(118) Losing yourself

When you have finally reached the deepest point, you really cannot go any deeper, you are dependent on your own strength… and you slowly realize how powerful you really are and who you are. Only then does the restoration of your life, of your Being and especially the recovery of your Soul begins.

Losing yourself

Losing yourself is about the consequences someone has in a narcissistic relationship. Within narcissistic partner relationships it does not always have to be the man who is the narcissist… although it usually seems so… it can also be the woman… or even a parent in parent-child relationships.

A few months ago, two blogs about narcissism were published with many responses, questions, and conversations as a result. This blog tries to answer these.

The aim of the Foundation is to guide and support people in learning to deal with loss and grief in the broadest sense. Hence, we are not concerned with the narcissist and how you are diagnosed as a narcissist. What matters to us are the people who have fallen victim to the narcissist… who somehow got away from it and now have to deal independently with the traumatic consequences of the relationship… that these people are often only a faint reflection are what they used to be … the pain they experienced … maybe also mistreated … physically, emotionally and mentally … raped or worse. What we do is guiding these people and learning to deal with the traumatic consequences they have suffered within the relationship.

Can you recognize a narcissist?

How wonderful would it be that in advance you can recognize a narcissist? You could read books from psychology about that. But when you fall in love it just happens to you.

For example, I know the story of a woman who fell in love with a man who worked in the same department as she was. Her colleagues warned her that the man had a drinking problem. It did not help. The woman was head over heels in love with the man and her love was answered. After a year, the woman broke off the relationship. Curiously, her colleagues asked why the relationship was broken. Her answer was… yes, you guessed it… the man had a drinking problem. Love makes blind.

The beginning of a narcissistic relationship

In the beginning of a narcissistic relationship it is only roses and moonshine. Both you and the people around you think that you have the perfect partner… that you have found your dream partner. He does everything for you. He is sweet and caring. Want to know everything about you. Have long conversations to meet all your needs. Gives you beautiful roses. And let the whole world enjoy and see how good and caring he is for you.

But then it starts to itch, and the world declares you crazy

After a while, the relationship begins to change very imperceptibly. You are controlled… isolated… you may even be abused… physically, emotionally, and mentally… raped or worse. But in such a way that nothing can be seen on the outside … especially not for the people around you. Slowly, very slowly, you are beginning to realize that you are in a traumatic relationship. Then when you start to complain to the people around you, start to get emotional, they don’t understand anything about it… because the narcissist is still just as sweet, kind, caring and ready for you to the outside world. You get reactions like: “I don’t recognize it at all. He is so sweet and caring for you. Act normal, it’s up to you!” All they see is gosh… he is painting for you… a boyfriend standing at your door with red roses… he does everything for you… and then you are quickly considered as crazy. And eventually in your environment one after another starts to drop out and you are all alone… which makes it even more painful after everything you have been through. It is mainly the frustration and anger that you are left with because of the injustice … but also your self-confidence and uncertainty. The problem is getting bigger and bigger for you… because you are being broken down in such a way… that you only have the feeling that you are no longer worth anything at all… that you have lost yourself.

In the end, you manage to leave

Breaking a healthy relationship, for whatever reason, gives you grief and loss… you spend a shorter or longer time learning to deal with or perhaps even resolve your grief.

Breaking a narcissistic relationship is of a completely different order … more intense … more traumatic. You can hardly compare leaving a narcissist to be breaking off a healthy relationship. Leaving with a narcissist… where the relationship is ultimately one major trauma of everything you have experienced from one day to the next… there you come out with a broken heart, but this time also with a broken Soul.

And then it starts
Losing yourself is about the consequences you experience, mostly traumatic, in a narcissistic relationship. The narcissist can be either male or female.

The people around you still have little understanding for you and soon say: “Well be glad he’s gone!” You are too… it is not about that… but you are also concerned with the consequences… you have lost everything… and this time it is not just about the material, financial, or social part. However, after such a relationship there is nothing left of your confidence and self-esteem. You have lost your inner happiness, your Light and your Being. Those are not things you have after breaking up a normal relationship. That is why it feels so different. It is not only that your partner is gone… you have also lost yourself, that is much worse. Before you have found that again… your own Light… that is a vastly different, very intense loss process. Which in this case is a process that unfortunately will not be finished for a long time.

A rounding off

You come as a strong person in a narcissistic relationship, the narcissist does that for you. That is probably the challenge. Because if you are not a strong person, you are not interesting enough for the narcissist to feed the ego and they just walk past you. As if their life’s mission is to find a strong person who is full of life … and then eventually leave them with suicidal tendencies. And… then you also get the outside world over you. Instead of getting support … you do not get support … because your entire environment also attacks you … after all, it is all up to you.

When you have finally reached the deepest point in a narcissistic relationship, you really cannot go any deeper, you are dependent on your own strength… and you slowly realize how powerful you really are and who you are. Only then does the restoration of your life, of your Being and especially the recovery of your Soul begin.

If you are in this situation or want to get out, you can always contact us. For personal contact you can reach us at: info@mournandgrief.org

(117) Hans … 20 years later

I hope I can provide a handle so that you too can learn to deal with your loss and mourning whatever may be the cause.

Hans … 20 years later

20 years later? What happened in those 20 years? Most of the blogs I have written are about the period after the death of my daughter, Anne Birgit, in 2000 and of my wife, Mary-Anne, in 2011. Now I don’t want to write about that previous period. This time I want to share with you how I look at my life today … what I am going to do with the lessons I was allowed to learn during that period … how I want to proceed with my life … in a nutshell, how do I see the future today and am I happy with that now.

I hope I can provide a handle with this so that you too can learn to deal with your loss and mourning … whatever the cause may be.

The way I look at it now

The way I look at it today, I am pretty happy with my life. Satisfied in the sense that I have learned to deal with my loss. The raw grief of the past has turned into the gentle pain of mourning. Both Anne Birgit and Mary-Anne are no longer in my mind every day … but we are connected from heart to heart in a different way. As if we know each other when we think about each other. And when a feeling of sadness comes up, it’s like they’re just sitting next to me.

However, there are still times I suddenly go back in time … when Anne Birgit and Mary-Anne were still alive. I still don’t understand how that can happen… maybe because of a smell, a colour, a voice, an image … but in those moments it’s like it’s all real again. Like the way you watch a movie … including all the emotions and feelings that were present at the time. It is true that these kinds of moments have become less frequent in recent years. But when it happens, it is still exactly as it used to be.

The way I look at it, there is immediately a positive thought for every negative thought. As if these are the two sides of the same coin. What strikes me is that in recent years that positive thought has come more often and is stronger than that negative one. That feeling … that positive feeling makes me a happy person. But I should remark that the joy in me goes much lighter and emotionally much deeper than before … more subdued.

I am very sure I would not have been on the path of life I’m walking now, if Anne Birgit and Mary-Anne would still be alive. Paradoxical as it may sound… on the one hand I would like to have both around me again… on the other hand the path I am on now gives me a fantastic but at the same time also an ambivalent feeling. Presumably that feeling will always stay that way.

What do I do with the lessons from that period

The biggest lesson from that period is that I’ve become an experience expert in dealing with loss and grief. People around me are amazed at this. Because for them dealing with loss and grief is about how you deal with it? Isn’t that completed? Time heals all wounds … right? Yes, you have lost a child… that’s like a rollercoaster … we know that. You have now finished your mourning? When I answer that it’s not about that at all, but that it is about guiding others in coping with their loss and their grief … they become silent … then they slowly start to understand. And at the same time, they also indicate that that would never be their choice. But that aside.

In my previous professional life in industry, organizational consultancy and IT, I have learned to look at processes … at people how they use those processes … how possibly could done this better, more convenient, more user-friendly. In this way, I’ve also observed those past 20 years at how I dealt with coping with my grief and my loss. I used that knowledge to write my blogs.

In the meantime, I have started the training “dealing with loss” at the Dutch organization “Land van Rouw.” The amazing thing about this is that the knowledge I have gained from my experience can often be found in the literature used in the course. Does that mean that my training is wasted energy and money? No, that’s not it! It gives me insight from different angles, perhaps other disciplines. With the help of that training, I can even become a professional experience expert, where I can combine theoretical and practical knowledge of others with that of my own.

How I look to the future now

As I look to the future, I envision a path where, in addition to completing training courses, I use my knowledge and experience to assist people in coping with their loss and their grief in the broadest sense. You also should imagine that people become aware that they are in a narcissistic relationship and that they eventually decide to do something about it… no matter how difficult that can be. Or, people who lose their jobs, are terminally ill, or divorce…

I don’t walk that path alone. Together with others I want to guide people with the aim that grief and loss in any form is the most normal thing in the world and that we can talk about it without taboo. I would love that.

As I now look to the future, I also see that I am also moving the common thread of groundbreaking work from my previous profession into this field. For now, I’m just translating it into the form of giving presentations about mourning and loss in any form, writing articles and writing books.

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As I now look to the future, it will end for me eventually sooner than later … I am currently 72 years old. In the coming years I also want to enjoy myself and have fun. Somehow, I feel like I’m going to accomplish that. And what I would love is for others to continue my work in their own way.

In this blog I wanted to show how I eventually “can” deal with my loss and grief. Yes, “can” … because there are times when I can’t. It is what it is. I wanted to show you that it can be a long stretch, but in the end, there is light at the end of that process.

I hope I have been able to provide you with a handle so that you can also learn to deal with your loss and grief… whatever the cause may be.

(116) Narcistic relationships

Keep focus on yourself in a narcistic relation. Find you own empowerment again because then narcists loose their power and control.

Narcistic relationships

I got the question; how do you recognize a narcissist? That question is not so easy to answer, but I can describe the process, because how does a strong, independent woman who owns two companies end up in such a relationship?

How narcistic relationships start

Looking back, I can say that it starts with red roses, many conversations (this is the basis for the narcissist to get to know you well, to analyse your strengths and weaknesses, to absorb your fears and your wishes) . In the beginning you think that you have come to know someone who understands you, meets you and gives you exactly the things you were hoping for. They present themselves as what they have seen your need. Hence, trust is created.

How narcistic relationships further develop

In the next phase, this trust is exactly what they will abuse. Because in the first phase of the relationship they have built up a kind of “credit”, created a certain form of dependence (because they do everything for you). Without you noticing, the relationship will change. They are increasingly determining what the “rules” within the relationship are. How you want to dress, what you eat, who you interact with, etc. They are also very manipulative and jealous.

You will notice that the longer the relationship lasts, the more rules are created unnoticed and the smaller the circle around you becomes. This is very gradual, so in the beginning you don’t even notice that people are slowly disappearing from your life, you think contacts are watering down or just not working anymore.

What happened to me

In my case it became a problem at some point to meet with customers, because the jealousy was everywhere, and this obviously has major consequences for your companies. For me it started with a kind of emotional abuse. Your limits are being crossed little by little … and from that point onward it goes further and further downhill. Because I remember the first time, I got it into my head to go against it … that was punished because he literally flew at me and pulled the hair out of my head … totally unexpected and out of nowhere. Then I hear people think, dear, why don’t you immediately leave such a person? But no, you don’t. Because fifteen minutes later they are crying in front of you, they also didn’t understand what happened … so bad … come on, we go out to dinner, I want to make it up to you. Despite the fright, you put the incident aside. Until the next one, a few months later … just when you think it was a real one-off and a little bit of confidence started building again … the next outburst comes.

What people around me only saw

The difficulty with narcissists is that they will never do this in front of other people. So, to the outside world they only see a partner who has always everything for you. Not the manipulative, jealous, controlling demon that the person really is. It’s getting worse and worse … and the abuses are also getting worse. In my case, one day I felt such a strong sense of “I don’t want to grow old this way” that I found the strength to confront and break the relationship.

Terminating a relationship with a narcissist is easier said than done. Because you are now (almost) completely isolated from your environment, so you can’t count on support from your environment. And the people who are left after such a relationship don’t believe you. They only see you upset and the narcissist always loving and helpful, so it will be up to you. Because yes, if you react angry, sad and frustrated if someone always does everything for you, then it’s your fault.

Braking narcistic relationships is difficult … but not impossible
Lonelyness within a narcistic relationship
Lonelyness

The problem is that narcissists have an incredibly large ego. Hence, it is unthinkable for them for you to leave them. After the relationship was over, it still took me 7 months before it was really over. They really come up with everything to keep control over you and fuel your fear (which you have already built up). You must be damn strong in your shoes to push through, but it’s worth it! In my case it went so far that he was inside my house with the keys he had made, when after a night out I came home with a girlfriend (after 6 months apart) I found him sleeping in my bed … you don’t feel safe anymore. With me it finally escalated so much that the last time he was in my house, I became so terribly angry that he was literally knocking on me with his fists … I couldn’t go outside for a week and as a result I’ve a hearing damage. The only advantage of that last experience was that the abuse was now visible to the environment, because my whole face was bright and blue. This was the moment where I finally received help and support from my environment. So, 7 months after the relationship ended, it was finally over.

Therefore, I understand women who are in a toxic relationship. I understand the fear of leaving such a person, because it has consequences because they simply don’t accept it. Narcissists don’t think like healthy people and are just not susceptible to reason.

What I hope to accomplish with this post

I write this because I hope that my example, my story, gives other women the strength to choose for themselves. Because yes, even though it is a long way to break free from such a person, even if it has very unpleasant consequences, everything is better than the alternative. That is, stay with such a person and terrorize your life.

I hope that all women who find themselves in such a situation find the strength to choose for themselves. When you find your own power, they lose power and control over you and your life. Keep your focus on your ultimate goal: choosing for your happiness and your life, although it is something that is only rewarded in the long term.

You are worthy to be happy!!

(115) Thriving after narcistic abuse

A narcissistic parent is the perfect parent for the outside world. The reality is that when no one is there, there is only criticism … of who you are, what you do or don’t do. No opportunity is wasted to belittle you, humiliate you and make you feel guilty.

I grew up in a situation where one parent was not there since I was six (after my parents’ divorce) and that parent died when I was sixteen. The other parent is what they call narcissistic. I think the consequences of this are enormously underestimated.

To the outside world a narcissistic parent is the perfect parent. You will always be well dressed, well cared for, nice family outings and in company you will always be treated “lovingly”.

Narcissists are master of hiding the other side. The reality is that when no one is there, there is only criticism. On whom you are, what you do (or don’t do). They leave no opportunity to degrade you, humiliate you and make you feel guilty (because it is always up to you). To the point where your self-confidence and self-image are still a shadow of the person you really are. And this has serious consequences for the following years. After all, you are used to seeing it as ‘normal’ that you are treated that way, so that you also attract partners in your life who exhibit the same behaviour.

You have been taught that you are worthless, so that you unconsciously attract the people in your life who confirm this. In my life it has resulted in relationships full of abuse. Emotional and psychological abuse, physical abuse, etc. These are relationships in which you are completely isolated, because the moment people in your environment counterbalance, they lose control over you and that is of course not the intention …

Narcissists want control over your thinking, your feeling and being complete. They want to determine how you live and have the gift to achieve this very gradually. Because the moment you resist, you immediately bear the consequences, so you are adjusting more and more to the wishes of the narcissist, after all you really want to keep the peace. You get further and further away from yourself, until a moment comes when you literally hit the bottom.

In my case apparently, that was necessary. Because it wasn’t until that moment only that I realized that I no longer knew who I was, what I liked. All I knew was that I wanted to break through the negative spiral of agony, sadness and continuously being hurt. But how do you do so after so many years of living in pain and always walking on your toes? I got a burnout and afterwards that’s probably the best thing that happened to me.

I chose to withdraw completely, to break the contact and to unwind. My starting point during that period was my work, because business contacts went well for me … these didn’t affect me on a personal level. It’s been quite a process, slowly building energy again from the pleasure in my work and, there was opportunity to remember who I am, what I like and what makes me happy. And from that peace, that basic point in which I found a hold, I very slowly re-discovered myself again.

To the outside world a narcissistic parent is the perfect parent.  The reality is that they leave no opportunity to degrade or humiliate you.

And then finally growth starts. Because you slowly start to feel better, you’re also willing to go on a personal level to gently admit people who do see you for who you are and what you are worth.

It is the first step upward, to rebuilding your confidence and restoring your self-image. And when you see who you are again, you break the circle. Because that’s the moment when you’re going to choose relationships in your life (in all areas) that positively contribute to your well-being and happiness.

(114) I want to be like I used to be …

Mila had set a goal for learning how to cope with her grief; she wanted to be the woman she used to be. In my experience, that goal is subjective. How could you measure that? How could that goal be met in a for her acceptable way?

I want to be like I used to be …

I met both, busy talking to each other, in a cafe somewhere in a village along the Belgian coast. Mila, a fictitious name, was about to burst into tears, her friend had put an arm around her comfortingly. Mila’s friend turned out to have left her, after for her happy years, for another, a younger and wealthier woman. It just wasn’t fair. It turned out she had accepted that he wouldn’t return. Her grief was no less about it. She was deeply unhappy and that was obvious when you looked at her. It seemed like the light had disappeared from her eyes. She wanted to be that woman again she used to be, happy, with a rich smile, sparkling and enjoying everything that life gave her.

I want to be like I used to be
It seemed like the light had disappeared from her eyes
It’s about more than just accepting the loss

Mila had in fact set a goal for learning how to deal with her grief; she wanted to be that that woman again she used to be. In my opinion that is a subjective goal. Because how could you measure that? What if she only achieved a little of the desired result. Is that acceptable to her or not? To what extent should that goal be met for her to be acceptable at all?

Mila made her mourning unnecessarily complex by setting that goal. Why not start processing your grief and see where you end up? And then, depending on the course of the process itself, adjust here and there somewhat. Maybe she even discovers life paths and results that are much more attractive afterwards than what she had initially conceived.

It’s about making choices

To move forward in life and at the same time achieve her goal, Mila will have to make choices. Which choices? That’s not for me to decide, that’s up to Mila! If she does not make a choice however, she literally stands still and does get any further in her life. And you know, you never get absolute certainty for making your choices. After all, once you have taken the first steps after a choice, everything changes because things that were previously hidden from you now become visible. In short, it makes no sense to consider in detail which choice you should make. Mainly focus on your feelings.

You change yourself through the choices you make in your life. Similarly, you change because of the choices loved ones make in your life. All those choices changed the person you were to the person you are today! Some choices leave scars. The scars that you feel or see in the beginning eventually become less tangible or visible, but they never disappear.

Conclusion

Mila may want to become she used to be again, and maybe come a long way, but what is today will never be the way it used to be. And just as Mila had accepted that her ex-partner would not return to her, she also could accept that she had changed by learning to cope with that loss.

Can Mila then never the one she used to be, happy, with a bright smile, sparkling and enjoying everything that life gives? Paradoxical as it sounds, and especially when she is open to it, of course you can. But then different. Different because emotions go deeper through the experiences she has gained; more understanding has emerged; experiences that have made her emotionally richer; perhaps even a warmer personality; and maybe even doing things that she had never thought possible in her wildest dreams. And maybe, just maybe, she does thank her ex-partner at some point in time in the future because she ended up on a path of life that feels she should have walked on from the beginning. Wouldn’t that be wonderful!