony for treatment of PTSD for you or your children

PTSD is the disorder most associated with pathological love relationships. A diagnosis of this can help women acquire accommodations that are associated with the ADA accommodations offered. You simply have to have a diagnosis that requires special accommodations in order for you to function. (In our article, “PTSD as Trauma Disorder—NOT Psychiatric Illness,” we discussed the differences between mental illnesses and emotional, trauma-based disorders such as PTSD.)

http://legalabusesyndrome.com/ provides information about writing your PTSD Accommodations Request Report for the court. This is a HUGE breakthrough for women because once you have received ADA accommodations, the judges and attorneys MUST adhere to protocols developed for ADA which are federally based and help accommodate your needs in order to function in court. Protocols not followed are prosecutable, making the courts highly attentive to meeting federal protocols. This could also apply to your children if they have PTSD, and could hopefully impact how they are to be treated in court and how their needs must be met.

Before we get a FLOOD of letters and emails about this, here is what you need to know:

  • You must legitimately have PTSD. If you have already been diagnosed with PTSD, you have already jumped one hurdle.
  • If you need to be diagnosed, you must be evaluated by a licensed professional such as a mental health professional or a psychiatrist.
  • Once you are diagnosed, you will need to draft your PTSD Accommodations Report. This is a time-consuming and lengthy report of approximately 10-15 pages. It is a highly specialized report. It is unlikely that your doctor or health care professional will construct something of this nature as it addresses specific areas to meet the criteria for ADA. (There are ADA Advocates, professionals, who can help with this but, of course, they charge for this report; however, we believe that what the report renders to you is highly worth the investment.)
  • This is NOT the same thing as being declared “disabled,” and has nothing to do with physical or mental disability or acquiring disability payments.
  • PTSD, if diagnosed, does become part of one’s medical and/or psychological record.

We believe that these Accommodations Reports are the beginning of leveling the playing field when it comes to being in court with pathologicals. We also believe that children who are diagnosed with PTSD and who have acquired it from living with the pathological may have a far more arguable case about custody when courts try to mandate visitation with the very one who caused PTSD.

(**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

 

 

 

Fantasy Re­runs or ‘Obsession Interruptus’

Everyone knows what ‘coitus interruptus’ is–but what you really need to know is what ‘emotional obsession interruptus’ is!

In the past, I have talked about the inherent traps, pitfalls, and perils of how people get roped back in to the pathological relationships during ‘weak moments’ of family or relationship fantasizing about normal relationships. There are no Normal Rockwells, oh, I meant ‘Norman’ Rockwells with narcissists and psychopaths. As much as you want to paint the picture of a happy family, that’s not what you got.

What you do have is a pathological dynamic. Discussion about family fantasizing stirs up many people who want to remain in the fantasy. Loneliness is subjective. You’re with them but you are STILL lonely because pathology doesn’t pay attention to anything other than itself.

One of my brilliant proteges, Carol, has SOOOO understood the issue about pathology, personality disorders and the lies you tend to tell yourself —wrote me this brilliant analogy of people who don’t want to ‘get it.’ She is speaking for the people who get offended when you discuss ending the relationship or when the newsletter hits them hard on some aspect of their denial. (read this with some sarcasm….)

“I am offended that someone shed the light on psychopathy in the newsletter. I am offended that I might be set free from my psychopath. I am happy and joyous to be in the secret and dark world of my psychopath. I am happy to unsubscribe from the very thing that might set me free from my soul destroying psychopath. I am happy to continue on the path through hell with my charming psychopath. I enjoy my time more when I spend it with a pathological.”

This ‘emotional obsession interruptus’ as I like to call it, is a re­framing technique that works incredibly well when said out loud. Repeat Carol’s often…but say it OUT LOUD and not merely just read silently.

Fantasizing normal family life is nothing new. The truth is, people want healthy families. They want what they see others have– enjoyable and meaningful relationships. Then they try to reproduce that with their own families who may not have the same capacity for normality.

Pathological people have challenges that interrupt their ability to sustain the consistent positive change you want them to make. ‘Wanting’ to have JUST ONE occasion in which everyone gets along, there is no fighting, no one gets drunk or hits someone, or no one overtly insults others doesn’t mean that the pathologicals in your life have the ABILITY to give that to you.

Repetition compulsion is often re­enacted within relationships. This is repeating the same event over and over trying to get a different and satisfying outcome. This is, sadly, what we often see in Adult Children of Pathological Parents. At 43, they are STILL trying to have that ONE Christmas with a narcissistic mother or a borderline father so that a healing can take place in them. Each year they start with the same hope that this year the parent, sibling or partner will do something kind and sweet or will ‘behave.’ They desperately feel like they need one restorative experience to heal their dysfunctional family memories.

Repetition compulsion can leave adults trapped in this never ending desire for just one good experience, but, now they have pulled their own children into the same cycle creating an inter­generational experience of exposure to pathology. (Ever see the movie ‘Stuart Saves His Family?’)

While it is painful to face the reality that pathology is related to the inability to change, grow, or have insight about their own behavior, it is less painful than putting yourself and your children through another cycle of hope and despair. Pathological parents, siblings, or partners can challenge you in ways that are kinder to yourself to just avoid.

 

(**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

 

Stress and Adrenal Fatigue

In many other newsletters, I have written extensively about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and recovery. Much of learning to heal from, or live with, PTSD has to do with learning to live a gentle life that is less stressful. You can read about PTSD and the “Living the Gentle Life” series of articles in past newsletters and on our website.

However, PTSD as a stress disorder is an indicator of extreme stress. If you have it, that means you have suffered an emotional, physical, spiritual, sexual, and/or psychological trauma that was severe enough, or long enough in duration, to significantly impact your health.

Having a stress disorder means two things:

  1. You were significantly stressed or traumatized.
  2. The stress and/or trauma has affected your functioning level.

PTSD can be short-term and resolved with treatment within a few months, or it can be chronic and life-long, often reactivated by MORE stress or MORE traumatic events. In my case, I have chronic PTSD that is reactivated when I am worn down, too stressed, not living a gentle life, or when other challenging life events reactivate it. A few years ago I lost my mother, my foster son, my mother in-law and my sister, all in a very short timeframe. Losses that are coupled close together can have a similar effect.

With PTSD, whether it’s short- or long-term, you are likely to have a reduced level of productivity. You can have impaired concentration or sleep disruptions, become hyper-vigilant and have an exaggerated startle reflex. You can have anxiety mixed with depression, intrusive thoughts, emotional numbing, flashbacks and panic.

None of this lends itself to being able to work well in a consistent or productive way.  Even if you are unemployed, the quality of your daily life is disrupted and your life productivity in your day-to-day living is reduced. This is why people often need treatment for PTSD, which could be short- or long-term treatment in the form of weekly counseling, group counseling, inpatient treatment, or any combination of these.

PTSD as a stress disorder has its long-term outcomes in medical conditions as do many other stress disorders. Unresolved stress and trauma (whether it’s PTSD or everyday stress) can, and most often does, manifest into medical conditions. Part of seeking rehabilitative alimony in court with a PTSD diagnosis is because of the loss of productivity and because of the long-term effects on your health. Now more than twenty-five years after the murder of my father, I am continuing to see the medical outcome of chronic PTSD in my health.

Often in court, women are unaware they can have their attorneys argue for rehabilitation alimony or medical coverage for treatment FOR THE FUTURE. So many don’t realize how their health could be impacted now and for years to come. Stress and PTSD have many long-term medical possibilities, including:

Autoimmune disorders:  fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, Epstein-Barr, lupus, multiple sclerosis

  • Various forms of arthritis
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Migraines and TMJ
  • Female reproductive problems
  • Ongoing anxiety and depression
  • Thyroid and adrenal fatigue
  • Sleep disorders
  • Diabetes
  • And, most commonly, a combination of these

Settling your divorce or court case with the pathological and NOT considering the future medical outcome of the stress he produced in YOUR BODY is unwise. We do know that many of these stress disorders and/or PTSD will continue on long after he is gone and in the end, affect your health in some way because, at the heart of the medical conditions that develop, is adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue is the culprit most likely associated with medical disorders that go on to develop. Treating and managing adrenal fatigue could actually prevent many of the disorders that will later develop because of untreated and unmanaged fatigue of the adrenals. Here is a link on the topic and the book from which we took the adrenal fatigue quiz: www.adrenalfatigue.org/

Chronic stress wears out the adrenal glands that support other healthy functioning in your body. When stress, poor diet, lack of sleep and unresolved problems wear out the adrenal glands, your body is in a downward spiral and cannot heal from stress or PTSD. To find out if you have adrenal fatigue, here take the quiz at www.adrenalfatigue.org/take-the-adrenal-fatigue-quiz.

If you do have adrenal fatigue, this is a stepping-stone to other medical conditions if not treated immediately. More importantly, your body has started down that path. If you are in a court case, please advise your attorney of this disorder as you may be able to argue for your need for continued medical coverage and care regarding stress disorders.

(**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

Am I Under His Spell? Part 3

In our last two articles, I have been talking about trance states, dissociation, hypnotic suggestion, mind control… all ways the pathological controls your mind, thoughts, feelings and, ultimately, your behavior.

This is not hocus-pocus stuff. Trance states, dissociation and hypnosis are all normal ways our bodies and minds respond to certain conditions. The only argument is if these pathologicals KNOW they are doing it to others! My answer would be YES—they are MASTERS at noticing what works on other people. So, to that degree, they tweak what works.

Additionally, many of you may be aware of the seminars, books, websites and TV shows about seduction and the techniques that are taught men about coming in under the radar to seduce women through hypnotic methods. My guess is that the pathologicals are teaching their findings to others…passing on the horrid knowledge of their own disorders and how to covertly and subconsciously attract women into sexual relationships. Appalling? You bet! Just one more big WAKE-UP CALL to women—pay attention and guard your minds.

Trance, mind control and hypnotic suggestion also are based on one’s own level of suggestibility. This is related to how responsive you are to the suggestions and opinions of others. The more responsive you are, the more suggestible and more easily you are mind-controlled or hypnotizable.

A women’s suggestibility is often influenced by her own biology. Women who are highly cooperative and value how others perceive them are likely to be more suggestible. Also, women’s fatigability highly influences her suggestibility.

Almost all women report high levels of emotional, physical, sexual, financial, and spiritual fatigue within Pathological Love Relationships. They take a toll on them—wearing them down until their emotional reserves, that would normally not give in, are repressed. At that time when a woman’s fatigue level is high, her suggestibility is also high. Tired and spaced out, it’s easy to be controlled by him. Messages told to her during tired and spaced-out times are recorded deeply and often subconsciously. “Can’t get him out of my head” is very real.

The women who participated in our research survey on “women who love psychopaths” showed us just how susceptible women can be to suggestibility, fatigability, and the resulting mind control. Almost all of the women experienced some form of trance, hypnosis, or mind control of “spellbound” symptoms.

Women must understand that “staying in the relationship to figure it out” or “see what happens” or “wait until he works on himself and gets better” is absolutely risky for you. Your ability to be covertly controlled by him is significantly higher than with other females in his 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

Am I Under His Spell? Part 2

In last week’s article, we started talking about the very REAL issue of trance in a relationship with pathologicals. Women have described this as feeling “under his spell,” “spellbound,” “mesmerized,” “hypnotized,” “spaced out,” “not in control of my own thoughts…” All of these are ways of saying that various levels of covert and subtle mind control have been happening with the pathological. And why wouldn’t it be happening? These are power-hungry people who live to exert their dominance over others. That includes your body, mind or spirit. Mind-control techniques, either physical or mental, are used on prisoners of war, in cults, and in hostage-taking. They obviously work or there wouldn’t be ‘techniques’ and bad people wouldn’t use them.

Mind control, brainwashing, coercion… are all words for the same principles that are used to produce the results of reducing your own effectiveness and being emotionally overtaken by someone intent on doing so. The result is the victim’s intense attachment to her perpetrator. This is often referred to as Betrayal Bonding or Trauma Bonding.  This is created by:

  • Perceived threat to one’s physical or psychological survival and the belief that the captor/perpetrator would carry out the threat.
  • Perceived small kindness from the captor/perpetrator to the captive.
  • Perceived inability to escape.
  • Isolation from perspectives other than those of the captor/perpetrator.

Mind control then produces dissociation which is a form of trance state. Dissociation is when your mind becomes overloaded and you need to ‘step outside of yourself’ to relieve the stress. Dissociation and trance are common reactions to trauma. For instance, dissociation happens during abuse in childhood as well as during adult traumas like rape. Prolonged mind control in adults will even produce trance states where adults begin to feel like they are being controlled—and they are!

If you have experienced mind control in your relationships, treatment and recovery for it includes:

  • Breaking the isolation—Helping you identify sources of supportive intervention, self-help groups or group therapy, hotlines, crisis centers, shelters and friends.
  • Identifying violence—As a victim in an abusive relationship, minimization of the abuse can occur, or denial about the different types of violent behavior that you encounter. Confusion about what is acceptable male (parental/authority) behavior is often common. Journal-keeping, autobiographical writing, reading of first-hand accounts or seeing films that deal with abuse may be helpful for you to understand the types of abuse you experienced.
  • Renaming perceived kindness—Since abuse confuses the boundaries between kindness and manipulation, you may need to develop alternative sources of nurturance and caring other than the captor/perpetrator.
  • Your ability to validate both love and terror—Because pathologicals often are dichotomous or have polar-opposite behaviors such as kind and sadistic, there is often a split by the victim in how they see the abuser. Treatment may be needed to help you integrate both dissociated sides of the abuser and will assist you in moving through the dreamlike state in how you view and remember him.

In next week’s article, we’ll continue our discussion on other forms of trance states and spellbound conditions.

 

(**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

 

 

 

 

 

Am I Under His Spell? Part 1

Time and again women allude to the mystical aspects of the pathological with whom they are involved. They describe them as “being under his spell,” “entranced with him” or “hypnotized by him,” even “spellbound” or “mind-controlled”.

Women aren’t exactly able to define what they are experiencing or even to accurately describe what they think is occurring, but they do unanimously conclude that something is happening that feels like it’s hypnotic. Beyond the ‘hocus-pocus’ of hypnosis lies real truth about what IS probably happening in those relationships.

Trance happens to every person every day. It is a natural lull in the body when many of its systems are resting, or a state we enter when tired. Blood sugar levels, metabolism and other natural body functions can affect the sleepy states of trance that we enter all day long.

You’ve probably heard of ‘highway hypnosis’. This occurs when you have been driving and are so concentrated on the driving or, when you are getting sleepy while driving and watching those yellow lines, that you forget about the last few miles, and—all of a sudden—you’re aware that you’re almost at your destination. Highway hypnosis is a trance or light form of self-hypnosis. No one put you in that state of hypnosis—you went into it on your own. Check in with most people around 2 p.m. and you’ll see lots of people in sleepy trances.

But pathology can cause people to enter trance states frequently. Pathological Love Relationships are exhausting and take their toll on your body through stress, diet, loss of sleep, and worry. While you are worn down and fatigued, you are more suggestible to the kinds of things that are said to you while you are in that state of mind during which these words, feelings and concepts sink in at a deeper level than other ideas and statements said to you when you are NOT in a trance state.

If he is telling you that you are crazy, or gaslighting you by telling you that you really didn’t see him do what you think he did, or that the problems of the relationship are because of you… those statements said to you when you are suggestible stay filed in your subconscious and are replayed over and over again, creating intrusive thoughts and obsessive thinking.

If he tells you positives when you are in trance states, such as “I need you” and “please don’t ever leave me”, those phrases, too, are stored in a subconscious location, working you over without your knowledge. When it’s time to redirect your beliefs about him, disengage, or break up, women feel like ‘old tapes’ are running in their heads. It’s very hard for them to get these messages to stop activating their thinking, feeling, and behavior.

Women who have strong personality traits in suggestibility and fatigability are more at risk of trance-like states in which words, meanings, and symbols are more concretely stored in the subconscious. Women feel relieved to find out that they really aren’t crazy—it really DOES feel like you are under his spell, because, in many ways, you are.

More information on trance states in Pathological Love Relationships is covered in detail in my book, Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside the Relationships of Inevitable Harm with Psychopaths, Sociopaths & Narcissists.

In our next newsletter, we’ll talk about other ways that trance states can be affected in the Pathological Love 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

Determination in the Life of the Survivor

I’ve seen the look many times—hundreds of times over the past 25+ years, working with (mostly) women who are surviving a Pathological Love Relationship. There is a ‘look.’ Initially it’s a timid look—before she grasps that she really CAN survive and thrive. The look then begins to change, morphing into real belief and real power.

Ironically, I scaw the look this past week in an unlikely, but stunning face. I saw her gentleness—as did the pathological that was in her life. Your Super Traits of empathy, tolerance, caring and compassion are what make you the wonderful woman you are. These are also target traits for pathological individuals. You can just see the gentleness in the face.

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Then I saw her powerlessness.

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It’s that look—like you don’t know if you will ever get out, ever survive, ever find your power again. It feels as if you are being held against your will—when you remember once that you were so different—so self-assured, confident, and capable.

Many people have seen the face of unbelievable stress and worry—when you no longer trust your own judgment, ping-pong back and forth between loving and loathing him. When you can’t concentrate, focus, sleep, or even want to get up each day.

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But, the greatest thing about doing this work is when women really ‘get it’ about pathology. When they understand that what’s wrong with him has nothing to do with her, and what she did or didn’t do. When she gets that ‘wild-eyed look’ that says her reality has shifted, and she realizes that what has happened to her is simply that she’s been knee-deep in pathology, and she is powerful enough to walk away.

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I love that part—the paradigm shift—when a woman turns the corner in understanding, and her whole future opens up like a flower blooming!

Over the years, I have watched hundreds of women storm off into their futures having recaptured their lives, their dignity, their self-belief, and their ability to function well. It’s a beautiful and strong presence when you get to witness that happen.

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Why all of the horse photos? This is Rachel Alexandra—I love her expressive face. She is a reminder to me of all the women I have worked with. She was the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness. It awed me to see her many faces of gentleness, powerlessness, worry, thriving, and power. It reminded me that even though so much is often against you in your race to recovery from pathology, that you too—like Rachel Alexandra—can defy the odds even when they have been stacked against you that way for years! There really is something to be said for the power of belief, destiny, and desire. I believe in you!

(**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

 

 

 

 

Grieving the Pathological Loss, Part 2: The Personal Side

In last week’s article, we began talking about the grief process as it pertains to ending the relationship with your dangerous (and often, pathological) person. Even though the relationship was damaging, and maybe you even initiated the breakup, you cannot sidestep the necessary grieving. Women are shocked to find themselves grieving at all, given how abusive, damaging, or horrible the relationship was. They tell themselves they should be grateful to be out and this negates their own feelings of loss. The end of a relationship always constitutes a loss, whether he died or whether the relationship merely ended—the heart recognizes it as the same—a loss.

I also mentioned in the last article that grief is natural. It’s an organic way the body and mind tries to rid themselves of the pain. That’s why it’s so necessary, because if you did not grieve, you would have no way to eventually be out of pain. Grief is the way a person moves through the loss and to the other side of health and healing.

Without grief there wouldn’t even be a POTENTIAL for healing because grief must occur in order for healing to follow. To stuff your grief or try to avoid it is to sabotage your own ability to heal. So for every person trying to work through the ending of a relationship, grief is the healthiest response.

Some of the losses associated with the end of the relationship were discussed in the previous article. The ‘personal side’ of grief—the other aspects that were lost because of the pathological relationship and must be grieved include the loss of:

  • your own self-respect
  • your own dignity
  • your self-identity
  • your self-confidence
  • your self-esteem
  • your ability to trust your own instincts
  • respect of others
  • trust of others
  • hope
  • joy
  • the belief that you can ever be different or better

These significant personal losses may not always be recognized as ‘grief’ but more as all the deficits that have been left behind because of the pathological relationship. Although he is gone, this is his mark upon your life and your soul. These losses reflect the loss of your self and your own internal personal resources.

Stripped away is your ability to recognize your former self, the ability to tap into what was once the strength that helped you in life, and to respect your self and your life choices.

Of all the things that need grieving, women indicate these personal losses are the most devastating. Because in the end, you are all that you have left—when he is gone, you must fall back on your self for your healing. But what is left has been described by survivors as “an empty shell of a former life”… “a garden that is overgrown with weeds and in disrepair”… “a once-stately estate that has been vandalized and abandoned.”

To begin the arduous task of healing and repair requires that you turn inward and draw on your resources. But what was there feels like it is gone. You may want to begin the healing from the pathological relationship, but you are stopped short in your tracks by the necessary grieving of all things internal that are now gone or damaged.

Clearly, the first step is to grieve. Let us know if we can help you take that first step.

(**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

Grieving the Pathological Loss, Part 1

Over and over, women are shocked to find out how badly they feel about leaving a dangerous/pathological man. As horrendous as the relationships has been, as hurt as they have become at his hands, and with the emotional/physical/financial/sexual/spiritual cost it takes to heal… “Why in the world am I so sad and in so much grief?”

One of the things we have discovered from our research project (Women Who Love Psychopaths) is that ‘loving’ a pathological (not just a psychopath, but any person with a pathological disorder), seems to involve having a very intense attachment to the relationship. Most women report that ‘loving’ them is nothing like anything else they ever experienced. They indicate that it’s more intense than other relationships, there are more mind games that keep them very confused and unable to detach, and a kind of hypnotic mesmerizing that keeps them in the relationship LONG after they know they should have left.

Because of this intense bonding, mental confusion, pathological attachment and a hypnotic connection, the woman’s grief is likely to be HUGE. This is often confusing to her because she has suffered so much damage by the time she leaves that she thinks she should be ‘relieved’ to simply be out of the relationship. But when the paralyzing grief mounts, she is aggravated with herself for being in so much pain and grief over the ending of something so ‘sick’ to her.

Lots of women are confused as to ‘who’ or ‘what’ it is they are actually grieving over. Grief can seem so ‘elusive’—a haunting feeling that is like a grey ghost but can’t be nailed down to actually ‘what’ the loss is.

The end of any relationship (even a pathological one) is a loss. Within the ending of the relationship is a loss of many elements. There is a loss of the ‘dream’ of partnership or togetherness, the loss of a shared future together, as well as the loss that maybe he would someday ‘get it together’ or actually ‘love you.’ When the relationship ends, so does the dream of being loved (even if he is technically not capable of truly loving anyone). There is a loss of your plans for the future—maybe that was buying a home, having children, or taking a big trip. There is the loss of shared parenting (if that occurred), loss of income, loss of being touched or held, loss of sex.

Although a lot of women may actually see a lot of these hopes and dreams as ‘illusions,’ it still constitutes a loss and women are often surprised at the kinds of things they find themselves grieving over.

Some women lose their pets in the breakup, or their house or career. Some lose their children, their friends, her relatives or his. Some have to relocate to get away from him because of his dangerousness, so they lose their community, roots, and home.

No matter what it is you perceive you no longer have… it’s a loss—and when you have loss you have grief. People spend a lot of time trying to stay on the perimeter of grief—trying to avoid it and stay away from the pain. But grief is the natural way to resolve conflict and loss. It’s the body’s way of ridding the mind and soul of ongoing pain. It’s an attempt at rebalancing one’s mind and life. Grief is a natural process that is given to you as a pain management tool. Without grief there would never be a way of moving through pain. You would always just remain stuck in the feelings and you would always feel the same.

Don’t avoid grief. While no one likes grief it’s important to allow yourself to feel the feelings and the pain. To suppress it, deny it, or avoid it will mean you will never work through it. I don’t know anyone who wants to live in this kind of pain.  There is only one way through the pain of grief and that’s through the middle of it. There are no shortcuts, quick routes or other ways ‘around’ the pain and grief. There is only through it—like a wilderness. But on the other side of it is the promise of healing, hope and a future.

Don’t judge your grief. What hurts, hurts. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you (he was horrible, why am I grieving HIM?)—it’s your body’s way of moving through it, so let it. Get help if you need it—counseling, group, medication, a grief group—whatever it is you need.

Don’t set a predetermined ‘time’ that you think you should be ‘over it.’ It probably takes longer than you think it will or you want it to. But that’s how it is—grief takes its time.

Grief can look like depression, anxiety, PTSD or a lot of other types of symptoms and sometimes it’s hard to know where one starts and the other one ends. That’s because you oftentimes aren’t having one or the other, you are having some of both.

Journal your losses, talk about them, tell others, get help when you need it. (We’re here too!!) Most of all, know that grief is a God-sent natural way of working through the pain so you can move on.

 

(**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

Recovering Without Validation

Many of you have indeed had the experience of facing getting over the aftermath of a Pathological Love Relationship with very little legal justice. It doesn’t mean that you don’t pursue your own rights. You should always stand up for what you believe in. It’s just that if the universe tilts in his favor yet again, or the courts continue to not support you, you still have to heal—for your own recovery and your own future, you MUST still heal.

It is the same as today’s message—Recovering Without Validation. Sometimes NO ONE believes he was a pathological monster and did the things you said he did. He continues on in his job looking normal and is even successful while you wind up looking hysterical, unstable, and out of your mind. Mr. Pathological schmoozes with your friends, family, or bosses, convincing all those around us he never did what you said he did, doesn’t have the traits you accuse him of, and is just trying to be a good guy to a freaked-out woman.

Mr. Pathological turns friends against you. Your attorney starts to believe HIS version of the story. Cops withhold restraining orders because “he seems like such a nice guy,” and even your children may take his side.

This is the ‘conning’ side of his personality. Most pathologicals are octagons—they have eight sides!—his charming side, intellectual side, friendly side, professional side, rageful side, addiction side, mentally ill side and lying/conning side.  But most people don’t see his negative sides of rage, addiction, mental illness, lying and conning. His positive sides that face outwardly to the general public are charming, intellectual, friendly, and professional. It is no wonder women have to go through the recovery process with very little validation.

Find your validation from others who have also experienced a pathological love relationship. There is a lot of research, countless books, numerous forums, and more and more organizations designed to respond to pathological love relationships. You will find that you are not alone and there are others who have gone through the same experience. Just be sure to exercise due diligence for your safety and security when using on-line resources!

**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