Defeating Narcissists, Emotional Independence, Self-Care

6 Things That Happen When You Love a Toxic Person

A toxic person will maneuver themselves quickly to earn your trust and obtain your personal power. This is why you allow the abuse, compromise yourself, and forsake yourself – because to them that’s what love is.

 

Finding a partner in life can be a pretty daunting process.  With so many options out there the possibilities seem endless.  This is what makes dating so stinkin’ stressful.  And to boot, we all think we have a “type” and we look endlessly for it.  Undoubtedly, this can lead to choosing the wrong people to get involved with!

Whether you believe that you have the power to determine who you are attracted to or not you ultimately have the final say in who you date. The problem is not necessarily our “picker” but having the ability to spot toxic people. They don’t have signs or tags that label them as toxic. They walk among us in our neighborhood, at the grocery store, at work, and even within our own families. They are everywhere in our daily lives. So, by the time we spot one we are usually knee-deep in a seriously unhealthy relationship with them.

It is not as though we want to be involved with toxic people but it does happen. They may not come with signs but the impact they have on you does have raging red flags.

6 Ways a Relationship With a Toxic Pereson Can Impact You

1. You Forsake yourself

Toxic individuals are selfish and insecure so rather than taking accountability for who they are they will put the burden of their happiness on. They don’t see happiness as a choice they make for themselves with but the result of your actions.  For this reason, all of your attention is to be focused only on them. Any attention you give yourself or any recognition that you earn they are quick to accuse you of being selfish or (da da da daaaaa) a narcissistic. The expected irony? They’re not responsible for your happiness. This form of manipulation builds guilt within you. You quickly forget how to take care of yourself or feel guilty for doing so and that’s just how they like it.

 

2. You Compromise Yourself

The toxic person in your life will push you and bully you to get you to do things you don’t want to do. They will use persuasive traits to “help” you see things their way. They may even try to push you to do things that you really don’t want to do but by pulling the “if-me-love-me-you-would-do-this-for-me” card. But, again, that doesn’t work both ways as they don’t have to compromise themselves to show you love.  They continue to be who they are while they mold you into the vision they have for you.

3. You Become Alienated From Friends and Family

Toxic people know in order to control you they must eliminate their competition, which is your support system. In order for the toxic person to be effective, they need to be the one and only  influence in your life. Using their manipulation and charm, they’ll be able to create doubt in your mind specifically when it comes to your friends and family. They, cleverly and cunningly, will drive wedges in the healthy relationships of your life convincing you that only they have your best interests at heart.  Its a form of gaslighting where they force their truth onto you making you question yourself and everyone around you.   

4. You Become Conditioned to be Abused

Toxic people are mentally and emotionally (and often physically) abusive. They use their impressive power to manipulate you and get you to come back for more. The abuse is so stealth-like you really don’t recognize it as it happens. The abuse, also, doesn’t happen right away.  You get sucked in by compliments, sweet nothings whispered in your ear, fancy dates, or the thoughtful “little things”.  Before you know it, you’ve been taken as an emotional hostage while they re-condition you quickly and re-program you efficiently. Soon enough, you’re a willing participant and enabling their behavior.

5. You Relinquish Your Power

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” She was referencing the personal power that we all have. The worst thing about personal power is that we are we slow to embrace it but very quick to give it away – and usually to the wrong person. A toxic person will maneuver themselves quickly to earn your trust and obtain your personal power. This is why you allow the abuse, compromise yourself and forsake you – because to them that’s what love is.

6. Eventually, You’ll Become Toxic Too

It might be an unintentional coping mechanism or an unrealized defense but you’re likely to become toxic the more time you spend with a toxic person. This is the ultimate empowerment for the toxic one because now they have what they need to hold you accountable for anything that goes wrong. That fight that you use to react to them is what they use to continue to control you. The more fight, or toxic, you become, the more of the superior victim they get to play. 

Realizing that you’ve become toxic doesn’t mean you have become them.  Its a coping mechanism, a mode of defense necessary for personal preserverance.  As long as you are in the relationship you will likely continue to become more toxic. Once free of the toxicity, you can work to re-program yourself by re-building healthy relationships in your life starting with you.

No matter your mental strength or weakness breaking away from the toxic person takes desire, forgiveness and time. It may be uncomfortable and unfamiliar to take care of you once you pull away from the toxic person but it is worth it.

You can do it.

(This article was originally published on divorcedmoms.com.  The author, Tara Parker, has edited and updated the article for relatability purposes.)

Defeating Narcissists, Emotional Independence, Helping Friends

The Addictive Traits Of The Narcissist: 3 Tips For Breaking Free

There is something about them that keeps you around. No matter the difficult times there is still something that you hold on to. What is “it?” What is that force that keeps you going back for more and more? Why can’t you just leave? Why are narcissists so damned hard to get rid of?

It is kind of creepy to think that narcissists can be so addictive.

They are inconsiderate. They are often times ruthless. They are mean. They are thoughtless. They are insensitive. They are hardly the “knight in shining armor” we thought they were in the beginning. Take off all the hardware and what you really have is the tail end of the white horse versus that stud of a rider. They are narcissists.

And yet, here we are in our restless sleep waiting for that kiss that will wake us up to our happily ever after. Waiting and waiting, and more waiting. The problem is that we are waiting for the wrong guy to make the right choice. The real problem is that we will wait until we feel as though we are trapped. We put the right faith into the wrong guy.

It’s complete shenanigans to waste so much of our time, but, it is easy to become so deeply involved with a narcissistic person that getting free seems to be more of a dream than an achievable goal. A narcissist will either exploit your co-dependent side or create one within you making you dependent upon them. This is a form of conditioning and it is key to ensuring you don’t leave once you are locked in. It makes no sense because you know, at first, it is wrong, until they gaslight you enough that you believe everything they do is normal or your fault.

It can be really difficult to break free from the narcissist.

It can be even more difficult to explain to others why breaking away from them is so hard. There’s just no explaining it. For someone to understand they have to have been there and know it takes a lot of time to become so worn down to uncover that hidden strength to leave.

 

In the meantime, your support system gets frustrated with your inability to see the narcissist for what he is. They stop trying to talk sense into you, which makes the desire to leave, sometimes, that much more difficult. That is, of course, if you still have friends. Most narcissists will work hard to turn you against your support system. So, if they are still around listen to them. If they have since left, maybe these tips will help you.

How do you survive a relationship with a narcissist when you’ve worn out your support system? Here are 3 Tips.

1. Trust yourself. When you feel alone trusting your gut, even when it leads you to make the most uncomfortable decisions, is going to be more right than wrong. You know yourself better even if you are not aware of it and that is why you have instincts. When you have no one to talk to you are left with yourself and if you listen closely, you will hear those instincts telling you exactly what to do. This means being honest with yourself and forgiving yourself.

2. Be okay to be alone. Freeing yourself from the narcissist may look like a road to loneliness and quite honestly, it likely will – at least, for a while. The narcissist typically only wants you to have them to focus on, rely on, and depend on. If they have succeeded then your leaving them looks like a one-way ticket to lonely-town. Being alone is not going to hurt you, though. Actually, once your support system finds out you have left your narcissist they may re-enter your life if you welcome them. Remember, to isolate you takes your cooperation even if you don’t realize it. If your support system was made up of healthy people, welcome them back.

3. Expect the panic. This might be the most difficult of all. As the unknown emerges and change begins to take place it can be easy to psych yourself out, telling yourself that you are making the wrong choice or invite the narcissist back into your life. If you expect yourself to panic, to be scared, to be afraid, to feel all the negative things you can possible imagine (including unloved) you can prepare yourself for them. By preparing for all that panic has to offer, you can recognize it as it is happening and prevent you from sabotaging your freedom. Being healthy and alone is far better that being imprisoned by a narcissist.

There comes a time when you can feel it happening. Little by little, reality chips away at your patience revealing what you are truly worth. So, don’t give up. Even when others seem to have given up on you, they really haven’t – they just don’t know how to be there for you. So keep going. You’re worth more than you are getting and the only way to get what you are worth is to get it for yourself. You can do it.

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Healing: The Overlooked Process

As I sit here, a recently experiencing major surgery, I realize how interesting the healing the process is and how it is overlooked.  The process I am going through reminds me how much we underestimate the time needed to completely heal before moving on to a new normal.  Think of the last time you skinned your knee and the event that caused it.  Did you pay mind to the amount of time it would take for the wound to heal?  Or did a simple bandage make everything better allowing you to continue along your merry way?  Surely the trauma from falling was minute posing no mental concern resulting in a minor injury that would heal quickly, quietly, and on its own.

That is the best experience when it comes to healing: “quickly, quietly, and on its own.” Turns out that may not be the best thing for all injuries.  Not all wounds are the result of child’s play. As emotional humans we take on different levels of injury. Some of these injuries we seek out such as a scheduled major surgery.  Some injuries are out of our control but pose no less danger to our health or life.  Other injuries we just don’t seem to know how to avoid because mentally, we’re not healthy enough to know what to look out for.  What’s worse?  We don’t know our mental health is slightly compromised because we generally look “okay” – though, deep down, we may suspect otherwise.

As I sit here at my desk, you would not know that I am injured. You would not know the injuries I have are from a scheduled surgery.  You would not know I am healing and working rather hard to do so (ouch, by the way!).  I am presenting myself as I do any other day.  One could say I have applied the bandage that makes everything “better”.  However, inside, I am sore.  I am incredibly tired.  I am incapacitated to a degree that prevents me from household chores due to my medical restrictions.  To look at me though, I look as healthy as a horse until you see my eyes.  To look at my eyes it would be easy to see something is not right.  I need help.

Upon this observation one might be tempted to ask if I am okay.  This is where I would tell you that despite the level of the procedure I had, “I am fine.”

You should take that statement with a grain of salt no matter who says it.

Some injuries are not visible to the naked eye.  Some are not visible on the body, at all.  Some traumas are such that they cause injury to the mind where healing can be the most difficult. The issue is that mental sores are not the easiest to talk about much less ask details for.  Which is why sometimes when we are uncomfortable with the trauma others have experienced, we avert our eyes to “not get involved”.   I find this interesting as most would rather look on or get involved with a physical trauma than a mental one.  I suppose it is difficult to receive the designation of “hero” if others cannot see you assess the trauma.

This is why it is important to realize the healing process, at the mental level, takes no less time than a physical one.  While the injury cannot be immediately seen nor is there obvious signs of trauma such as bandages, the injury is there all the same.  It should receive the same level of care and time as any other injury. This is not to say mental injuries, such as divorces, abuse, or failures should be milked until all parties are exhausted but there could be a level of exhaustion experienced from maneuvering yourself through the emotions you feel even if you have a guide, like a counselor, to help you.  This is what makes the healing process a learning process, as well.

Give yourself time to heal no matter the trauma or the injury.   The healing process is designed to allow yourself the space to explore the feelings (mental or physical) associated with the stress so that you can get past them.  If not, expect them to rear their ugly head repeatedly until you do.  If you don’t allow yourself to heal completely you hold yourself back postponing any opportunity to get better and be better.

What injuries were the hardest to heal from?  Are you completely healed?

Defeating Narcissists, Emotional Independence, Self-Care

How I Let Him Go Even Though I Still Loved Him

How did I do it? How was I able to walk away from the man I loved so deeply and profoundly? How was I able to move on from a love I felt and embraced so much?

woman sitting in front of tree

And there is it was – staring me right in the face. I knew it immediately but despite my knowing I still questioned it. My gut was on red alert and my heart was on the verge of sobbing. My ears were ringing. My eyes felt frozen. It was the red flag that couldn’t be denied and I denied it anyway – at least for a few more years. Ugh. (facepalm)

We seemed to have so much in common. We could talk for hours. Our pasts seemed parallel giving us an exclusive understanding of one another. We had genuine interests in each other’s hobbies. We could see through to one another. Being together we both emerged with a side from within that was buried so deep. The connection was unique. It felt rare. It redefined passion.

So, why is it I am not with him today? How could I not eternally embrace something that sounds as though it was delivered from “a land far far away”?

Well, I finally saw what everyone had been telling me – that he was not right for me.

What we had was a very passionate relationship in every romantic sense of the word that you can imagine. And yet with the positive passion came the negative passion. Both were intense at their own distinctive level. Both were scary. Both were invigorating. But also dangerous to my mental health.

I won’t go into the details of the relationship but what I will tell you is that we had little to no support from our friends and family. This is a definite sign that the relationship is not what you think it is. Sometimes, the best measurement of the health of a relationship is the level of support from those around you.

I refused to listen to those people because there was always that one person who stood out and said, “Yes! Yes, you are the one for him!” My desire to hold on to that positive passion was fed by the repetition of that one statement for two years – in my head.

woman in black full zip jacket

So, how did I do it? How was I able to walk away from the man I loved so deeply and profoundly? How was I able to move on from a love I felt and embraced so much?

I had to recognize that what I felt was not equal to what he felt or the negative passion would not have been as strong.

Don’t be mistaken. He liked to keep me around for his pleasure and fun or his needs but when it came to what I needed? Ha. It was not only my fault he was unhappy with our situation but it was my fault if I was experiencing turmoil or trials. It was my stupidity or my bitchiness that created my situation and that wasn’t his problem.

But, he loved me. Yeah, I didn’t get it either. But, wildly enough, I believed that he loved me and I needed to stay. It took me about 25 months to finally pull the trigger and walk out of his life and back into my own.

I don’t know if was time wasted or the most influential learning experience I have ever been through. What I do know is that the experience is mine to share with you.

So, back to how to let go if you still love him. How did I put my love aside to escape my prison?

1. I kept all the text messages for reference. He used to get mad that I would retain our text conversations and refer back to them. He rarely came off looking like a nice guy (and my responses weren’t always pretty, either) and therefore he would demand I delete them or sweet-talk me into deleting them.

Once they were gone I had nothing visual to remind me who he really was. Once those texts were gone he would turn on the loving charm and then cycle back into the emotional deviant I was hooked to. I do have some of the texts to remind me of why I left when I start to miss the good times.

2. I had to push my emotional brain aside for my logical. I had to really think about his actions and how they aligned, or misaligned, with his words. I had to look at his expectations and my expectations and determine how they balanced. I had to stop deceiving me and come to terms with the reality that I was not getting anywhere with him and my life was depleting the more time I devoted to him. Once I realized that it was easier to not respond his last text message.

photography of woman using laptop

3. I needed something to maintain my focus. My attention had to be placed somewhere else so I could go through the process of grieving a relationship I had with a man who was mentally dangerous. I found that focus and protected it with every fiber of my being. That focus remains today as a reminder that being me is a great thing and not a result of someone else’s demands.

4. I prepared myself emotionally for the final walk. I literally stood in front of a mirror and told myself, “You will want to text him so the crying will stop. You will want to run back to him to feel normal again.” I knew the real problem for me was fighting the addiction created throughout the relationship. Maybe the uncomfortable tears of grief would stop by contacting him but they would be replaced with the comfortable tears of name-calling and emotional abuse I had been so accustomed to.

Maybe I would feel normal again by running to him but would hurt myself more by embracing that sense of “normal” versus developing myself by venturing out of my comfort zone. The funny thing about a comfort zone is that it might be comfortable but it doesn’t necessarily feel good nor is it healthy. It is just comfortable.

5. I had to be fair to myself and allow myself the time to heal and try life without him. I had to be permitted to be me again without his permission or approval. I had to give myself enough time to feel the emotions I prepped myself for. I had to give me a chance to heal even if it hurt like hell. Even if I cried myself to sleep. Even if it meant I would never be loved again. In the end, it meant I would love me and not have someone attempt to make me feel guilty for it. There is no guilt in loving me but there is guilt in knowingly hurting me via an unhealthy relationship.

woman holding a smiley balloon

So, the time has passed and here I am. I didn’t die without him like I thought I would. I didn’t spiral down into depression like he had predicted. I continued to breathe and live my life. I am free to be me and am happy being me. I have grown and continue to do so every day. Why? Because I didn’t give up on me.

Emotional Independence, Helping Friends, Self-Care

Are You Unknowingly Inspiring Others?

You may not know it but you are impacting someone in your life; either from a distance or directly. You are currently giving someone permission to be more than they have allowed themselves to be – and you don’t even realize it.

close up photography of person s eye

Think about that for a moment. Let it sink in; soak it up.  Don’t just read the words like you would a random post.  Hold on to it for a moment.  Believe it, don’t believe – that’s up to you. But, give the time necessary to really understand the message.  Once you have done that, take a breath and then absorb this:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

There is nothing scarier than the person in the mirror and yet it is that single person who is supposed to be your biggest fan, not your mortal enemy. That person in the mirror is an intimate heart you are supposed to trust and embrace, not fight and doubt. That person in the mirror is supposed to love you first because it might seem as though no one else does….and that is quite alright.

We live in a society that tells us we should place a higher value on the opinion others have of us over our own opinion. With that in mind, is it any wonder we are a country with the highest depression rate? We have a limited sense of self-appreciation and an overwhelming curiosity of “What do YOU think of ME?” (Remember Bette Midler in “Beaches”?)

We have it bass-ack-wards.

man old depressed headache

Marianne Williamson has it figured out and yet what her quote fails to mention is that while you are building yourself up you could be doing it alone. However, there are silent rewards and they are incredible: “…you give other people permission to do the same.”

Not too long ago a co-worker of mine left her job to pursue her own business venture. During her departure tour of the office, she stopped by my desk to wish me a good day. During our conversation, she told me how inspiring she thought I was. I had a puzzled looked on my face. She told me that when she first met me, when I started at the company, she saw that I was tall, just like her and yet I wore heels and held myself up high. She saw my confidence and that made her feel comfortable. She thought, “Hey, if she can do it, so can I.”

I unknowingly gave her permission to enjoy something about her that she had tried to hide and for six months I had no idea. I was clueless that by being me, unapologetically, I had given her the validation she was looking for to enjoy something others found “unusual” about her.

My former co-worker had tried to shrink herself because she was one of the few tall women in the office. She didn’t dislike her height but she did try to minimize it because she was in a class of few.  She gained confidence in herself because of my confidence. Someone showed her it was okay, even good, to enjoy who and what you are even if it doesn’t fit the average mold.

closeup photo of woman with brown coat and gray top

What’s the point of my story? I’ll tell you. You may not know it but you’re impacting someone in your life; either from a distance or directly. You are currently giving someone permission to be more than they have allowed themselves to be – and you don’t even realize it. As you struggle and hurt, as you fall down repeatedly and rise up again, and again, you give someone the space to better herself because she is looking from the outside in on your world. She is watching you and learning from you. YOU are making a difference, whether you believe you or not.

Remember, you may not be impressed by you but someone is inspired by you. Just because you don’t get to hear it doesn’t mean it’s not happening…hell, it surprised me.

You’re doing it and you don’t even know it!