Learning about Narcissism in Betrayal Recovery

45274_10151578138302702_66006060_nIn recovering from abandonment or betrayal, learning about destructive narcissism can help you heal. Naming this brand of emotional abuse opens the door out of denial into the facts of what has happened.

What a relief to realize you are not losing your mind.  Nor are you alone in this unhinging experience. It is not all your fault, after all.

It gives you back your ground to learn such charming, yet disordered personalities exist. Those who learned to survive by undermining and shaming others. These people pull you in with charm and attention, then begin to devalue, ignore, insult, and often discard you.

While you are caught in this web of gratification and hurt, pleasure and fear, you hardly see it. The slow-drip confusion and pain of emotional abuse breeds denial for self-protection.

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Bearing the Beams of Love


1911249_836470503056344_2286168037742772587_oWe are put on this earth a little space, to learn to bear the beams of love.— Wm Blake

A while back, I had occasion for a great welling of joy within a relationship. For a couple of weeks, I lived within a magical circle of mutual sweetness, loving and devotion.

During this blessed time, I was surprised to notice that the joy emanating from my heart was almost more than I could bear. For several days, along with the warmth and delight, it felt alarmingly as if my chest were about to burst open. The expanding joy had brought along achy anxiousness as a sidekick.

As might be expected in the rhythms of relationship, as events unfolded, distance of a force equal to the joy slowly set in. The growing dissonance triggered what I recognized as my core wound.  What I have come to call  my “holy wound” I can best describe as unbearable chest pangs, like a hole in my heart—accompanied by a sense of being unwanted, ashamed, and terrified of falling into a bottomless well of isolation.

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Recognizing Hidden Emotional Abuse in Relationship

emotional abuseI frequently mention that our culture does not recognize abandonment and betrayal as traumatic shocks. The shock occurs partly because being deserted or cheated on usually comes as a final blow in a mind-numbing, repetitive cycle of emotional abuse.

Elusive abuses of power wear a person down over time until you come to accept them as normal. Only when you are on the receiving end of the final blow does the manipulation, undermining and devaluation you have been living with sink in.

Once you receive the shocking news, you quickly realize what your confusion and pain have already been telling you—emotional, also known as mental or psychological, abuse is often more harmful than physical abuse. At least with physical abuse, you know what hit you.

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You Have Every Right to Outrage

“When it comes to abrupt endings related to love, the experience is very similar to being the victim of a blunt force trauma. The symptoms are the same, and your functioning drops to the level of someone who needs to be hospitalized and treated for injuries.”—Dr. Andra Brosh, The Huffington Post

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Several years ago my long-time partner left me shortly before our wedding. Blindsided, I went reeling from the loss, but primarily from the deceptions and betrayal of trust involved. For a long time afterwards, I was hurt, angry and pretty dysfunctional. Later, I learned I was in shock and did not know it.

During those dark days of bewilderment, and post-traumatic stress, I felt more lost and alone than I had my entire life. Nothing made sense anymore. The unbelievable pain, betrayal outrage, and shame blew my world apart. After years of psychological and spiritual work, I thought I knew myself.  But now, I could not figure out why I could not get over it and pull myself together. What was going on?
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Transform Suffering with Creativity

“If you don’t transform your suffering, you will surely transmit it.” —Richard Rohr

images-1Although I have written and published two books during the past fifteen years, I have never considered myself a writer.  Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

So it has been for me. When I suffer most, I am compelled to write. Creative expression, I have learned, can help to transform pain.  Suffering unleashes survival energy and drives us to creativity in an effort to relieve the pain.

The worse the suffering, the more our whole being moves to respond, almost like an instinct. Suddenly, we see how we are called to show up in the world. Writing for me, or any creative activity—including things we may not think of as creative, like cooking or gardening—provides a way to structure or reframe experience. Continue reading

It Takes Courage to Open Your Heart

imgres-42“Our heart knows what our mind has forgotten — it knows the sacred that is within all that exists, and through a depth of feeling we can once again experience this connection, this belonging.” —Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

You need to give yourself credit if you are living with a broken heart. A broken heart testifies that you have taken the first steps on a pilgrimage to a deeper, more compassionate life. To be touched to the quick by losing your love, you must have taken the risk of caring. You must have opened your heart to cherish, trust and depend on another. You showed up enough in your tenderness and vulnerability so that losing that love could crack you all the way open.

Opening one’s heart in intimate relationship goes against the grain of our protective shells—it takes guts. We must find the courage to trust that much before we can love. . . and before our heart can break.  When we open to love, whether we realize it or not, we are agreeing to be deepened and changed by the alchemy of loving. Often that change comes about in ways we cannot anticipate.
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Just Forgive!

imagesThe trauma, confusion and heartache of betrayal often get worse before they get better. When your trust shatters, it can leave you spinning for a long time. After a while a kind of desperation sets in to find a way out of the pain.

In the ensuing quest to recover as quickly as possible, you will soon discover, as I did, an apparently straightforward remedy. Most everything you read, from self-help to depth psychology to the wisdom traditions—and just about everyone you talk with—will advise you similarly.

When you have been badly hurt by someone, in order to heal, you must simply forgive, let go and move on.  Just forgive and you will have the magic remedy that will wipe away the brokenness, stop the pain, and give you back your life, or so you are told. What could be more obvious! Encouraged by this chorus of well-wishers, I was inspired, and forgiveness became my new quarry, the sought-after Holy Grail. Continue reading

The Hidden Pain of Emotional Wounds

Soulful-Quotes~~element74Emotional wounds can be even more devastating than obvious blows to the physical body and can have much longer-term effects. These hidden injuries pose a grave threat, not just to our physical, but also to our emotional well-being, and even to our psychological survival.

A physical blow is understandable to the mind. When someone hits you, at least you can identify the source of the pain.  But, when you are psychologically abused, you hurt and do not feel safe, but cannot comprehend why. The longer it goes on, the more likely you are to obsess about the situation, to feel unhinged and to lose your confidence and trust in yourself and in your perceptions.

Psychological abuse is virtually impossible to prove.  Emotional abusers have an impressive arsenal of tools for subtle psychological control and torment. Abuse can range from constant put-downs and criticism to more subtle tactics, such as deception, manipulation, withdrawal, invalidating, stonewalling, triangulating, threats to leave, revising history, or refusal to ever be pleased.  A steady stream of these corrosive insults can undermine your sense of self until you begin to question your reality.
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When You Are Told, “Stop Being a Victim!”

 

424756_410853225641053_230003195_nThe term victim” has become a dirty word in some circles. Should someone claim they have been injured or victimized in a relationship—especially if their wounds are not physical, they are met with shaking heads or raised eyebrows.

I cannot tell you how many times, when I was reeling in shock, I was advised (often with the best intentions) to “stop being a victim!” This after being left a few weeks before our wedding by my partner of six years.

Yet, discovering I had been living a lie injured me. It undermined my reality, shattered my trust, and stirred depths of pain incomprehensible to me at the time. I needed compassion and understanding more than ever before in my life.

Instead, I was often accused of not taking responsibility for my part in the relationship demise, suspected of wallowing in a “poor me” mindset, and charged with character assassination for suggesting I had been harmed. But, above all, I was chastised for taking satisfaction in taking on a new and exciting identity—as a victim!

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Betrayal: Did You Choose Your Reality?

Crying_Angel_2__remake__by_NotAloneWishingIWas After a mind-bending abandonment by my long-time partner I received a lot of well-meaning advice. Some friends recommended to me, if I was serious about healing, that I take “one-hundred percent responsibility for everything that happened.”

When I expressed my pain and outrage, others suggested more benignly, “you know, there are two sides to every story,” “everything is for the best,” or “with a couple, everything is fifty/fifty.”

I searched diligently in myself to find the bright side, and the “fifty/fifty responsibility” key. For I, too, had accepted these attitudes—almost as articles of faith—until I went through this emotionally violent event. Now I could no longer make these neat, tidy, appealing formulas, meant to erase all blame and resentment, and instill instant forgiveness, fit the facts of having my trust betrayed and my life shattered. Continue reading