Exes and Razor Blades

April 10, 2017

Last night I had a dream that involved my first “real” ex-girlfriend. We were together in the dream, or at least living together. I told her things about our relationship “then” (at the “time” of the dream) that would apply to anyone who would be my mate now.

After I woke up, I wondered if she was a symbol of “The Female” in ALL of my past relationships…and if my words to her in the dream were meant to express (to my conscious self) my attitude now.

My real-life relationship with her began a very long process of extracting out of myself an inner brokenness that attracted me to females who personified something lost in me, a battle not won, a love not attained. It was like other romances (both before and since) that brought angst instead of love–dysfunction and demands, incessant emotional vitriol and high sexual energy.

I thought about contacting her today. “Hey, I had a dream about you last night. Is everything OK?” And I didn’t. There’s no reason to.


I wondered today if my dream applies somehow to a more recent ex, or if it even could. But I don’t believe it could. Being in a romantic relationship is like giving your partner a razor blade and letting him or her shave your throat. When you give someone a razor so she can shave you, and halfway through the shave she tries to cut your throat, you don’t want her to “shave” you again.

Short of cutting your throat, even ranting and raving at the sky and waving the razor wildly in the air while you rest your head in front of her is plenty of reason to end the shave (and be reluctant to repeat the experience). Similarly, holding the razor to your throat and “only threatening” to cut it is sort of a deal-breaking incident…even if the rest of the shave was just fine.

I’ve had all of these figurative experiences in romantic relationships.

One ex showed me repeatedly that she can’t be trusted near my neck even with a letter-opener. After a couple of botched shaving experiences with her, I figured we could start again with that and work our way up–first a letter-opener, then a small pocketknife, then maybe a bigger one, and eventually back up to a razor–but every time I was proven wrong.

If you can’t trust someone to shave you without cutting your throat (especially on purpose, but even by accident), that person can’t be your mate. Or am I missing something? Is there value in just giving someone a razor and letting them cut your throat?


Recently, in the absence of both relationship drama and the angst of the pursuit of romantic love, I’ve turned more towards broader ideas about “truth, justice, and the American way” (to quote Superman) or “the nooks and crannies of life and the human experience” (to quote myself).

And I spend time with my kids. And I work. And I write, when I can, about things that I’ve learned in these 42-plus years of living.

What matters most is what matters most, and I’ve learned that what matters most is learning and knowing myself. Romantic relationships, more than any other experience, have taught me this, and they also have brought me my life’s greatest joys: human connection, self-knowledge, the ability to express it in words…and my children.

For that, I am grateful for the romances in my past, whether or not I have one in the future–but I’ve also learned that I can shave my own throat just fine. Or I can keep my beard.

20 Things I “Should” Have Said to Narcissists in My Life…But Didn’t

September 5, 2016

We’ve all had those times when we thought:

“Man! I should have said _______! I wish I’d thought of it then!”

This is a tongue-in-cheek list of comebacks that a (hopefully former) target of Narcissistic abuse might wish he or she had said after a Narcissist has just thrown down the latest red flag, or a deal-breaker.

These are meant to entertain (and maybe facilitate healing and recovery for) folks who have been there.  I’m not suggesting in any way that anyone should actually say any of these to a real, live person!

These are NOT problem-solving communication strategies (which don’t work for very long with Narcissists anyway)—and, depending on the situation, any or all of them might be dangerous to say to an easily enraged person.

In real life, the best thing to say to a Narcissist or Borderline is as little as possible, before and after carefully and peacefully making one’s exit. Leave the talk therapy to the talk therapists, who are trained to do it, and tend to your own well-being.

So, just for the fun of it, these are humorous but empowering comebacks that I personally might have said (but didn’t) in real-life situations with various Narcissists and Borderlines I’ve been close to over the years, in response to things that they have actually said or done.

I would never say most of these things to a Narcissist or Borderline in person. There’s just no point in it, and no need to. In real life, I would simply end the conflict by removing myself from the situation with as little conversation (drama) as possible.


1. What’s that? I’ll never find anyone who will love me as much as you do, sacrifice as much as you have for our relationship, or give up as much as you have to be with me? It sounds like you’d be way better off without me. Let’s make it happen, starting…now!

2. I’m sorry to cut you off in mid-rant, but I don’t spend my time with people who call me those names, speak to me at that volume, or use profanity with that much poison. Especially not all three, like you’re doing now. Goodbye.

3. If you really cared about my relationship with my kids, you’d stop calling and texting me with drama and emotional chaos when I’m spending time with them. See ya!

4. No, I’m really not the cause of all of your problems. But let’s find out. Later, gator.  I’m sure everything will be better for you tomorrow.

5. If you think you “might” have multiple personalities, I think I “might” believe that either 1) you do, 2) you’re crazy, or 3) you’re just trying to manipulate me. Either way, I only date one person at a time, and I require that they be both sane and decent. Happy trails!

6. I see that you’re trying to bully me right now. Let’s see if you can do it all by yourself. Ciao!

7. You say that you (destroyed my stuff/told lies about me/said horrible things to me) because you were upset? I say you’ve shown me that you have no self-control and I should probably fear for my life around you. So I’m done being around you now.

8. I’m sorry. I wasn’t paying attention to your tirade. I was blocking your number before I go, in case I forget to do it after I leave—that is, leave you—for good.  Like, right now.

9. I know you seem very humble right now, and your apology sounded very sincere. However, since this is like the 20th time you’ve played this game with me, I’m going to start playing a new game. It’s called “Life Without You.” So long!

10. Wow. I’m amazed that one person can tell so many lies in such a short time. I think I’ll tell you a lie now: I’ll still be here with you in one minute.

11. I’m glad that you felt the need to confess that you went through all my Facebook and text messages while I was (gone/asleep) the other day. I have a confession to make, too. I don’t date people who have such disregard for my own personal boundaries and privacy, so I’m going to stop dating you immediately.

12. Sure, I’ll throw out all of the notes I saved from high school and the photos that were lying safely in my keepsake box in the closet while I was at work and you were sitting in my apartment with nothing better to do than rummage through my personal things. I’ll do it right after I throw you out of my life. Oh, and yes, I’m actually keeping my old notes and photos instead of you.

13. Thank you for accidentally dropping your mask so I could see what a spiteful, vindictive person you are underneath that sexy exterior. Unfortunately, I’d rather masturbate than have sex with someone like that, so I’m going to go home now and enjoy a night to myself—the first in a long string of many nights alone that I’m frankly looking forward to after enduring your shit for so long.

14. That’s such a delicious (meal/dessert/treat) that you (cooked/bought) me to try to make up for dumping me last (week/month) and screwing your ex. I hope you like it, because I’m eating an entire pizza by myself tonight and watching 300.  With my phone off.

15. If you were speaking Chinese, what you just said wouldn’t bother me. However, you were speaking English, so I’m just going to forget you exist. Bye!

16. I appreciate you confessing that you drank too much at a party and had a sexual encounter with your ex while I was out of town.  Looks like it’s time for me to move on now.

17. If you wake me up in the middle of the night to fight with me one more time, I’m going to leave and go sleep in a hotel room for the night.  No, wait.  Once was enough.  Enjoy having the house all to yourself from now on.

18. You said I’m a what?  Oh, you must have me confused with somebody else.  I’ll just go now so you can find that person.  I don’t want to mess up your search for the perfect partner.

19. Ah, yes.  It’s all about you.  Everything revolves around youYou’re the judge, jury, and executioner.  What you say goes.  You’re the boss.  If I had seen this in you sooner, I would have left just as fast as I’m about to leave now.

20. No, I don’t understand.  I know and see that your behavior over time took a nose dive from angelic to suck, and I hear you justifying it now with excuses of being (drunk/hurt/angry/scared/etc.) to me now, but I don’t feel or act that way.  I can’t relate to it.  Frankly, I don’t want to.

I’d rather just be a decent human being than try to twist my mind to accept that the rules don’t apply to you and that you have a free pass to do whatever you want, without consequence or accountability.  Guess what?  You don’t.  Let me show you by removing myself from your world.

The Non-Narcissist’s Pledge

April 18, 2016

This is a list of promises that (if carried out) might “cure” a Narcissist of many of the more abusive traits of Cluster B personality disorders and other Narcissistic behavior patterns…but it’s a Pledge that no Narcissist would, or could, ever fulfill.

These are undoable for a true Narcissist.  However, non-Narcissists might find this Pledge useful for a couple of reasons:

a) to help identify, control, and remove “fleas” (Narcissistic behavior patterns) in oneself, and

b) to help confirm to oneself (by fulfilling promises in this Pledge) that oneself is, in fact, not a Narcissist.

This Pledge is an aid to self-reflection for everyone except Narcissists.  A true Narcissist avoids self-reflection because, after all, the Narcissist doesn’t have a problem.  Everybody else does.

So, how can one confirm that oneself is, in fact, not a Narcissist–and also avoid falling into Narcissistic behavior patterns?

Try practicing the Non-Narcissist’s Pledge:

1. I will not love-bomb.  If and when I choose to dip my toes into the water of a new relationship, or even if I just go out for coffee with a potential romantic interest, I will not use flattery, gift-giving, or an avalanche of text messages to gain entry into this person’s life.  That’s what Narcissists do, and I am not a Narcissist.

I might “put my best foot forward”, but I will simply be myself, for better or worse.

2. I will take responsibility for my actions.   I will not shift blame away from myself if I do wrong or make a simple mistake.  I will not accuse others of errors I actually made myself.  That’s what Narcissists do, and I am not a Narcissist.

If I do something wrong, I will own it–and own up to it.  I will face the music.  I will apologize…and make amends, if necessary.

3. I will tell the truth.  I will not lie.  I will not tell “little white lies”.  I will not omit details from the truth in order to deceive someone else.  I will not invent clever, “harmless” stories that simply make myself look good or entertain myself.  I will not say things about other people that aren’t true, especially to hurt them.  I will not hide behind “my truth” when it isn’t true to begin with.  That’s what Narcissists do, and I am not a Narcissist.

I will be honest, or I won’t speak.  What can be easier than that?

4. I will not manipulate others.  I will not play tricks on people and act like I didn’t.  I won’t “plant seeds” in people’s minds to get them to do what I want when I ask them later on.  I won’t tell people what I think they want to hear, just so they like me and trust me.  I won’t change plans at the last minute when I didn’t intend to follow through with them in the first place.  That’s what Narcissists do, and I am not a Narcissist.

I will be forthright and sincere.  I will trust that people will like me (or not like me!) because of who I am, not because I can control them.

5. I will be accountable.  I will not dodge or deflect constructive criticism.  I will not sabotage others who disapprove of something I’ve done.  I will not get angry if someone calls me out when I did wrong or hurt someone.  That’s what Narcissists do, and I am not a Narcissist.

I will accept that others are trying to help me when they take their time to help correct my behaviors or actions in some way.

6. I will respect other people and their boundaries.  I will not step all over people and their time and space.  I will not intrude on others or impose on them when they’re clearly involved in something important.  I will not assume that what I want right now is the most important thing happening on Earth.  That’s what Narcissists do, and I am not a Narcissist.

I will ask for consent and gain permission from others before inserting myself into their time, space, or relationships.

7. I will be open to change.  I will not insist that others do everything my way.  I will not demand that things be done the way that they’ve always been done, simply because “I said so” or my family of origin did it that way.  I will not throw a fit until someone else caves and gives me my way.  That’s what Narcissists do, and I am not a Narcissist.

I will listen to what others say they want.  If I can accommodate their wishes, and they’re not Narcissists trying to manipulate me, I will do my best to honor their requests.  I might even learn something new.

8. I will be faithful.  I will not two-time or cheat on my partner.  I will not commit adultery.  I will not promise to do something with no intention of actually doing it.  I will not violate the trust that my loved ones place in me.  I will not dump my partner out of the blue, without talking about the problem first–or at least giving an explanation why.  That’s what Narcissists do, and I am not a Narcissist.

I will respect the relationships I have formed, and if I don’t think I can fulfill the expectations that come with a certain kind of relationship, I won’t form it until I am ready.

9. I will not pretend.  I will not let others believe that I’m something I know I’m not.  I will not deliberately deceive someone else into trusting a mask or a front that I’ve put on.  I will not act like I feel some way other than what I really feel.  I will not insult, slander, or threaten people while smiling at them.  That’s what Narcissists do, and I am not a Narcissist.

I will be genuine in my actions toward others, and I will show them how I really feel in a way that’s appropriate to the person and the situation.

10. I will get to know myself.  I will not occupy all my time with people, places, and things so I don’t “get bored”.  I won’t make a spectacle out of other people’s weaknesses in order to avoid seeing my own.  I won’t reflexively accuse others when they point out some flaw in myself.  I will not frantically seek company all the time so I’m never alone.  That’s what Narcissists do, and I am not a Narcissist.

I will make time and space to be quietly by myself, and I will pay attention to my own thoughts and feelings at all times.  I will acknowledge things about myself, to myself, even if I don’t like them.  I will learn what I like and don’t like–about myself, as well as my experiences–so that I can pursue more of what I want…and leave behind more of what I don’t want.

I will be my True Self, to the best of my ability, not some “false self” that isn’t really me.

That’s what Narcissists do, and I am not a Narcissist.

On Healing Other People’s Negativity

April 12, 2016

Some of the greatest teachers and healers in history have famously been murdered–presumably by “negative” people. Jesus and Socrates both come to mind.

Presumably, these great teachers and healers did not heal these negative people, despite being close enough to them to be killed by them.

These negative people who would murder a great teacher or healer were, presumably, hurt people.  After all, as they say, “Hurt people hurt people.”

Presumably, “hurting people” would include murdering great teachers or healers–instead of being healed by them.

Hurting people does indeed cause negativity.  Nevertheless, those hurt (“negative”) people still have free will. For this reason, not only is it impossible to make a negative person positive, i.e. to heal a hurt person, but it would be wrong to do so unless you had that person’s consent.

In real life, however, when a someone wants to (emotionally) heal a “negative” person, the negative person is often only seeking to take and use some of that person’s positive energy to alleviate his or her own suffering.  In other words, the purpose of taking the positive person’s positive energy is only to make the negative person feel better temporarily, not to “heal” them at all!

This is practically the definition of a Narcissist: someone who takes positive energy from another person in order NOT to heal themselves.

This energetic (emotional) transfer depletes the other person’s positive energy, “spreading” the negativity to himself or herself. The negative person now expends the newly-acquired positive energy like fuel, while the positive person must restore it somehow.

This is emotional vampirism at work.

Human beings are indeed pure positive energy at our core, but the way to heal negativity is not to douse it with positive energy, as in dousing a fire with water. The way to heal a negative (hurt) person is to get rid of negativity through energetic (emotional) RELEASE–and this is an inside job.

This is how a negative person’s own pure positive energy can come forth from the core–in place of the negativity that now has been released like a champagne bottle’s cork.

Other people can help facilitate this inner process, if (and only if) the negative person is willing, but anyone who stays too close to a lot of negativity, for too long, is at risk of “acquiring” negativity in the process. This is why teachers and healers must replenish their own positive energy in various ways if they are to remain positive themselves.

It’s also why survivors of Narcissistic abuse frequently end up with “fleas” to get rid of. These are negative qualities acquired from the Narcissist, through the transfer of positive energy to him or her, in an attempt to heal a negative (hurt) person.  But the Narcissist is only pretending to want to be healed, in order to keep the positive energy flowing freely…to the Narcissist.

Many people have sacrificed themselves trying to heal other people’s negativity, literally for nothing–except a lesson on this subject, if they’re lucky. Then they learn that they can only heal themselves. And then, guess what?

They DO.

131 Early Warning Signs of a Possibility “Toxic” Relationship Partner

April 8, 2016

If you notice some of these signs early on in a relationship (say, in the first few months), you may be engaging with a toxic partner who will be both abusive (sometimes) and extremely hard to extricate yourself from.

On the bright side, you’ll likely be very close to having some of your early childhood wounds re-opened (giving you a chance to heal from them).

A “toxic” relationship partner is suffering from unresolved emotional trauma and takes out on their partner the emotional negativity that they felt toward someone else (usually a parent) way back then. They tend to have diagnosable “Cluster B” personality disorders, addictions, and/or a history of broken relationships.

These relationships HURT. I’ve experienced every one of these warning signs personally in the last 25 years (but not ALL of them in any one relationship).

I’m only able to share this info now because now I can SEE it–because I’ve dealt with many of the very old inner wounds that made me susceptible to these partners in the first place. I’ve also studied and learned WHY these relationships occur.

This list is not intended to describe anyone in particular. It’s intended to help others avoid throwing years of their lives away on relationships that WILL NOT WORK without serious, life-changing healing (on both sides)–which often NEVER HAPPENS.

Toxic people usually don’t get help, or they “fake” it if they do. It’s just part of the package.

HEALING HURTS AS BAD AS THE ORIGINAL PAIN DID! “Toxicity” is the avoidance of that pain.

People who “partner up” with these toxic folks tend to be “fixers” or “people-pleasers” in relationships. The proper word for this is codependent.

Codependent people have been “programmed” from earliest childhood to put aside their own needs for the sake of someone else’s. They “depend” on being needed, in order to feel loved, so they tend to seek life-destroying relationships with abusive people who really do need help–from a professional, not from a lover–but ultimately from themselves.

In my experience, these traits apply to toxic women, and I suppose many of them also apply to toxic men.

What do you think?

1. They change long-term goals quickly or repeatedly.
2. They casually mention other “guys” who want to be with them.
3. They toss around the word “crazy” in many contexts, even jokingly.
4. They seem annoyed when someone else calls or texts you.
5. They act differently toward different people.
6. They bring you gifts very early on.
7. They say they hate or dislike other women, in general.
8. They say they’ve dated a lot of “assholes.”
9. They are quickly defensive in ways that surprise you (at first).
10. They say “you’re just like all the other guys” when they get upset.

11. They threaten to end the relationship early on…but stay anyway.
12. They refer to a male friend in conversation with you as “them” instead of “him” and without naming him.
13. They talk about how honest they are.
14. They say they “hate drama.”
15. They tell you quickly about abuse in their past.
16. You feel sympathy for them quickly.
17. They initiate the relationship.
18. They move toward sex early on, maybe even before you’re ready.
19. They take prescription pills for anxiety, panic attacks, or depression.
20. They impose on your personal time.

21. They impose on your personal space.
22. They don’t like it when you spend time with your friends.
23. They dismiss or minimize your feelings.
24. They focus your attention on THEIR feelings.
25. They talk about marriage, family, or living together early on.
26. They love the movies Girl, Interrupted and/or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
27. They compliment you so much that you wonder if they’re being sincere.
28. They don’t let you visit them at home and make excuses to meet elsewhere.
29. They lie—and minimize their lies to you (as if you’re overreacting if you get angry about being lied to).
30. They confess a betrayal of you…but say it “wasn’t a big deal.”

31. They seem to have a whole other life that you’re not privy to.
32. They quickly change from happy to sad, mad, or irritated.
33. They give you the silent treatment…and you don’t know why.
34. They avoid resolving issues or misunderstandings.
35. They argue a lot with a parent, or even cuss at their mom or dad in front of you.
36. They ask you very sweetly to do things for them, like get a glass of water or fix their car.
37. They say “I love you” early on.
38. They ask you if you love them early on.
39. They dump you and then call you back later as if nothing happened.
40. They don’t apologize for their part in conflicts.

41. They still talk to many of their exes.
42. They HATE it if you still talk to any of YOUR exes.
43. They still “hang out” with people they’ve had sex with before…without you.
44. They have their own “funny” nicknames for males they know but would never have sex with.
45. They say they’re good at something but they AREN’T when you see them do it.
46. They say, “I’m usually (not) ____________, but with you it’s different.”
47. You think they’re too good to be true…at first.
48. They have children with more than one man…and aren’t with either man.
49. They aren’t in contact with any one father of any one of their children.
50. Their child(ren)’s father is in jail or prison.

51. They just got out of a “bad” relationship.
52. They say they “live for NOW” or “don’t believe in the past or the future.”
53. Their children misbehave much more (or MUCH less) than other children.
54. They drink more alcohol than you do.
55. They prefer liquor.
56. One or more of their children doesn’t live with them.
57. They have scars from cutting themselves or attempting suicide.
58. They tell you they’ve ever “tried” to commit suicide.
59. They have one or more prescription bottles at hand…with someone else’s name on them.
60. They are “jokingly” rude to friends or family on the phone or in person.

61. They make “jokes” toward you that would be belittling if they were “serious.”
62. They joke about inflicting physical harm on you (“I’m gonna cut your balls off, haha!”).
63. They get really mad about surprisingly small or trivial matters.
64. They blame YOU for the way THEY feel.
65. They blame you for “making” them do self-defeating things.
66. They tell you that you’re blaming them, when you aren’t.
67. They cannot accept honest criticism and get angry instead.
68. They call you names (asshole, loser, stupid, retard, pussy, etc.).
69. They share confidential info about you with ANYONE else. (You shouldn’t be sharing it anyway.)
70. They repeatedly bring up the same past issues (even resolved ones).

71. They say how organized/neat/”together” they are (or USED TO be), and they aren’t.
72. They say how “independent” they are, but they’re clearly not.
73. They say that they’re “stressed” a lot, for reasons that never seem clear to you.
74. They complain about how you’re “treating” them, even though you’re nice to them.
75. They make you doubt yourself and second-guess yourself.
76. You avoid talking about certain things so they don’t get upset.
77. They say they LIKE to do certain things, but don’t ever seem to DO them.
78. They break promises—to you, or to anyone else.
79. They judge others and put them down in private.
80. They EVER say “You’re so/such a fucking ___________.”

81. They tell you to leave them alone and then THEY contact YOU later (or sooner).
82. They break up with you for no reason that makes sense to you.
83. They describe themselves as “very sensitive.”
84. They tell YOU you’re “too sensitive.”
85. They misunderstand you and jump to conclusions.
86. You find yourself explaining yourself to them so they aren’t mad at you.
87. You find yourself feeling like you have to convince them that you’re a decent person.
88. They send rapid-fire text messages, during which their mood changes a lot.
89. They tell you they were “only joking” about some hurtful thing they said to you.
90. They don’t want to talk about and resolve issues with you.

91. They declare that they’ve decided to do something, and then don’t follow through with it.
92. They say and do things that paint themselves as victims.
93. They tell you they don’t want/need your pity.
94. They seem to be REALLY in need of saving…by YOU.
95. You feel that they can’t or won’t be okay…without YOU.
96. You have a strong sense that they will destroy themselves if something doesn’t change.
97. They confront or question you about friendships of yours that you KNOW are innocent.
98. They seem to be “playing a game” with you sometimes.
99. You feel “jerked around” by their words and actions.
100. They smile while saying hurtful things to you or others.

101. They seem to SPIT the words “I’m sorry”—IF they even admit wrongdoing.
102. After an argument, they act later like nothing happened.
103. There are FREQUENT misunderstandings between you.
104. They introduce you to their kids at all (remember, this is in the first few MONTHS).
105. They act like, or (ESPECIALLY!!) SAY(!!) that they are (or should be) a “princess.”
106. Their favorite word seems to be “Whatever!”
107. They suddenly get quiet, cold, and/or distant if you say something they don’t like.
108. You get the uneasy feeling that they’re “punishing” you for something.
109. You feel frustrated or confused while you’re with them, or just afterward.
110. They tell you they’re “disappointed” in you, or that you “disappoint” them.

111. Your close friends tell you that “you don’t seem yourself since you’ve been seeing” them.
112. They look through ANY of your private stuff (phone, computer, closet, diary, etc.) without permission.
113. They say they think you’re keeping them a “secret” from friends, family, or the public.
114. They tell you which of your Facebook photos they think you should remove.
115. They tell you that you should get rid of items that your ex(es) gave you.
116. They seem jealous when you talk to or spend time with your family members.
117. They seem to call or text you more when they know you’re with your family or friends.
118. They suggest that one of you start staying at the other’s place every night.
119. They ask for help paying one (or more) of their bills–EVEN AS A LOAN.
120. They delete or block you on Facebook when you have arguments.

121. They say they can’t bear to read or see your Facebook page because it’s “too hurtful”.
122. They think things your friends say are subtle jabs at THEM (when they aren’t).
123. They say that you should delete certain people from your Facebook friends list…or from your LIFE.
124. They say that your friends have certain negative qualities that you know they don’t have.
125. They flirt with other guys in front of you and then deny it or say, “Oh, that’s just so-and-so.”
126. They tell you that they’re “ready to settle down” (after living crazy for years).
127. They tell you that you’re the first “nice guy” they’ve ever dated.
128. They say that “someone” told them you did something recently that you didn’t do.
129. They suggest performing “kinky” sexual favors that you didn’t ask for.
130. They say that they’ll do “anything you want” in bed.

131. They seem to have trouble making and keeping eye contact with you.


On the bright side, you’ll likely be very close to having some of your early childhood wounds re-opened (giving you a chance to heal from them).

What Is Narcissistic Abuse Like?

April 1, 2016

If you’ve never been in a close relationship with a Narcissistic partner, it may not be easy to imagine. It might be impossible. It may not be easy for a survivor of Narcissistic abuse to relate his or her experiences to others, either.

Indeed, both of these may be impossible.

However, even if you’ve never experienced Narcissistic abuse yourself, it’s likely that you know someone who has. That person may benefit if you understand something–even a little bit–about his or her difficult experience.

This message is for friends and family of survivors of Narcissistic abuse. Its intention is to help you understand some of what your loved one has gone through–and, hopefully (perhaps recently), come out of. Its main purpose is to help assist your loved one’s healing.

So, what is Narcissistic abuse like? It’s like…

1) …being given a delicious treat and then having it taken away for no reason…and thrown in the trash in front of you…by someone who watches your lip tremble and your tears fall…with hidden but still barely visible enjoyment…and then apologizes…with a smirk…after the trash has been taken out…and promises not to do it again…but does anyway…after you forgave them…and forgot about the first time.

2) …chasing a puppy over a hill, only to find when you reach the crest that a bully has run it over with a car on the other side…who blames you for killing the puppy…by chasing it to their side of the hill…where they were driving…in the grass…with a “No Cars in Grass” sign posted.

3) …lending your car keys to a friend, who then crashes it…and laughs at you later…for being so stupid…as to lend your car keys…to them…while they were drunk…even though you didn’t know they were drunk…and they never said so…and they say your car was a piece of crap…and you needed a new one anyway…so you should thank them.

4) …having a student who scores 59% on everything–and fails–but is SO close to passing that you keep trying, test after test, to help him study and pass…but he keeps scoring 59s…and keeps telling you that he’d pass…if you didn’t suck so bad as a teacher…and his last teacher was SO much better than you.

5) …tending a garden and watching it grow–until your neighbor of many years suddenly throws an all-night drinking party on it…and says it was in his yard, not yours…but promises to help you re-plant it anyway…as a “favor” to you to “keep the peace”…and never does…but moves away instead…and tells the new tenant how crazy you are.

6) …hearing a beloved family member tell you, on his deathbed, that he always hated you, and only pretended to like you, and wanted to tell you before he dies–and then hearing later that the family member didn’t die…and is doing well…and says he doesn’t remember talking to you…or even that you were there…when he was ‘dying’…and then finding out later that the family member wasn’t really dying…and knew it all along…and was just being cruel…and you have no idea why.

7) …knowing where your purse is, and what’s always in it, but not finding it there–and finding it in your roommate’s closet instead, with its contents moved around or missing…and your roommate saying that you left it the last time you were in there…but that was weeks ago…but your roommate swears it was yesterday…and says your memory must be bad…and she seems to be wearing your lipstick… but claims she just bought it.

8) …being dumped, and told that your partner hates you and that it will never work, and your partner throwing your things out the door–and then calling you two days later, as if nothing had happened…saying it was “no big deal”…and getting upset at you…for being upset and taking it so seriously…and then says they were “just joking”… and buys you something very thoughtful to make up for it.

9) …being showered with praise, affection, attention, compliments, and shared dreams of a beautiful future together–until the hook is set…and you’ve fallen in love…and then, all of a sudden…your beloved starts tugging on the hook…and it hurts you to tug away…but it doesn’t hurt them at all…and you don’t understand why.

10) …watching the preview for a new movie, and paying to go watch it at the theater–and the movie being horrible…but you stay anyway to get your money’s worth…and you think it’s only two hours long…but it’s four…and then you’re tired…and just want to sleep…even if it’s in the chair…among strangers…instead of your own bed at home…so you fall asleep…and get locked inside the theater…and are late to work the next day.

These ten examples are mostly parables designed to show the sort of dynamic that’s common for someone in a close relationship with a person who shows significant Narcissistic traits–that is, a “toxic” relationship.

Not all of them are to be taken literally.

The Moment Narcissistic Abuse Finally “Broke” My Codependency

March 30, 2016

I’m posting this here for future reference, and for others who wish to know more about healing from core trauma and releasing emotional baggage from past painful experience, which we all have.

I have a lot of experience doing this, and I’ve written much from the aftermath of these healing releases, but not a whole lot from within them. 

This was the first time that I wrote publicly, IMMEDIATELY before and after having one.  (In case you’re wondering, this just felt right, genuine, and authentic to do.)

As I felt it coming, I wrote the following as a status update.  This was January 12, 2014:

I look to the near future with trembling and anticipation,

for I feel that a great reckoning is about to transpire

as the deep past wells up within, seeking release

and, in the process, granting freedom at last

from yet one more barricade to the Soul.

I had the feeling all day that I needed a song to take me back in memory/feeling to my earliest childhood, before the toddler years, to “contact” what I was feeling near the surface, but I couldn’t think of a song early enough and meaningful enough to do so.  A few minutes after posting the status update above, I was walking in the yard when the song suddenly hit me:

“Kumbaya”, the song my teenage mother used to sing to me as I slept in her arms as a baby.

I stopped in my tracks, giving this thought my attention, and feeling around inside myself.  The thought immediately brought tears and grimacing, so I knew the moment was close.  I dropped to my knees right there and waited for it to come.  (In these moments, nothing is more important.)  It didn’t come all the way out–didn’t go deep enough–so I got up, put my dog in his pen, and took the next step.

I went inside and looked on YouTube for a woman’s voice singing “Kumbaya” without music.  NO LUCK.  So I thought of my grandmother–my mom’s mom–singing it in her sweet voice.  That started to “poke the bubble,” bringing more tears, but it wasn’t enough to pop the bubble.  I thought of calling her and asking her to sing it (since my mom is dead), but that wasn’t really an option.

So the thought came to me: You’ll have to sing it to yourself. 

I didn’t like the idea, but I accepted it and decided to do it.  I never got to the words, though.  Having to sing a lullaby to myself brought an extremely pitiful, lonely feeling and that in itself popped the bubble.  The pain bubbled up immediately.

I surrendered and gave myself over to it, and it had its way with me.  For about 20 minutes I became, emotionally, myself as a baby again.

Mentally, I was still my adult self, and from the vantage point of my present adult mind I watched and managed the experience–as I had not done, and could not have done, when I “acquired” the pain as a small child.  This is key to understanding the experience.

Deep release occurred here.  As it subsided, I wrote these comments:

For some things, the only cure is to feel deep inner anguish–your own, not somebody else’s.

Do not ever stop your baby from crying.  Or your child, or your sweetheart…or yourself.

[Here, my friend Alice posted: Yes. Sit with it. Lean into it. Feel it. Acknowledge it. Give it regard. Then, let it go.  And cry a river! I continued:]

And cough, yell, scream, vomit, grimace, clench, grit, growl, snot, and run completely out of breath getting it out.

Ever see an infant cry so hard you think they’ve stopped breathing, and then they inhale and cry even harder, shaking uncontrollably?

Like that. Cry to the heavens for cursing you, feel regret for being born in this dirty, corrupt, filthy, broken place, only to suffer.

FEEL this, don’t think it! Surrender to it, let it topple you, let it bring you to your knees! Claw the earth, the floor, grab the carpet in your fists, beat the ground with rage for the injustice life has dealt you.

None of this is NOW, but it’s happening NOW. It’s happening NOW because it didn’t happen THEN, years ago, decades ago, when then was NOW and your mama was still a girl singing “Kumbaya” to you as you slept in her arms, when the whole cruel world could–and DID–do to you whatever it wished.

THAT is how to cry. THAT is the way to freedom. THAT is how to break free from the past, from pain, from heartbreak, from addiction, from regret, from depression.

THAT is what I want the world to know. On the other side of THAT…is freedom, the only freedom that matters–freedom to be yourself again.

Weeping like a pansy has done me very little good in my life. Regurgitating evil from within my core has done wonders…

and when laughter comes afterward,

it comes from a deeper well than before,

and it echoes mightier within.


(Originally written in January 2014 and titled “Notes on an Experience of Deep Emotional Release and Healing”)

7 Signs That “Radical Acceptance” May Be the Next Step in Your Recovery from Narcissistic Abuse

March 11, 2016

According to many therapists and psychologists, a healthy, functional long-term relationship just isn’t possible when one partner suffers from a “Cluster-B” personality disorder.

In other words, you cannot have a healthy, functional relationship with someone who is incapable of having a healthy, functional relationship. If you’re the partner of a disordered person, it’s not even up to you!

It’s not within your power to change another adult’s personality.

Narcissistic abuse is a freqent outcome of trying to have a healthy, functional relationship with a personality-disordered person over a long time. It’s a disordered person’s reaction to having a close relationship.

One of the first steps in recovery is “radical acceptance” of the reality of the situation.

Unfortunately, “radical acceptance” is often misunderstood—and, therefore, misapplied. This confusion can hinder recovery and unnecessarily prolong or even worsen the abuse.

Before someone else’s apparent inner condition can be “radically accepted,” though, the nature of that condition has to be understood to some degree. While a professional diagnosis is probably the most reliable and accurate way to identify a personality disorder, studies show that the vast majority of disordered people are never diagnosed.

In the absence of a diagnosis, then, a relationship partner is frequently left to his or her own judgment. Here are a few signs that I’ve identified as indicators that a relationship partner might have a personality disorder.

1. You find yourself explaining their own behavior to them. You might say, “Why in the world would you think that’s okay?” They seem not to understand why what they’re doing doesn’t work, why it’s hurtful, or why grown-ups don’t act that way. You feel like a parent with an overgrown, disobedient, rageful child who never seems to learn how to “act right”—or even why it matters.

2. You find yourself explaining logical reasoning to them. You might say, “No, this isn’t true. If this isn’t true, then that can’t be true, either!” They accuse you of wrongdoing, based on how they feel or because of some unrelated event. They ask questions out of the blue about your whereabouts or activities, which seem to have no bearing on your actual life. Then they might condemn your truthful explanation as suspicious. In an argument, they form illogical or emotion-based conclusions that end the conversation—defying rational debate, leaving you frustrated and speechless.

3. You find yourself arguing with them about what really happened. You might say, “No, that’s not at all how it went. I was there!” Even if you were present to see some event, their recollection of it is wildly different from yours. When challenged on their memory of it, they may react defensively and accuse you of lying about it. They might even accuse you of making them doubt their own memory, as if you were deliberately trying to brainwash them. (This is projection, since it’s what they actually do to you on a daily basis.)

4. You find yourself defending your own character or intentions. You might say, “How do you not know me better than that?” You find yourself being questioned when you do something completely innocent, or with the best intentions. You might even be accused of some sinister ulterior motive for, let’s say, moving the salt shaker to the other side of the table. It’s as if you were being observed constantly under a microscope with a cracked lens. It feels like continually being painted in the worst light possible, suspected for anything and everything, for reasons you don’t understand.

5. You find yourself re-hashing the same argument…again. You might say, “Why are we still talking about this? Didn’t we resolve it months ago?” Disordered people never seem to forget, move on, let go, or forgive (someone else’s) past mistakes. It’s as if wrongs (or perceived wrongs) that were (supposedly) done to them are done not just once. They’re done continually—on and on, over and over again, forever…in their minds. Their “suffering” never ends. There is no moving on. The past never recedes for long. It continually becomes the present, and it gets resurrected repeatedly during arguments. On the other hand…

6. They immediately forget wrongs that THEY have done. They might say (about something that happened literally yesterday), “Why are you bringing that up? That’s the past! I thought we were moving forward!” Then you’re made out as if you hold every little mistake over his or her head. Double standards rule with disordered people. What applies to others and what applies to them are two different realms…and they’re the ones who decide.

7. They do even ONE horrible thing that “normal” people just don’t do. These actions are deal-breakers. They are definite signs that someone is just not worth being close to, and may be dangerous:

Killing your pet. Calling your workplace to sabotage your job. Calling the police on you for no reason. Accusing you publicly of something criminal, wrong, or embarrassing that you didn’t do. Lying about you in court. Telling your family that you abuse your (or your partner’s) children. Destroying, damaging, or dismantling your vehicle. Threatening to do any of these.

If this list sounds familiar, it may be time for some radical acceptance. This doesn’t mean “radically accepting” that you will forever be someone else’s emotional punching bag or toxic waste dump. It doesn’t mean “radically accepting” that you need to get better at walking on eggshells.

It means “radically accepting” that the person you’re close to IS the way that he or she is; that he or she may have a practically incurable personality disorder; that he or she likely will never change; that the relationship probably will never improve (and may get worse over time); and that it’s up to YOU to decide what YOU will do in (or out of) the relationship.

“Radically accepting” the reality of your situation may be the first step in ending and recovering from Narcissistic abuse. What you choose to do afterward is YOUR choice—and knowing this may be the most important healing step of all.

The Importance of Reducing Ignorance

September 29, 2011

Ignorance is a cause of much suffering in the world.  It is a form of misunderstanding.  When we misunderstand, we think and act incorrectly, which causes ourselves and others to suffer.

Everybody has some degree of ignorance because we were all raised by people who have some degree of ignorance. If we reduce our own ignorance, though, we find our understanding of ourselves, other people, and the world increasing.

As we reduce our ignorance, understanding and acceptance take its place. So does tolerance, to a degree. When you understand people, you are more tolerant of their differing perspectives because you know that your relationship with them is more important than any differences you have. You also understand why they hold on to their cherished opinions (the reason is always fear), and you accept this as the way things are—for now.

That doesn’t mean you tolerate everything they do, though. Face it—some people are just about intolerable! People with greater understanding normally and naturally limit their contact with negative-minded people (unless there is a greater purpose for the interaction, such as a lesson to learn or a goal to achieve). This can help these folks decide to examine themselves and reduce their own ignorance so that they become better, too. Nobody likes to be ignored.

One important thing—you can reduce your own ignorance, but not someone else’s. That’s their job! All you can do is help, when you (and they) reach a level of understanding that allows you to help.

When people reduce their ignorance, their children will grow up with less ignorance, too, and the world becomes a little better for the next generation.

How to Make Love Stay

September 17, 2011
Love thrives in the absence of fear. In my experience, most romantic relationships are riddled with fear. You wonder if they like someone else more than you, or what they’re doing when you’re not there, or what you’ll ever do if they break up with you.

The more fear you have, the less love you have. The more love you have, the less fear.

Fear is often realized in our relationships as pressure. You pressure your partner to act in a certain way, or you feel like you’re being pressured to behave like your partner wants. This is a poor basis for a relationship, and you have to get past pressuring and feeling pressure if you want a really good relationship.

Pressure is fear: one partner is afraid that the other partner’s behavior will result in the end of the relationship somehow, so the partner requests or demands a certain change in behavior. Any attempt to control the actions of another person is based on fear.

Another form of pressure in a relationship, besides outright attempts to control behavior, is expectation. One partner has a certain preconceived idea about how the relationship “should” be (usually based on observing some other relationship(s) in real life or on TV or in movies). When their own relationship doesn’t fit the prescribed model, they become afraid that something is wrong.

To have a healthy relationship, don’t try to force it into a mold that you wrongly think is right. Let it develop as it will, and learn from watching it happen. Let your partner be and enjoy the relationship while it lasts.

Maybe it won’t last. You don’t know. You don’t control that. But the freedom you give to your partner by not trying to pressure or expect unreasonable outcomes will come back to you in the form of a great relationship—if you’re with the “right” partner (if there is such a thing).

If your partner leaves despite the lack of pressure, the next one will probably be better. Life rewards you when you do well by removing the negative and replacing it with the positive. Don’t be afraid of letting your partner be himself or herself. Enjoy that person. If they’re “right” for you, they’ll stay. If not, you just dodged a bullet.

(Written in 2005 and freshly edited on December 19, 2016.)

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